Daoud Kuttab

More than a walkway

If Israeli officials felt that the protest against work near Al-Aqsa mosque was a local problem that would soon go away, they were not watching Lebanese television. Some might think that the Arab world’s most popular TV program, Star Academy, is all about singing youth and half-dressed presenters. But on Friday, February 9, the students at Star Academy joined together in singing the song of Lebanese superstar Fairuz about Jerusalem. Dressed in chic black outfits, the entire class of Star Academy 4 joined hands in front of sets depicting Jerusalem’s Old City walls as they sang “Zahrat al Madain” (The flower of cities). Without making a single reference to the latest controversy over the Mughrabi Gate walkway, the directors of this musical program made a huge political sensation. 

While the Fire Rages

A major Palestinian and Arab demand has been quietly accepted by Israel and the US, but the Palestinians are too engrossed in their internal fighting to realize it. After the collapse of the bilateral and unilateral efforts, the time has come for multilateralism. Palestinian-Israeli bilateral talks saw a high point in the Oslo process, but have stalled ever since. Israel’s unilateralism, both in south Lebanon and Gaza, has also been a major failure. US State Department officials, seeing the failure of their own unilateralism in Iraq, have pushed Israel and found the Olmert administration receptive toward a multilateral approach. 

Divide and conquer

A strange phenomenon has been taking place over the past few years. Israel has been carrying out a systematic plan to try and separate Gaza from the West Bank. Little attention has been given to this effort separating people — and a country — using administrative measures. This phenomenon began in the late 1980s with the launch of the Palestinian intifada, was accelerated in the beginning of the second intifada in 2000, and has been accelerated even more since the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, causing a critical human and economic crisis. 

Let our people move

A little over a year ago, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Quartet envoy James Wolfensohn, Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz, the PA’s Muhammad Dahlan and the EU reached an agreement to allow Palestinians free movement in and out of the Gaza Strip. The Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) signed on November 15, 2005 promised Palestinians freedom of movement of people and goods. A detailed fact sheet published by the Palestinian Monitoring Group shows that since last year, none of the agreement’s provisions have been fully implemented by Israel. In July, seven Palestinians waiting to be let into Gaza from Egypt died as a result of heat and the absence of shelter. 

Collective punishment is a war crime

The long line at the Qalandia checkpoint last week was one of the first signs of the added collective punishment that the Israeli army was now instructed to impose on the Palestinian population. When my turn finally arrived, I drove up to the soldiers, hoping finally to be allowed into Ramallah. Daoud Kuttab writes from occupied Jerusalem in the Jordan Times. 

Mistaken assertions that Arafat has not condemned terror "in Arabic"

Contrary to what US President George Bush and various media sources have said about Palestinian President Yasser Arafat needing to condemn suicide bombings “in Arabic”, below are translations of three recent statements made by Arafat or representatives of the Palestinian Authority and broadcast in Arabic over the Voice of Palestine radio station, Palestine TV, or WAFA