Khalid Amayreh

Is Al-Jazeera International losing its Arab identity?

As al-Jazeera Arab satellite television channel is celebrating its tenth anniversary, with achievements unprecedented in the history of Arab media, al-Jazeera International (AJI) which encompasses plus the yet-to-be launched al-Jazeera English TV, is slowly but definitely losing its original Arab identity. Indeed, a fleeting look at AJI’s English website these days would be sufficient to make one realize how far and deep the Qatari-based media outlet has departed from its original defining character. 

Palestinians apprehensive about CIA money

Palestinian nationalist and Islamic leaders have strongly denounced efforts by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and affiliated foreign aide bodies to recruit Palestinian journalists, politicians and certain political groups to work against the Islamic group Hamas. Western news agencies last Friday reported that the US was quietly starting a campaign projected to cost up to $42 million to bolster Hamas’s political opponents ahead of possible early elections. The plan includes funding the Fatah group, providing training as well as offering “strategic advice” to politicians and some liberal secular parties opposed to Hamas. 

Bleak Ramadan in Palestine

Normally, the holy month of Ramadan is a festive season of heightened spirituality and good will. It is also an occasion where family members share the usually exquisite Iftar meals immediately after sunset at the end of the day-long fast. However, for many Palestinian families, hard-hit by extremely harsh Israeli-western sanctions, this Ramadan has the smell of real penury. Abject poverty is also becoming increasingly apparent among the traditionally weak sectors of society, such as day-laborers. Yousuf M. Suleiman is a school teacher of 30 years from the southern West Bank town of Hebron. He has a family of eight but can hardly get things “under control” when it comes to securing the basic needs such as flour, sugar and rice. 

Pro-Israeli editors seek to influence Al-Jazeera International English Satellite TV

When the Qatar-based pan-Arab Al-Jazeera Satellite Television announced two years ago plans to launch Al-Jazeera International (AJI), many people around the world hoped the new satellite channel would provide a genuine alternative to the notoriously biased western media, which often operates under Zionist influence. The new channel, the launching of which has been postponed several times, will provide both regional and global perspective to a potential audience of hundreds of millions of English speakers. AJI has already attracted a number of luminaries in the world of TV broadcasting. 

Israel orders Palestinian land seized

Israel has issued orders to seize Palestinian-owned land to link a main Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank to Jerusalem, officials say, a step that could isolate Palestinians from Jerusalem. An Israeli government spokesman on Wednesday said orders were issued to seize four Palestinian-owned tracts of land around Maale Adumim, the largest Jewish settlement in the West Bank, last Thursday, Reuters reported. The planned Maale Adumim section of the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank has raised alarm in Washington because of Israel’s stated intention to build homes in Maale Adumim joining it to Jerusalem, 8km away. By looping in the enclave, Israel would effectively seal Palestinians off from east Jerusalem, which they want as their capital. 

Palestinians urged to temper festivities

As Israel has begun its unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, a number of Palestinian intellectuals have urged the Palestinian Authority and resistance groups to tone down celebrations and pay attention to Israel’s expansion in the West Bank. The calls came as the latest coordination meeting between Palestinian security minister Nasr Yousuf and Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz, which took place on Sunday night, failed to resolve the outstanding issues pertaining to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Yousuf accused Israel of refusing to provide satisfactory answers for some of the most fundamental questions pertaining to the post-withdrawal arrangements at border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel. 

Jerusalem tense ahead of Gaza pullout

Tension is rising in East Jerusalem as thousands of Jewish extremists have vowed to storm the Haram al-Sharif compound, one of Islam’s holiest sites, ahead of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The threats coincide on Sunday with the annual commemoration of the destruction of an ancient Jewish temple, considered one of the bleakest days in the Jewish calendar. A mass gathering of extremist Jews is scheduled in Jerusalem’s Old City. Hundreds of police officers and paramilitary troops have been deployed in and around the Old City to prevent a possible clash between Jewish extremists and Palestinian Muslims. Thousands of Muslims already have arrived at the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, compound to repulse any attempts to storm it. 

Israel to keep control of Gaza access

Israel has said it will probably retain control of Gaza skies and territorial waters after the implementation of its withdrawal plan from the area. “I think it is very likely that we will continue to control the skies and territorial waters of Gaza,” Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Tuesday. Mofaz did not say if Israeli troops would completely leave the Rafah border crossing as the Egyptians had been demanding. The defence minister told the Israeli cabinet on Monday that Tel Aviv could not allow a free flow of goods and services between Gaza and the rest of the world, suggesting that “alternative border crossings” be created where Israel can control cross-border movements between Gaza and Egypt. 

Palestinians say peace with Israel is no longer within the realm of possibility

The proposed expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank has convinced many Palestinians, intellectuals and laymen alike, that peace with Israel is no longer within the realm of possibility. A general belief among Palestinians is that the Israeli plan to “disengage” from Gaza is primarily aimed at consolidating Israel’s grip on the West Bank. Recent polls in Palestine have shown that a majority of Palestinians are convinced that a genuine peace with Israel - that is, one based on UN resolutions 242 and 338 and the land-for-peace formula - is no longer possible. As many as 65% of Palestinians in the occupied territories said they did not believe that a “permanent peace with Israel was possible”. Only 3.1% of respondents said such a peace was possible. 

Israeli soldier kills four in bus attack

An Israeli soldier has been stoned to death by an angry crowd after he killed four Israeli Arabs and injured 13 others on board a bus. The shooting on Thursday took place on bus 165, which shuttles between a Druze neighbourhood of the northern Israeli Arab town of Shafa Amr and nearby communities. Four people were killed, including the driver. Police said the four apparently were all Shafa Amr residents. Israel Radio said the gunman - who police said wore a skullcap, identifying him as an Orthodox Jew - was later bludgeoned to death by an angry crowd. Medical sources said three of the wounded were listed in critical condition. Two policemen were among the wounded.