Palestine Report

Farewell to All That: Palestine Report comes to a close

Palestine Report, under-funded, understaffed and overworked as it has been simply trying to keep up with the violence of the past few years, nevertheless always tried to present those stories that got lost amid the bombs and bulldozers.” However, due to financial pressures it has simply ceased to be feasible to continue producing the Report to the standards we have tried hard to maintain for so long. Over the years, the PR has enjoyed the contributions of writers and journalists from all over the world, and the following are some contributors’ reactions to PR’s untimely demise. 

Gaza Smokescreen: An interview with Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Hind Khoury

“The Gaza disengagement has been used by the Israeli government as a smokescreen to cover for what it is doing in East Jerusalem. These measures include the continued construction of the wall, and, as per their decision this July, to practically close off East Jerusalem from the West Bank starting September 1. People will then have to pass what they call crossings but are in reality de facto borders.” Palestine Report Online interviews Hind Khoury on Israel’s unilateral actions in East Jerusalem. 

Building to resist

Salim Shawamreh describes July 9, 1998, as “the blackest day of my life. … I was sitting with my family and eating lunch when my house was surrounded by Israeli soldiers. I was given fifteen minutes to take my possessions and family out of the house… They left us with nothing.” That was the first time Shawamreh’s house in Anata, a village near Jerusalem, was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers. It would happen three more times. He tells the story while sitting in the fifth incarnation of the house, which currently doubles as a peace and activism center. The walls are hung with pictures of Shawamreh being beaten and his family in tears as a reminder of the history of the building. 

All Palestinians have a right to Palestine

“Abu Mazen declared that there was nothing to prevent the Arab countries from taking a sovereign decision to offer citizenship to refugees to anyone who wants. This of course, is with the guarantee that such a measure would in no way impinge on the legal right of refugees to return, to restitution and to compensation.” Palestine Report Online interviews the director general of the PLO Refugees Affairs Departmet, Saji Salameh, on President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent comments on granting Arab citizenship to Palestinian refugees. “There are those who have American, Canadian and British passports, but this does not impinge on their legal rights, which are guaranteed by international law.” 

Life under constant harassment

Perched on a south Hebron hill, at first glance Mufaqara seems like a small quiet village sheltered from the troubles of its more famous neighboring city. But the settlers in the region have transformed the shepherds’ tranquil agricultural life into a hellish struggle against politics. Since the Havat Ma’on outpost was erected in 1998, daily life in what used to be an unknown and quiet fellahin village of the West Bank has become increasingly nightmarish. Villagers have the feeling that the settlers, as well as the Israeli army, are trying to “clear out” the area of Palestinian villages. Settler and army jeeps regularly drive back and forth in the area to intimidate the shepherds and make them move further from the settlement’s limits. 

Judging Abbas

The silence from the Middle East, and particularly from the new Palestinian leadership, following Bush’s shift in language at the May 26 Abbas-Bush press conference might be understandable. After all, this would not be the first time that Bush gave a significant statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and then retired, self-satisfied, to the Oval Office. A former senior American foreign policy advisor gave his judgment of the Bush administration’s policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “When George Bush gives a policy speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, everyone stop talking and listen very closely. Because what he says is policy.” Mark Perry analyzes the situation for the Palestine Report. 

Warning bells are ringing

On June 4, dozens of attorneys refused to show up to courtrooms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in what they called a “one-day warning strike”. In a statement released by the Palestinian Bar Association, the lawyers said they were protesting assaults on what they described as “the three arms of justice”: the judges, public prosecuting attorneys, and defense lawyers. The statement decried legal professionals’ “unsafe working environment” blamed on increased vigilantism and the failure of the Palestinian Authority’s legislative and executive branches to protect the judicial system. 

The three monkeys of the Israeli media

For nearly 40 years, Israelis have known Haim Yavin’s face. Now they also know his opinions. Whether that is leading to any deeper understanding of his message about the functioning of the Israeli media is less certain. “Since 1967, we have been brutal conquerors, occupiers suppressing another people.” It is in such terms Yavin has been expressing his disgust for the Israeli occupation in the five-week series of reports “A Land of Settlers” currently being broadcast on Israeli Channel Two. When Yavin “came out of the closet” and affirmed publicly his political views on the occupation it sent shock waves through his audience. 

Jerusalem residents scramble to fight wall

At the end of April, Israeli authorities announced the course of the northern section of the wall, which will not only divide Dahiet Al Barid but will confiscate approximately 26.2 dunams land in Beit Hanina and Dahiet Al Barid and will close northern Jerusalem to about 100,000 Jerusalem residents who live in Al Ram, Dahiet Al Barid, Bir Nabala, Kufr Aqab, Sameer Amis and other northern neighborhoods. When residents saw the blueprints, a collective sigh of relief could almost be heard from the people on one side, whose homes would fall on the “Jerusalem side”, while the other side realized with a heavy sigh that they would be isolated by the wall, unable to reach Jerusalem. 

Ruling Palestine: An interview with COHRE's Scott Leckie

“[This] systematic analysis of the entire Israeli legal system as it relates to housing, land and property rights of Palestinians very clearly shows that there was every intent to dispossess Palestinians of their land over the past six decades. This was a systematic attempt, a very intentional outcome, and one that ultimately makes the proposed two-state solution a physical and practical impossibility.”Palestine Report Online interviews Scott Leckie, Executive Director of COHRE, the Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions, about the human rights group’s conclusions, drawn from a new study entitled “Ruling Palestine: A History of the Legally Sanctioned Jewish/Israeli Seizure of Land and Housing in Palestine”, that a two-state solution is no longer viable.