By Vijay Prashad for Black Agenda Report – In 2015, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) was charged by its member-states — the eighteen Arab states in West Asia and North Africa — to study whether Israel has established an apartheid regime. ESCWA asked two American academics — Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley — to undertake the study. Falk had been the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories from 2008 through 2014. Tilley had served as a Chief Research Specialist in South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, which had produced a study in 2009 showing apartheid-like conditions in Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territory.
By Allison Deger of Mondoweiss – Rima Khalaf, the head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). resigned today after she was asked to withdraw a report her agency published earlier this week that stated Israel is an “apartheid regime.” “The secretary-general demanded yesterday that I withdraw the report, and I refused,”Khalaf told reporters at a press conference in Beirut today, according to the Middle East Eye. “It was expected that Israel and its allies would put enormous pressure on the United Nations secretary general to renounce the report,” she also said, according to Reuters. Then Khalaf stated that the United Nations “had scrubbed the report from its website.”
By Lila Weintraub for Truthout – On the morning of David Friedman’s Senate hearing for the US ambassadorship to Israel, I stood with five Muslim and Jewish partners, faced the ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and demanded the attention of an audience packed with white male decision-makers and press, along with elite members of the American Jewish community. In the 20 seconds I had before being escorted out and arrested, it seemed that for the first time in my life, my young, female, proudly Jewish voice would be heard by so-called American Jewish leaders. In loud and unambiguous terms, I explained to the room that Friedman’s potential ambassadorship is devastating on two levels: for Palestinians and for the American Jewish community itself.
By Philip Weiss for Mondoweiss – I completely believe that Donald Trump was in bed with the Russians before the election and the campaign may well have intrigued with Vladimir Putin with respect to Wikileaks and that helped defeat Hillary Clinton. I believe that because that’s how the world works; because a lot of very smart people in the liberal establishment believe it; and because the New York Times and Washington Post are documenting some of it, with the fervor of Watergate. Maybe it will bring the liar in chief down some day and end this short national nightmare. I certainly hope so. But there are two large exceptions to the Russian conspiracy. The first is that it is good policy for the United States to be talking to Russia. If Clinton were president today, there might be dogfights over Damascus.
By Ali Abunimah for Electronic Antifada – US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a joint press conference at the White House on Wednesday morning, before going into their much-anticipated bilateral meeting. Asked about whether the US was still wedded to a two-state solution, Trump broke with longstanding orthodoxy. “I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like,” the president said. On settlements, Trump reaffirmed to Netanyahu, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.” Advocates of a two-state solution, including the previous US administration and European governments, see it as the only way to rescue Israel as a racist state that ensures its Jewish demographic majority through a battery of racist laws – a situation they refer to as “peace.”
By Eli Safran and Ibrahim Bushnak. Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine – Robi Damelin, an Israeli bereaved mother whose son – an IDF officer – was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the Second Intifada, gave to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) a watch bearing the flags of Israel and Palestine, and the word “Peace” in Hebrew, Arabic and English. That was at the climax of a meeting which President Abbas held with more than a hundred Israeli activists who came to the Presidential Compound in Ramallah. Robi Damelin and the other Israeli activists expressed appreciation for what Abbas said to them: “I do not believe in violence and terror. Despite all the difficulties that we face under occupation, we will not turn to other, improper means. We oppose such means and struggle against them. We are against violence and terror, anywhere in the world.”
By James North and Philip Weiss for Mondoweiss – Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted today by a military court in Jaffa of manslaughter for the execution of Abdel Fatah al-Sharif as he lay incapacitated in the street in Hebron last March, and there were immediate calls from Israeli political leaders and the public for the 20-year-old soldier to be pardoned. The story was the lead on BBC, and the New York Times and Washington Post also promptly put up the news. B’Tselem, the human rights organization whose video unleashed the investigation, said the case was the rare exception in which an Israeli soldier was held accountable for a human rights atrocity.
By Tom Suarez for Mondoweiss – Good evening, thank you so much for taking time out of what I know are your busy schedules to be here now. My thanks to Jenny Tonge for making this meeting possible; and I would like to thank three people without whom the book would not exist: Karl Sabbagh, my publisher; Ghada Karmi, who inspired the book; and my partner, Nancy Elan, who was my constant alter-ego during my research and without whom I surely would have given up. My work is based principally on declassified source documents in the National Archives in Kew. When I have had to rely on published works, I have trusted established historians who cite first-hand sources.
By Grant Smith for Anti War – On September 14, 2016, the United States and Israel signed a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) pledging $38 billion in “security assistance” to Israel over ten years. The agreement replaces a similar MOU signed by the Bush administration. However, the Obama administration claimed two key differences on its MOU web page. First, Israel is not allowed to lobby Congress for hundreds of millions in additional funds from its embassy and US affinity organizations. Second, more of the ten-year allotment must be spent on US military contractors rather than inside Israel.
By Jerry Haber for The Magnes Zionist – The following post was written in May 2012. The one-state/two-state debate was “weary, stale, and unprofitable” then, and it is even more so now, with the incoming Republican administration. We are, and have been, for some time in a one-state reality. Israel has ruled for three generations over people without their consent and against their will, with a different system of law. Israel today is a democracy in the sense that America was a democracy before African Americans and Native Americans were made citizens and given the vote — in short, it is at best a nineteenth-century democracy.
By Mark LeVine for Scoop – Those who long ago succumbed to cynicism and hopelessness when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can find many reasons to discount the importance of Security Council Resolution 2334, passed unanimously (14-0 with the U.S. as the only abstention) on December 23. It is certainly true that Israel will ignore and indeed work actively to undermine the Resolution just as it has ignored innumerable other resolutions demanding a halt to settlement construction or expansion. As one activist tweeted shortly after its passage, in all likelihood Israel will expand the seizure of Palestinian land and construction of settlements just to thumb its nose at the UN…
By Philip Weiss for Mondoweiss – President Obama’s decision to allow passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal has done more to change the shape of the conflict than any other action in the last ten years, even than Israel’s massacres in Gaza. He has nudged Israel, and the media, toward recognition of the country’s new status, as a rogue state; he has split the Israel lobby right down the middle, or down the side anyway; and he has given huge impetus to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).
By Staff for Ma’an News Agency. Israeli forces Friday suppressed Bethlehem’s “Santa Claus March,” shooting tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at participants, with many suffering from tear gas inhalation. The march, which includes participants dressing up as Santa Claus close to the Christian holiday of Christmas, was launched under the banner “Terrorism and occupation are two sides of the same coin,” and demanded the opening of Israeli checkpoints for Christian tourists to celebrate the holiday in the birthplace of Jesus Christ. A Ma’an reporter witnessed Israeli forces fire rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas into the crowd, which caused a number of participants to suffer tear gas inhalation. Five journalists were also injured, including the cameraman for the Jordanian al-Roya TV Muhammad Shoudha. Israeli forces reportedly fired tear gas canisters directly at his foot.
By Staff for Ma’an News Agency – BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — After a vote on a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Israel end its illegal settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territory was postponed on Thursday, reports have emerged that the US had intended to allow for the resolution’s approval, while US President-elect Donald Trump was reportedly recruited by Israel to apply pressure to prevent the vote. Palestinian officials have been busy in recent weeks trying to negotiate on the resolution with the Obama administration to avoid an American veto at the UNSC.
By Ralph Nader for The Nader Page – Dear President Obama: On November 28, 2016, Jimmy Carter, the President who negotiated the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1978, wrote an op ed for the New York Times titled, “America Must Recognize Palestine.” His urgent plea was directed to you to take “the vital step…to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership,” before you leave office on January 20, 2017. Mr. Carter referenced your reaffirmation in 2009 of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt and United Nations Resolution 242 when you called “for a complete freeze on settlement expansion on Palestinian territory that is illegal under international law.”