PFLP statement on US brokered peace talks with Israel

imagesThe Palestinian people reject Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ return to the negotiating table with the Israeli occupation, said Comrade Khalida Jarrar, member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. There is an urgent need for continued rallies and demonstrations condemning the return to these futile negotiations, said Jarrar, despite the attacks by security agencies in the West Bank. Jarrar noted that a number of PFLP activists were injured on Sunday due to the attack of PA security forces against a march rejecting the decision of the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations with “Israel,” to end the monopoly on decision-making, and restore national unity based on resistance and steadfastness.

Jarrar said that the march was confronted by a blockade by security forces who refused to let demonstrators march to the Muqata’, the PA presidential compound. The security forces beat demonstrators with batons and wounded dozens, she reported. She emphasized that the PFLP rejects these negotiations under the auspices of the U.S. “It is clear that the Oslo approach has proved over 20 years that these bilateral negotiations do not lead to results and instead give the occupation cover to continue its policy of occupation and aggression on the ground through building settlements. We must stop these negotiations,” Jarrar said.

Comrade Abu Ahmed Fouad, member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, strongly condemned the suppression of a mass march of our people by the security services in Ramallah. These demonstrators came out to express their opinion against a return to negotiations and were attacked, said Fouad, noting that this is contrary to the rules and the fundamental principles of democracy and the right of people to free expression. Fouad said that what happened in the streets of Ramallah yesterday was a popular demonstration to pressure the PA leadership to stop the negotiating process.

He noted that the Zionist enemy has always been the first and last beneficiary of such negotiations, and that it is the right of the PFLP and the Palestinian factions to carry out activities and mass events to prevent any concessions at the exprense of the Palestinian people and the national cause. He said that the negotiations beginning in Washington do not represent the will of the people or the Palestinian liberation movement and should end immediately, and that the Front will continue its opposition to the negotiations and its struggle for an alternative national strategy that rejects the path of the Oslo Accords and the subsequent harmful agreements.

Comrade Emad Abu Rahma, member of the Central Committee of the PFLP, said that those responsible for the decision to return to negotiations with the government of the Zionist enemy must be held accountable, stressing that this action violates the decisions of the Central Council of the PLO, as well as the majority of political and social Palestinian forces, who oppose this humiliating return to the negotiations table.

Abu Rahma said further that the PLO Executive Committee meeting which preceded this arbitrary individual decision to return to negotiations confirmed the minimum terms of the Central Council, including a total halt to settlement construction, the release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and to consider international law and UN resolutions the reference for any negotiations. However, the decision to return to negotiations was taken in light of Israel’s refusal of these conditions, the deception of the US, and a promised release of a limited number of prisoners in order to provide cover for the Netanyahu government to continue its policies of Judaization, settlement and aggression against the Palestinian people.

He called for the broadest popular movement to bring down the Oslo approach and these negotiations, which have brought only destruction, siege and division to our people for 20 years, and to restore national unity based on resistance and confrontation of the occupation.

Hat tip: Vanya

 

 

The Palestinians don’t need peace. What they need is justice.

israel_palestine_map4.jpgSo here we go again – yet another round of US brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Amid great fanfare the world has been regaled with the usual rhetorical flourishes on the part of – on this occasion – current US Secretary of State John Kerry as to the determination and commitment of the US when it comes to achieving concrete progress in pursuit of a meaningful peace agreement.

As part of the process, Kerry has successfully negotiated the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli captivity. As an aside, one of the most telling facts when analysing the nature of this ongoing conflict is that there are currently around 5000 Palestinians being held by Israel while not one Israeli is being held captive by the Palestinians.

The bald truth is that the entire Palestinian population of Gaza and the West Bank are de facto captives of Israel, living under military occupation in the case of the West Bank, and under siege in the case of Gaza. Think about that for a moment – 4.4 million men, women, and children living under military occupation and siege in 2013, both in violation of international law, while the international community has up to now been content to sit by and do nothing.

There is no need for a road map or peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. All that is required is the requisite political will on the part of the United States to support and demand the application of international law in order to end Israel’s continued negation of Palestinian human rights and self determination. What is needed is the application of international law when it comes to the settlers and the expansion of Jewish settlements throughout Palestine.

The history of this conflict is long and deep. But the idea that it can be resolved by continuing to deny the Palestinians justice is fanciful. And nor is it just to ascribe equal weight to both sides. Even Israelis now acknowledge that Israel is an apartheid state. The fact that a recent convert to Judaism anywhere in the world automatically qualifies for Israeli citizenship, while a Palestinian refugee is prevented from moving back to Palestine to reclaim his right of return cuts to the heart of the issue.

This is precisely the problem with the terms of every round of peace negotiations we’ve seen going all the way back to Oslo in 1993. The key year in this seemingly and up to now intractable conflict is not 1967, as commonly presented and presupposed. The key year is 1948 and the process of ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and terrorism by which Israel came into being. It is this original sin, and the injustices which flowed and continue to flow from it, which must be addressed if there is to be anything approaching a meaningful resolution to the conflict.

Justice for the Palestinians is just as much in the interests of Israel and the Israeli people as it is for the Palestinians. Culturally, economically, politically, and socially, the occupation and siege of Gaza has poisoned Israeli society with fear, hatred, and racism.

Martin Luther King said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

When it comes to the question of Israel and Palestine the objective must be to overcome the chains of the past in order to forge a new tomorrow. The tragic history of the Jewish people in the 20th century has enveloped the Palestinians like a dark cloud of vengeance.

Punishing a people for daring to exist in the name of a people whose existence was almost extinguished in Europe could and can never form the basis of peaceful and positive mutual relations.

Only the strong can compromise and only equals can reach agreement. The notion that representatives of the fourth largest military power in the world can sit down with representatives of an immiserated and colonised people in an atmosphere of equality and respect in talks brokered by Israel’s sponsor, supporter, and key strategic ally is entirely fallacious. The US cannot claim to be an honest broker in these talks. Washington is not a neutral participant and never has been. This is illustrated by the appointment of Martin Indyk by John Kerry as the US peace envoy, tasked with handling the peace negotiations. Indyk is a former staffer with AIPAC, the influential pro-Israel lobby organisation based in Washington.

How can this man be trusted to be even handed in his approach to these negotiations? On the contrary, his appointment is an insult to the Palestinians and their too long history of suffering. The United Nations should be brokering these talks not the United States.

Ultimately, and definitively, only when Israel and the US recognises that peace can only come after justice and not before will anything approaching meaningful progress towards a lasting resolution to this decades-long conflict be possible.

Anything less is political embroidery.

Children of a Lesser God

For anyone with a Kindle, my new novel – Children of a Lesser Godis available free for the next three days as part of an Amazon promotion.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

‘The Gaza border, January 2009, just before the IDF launches a land invasion of the Gaza Strip as part of Operation Cast Lead – Israel’s land, sea and air assault designed to destroy the capability of the Palestinian resistance to launch rockets at Israeli towns and settlements adjacent to the Strip.

Waiting for the Israelis are members of the Palestinian resistance. Among them is 22 year old Azzam. On the other side, waiting to begin the assault with IDF’s elite Golani Brigade, is Gabi.

The story of both men unfolds in the hours preceding the assault. It is the story of a decades long struggle between two peoples who refuse to accept they are the Children of a Lesser God.’

The ugly business of the beautiful game – how football lost its soul

sarsakRecently The Independent published a global league table of football clubs according to the average salaries they pay their players.

It comes as little surprise to learn that sitting at the top of the table is Manchester City, which currently pays on average over £100,000 a week to its first team players. Just behind them sits Real Madrid at just over £90,000 per week, then Barcelona, and so on.

Focusing in on the English Premiership, the gap between the top paying club, Man City, and the second, Chelsea, is quite considerable at £100,764 per week against £78,053 per week respectively. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the Premiership league table for salaries, is Norwich City, paying its players a comparatively modest £19,434 per week on average.

If anybody was still in any doubt that the relationship between the real world and top flight football was at best now a tenuous one, a cursory glance at these figures should end them. Football has become an increasingly corrupt global business that reflects the very worst excesses of a free market gone haywire in its corrosive impact on wider society. Ostentation and obscenity sits at the apex of football, just as it does in every private multinational business, with no time for anything approaching restraint or decency. It is particularly telling that it is in Spain and the UK where the highest salaries in top flight football are paid, considering that it is in these countries where ordinary people are paying the highest price economically and socially under the weight of the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s. In fact, more than telling it’s an insult.
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Eve of Euro 2013 Film of Palestinian Football

Fantastic video made by Philosophy Football: State of play – football in Palestine 2013

In the autumn of 2011 Philosophy Football met Honey Thalijeh, then captain of the Palestine Women’s Football team. Inspired by what she told us about what football meant to her country we promised that when Euro 2013 opened in Israel we would be in Palestine.

From 5-18 June Israel hosts the second biggest international team tournament in European football, the Euro 2013 Under 21′s Championship. It’s the biggest international sporting event ever held in Israel. And England have a decent chance of winning.

But on the other side of the wall Israel built, football is played and watched in Palestine under the most abnormal of conditions. Massive restrictions of movement, 24-hour surveillance and illegal settlements and land grabs, yet on the football pitch, as recognised by FIFA, Palestine plays football as a nation.

Palestine football pitch t shirtThroughout the tournament Israel will do everything it can to keep attention away from football on the Palestinian side of the wall. Our film, shot over the past few days, will help to break this silence. On Tuesday it was premiered in Ramallah at the HQ of the Palestine Olympic Association and simultaneously released on YouTube.

Today Philosophy Football also launches our Palestine Football Supporters Club T-shirt for a game with no borders, no walls. JUST £17.99 – £5 OFF – For the opening week of the Tournament, usual price £22.99. Sizes S-XXL and womens fitted. The t-shirt is available from Philosophy Football here.

The shirt has been produced to popularise the cause of Palestinian football. This shirt will fund this first film and future initiative of this sort.

Boycott Israel’s hosting of the Euro Under 21′s

Philosophy Football 'Boycott Apartheid Israel' shirtOn Wednesday 5 June the Euro U 21′s football tournament opens in Israel. It’s the second biggest European tournament, England have a real chance of winning it, it’s the greatest sporting event Israel has ever hosted. And at Philosophy Football we’re not celebrating. Why?

Because no journalists question why Israel is hosting a European tournament. Every other country in that region plays football in the Asian Confederation but none will have any sporting ties with Israel. For one reason only, its brutally lethal mistreatment of Palestine.

In the 1970s Apartheid South Africa was isolated by a sporting boycott. Israel is every bit as discriminatory and murderous in its mistreatment of Palestinians as Apartheid South Africa’s mistreatment of its black majority. Israel cannot enjoy the normality of sporting and cultural relations until this is put right.

To mark the opening of the tournament, Philosophy Football launches as an alternative our ‘Boycott Apartheid Israel’ T-shirt. To the point, wear it with pride in Palestinian football; keep up with Palestinan football here.

Available for a SPECIAL LOW CAMPAIGN PRICE – JUST £14.99 from Philosophy Football

Israel: Stealing water from the Palestinians

One of the great Zionist lies is that Israel “made the desert bloom”. It didn’t. Palestine was doing just fine til Israel came along. But it isn’t now. Despite Ramallah getting more rainfall per year than London, water supplies are a real problem in occupied Palestine. Except for one group: the Israelis, and the illegal settlers. Israel steals vast quantities of water from Palestine, ensuring that the Palestinians are left with a pittance.

Not just that – Israel long ago made it illegal for Palestinians to sink wells, or to take water from Israeli wells. Palestinians are regularly shot, attacked and imprisoned simply for trying to get water.

The graphic below, from the excellent Visualising Palestine, describes the problem. Please feel free to share it – and next time a supporter of Israel tells you it’s a democratic, peaceful state, remind them: This is apartheid. Different roads for Jews. Military trials for Palestinians – in fact a completely different set of laws applied to Palestinians. Water denied to the Palestinians. “Skunk water” sprayed over Palestinian homes and farms. And, in Gaza, the deliberate total destruction of the sewer system, so the Gaza coastline stinks like a sewer and presents serious health risks to the population. This was carried out by Israel as a parting gift when it withdrew from Gaza and sealed its population in (along with massive destruction of Palestinian graves by IDF soldiers).

This is apartheid.

Israel - stealing West Bank water