As Iran Talks Resume, U.S.-Israel Ties Get Put to the Test Read more: Iranian Nuclear Talks Put Israel at Odds With U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, walks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Villa Taverna in Rome on Oct. 23, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, walks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Villa Taverna in Rome on Oct. 23, 2013

Last March, when President Obama swept into Israel determined to patch up the fraught relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the labored effort on both sides was so obvious as to be a bit painful. Israeli television carried every public moment of the visit live, including a midday tour Netanyahu gave Obama of new Israeli inventions. The highlight was the Rewalk technology, a kind of exoskeleton that allows a person who would otherwise be confined to a wheelchair to stand up and walk around.

“Now I can talk eye to eye,” Radi Kaiuf, a paraplegic Israeli veteran, told Obama.

“Well, we gotta get a picture of this,” the visiting American said, and snugged in with Netanyahu beside a gadget that, on top of everything else, captured the essence of their new relationship: awkward and far from natural, yes, but, hey, whatever works.

But eight months later, as talks resume Wednesday in Geneva on the fate of the Iranian nuclear program, Obama and Netanyahu once again are no longer talking eye to eye. Both leaders obviously want to prevent Iran from developing the atomic weapons that Tehran insists it does not even want. But a public rift has opened over the most effective route to blocking the perceived threat. And while Israel has no seat at the Geneva talks, the Jewish state plays a significant role in how they are perceived — especially on Capitol Hill, where already Obama faces so much hawkish skepticism he had to ask lawmakers to hold offon adding additional sanctions to let the talks run their course.

(MORE: Israel Remains Suspicious as Iran Nuclear Talks Stall)

The rift with Israel could come to a head this week, if negotiators complete an agreement that Washington says will only be temporary and Netanyahu warns will become permanent.

It comes down to perspective. All agree that Iran has the basic ingredients of a nuclear weapon. There’s also consensus that Tehran would need very little time — perhaps as little as a month — to assemble one, if it chose to do so. American negotiators say that’s exactly what drives the urgency for an interim agreement — a pact that obliges Iran to cease the most crucial work for the six months the parties say they need to make a more comprehensive bargain. The final pact may well demand more of Iran, but for now, “We need to put some time back on the clock,” a senior administration official said in advance of the first round in October.

Netanyahu says a single, comprehensive deal is the only way forward. He says Washington is dangerously naive — his warm embrace over the weekend of visiting French President François Hollande (“French kissing in the Knesset” ran one headline) was thanks to Paris stiffing up the terms in the last round of talks — and warns that Iran is not to be trusted to honor an interim pact. Look at what happened the last time a temporary deal was attempted, he says: the 2005 temporary halt of its nuclear program ended with Tehran simply resuming a project that had grown more technically advanced and robust while talks with European diplomats droned on without result.

If that happens again, Israel will once again face the question of whether to launch a military strike, notes Michael Herzog, a retired Israeli brigadier who served as chief of staff to Ehud Barak when he was Defense Minister, in Netanyahu’s last term. Barak and Netanyahu together drove the Iranian nuclear issue to the top of the global agenda, not least by repeatedly threatening to launch air strikes against Tehran. “I believe Israel will once again face a decision point whether or not to apply a military option,” Herzog says, adding: “I don’t believe they’re bluffing.”

(MORE: If Iran Can Get This Reactor Online, Israel May Not Be Able to Bomb It)

The gravity of that looming decisions accounts for the sharp, even combative tone used by Israeli leaders during the Geneva talks, Herzog says. “It’s why I believe they react so strongly before the deal is made, in order to avert what they fear will be a bad deal.”

Netanyahu and his ministers also warn that the West’s price of the interim agreement — the release of several billion dollars long frozen by Washington — will shatter enforcement of the economic sanctions that brought Iran to the bargaining table. One Netanyahu loyalist, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, insists the immediate sanctions relief will reach into the tens of billions, figures denied by U.S. officials.

Worst of all, Israeli officials warn, the temporary pact would leave Iran as a “threshold” nuclear power, granting international legitimacy to a nuclear program that retains the capability to sprint to creation of a nuclear weapon. “Nobody is concerned about the Japanese or British nuclear capabilities,” Steinitz said last week. “It’s totally different with Iran. If Iran will remain a threshold country, other countries in its vicinity will try to follow.”

For its part, Iran is girding for a throwdown on the crucial question of whether it has the “right” to enrich uranium. In a YouTube video released Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif solemnly frames the matter as one of “pride” and “integrity.” Some Iranians dryly noted that they couldn’t see what Zarif called “Iran’s message” because their government continues to block YouTube, as well as Facebook and other social media.

Read more: Iranian Nuclear Talks Put Israel at Odds With U.S. | TIME.com http://world.time.com/2013/11/20/as-iran-talks-resume-u-s-israel-ties-get-put-to-the-test/#ixzz2lCPUdrmO

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Excuse Me, But Israel Has No Right To Exist

The phrase “right to exist” entered my consciousness in the 1990s just as the concept of the two-state solution became part of our collective lexicon. In any debate at university, when a Zionist was out of arguments, those three magic words were invoked to shut down the conversation with an outraged, “are you saying Israel doesn’t have the right to exist??”

boycot israel

Of course you couldn’t challenge Israel’s right to exist – that was like saying you were negating a fundamental Jewish right to have…rights, with all manner of Holocaust guilt thrown in for effect.

Except of course the Holocaust is not my fault – or that of Palestinians. The cold-blooded program of ethnically cleansing Europe of its Jewish population has been so callously and opportunistically utilized to justify the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Arab nation, that it leaves me utterly unmoved. I have even caught myself – shock – rolling my eyes when I hear Holocaust and Israel in the same sentence.

What moves me instead in this post-two-state era, is the sheer audacity of Israel even existing.

What a fantastical idea, this notion that a bunch of rank outsiders from another continent could appropriate an existing, populated nation for themselves – and convince the “global community” that it was the moral thing to do. I’d laugh at the chutzpah if this wasn’t so serious.

Even more brazen is the mass ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population by persecuted Jews, newly arrived from their own experience of being ethnically cleansed.

But what is truly frightening is the psychological manipulation of the masses into believing that Palestinians are somehow dangerous – “terrorists” intent on “driving Jews into the sea.” As someone who makes a living through words, I find the use of language in creating perceptions to be intriguing. This practice – often termed “public diplomacy” has become an essential tool in the world of geopolitics. Words, after all, are the building blocks of our psychology.

Take, for example, the way we have come to view the Palestinian-Israeli “dispute” and any resolution of this enduring conflict. And here I borrow liberally from a previous article of mine…

The United States and Israel have created the global discourse on this issue, setting stringent parameters that grow increasingly narrow regarding the content and direction of this debate. Anything discussed outside the set parameters has, until recently, widely been viewed as unrealistic, unproductive and even subversive.

Participation in the debate is limited only to those who prescribe to its main tenets: the acceptance of Israel, its regional hegemony and its qualitative military edge; acceptance of the shaky logic upon which the Jewish state’s claim to Palestine is based; and acceptance of the inclusion and exclusion of certain regional parties, movements and governments in any solution to the conflict.

Words like dove, hawk, militant, extremist, moderates, terrorists, Islamo-fascists, rejectionists, existential threat, holocaust-denier, mad mullah determine the participation of solution partners — and are capable of instantly excluding others.

Then there is the language that preserves “Israel’s Right To Exist” unquestioningly: anything that invokes the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and the myths about historic Jewish rights to the land bequeathed to them by the Almighty – as though God was in the real-estate business. This language seeks not only to ensure that a Jewish connection to Palestine remains unquestioned, but importantly, seeks to punish and marginalize those who tackle the legitimacy of this modern colonial-settler experiment.

But this group-think has led us nowhere. It has obfuscated, distracted, deflected, ducked, and diminished, and we are no closer to a satisfactory conclusion…because the premise is wrong.

There is no fixing this problem. This is the kind of crisis in which you cut your losses, realize the error of your ways and reverse course. Israel is the problem. It is the last modern-day colonial-settler experiment, conducted at a time when these projects were being unraveled globally.

There is no “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” – that suggests some sort of equality in power, suffering, and negotiable tangibles, and there is no symmetry whatsoever in this equation. Israel is the Occupier and Oppressor; Palestinians are the Occupied and Oppressed. What is there to negotiate? Israel holds all the chips. They can give back some land, property, rights, but even that is an absurdity – what about everything else? What about ALL the land, property and rights? Why do they get to keep anything – how is the appropriation of land and property prior to 1948 fundamentally different from the appropriation of land and property on this arbitrary 1967 date?

Why are the colonial-settlers prior to 1948 any different from those who colonized and settled after 1967?

Let me correct myself. Palestinians do hold one chip that Israel salivates over – the one big demand at the negotiating table that seems to hold up everything else. Israel craves recognition of its “right to exist.”

But you do exist – don’t you, Israel?

Israel fears “delegitimization” more than anything else. Behind the velvet curtain lies a state built on myths and narratives, protected only by a military behemoth, billions of dollars in US assistance and a lone UN Security Council veto. Nothing else stands between the state and its dismantlement. Without these three things, Israelis would not live in an entity that has come to be known as the “least safe place for Jews in the world.”

Strip away the spin and the gloss, and you quickly realize that Israel doesn’t even have the basics of a normal state. After 64 years, it doesn’t have borders. After six decades, it has never been more isolated. Over half a century later, and it needs a gargantuan military just to stop Palestinians from walking home.

Israel is a failed experiment. It is on life-support – pull those three plugs and it is a cadaver, living only in the minds of some seriously deluded foreigners who thought they could pull off the heist of the century.

The most important thing we can do as we hover on the horizon of One State is to shed the old language rapidly. None of it was real anyway – it was just the parlance of that particular “game.” Grow a new vocabulary of possibilities – the new state will be the dawn of humanity’s great reconciliation. Muslims, Christians and Jews living together in Palestine as they once did.

Naysayers can take a hike. Our patience is wearing thinner than the walls of the hovels that Palestinian refugees have called “home” for three generations in their purgatory camps.

These universally exploited refugees are entitled to the nice apartments – the ones that have pools downstairs and a grove of palm trees outside the lobby. Because the kind of compensation owed for this failed western experiment will never be enough.

And no, nobody hates Jews. That is the fallback argument screeched in our ears – the one “firewall” remaining to protect this Israeli Frankenstein. I don’t even care enough to insert the caveats that are supposed to prove I don’t hate Jews. It is not a provable point, and frankly, it is a straw man of an argument. If Jews who didn’t live through the Holocaust still feel the pain of it, then take that up with the Germans. Demand a sizeable plot of land in Germany – and good luck to you.

For anti-Semites salivating over an article that slams Israel, ply your trade elsewhere – you are part of the reason this problem exists.

Israelis who don’t want to share Palestine as equal citizens with the indigenous Palestinian population – the ones who don’t want to relinquish that which they demanded Palestinians relinquish 64 years ago – can take their second passports and go back home. Those remaining had better find a positive attitude – Palestinians have shown themselves to be a forgiving lot. The amount of carnage they have experienced at the hands of their oppressors – without proportional response – shows remarkable restraint and faith.

This is less the death of a Jewish state than it is the demise of the last remnants of modern-day colonialism. It is a rite of passage – we will get through it just fine. At this particular precipice in the 21st century, we are all, universally, Palestinian – undoing this wrong is a test of our collective humanity, and nobody has the right to sit this one out.

Israel has no right to exist. Break that mental barrier and just say it: “Israel has no right to exist.” Roll it around your tongue, tweet it, post it as your Facebook status update – do it before you think twice. De-legitimization is here – have no fear. Palestine will be less painful than Israel ever was.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentary writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. You can follow Sharmine on twitter@snarwani.

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This Interviewer is Infuriating to Hear.

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Australia Supporting Palestine

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Israeli-Arab crisis approaching

In September, the U.N. General Assembly will vote on whether to recognize Palestine as an independent and sovereign state with full rights in the United Nations. In many ways, this would appear to be a reasonable and logical step. Whatever the Palestinians once were, they are clearly a nation in the simplest and most important sense — namely, they think of themselves as a nation.

Nations are created by historical circumstances, and those circumstances have given rise to a Palestinian nation. Under the principle of the United Nations and the theory of the right to national self-determination, which is the moral foundation of the modern theory of nationalism, a nation has a right to a state, and that state has a place in the family of nations. In this sense, the U.N. vote will be unexceptional.

However, when the United Nations votes on Palestinian statehood, it will intersect with other realities and other historical processes. First, it is one thing to declare a Palestinian state; it is quite another thing to create one. The Palestinians are deeply divided between two views of what the Palestinian nation ought to be, a division not easily overcome. Second, this vote will come at a time when two of Israel’s neighbors are coping with their own internal issues.

Syria is in chaos, with an extended and significant resistance against the regime having emerged. Meanwhile, Egypt is struggling with internal tension over the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and the future of the military junta that replaced him. Add to this the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the potential rise of Iranian power, and the potential recognition of a Palestinian state — while perfectly logical in an abstract sense — becomes an event that can force a regional crisis in the midst of ongoing regional crises. It thus is a vote that could have significant consequences.

 

The Palestinian divide

 

Let’s begin with the issue not of the right of a nation to have a state but of the nature of a Palestinian state under current circumstances. The Palestinians are split into two major factions. The first, Fatah, dominates the West Bank. Fatah derives its ideology from the older, secular Pan-Arab movement. Historically, Fatah saw the Palestinians as a state within the Arab nation. The second, Hamas, dominates Gaza. Unlike Fatah, it sees the Palestinians as forming part of a broader Islamist uprising, one in which Hamas is the dominant Islamist force of the Palestinian people.

The Pan-Arab rising is moribund. Where it once threatened the existence of Muslim states, like the Arab monarchies, it is now itself threatened. Mubarak, Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi all represented the old Pan-Arab vision. A much better way to understand the “Arab Spring” is that it represented the decay of such regimes that were vibrant when they came to power in the late 1960s and early 1970s but have fallen into ideological meaninglessness. Fatah is part of this grouping, and while it still speaks for Palestinian nationalism as a secular movement, beyond that it is isolated from broader trends in the region. It is both at odds with rising religiosity and simultaneously mistrusted by the monarchies it tried to overthrow. Yet it controls the Palestinian proto-state, the Palestinian National Authority, and thus will be claiming a U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood. Hamas, on the other hand, is very much representative of current trends in the Islamic world and holds significant popular support, yet it is not clear that it holds a majority position in the Palestinian nation.

All nations have ideological divisions, but the Palestinians are divided over the fundamental question of the Palestinian nation’s identity. Fatah sees itself as part of a secular Arab world that is on the defensive. Hamas envisions the Palestinian nation as an Islamic state forming in the context of a region-wide Islamist rising. Neither is in a position to speak authoritatively for the Palestinian people, and the things that divide them cut to the heart of the nation. As important, each has a different view of its future relations with Israel. Fatah has accepted, in practice, the idea of Israel’s permanence as a state and the need of the Palestinians to accommodate themselves to the reality. Hamas has rejected it.

The U.N. decision raises the stakes in this debate within the Palestinian nation that could lead to intense conflict. As vicious as the battle between Hamas and Fatah has been, an uneasy truce has existed over recent years. Now, there could emerge an internationally legitimized state, and control of that state will matter more than ever before. Whoever controls the state defines what the Palestinians are, and it becomes increasingly difficult to suspend the argument for a temporary truce. Rather than settling anything, or putting Israel on the defensive, the vote will compel a Palestinian crisis.

Fatah has an advantage in any vote on Palestinian statehood: It enjoys far more international support than Hamas does. Europeans and Americans see it as friendly to their interests and less hostile to Israel. The Saudis and others may distrust Fatah from past conflicts, but in the end they fear radical Islamists and Iran and so require American support at a time when the Americans have tired of playing in what some Americans call the “sandbox.” However reluctantly, while aiding Hamas, the Saudis are more comfortable with Fatah. And of course, the embattled Arabist regimes, whatever tactical shifts there may have been, spring from the same soil as Fatah. While Fatah is the preferred Palestinian partner for many, Hamas can also use that reality to portray Fatah as colluding with Israel against the Palestinian people during a confrontation.

For its part, Hamas has the support of Islamists in the region, including Shiite Iranians, but that is an explosive mix to base a strategy on. Hamas must break its isolation if it is to counter the tired but real power of Fatah. Symbolic flotillas from Turkey are comforting, but Hamas needs an end to Egyptian hostility to Hamas more than anything.

 

Egypt’s role and Fatah on the defensive

 

Egypt is the power that geographically isolates Hamas through its treaty with Israel and with its still-functional blockade on Gaza. More than anyone, Hamas needs genuine regime change in Egypt. The new regime it needs is not a liberal democracy but one in which Islamist forces supportive of Hamas, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, come to power.

At the moment, that is not likely. Egypt’s military has retained a remarkable degree of control, its opposition groups are divided between secular and religious elements, and the religious elements are further divided among themselves — as well as penetrated by an Egyptian security apparatus that has made war on them for years. As it stands, Egypt is not likely to evolve in a direction favorable to Hamas. Therefore, Hamas needs to redefine the political situation in Egypt to convert a powerful enemy into a powerful friend.

Though it is not easy for a small movement to redefine a large nation, in this case, it could perhaps happen. There is a broad sense of unhappiness in Egypt over Egypt’s treaty with Israel, an issue that comes to the fore when Israel and the Palestinians are fighting. As in other Arab countries, passions surge in Egypt when the Palestinians are fighting the Israelis.

Under Mubarak, these passions were readily contained in Egypt. Now the Egyptian regime unquestionably is vulnerable, and pro-Palestinian feelings cut across most, if not all, opposition groups. It is a singular, unifying force that might suffice to break the military’s power, or at least to force the military to shift its Israeli policy.

Hamas in conflict with Israel as the United Nations votes for a Palestinian state also places Fatah on the political defensive among the Palestinians. Fatah cooperation with Israel while Gaza is at war would undermine Fatah, possibly pushing Fatah to align with Hamas. Having the U.N. vote take place while Gaza is at war, a vote possibly accompanied by General Assembly condemnation of Israel, could redefine the region.

Last week’s attack on the Eilat road should be understood in this context. Some are hypothesizing that new Islamist groups forming in the Sinai or Palestinian groups in Gaza operating outside Hamas’ control carried out the attack. But while such organizations might formally be separate from Hamas, I find it difficult to believe that Hamas, with an excellent intelligence service inside Gaza and among the Islamist groups in the Sinai, would not at least have known these groups’ broad intentions and would not have been in a position to stop them. Just as Fatah created Black September in the 1970s, a group that appeared separate from Fatah but was in fact covertly part of it, the strategy of creating new organizations to take the blame for conflicts is an old tactic both for the Palestinians and throughout the world.

Hamas’ ideal attack would offer it plausible deniability — allowing it to argue it did not even know an attack was imminent, much less carry it out — and trigger an Israeli attack on Gaza. Such a scenario casts Israel as the aggressor and Hamas as the victim, permitting Hamas to frame the war to maximum effect in Egypt and among the Palestinians, as well as in the wider Islamic world and in Europe.

 

Regional implications and Israel’s dilemma

 

The matter goes beyond Hamas. The Syrian regime is currently fighting for its life against its majority Sunni population. It has survived thus far, but it needs to redefine the conflict. The Iranians and Hezbollah are among those most concerned with the fall of the Syrian regime. Syria has been Iran’s one significant ally, one strategically positioned to enhance Iranian influence in the Levant. Its fall would be a strategic setback for Iran at a time when Tehran is looking to enhance its position with the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Iran, which sees the uprising as engineered by its enemies — the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — understandably wants al Assad to survive.

Meanwhile, the fall of Syria would leave Hezbollah — which is highly dependent on the current Syrian regime and is in large part an extension of Syrian policy in Lebanon — wholly dependent on Iran. And Iran without its Syrian ally is very far away from Hezbollah. Like Tehran, Hezbollah thus also wants al Assad to survive. Hezbollah joining Hamas in a confrontation with Israel would take the focus off the al Assad regime and portray his opponents as undermining resistance to Israel. Joining a war with Israel also would make it easier for Hezbollah to weather the fall of al Assad should his opponents prevail. It would help Hezbollah create a moral foundation for itself independent of Syria. Hezbollah’s ability to force a draw with Israel in 2006 constituted a victory for the radical Islamist group that increased its credibility dramatically.

The 2006 military confrontation was also a victory for Damascus, as it showed the Islamic world that Syria was the only nation-state supporting effective resistance to Israel. It also showed Israel and the United States that Syria alone could control Hezbollah and that forcing Syria out of Lebanon was a strategic error on the part of Israel and the United States.

Faced with this dynamic, it will be difficult for Fatah to maintain its relationship with Israel. Indeed, Fatah could be forced to initiate an intifada, something it would greatly prefer to avoid, as this would undermine what economic development the West Bank has experienced.

Israel therefore conceivably could face conflict in Gaza, a conflict along the Lebanese border and a rising in the West Bank, something it clearly knows. In a rare move, Israel announced plans to call up reserves in September. Though preannouncements of such things are not common, Israel wants to signal resolution.

Israel has two strategies in the face of the potential storm. One is a devastating attack on Gaza followed by rotating forces to the north to deal with Hezbollah and intense suppression of an intifada. Dealing with Gaza fast and hard is the key if the intention is to abort the evolution I laid out. But the problem here is that the three-front scenario I laid out is simply a possibility; there is no certainty here. If Israel initiates conflict in Gaza and fails, it risks making a possibility into a certainty — and Israel has not had many stunning victories for several decades. It could also create a crisis for Egypt’s military rulers, not something the Israelis want.

Israel also simply could absorb the attacks from Hamas to make Israel appear the victim. But seeking sympathy is not likely to work given how Palestinians have managed to shape global opinion. Moreover, we would expect Hamas to repeat its attacks to the point that Israel no longer could decline combat.

War thus benefits Hamas (even if Hamas maintains plausible deniability by having others commit the attacks), a war Hezbollah has good reason to enter at such a stage and that Fatah does not want but could be forced into. Such a war could shift the Egyptian dynamic significantly to Hamas’ advantage, while Iran would certainly want al-Assad to be able to say to Syrians that a war with Israel is no time for a civil war in Syria. Israel would thus find itself fighting three battles simultaneously. The only way to do that is to be intensely aggressive, making moderation strategically difficult.

Israel responded modestly compared to the past after the Eilat incident, mounting only limited attacks on Gaza against mostly members of the Palestinian Resistance Committees, an umbrella group known to have links with Hamas. Nevertheless, Hamas has made clear that its de facto truce with Israel was no longer assured. The issue now is what Hamas is prepared to do and whether Hamas supporters, Saudi Arabia in particular, can force them to control anti-Israeli activities in the region. The Saudis want al Assad to fall, and they do not want a radical regime in Egypt. Above all, they do not want Iran’s hand strengthened. But it is never clear how much influence the Saudis or Egyptians have over Hamas. For Hamas, this is emerging as the perfect moment, and it is hard to believe that even the Saudis can restrain them. As for the Israelis, what will happen depends on what others decide — which is the fundamental strategic problem that Israel has.

 

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Song Banned in America

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It’s Time To End This Seige For Good

Viva Palestina is returning to Gaza this December with our sixth major international aid mission to bring an end to the illegal siege. Much has changed for the Palestinian people and the wider region in the 11 months since our last convoy. Dictatorship has fallen in Egypt. Palestine has moved up the international agenda. Yet the siege on Gaza remains. Israel recently blocked the second international flotilla. Major aid agencies report that the situation in Gaza is as bad as ever. Civil society organisation and NGOs in Gaza have issued an appeal to the transitional Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing for the free movement of people and goods.

A promised partial opening earlier this year did not go far enough and has largely been reversed. Meanwhile, the condition of Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Jerusalem continues to deteriorate with ongoing illegal settlement building and the construction of the apartheid/separation wall. Outside Palestine, conditions for three million Palestinian refugees living in camps remain desperate, despite UN and international recognition of their right to return to their homes. The VP convoy will be highlighting the call to open Rafah and also the conditions facing Palestinians in exile and under occupation. It will aim to arrive just after Christmas, on 27 December, the third anniversary of the beginning of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead attack on Gaza.

At this time of year, the world’s Christian communities and many others are particularly focused on Jerusalem and the crisis facing the inhabitants of that ancient city will also be part of our message. 

All four of VP’s previous convoy’s have successfully entered Gaza. As well as bringing millions of pounds of desperately needed medical and humanitarian aid, we have been told by people in Gaza and by supporters of the Palestinians in Egypt that they have helped play a role in highlighting the unjust policy of the now ousted Mubarak regime in maintaining the siege. The democratic upsurge in Egypt opens the prospect of ending that siege for good. We will be working in partnership with humanitarian organisations in Egypt to help to bring that about before another year of unnecessary suffering is inflicted on 1.5 million people subsisting in what British prime minister David Cameron has described as the world’s largest open air “prison camp”. 

We ask you to join us in this mission, which again will enjoy widespread international support. Experience has shown that successful missions to Gaza require a high level of organisation and planning. The VP management team has built up that experience with hundreds of volunteers who have taken part in our previous convoys and other events. So everything from decisions on what aid to bring to what volunteers should expect of themselves and the mission as a whole is based on those successful convoys and nearly three years of experience. 

We believe the time is ripe to finally end this siege with a massive return convoy, with considerable Egyptian participation, and to raise the underlying reasons for the humanitarian suffering of the Palestinian people as a whole. 

 

 We will be opening registration shortly. Please send an email to tony@vivapalestina.org to register your interest, and we will let you know when registration is open.

We will be heading off from London at the end of November to arrive in Gaza on 27 December. International participants will be joining en route. Further details will be coming out over the coming weeks, so make sure you are on our mailing list. 

Not everyone can take part in the convoy directly. But tens of thousands have supported our efforts and without them the convoys would not have taken place. You can raise money and send it to us to purchase the medical and humanitarian supplies. You can spread the word about the convoy through your networks. You can volunteer to help with vehicles, fundraising, outreach and other areas. The people of Gaza deserve the highest quality materials and professionalism. What they need above all is the end to this blockade and the restoration of trade and commerce ties that can allow them to rebuild their economy. 

With your help, we aim to assist them in achieving that – this Christmas.

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