A ‘two-state solution’ to the Israel-Palestine conflict?

Map of Palestine.   Labels show 2009 borders. (click to magnify – makes for a very good topographical map)

The following is a report of an ALP/Union Forum titled A two state solution to the Israel Palestine conflict held at Qld parliament on Remembrance Day, 11th November 2009.

The forum was well attended by about 100 people from unions and by ALP members and people from the community.

There were current and former ALP MLAs and councillors and union officials present. The forum was sponsored by various unions including the Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU), Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, Qld Branch (CEPU) and the Plumbers Union.

There were several community and other groups and associations represented including the Qld Palestinian Association (QPA), Just Peace, Justice for Palestine. Members of the National Union of Students and people from the Jewish community and the Foreign Affairs editor of the Courier Mail were also present.

This report was prepared from notes written by the author at the forum. I made a written request well in advance of the forum to record it (on film) but this was refused on the basis that it was a private meeting of ALP and Union members.

I noticed that the foreign editor of the Courier Mail was present and took notes (but not as many as I did). I have tried to faithfully document what was said at the forum. I take responsibility for errors, omissions or misunderstandings. I ask that anyone who has evidence of error to please let me know and I will try to correct them.

The forum discussion was on the following set issues:

• What do we mean by a two state solution?

• How best to achieve it and what are the obstacles?

• What are the consequences if a two state solution fails?

Labor 4 A Just Palestine leaflet

The panel and audience were asked by the chairperson, David Forde, not to stray from this topic.

The policy of the ALP is expressed in a motion that was passed at the recent 2009 National Conference of the ALP: It is “a commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict, based on Israel’s right to live in peace within secure borders, and in recognition of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own state. Australia supports a negotiated solution to the conflict consistent with UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338”. See Endnote (8).

The panel was:

Senator Claire Moore, Labor Senator for Queensland

Shayne Neumann MP, Federal Member for Blair

Ron Monaghan, Secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions

Ambassador Izzat Abdulhadi, Head of the Palestinian Delegation to Australia, NZ and Pacific

Peter Wertheim, Executive Director, Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

All speakers professed to be in favour of a two state solution. One of the ALP speakers, Shayne Neumann told us that it had been ALP policy since 1947 ever since ALP leader Doc Evatt presided over the UN when it mandated the formation of the state of Israel. This claim went unremarked in the debate that followed. Each speaker was given five minutes to outline their views.

By ballot, Izzat Abdulhadi spoke first. David Forde introduced Izzat by saying that he was born in 1957 in Nablus on the West Bank. He was the founder of the Bisan Center for Research and Development working as an advocate with NGOs and in 2005 became the head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia.

Izzat defined the ‘two state solution’ as two states [Palestine and Israel] each with full sovereignty and recognised borders. He spoke about the pre-1967 borders. He mentioned Jerusalem as a stumbling block. Should it be shared by Jews and Muslims? Should it be international? He said that US may be perceived not to be an honest broker and therefore becomes an impediment to a negotiated settlement. He mentioned extremism in the Arab world and a lack of understanding between Israel and Palestinian radicals. He said that this brought about more bloodshed. He mentioned the so called Jordanian option which meant the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank of all Palestinians. A counter to that was the Palestinian call for a unilateral withdrawal by Israel from the West Bank. He tried to lay out the obstacles to this solution but, at this point, Izzat’s allotted time was up, he tried to read quickly through the rest of his prepared speech but I [and, I suspect, others] could not pick up what he said. There were sound problems in the hall at this time and at various times during the night.

Shayne Neumann was up next. The chairperson, David Forde, introduced Shayne as the Federal ALP member for Blair who was interested in health care and disability services and was involved in a number of community groups. Neumann said that this was an old CV and that his wife would divorce him if he still was a member of these groups because she would never see him before midnight if he still belonged to them (as well as being a federal member). David Forde said that Neumann had worked at the Dinmore Meatworks and later went on to get a degree in law, economics and government.

Shayne Neumann began by saying that the ALP had always supported the two state solution ever since Doc Evatt(2)was in the UN and voted for Resolution 181 which was the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947, setting up the state of Israel. Another prominent ALP leader Arthur Caldwell led 35 thousand Jewish refugees to Israel, he said. He applauded the motion at the recent ALP national conference where Dr Mike Kelly and Warren Mundine recommitted the ALP to a two-state solution by supporting the latest peace initiative and demanding secure borders for Israel. He said that both Deputy Prime Minister Gillard and Foreign Minister Smith in a speech on 19 May 2009 underlined the need for sovereign rights for Israel. He claimed that the ALP had held this same position on Israel for decades. He said that different colonial powers had influenced the region for ‘decades, no millennia’. He was in favour of a viable state in Palestine.

He identified himself as ‘a Christian, not a Jew’. He said that Israel should not expand settlements in the West Bank. He said that Israel needs partners for peace in Gaza and not Hamas which he said that Australia regarded as a ‘terrorist organisation’. He said that we need moderate elements which he said was possible. He referred to a Jordanian accord in 1994 where there were ‘moderate reform elements’. He called on Abu Mazen to stand for election for Palestinian president in January 2010. [ Neumann is referring here to Mahmoud Abbas’s (Abu Mazen) recent statement that he will not be running in the upcoming Palestinian elections.] He said that this is necessary because there should be no coups like that in Gaza and we needed people opposed to Hamas. He said that he had been through the check points and understood the feelings of those who had to also. He said that martyrdom was not a proper vocation’ for young Palestinians.

He read out statistics from Israeli government prepared document about 8,000 rockets being launched from Gaza after Israel withdrew. The document said that 3,000 were launched in 2008. Neumann said that Israel had every right to defend itself. He read out that Palestinians ‘had fired Kassam rockets since Israel’s 100% withdrawal from Gaza’. He quoted numbers and said that the Qassam rocket attacks were carried out in Sderot and elsewhere, that ‘rockets fell on a kindergarten, a synagogue, a school.’

David Forde then introduced the next speaker but before he did said he was the seconder of the Dr Mike Kelly motion at the ALP national conference [It was David Forde who got the ‘two-state solution’ motion to the floor of national (and state and regional) ALP conferences].

The next speaker was Peter Wertheim who said that he supported a two state solution as the only one possible but that it had a long way to go. He said that we should be aware of some basic realities namely that he was talking about land area about half the size of Tasmania and that half of Israel is desert.

The population break down was five million Jews, and about five and a half million Palestinians, Bedouins and others. He said that there were many emotions provoked by this issue and that it was not about religion. He said that there were ‘deeper drivers’ than religion and they were ‘fear and hope’ which were universal to the human experience. There was fear of domination in the same way that Kurds were fearful of domination by the Turks and the Irish by the English. Along with that there was hope that Israelis with a unique language and culture would aspire to be a free people in our own land. He said that this was a universal aspiration and that even though many deride nationalism it is still a real and worthwhile hope.

Wertheim said that the derision is a western attitude coming from people who have never had sovereignty denied them. He said that there should be respect for the government of each group. He suggested that 93% of the West Bank is Palestinian and 7% of the total area be  absorbed into Israel. He identified the Temple Mount as a sacred place for the Jews. He said that a handful of the original 1948 refugees remained alive and that a solution had to be found for them. However their children were in a different category and could not expect the same right. He said that water sharing and house demolition were obstacles as was the split between Hamas and Fatah i.e. that the Palestinians did not speak with one voice. He said that we need peace.

The next speaker was Ron Monaghan from the Qld Council of Unions. He said that he believed in the two state solutions with integrity of borders. He tried to take a workers view of the situation for the Palestinians he said that he had plagiarised some facts and opinions. He talked about the occupation since 1949 and that Israel had built 178 settlements that cut through the territory and national identity of the Palestinians. [Far more settlements have actually been built in that time. See Palestine Monitor]

Monaghan said that settlements were continuing to be built. And that the Israeli army supports these settlements. He said that from a ‘workers point of view’ it was hard to see that going in and out of Israel from the West Bank prevented people from going to work. He said that this was a deliberate policy to make West Bank part of Israel. He said that it made Palestinian people dependent on Israel especially when you look at the settlements. This total dependence on Israel for work, electricity and water and with the occupying force closing the border meant that they had no means to live. To have a dependant state like this meant dispossession. It is up to the people with power to change not the dependant people. After the six day war there was military control and this led to a concept of dispossession and a denial of people the right to redress grievances. Since this time the economy had changed from an agrarian to a service economy that was dependent on Israel. The roads were creating Bantustans (3) and that a two state solution was therefore needed.

Claire Moore was next. Claire said that she wished to give her own personal view and that it was not the view of the party or the government however it was the view that she expressed in the (Labor) caucus. She said that she had not visited that part of the world. She re-iterated that it was smaller than Tasmania.

Senator Moore said that she was a 1970s person and was informed by the books of Leon Uris (4) and supported the freedom struggle for Israel. She was deeply impressed by their struggle but when she looked into the issue she became concerned. She said that she came from a human rights perspective and was concerned about attacks on the Palestinian people and lack of human rights. Claire had concerns for the safety and security of Israel. ‘There is a need to create security for everyone under threat. It is difficult because there is lack of open media. Everything is coloured by individuals point of view and this leads to argument that is not the way to … (resolve things?)’

Claire Moore said no one has spoken about what a ‘two state solution’ really means? Since the 1967 boundaries, there have been massive changes in population. Claire referred to the Goldstone report which she said found fault on both sides but that there was a great difference in the numbers killed but that is not the only determinant of what happened – she said – because of ‘the history of what built that up‘. She suggested that Australians use the United Nations better; international media, citizens of Australia need to change and not “throw opinions across the world ..Every now and then the UN votes on how bad it is. Change won’t happen from outside, that approach is guaranteed to fail … People put own views forward and others are the enemy.”

Questions and Answers

Andrew Dittmer, the state President of the ALP was the convenor for questions and answers. David Costello the foreign editor of the Brisbane Courier Mail asked ‘that with respect to the two state solution that the % of the west bank available to Palestinians was more like 50% when you took into account the roads and walls not the 90% suggested in the talk. He said that settlements had annexed parts ‘right through the West Bank’. Peter Wertheim said that Clinton had nearly obtained agreement in a joint statement by Israel and the PLO in 1997 based on 7% of the West Bank being absorbed into Israel. He said that between 50% – 70% do not trust the other side. This is true of Israel because of the rockets fired on Tel Aviv, he said.

Izzat Abdul Hadi said that there was not equality on both sides and that East Jerusalem is excluded from a settlement.

There was a question about the position of Netanyahu(5) as leader of the government being counter to a settlement. Peter Wertheim said that the Palestinian side is divided while there is an Israeli concensus. He said that while there are two groups, Fatah and Hamas, (on the Palestinian side) they are hard to deal with. He said that from his experience of going there and listening to his family and friends that Israel is ready to do a deal but that the Palestinians are not.

Netanyahu in the US to meet Obama
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in the US to meet President Obama

One person said that there should be a question about water given that it was the day of the Mary River decision by the federal labor government. What about the water situation for the Palestinians?

Shayne Neumann said that Israel is one of the best water recyclers in the world but that they should allow more water for the Palestinians.

There was a question of Peter Wertheim as to what he meant when he said that Israel be a Jewish State. He said that he was not going to get involved in a polemical discussion and that he had already spelt out what he meant. He said that (Israel be) a secular state, in the non-religious, cultural sense. He said he meant a Hebrew speaking people with their own identity. He was then asked about others who lived in Israel namely Christians, Arabs, and ‘minority groups’. He said that these groups have legal status and some are representatives in the parliament (Knesset). He said that (under a 2 state solution) they (Arabs) have the option of becoming Palestinian citizens. He said that Hebrew language and culture was derived from the same culture as the Arabs.

Annette Brownlie (Nurses Union and Just Peace) asked why Australia did not vote to support the Goldstone Report (6)? Claire Moore said that ‘we do not know‘. Claire Moore said that when she found out she would be letting people know. Shayne Neumann said that the Goldstone Report was unbalanced (concerning Israeli war crimes) and that there were human rights violations on all sides (meaning by Hamas). At this point, Khalil Hamdan, a Palestinian from the town of Nablus, raised his hand to speak as he did on several occasions before and after, However Khalil Hamden was refused permission to speak (he had questioned why he was not invited on the platform), except on one occasion, Khalil said that he was one of the 1948 Palestinian refugees and that they should have the right of return.

Others members of the QPA including their President, Mr Jehad Abu Dabat, tried to get the attention of the chairperson but were not given the call. Khalil Hamden‘s comments were largely ignored. Peter Wertheim said that he would not enter into a polemical debate. The president of QPA was acknowledged briefly at the beginning of the forum by the chairperson.  At one point in the forum Mr Abu Dabat got up in protest at Shayne Neumann’s remarks and went to leave. He was urged not to leave by other members of the QPA present at the forum. He stayed but remained standing throughout the remainder of the forum. In contrast to the lack of correct protocol by speakers and chairperson alike, the members of the Qld Palestinian Association remained disciplined throughout.

A member of the National Union of Students asked about the Israeli government’s offer of free trips to Israel to political groups. Peter Wertheim said that there are all sorts of programs available to educate people about Israel and that unions have guided tours of the occupied territories. Ron Monaghan said that Israel had a worldwide network – the Israeli lobby- yet the Palestinians did not have many powerful friends and it was this that dictated the solution. He said that it was up to the powerful to introduce a just solution, the responsibility lay with them.

Jeff Knight from the Plumbers Union said that Shayne Neumann had repeatedly asserted that there was equal blame (in the conflict) on both (Palestinian and Israeli) sides. Jeff asked what could the Israelis do tomorrow to resolve the conflict? He said that Israel could release 10,000 Palestinain prisoners, Israel could allow medicines into Gaza and permit sick people to leave, they could stop building settlements and withdraw from the West Bank. He said that there were a lot of things that Israel could do tomorrow and that there were very few things that the Palestinians could do to solve the conflict.

Shayne Neumann said that Hamas could stop firing Kassam rockets. The members of the QPA present said that they had stopped firing rockets. Shayne Neumann said that the blockade would end if Hamas ‘signed a binding guarantee’ that they would ‘cease smuggling arms and weapons into Gaza’. He appeared to be reading from notes when he said this. Members of the audience said that Hamas were bringing in food and medicines through the tunnels (into Gaza) as well.

There was a final question from a unionist who asked why Shayne Neumann was determined to sound more like the Likud than the Likud itself (7). He asked if the large donations to the Australian Labor Party by the Israeli lobby had anything to do with the ALP’s pro-Israel stance (to much applause from one section of the room). Senator Claire Moore said that in the circumstances it was best that she answer the question. She said that donations to the party have absolutely nothing to do with their policy making, that the two are separate. Shayne Neumann interjected that he would fit comfortably in the Israeli Labour Party.

Andrew Dittmer summarised what was said by the speakers and thanked the panel and the forum was closed and a BBQ was had outside. I did not attend the BBQ.

Ian Curr
A supporter of Justice for Palestine
13 November 2009

PS Across the Brisbane River, at the same time as the forum, other supporters of Justice for Palestine protested peacefully against a Music A Viva concert at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. The concert was given by The Jerusalem Quartet which has ties with the Israeli state. Before the concert, the protesters made their own music, singing and playing in tribute to the struggle of the Palestinian people.

Map of the Middle East (click to magnify – makes for a very good map)


(1) Israel, armed by the US, occupied Palestinian and neighbouring lands in Syria, Egypt and Jordan during the six day war in 1967.

(2) Dr H V Evatt was deputy prime minister in ALP Chifley government in 1947 and was later elected President of the United Nations on September 21st 1948. See H.V. Evatt and the establishment of Israel: the undercover Zionist

(3) A bantustan, black African homeland or simply homeland, was territory set aside for black inhabitants of South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia), as part of the policy of apartheid.

(4) Leon Marcus Uris (August 3, 1924 – June 21, 2003) was an American novelist, known for his historical fiction. His two bestselling books were Exodus, published in 1958, and Trinity, in 1976. In the early 1950s, he was hired by Edward Gottlieb, an American public relations man seeking to improve Israel’s image in the United States, to write a novel about Israel’s origin that portrayed Israel in a favourable light.

(5) Benjamin Netanyahu (born 1949), Prime Minister of Israel 1996–1999, and again from March 31, 2009.

(6) Head of the UN Fact Finding Mission Justice Richard Goldstone presented the report of the Mission to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 29 September 2009, urging the Council and the international community as a whole to put an end to impunity for violations of international law in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. See http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/FactFindingMission.htm

(7) Likud (Hebrew: הליכוד‎ HaLikud, lit. The Consolidation) is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud’s victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country’s political history, marking the first time the left had lost power. Following the 2009 elections, the party appears to have mostly recovered from its losses in the 1990s, and now leads the Israeli government under Prime Minister Netanyahu.

(8) “Entrenched behind UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967, Australia had supported subsequent UN Resolutions on the welfare of Palestinian refugees while casting an abstention vote or opposing those which dealt with political matters. The findings of successive enquiries by the Federal Parliament’s Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence were sympathetic towards Israel and silent on the national aspirations of the Palestinians.” — Pierre Hutton Australian diplomat to Lebanon in 1975.

Contact with the Palestinians by Labor leaders did not occur officially even when Labor regained government  in 1983. “The Arab League could set up an office in Australia but, added the Minister (Bowen), not with anyone on its staff who was a member of the PLO. The Government, in formulating Middle East policy under Prime Minister Hawke, still needed to ascribe the greater importance to the chances of “dissension” in Australia.” from The Legacy of Suez by Pierre Hutton

Related articles

A Just and Lasting Peace?

Review of Palestinian Days Film Festival, Brisbane

Further Reading

The Legacy of Suez by Pierre Hutton

22 thoughts on “A ‘two-state solution’ to the Israel-Palestine conflict?

  1. N Callaghan says:

    Good report. I didnt know this was on. Is there any chance you could post up prior notification of events such as this one in advance?

    1. Query about Bulletins/Notices/Comments says:

      Hello N Callaghan,

      You can find notification of such meetings under Bulletins/Comments section on the right of the WBT webpage.

      Please let others know about this.

      The convenor of the meeting told me beforehand that the forum was open to ALP and Union members. It was not till after the meeting that he advised that exceptions were made to include other sections of the community i.e. Palestinian and Jewish people.

      Ian Curr
      Ph: 07 3398 5215
      Mob: 0407 687 016
      Email: iancurr@bigpond.com
      Web: Workers BushTelegraph

  2. N Callaghan says:

    Meeting notices could maybe be done as seperate posts? Would be easier to find on the site.


    1. About meeting notices says:


      See new heading for Meetings, Rallies & Pickets on the right hand side (of the blogroll) at the top. Just click the hyperlink and it will take you to the relevant meeting.

      Thanks for the tip.

      If people wish to advertise Meetings, Rallies & Pickets send email to:

      Ian Curr
      Ph: 07 3398 5215
      Mob: 0407 687 016
      Email: iancurr@bigpond.com
      Web: Workers BushTelegraph.

  3. Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA says:

    I would like to draw people’s attention to the excellent information and policy statement of UNION AID ABROAD – APHEDA at http://www.apheda.org.au/projects/mideast/index.html

    Below is a synopsis I have put together from that webpage.

    Ray Bergmann


    Recent years have seen increased conflict, causing suffering, fear, insecurity and poverty for millions of Palestinians and Israelis. The ongoing conflict can achieve nothing for an increasingly militarised Israeli society, and increasingly despondent and impoverished Palestinian communities.

    In December 1948 UN General Assembly Resolution 194 stated the right of return or compensation for Palestinian refugees and displaced persons. Every year the United Nations reaffirms this right of the Palestinians to self-determination, to return to their homes and property, or to be adequately compensated for their losses. Every year these resolutions are ignored by Israel. Sixty years after al-Nakba, with the Palestinian refugees representing the longest-running refugee situation in modern history, the Question of Palestine remains one of the core issues of the international arena, a major fracture line in global peace.

    2009 marks 42 years of Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlement of the Palestinian territories – the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem – and of the Syrian Golan Heights. A unanimous vote on United Nations Resolution 242 following the June 1967 War required Israel to withdraw its armed forces from the territories occupied during the war and affirmed the need for “a just settlement of the refugee problem.” This UN Resolution is still outstanding, ignored by Israel for more than forty years, at great cost to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

    In military activities since the start of the al-Aqsa intifada on 29 September 2000, Israel has actively targeted and destroyed much of the physical infrastructure required to maintain the Palestinian community – government buildings, water facilities, sewage treatment plants, roads, hospitals, schools and agricultural crops. Much of this infrastructure had been built and paid for by international donors. The Palestinians are enduring continued military occupation, diminishing security, stolen land and water resources, a stagnant economy, massive unemployment, increasing civil conflict, a traumatised population and a growing generation of children whose education is curtailed.

    The rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories has forced the international community to switch its programs of development assistance to those of emergency relief.

    The Palestinians have a long history of an active civil society with a strong sense of community. Forcing the Palestinians into long-term dependency on international aid is undignified. While providing relief and support is the humane reaction to a crisis and the international community must uphold its responsibilities to respond to urgent humanitarian needs, this should also be coupled with insistence that Israel comply with all relevant international law – to which it is also signatory – with regard to its illegal occupation of territory and its own responsibilities of civilian protection of the occupied population under the Fourth Geneva Convention, 1949.

    A military occupation cannot be “won”. There can only be withdrawal from occupation, as required under international law. That is the humane and responsible reaction.
    In accordance with international law, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA supports national self-determination for the Palestinians, the right of the refugees to return to their homes, an end to the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and an equitable distribution of resources in the region.

    Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA supports the policy adopted by the ACTU Congress in 2003:

    “The ACTU supports the ‘road map’ and a genuine strategy for its implementation which gives new hope that real progress will be made to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, based on the co-existence of two sovereign states in line with United Nations’ resolutions. Furthermore, the ACTU opposes the establishment of the ‘separation wall’ as a violation of Palestinian human rights. The ACTU commends the ICFTU in its commitment and continued support of the Israeli and Palestinian trade unions to resume and strengthen their dialogue and co-operation.”

  4. Justice for Palestine meeting says:

    Hi all,

    There will be Justice for Palestine meeting this Wednesday, December 9 at 6:30pm in the TLC Building (2nd floor), 16 Peel St, South Brisbane.

    The meeting will plan for a vigil to remember the victims of the Gaza war. The vigil will be held on Friday December 18, 6:30-8pm in Brisbane Square. There will be more information and publicity about the vigil available later this week.

    in solidarity,

  5. Palestinian call for boycott and sanctions says:

    The document at http://www.kairospalestine.ps is a joint call from Christian Palestinian leaders to churches around the world to join the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel led by Palestinian civil society organizations.

    This call or “Kairos”, an ancient Greek term meaning the right or opportune moment is inspired by the liberation theology, especially in South Africa where a similar document was issued, was made sixty-one years to the day after December 11th 1948, the date of “the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 … calling for the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes of origin ‘at the earliest practicable date.’

    [Thanks to Ray Bergmann]

    1. A call to whom, by whom, for what? says:

      The document referred to reads:

      “The document also demands that all peoples, political leaders and decision-makers put pressure on Israel and take legal measures in order to oblige its government to put an end to its oppression and disregard for the international law. The document also holds a clear position that non-violent resistance to this injustice is a right and duty for all Palestinians including Christians.”

      Unfortuneately there is no specific call for Palestinians to boycott Israeli goods and services. Also the document requires that ‘legal measures’ be taken.

      As we have seen in the past few weeks, boycotts are starting to have traction in Europe against Israeli goods particularly those produced in the settlements. This has been followed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to consider banning work in Israeli settlements.

      Political leaders in the West and in the Arab world have been careful not to endorse ‘militant’ campaigns or boycotts organised in East, West, North or South. Their reasoning no doubt is partly self-interest — if sanctions can be used to cripple Israel they could be used against the US backed ruling elites in Egypt, the Emirates, and in Saudi Arabia. The Arab League has had a boycott to isolate Israel economically since 1948 but this is not part of the 171 Palestinian non-governmental organizations 2005 call for an international economic campaign against Israel now referred to as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

      This reluctance by political leaders to be part of militant opposition mirrors what happened during the economic sanctions campaign against South African apartheid. For example that sanctions campaign only got traction in the US after the fall of Communism. Then as now, Australia followed the American lead, economic sanctions were delayed until there was no fear that the African National Congress (ANC) would turn communist. Of course, there were sporting boycotts — like the strong opposition to the Springbok tour in 1971. Nevertheless that tour went ahead. In Queensland Bjelke-Petsersen declared a state of emergency and won a bi-election in Maryborough on the back of the racist support for the Springboks. It was not until the Kim-Hughes-led cricket tour of South Africa in the 1980s that the sporting boycott started to get legs.

      Interestingly, to recapture the strong fear of militancy that existed in the early 70s, and continues today, consider when Malcom X was asked by the mainstream media to outline his theory of black nationalism, the first question put to him after he gave a clear and concise account of his theory was:

      “Do you see yourself as being militant?”

      Would they ask the same question of Obama? But there is little fear of Obama being militant, is there?

      By the way, Malcolm X’s witty reply was:

      “No, I see myself as being Malcolm”.

      [See Malcolm X on Black Nationalism ]


      Does anyone know where in Palestine the webpage http://www.kairospalestine.ps emanates from?

      Does anyone know much about the ‘leading christian palestinians‘ involved ?

      For example, do they have a mass audience in Palestine itself?

      Are Palestinians themselves likely to heed their call?

      Ian Curr
      December, 2009


      1. Justice for Palestine adopts meeting procedures for 2010 says:

        Hi all,

        At the last Justice for Palestine meeting we decided that we would move to a fortnightly meeting schedule for 2010 (with additional meetings on a needs be basis). The meetings will be the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.

        We also adopted the meeting procedure/decision making process as below.

        in solidarity,

        Justice for Palestine was formed in January 2009 to organise the demonstrations against the Israeli massacre in Gaza. It is a broad coalition of organisations and individuals in Brisbane who support freedom for Palestine. Justice for Palestine activities are decided upon and organised at regular meetings which are open to all supporters of Palestine.

        Meeting process:

        decisions are generally arrived at by consensus, but where necessary are voted upon. Motions are passed by majority vote (more than 50% of the votes cast)

        At the end of each meeting a facilitator for the next meeting is decided upon by agreement of the meeting.

        a minutes taker is decided upon. Notes of the decisions and action items are posted to the Justice for Palestine Brisbane email list

        an agenda for the meeting is decided upon. It is encouraged that suggestions for agenda items are raised either at a prior meeting or on the email discussion list

        Adopted at Justice for Palestine meeting, December 9 2009

        1. JFP 'working bee' says:

          Hi all,

          A reminder about the working bee to prepare banners and signs for the vigil: this Wednesday (Dec 16), 6:30pm at 8 Gillingham St, Woolloongabba. Please bring a plate to share if you can.

          in solidarity,

  6. Ray Bergmann says:

    Ian Curr asks: Does anyone know where in Palestine the webpage http://www.kairospalestine.ps emanates from?
    Does anyone know much about the ‘leading christian palestinians‘ involved ?
    For example, do they have a mass audience in Palestine itself?
    Are Palestinians themselves likely to heed their call?

    Ray replies:

    At http://www.kairospalestine.ps/?q=node/2 the writers of the document reveal themselves as:
    · His Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah (Archbishop and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1987 to 2008)
    · His Grace Bishop Dr. Munib Younan (Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land)
    · His Eminence Archbishop Atallah Hanna (Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in Palestine and Jerusalem)
    · Rev. Dr. Jamal Khader (Chair of the Religious Studies Department at Bethlehem University, the only Catholic Christian university in the Holy Land)
    · Rev. Dr. Rafiq Khoury (Parish priest in Palestine’s Latin Patriarchate)
    · Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb (General Director of the International Center of Bethlehem and the founder of Dar al-Kalima School and Academy in Bethlehem, Palestine)
    · Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek (founder and head of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem)
    · Rev. Dr. Yohana Katanacho (Academic Dean of Bethlehem Bible College)
    · Rev. Fadi Diab (Parish priest of St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Zebabdeh in the northern West Bank located 15km southeast of Jenin and 2km from the Arab American University)
    · Dr. Jiries Khoury (of the Al-Liqa Center of Muslim and Christian Dialogue in Palestine’s Latin Patriarchate)
    · Ms. Cedar Duaybis (Founding member of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center Board in Jerusalem)
    · Ms. Nora Kort (Head of Office of the International Orthodox Christian Charities in Jerusalem)
    · Ms. Lucy Thaljieh
    · Mr. Nidal Abu El Zuluf
    · Mr. Yusef Daher (Director of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center – initiative of the Jerusalem Churches in association with the Middle East Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches)
    · Mr. Rifat Kassis – Coordinator (Active human rights and political and community activist. Founder of the Palestinian section of the international child rights organization Defence for Children International focusing on juvenile justice, child labor, child rights’ to education, child participation and children in armed conflict. Founder of a rehabilitation programme in Chechnya targeting Chechen children who have been injured and traumatized in the war. Executive Director of the East Jerusalem YMCA. Consultant at Dar Annadwa, the International Center of Bethlehem. Member of ICCO International Advisory Group, the Netherlands and member of the Advisory Group of Dan Church Aid – Denmark. Founder of the “Keep Hope Alive Campaign” and the YMCA/YWCA Joint Advocacy Desk. Co-founder of the Occupied Palestine and Golan heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI), a network works on contributing to establishing a social movement and advocating on ending the Israeli occupation to Palestine and the Syrian Golan heights. Co-founder of the Palestinian National Coalition for Christian Organizations in Palestine (PNCCO), a network from several Christian related organizations works on enhancing the unity between these organizations and giving a national voice to the Palestinian Christians in their struggle on ending the Israeli occupation to their land. Member of Board of Directors of The Alternative Information Center, Jerusalem, an internationally oriented, progressive, joint Palestinian-Israeli activist organization engaged in dissemination of information, political advocacy, grassroots activism and critical analysis of the Palestinian and Israeli societies as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, that strives to promote full individual and collective social, economic, political and gender equality, freedom and democracy and a rejection of the ideology and praxis of separation/apartheid.)

  7. 'If human rights fail?' says:

    Hello all,

    If you read the list provided by Ray Bergmann of the Palestinian groups involved in the call for boycotts you can see that the people listed are involved in advocacy groups, human rights groups, charities and NGOs.

    In short, their emphasis is on the struggle for human rights in Palestine.

    Unfortuneately there are no representatives or workers organizations listed, no unions that possess the power to mount a boycott from within. Nor are any of the political groups mentioned, groups that have organised marches and demonstrations against the building of the wall, against the demolition of houses and against the building of new settlements.

    Christian groups have been most affested by the occupation. These are the people that many in Australia like to appeal to because they are not ‘tainted’ by militant resistance, by violence, they are no doubt all moderate and well meaning.

    But their strategy failed Gaza. When human rights fail wat is to be done?

    We do not even hear discussion in the Brisbane groups of support for the other strategy in the resistance movement, currently led by Hamas with the participation of the leftist groups (PFLP, DFLP), the Fatah al-Aqsa Brigades, the Islamic Jihad and so on. As the report of Labor for Palestine suggests the two state solution the only strategy on the table.

    A mass boycott by Palestinians themselves against the purchase and production of Israeli goods would put enormous pressure on Israel’s economy.

    To achieve this would be a huge organisational task. But it would provide a great blow to Israel. The so called ‘Palestinian Captive Market’ would be released overnight from its chains. There would have to be hundreds of crossings carrying goods into the heart of the West Bank, all the way to Jerusalem. Markets would have to be set up to distribute these goods to the Palestinians to exist in order to resist.

    Like the convoy organised by George Galloway, ‘Viva Palestina’, many more caravans carrying goods from the outside world so that the goods on the inside lose their importance and therefore their value.

    You never hear people planning at this level of co-ordination or organisation. We hear about vigils, fund raisers but what about defiance? People are still looking to churches, governments, NGOs — Hamas is one exception — they have built a political virtue out of smuggling goods into Gaza. This is one reason why they outmanoeuved the secular opposition to Israeli apartheid and why solidarity groups like Labor for Just Palestine are more symbolic than real or practical.

    To strike at the heart of the Israel economy is to strike at the heart of capitalist supply and demand.

    I am not talking about dumping goods into Palestine here, I am talking about bringing in services and infastructure to help Palestinian enterprise in producing their own food and goods — to rebuild Palestinian markets and access to those markets to provide for social needs not for profit.

    As Ray Bergmann correctly points out ‘30,000 Palestinians are employed in the settlements and the unions are in a quandary about whether to ban Palestinian workers from such labour’. This would only be made possible by effective solidarity from without, from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and from Britain and Europe. And here we are at the other end of the earth talking about Christian groups, charities and NGOs – moderate well meaning people with ties to state and private enterprise.

    No such call is being made by this document @ http://www.kairospalestine.ps, or by this group @ http://www.kairospalestine.ps/?q=node/2, or by any other group mentioned.

    The Palestinian Authority (PA) is only reported to be considering calling for a strike in the settlements. Mahkmoud Abbas is more concerned with negotiation with Israel rather than defiance of the Israeli state.

    The list of people below is making a call to outside Palestine for legal action not a call from inside Palestine for illegal action.

    We can guess why this might be, repression by the Israeli state, the PA want to coexist with the state of Israel and not replace it with something better.

    In times past there have been many strikes inside Israel by Palestinian workers.

    But what are the unions doing now? There is plenty of talk about right wing Australian unions (like the AWU) hooking up with Israeli unions but nothing of solidarity groups supportring Palestinian workers organizations. The ACTU’s union aid abroad (APHEDA) does important aid work in Gaza and the West Bank but, to my knowledge, APHEDA does not support Palestinian unions directly. Once again it is engaged in humanitarian work in schools and in hospitals.

    It seems to me that solidarity groups in Australia have little or no
    knowledge of or, more importantly, connection with organised labour in Palestine.

    My point is that if solidarity groups here are to support a boycott campaign effectively where it hurts the Israeli economy surely there have to be direct links with Palestinian unions and their members particularly in the occupied territories.

    I see little interest or capacity for doing this. Why is this?

    What will Australian solidarity groups do if the human rights movement fails?

    Ian Curr
    December 2009

    1. Ray Bergmann says:

      Hello Ian,

      While I understand your argument about mounting a boycott from within you must also realize that Israel’s control over the economy of Occupied Palestine is so thorough that the only goods and services that can enter anywhere into designated Palestinian areas of Israel/Palestine are through Israel inspection and approval. No Palestinian organization (including Hamas) can boycott the essentials of life. Both the Fatah dominated PA and Hamas are so keen to get the essentials of life that they will accept such goods made in Israel if those are the only ones the UN agencies can, for example, bring into Gaza. Both the Palestinian trade unions and the UN do draw the line with products made in the illegal settlements, however it must be mentioned that 30,000 Palestinians are employed in the settlements and the unions are in a quandary about whether to ban Palestinian workers from such labour. Goods that are not the essentials of life have generally been supplied through smugglers but if insufficient supply cannot be guaranteed by the UN without Israeli approval then how much more can this be said of the smuggling economy.
      Several decades ago the tactic you suggest was an active one – though not trade union led:

      From London Anti-Apartheid News, Summer (1989)
      Within Palestine, renewed efforts around an effective boycott of (Israeli) agricultural produce are paving the way for a people-driven defense of Palestinian farming communities and a strengthened self-consciousness and pride.
      Already under the most adverse conditions Palestinian-only markets are being set up.
      Israeli goods have been burned in popular demonstrations, a symbolic refusal to allow the occupation to continue its stranglehold upon Palestinian life and economy. Boycott trade fairs are held and recently the trade unions are starting to join efforts. These operate under the knowledge that Israel will lose up to four billion dollars annually if a boycott can be fully applied by the Palestinian side.
      For Palestinians living under Israeli Occupation, each day is an act of resistance and the often used phrase is ‘to exist is to resist’.

      The full spectrum of the Palestinian trade union movement has expressed solid support for the BDS National Committee (BNC – The Palestinian Civil Society BDS National Committee) and for the global BDS campaign against Israel as an effective form of resisting its military occupation, war crimes and apartheid policies. But an international movement is required to make it effective. Israeli economy has not suffered by putting immense downward pressure on the goods and services allowed into Gaza or by excluding the majority of Palestinian workers from participating directly in Israeli industry.
      The Kairos Document is a signal that all of the Christian churches of Palestine also align with and support the coalition of Palestinian unions, political parties, NGOs and networks that leads the global BDS campaign.

      http://bdsmovement.net/files/BNC-Press-Release-PGFTU-Histadrut-BDS-ENG.pdf reports that:

      On November 14 (2009), Shaher Sa’ad (Secretary General of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)) … in an official speech [http://www.maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=240140] before thousands of Palestinian workers at a political rally in Nablus, he called again for “boycotting [all] Israeli goods” and “supporting local [Palestinian] products” as an effective “form of resistance against the Israeli occupation.”

      … PGFTU has officially endorsed the Palestinian civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, since it was launched on 9 July 2005, and has been a member in the BDS National Committee (BNC), the coalition of Palestinian unions, political parties, NGOs and networks that leads the global BDS campaign, ever since its inception.
      … Union leaders affiliated to all political parties represented in the PGFTU have insisted on the need to combat any attempts to undermine the BDS movement.
      Furthermore, the largest, most representative Palestinian trade union federation, the General Union of Palestinian Workers (one of the constituent mass organizations of the PLO), reiterated its steady support of BDS and denounced Sa’ad’s reported statements (as in the UK Jewish Chronicle) as falling completely outside the Palestinian trade union consensus behind the boycott of Israel. The Palestinian Federation of Independent Trade Unions also issued a similar position. It is worth noting that all three federations are part of the BNC.
      The Israel lobby groups in the UK and elsewhere have felt quite desperate lately in their abortive attempts to stop the spectacular growth of the BDS movement, particularly among major international trade unions. In South Africa, Great
      Britain, Ireland, Brazil, Canada and France trade union federations representing tens of millions of workers have endorsed – partially or fully – the BDS campaign against Israel. Many trade unions in Europe, Latin America and Canada have also announced their support for the Israel boycott, underlining the dramatic shift in international public opinion against Israel, especially in the aftermath of its war crimes against the Palestinian people in the occupied Gaza Strip, which were squarely condemned by the UN Fact Finding Mission led by South African Judge, Richard Goldstone.
      The BNC, including all three federations representing the Palestinian trade union movement, warmly salute all international trade unions who have endorsed BDS, confirming that this is the most effective and needed form of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the strongest challenge to Israel’s criminal impunity and exceptionalism. As in the struggle against South African apartheid, Israel’s occupation, colonialism and apartheid will only come to an end when international civil society shoulders the moral responsibility by holding Israel to account before international law and universal principles of human rights, and by treating it as a pariah state, as apartheid South Africa was, deserving comprehensive and sustained BDS campaigns.
      We urge all international trade unions to heed the call of Palestinian civil society, including the trade union movement, by endorsing BDS. We further urge all trade unions and trade union federations to sever their links with the Histadrut, a Zionist organization that has always played a key role in perpetuating Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of racial discrimination, and that has justified and applauded Israel’s war crimes in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009.


      Since the occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967, Israel has used its military rule to the advantage of Israeli corporations and economic interests, many times to the detriment of the Palestinian economy under its control. All Palestinian imports and exports have been controlled, restricting the competition with Israeli producers, and making the Palestinian consumer market into a captive market for Israeli goods. Regulatory and effective restrictions were imposed on the development of businesses that could compete with Israeli industries, and all basic and utility services were routed through Israeli firms. The Paris accords’ customs union continued the same decades-long policy imposed on the Palestinians.
      Severe restrictions on movement of Palestinian labor and products inside the occupied territories and to neighboring areas have further increased the dependency of the Palestinian economy on Israeli companies as employers and retailers. The growing network of checkpoints and walls has all but destroyed Palestinian local production and the Palestinian labor bargaining power.

      Exploitation of Palestinian Labor
      Israeli employers of Palestinian workers in the West Bank directly benefit from employing people under conditions of occupation. Restrictions on Palestinian movement limit the workers’ employment choices, and the workers’ dependency on security permits makes organizing almost impossible. Palestinian workers have no effective legal redress, and labor laws are not enforced.

      Palestinian Captive Market
      This category includes companies providing services or goods to Palestinians at high costs, exploiting the restrictions on movement imposed on the Palestinians who cannot purchase these goods and services at a competitive price locally or abroad. Most Israeli retailers in the occupied territories would fall under this category.

      This category also includes companies using their ties to the Israeli authorities to gain commercial advantages over Palestinian companies, and companies that collect Palestinian debts using their ties to the Israeli government (for example, Palestinian import and sales tax moneys collected by Israel, were illegally retained and then used to pay various debts to Israeli companies such as the Israeli electricity company).

      Africa Israel Alon Group Cellcom Israel Dor Alon MIRS Communications Partner Communications (Orange) Paz Oil Pelephone Communications Exploitation of Occupied Production and Resources.

      This category includes companies that pay below market prices for Palestinian products because Palestinian producers are restricted to selling to companies that can cross Israeli checkpoints or borders.

      It also includes companies that use or exploit Palestinian or Syrian natural and environmental resources under the protection of the occupation.
      With present conditions, almost all Israeli companies buying Palestinian products or using Palestinian natural resources would fall under this definition.

      Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Allied Holdings Ashtrom Group B. Gaon Holdings Ben Hasharon Cemex Eden Springs Elyakim Ben Ari Hanson Israel (formerly: Pioneer Concrete Israel) HeidelbergCement Hofrey Hasharon Kfar Giladi Quarries Leader Management and Development (formerly: Leader Company) Medan General Contracting Earth Roads and Quarries Meitarim Quarry Mordechai Binyamin and Sons Earth Works Readymix Industries
      Shapir Civil and Marine Engineering Tzifha International Veolia Environnement Yatir Quarry

      … it is crucial to remember that the Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation are part of the population of the “targeted country (of international boycotts),” and effectively part of Israel’s economic system.

      If we count the Palestinians living inside Israel along with those in the OPT, Palestinians already form the majority of the population under Israel’s control. The vast support that the call for sanctions generated among Palestinian civil society organizations demonstrates that there is indeed a very stable basis of support for international sanctions coming from within the targeted area.55

      We should keep in mind that the Palestinians are also expected to pay a price for the boycott. A boycott on Israel will certainly have adverse effects on the Palestinian population, at least in the short run. Some of these are:

      -Israel might retaliate against the Palestinians. Israel is already confiscating foreign currency sent to the Palestinians [Economic Roadmap; Israeli- Palestinian Perspective on Permanent Status, January 2004, Aix en Provence in Jerusalem, and Deen, Thalif, 2002.] and might increase confiscations if foreign currency grows scarce due to a boycott.
      -The demand for Palestinian labor in Israel might suffer. -Israel will likely import less from the Palestinians.
      -Israel may cut down its exports of second-grade goods to the Palestinians if a boycott comes into effect, thus leaving the Palestinians wanting.57
      Nonetheless, the price they may be forced to pay hasn’t deterred the Palestinians from calling for the boycott.


      The Political Economy of Israeli-Palestinian Interdependence
      Journal article by Rafael Reuveny; Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 27, 1999

      The Israeli and Palestinian economies are asymmetrically interdependent. Some scholars argue that the Palestinian economy cannot be viable alone. Others believe that economic links with Israel will promote peace. Supporters of separation argue that these links distort Palestinian development. I show that the current interdependence is associated with a cyclical Israeli-Palestinian violence and Palestinian economic decline. Assuming that an independent Palestinian state forms in most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 1 argue that Israeli-Palestinian relations require economic separation to be stable. Economic separation will deteriorate Palestinian welfare in the short run. Policies to make it viable are considered.

      In 1967, following the Six-Day War, a public debate started in Israel over the nature of the economic links between Israel and its newly occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip territories. One view, advocated by then-Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir, favored economic separation. An opposing view was advocated by then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who argued for economic integration. Supporters of integration won the debate, and by 1972 Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip were highly integrated. On the eve of the Palestinian uprising (Intifada), nearly 90% of Palestinian trade was with Israel. Furthermore, nearly 40% of Palestinian labor worked in Israel, generating about 35% of Palestinian national income. [1]

      … In the spring and summer of 1995, following terrorist attacks, the Israeli Labor government of the late Yitzhak Rabin considered a permanent and considerable reduction in the number of Palestinian laborers in Israel. The 1995 government of Rabin’s successor, Shimon Peres, however, decided to continue with extensive Israeli-Palestinian economic linkage, believing that it would secure peace. The 1996 Likud government of Benjamin Netanyahu also rejected separation, but out of fear that it would lead to an independent Palestinian state. As of early 1999, the two economies remained tightly linked.

      Any discussion of future Israeli-Palestinian economic relations must consider the political outcome of their dispute. Options frequently mentioned include an independent Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a state in noncontiguous parts, a binational Israeli-Palestinian state, extensive autonomy, and autonomy in small areas (i.e., the status quo). Polls find that most Israelis believe that an independent Palestinian state will form, and most Palestinians want statehood. The likelihood of statehood seems to have risen recently following the April 1999 letter sent to Palestinian Chairman Yassir Arafat by U.S. President Bill Clinton and the May 1999 victory of the Labor party’s leader in Israeli elections.

      In this paper, I assume that an independent Palestinian state will form in most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with full control over its natural resources and public policies.

      I refer to this entity as Palestine. Clearly, without Palestinian political independence, or if the Palestinian state will resemble a “leopard skin”–discontinuous small territories containing concentrations of Palestinians, denied a fair share of natural resources, with no room for natural population growth–the debate over economic integration versus separation loses much of its practical relevance. The political outcome of the dispute still is not known and does not necessarily have to be along these lines. This outcome is also not my paper’s topic. Given my premise, then, the central question of this paper can now be stated fully: Is economic integration–or separation–the best means available for Israel and a Palestinian state (formed in most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip) to secure a lasting and stable peace?


      Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign


      Defending Palestinian Food Sovereignty against Occupation and Expulsion

      Destruction of farming communities
      A fast-paced and parallel process of land confiscation and tightly sealed ghettos by means such as the 8m high Apartheid Wall, with no ability to move physically or have
      economic trade and a flow of goods, is a reality for Palestinians in the West Bank and
      Gaza. This policy seeks once and for all to ensure that Palestinian communities are
      unable to sustain themselves, paving the final path towards Palestinian transfer.
      Inability to market Palestinian products Palestinian markets and access to those markets have been completely destroyed… The destruction of this core market is part of the wider Zionist policies of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and all of Palestine.

      The checkpoints, choking all major cities as well as agricultural villages, ensure
      Palestinian produce is systematically stopped, sent back or left to rot while the products
      cultivated by the colonizers on stolen land pass smoothly through the checkpoints and
      along the Jewish-only roads.

      The Jordan Valley, which is an area for the Occupation’s agro-industrial development
      projects, has been completely sealed off from the rest of the West Bank for a year
      while Zionist settlements expand on Palestinian land.

      Since 1967 Palestinians are only permitted to farm and use lands that lie within a close
      radius to built up areas. Since 1983, a sophisticated network of Jewish-only roads,
      checkpoints, permit restrictions and trenches ensure that no Palestinian without official
      residence in the Jordan Valley – no truck drivers, no merchants – can cross to the Valley.
      Goods that are destined to leave or enter the Valley are highly restricted and monitored.
      (The sealing of the Gaza Strip has devastated the 1.37 million Palestinians living there, 60% of who now live below the poverty line. )

      The passage of goods (let alone people) from Gaza to the West Bank has been almost
      completely cut off since the beginning of this Intifada. Sales from the West Bank and
      Gaza to the rest of Palestine undergo so-called “security” processes that de facto ensure
      fresh goods are not tradable.

      Prevention of import/export
      While internal markets are destroyed, export of Palestinian products relies upon the
      enslavement of the Palestinian farmers to Israeli companies.

      In the West Bank, exporting “Made in Palestine” through Occupation checkpoints,
      authorities and processes and rules is hardly an option for any farmer’s fresh produce.
      Long delays in hygienic test centers, ports, packaging houses and customs offices and the
      careless unpacking of fruits and vegetables for “security” reasons ensure that Palestinian
      goods are not able to leave the country in good quality.

      Farmers are thus compelled to hand over their produce to the Israeli State owned
      company Agrexco and other Israeli exporters that sell the “Israeli products” in the world
      markets. Prices, conditions, amount and type of produce are all dictated to farmers who
      have little choice other than to accept the exploitation by the Occupation’s companies.
      The checkpoints, choking all major cities as well as agricultural villages, ensure
      Palestinian produce is systematically stopped, sent back or left to rot while the products
      cultivated by the colonizers on stolen land pass smoothly through the checkpoints and
      along the Jewish-only roads.

      The Jordan Valley, which is an area for the Occupation’s agro-industrial development
      projects, has been completely sealed off from the rest of the West Bank for a year
      while Zionist settlements expand on Palestinian land.

      Since 1967 Palestinians are only permitted to farm and use lands that lie within a close
      radius to built up areas. Since 1983, a sophisticated network of Jewish-only roads,
      checkpoints, permit restrictions and trenches ensure that no Palestinian without official
      residence in the Jordan Valley – no truck drivers, no merchants – can cross to the Valley.
      Goods that are destined to leave or enter the Valley are highly restricted and monitored.
      The sealing of the Gaza Strip has devastated the 1.37 million Palestinians living there, 60% of who now live below the poverty line.

      The passage of goods (let alone people) from Gaza to the West Bank has been almost
      completely cut off since the beginning of this Intifada. Sales from the West Bank and
      Gaza to the rest of Palestine undergo so-called “security” processes that de facto ensure
      fresh goods are not tradable.

      “Burned Land” policy
      In order to drive Palestinians off their land and to take over their fields for Israeli
      agribusiness and settlement, the Occupation has wrecked havoc to Palestinian agriculture:

      • Within the West Bank, there is a network of roads 1270 kilometers long which
      will be reserved for Jews only.
      • Between 2000 and 2004 according to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture,
      Israeli troops uprooted 1,145,154 trees and levelled 6,185 hectares of land.
      • Every summer Palestinian farmers are barred from extinguishing the fires
      destroying their crops
      • Several places are used by the Occupation to dump (sometimes toxic) waste
      without any restrictions and controls.
      • Israeli settlements, which are almost always located on top of a hill or at a high
      geographic location, allow their sewage water and waste to seep down or be
      dumped into Palestinian villages. This not only causes pollution of the
      underground water, but also leads to crop extinction.

      “Unsustainable agricultural development”
      On top of these stolen lands, Israeli agribusiness is flourishing. Hi-tech capitalist
      profiteering mixed with colonial conquest uses the exploitation of Palestinian natural
      resources and the destruction of its nature in order to grow its genetically modified crops.
      Israel is ranked sixth in the world in terms of the amount of genetically modified crops it

      Instead of local and traditional agriculture, export mass plantations destroy the ecosystem in the West Bank. In the hot and semi-arid climate of the Valley the intensive agricultural development that the Occupation works to implement is made possible only via hi-tech and genetically modified agro-industry. The Jordan River’s water resources have been drained by two enormous reservoirs. Natural springs have dried out as a result of the deep wells the Occupation uses to feed its agribusiness and settlements. The Dead Sea – a unique geological and natural oasis – risks drying out because of the lack of water flowing in from the Jordan River. Along with this Palestinians are denied the right to bore wells.

      The Occupation has taken the entire Palestinian share of the water resources of the Jordan River and has transferred the water from major West Bank water aquifers to meet
      demands in Israel and in the settlements. Of the 600 million cubic meters of water
      produced annually in the West Bank, Israel, the occupying Power, draws 490 million
      cubic meters while the Palestinians receive only 110 million cubic meters. More than 40
      deep-bore wells were also drilled in the West Bank for consumption by Israel.

      Towards the end of the 1970s, the occupying Power transferred responsibility over water resources from the military government to the Israeli national water company -Mekkorot. The result has been a severe water shortage for the Palestinian population and a drop or
      complete loss in agricultural output because Palestinian farmers have been forced to
      abandon their farmlands in order to find alternative means of livelihood. Palestinians are
      today one of the societies with least water access in the world. This lack of water and
      the rising prices for it are further rising prices for agricultural produce above the
      possibilities of Palestinian expenditure.

      The mostly state-owned Carmel-Agrexco packing houses prepare fruit, herbs, flowers,
      palm oil and wine for export, much bound for Europe, where it will be displayed on
      supermarket shelves as ‘Made in Israel’, despite the fact that it is produced in militarily
      occupied Palestine. In fact business is booming for Agrexco, which handles 60-70% of
      all goods produced in the illegal Settlements, and who have increased their exports by
      72% in the last three years.

      The food which can’t find international markets or whose quality isn’t suitable for export
      is dumped on Palestinian markets, forcing local producers out of business since they are
      unable to compete with subsidised goods being produced at their expense.
      How Israeli agricultural practices affect farmers all over the world Israeli agribusiness is a world leader in the capitalist hi-tech profiteering of our nature and the destruction of traditional farming communities. Their economy is based on the mistaken principles of trade as the solution to all problems, and on the development of expensive and dangerous technology like GMO´s as the way to supposedly boost production.

      This promotes the privatization of all sectors and services, including land,
      water, credit, marketing, extension, and really agriculture as a whole. But privatization
      cannot help the people, when privatization means that resources and services are only
      available to those who can pay for them let alone those who are excluded by a racist state.

      Israeli genetically modified organisms are exported all over the world destroying
      biodiversity and livelihoods. Its fertilizers and pesticides fuel mass plantations globally. It has been documented that extensive use of chemical fertilizers can render soils infertile.

      Multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements are seen by the agricultural biotechnology
      industry to spread these technologies. This kind of “development” that serves to tie communities around the world into globalization and dependency is promoted globally via MASHAV, the Occupation’s center for international cooperation.

      The agricultural research and development programs and activities of the center have
      been a core part of Israeli propaganda to the rest of the world. Established in 1958,
      MASHAV is part of the wider Israeli diplomatic mission to strengthen its grip over the
      developing world and it currently has projects in more than 140 countries. Through
      classes held in various countries as well as distance learning and seminars in Apartheid
      Israel’s universities, much of its projects focus on training for professionals from all over
      the world in ‘agriculture, dairy farming, desert ecology, early childhood education,
      emergency and disaster medicine, refugee absorption and water management,’ with over
      200,000 participants in MASHAV sponsored courses to date.

      It is of the utmost irony that Israel speaks with authority to the developing world on ‘refugee absorption’ while it is the perpetrator of the largest and longest standing refugee tragedy in the world today.

      Zionist ideology, dressed up as ‘aid’ and ‘humanitarianism’, belies the slogans of
      sustainable development; capacity building and supporting ‘emerging nations’, an attempt
      by Israel to distance itself from the destruction and havoc it reaps upon Palestinians on a daily basis.

      MASHAV also state their agricultural programme ‘is based on our belief that Israel’s agricultural miracle can be replicated in other countries facing severe food security
      challenges today.’ This includes ‘Israel’s own tested solutions for problems such as water,
      capital and land shortages’ that ‘can help the countries of the developing world transform their agriculture from traditional subsistence to sophisticated market-oriented production.’
      Whether strategies such as robbing water supplies from a captive people, forcing them into structures of cheap labour to fund Israeli growth (akin to apartheid South Africa’s system of racial capital), and stealing land for new settlements to deal with land shortages are featured in MASHAV programmes is unlikely. Its role as an institution disseminating myths regarding Israeli growth and development is extremely important as a propaganda exercise for Israeli agricultural production, hinged upon the expulsion of Palestinian people from their lands.

      What can be done – Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions
      Doing business with Israel is invariably doing business with the occupation ‘Don’t doubt the damage of the sanctions fight, devastating, them boycotts bite The more we know the more we can do, so get on down, it’s up to you Don’t mess, don’t wait, don’t hesitate, do your thing Hit the Apartheid State, cos’ the little bit more That we take away, the little bit closer.

      To the VICTORY day – AMANDLA!’

      From London Anti-Apartheid News, Summer (1989)

      Within Palestine, renewed efforts around an effective boycott of agricultural produce are paving the way for a people-driven defense of Palestinian farming communities and a strengthened self-consciousness and pride.
      Already under the most adverse conditions Palestinian-only markets are being set up. Israeli goods have been burned in popular demonstrations, a symbolic refusal to allow the occupation to continue its stranglehold upon Palestinian life and economy. Boycott trade fairs are held and recently the trade unions are starting to join efforts.
      These operate under the knowledge that Israel will lose up to four billion dollars annually if a boycott can be fully applied by the Palestinian side. For Palestinians living under Israeli Occupation, each day is an act of resistance and the often used phrase is ‘to exist is to resist’. Each day that Palestinian men, women and children stand in line at any of the Checkpoints waiting for Israeli permission to pass, each day that Wafa has to remind her daughter to conserve water because there might not be enough to last the week, each day that Ya’cub passes buildings in Jerusalem that before 1948 used to belong to his family, each day that Khaled works with farmers in Hebron to build cisterns to collect precious rainwater, each day that Jamal meets with
      families struggling to stay on their land in Salfit as the Apartheid Wall casts shadows on their homes, each day that Hasan helps organize Palestinian laborers working in the informal sector of the economy, each day that Samia walks to the fields just outsider her village to harvest zataar and lettuce from her garden. Each of these small acts is one of quiet resistance.

      The Palestinian appeal to world has been stated clearly by a unified call for Boycott,
      Divestment and Sanctions issued on July 9, 2005.
      It has become a core strategy to support the Palestinian liberation struggle and to force Israel to respect international law. It serves people of the world to exercise their power and exert pressure on their governments, institutions and companies. It reveals the true nature of Israel’s occupation and policies, gives human rights real value by holding Israel accountable, highlights the responsibility of the international community in supporting Israel and, above all, ends international support for Israel, since its policies would be unsustainable without external assistance. Farmers and their organizations all over the world are called to do their part:

      – Say NO to MASHAV and its “development”
      – Say NO to Israeli fertilizers and Israeli chemicalcompanies such as Haifa Chemicals, AgroGreen, Deshen Gat, Makteshim-Agan, Luxembourg Chemicals
      – Say NO to Israeli agricultural produce that is killing the livelihood and often lives of Palestinian farmers.
      – Say NO to “Made in Israel”
      – Say NO to Israeli Genetically Modified crops and seeds.

  8. A one-state solution says:

    Steps to create an Israel-Palestine
    A one-state solution in the area is not as farfetched as it might seem.

    For a while, it seemed that a two-state solution might actually be achievable and that a sovereign Palestinian state would be created in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing Jews and Palestinians at last to go their separate ways. But these days, that looks less and less likely.

    With Israel in total control of the territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River and unwilling to relinquish a significant part of the land, it’s time to consider the possibility that the current situation — one state, in effect — will continue. And although Jewish Israelis may control it now, birthrates suggest that, sooner or later, Jews will again be a minority in the territory.

    What happens at that point is unclear, but unless continued military occupation and all-out apartheid is the desired path, now may be the time for Israelis to start putting in place the kinds of legal and constitutional safeguards that will protect all minorities, now and in the future, in a single democratic state of Israel-Palestine. This is both the right thing and the smart thing to do.

    In recent years the idea of a one-state solution has been anathema to Israelis and their supporters worldwide. This has been fueled by the fear of the “demographic threat” posed by the high Palestinian birthrate. Indeed, many Israeli supporters of a two-state solution came to that position out of fear of this demographic threat rather than sympathy with Palestinian national aspirations.

    At the root of their fear was the belief that despite Israel’s best efforts to push Palestinians from land and property and to import Jewish settlers in their stead, the Arab population would keep climbing. And that, when the Arabs reached the 51% mark, the state of Israel would collapse, its Jewish character would disappear and its population would dwindle into obscurity.

    Yet that scenario is not necessarily the inevitable result of either demography or democracy. Religious and ethnic minorities have successfully thrived in many countries and managed to retain their distinctive culture and identity, and succeeded in being effective and sometimes even dominant influences in those countries. Those who believe in coexistence must begin to seriously think of the legal and constitutional mechanisms needed to safeguard the rights of a Jewish minority in Israel-Palestine.

    It is true that the experience of Israel with its Palestinian minority does not offer a comforting prospect. The behavior of the Jewish majority toward the Palestinian citizens of Israel has not been magnanimous or tolerant. Where ethnic cleansing was insufficient, military rule, land confiscation and systemic discrimination have all been employed. The relationship was not helped by the actions of Palestinians outside Israel who resented losing their homeland or by the behavior of some Arab countries, neither of which accepted the imposed Jewish character of Israel.

    Yet it is possible, especially during this period when Jews are still the majority in power in Israel, to begin to envision the type of guarantees they may require in the future. Other countries have wrestled with this problem, and while each situation is different, the problem is by no means unprecedented.

    Zionism will ultimately need to redefine its goals and aspirations, this time without ignoring or seeking to dispossess the indigenous Palestinian population. Palestinians will also have to deal with this reality, and accept — even enthusiastically endorse — the elements required to make Jews truly feel at peace in the single new state that will be the home of both people.

    Strong, institutionalized mechanisms will be needed to prevent the “tyranny of 51%.” A bicameral legislature, for example, should be installed, in which the lower house is elected by proportional representation but the upper house has a composition that safeguards both peoples equally, regardless of their numbers in the population. A rotating presidency may be preferable to designating certain positions for each minority (as in Lebanon). And constitutional provisions that safeguard the rights of minorities should be enshrined in a constitution that can only be amended or altered by both houses of parliament with a large (80%) majority.

    Both Hebrew and Arabic will be designated as official languages, and governmental offices will be closed for Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays. New laws will be enacted that strengthen the secular civil courts in personal status matters, while leaving some leeway for all religious communities to have a say in lawmaking, including Reform and Conservative Jews who currently chafe under the Orthodox monopoly over Jewish personal status matters in Israel. Educational systems that honor and cater to the different communities will give each a measure of control over the education of its children within a national system that maintains professional standards for all publicly-funded schools. Strong constitutional provisions will be enacted to prohibit discrimination in all spheres of life, while independent courts will be enabled to enforce such provisions.

    Many on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, will reject this line of thinking, and in all cases, it is clear that a lot of goodwill and much careful thinking is necessary. But as the options keep narrowing for all participants, we need to start thinking of how we can live together, rather than insist on dying apart.

    Jonathan Kuttab is a Palestinian attorney and human rights activist. He is a co-founder of Al Haq and the Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners.

    Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times


  9. 'Message from Gaza Freedom March' says:

    Hi everyone

    I am in Cairo in preparation for the Gaza Freedom March – some of us have been refused entry into Egypt as the government does not want us here but fortunately I was allowed through.

    The latest news is we have been absolutely refused entry into Gaza and we are forbidden to even meet here in Cairo – we are considered ‘political’ activists and the security forces will prevent us by ‘any means’.

    However we WILL continue to try and I might try to get in by myself if necessary! WATCH THIS SPACE and please contact whoever you can to protest the Egyptian government’s outrageous stance.

    Insha’Allah the government position will change because no matter what – we will NOT be deflected.

    In solidarity
    25 Dec 2009

    1. Egyptian Security Forces Detain Gaza Freedom Marchers in el-Arish and shut down Gaza Memorial in Cairo says:

      What: Egyptian security forces detain internationals in el-Arish, break up memorial actions in Cairo

      When: Sunday, December 27, noon: the Egyptian security forces detained a group of 30 internationals in their hotel in el-Arish and another group of 8 at the bus station. They also broke up a memorial action commemorating the Cast Lead massacre at the Kasr al Nil Bridge

      At noon on 27 December, Egyptian security forces detained a group of 30 activists in their hotel in el-Arish as they prepared to leave for Gaza, placing them under house arrest. The delegates, all part of the Gaza Freedom March of 1,300 people, were Spanish, French, British, American, and Japanese. The Egyptian security forces eventually yielded, letting most of the marchers leave the hotel, but did not permit them to leave the town. When two younger delegates, a French and Japanese woman, attempted to leave el-Arish, the Egyptian authorities stopped their taxi and unloaded their luggage.

      Another group of eight people, including citizens from American, British, Spanish, Japanese and Greece, were detained at the bus station of Al Arish in the afternoon of December 27. As of 3:30 PM, they were still being held.

      Simultaneously, Egyptian security police broke up a commemoration of the Israeli invasion of Gaza organized by the Gaza Freedom March at Kasr al Nil Bridge, one of the main bridges connecting Zamalek Island, in the middle of the Nile, to Cairo. As a nonviolent way of commemorating the more than 1300 Palestinians killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza that began a year ago on December 27, 2008, Gaza Freedom Marchers tied hundreds of strings with notes, poems, art and the names of those killed to the bridge.

      “We’re saddened that the Egyptian authorities have blocked our participants’ freedom of movement and interfered with a peaceful commemoration of the dead,” said Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, one of the March’s organizers.

      Israel attacks Gaza, December 2008

      Benjamin added that the Gaza Freedom March participants are continuing to urge the Egyptian government to allow them to proceed to Gaza. They visited the Arab League asking for support, various foreign embassies and the Presidential Palace to deliver an appeal to President Mubarak. They are calling their supporters around the world to contact Egyptian embassies and urge them to free the marchers and allow them to proceed to Gaza.

      There isn’t a dull moment – fortunately I have avoided arrest so far….. A fellow marcher and I are planning to travel to Rafah tomorrow morning to try and get through the checkpoint surreptitiously as individuals.

      In solidarity

      References: See also http://antonyloewenstein.com/2009/12/28/gaza-freedom-marchers-make-their-voices-heard-in-egypt/ and http://www.rabble.ca/category/tags-issues/gaza-freedom-march

      1. Activists fall victim to Gaza blockade says:

        It appears that 2 busloads of activists have gotten through to Rafah to take part in today’s protest in Gaza! [from Ray Bergmann]
        ABC report on Gaza protest

        See also ABC report ‘Activists fall victim to Gaza blockade‘ by Middle East correspondent Anne Barker

  10. 'Palestine/Israel: A Single State, with Liberty and Justice for All, Regardless of Religion' says:

    by Susan Abulhawa with Ramzy Baroud / December 26th, 2009

    Prior to the establishment of Israel, Palestine had been multi-religious and multi-cultural. Christians, Muslims and Jews, Armenians, Greek Orthodox, to name a few, all had a place there; and all lived in relative harmony. Other nations fought wars and waged epic struggles to attain the kind of coexistence that was already a reality in Palestine. But while the world strives toward the noble truths that we are all created equal, Israel legislates the notion of a Chosen People with exclusive rights and privilege for Jews. Where countries have worked to integrate their citizens to create the richness of diversity, Israel is working in reverse, employing racist policies to “Judaize” the land whereby property and resources are confiscated from Christians and Muslims for the exclusive use of Jews. Where there is consensus that certain human rights are inalienable, Palestinians have lived subject to the whims of soldiers at checkpoints; of airplanes and helicopters raining death onto them with impunity; of curfews and restrictions and denials; and of violent armed settlers who fancy themselves disciples of God. Living under Israeli occupation, in refugee camps or in exile, we Palestinians have endured having everything callously taken from us – our homes, our heritage, our history, our families, livelihoods, freedom, farms, olive groves, water, security, and freedom.

    In the 1990s, we supported the Oslo Accords two-state solution even though it would have returned to us only 22% of our historic homeland. But Israel repeatedly squandered our generosity, confiscating more Palestinian land to increase illegal Jewish-only colonies and Jewish-only roads. What remains to us now is less than 14% of Historic Palestine, all of it as isolated Bantustans, shrinking ghettos, walls, fences, checkpoints with surly soldiers,and the perpetual encroachment of expanding illegal Israeli colonies.While the Palestine Authority has led us into a shrinking land mass, less water, more restrictions, ominous walls and merciless slaughter, notable individuals and popular movements have mobilized for Palestine as once happened for South Africa. Moral authorities like former President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Laureates Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire, and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson have condemned Israeli Apartheid.

    Organizations supporting the Divestment and Boycott Campaign against Israel include religious institutions such as the Presbyterian Church, The World Council of Churches, United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Anglican Church, the Federation of European Jews for a Just Peace, among many others. It includes civil and professional organizations such as the National Lawyers Guild, the Irish Municipal, Public and Civil Trade Union in Ireland, as well as labor unions in Canada, Britain, and other nations. An academic boycott of Israel has spread throughout the UK and other parts of Europe and taken root in US universities across the country. The International Solidarity Movement has seen thousands of individuals come to the Occupied Territories to protect Palestinians from the violence of settlers during the olive harvest; to protect children on their daring daily journeys to school; and to bear witness to the inhumanity of military occupation.

    The Free Gaza movement has transported by boat hundreds of people willing to risk their lives to bring greatly needed supplies to the besieged people of Gaza. This Christmas, internationals will march to the Egypt/Gaza border to break this siege. These are but a few examples of growing popular support for the Palestinian struggle.

    When compared with the accomplishments of these grassroots movements, the futility of “negotiations” becomes painfully apparent. It is clear that we cannot look to our leaders (elected or imposed) to achieve justice. Just as only the masses could bring South Africa’s Apartheid to its knees, it will be the masses who will also bring Israel’s Apartheid crashing.

    The continued expansion of international action demanding the implementation of Palestinian basic human rights is inevitable. The notion of religious-ethnocentric entitlement and exclusivity for one people at the expense of another has been rejected the world over. Palestinians reject it and we assert that we are human beings worthy of the same human rights accorded to the rest of humanity; that we are worthy of our homes and farms, our heritage, our churches and mosques, and our history; and that we should not be expected to negotiate with our oppressors for such basic dignities. The two-state solution was and remains an instrument to circumvent the basic human rights of Palestinians in order to accommodate Israel’s desire to be Jewish. Polls show that Palestinians refuse to be the enemies of our Jewish brothers and sisters anywhere, just as we refuse to be oppressed by them.

    It is time for our shared land to be the inclusive and diverse country it had been. It is time for leaders to follow the people’s determined movement toward a single democratic state, with liberty and justice for all, regardless of religion.

    Susan Abulhawa is the author of Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury, 2010); and Ramzy Baroud is the author of My Father was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, 2009). Read other articles by Susan Abulhawa.

    This article was posted on Saturday, December 26th, 2009 at 8:21am and is filed under Human Rights, Israel/Palestine, Prejudice, Religion, War Crimes, Zionism.


  11. Gaza Freedom March delegates reject Egyptian offer to permit only 100 to cross border says:

    Gaza Freedom March delegates reject Egyptian offer to permit only 100 to cross border. Opt instead to risk arrest in Cairo.
    By Kim Elliott
    December 31, 2009


    After three days of vigils and demonstrations in downtown Cairo, Suzanne Mubarak’s offer to allow just 100 of 1,300 delegates to enter Gaza was rejected by the Gaza Freedom March Coordinating Committee as well as many of the larger contingents – including those from France, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, Sweden and New York State (U.S.).

    “We flatly reject Egypt’s offer of a token gesture. We refuse to whitewash the siege of Gaza. Our group will continue working to get all 1362 marchers into Gaza as one step towards the ultimate goal for the complete end of the siege and the liberation of Palestine” said Ziyaad Lunat a member of the march Coordinating Committee.

    The Gaza Freedom March was organized to focus attention on the one-year mark since Israel’s 22-day assault, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, injured more than 5,000. Although the invasion technically ended, the effects on the ground have only worsened in the past 12 months. No re-building materials have been allowed in and more than 80 percent of Gazans are now dependent on handouts for food. For full story see http://www.rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/gazadelegation/2009/12/gaza-freedom-marchers-reject-egyptian-offer-let-just-100-enter

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