Posts Tagged ‘Mahmoud Abbas’

Barack Obama to Israelis: Palestinians deserve statehood

Barack Obama

Newscast Media JERUSALEM—In a speech to the Israeli people, President Obama said they are not alone in facing their security concerns, but that peace is the only path to the true security of their country and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and justice must be recognized.

Speaking March 21 at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, Obama told an audience of primarily young Israelis that their country is “at a crossroads,” and they can permanently secure the dream of Israel’s founders or face a growing challenge to their country’s future.

“Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine,” he said.

Israelis have built a prosperous nation and established a thriving democracy “in this small strip of land that has been the center of so much of the world’s history” while also overcoming relentless threats to their security. Their country “is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea: the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own,” he said.

But the president urged Israelis to consider the world through the eyes of Palestinians, and said, “Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.”

He said it is clear that negotiations will ultimately lead to two states for two peoples, with Palestinians recognizing that “Israel will be a Jewish state and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security,” and Israelis recognizing that “continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable with real borders that have to be drawn.”

Obama also said the days of Israel’s Arab neighbors condemning the Jewish state “to distract their people from a lack of opportunity or government corruption or mismanagement … need to be over,” and called for them to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel.

The president said Israelis “live in a neighborhood where many of your neighbors have rejected the right of your nation to exist,” and their children “grow up knowing that people they’ve never met may hate them because of who they are.”

For that reason, Israel’s security “cannot be taken for granted.” But Obama said that “so long as there is a United States of America … you are not alone.”

The president asked audience members to think of ways to build trust with their neighbors, and said young Palestinians, Egyptians and others may “seem a world away,” but share the same goals as their counterparts in Israel.

“They want the ability to make their own decisions and to get an education, get a good job, to worship God in their own way, to get married, to raise a family,” he said. Peace begins “not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people,” and they must push their political leaders to get them to take risks.
“You must create the change that you want to see,” Obama said. “Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.”


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - March 22, 2013 at 12:14 am

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Part II- Lebanon’s dilemma as Palestinians pursue statehood

Israel-Palestine Conflict

Newcast Media HOUSTON, Texas — The dilemma for Lebanon played out after Israel became a state in 1948, and Palestinians from the areas of the North of Palestine: Haifa, Acre, Safad and the Galilee region, were forced to leave their homes, due to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the first months, the Palestinians were housed and given food by Lebanese farmers. The Lebanese government also offered assistance by offering the LRCS (International League of Red Cross Societies) free depots, warehouses, security, labor and transport. The Lebanese Authorities later allocated certain area for the refugees to settle in.

After the signing of the 1969 Cairo Agreement between the Lebanese Government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) the situation of the refugees greatly improved. The Cairo Agreement granted residency, freedom of movement and labor rights to the Palestinian refugees, as well as autonomy of the refugee camps.

During the 1970s, the PLO gained political clout, and extended financial and military support to the Lebanese left-wing, which angered the Maronites and right-wing parties. PLO attacks against Israel led to Israeli retaliations against Palestinians and Lebanese, especially in the South, which in turn diminished Lebanese support for the Palestinians and their cause. All this aggravated the already existing tensions between the various Lebanese political factions and eventually led to the outbreak of the 1975 civil war.

The Lebanese dilemma

Of all host countries of Palestinian refugees, none is more affected than Lebanon. Lebanon’s biggest dilemma is that the Palestinian youth are becoming extremely radicalized, causing increased retaliation from Israel into Lebanon, and quite frankly, the Lebanese government would rather see the refugees leave, but there is nowhere for them to go.

Another issue the Lebanese have to deal with is the fear that if they allow the Palestinians to integrate into Lebanese society, it might erode their cultural identity. It would also play into the hands of Israel who would argue that other if Lebanon can absorb Palestinian refugees and integrate them into her culture, other Arab countries like Jordan, Syria and so forth, also have the ability to do the same, so there is no need for them (Palestinians) to have their own state.

An additional aspect is that assimilation would decrease international sympathy for Palestinians, and lessen Israel’s desire to comply with international treaties, due to lack of pressure from the international community, since Palestinians would have finally been absorbed by other neighboring Arab countries.

Back To Their Roots

Not all Lebanese consider themselves Arabs. Some consider themselves Phoenicians, others Maronite Christians, others Syriac while some refer to themselves as Arabs. Also the French occupation of Lebanon left an impact on the culture and language, whereby a typical Lebanese greeting is usually a combination of English, Arabic and French such as: “Hi! Kifak, ça va?” Famous Lebanese poet and philosopher Saeed Akl is quoted as saying, “I would cut off my right hand just not to be an Arab.”

Al Jazeera did a special dedicated to the political Christian clans of Lebanon and their struggle for power in the 2009 election entitled, Lebanon: The Family Business in which Lebanese political leader Walid Jumblatt, claimed that all Lebanese lack somewhat of a real identity and the country is yet to discover one everybody could agree on.

While most support the idea of a Palestinian state, Lebanese journalist Khodor Salameh writes in his column for Al-Masry Al-Youm the following: “The Palestinian bid for statehood is a silly joke, told by an authority that has lost most of its supporters… The best it can achieve is a quasi-state that does not enjoy full sovereignty over its land, borders or natural resources. The Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for freedom and self-determination appear destined to be postponed. There will be no state for Abu Mazen, his aides, or rivals. There will be no state in September.” The entire analysis can be found here.

Uganda as Israel

Believe it or not, Uganda was once considered a region suitable for the Jews to settle. You won’t read this anywhere in history books. Nevertheless, if the proposal had succeeded, the entire dynamics of Israel-Arab relationships would be different.

Why Uganda? Anybody who has ever been to Uganda will tell you that it has the most beautiful landscape on the entire continent, that even Sir Winston Churchill was so overwhelmed by its beauty, he called Uganda the Pearl of Africa. Others have dubbed it the Switzerland of Africa.

One of the most influential figures to bring a Jewish state into being was an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist, Theodor Herzl. Herzl was born in Budapest and lived in Vienna. He published his pamphlet Der Judenstaat (“The Jewish State”) in 1896 and Altneuland (“The Old New Land”) in 1897. Herzl argued that the creation of a Jewish state would enable the Jews to join the family of nations and escape antisemitism.

In 1903, the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, suggested the “British Uganda Program”, land for a Jewish state in “Uganda”.

The proposal was initially rejected by Herzl, who preferred Palestine, but later on, he introduced the proposal to the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basel on August 26, 1903, to investigate the “Ugandan” offer. The proposal proved very divisive, nevertheless, a committee was established to investigate the possibility, which was eventually dismissed in the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905.

The Man Eaters

The real reason the proposal was rejected after a team was dispatched to investigate the area is because the region had too many lions. The Jews weren’t accustomed to constantly having to look over their shoulders, and the notion of raising families in what appeared to be a lion-infested country became impractical.

There were several tales by local villagers about “man-eating lions” because at the time, the Uganda-Kenya railway was being constructed. The most notorious lions were the man-eaters of Tsavo. The 1996 film Ghost and the Darkness starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer, tells a story of lions in this East African region, that were known for their notorious methods of stalking and attacking their human prey victims. The movie went on to win an Academy Award for Sound Editing.

After the Ugandan proposal fell through, Palestine became the sole focus of Jewish aspirations. On Friday May 14, 1948, the state of Israel was established, replacing Palestine, the result of which is the current Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Israel has rejected the Palestinian bid for statehood, saying that peace can only be achieved through negotiations, not a unilateral declaration of statehood. Back To Part I – Lebanese Dilemma>>



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - September 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm

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Part I-Lebanon’s dilemma as Palestinians pursue statehood

The Middle East

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas — As proof to Palestinians he would be as good as his word, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas submitted his bid to the United Nations seeking recognition of statehood on Friday. Israel officials have said a Palestinian state is not viable and have resisted such a proposal. The U.S has promised to deprive Palestinians of annual grants worth $400m. Arab Muslim states have promised to fill the gap, yet Lebanon finds itself in a dilemma.

To understand the depth of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and how Lebanon got caught in the middle of all this, one has to take a step back in history, so this journalist will attempt to give the readers a background of the region.

The original Palestine

This map shows the original geographic landscape of Palestine stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

During the Iron Age II (930-539 B.C.) the current Israel was divided into the northern kingom (Israel) and the southern kingdom also called Judah. Along the banks of the Tigris, a new force emerged that would dominate the region for almost two centuries. These were the Assyrians, who were very skilled fighters. In 722 B.C Shalmaneser V of Assyria and his successor Sargon II launched an attack, that caused the northern kingdom to fall and eventually became a province of the vast Assyrian Empire.

Many Jews who at the time were referred to as Hebrews, were scattered and assimilated into the various tribes of the Assyrian Empire. Others fled as far as the Russian mountains. These are what are referred to as the 10 lost tribes. There are yet others like the Lemba of South Africa who claim to be part of the lost tribes, and were fortunate to escape the Assyrians and survive. They trace their journey down from Syria, to Yemen to East Africa and finally to South Africa. To verify their claims, scientists performed DNA tests on the Lemba and indeed were shocked that the test results were consistent with the Kohanim and had the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH) of the Y-chromosome. Josh Bernstein hosted a docu-series called Digging for the Truth on the History Channel, and verified that indeed the Lemba were whom they claimed to be.

Tracing the journey of the lost tribes of Israel

Digging For the Truth – Hosted by Jewish scholar Josh Bernstein

The Rise Persia

In 587 B.C under Nebuchadnezzar, Judah was crushed and Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians.

A few decades later, the reign of Persian king Cyrus saw the rise of the largest kingdom in the ancient world stretching from Aegean Sea and the Nile across the Near East to the Indus Valley. The Persian Empire (modern day Iran) controlled the ancient world for two centuries, but in 330 B.C. it was conquered by Alexander the Great.

The Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires all fell, giving rise to Islam and the Arab invasion. The whole region of the Middle East and Northern Africa was conquered as Islam spread. However, there are still remnants of Christianity in the region with Coptic Christians in Egypt and Maronite Christians in Lebanon.

The Maronites have survived the storms of invasion, occupation, repression and suppression for over 1600 years, preserving their religion, traditions and state. In due course their Christian neighbors all succumbed to Islam but not Lebanon, holding a Maronite majority well into the 20th century, even their Syriac (Christian Aramaic) language was widely spoken well into the late 18th century and still survives today in their liturgy and in some of their villages.

After over 400 years under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Lebanon became part of the French mandate and later gained independence in 1943. It must be noted that most Arabs are actually Turks because they were under their rule for such an extended period of time, beginning with the Byzantine Empire up until the Ottoman Empire. Continue to Part II – Lebanese Palestinian Dilemma>>



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 9:06 pm

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Mahmoud Abbas plows through with UN Security Council statehood bid

Benjamin Netanyahu, Barack Obama and Mahmoud Abbas

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas –In a move that reverses a pledge to Saudi, European and Egyptian officials to hold off on asking the United Nations to recognize as a new state Israel’s occupied Palestinian territories, sources told the middle eastern news website DEBKAfile that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has decided to go through with his application to the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 23 for the admission of a Palestinian state to the world body.

DEBKAfile reports that during his visit to Cairo, Mahmoud Abbas was sternly warned by Saud al Faisal, Ashton and Egyptian leaders of the grave consequences awaiting the Palestinians if he forced the US to exercise its veto against their statehood at the UN Security Council. US President Barack Obama Tuesday made it crystal clear that he “objects very strongly” to the Palestinian statehood motion as “counterproductive” and “a distraction from solving problems that can only be addressed through negotiations.”

US sources report that the US President has refused to talk to Abbas for the past eight months owing to his refusal to join Israel for direct peace talks. He was advised by the Europeans, the Saudis and Egyptians this week that the US presidential boycott would almost certainly extend to fellow Palestinian leaders and US financial aid.

The Palestinian Authority would thus be placed under American sanctions. However, if he withdrew his statehood bid from the Security Council and accepted the new position paper, Obama would consider restoring communications.

Tuesday, Sept. 13, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “The path to creating an independent Palestinian state lies through direct talks between Ramallah and Jerusalem – not New York,” she said. Early Wednesday, the General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar reported that the Palestinians had not yet submitted their request to the General Assembly. It would therefore not come up for debate before October.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that while Mahmoud Abbas appears to have been hassled into a partial climb-down from his original plan to bypass talks with Israel by gaining UN approval of Palestinian statehood, he may not have caved in completely. Neither is it clear whether Netanyahu will swallow the new blueprint Tony Blair is about to dish up.

Source: DEBKAfile


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - September 15, 2011 at 9:41 pm

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Arab League gives U.S one month to fix Mid-East talks

Arab League

Newscast Media — The U.S. government has been given a one-month deadline to rescue the Arab League ministers have given the US one month to rescue the Middle East peace talks that are currently deadlocked. Meeting in Libya, the ministers endorsed a plan by Palestinian leaders to withdraw from talks unless Israel restores a ban on settlement building.

However, the ministers said the US had to be given more time to break the impasse. The talks began in September but later collapsed when Israel refused to extend the building freeze. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attended the meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in the Libyan city of Sirte.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, who chaired the meeting, told reporters: “The committee endorses the decision of President Abbas to stop the talks. It urges the American side to pursue its efforts to prepare adequate grounds and circumstances to resume the peace process and put this peace process back on the right track, including stopping settlements.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to extend the 10-month ban on settlement building in the West Bank which expired on 26 September. Many countries, including the US, had urged the Israelis to extend the freeze.

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 8, 2010 at 11:56 pm

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Barack Obama oversees Mideast peace talks

Mideast peace talks

Newscast Media – US President Barack Obama has urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders not to let the chance of a permanent peace deal “slip away”.

“This moment of opportunity may not soon come again,” he said, pledging the US would support the new negotiations.

Mr Obama spoke the day before a new round of direct talks between Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was due to begin.Earlier, he condemned the “senseless slaughter” of four Israeli settlers. They were shot dead by gunmen in the West Bank on Tuesday.

Mr Obama spoke at the White House on Wednesday evening after meetings with Mr Netanyahu, Mr Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

His remarks came on the eve of the first direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in 20 months, which he said were “intended to resolve all final status issues”.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday called Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas “my partner in peace” and said he was seeking a peace to end the Middle East conflict “once and for all.”

Barack Obama opened a new round of Mideast peacemaking Wednesday, bringing Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the White House for talks aimed at forging agreement within one year on a two-state solution.

“Our goal is to forge a secure and durable peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We do not seek a brief interlude between two wars. We do not seek a temporary respite between outbursts of terror,” Netanyahu said.

But a row over settlements threatened to derail the fragile talks, as a top Palestinian official said that any resumption of Israeli settlement construction would spell the end of the peace talks.

“The settlements must be halted and continuing them will signal the end of the peace process,” said Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - September 2, 2010 at 12:12 am

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