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President Trumps Vengeful Crackdown on the Palestinians

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: usa, news coverage/world/Palestine, occupied Palestine, bias, occupation crimes, ICC, crimes against humanity, Gaza Strip siege, Nakba, Great March of Return 2018, zionism, ethnic cleansing of Palestine, oPT, americans, congress, propaganda )

- 19 days ago -
IT IS AN ACCEPTED fact that U.S. policy in Israel/Palestinehas been pro-Israel from the days of Harry Trumans presidency all the way to Barack Obamas


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fly b (26)
Wednesday October 31, 2018, 8:32 pm
Trump’s War Against the Palestinians.

By Rev. Alex Awad

IT IS AN ACCEPTED fact that U.S. policy in Israel/Palestinehas been pro-Israel from the days of Harry Truman’s presidency all the way to Barack Obama’s. Even so, from time to time the United States could be critical of Israeli policies and have threatened to punish Israel for violating international law. Several U.S. presidents followed through on threats, including Republicans George H.W. Bush, who opposed loan guarantees and new Israeli settlements, and Ronald Reagan, who suspended a strategic cooperation agreement after Israel illegally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. However, with Donald Trump occupying the White House, a shift has taken place in U.S. policy toward the Israel-Palestine dispute. Now, U.S. policy is no longer merely pro-Israel, but rather fully right-wing Israeli. Whatever Binyamin Netanyahu and his far-right government ask the United States to do for them, Trump complies and hands it to them on a silver platter.

Here is the Israeli wish list that other U.S. administrations refused to grant and Trump’s administration has handed over, asking nothing in return:
1.Recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel;
2.Move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem;
3.Declare that the future of Jerusalem is off the negotiating table;
4.Call for the dismantlement of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and an end to all U.S. contributions to the U.N. agency. The U.S. was paying more than a quarter of the agency’s $1.2 billion annual budget.
5.Call for removal of the refugee issue (the right of return of Palestinian refugees) from future negotiations;
6.Support the redefinition of the term “Palestinian refugee” so that children of Palestinian refugees do not retain refugee status (which is contrary to UNHCR guidelines that refugee dependents “are normally granted refugee status according to the principle of family unity”);
7.Reduce significantly U.S. annual support to the Palestinian Authority;
8.Cut $25 million in U.S. aid to Palestinian hospitals, including those in East Jerusalem;
9.Consistently withhold criticism of Israel’s human rights violations and brutality against Palestinians, especially in international forums like the U.N. Security Council;
10.Close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Washington, DC, leaving the Palestinians without a formal presence in the U.S. capital.

What is behind this shift in U.S. policy toward the Palestinians?

While there are many reasons for the U.S. policy shift, I will highlight the following:
1.The Evangelical voting bloc. While running for the presidency, Trump—who is everything but an Evangelical—was able to court Evangelicals. He promised them that after he won the election, he would return the favors. Evangelicals voted for him in masses; without their vote, he wouldn’t be in the White House. Among other things, their leaders wanted a pro-Israel policy, recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, a move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and a halt to the critique of the settlement movement in the West Bank. Their demands have now become current U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.
2.Sheldon Adelson’s billions. Adelson, the American Jewish billionaire who is a close ally and supporter of Netanyahu and a staunch advocate of far-right Israeli policies, became a strong supporter of Trump during the 2016 race for the White House. Adelson has enough money and power to tell both Netanyahu and Trump what to do, and they will comply, even though some of his demands—in the long run—may not be good for either country and could certainly be detrimental to peace and stability in the world. Adelson’s support of congressional representatives who are in office or running for office corresponds with the level of their support of Israel’s far-right policies. The desire to keep Adelson’s checks flowing into their campaign coffers is what keeps many U.S. elected officials from protesting this administration’s new leaning to Israel’s right-wing agenda.
3.Trump’s appointments to create the “deal of the century.” Trump promised the American people that he had in his quiver what he called “the deal of the century” to forge peace between Israelis and Palestinians. When Trump formed the team of experts who would translate his vision into reality, international observers realized that “the deal” would be better called the disappointment of the century.

He picked men and women who are well-known for their bias to Israel’s agenda. For U.S. ambassador to Israel, he appointed David Friedman, an ardent right-wing supporter of the settlement movement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and of the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem. For launching peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, Trump appointed his special adviser on the Middle East, son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is a close friend of Netanyahu and a big donor to the settlement movement. For the position of chief negotiator, he appointed Jason Greenblatt, another supporter of the right-wing Israeli agenda. All three are either Zionist millionaires or billionaires. For U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, he appointed Nikki Haley, whose statements at the U.N. staunchly mirror the policies of her boss—who echoes the positions of Netanyahu and Adelson. Haley sees no good in Palestinians and no evil in Israelis. With such appointments, who could imagine that negotiations would lead anywhere but to disaster?


The cumulative effect of these forces against Palestine and the Palestinians is to push the peace process further into oblivion. In January 2017 I wrote:

If Trump does announce such a move [of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem]—God forbid—he may as well simultaneously announce the death of the ailing peace process and the end of the role of the U.S. as a broker in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The U.S. can’t deliver Jerusalem to Israel with one hand and summon Palestinians to peace talks with the other hand. Christians who pray for “the peace of Jerusalem” and for “peace on earth” need to discern that this move would not promote peace but rather hate, violence, bloodshed and perhaps wars.

The Palestinians, whose political muscle is no match for the U.S. president and whose finances pale in comparison with the wealth of extreme Zionist billionaires, did the only thing they could do: withdraw from any future peace talks that would be sponsored by Washington, DC. This decision frustrated Trump and now he is looking for ways to discipline the Palestinians and force them back into U.S.-controlled negotiations.

During the Obama era, Israelis resisted all efforts to sit with Palestinians and negotiate peace, even under U.S. sponsorship. Secretary of State John Kerry openly criticized Israel for frustrating the path to peace. With President Trump and his chosen team of right-wing advisers in power, the Israelis are euphoric, knowing they could never again have a U.S. administration that would provide more favorable terms leading to a better deal for the State of Israel.

Recently, Washington has been inflicting all kinds of punishments against the Palestinians—in particular, economic ones—hoping to weaken their resolve and beat them into submission. Will the Palestinians declare defeat, crawl on their knees, and submit to U.S. and Israeli dictates, or will they patiently endure until a friendlier administration controls the White House? Speaking to Ma’an News Agency, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Dr. Hanan Ashrawi responded with, “Palestinians will not surrender and…no amount of coercion or unwarranted collective punitive measures will bring the Palestinian leadership or people to their knees.”

Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy minced no words when he wrote in his article “Shame on you, America”: “America has declared a war on the Palestinians.” He concluded the article with, “But the new America has lost its shame, too; it no longer even wants to pretend to be the honest broker, or take care of the world’s needy, as its position obliges it to do. Let us say, then, shame on you, America.”

Rev. Dr. Alex Awad is a retired United Methodist Missionary. He and his wife, Brenda, served in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem for more than 25 years. Rev. Awad served as pastor of East Jerusalem Baptist Church, dean of students at Bethlehem Bible College, and director of the Shepherd Society. Awad has written two books, Through the Eyes of the Victims and Palestinian Memories. Rev. Awad is a member of Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP).

fly b (26)
Wednesday October 31, 2018, 8:33 pm
The Trump Administration Is Trying to Reduce the Number of Palestinian Refugees; Here’s Why It Won’t Work.

By Susan Akram

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S decision in August to cut $360 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is a purely political decision that has no relevance to the definition of Palestinians as “refugees,” nor to their legal rights. Although highly significant, since the U.S. makes the largest single donation to UNRWA of any country, the claim that defunding UNRWA will somehow terminate the Palestinian refugee problem and lead to peace is absurd.

UNRWA has nothing to do with defining or perpetuating “refugee status.” The definition and status of Palestinian refugees is determined by the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) which first defined Palestine refugees for purposes of the establishment of international protection and assistance agencies—the U.N. Conciliation Commission on Palestine (UNCCP) and UNRWA—in December 1948, on the heels of the massive expulsion of refugees from Palestine. The General Assembly passed Resolution 194 on Dec. 11, 1948, establishing the UNCCP to provide international protection to the over 700,000 Palestinians who were forced to flee, and defining the refugees who were to receive protection by the international community.

A year later, the U.N. established UNRWA to provide international assistance to the refugees, as defined for purposes of UNGA Resolution 194, until the right of return and related rights that were incorporated in that resolution were implemented. The General Assembly has reaffirmed Resolution 194 every year since then by overwhelming majority, established the scope of UNRWA’s mandate toward them since 1949, and repeatedly commended and expanded UNRWA’s services.

If UNRWA’s funding were terminated tomorrow, that would have a massive negative effect on the lives of Palestinian refugees, but would do nothing to change their legal status under international law.

It is important to note that the legal definition of Palestinian refugee relates to the status of Palestinians as former nationals of Palestine, a nationality which was recognized in 1924-25 as a matter of the Treaty of Lausanne that terminated World War I and dismantled the Ottoman Empire. The British passed Palestine citizenship legislation that conformed to the Treaty during the British mandate. All Palestinians who had Palestinian nationality/citizenship under treaty and mandate law, and their descendants through today, are defined as Palestinian refugees if they were forced to flee during the conflicts of 1947 onwards, and remain as such until their rights embodied in Resolution 194 are realized.

11 million refugees are entitled to the right of ­return, property restitution and compensation.

In this way, Palestinian refugees’ rights have an even more robust basis than other refugees, because their rights are recognized both in general international law as well as in the body of law confirmed in decades of U.N. resolutions specifically passed for their protection. Today, Palestinians who would be defined by this Palestinian nationality law number approximately 11 million persons. Only 5 million of them are defined as “needy” for purposes of UNRWA humanitarian services, but it is the 11 million who are entitled to the right of return, property restitution and compensation guaranteed by the General Assembly in its resolutions.

A second misconception is that UNRWA is responsible for extending refugee status to multiple generations of Palestinians. The fact that subsequent generations of Palestinians since the first refugees expelled by Zionist militias and the Israeli army in the 1947-49 conflict remain defined as refugees is also entirely a matter of international law. This, too, is a matter for the international community to decide by consensus at the U.N., and is outside the power of any single country, let alone UNRWA, to change. (See, for example, UNGA Resolution 2252, which recognizes Palestinians displaced by the 1967 conflict as “Palestinian refugees”). Moreover, that Palestinians can legally be multi-generational refugees is perfectly consistent with refugee law in general, which recognizes that subsequent generations of refugees remain refugees until a durable solution is found for their plight.

The United States can’t will away 11 million people by stopping funds, though it can bring misery to many of them. The consequences of the U.S. cuts are devastating and far-reaching unless UNRWA can find other states to fill the gap. UNRWA stated that its schools could barely operate on current funds through September, which would affect half a million Palestinian children currently studying in UNRWA schools.

UNRWA has had to cut staff in services other than the most essential—around 500 staff have already been let go—which has life-threatening consequences, particularly in Gaza, where unemployment is at 44 percent. Funding cuts affect health care delivery, infant mortality, and food subsistence for the most needy.

It would seem obvious that as more and more Palestinians lose these services and cannot meet their basic survival needs, they will turn to violence. Radicalism is generated by desperation as an inevitable consequence of the short-sighted decision by the U.S. to cut UNRWA funding.

It’s also important to note that the decision to reduce UNRWA funds has nothing to do with an inability to pay—contrast the $360 million that the U.S. sends to UNRWA each year with the $3.8 billion that the U.S. provides yearly to Israel. It’s evident which recipient is the most deserving, and that the decision is nothing but pure politics played out on the backs of desperately needy Palestinian refugees. Making 5 million people more desperate, denying them funds for medicine and education, only foments anger and greater incentive to armed struggle. This is hardly a recipe for peace, and changes nothing to affect the rights and interests of Palestinian refugees.

Susan Akram is clinical professor at Boston University Law School, where she directs the International Human Rights clinic and teaches international human rights, comparative refugee law and immigration law. She is a past Fulbright Senior Scholar in Palestine, and has taught at Al-Quds University/Palestine School of Law in East Jerusalem, the American University in Cairo, and regularly teaches at the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre in the U.K. Copyright © 2018 Mondoweiss.

fly b (26)
Saturday November 3, 2018, 9:32 am
TAKE ACTION: This is an urgent and time-sensitive situation. Please sign and share widely!

Demand the Immediate Release of Prominent Palestinian Author Susan Abulhawa from Israeli Detention!

This is an urgent and time-sensitive situation. Please sign and share widely among your networks to ensure Susan's immediate and unconditional release from Israeli detention!

Susan Abulhawa, the Palestinian novelist, has been denied entry at Tel Aviv Airport on her way to the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival sponsored in part by the British Council. Despite the help of a lawyer from the British Council, the US Embassy and the festival organizers who have been on hand to assist, she was been detained by border forces upon her arrival.

She is one of the most commercially successful Arab authors of all time. Abulhawa’s 2010 debut novel Mornings in Jenin, a multigenerational family epic spanning five countries and more than sixty years, looks unflinchingly at the Palestinian question – and became an international bestseller translated into twenty-eight languages. Susan was also a juror among a panel of internationally recognized human rights activists at the recent International People's Tribunal on US Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico.

At this point, Susan is in detention awaiting a judicial decision regarding her appeal to allow her entry. Festival organizers and the British Council have stated that her participation is a cornerstone of the festival and very much needed.

We demand the immediate release of Susan Abulhawa and a guarantee that she will be able to travel and participate in the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival without any further incident. As a prominent Palestinian author, she deserves to be allowed to attend the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival in her birthright county.

Below is the contact info for the US Embassy of Israel to ask that she be allowed entry to participate. (

In addition to signing this petition, please contact these US officials to demand they assist in assuring Abulhawa's speedy release and permission to travel to the festival.

Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States


David Friedman, US Ambassdor to Israel

Sen. Robert Casey, PA


Sen. Patrick Toomey, PA


Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick


To: Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to US; David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel; Sen. Robert Casey, PA; Sen. Patrick Toomey, PA; Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, PA;
From: [Your Name]

We demand the immediate release of Susan Abulhawa and a guarantee that she will be able to travel and participate in the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival without any further incident. As a prominent Palestinian author, she deserves to be allowed to attend the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival in her birthright county.
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