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Posts Tagged ‘Khaled Abu Toameh’

Khaled Abu Toameh: How The Palestinian Authority Fights Corruption

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Jamal Abu Rihan is a Palestinian blogger and activist who is being held in a Palestinian Authority prison in the West Bank.

Security forces belonging to the Palestinian Authority government arrested Abu Rihan after he created a Facebook group called “The People Want to End Corruption.”

Demanding reform and democracy has become a crime in the territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Direct and indirect criticism of Palestinian Authority leaders has also become a crime that can land journalists, bloggers, cartoonists and political opponents in prison.

Instead of going after top officials suspected of embezzling public funds and abusing their powers, the Palestinian Authority government has chosen to wage an unprecedented clampdown on those who dare to raise their voices in support of transparency and freedom of speech.

Abu Rihan’s anti-corruption group on Facebook has won the backing of more than 6000 followers. These people clicked “like” and joined the group within days of its launching. Some of the followers, especially those living under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, now fear being thrown into prison for committing the crime of demanding an end to corruption.

The arrest of Abu Rihan and others is aimed at sending a warning to Palestinians against criticizing their government and leaders.

The Palestinian Authority government has also warned Palestinian journalists against reporting about the crackdown or helping Western correspondents cover the crackdown on journalists and bloggers.

In the past few weeks, Palestinian security forces summoned a number of Palestinian journalists for questioning about their ties with Western journalists and media outlets.

Palestinians say that the campaign of intimidation and harassment against the media is designed to prevent “negative reporting” about the Palestinian Authority government. The Palestinian Authority does not want anyone to report about corruption and abuse of power out of fear that this would affect financial aid from the US, EU, and other donors.

The clampdown has thus far been successful and most Palestinian and international journalists seem to have understood the warning. That is why the case of Abu Rihan, for example, has received almost no attention in the Palestinian and Western media.

If Abu Rihan were a Chinese dissident imprisoned by the authorities in Beijing, his case would have been endorsed by human rights groups around the world and the mainstream media in the West. Had Abu Rihan been arrested by the Israeli authorities for such a crime, his story would have most likely made it to the front page of many respected newspapers.

But when it comes to violations of freedom of expression in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority is given a pass by many Americans and Europeans. By arresting reformists and critics, the Palestinian Authority is once again proving that it is not serious about combating corruption and reforming its institutions.

The crackdown on journalists, bloggers and political activists also serves as a reminder that the Palestinian Authority government is not different than most of the dictatorships in the Arab world.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: Pro-Palestinian or Anti-Israel?

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Pro-Palestinian groups and individuals in the US and Europe are doing Palestinians injustice by devoting all their energies only against Israel. There is a feeling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that most of these groups and individuals are more interested in campaigning against Israel than helping the Palestinians.

Being pro-Palestinian does not necessarily mean that one also has to be anti-Israel.

The pro-Palestinian camp in the West should raise its voice against violations of human rights and media freedoms under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

In the past few weeks, six Palestinian journalists, bloggers, and cartoonists were arrested by security forces belonging to the Palestinian government in the West Bank.

The pro-Palestinian activists around the world chose to turn a blind eye to the ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression in the West Bank.

They also failed — even refused — to condemn the Palestinian Authority government’s decision to block web sites that are critical of Palestinian leaders in the West Bank.

The pro-Palestinian activists in the West also refuse to examine what is happening under Hamas in the Gaza Strip. They apparently do not care, or do not want to see, that there are executions, arbitrary arrests, and assaults against women and torture in Hamas prisons.

The pro-Palestinian activists and organizations also do not seem to care if the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are brainwashing Palestinian children and filling their minds and hearts with hatred.

Those who care about the Palestinians should come to the Gaza Strip and work toward promoting human rights under Hamas — of children, women, and journalists.

It would help immensely if hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists came to the West Bank and Gaza Strip to teach Palestinian children English and expose them to the benefits of democracy and Western values, such as equal justice under law, free speech and a free press, and financial transparency and accountability.

It would also help immensely if these activists came to the West Bank and Gaza Strip to offer advice on, and help in building, proper government institutions, and in combating administrative and financial corruption.

But as far as many of the pro-Palestinian activists in the West are concerned, the interests of the Palestinians are not as important as hating Israel.

Anti-Israel messages and campaigns serve only the radicals in this region who do not want either peace or coexistence.

The time has come for the emergence of a genuine pro-Palestinian camp in the West that would focus less on Israel and more on helping the Palestinians.

 

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian Authority Radicalizing Palestinians, Dragging Them Toward War

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

On the same day that two Palestinian officials met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Palestinian Authority issued an order banning Palestinians from making direct contact with Israeli authorities in the West Bank. The new order is yet another sign of how the Palestinian Authority is radicalizing Palestinians and eventually dragging them toward another confrontation with Israel.

The ban, which was issued by the Palestinian governor of Bethlehem, prohibits Palestinians from directly seeking the services of the Israeli District Coordination Committee [DCO].

Established under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the DCO’s main mission is to provide various services to Palestinians, especially those who seek to enter Israel for medical treatment and work. Over the past two decades, tens of thousands of Palestinians have also sought the services of the DCO to facilitate travel arrangements and overcome bureaucratic hurdles.

But now the Palestinian Authority government has decided to put an end to this practice. Palestinians have warned that anyone who violates the latest ban would be punished.

The ban will only increase bitterness and suffering among Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority is hoping that the anger on the Palestinian street will ultimately be directed against Israel.

The new order is the latest in a series of decisions that raise tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and contravene the spirit of the peace process.

Last week, the Palestinian government issued another order banning Israeli — not only settler — agricultural products from some areas in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority has also banned meetings between Israelis and Palestinians that allegedly promote “normalization” between the two sides.

Moreover, Palestinians have been banned from working in settlements in the West Bank or selling goods manufactured in some of these settlements. But because the Palestinian government has not been able to come up with a plan to compensate tens of thousands of workers for the loss of their jobs in the settlements, many of them have chosen to simply ignore the ban, putting their lives at risk.

If anything, all these new measures reflect the Palestinian Authority’s double standards in dealing with its own population.

How can the Palestinian government call for a boycott of Israel when its political and security representatives are holding formal and informal meetings with Israelis almost on a daily basis?

If the leaders of the Palestinian Authority do not want Palestinians to seek the services of the Israeli authorities, then why don’t they return their Israeli-issued VIP cards that grant them privileges denied to most Palestinians?

If Palestinian leaders do not want their citizens to seek medical aid in Israel, why don’t they and their family members also boycott Israeli hospitals? Why do senior Palestinian leaders keep knocking on Israel’s door for help in various fields?

If the Palestinian government does not want Palestinians to work in the settlements, why hasn’t it provided them with alternative jobs or financial compensation?

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: Why Is Jordan Keeping Out Palestinian Refugees?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

More than 1,000 Palestinians who fled the violence in Syria and were hoping to find temporary shelter in Jordan, have been stranded along the border between Syria and Jordan for the past few weeks. The Jordanian authorities have thus far refused to allow them into the kingdom.

The Jordanian authorities have set up a makeshift refugee camp along the border with Syria, where the Palestinians are being held in tents, with poor sanitary conditions.

Jordan’s treatment of Palestinian refugees is not uncommon for an Arab country. Lebanon and Egypt have also refused to grant asylum to the fleeing Palestinians. This is also not the first time that an Arab country keeps Palestinians waiting on the border. In the past, Palestinians have also been denied entry into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Libya.

Arab support for the Palestinians has been largely rhetorical over the past two decades, forcing the Palestinians to become almost entirely dependent on American and EU taxpayers’ money.

At the same time, an additional 100,000 Syrians who fled their country in the past year have been permitted to enter Jordan.

The Jordanians are worried that if they allow a few hundred Palestinians to settle in the kingdom, this would create a precedent and pave the way for the 500,000 Palestinians living in Syria to flee to Jordan.

As Jordan’s King Abdullah already has a problem with the 80% Palestinian majority in his kingdom, he does not want the Palestinians in the kingdom – they pose a demographic threat to the Jordanians.

The decision to ban the Palestinian refugees from entering Jordan coincided with reports that the Jordanian authorities have begun revoking the Jordanian citizenship of Palestinians which had previously been granted.

Because the Palestinians pose a demographic threat to the Jordanians, hundreds of thousands of them residing there will lose their status as Jordanian citizens.

The Jordanian government, according to sources in Amman, has even decided to revoke the Jordanian citizenship of Palestinian Authority leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas.

King Abdullah this week dispatched a high level delegation to Ramallah to discuss these new measures against the Palestinians with the Palestinian leadership. Headed by Jordan’s interior minister, the delegation informed the Palestinians that the kingdom would not be able to help the Palestinians fleeing Syria.

King Abdullah is so worried about the talk – mainly in Israel – about the need to establish a Palestinian state in Jordan that he recently instructed his government to come up with a new electoral law that would keep Palestinians away from parliament and most government institutions altogether.

 

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: Urgently Needed – “Fill the Vacuum” for Israeli Arabs So The Extremists Will Not

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Some Israeli Arab leaders have caused tremendous damage to relations between Jews and Arabs inside Israel. These leaders are responsible for the fact that a growing number of Jews today view Arab citizens as a “fifth column” and an “enemy from within.”

The Arab members of Knesset should be fighting for equality and better services for their constituents, and not spending most of their time defending Fatah and Hamas and issuing fiery statements against Israel.

Participating in a flotilla aid ship to the Gaza Strip does not help improve the living conditions of Israeli Arabs. Nor does participating in Fatah rallies held in Ramallah and other parts of the West Bank.

Some of the Arab Knesset members have obviously forgotten that they were elected by Arab citizens of Israel and not by Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

There is nothing wrong, of course, with expressing solidarity with the Palestinians there. After all, Israeli Arabs see themselves as part of the Palestinian people.

But there is a feeling among Israeli Arabs that at least half of their representatives in the Knesset care more about their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza Strip than their constituents.

Israeli Arabs would like to see their representatives fighting to solve the many problems they are facing, such as poverty and unemployment. They would like to see Arab parliamentarians struggling for improved infrastructure and more government funds for Arab municipalities.

Israel, also, can play a role in undermining the radicals among its Arab community. The best way to weaken the radicals is by embracing the Arab citizens rather than alienating them.

Embracing Israeli Arabs would boost their confidence in Israel and drive them away from radicals who are making every effort to drag Israel’s Arab citizens toward a confrontation with the Israeli establishment.

If Israel does not build a community center in Baka Al-Gharbiyya, the Islamic Movement will do so.

Israel needs to start working on repairing the damage that has been caused to relations between Jews and Arabs inside the country. The PLO and Hamas have damaged relations not only between Jews and Palestinians, but also between Arabs and Jews living inside Israel.

In recent years, Israeli governments have taken a number of decisions aimed at rebuilding mutual confidence between Arab and Jewish citizens.

These decisions include allocating additional public funding to Arab municipalities, and investment in infrastructure in Arab villages and towns, as well as incorporating Israeli Arabs in jobs in the public and private sectors.

When the Arab citizens see that their state cares about them and does not relate to them as an enemy, they will keep a distance from the radicals. The radical leaders of the Arab community find fertile soil among disgruntled Israeli Arabs, especially young people who are looking for a better life and paying jobs.

The overwhelming majority of Israeli Arabs remains loyal to the state even though they do not identify with its national anthem. Peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs inside Israel is not a lost cause.

 

Originally published by Gatestone Institute www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: The Practical Three-State Solution

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Ahmed Qurei [aka: Abu Ala], one of the major architects of the failed Oslo Accords that were signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993, is now advocating a “one-state solution” for Jews and Arabs. According to Qurei, the “two-state solution” is no longer realistic and should therefore be abandoned in favor of a democratic and open country where all Jews and Arabs live together under one government.

Of course Qurei blames Israel for the failure of the two-state concept because of construction in West Bank settlements and Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. He says that in light of the new facts on the ground that Israel has created, especially over the past two decades, the two-state solution, which he once strongly supported, has become infeasible.

However, the idea of creating one state for Israelis and Palestinians is also infeasible, not to mention unrealisitic.

A majority of both Palestinians and Israelis, according to public opinion polls, are opposed to the idea.

The last thing Israel wants is to turn millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and refugee camps in the Arab world into Israeli citizens. For Israelis, that would mean the end of Israel as a homeland for Jews.

Most Palestinians are also opposed to the “one state solution”: they want to be separated from, and not integrated into, Israel. For decades, the Palestinians have been struggling for independence,

The Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank has repeatedly come out against the idea of “one state for two peoples.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has emphasized again and again in the last few years that the “two-state solution” remains the “number one, two and three and only option” for the Palestinians.

Yet despite the massive opposition on both sides, a few Israelis and Palestinians have launched a campaign to promote the the establishment of one state. The campaign, according to Palestinian sources, is organized by some EU-funded non-governmental organizations in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

In the past few weeks, large, expensive-looking posters advocating the “one-state solution” have been appearing on billboards in major Palestinian cities in the West Bank, drawing sharp condemnations from many Palestinians. On instructions from the Palestinian leadership, the posters were torn down and the organizers were rebuked and warned not to repeat the “provocation.”

Qurei and those who are working to promote the “one-state solution” are ignoring the facts on the ground: namely that the Palestinians already have two separate “states” next to Israel – one in the West Bank and the other in the Gaza Strip.

They are also ignoring the reality that the two Palestinian entities have been at war with each other since 2007, when Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip and threw out the Palestinian Authority.

If the Palestinians cannot live together in peace in one country, how can they be expected to live in peace with Jews in one state?

The three-state solution is, for now, the only, and best, option on the table. The two-state solution should be put on hold until the Palestinians reunite and start speaking in one voice. Meanwhile, those who are trying to promote a one-state solution are just wasting their time and the time of most Israelis and Palestinians.

 

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/

Khaled Abu Toameh: Should Jordan Be a Palestinian State?

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Those who support the idea of turning Jordan into a Palestinian state need to be think carefully about the consequences of such a move. A Palestinian state in Jordan would only be a source of even further instability and tension in the Middle East.

The royal family in Jordan has always been friendly to Israel and the West. Like his father, the late King Hussein, King Abdullah II is probably Israel’s best friend and ally in the Arab and Islamic world.

The long border between Israel and Jordan has been relatively quite over the past few decades — thanks to the Jordanian authorities’ tremendous efforts to prevent terror attacks from their territories.

Turning Jordan into Palestine would mean the loss of a moderate and rational Arab leader at a time when Islamists are rising to power in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya.

It would mean the creation of a third state for the Palestinians, who already have two entities – one in the West Bank and another in the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian state in Jordan would be run by either Hamas or Fatah — the two parties that have failed their people again and again in the past few decades. In any event, whoever replaces the royal family in Jordan would not be as moderate, pragmatic, and open-minded as the Hashemites.

The Jordanian monarch has displayed courage by resisting pressure from wealthy Arab countries like Qatar to allow Hamas – after it was thrown out of Syria – to establish its headquarters in Amman.

King Abdullah II, who since the beginning of the “Arab Spring” has been forced to tackle growing unrest in his kingdom, should also be commended for resisting immense pressure from Muslim Brotherhood and many Jordanians and Palestinians to cut off diplomatic ties with Israel.

Security cooperation between Israel and Jordan has always been strong: the two countries face the same challenges, threats, and enemies.

King Abdullah II and his father have prevented Hamas from establishing terror bases in the kingdom.

In 1999, King Hussein did not hesitate to expel Hamas leaders after closing down their offices in Amman.

A few years later, the Jordanians thwarted plans by Hamas to smuggle weapons into the kingdom for the purpose of launching terror attacks against Israel.

The king already has too many problems at home. The talk about “Jordan is Palestine” and “Palestine is Jordan” only aggravates these problems and plays into the hands of those who would turn the kingdom into a radical state that would probably be afflicted with Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

Originally published by Stonegate Institute www.stonegateinstitute.org

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/khaled-abu-toameh-should-jordan-be-a-palestinian-state/2012/03/19/

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