Palestine Update

(A) Brutal murder of Minister Ziad Abu Ein

December saw the killing of Fatah MP Ziad Abu Ein and substantial disagreement over the proposed UN resolution on Palestinian statehood.

In early December a group of Palestinian demonstrators marched to agricultural land in Turmus Aya, an occupied town 14 miles northeast of Ramallah, to plant olive saplings. As they went they were confronted by IDF forces who proceeded to attack the demonstrators including Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein who was marching at the front. He died shortly afterwards. Immediately video footage was posted on the internet and picked up by outlets such as Russia Today, showing the floored minister sitting pale faced upon the ground in the moments before his death. Associated Press and others carried the story immediately:

“Witnesses… said the Cabinet member, Ziad Abu Ain, was beaten by an Israeli soldier…

The incident began with a march by several dozen Palestinians who headed to agricultural land near the village of Turmus Aya to plant olive tree saplings, said one of the participants, Mahmoud Aloul, a senior member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.

The land belongs to Turmus Aya, but is close to an Israeli settlement and mostly off limits to the village’s farmers, Aloul said.

As the marchers walked toward the land, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at the Palestinians, Aloul said. He said Abu Ein was hit by a tear gas canister…

Another marcher, Salah Hawajeh, said Abu Ein marched toward the soldiers ahead of everyone else, until he was stopped by a soldier.

He said the soldier headbutted Abu Ein and then hit him in the chest with his rifle butt. Hawajeh said Abu Ein then dropped to the ground…”

As if the slaying of the Fatah minister was not enough, Israel then attempted to cover the whole affair up by declaring after his autopsy that he had died of a heart attack brought on by his general ill health! Despite photographs depicting Abu Ein being clutched by the throat by Israeli occupation forces, the so-called expert Israeli doctor Chen Kugel (who participated in the pathology) blamed heart disease and “stress“. When Palestinian doctors pointed out that Abu Ein had significant damage to his face, teeth and throat, Dr. Kugel shamefacedly explained the damage was ” more compatible with the results of resuscitation efforts“. Such are the achievements of Israeli medicine! The New York Times recounted the attempted cover up:

“Pathologists on both sides did agree that Mr. Abu Ein suffered a blockage of a coronary artery because of haemorrhaging in the inner lining of the heart that was probably a result of stress [a stress not too dissimilar from the stress one might feel with a rope around one’s neck and four feet between your shoes and the earth – Ed.]. But Dr. Aloul [the Palestinian pathologist in attendance – Ed.] pointed to wounds to Mr. Abu Ein’s front teeth and bruises on the tongue, neck and windpipe as indicative of violent acts that led to his death.

“Ehab Bessaiso, the spokesman for the Palestinian government, said: ‘Today, based on the autopsy results, we hold the Israeli government accountable for the murder of Ziad Abu Ein.’

“Mr. Abu Ein held the rank of minister in the Palestinian Authority as the head of a committee for the struggle against the Israeli West Bank barrier and the settlements. He died Wednesday after being shoved by Israeli soldiers and border police officers trying to prevent demonstrators from reaching a patch of land where they intended to plant olive trees near an Israeli settlement outpost.

“Images from the scene showed a member of the security forces shoving Mr. Abu Ein while grabbing him roughly by the neck. Witnesses said one of the Israeli soldiers, wearing a helmet, head-butted Mr. Abu Ein in the chest. The security forces also fired tear gas at the protesters, who held olive branches and Palestinian flags, in an effort to disperse the demonstration.”

Murders in broad daylight, such as that of Abu Ein, are nothing new as far as Israeli crimes are concerned. And sadly, neither is the disgraceful attempt at cover up. Coming hot on the heels of this summer’s massacres, there really is no crime we don’t expect the Israeli occupiers to commit. The Washington Post recounted the scenes at his funeral:

“Thousands of mourners crowded into the official government compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah to attend Abu Ein’s funeral.

“Everyone knows Abu Ein,” said Yazmin Israyah, 19, a media student.

“She said she hoped that his death would not just be another sad day for Palestinians, ‘but a spark.’ Israyah said that she would support whatever Abbas did but that if it were up to her, she would end all cooperation with the Israelis.

“Palestinian National Council member Tayseer Naserallah, who spent several years in an Israeli prison with Abu Ein, said that his death could represent a turning point in the rise of popular resistance among Palestinians.

“‘We have wasted a lot of time trying to make peace with the Israelis,’ Naserallah said.

“‘There is no value in an Israeli apology,’ he said. ‘There is bloodshed every day ‘.”

(B) UN and French moves to recognise a Palestinian state

The draft resolution tabled at the UN in December by Jordan gave 12 months for the “comprehensive settlement” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but was severely criticised by Palestinian groups including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas. However it did have the backing of a number of countries, including Russia whose UN permanent representative Vitaly Churkin had already given it his support and stated that it could get the necessary majority of votes (nine) on the security council. The Russians believe that the recognition of a Palestinian state, even on the basis proposed (of which more in a moment) would help to bring Israel to account in future incursions and occupation of Palestinian territories.

As well as opposition by Hamas and the PFLP, the proposal was also opposed by Israel whose thinking was outlined in a Russia Today article posted online in December:

“The move is opposed by Israel and some of its close allies, including the United States, which has a veto right at the UNSC, giving it the power to block any draft resolution there.

“‘Our expectation is that the United States will stand by its position for the past 47 years that a solution to the conflict will be achieved through negotiations, and I do not see a reason for this policy to change,’ Netanyahu told reporters after a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry last week.”

“The progress towards Palestinian recognition at the UN coincides with Palestine achieving the same goal in the EU. Sweden became the first Western EU member to recognise Palestinian statehood in October, while motions for the same had been voted for by the parliaments of Spain, Ireland and France. Some Israeli officials, including the prime minister, alleged this is due to looming anti-Semitism in Europe.”

Hamas and PFLP opposition

The basis for the opposition of Palestinian groups to this resolution lies in their belief that it undermines a number of key Palestinian demands. In a statement criticising the proposed resolution, the PFLP said that the draft resolution undermined the right of return of the Palestinian people and that, just because the Israeli government and the US opposed this resolution, it did not mean that the Palestinians had to support it:

The Jerusalem Post reported on the opposition from Hamas and on an announcement by the prominent Fatah member Marwan Barghouti,

“Abu Zuhri [a Hamas official – Ed.] called on Abbas to withdraw the draft resolution from the Security Council.

“Abbas critics argue that the draft resolution, which calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, does not meet the political aspirations of the Palestinians.

“Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti took issue with the text and called on the PA leadership to conduct an immediate and comprehensive revision of its wording.

“Barghouti, in a statement from his prison cell, accused the PA leadership of making unjustified concessions on Palestinian rights in the draft resolution.

“He criticised the PA’s readiness to conduct land swaps with Israel, saying this would undermine the Palestinian right to self-determination and to a sovereign state. Israel would exploit the concept of land swaps to legalise settlements, he warned.

“Barghouti voiced opposition to the document’s wording on Jerusalem, which says that the city should be the capital of two states. He stressed that any resolution should emphasise that east Jerusalem is the capital of a Palestinian state.

“He criticised the absence of any reference to the issues of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and the continued blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“‘We must stop negotiating … without any results,” Barghouti said. “The Palestinian leadership should not allow any attempt to harm these terms of reference, which ensure the rights of our people to freedom, independence and the right of return for refugees.”

“Tayseer Khaled, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and a leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also criticised the draft resolution and called on the PA leadership to withdraw it from the Security Council.

“The proposal does not represent the position endorsed by the PLO Executive Committee over the past few weeks, Khaled said.

“‘The draft resolution was not discussed by any PLO body and as such it does not have a political and national cover,” he said. It does not meet the aspirations of the Palestinians, especially with regards to the issues of Jerusalem, borders, settlements, land swaps and refugees, Khaled claimed.

“The Palestinian National Initiative, an independent political movement led by Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, said the draft resolution includes ‘dangerous lapses’ that compromise Palestinian demands….

“…The movement criticised the resolution for ‘equating between Palestinians and Israel, ignoring the fact that one part has been occupying and repressing the other for the past 66 years.'”

As we go to press, the news has come through that the UN Security Council rejected this resolution without the US having to exercise its veto. This happened because the US was able to coerce Nigeria into not supporting the resolution and abstaining instead, thus making sure that the resolution did not achieve the necessary 9 Security Council votes needed for its adoption.

Victory to the Palestinian resistance!

Death to imperialism!