Shepherd’s Hotel update

A view of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. In the background the city center of Jerusalem. 23 March 2009 (David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons)
A view of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. In the background the city center of Jerusalem. 23 March 2009 (David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons)

A view of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. In the background the city center of Jerusalem. 23 March 2009 (David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons)

Marian Houk, 14 Jan 2011

The hotel part of the Shepherd’s Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah is what was demolished on Sunday by Israeli heavy equipment hired by a settler organization. The only work done since the initial frenzied hours has been rubble removal.

The “palace” part is still standing.

That is, the part that is most historic, and most architecturally beautiful, with references to principles of great Islamic form and design, and that was built in the 1930s as a private home by Hajj Amin al-Husseini — though he never lived in it a day — is intact.

Only the (large) extension, added in the 1960s to turn the property into a hotel, has so far been crushed.

Are Israelis searching for a compromise? Is international pressure playing any part? Are any Muslim countries playing an important off-stage role? Is the settler organization that was given title to the hotel (and its backers in the current Jerusalem municipality and Israeli government) being prudent, as Husseini heirs wage multi-front last-ditch legal battles in the Israeli court system to stop construction of the first major Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, a settlement so strategic that it could change, perhaps forever, the prospects for a peaceful sharing of the “Holy City”?

Hajj Amin Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestinian nationalist leader exiled by British Mandate forces in 1937, is detested in Israeli and Jewish circles because of his efforts, as part of his struggle against British rule, to form an alliance with Hitler.

Hajj Amin cultivated Islamic ties and relations with leaders of Muslim countries that he met during pilgimages to Mecca and in travels throughout the Islamic world, as part of his mobilizing effort to throw off British rule and gain the independence that Palestinians hoped to achieve.

At the time, this meant opposing large-scale Jewish immigration into Palestine, which the League of Nations had not only endorsed, using the exact language of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, when the League’s Council formally awarded the Palestine Mandate to Britain in 1923 (though Britain had de facto administered it for the five previous years), but also (by British design and complicity) actually required the British Mandatory authorities to enforce. Britain had to report back annually to the Council of the League of Nations on how it implemented its obligation to assist Jewish immigration.

Triumphalist statements made by Israeli settler supporters at the beginning of the week about grinding down and crushing any remnant of Hajj Amin’s presence have not been borne out in fact.

Are wiser heads attempting to prevail?

Saying that would probably be going too … Haaretz reported today that “Right-wing activists also said they plan to turn the main part of the historic building – originally constructed by the mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini – into a synagogue commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. Activists see this move as all the more poignant as Husseini was known for his collaboration with the Nazis. However, contrary to some activists’ claims, the mufti never lived in the building himself, instead giving it to his personal secretary, George Antonius … ‘As we were forced to preserve the building, we will turn it into the neighborhood synagogue and dedicate it to the memory of the Holocaust victims’, said Jerusalem councilman Elisha Peleg (Likud ). ‘The synagogue will be doubly symbolic: It will replace the house of the mufti and it will mark the point where 78 physicians, nurses and patients were murdered on their way to Mount Scopus in 1948′. While the first phase of the project is getting underway, the settlers have also submitted a larger plan to the municipality, requesting to add another 50 housing units. All in all, the project intends to include 70 units meant for Jews. The sensitivity of the site, however, means the plan will likely be delayed for an extended period of time”… This Haaretz report is published here.

This, however, is not too far from an idea reportedly harbored by at least one member of the Husseini family, who is said to have entertained the idea of proposing to the financial backer of the settlement project, Irving Moskowitz, that the “palace” that Hajj Amin built be turned into some kind of joint Israeli-Palestinian museum for peace…


Marian Houk PASSIA 2004

In the photo below, taken at a roundtable discussion in Jerusalem in July 2004, Marian Houk is the woman wearing the sort-of-orange-colored eyeglasses. Photo courtesy of PASSIA:

Marian Houk, a writer, reporter, journalist and analyst with long experience at the United Nations — in New York and in Geneva and more — as well as with the Middle East. She has reported on, and for a time also worked for, the United Nations. She is a former President of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) at UNHQ/NY (1986), and is currently based in Jerusalem.

Marian Houk is the Editor of UN-Truth news site.

Amira Hass interviews Jonathan Pollak

Jonathan Pollak (Photo: Active Stills,

Marian Houk, 30 Dec 2010

Jonathan Pollak, the Israeli anti-occupation activist who has just been sentenced to three months in jail for participating in a demonstration against tightened IDF-administered sanctions that affect over 1.5 million people in the closed Gaza Strip, has spoken to Haaretz’s Amira Hass about his conviction, and his convictions.

The interview is published today, here.

Pollak was told to report to jail on 11 January to begin the sentence. Like many people who imagine the possibility of going to jail, he thinks he will be able to pass the time usefully by reading. But, asked by Amira if he were afraid of prison, he replied “Yes. I’m not yet sure of what, but I am”.

He was given a suspended jail sentence earlier, stemming from a demonstration against the construction of The Wall in the West Bank (which the International Court of Justice said was illegal, in a ruling on 9 July 2004).

Now, he has been ordered to serve the two sentences, simultaneously.

It is not known yet if he will appeal…

Pollak told Amira Hass that he was arrested “in the middle of our cycling route, on Bograshov Street in Tel Aviv. I was in the midst of the crowd. Two plainclothes policemen who know me and I know them approached me and took me off my bike. They said something to me like: “We told you if you raised your head, we would cut it off,” and took me to a police van. The rest of the cyclists continued without any interference. No one else was arrested”.

The prosecutor apparently asked for a six-month jail term, plus a fine, arguing that the demonstration was “illegal”. Pollak commented: “I am not a jurist but to the best of my knowledge, the police orders demand a permit for a demonstration in which more than 50 people participate. The prosecutor, who is a policewoman, is supposed to know that. We were about 40 people”.

But, he told Amira Hass, he would, personally, not have asked for a permit even if more activists had gathered, “Because I don’t believe that when you are demonstrating against a regime, the regime is the one that has to approve the demonstration”.

The demonstration that is sending Pollak — and only Pollak — to jail took place in Tel Aviv on 31 January 2008 — just days after the Israeli Supreme Court decided on 28 January against a petition brought by GISHA and a group of nine Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations who asked the Court to stop IDF-administered deliberately tightened sanctions against the entire population of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government had issued a declaration on 19 September 2007 that the Gaza Strip — ruled solely by Hamas after its rout of Fatah/Palestinian Preventive Security Forces in mid-June 2007 — had become an “enemy entity”, or “hostile territory”.

The Israeli government gave the Israeli mililtary the sole and entire responsibility for deciding on and administering the regime of deliberate sanctions, which the military announced would be tightened on a regular basis. These sanctions went into effect at the end of October 2007, and the military said that fuel and electricity supplies would be reduced by an additional 15 percent each month. The Supreme Court allowed the fuel reductions to continue, but stopped the reductions in electricity until its decision on 28 January 2008, when they were allowed to go ahead. (However, after a brief trial, the Israeli military apparently realized that the electricity cuts could not be stopped so easily, and without greater damage).

For the final Supreme Court Hearing on the matter, on 28 January 2008, two Palestinians from Gaza who had agreed to testify to the Israeli Court and who had been issued permits to come to Jerusalem to testify, were held up that morning at Erez checkpoint until just before the Supreme Court hearing had adjourned. One of the men was from the Gaza Power Plant, the other was from the Coastal Municipalities Water Society. When they were finally allowed through, they jumped into a waiting taxi and raced to Jerusalem, but arrived after the hearing had completely ended…

The Israeli military was allowed to do whatever it decided in Gaza, without any independent governmental oversight or any other civilian supervision of the IDF-administered sanctions that were applied against 1.5 million people in Gaza.

The absurdity and cruelty of the situation was evident, but difficult to monitor precisely, as the military kept all details until very recently — after the Flotilla Fiasco on 31 May. when 8 Turkish men and one Turkish-American high school student were killed in the Israeli naval boarding at sea of the Mavi Marmara.

In any case, GISHA’s petition argued that such sanctions were collective punishment. But the Supreme Court allowed them to go ahead, on the sole condition that the Israeli military must take care to ensure that no “humanitarian crisis” should ensue.

There was no definition given by the Court of what constitutes a “humanitarian crisis”, but many people believe that one certainly exists in Gaza — one which was exacerbated by the massive IDF attack on the Gaza Strip from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009.

In his discussion with Amira Hass, Pollak explained: “I don’t know what other option there is in so extreme a situation, in which four million people are being kept under a military regime without democratic rights by a country that is interested in presenting a democratic image. In a situation where there is a blockade and collective punishment of 1.5 million people, can one hesitate at all whether to hold a very minimalist protest in Tel Aviv? It seems to me part of the duty of a human being, the least we can do. The question is not why I need all this mess but why so few people join in”.

Pollak, 28 years old, has been a member of the Israeli group, Anarchists against The Wall, and is now on the coordinating committee of the Palestinian-led Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.

Marian Houk PASSIA 2004

In the photo below, taken at a roundtable discussion in Jerusalem in July 2004, Marian Houk is the woman wearing the sort-of-orange-colored eyeglasses. Photo courtesy of PASSIA:

Marian Houk, a writer, reporter, journalist and analyst with long experience at the United Nations — in New York and in Geneva and more — as well as with the Middle East. She has reported on, and for a time also worked for, the United Nations. She is a former President of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) at UNHQ/NY (1986), and is currently based in Jerusalem.

Marian Houk is the Editor of UN-Truth news site.

The IDF and Christmas in the Holy Land

View of Church of the Nativity in 1833 (Maxim Nikiforovich Vorobiev (1787–1855))

View of Church of the Nativity in 1833 (Maxim Nikiforovich Vorobiev (1787–1855))

View of Church of the Nativity in 1833 (Maxim Nikiforovich Vorobiev (1787–1855))

Marian Houk, 20 Dec 2010

The IDF has announced its “goodwill gestures that will be implemented for the Christmas holiday … from Sunday, December 19th 2010 until Thursday, January 20th 2011 [i.e., through the Catholic, Orthodox and Armenian celbrations of Christmas]:
* Christian Palestinian residents of the Judea and Samaria [West Bank] Region (regardless of age) will be permitted to cross into Israel for the duration of the entire Christmas celebrations, including lodging.
* 300 Christian Palestinians will be permitted to travel via the Ben Gurion International Airport for the duration of the holiday, subject to security assessment.
* 500 Christian Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip over the age of 35 will be permitted entry into the Judea and Samaria [West Bank]region and into Israel for religious and family gatherings. The permits will be given subject to a security clearance.
* 200 Christian residents of Arab countries will be permitted to enter the Judea and Samaria Region [West Bank] during the holiday.
The IDF will continue to operate in order to ensure that the Christian population in the Judea and Samaria Region [West Bank] can celebrate the Christmas Holiday”.

Though the Christian population in the Holy Land has dwindled from over 20 percent to something like 2 percent now, those quotas given in the IDF “goodwill gestures” listed above are very, very small — if they are even implemented [for the past couple of years, the Gaza quotas were not filled, or, not in an appropriate way] …

Marian Houk PASSIA 2004

In the photo below, taken at a roundtable discussion in Jerusalem in July 2004, Marian Houk is the woman wearing the sort-of-orange-colored eyeglasses. Photo courtesy of PASSIA:

Marian Houk, a writer, reporter, journalist and analyst with long experience at the United Nations — in New York and in Geneva and more — as well as with the Middle East. She has reported on, and for a time also worked for, the United Nations. She is a former President of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) at UNHQ/NY (1986), and is currently based in Jerusalem.

Marian Houk is the Editor of UN-Truth news site.

29 November 1947 – UN calls for creation of Jewish State + Arab State in Palestine

UN 1947 partition plan for Palestine (Photo source: Wiki - U.S. Central Intelligence Agency)

Marian Houk, 29 Nov 2010

That’s right: 63 years ago today, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 181 which calls for the establishment of a Jewish State and an Arab State in Palestine.

For 63 years, the “international community” as we know it has backed the establishment of a Jewish State.

Six months later, the State of Israel was proclaimed as a Jewish state by virtue of UN General Assembly resolution 181.

And, though some argue otherwise, this is “international legitimacy” — a term coined by Palestinians, many of whom wish to preserve an option for their national rights based on UN resolutions and international treaties and various other agreements that are now called international law.

In November 1988, the Palestinians themselves declared independence, based on this same UN General Assembly resolution 181. But, it remains unrealized. Vague Palestinian pronouncements are met with threats against any “unilateral” actions — though Israel is perhaps the world’s foremost practitioner of “unilateral” actions , the country of “unilateral” actions par excellence .

So, how is it that we are all still talking past each other?

And, how did this situation come to be?

The “Allied” victors of World War I formed an international organization, which they called the League of Nations, which was based in Geneva.

Britain was pleased to have been awarded the Palestine Mandate — a move which it itself engineered — by the League of Nations, several years after British troops marched out of Egypt and swept up in a crescent to Jerusalem by December 1918, and then moving on to Iraq.

After years of carrying out a military administration of the Palestine Mandate — and before it was actually offically awarded as a Mandate — Britain had already divided it into two parts: “Palestine”, and “Transjordan”.

The Jewish immigration that Britain was enjoined by the League of Nations to encourage was, thus, restricted to “Palestine” (and excluded from “Transjordan”).

The Palestine Mandate was officially awarded to Britain by the Council of the League of Nations only after the official surrender of the Ottoman Empire, which took place at a Conference in Lausanne in 1923 — only after a lot of hard bargaining by Turkey (the Ottoman successor).

Within a decade, the League of Nations was gradually paralyzed by its members’ bad behavior, and had already suspended functioning by the time the Second World War broke out.

Meanwhile, Britain was supposed to encourage the development of the two communities in Palestine, but was really rather bad at managing the communal conflict that developed alongside increased Jewish immigration.

By the end of World War II, Britain simply wanted to get out of Palestine.

Concurrently, the Allied victors of the Second World War had formed the United Nations (UN), as the successor organization to the League of Nations.

Britain asked the UN General Assembly to decide how to dispose of the Palestine Mandate awarded by the League of Nations.

After months of deliberatation, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 on 29 November 1947. Britain announced it would pull its troops out by mid-May 1948. And, as it did so, the State of Israel was proclaimed, from Tel Aviv, as a Jewish State (not one mention of it being “democratic”, a much more recent concept, enunciated only after the fall of the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s.

By November 1988, the Palestinian leadership said that although they didn’t like Resolution 181 very much, it nevertheless provided the basis for the Declaration of an independent Palestinian state.

Now, after a prolonged and agonizing labor, are we facing a dangerous delivery by forceps?

Israel’s continued military occupation of what is left of Palestine has caused a miserable postponement of Palestinian self-determination.

Today, in Geneva, Richard Falk — an America, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, and an expert on international law who is also currently the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on Palestinian rights, According to a press release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Falk today “stressed the need to impose ’some outer time limit after which further occupation becomes a distinct violation of international law, and if not promptly corrected, constitutes a new type of crime against humanity’.”

The press release was entitled, more straight to the point, “Prolonged occupation, a new type of crime against humanity”.

Falk said that he “wished to express sympathy for the Palestinian people who continue after more than 43 years to live under Israeli occupation that daily violates many of their fundamental and inalienable human rights. Above all, the failure to resolve the underlying conflict between Palestine and Israel in such a manner as to realize after decades of delay the Palestinians’ right to self-determination is of urgent concern. It should be observed, also, that negotiation between the parties to the conflict needs to be guided by the implementation of several principles of international law if a settlement of the conflict is to achieve Palestinian self-determination. These principles, as set forth in the General Assembly Resolution 48/158, 20 December 1993, include the following: (1) withdrawal from Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem; (2) resolving the Palestinian refugee problem in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 181 and subsequent resolutions; (3) dismantling settlements established during the occupation; (4) fixing of secure and internationally recognized borders; (5) guaranteeing free access to sacred sites and religious buildings throughout historic Palestine. A peace process that does not heed these guidelines, with appropriate degrees of flexible implementation, cannot realize either self-determination for the Palestinian people or peace with security and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis”.

Falk added that “it is important to ponder the special consequences of prolonged occupation and refugee status, which inflicts serious physical and mental harm on Palestinians living under occupation [n.b. — as it also does to many Palestinian refugees and their descendants living outside the occupied territories, several hundreds of thousands of whom still live in refugee camps…]. International humanitarian law was developed under the assumption that occupation would be temporary and short-lived. The Palestinian experience suggests the need for a new protocol of international humanitarian law that addresses the distinctive situation of prolonged occupation and refugee status, imposing some outer time limit after which further occupation becomes a distinct violation of international law, and if not promptly corrected, constitutes a new type of crime against humanity. The United Nations and the international community as a whole will be judged in the future by whether effective action is now taken to end the humanitarian catastrophe that has befallen the Palestinian people. In this respect, the United Nations, the governments and the peoples of the world will all be judged complicit to the extent that this persistent violation of fundamental human rights is endured without taking the necessary steps in a spirit of urgency and commitment to bring this abusive occupation to an end and achieve Palestinian self-determination in accordance with international law and the dictates of global justice”.

His statement can be consulted in full here.

Marian Houk PASSIA 2004

In the photo below, taken at a roundtable discussion in Jerusalem in July 2004, Marian Houk is the woman wearing the sort-of-orange-colored eyeglasses. Photo courtesy of PASSIA:

Marian Houk, a writer, reporter, journalist and analyst with long experience at the United Nations — in New York and in Geneva and more — as well as with the Middle East. She has reported on, and for a time also worked for, the United Nations. She is a former President of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) at UNHQ/NY (1986), and is currently based in Jerusalem.

Marian Houk is the Editor of UN-Truth news site.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister says Israel will break ties to UNESCO over vote on holy sites, then statement is retracted

Palestine, Hebron, Cave of the Patriarchs from the south. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Marian Houk, 3 Nov 2010

Palestine, Hebron, Cave of the Patriarchs from the south. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Palestine, Hebron, Cave of the Patriarchs from the south. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Haaretz is reporting tonight that Israel will “reduce cooperation” with UNESCO after a vote in Paris last week concerning two heritage sites Israel has claimed for its own — Rachel’s Tomb at the entrance to Bethlehem, and the immensely important Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

The Haaretz account said: “Referring to the [Bethlehem] structure as the ‘Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb’, UNESCO’s board voted 44 to one [the U.S.], with 12 abstentions, to reaffirm that the site was ‘an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law’.” The Haaretz report can be read in full here.

Neither site was controlled by of the State of Israel at its founding in May 1948. Both Bethlehem and Hebron are part of the West Bank, which was under Jordanian occupation and administration from May 1948 until the June 1967 “Six-Day” war, when Israeli forces conquered the West Bank, and have been in control ever since.

There is a mosque [Bilal bin Rabah] next to Rachel’s Tomb — and it is now virtually inaccessible to Palestinians due to Israeli security measures, including construction of The Wall.

The Ibrahimi Mosque [which contains the Cave of the Patriarchs] is under Israeli military control, and there is a forced sharing that — particularly since the February 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers at dawn prayer by an American-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, from nearby Kirya Arba — sometimes does deprive Muslims of access, as happened during a major Jewish festival this past weekend.

All religious sites under Israeli administration are supposed to be accessible to members of all faiths, according to the Oslo Accords. But security measures trump the Olso Accords.

Earlier today, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post, that “relations with UNESCO would not be restored until it retracted its statement last week that two ancient biblical sites – the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb – were an integral part of the ‘occupied’ Palestinian territories. Ayalon said that the Palestinian Authority was behind the statement, which he added, was issued by the automatic Arab majority on the UNESCO board. It is another attempt by the PA to delegitimize Israel, he said”. This is reported here.

YNet reported that Ayalon told the Knesset: “We should see the organization’s call to remove the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb from the list of Israel’s national sites as part of Palestinian escalation in international organizations … Israel rejects all five of UNESCO’s decisions and has no intention of cooperating with the organization … We’ve decided to suspend our cooperation with UNESCO in these fields, and with regards to previous decisions”. This is posted here

However, Haaretz reported, “Israel’s reaction was not quite as serious as it first appeared. Ayalon’s spokeswoman said that Israel would cut off relations with UNESCO altogether – but shortly after said that the announcement had been made in error and retracted the statement”.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu denounced the UNESCO vote as “absurd”, in a statement that said: “The attempt to detach the people of Israel from its heritage is absurd. If the places where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish nation are buried, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Leah and Rachel some 4,000 years ago are not part of the Jewish heritage then what is?”

These statements specifically refer to the sites as “part of the Jewish heritage”, while other statements have said they are part of “the cradle of Jewish history”, rather than specifically as “religious sites” [such as synagogues].

A Jerusalem Post editorial published yesterday said that “UNESCO, the United Nations body in charge of preserving historical sites, went too far this time. There is a lot of chutzpah in this post-modernist era of ‘deconstruction’ and ‘revision’. Warmly cherished religious faiths and customs are reduced to ‘false consciousness’. Nations with their own unique ethnicity and proud traditions become ‘imagined communities’. Foundational histories are reduced to nothing more than subjective ‘narratives’. But even in this radically relativistic intellectual atmosphere, the latest UNESCO decision stands out. For this was a particularly blatant attempt to erase Jewish ties to the land of Israel … The move is seen in some quarters as a response to Israel’s decision in February to include the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb on a list of national heritage sites that would receive additional funding for refurbishing and for the development of educational tours”. This JPost editorial can be read in full here

The JPost editorial stated that “Jordan denied Israel the ‘free access to the Holy Places [including the Kotel – the Western Wall] and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives’ stipulated in the April 1949 Armistice”, and said that “Israel has done a better job at maintaining equitable access to religious [emphasis added] sites for all faiths”…

Marian Houk PASSIA 2004

In the photo below, taken at a roundtable discussion in Jerusalem in July 2004, Marian Houk is the woman wearing the sort-of-orange-colored eyeglasses. Photo courtesy of PASSIA:

Marian Houk, a writer, reporter, journalist and analyst with long experience at the United Nations — in New York and in Geneva and more — as well as with the Middle East. She has reported on, and for a time also worked for, the United Nations. She is a former President of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) at UNHQ/NY (1986), and is currently based in Jerusalem.

Marian Houk is the Editor of UN-Truth news site.

Why was the victim trying to cross The Wall?

Izz al-Din Qawezba's Family

Marian Houk, – 4 Oct 2010

This photo, published on YNet this afternoon, shows the widow and children left behind:

Izz al-Din Qawezba's Family

Izz al-Din Qawezba's Family

Izz al-Din Qawezba [Qawazbeh], 35, of Hebron, a father of five, was killed by an Israeli Border Policeman early on Sunday morning not far from French Hill, or Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus area, after he had scaled The Wall in the Jerusalem area and was trying to make a run for it, to get to work inside Israel. He had a family to support.

In a preliminary investigation, the Border Policeman said the shooting had been “accidental”.

Israel rounds up thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank each year found working or trying to seek work in Israel.

The West Bank is under Israeli military occupation — and this puts a responsibility on Israel for the well-being of the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank. [The Palestinian Authority, set up by agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, has only limited authority in only part of the West Bank. It is dependent on donor funding and on revenue for customs taxes collected and dispersed by Israel.]

About 20,000 West Bank Palestinians have permits to work inside Israel. An estimated 20,000 more are working inside Israeli Jewish settlements inside the West Bank, though the Palestinian Authority has declared that this must stop. An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 more Palestinians are working without permits — and their wages are lower than those who have permits. Israeli employers who hire Palestinians without permits are also liable for fines, but many do so because of the lower wage they can pay.

The Associated Press group reported today, after this killing, that “A workers’ rights group said thousands sneak into Israel every day in search of jobs. The victim’s cousin, Mohammed, 22, said his relative was shot from close range and without provocation. He said about 100 workers from villages near the West Bank city of Hebron climb over the separation barrier at a particular spot once a week, head for jobs on Israeli construction sites and return to their villages for the weekend. ‘We climb on each other’s shoulders to the top of the wall, and we tie the rope, then descend to the other side’, Kawazbeh said. ‘We usually choose (Saturday) midnight, because there are no soldiers and security. We move to a nearby place, a hill, where we stay until the morning’, then travel by bus and on foot for several more hours to various construction sites … Israeli police said the Palestinians trying to enter Sunday ignored police orders to stop and fled. But an officer caught up with Kawazbeh. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said he was shot after trying to grab the officer’s gun, but it wasn’t clear whether the officer fired or his gun discharged accidentally. The cousin denied that Kawazbeh tried to grab the gun. West Bank Palestinians must obtain special permits to enter Israel. The number of permits plummeted during the years of the uprising. Although the number has increased in recent years, many are still turned away. Those without permits sometimes try to sneak in, though the separation barrier has made such crossings more difficult”. This is reported here.

Great article, great man

Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist and author (ASHLEY COMBES / EPICSCOTLAND)

Marian Houk,, 29 Sept 2010

Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist and author (ASHLEY COMBES / EPICSCOTLAND)

Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist and author (ASHLEY COMBES / EPICSCOTLAND)

I’ve kept this link open so I wouldn’t forget to write about it: Johann Hari’s profile in The Independent of Israeli journalist for Haaretz Gideon Levy. The title, catchy: “Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?”

Levy was interviewed in Scotland as he was visiting to promote his new book, The Punishment of Gaza.

Here are some excerpts of what he told Hari: “ ‘My biggest struggle’, he says, ‘is to rehumanize the Palestinians. There’s a whole machinery of brainwashing in Israel which really accompanies each of us from early childhood, and I’m a product of this machinery as much as anyone else. [We are taught] a few narratives that it’s very hard to break. That we Israelis are the ultimate and only victims. That the Palestinians are born to kill, and their hatred is irrational. That the Palestinians are not human beings like us, So you get a society without any moral doubts, without any questions marks, with hardly public debate. To raise your voice against all this is very hard’.”

“Levy uses a simple technique. He asks his fellow Israelis: how would we feel, if this was done to us by a vastly superior military power? Once, in Jenin, his car was stuck behind an ambulance at a checkpoint for an hour. He saw there was a sick woman in the back and asked the driver what was going on, and he was told the ambulances were always made to wait this long. Furious, he asked the Israeli soldiers how they would feel if it was their mother in the ambulance – and they looked bemused at first, then angry, pointing their guns at him and telling him to shut up. ‘I am amazed again and again at how little Israelis know of what’s going on fifteen minutes away from their homes’, he says. ‘The brainwashing machinery is so efficient that trying [to undo it is] almost like trying to turn an omelette back to an egg. It makes people so full of ignorance and cruelty.” He gives an example. During Operation Cast Lead, the Israel bombing of blockaded Gaza in 2008-9, “a dog – an Israeli dog – was killed by a Qassam rocket and it on the front page of the most popular news”paper in Israel. On the very same day, there were tens of Palestinians killed, they were on page 16, in two lines.”

“In the summer of 2003, he was travelling in a clearly marked Israeli taxi on the West Bank. He explains: 2At a certain stage the army stopped us and asked what we were doing there. We showed them our papers, which were all in order. They sent us up a road – and when we went onto this road, they shot us. They directed their fire to the centre of the front window. Straight at the head. No shooting in the air, no megaphone calling to stop, no shooting at the wheels. Shoot to kill immediately. If it hadn’t been bullet-proof, I wouldn’t be here now. I don’t think they knew who we were. They shot us like they would shoot anyone else. They were trigger-happy, as they always are. It was like having a cigarette. They didn’t shoot just one bullet. The whole car was full of bullets. Do they know who they are going to kill? No. They don’t know and don’t care’.”

“He was fourteen during the Six Day War, and soon after his parents took him to see the newly conquered Occupied Territories. “We were so proud going to see Rachel’s Tomb [in Bethlehem] and we just didn’t see the Palestinians. We looked right through them, like they were invisible,” he says. ‘It had always been like that. We were passing as children so many ruins [of Palestinian villages that had been ethnically cleansed in 1948]. We never asked: “Who lived in this house? Where is he now? He must be alive. He must be somewhere”. It was part of the landscape, like a tree, like a river’. Long into his twenties, I would see settlers cutting down olive trees and soldiers mistreating Palestinian women at the checkpoints, and I would think, “‘These are exceptions, not part of government policy”.’ Levy says he became different due to ‘an accident’. He carried out his military service with Israeli Army Radio and then continued working as a journalist, ’so I started going to the Occupied Territories a lot, which most Israelis don’t do. And after a while, gradually, I came to see them as they really are’.”

“Then, slowly, Levy began to realise their tragedy seeped deeper still into his own life – into the ground beneath his feet and the very bricks of the Israeli town where he lives, Sheikh Munis. It is built on the wreckage of ‘one of the 416 Palestinian villages Israel wiped off the face of the earth in 1948′, he says. ‘The swimming pool where I swim every morning was the irrigation grove they used to water the village’s groves. My house stands on one of the groves. The land was “redeemed” by force, its 2,230 inhabitants were surrounded and threatened. They fled, never to return. Somewhere, perhaps in a refugee camp in terrible poverty, lives the family of the farmer who plowed the land where my house now stands’. He adds that it is ’stupid and wrong’ to compare it to the Holocaust, but says that man is a traumatized refugee just as surely as Levy’s father – and even now, if he ended up in the territories, he and his children and grandchildren live under blockade, or violent military occupation. The historian Isaac Deutscher once offered an analogy for the creation of the state of Israel. A Jewish man jumps from a burning building, and he lands on a Palestinian, horribly injuring him. Can the jumping man be blamed? Levy’s father really was running for his life: it was Palestine, or a concentration camp. Yet Levy says that the analogy is imperfect – because now the jumping man is still, sixty years later, smashing the head of the man he landed on against the ground, and beating up his children and grandchildren too. ‘1948 is still here. 1948 is still in the refugee camps. 1948 is still calling for a solution,” he says. “Israel is doing the very same thing now… dehumanising the Palestinians where it can, and ethnic cleansing wherever it’s possible. 1948 is not over. Not by a long way’ … Any conversation about the region is now dominated by a string of propaganda myths, he says, and perhaps the most basic is the belief that Israel is a democracy. ‘Today we have three kinds of people living under Israeli rule’, he explains. ‘We have Jewish Israelis, who have full democracy and have full civil rights. We have the Israeli Arabs, who have Israeli citizenship but are severely discriminated against. And we have the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, who live without any civil rights, and without any human rights. Is that a democracy?’.”

“ ‘The first twenty years of the occupation passed quietly, and we did not lift a finger to end it. Instead, under cover of the quiet, we built the enormous, criminal settlement enterprise’, where Palestinian land is seized by Jewish religious fundamentalists who claim it was given to them by God. Only then – after a long period of theft, and after their attempts at peaceful resistance were met with brutal violence – did the Palestinians become violent themselves. ‘What would happen if the Palestinians had not fired Qassams [the rockets shot at Southern Israel, including civilian towns]? Would Israel have lifted the economic siege? Nonsense. If the Gazans were sitting quietly, as Israel expects them to do, their case would disappear from the agenda. Nobody would give any thought to the fate of the people of Gaza if they had not behaved violently’. He unequivocally condemns the firing of rockets at Israeli civilians, but adds: ‘The Qassams have a context. They are almost always fired after an IDF assassination operation, and there have been many of these’. Yet the Israeli attitude is that ‘we are allowed to bomb anything we want but they are not allowed to launch Qassams’. It is a view summarised by Haim Ramon, the justice minister at time of Second Lebanon War: ‘We are allowed to destroy everything’.”

“Then he says, in a quieter voice: ‘The facts are clear. Israel has no real intention of quitting the territories or allowing the Palestinian people to exercise their rights. No change will come to pass in the complacent, belligerent, and condescending Israel of today. This is the time to come up with a rehabilitation programme for Israel’.”

“Look at the terror that happened in 2002 and 2003: life in Israel was really horrifying, the exploding buses, the suicide-bombers. But no Israeli made the connection between the occupation and the terror. For them, the terror was just the ‘proof’ that the Palestinians are monsters, that they were born to kill, that they are not human beings and that’s it. And if you just dare to make the connection, people will tell you ‘you justify terror’ and you are a traitor. I suspect it would be the same with sanctions. The condemnation after Cast Lead and the flotilla only made Israel more nationalistic. If [a boycott was] seen as the judgement of the world they would be effective. But Israelis are more likely to take them as ‘proof’ the world is anti-Semitic and will always hate us” .

“He refuses to cede Israel to people ‘who wave their Israeli flags made in China and dream of a Knesset cleansed of Arabs and an Israel with no [human rights organisation] B’Tselem’. He looks angry, indignant. ‘I will never leave. It’s my place on earth. It’s my language, it’s my culture. Even the criticism that I carry and the shame that I carry come from my deep belonging to the place. I will leave only if I be forced to leave. They would have to tear me out’. Does he think this is a real possibility – that his freedom could be taken from him, in Israel itself? ‘Oh, very easily’, he says. ‘It’s already taken from me by banning me from going to Gaza, and this is just a start. I have great freedom to write and to appear on television in Israel, and I have a very good life, but I don’t take my freedom for granted, not at all. If this current extreme nationalist atmosphere continues in Israel in one, two, three years time?’ He sighs. ‘There may be new restrictions, Ha’aretz may close down – God forbid – I don’t take anything for granted. I will not be surprised if Israeli Palestinian parties are criminalized at the next election, for example. Already they are going after the NGOs [Non-Government Organizations that campaign for Palestinian rights]. There is already a majority in the opinion polls who want to punish people who expose wrong-doing by the military and want to restrict the human rights groups’.”

“But then, as if it has been nagging at him, he returns abruptly to an earlier question. ‘I am very pessimistic, sure. Outside pressure can be effective if it’s an American one but I don’t see it happening. Other pressure from other parts of the world might be not effective. The Israeli society will not change on its own, and the Palestinians are too weak to change it. But having said this, I must say, if we had been sitting here in the late 1980s and you had told me that the Berlin wall will fall within months, that the Soviet Union will fall within months, that parts of the regime in South Africa will fall within months, I would have laughed at you. Perhaps the only hope I have is that this occupation regime hopefully is already so rotten that maybe it will fall by itself one day. You have to be realistic enough to believe in miracles’.”

This profile of Gideon Levy was published in The Independent last Friday 24 September here.

Sabra + Shatila massacre – 28 years ago today

Memorial in Sabra, South Beirut (Wiki Commons)

Marian Houk, 17 Sept 2010

Memorial in Sabra, South Beirut (Wiki Commons)

Memorial in Sabra, South Beirut (Wiki Commons)

It was, indeed, “one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century” …

Franklin Lamb wrote in an article published in The Daily Star [Lebanon] yesterday that “The untreated psychic wounds are still open. Accountability, justice and basic civil rights for the survivors are still denied”.

Lamb writes in that article, and in an earlier one we reported on yesterday here, that the massacre in the refugee camp took place from 16 to 18 September, 1982.

But, he says in both of these pieces that there is evidence of a continuing massacre of camp residents the next day, on 19 September, which took place in the Cite Sportive, where people who had been rounded up from inside the camp had been transported.

According to Lamb, a number of journalists “concur that more slaughter was done during the 24 hour period after 8 am Saturday [18 September], the hour the Israeli Kahan Commission, which declined to interview any Palestinians, ruled that the Israelis had stopped all the killing”. This Daily Star article is posted here.

The slaughter of unarmed Palestinian (and some Lebanese) residents of the refugee camp is blamed on the Lebanese Forces.

Israeli Army officers were stationed on rooftops overlooking the camp. The Israeli forces are accused of assisting their then-allies, the Lebanese Forces, by cordoning off the camp — and of not intervening to stop what some of them saw — and heard — was happening inside the camp 28 years ago this weekend.

Israel’s then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had raced his troops north to encircle the Lebanese capital in order to end, after a nearly two-month siege, what was called a “Palestinian state-within-a-state” led by the late Yasser Arafat, who had finally agreed to be evacuated with all his fighters by sea, “under a UN umbrella”, some two weeks before the massacre.

The Palestinian refugee camps were left utterly defenseless.

An Israeli commission of inquiry found that Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for inaction during the massacre. He resigned from his post soon afterwards — but his career in Israeli politics was far from finished [Sharon succeeded Ehud Barak as Israel’s Prime Minister in early 2001].

There was, however, never any UN commission of inquiry, or special tribunal…

Today’s edition of The Daily Star reports on a seminar on the Sabra + Shatila massacre that was held yesterday in the Commodore Hotel in Beirut: “Representatives of several Lebanese and Palestinian groups along with human rights activists convened in a seminar entitled ‘Where Have the Legal Pursuits in the Sabra and Shatila Massacres Reached?‘, that was held in Le Meridian Commodore hotel in Beirut … [Lebanon’s] Information Minister Tarek Mitri, who attended on behalf of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, called for revealing the truth regarding the events during Lebanon’s bloody 1975-90 Civil War ‘but without falling in today’s disputes, a continuation of the past’s wars’. He said the memory could only be cured by ‘emphasizing historical reality through legal tools and values … along with confessions and apologies. We are interested today … to stress historical reality with its facts and documented testimonies and renew demands for examining it justly’, the minister added”. This report is posted here.

There was a long and bloody history of sectarian terror and massacres in Lebanon during the period that the Information Minister mentioned. And Palestinians — who had sought refuge in Lebanon from the war surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948 until the Black September suppression of Palestinian activists by King Hussein in Jordan in 1970 — were involved in some of those horrors. sometimes as victims, and at other times as victimizers.

In all cases, it was called “taking revenge”…

This is the main reason why, at the Camp David talks in late July 2000 hosted by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton (involving Arafat and Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, now Israel’s Defense Minister and in complete charge of the West Bank and its 2.8 million Palestinians and some 500,000 Israeli settlers), Arafat and his delegation said that the situation of some 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon should be handled first, as a matter of top priority.

* Marian Houk is the Editor of UN-Truth news site. She is a Member of the Online News Association, Member of the Foreign Correspondents Association (in Israel) and Marian Houk is a past President (1986) of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) at UNHQ/NY

Abu Mazen scheduled at Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem at 5pm

President Barack Obama watches as  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (right) shake hands at a trilateral meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, Sept. 22, 2009. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)
Marian Houk, 15 Sept 2010

So, he must already have arrive.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem — the warmth of the invitation no doubt intended to melt resistance and encourage agreement, even as the Palestinian negotiators face the realization that the will have to stay the course, whatever happens to the settlement freeze…

Laura Rozen suggests here that there is logic to the idea that Netanyahu + Abu Mazen already be scheduled to meet (perhaps also with Clinton) in another week’s time in New York, in the “margins” of the UN General Assembly’s annual high-level session.

Abu Mazen’s predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat, never got officially invited to Jerusalem (though it is said he was allowed to pass through, in an extremely low-key way, while en route from Ramallah to Bethlehem one time…)

Why is Abu Mazen going through with this?  For reasons that Hillary Clinton will not see, ever, while in Jerusalem or driving through the West Bank for her meeting with Abu Mazen and — of course — also with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad tomorrow…

Amira Hass wrote in Haaretz today that “A peace agreement is not a contract. It requires a change of values of a kind that does not exist within the vocabulary of the democratic Jewish state, which elevates the system of double standards to a level of virtuosity.  The people of this state are incapable of imagining themselves departing from the privileges that this system confers. And who cares if the flip side of those privileges is dispossession, suppression of freedoms and the risk of regional conflagration? The day before yesterday, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi ) was interviewed on Army Radio’s morning broadcast, and argued that it was impossible to continue the construction freeze in the West Bank settlements while the Palestinians went on building and building. One cannot expect an interviewer on Army Radio or Israel Radio to surprise and ask, for example: ‘Since the principle of equality is suddenly so important to the settlement lobby, why then residents of Nablus and East Jerusalem cannot have a housing project in Haifa or live in Ashkelon or in a panoramic neighborhood in the Galilee, while residents of Haifa and kibbutz Hazorea are allowed to build in Nablus Heights or in the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan? But the interviewer didn’t even correct a distortion of the facts and didn’t tell the listeners that the Palestinians cannot build at will. In the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control, known as Area C, Israel has frozen Palestinian construction for the past four decades. It can be assumed that the interviewer, despite numerous reports, is unaware of the building freeze beyond the pale of settlement allocated to the Palestinians. Natural growth only applies to Jews. In Area C, schools, kindergartens and water are only for Jews. The Mekorot Water Company’s wells in the Jordan Valley supply quantities of water to the settlements and their orchards. The water flows from the Palestinians’ land, and the pipes are fenced off. And the land is parched, because the Palestinians are not allowed to draw their own water from those pipes, as Israel imposes on them a quota which is not set to human beings’ needs. In the democratic Jewish state, within its virtual borders, it’s as clear as the sun rising in the east. If the American partner had wanted to, it would have demanded to begin evacuating the settlements, not only to continue the construction freeze. But the territory robbed by the separation barrier – Ariel, Givat Ze’ev, Ma’aleh Adumim, Efrat in its Anglo-Saxon elegance and East Jerusalem – are all within the consensus. Whose consensus? The people of the democratic Jewish state and evangelical Christians, of course. No one thinks to ask about the consensus among the residents of Palestinian cities and villages on whose land the settlements have been built. The millions of Palestinians don’t count at all”… This ref=”Amira Hass article can be read in full here.

Two days ago, Amira Hass revealed that, upon reflection, she has now come to the conclusion that it is worse to be Palestinian in [East] Jerusalem than in Gaza. She wrote in Haaretz: “I have found myself wondering which Palestinians have it the worst under the Israeli rule. For many years, I thought there was nothing worse than life in Gaza. I even argued my point with a friend, who claimed the absolute worst is to be a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship because ‘we live in the midst of the Nakba [1948 catastrophe] sites and experience the daily racism masquerading as democracy’. But for more than a year now, I have been vacillating between Gaza and Jerusalem. That is to say, I have been trying to decide which is worse – the isolation and insulation that Israel has imposed on Gaza (which includes being cut off from water sources and from the cultural, social and family ties those residents have with their People ); or the cynicism with which the decision makers continue to turn the population of East Jerusalem into welfare clients and slum dwellers, and then pride themselves of the national insurance payments they grant them. A visit to the [East Jerusalem] neighborhood of Isawiyah decided the issue. Heaps of concrete, uncollected garbage, roads that are becoming narrower due to pirate additions to buildings – forced on residents thanks to construction prohibitions and the expropriation of vacant lots – all lies in sight of the Hebrew University campus and the city’s French Hill, which are so green, spacious and civilized. And now a report from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has confirmed my determination. The report, titled “Unsafe space: The Israeli authorities’ failure to protect human rights amid settlements in East Jerusalem“, is based on testimonies, media reports and official documents. It highlights the loss of personal and collective security in Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods, in the heart of which hostile bodies have settled over the past 30 years – settlers supported by millionaires and religious and archeological associations … The authorities who prevent Palestinians from building and developing their lands allocate vacant plots to the Jews, not only outside of the populated areas but also in their very heart. These spaces are allocated for parking or entertainment, archeological digs or construction. As these neighbors are the authorities’ darlings, confrontations are unavoidable, so the Housing and Construction Ministry provides hundreds of armed guards for the Jews at the public’s expense (some NIS 54 million in 2010 ). When [East Jerusalem] Palestinians complain to [Israeli] police about harassment [this would never happen in the West Bank], they find themselves treated like suspects. When they call the police, they feel like the officers are in no hurry to get there. And when police investigate cases in which Jews are suspected of causing bodily harm, these cases are closed swiftly. In this way, the Palestinians are left at the mercy of the aggressive, belligerent and officially sanctioned invaders. The guards, who are employed by a private company, think their position permits them to hit people, to act abusively and even to shoot. The people in whose midst these fortified complexes are sprawling are afraid to get in and out; relatives and friends think twice before coming to visit them. These complexes are also characterized by a great deal of noise – digging at archeological sites that goes on until night, and dancing and religious celebrations accompanied by anti-Arab songs… Ariel Rosenberg, the [Housing and Construction] ministry’s spokesman, firmly denies any claims that guards harass Palestinians and praises their professionalism and the instructions they receive to show restraint and forbearance. ‘In the past year’, he writes, ‘the situation in the area under discussion has significantly worsened and the guards are witness to extremely hostile activity’ … I have been able to memorize only a few Arabic adages. One I learned from one of the many villagers who was handed an expropriation order for his land. Sitting at the entrance to his home, he looked like he was attending a funeral. ‘To whom can a grain of wheat complain when the cock is the judge?’ he said, in response to my dumb question about what he planned to do”… And this Amira Hass article is posted here.

Israeli Deputy FM says military-administered sanctions on Gaza were “ineffective”

Gaza woman and Child (Sameh Habeeb, 2009)

Marian Houk, 3 Sept 2010

It appears that National Public Radio (NPR) correspondent in Jerusalem, Lourdes Garcia Navarro, managed to get a big admission from Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon: Israel’s two-and-a-half-year-old program of military-administered punitive sanctions against Gaza was “not that effective”. The Israeli military sanctions, which were to have been progressively tightened, were unsupervised by any other government body, After consideration of a petition by Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, led by GISHA, against the military sanctions policy, the Israeli Supreme Court refused to intervene, other than to instruct the military that it was not to cause a “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza.

The military sanctions followed a determination by Israeli Government cabinet ministers in September 2007 that Gaza was a “hostile territory”, or an “enemy entity”, less than three months after a Hamas rout of Fatah/Palestinian Preventive Security forces in the Gaza Strip.

In her radio report, aired on NPR’s All Things Considered program on August 30, 2010, Navarro reported that:

“…this summer, Israel came under heavy international pressure to ease the blockade, after an Israeli military raid on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

Mr. DANNY AYALON (Deputy Foreign Minister, Israel): Actions like a flotilla certainly is trying to put Israel in a no-win situation.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Danny Ayalon is Israel’s deputy foreign minister. He says Israel has to keep weapons and items that could be used for military fortifications out of Gaza, which is why it retains such tight restrictions on the land and sea borders. But he acknowledged in an interview with NPR that the punishing, three-year ban on most foodstuffs and other commodities was a mistake.

Mr. AYALON: Denying different items or products into Gaza was not that effective. Hence, now we have changed the policy altogether.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But people would say that you’re – that what you’re saying now is disingenuous, that this is only in reaction to pressure put on you after the Turkish flotilla incident.

Mr. AYALON: It certainly expedited this decision, but I believe this decision would have come up anyway“.

The transcript of this NPR report is posted here.

* Marian Houk is the Editor of UN-Truth news site. She is a Member of the Online News Association, Member of the Foreign Correspondents Association (in Israel) and Marian Houk is a past President (1986) of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) at UNHQ/NY