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Update – 22 July 2009

Dear All,

I came across an article in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post entitled ‘Amman begins stripping state’s Palestinians of citizenship’. The article talks about how Jordanian authorities have begun to revoke the citizenship of Palestinians living in Jordan so that the Israelis cannot claim that Jordan, where the Palestinian population makes up 70% of the entire population, is the true home of the Palestinian people.

I held off sending out the article yesterday in the hope that perhaps the story might hit our local press. It did not. Apparently, this story is not newsworthy and does not contain the same drama as the story that the Age chose to run with, Jason Koutsoukis’ offering entitled, ‘Army denies move on settlers’. Imagine for a second though, that the story was exactly the same, but the word Jordan was changed to Israel. Now there is a story – “Israel begins stripping state’s Israeli Arabs of citizenship’. I can just imagine the outrage this sort of a move would evoke from so many sections of society. It is an outrage. It just depends who is doing it.

On the topic of Jordan, this September will mark 15 years since a slightly less talked about handshake took place on the White House lawn, between Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan. The peace treaty was preceded by the Washington Declaration, which was signed on 25 July 1994. This declaration ended the state of belligerency between the two states and paved the way for a full peace treaty, which included the opening of full diplomatic relations and the signing of many bilateral treaties of cooperation. To read more about the Washington Declaration, click here. To read more about Israel-Jordan relations, click here. 

A few weeks ago a fresh round of allegations of misconduct by the Israeli army during Operation Cast Lead were fired, again by soldiers of the IDF. On a website called Breaking the Silence, almost thirty soldiers gave testimonies about actions during the war that would constitute as clear breaches of not only Israeli law but the international laws of war (see more). These accusations were made anonymously and their faces were blurred on film. As a response, another group has emerged called Soldiers Speak Out. Their website states, “Today there is an attempt to defame the IDF through allegations that there were instances of misconduct during Israel’s Gaza operation. The accusations are based on unverified hearsay, and are proving to be false… Many IDF soldiers feel a deep sense of injustice at how some are misrepresenting them and the IDF. We want to tell you, the public, about our personal stories”.

What follows is a number of stories by soldiers who appear on film, completely revealing who they are and telling their stories. The site is supported by StandWithUs. In response to ‘Breaking the Silence’, StandWithUs Israel Director declared, “There is no silence to break. Israeli society is open, democratic and self critical. This one-sided and shoddy report fails to stress the context of the war as a battle against Hamas terrorists hiding behind civilians.” Meanwhile, Ran Goldstein, a spokesman for Breaking the Silence said that they encouraged soldiers to come forth with their testimony, whether it is for Breaking the Silence or for Soldiers Speak Out (see more). In keeping with the idea of a true democracy, I am sure we will continue to read more about this story in the weeks to come, as was the case with the last round of allegations back in March (see more).

I have written in the past about certain changes that have been occurring in the West Bank, more specifically in the town of Jenin, that has led to a grassroots level of progress, based on cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. Now an article that appeared last week in the New York Times, entitled ‘Signs of hope emerge in the West Bank’ exposes further progress in the West Bank city of Nablus (Shechem). The article looks at the way the Palestinian Authority’s security forces have managed to create a deeper sense of personal security and economic potential, and this is spreading across the West Bank. A follow-up story about economic peace was published on Monday (see more). Many believe that this is due to the fact that Fatah controls the West Bank, whereas Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, with Fatah being the party of choice that the United States would like Israel to negotiate with.

One can only hope that the Fatah that we are dealing with are the ones that are interested in bringing more progress to the West Bank and not the ones, like in the following video clip, who believe that peace is not a goal of Fatah. Fatah official Kifah Radaydeh declared on PA television earlier this month, “Fatah is facing a challenge because [Fatah] says that we perceive peace as one of the strategies, but we say that all forms of the struggle exist, and we do not rule out the possibility of the armed struggle or any other struggle… What exactly do we want? It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; and the goal is Palestine. I do not negotiate in order to achieve peace.” (see more)

Meanwhile, as the papers continue to report on Israel’s alleged total blockage of Gaza and advocates continue to complain about issues such as water and sewerage, on Monday 17 humanitarian aid trucks crossed into the Gaza Strip. The trucks included equipment needed for the operation of the Gaza power station (including a unique engine that was returned after being repaired in Israel) and materials and equipment needed for the World Bank funded project of constructing a sewage purification facility (see more). Hopefully the assistance with the power station will prevent images such as these from emerging again.

Best wishes,

Emily Chrapot
Israel Advocacy Analyst
Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507