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The new government agreement in Israel

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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 “Bibi” Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister, will remain in post for another 18 months.

All this happens while “Benny” Gantz – former Chief of Staff of Tsahal from February 2011 to February 2015, and son of a Jewish woman who escaped from the Bergen Belsen concentration camp and survived the Holocaust – will start off by serving as deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister in the next Israeli government.

Based on the deal signed, he will later take over as Prime Minister in October 2021 for another 18 months.

Binyamin Gantz graduated from Bahad 1, the Israeli Officer School of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), and was made a company commander in the Paratrooper Brigade. He rose steadily through the ranks and led several military structures, including the  Shaldag  Special  Air  Force  Unit,  the Judea and Samaria Division, as well as the Northern Command. He graduated in History from the University of Tel Aviv and got a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Haifa, as well as a Master’s degree in national resource management from the U.S. National Defense University.

In modern times, the great statesmen were often also –  and above all – great military leaders: just think of Charles De Gaulle, Winston Churchill or even an extraordinary figure like General Marshall, the theorist of the post-war economic plan for Europe named after him. After retiring from the Army, Gantz founded the Pnima movement along with other colleagues.

The Pnima executives include Rabbi Shai Piron, as well as many former generals  of  Tsahal,  senior  officers,  magistrates  and  important businessmen.

In 2018, Gantz ran for the first time for a seat at the Knesset, with an alliance named Hosen L’Ysrael, literally “Israel Resilience”.

The current government deal signed between Netanyahu and Gantz provides for an accurate 50% division of government positions between the two sides, namely Gantz’s new Kahol Lavan and Netanyahu’s Likud parties.

Gantz’ alliance can also count on the often vociferous Labour Party as an ally.

Gantz has also announced that it will appoint an Arab Israeli, not member of the Knesset, as Minister and that, however, he will not appoint any vice- Ministers.

The Likud Party has been assigned the post of Speaker of the Knesset, that will most likely be taken over by Yariv Levin, a man who has always been very close to Netanyahu.

Furthermore, based on the government deal signed, Netanyahu himself has the right to  appoint four  Ambassadors to  important Missions and positions. Probably these new diplomats will be above all important members of the Likud Party and the posts already envisaged by Netanyahu in the deal signed with Gantz could be the Israeli Ambassadors to the United Nations, Great Britain, France and Australia.

Each  of  the  two  signatories  of  the  government  deal  will  have  the Chairmanship of seven Knesset Parliamentary Committees.

The so-called ‘Norwegian law’ will continue to apply, It is a law which enables Ministers, deputy Ministers and government members to quit the Knesset, thus enabling the next candidates on their party’s list to enter, but permits them to return to the legislature if they quit the government.

Five members of Gantz’s coalition, Kahol Lavan, and only two members of the Likud party are expected to resign in line with this “Norwegian law”.

So far, however, Gantz’s Parliamentary group has not liked the deal with Netanyahu at all.

Gantz himself said that some of his colleagues would “prefer a fourth election  rather  than  a  compromise  deal”.  This  applies  to  two  of  his  important members of Parliament, namely Yair Lapid, former founder and leader of Yesh Atid, the “Blue and White” Alliance, and Moshe Ya’alon, former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces.

Another bilateral agreement reached by the two leaders is that no legislation unrelated to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic will be brought  before  Parliament  for  a  period  of  six  months  without  full agreement between the two political groups.

For his part, Netanyahu will anyway be allowed to advance legislation to annex Jewish settlements and other land in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinians already consider part of a future State, in line with the peace plan unveiled by U.S: President Trump last January.

Therefore, Gantz has already lost a good number of his supporters, within his party and his coalition, former militants and parliamentarians who do not accept any deal with Netanyahu that they believe is only aimed at temporarily  sparing  the  Likud  leader  the  experience of  a  trial  that  is expected to be long and far from easy for “Bibi” Netanyahu.

Gantz maintains, instead, that in very difficult times, with a pandemic already hitting the Jewish State, it is necessary to be united, even with the Likud leader, and immediately give Israel a new government in full swing.

The U.S. Ambassador to Israel has already said he is “delighted” by the agreement between the two leaders, while the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, spoke of an Israeli government devoted solely to the annexation of the aforementioned West Bank’s territories.

Netanyahu, however, has stated he will propose legislation for the annexation of the West Bank as of June 1, 2020, but only if there is explicit support from the U.S. Administration.

A clear result reached is that Netanyahu will easily have the possibility to postpone the next Court hearings.

His trial, however, will start officially on May 24, 2020.

The current Public Prosecutor will remain in office only for the next six months.

The judges have already agreed with the government that there will be no major events during the coronavirus pandemic.

Furthermore, again based on the government deal signed, Netanyahu will be entitled to an official residence as Prime Minister.

It should be recalled that Gantz broke the unity of his “Blue and White” coalition to propose a government deal to the Likud leader, mainly based on the need to curb the pandemic and put an end to the sequence of inconclusive elections – three in a very short lapse of time – which would never lead to a clear winner.

But it was precisely Gantz who run his last election campaign in March on the very issue of Netanyahu’s definitive exclusion from power.

Furthermore, “Bibi” Netanyahu has largely stopped even the legislation designed to improving Israelis’ protection from the coronavirus pandemic, since he has never asked for the creation of a real majority at the Knesset.

Again based on the government deal signed, the next six months will be fully devoted to the legislation designed to tackling the coronavirus pandemics, while any other political issue to be submitted to Parliament will require a prior agreement between Gantz and Netanyahu.

Some people – even in the media circles that are the most polemical in attacking him – have said that, despite the loss of some support within his coalition, Gantz has anyway shown strong leadership, which is particularly appreciated by the Israeli voters.

According to the deal signed, Gantz will replace Netanyahu as Prime Minister in 18 months’ time.

Are we sure, however, that there will be no impediment? Possibly a law to be voted immediately before the change in Premiership – of which later the opponent may be accused on grounds of dirty play and moves within the Knesset? Or a Parliamentary conflict on some issues, which is always possible?

Or again the pressure of left-wing voters within Gantz’s coalition, precisely pushing him to leave the alliance? No one can currently predict it.

As already mentioned, in the next government, Gantz’s allies will have the Foreign and the Justice Ministries, while Netanyahu’s party will have the Finance Ministry and the post of Speaker of the Knesset.

Obviously   “Bibi”   Netanyahu’s   politicking   experience   cannot   be compared with Gantz’s. The latter has just been elected and has no strong base in Parliament. Hence the manoeuvring ability of the Likud leader will likely be much greater than the ability of the former opposition leader, while the coalition created by Gantz is, in fact, in a phase of internal break- up.

However, the date of trial for the current Likud leader is certain, namely May 24, 2020.

Nevertheless, although Netanyahu has ultimately not managed to pass legislation protecting him from criminal proceedings, he is still indirectly very powerful, also as far as the judiciary is concerned.

Again based on the deal signed with Gantz, he has the possibility of vetoing the appointment of the next Attorney General and of the Public Prosecutor, and can also choose half of the members of the Parliamentary technical committee that selects judges.

Has “Bibi” already won? We cannot predict it yet. Probably, his heaviest card will still be the annexation of some areas of the West Bank areas and- as he said during his election campaign – also of the Jordan Valley.

It is also likely that, once the trial pressure on Netanyahu has eased, the government may even be able to go on peacefully.

Clearly all the thoughts of the Likud leader are focused on the issue of his judicial future.

Polls show that the citizens are happy to finally have a government, but there are subtle signs of rejection of the unusual large size of government, with 32 Ministers that will increase to 36, and 16 deputy Ministers – a huge government that is unprecedented in Israel’s history.

It should be recalled that, when Gantz started negotiations with Netanyahu, he had been recommended and then almost appointed as Prime Minister by 61 of the 120 members of the Knesset, and he himself was the leader of a coalition made up of 33 MPs.

Now that he is only the opposition leader, Gantz – who has been left alone by some of his supporters, such as Ya’alom and Lapid – has a party of his own that counts only 15 MPs.

He enjoys the support of two Labour activists, namely Amir Peretz and Itzhik Shmuli, although we do not know to what extent this support is stable. Nevertheless, there is not yet any clear definition of “equal representation” between  Gantz’s  and  Netanyahu’s  teams  –  equality  to which, however, reference is often made in the deal.

Furthermore, if Netanyahu is found guilty, new elections are the only solution envisaged by the deal.

We can also wonder what would happen if the criminal Court extended its proceedings beyond 18 months. No one knows.

Moreover, if the Likud leader does not want to hand over power at the end of the 18 months, he could always call new elections. He can do so.

Again based on the deal, however, in this case Gantz would immediately become Prime Minister and keep his post for only three months. The procedure, however, shows great signs of unconstitutionality.

There is also the issue of the 1,800,000 Israeli Arabs who have the right to vote, and could even be sensitive to Netanyahu’ sirens. Netanyahu is the only one who could alone silence the religious parties that have always supported him and could still support him, if the Likud leader widened his government basis, with one of his manoeuvres, possibly even supporting an economic agreement favourable to a part of the Arab voters in Israel.

Furthermore, it is good to see how the tension on the figure of Netanyahu will be able to mobilize both the religious parties and the political area that has always supported the Likud party and could probably be gathered again by somebody linked to Netanyahu and acting in his name.

It is therefore a complex agreement, much of which will be decided by the quality  of  the  legislation  designed  to  fight  against  the  coronavirus pandemic and by both signatories’ Parliamentary politicking.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

Middle East

Conflict in Yemen is a Global Threat and Iran’s Trump Card

Irina Tsukerman

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Few people outside analyst and scholarly circles think of Yemen and Libya conflicts as anything central to contemporary confrontation with some of the sprawling global state and non-state threats, and yet both are gateways to much greater crises, and even a fundamental shift in international alliances. In the view of the United States, Yemen is practically a forgotten conflict. While sectarianism continues to splinter the society, and radical ideologies take deep root following the withdrawal most of the UAE forces in 2019, the US is tittering closer to the edge of contemplating withdrawal.

President Trump’s administration is torn between the seemingly mutually exclusive election promises to his base (and beyond) of withdrawing US participation from “endless” Middle Eastern wars but at the same time confronting and pressuring Iran and other threats such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, as well as keeping to the recently articulated commitments of strengthening US defense relationship with Saudi Arabia, which leads the Arab Coalition effort against the Iran-backed Houthis in that theater of war. So far, most of the US pressure campaign to minimize Iran’s dangerous aggression in the region and expansionist ambitions consisted of sanctions and financial limitations, as well as from the engagement in a limited (and mostly reactionary) cyberwarfare. US engagement in Yemen consists mostly of logistical and intelligence assistance to the Arab Coalition, and a fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda, which flourish in the chaotic environment, and on tensions among the members of the +Coalition with sometimes divergent long-terms goals and visions of Yemen’s future.

If US bases in Yemen are attacked by Houthis, that would not make the news coverage or the public briefings. Part of the reason US had worked to minimize the appearance of Houthis’ potential threat to US security interest is the preservation of the delicate balance between being involved just enough to keep a modicum of stability in the war-torn country, keeping stable the relationship with US allies, and at the same time avoiding accusations of being drawn in into another long term conflict that may end with a physical escalation and confrontation with Iranian forces. There is increasing evidence that the purpose of the Houthis is global, rather than local or regional nuisance aimed at the Saudis. Houthis are modeled after Hezbullah, which itself started as a local Lebanese militia aimed at ousting Israel, but grew into a quasi-formal military structure that now controls the Lebanese Parliament, as well as has taken advantage of the country’s tribal structure to ensure local support.

Now, despite dissatisfaction with government corruption and foreign control which has affected even the Shia Lebanese residents, due to Hezbullah’s willingness to make allies with corrupt Christian parties and weak Sunni representation, it is nearly impossible to excise from power. Additionally, Hezbullah forces retain presence in strategically important areas, close to natural resources and organized crime schemes which help pay for Iran’s military expenditures and keep the economy afloat through a shadow market system. Hezbullah’s operations in Latin America, Africa, parts of Asia, and Europe are intelligence, political, military and covert operations, and also business related. Hezbullah has been involved in everything from abductions for ransom, drug trade, and control of diamond markets to ideological influence campaigns and social jihad “hearts and minds” psych ops.

The Houthis are being molded into the same type of faction, with global presence and a level of resourcefulness which far exceeds their initial purpose in toppling the Yemen government, destabilizing the country, and miring Saudi Arabia in a seemingly unwinnable asymmetrical contact. Having expressed threats in the general direction of UAE, Israel, and having spread anti-American propaganda, Houthis are becoming effective counterparts to Iraqi militias and other Iranian foreign legions, and with time, may become part of a more integrated network of well disciplined ideologically loyal forces that are alotted a portion of control over local territories in exchange for their availability to strike at Iran’s favored target anytime anyplace and give Iranian propagandists and lobbyists in the West a cover of plausible deniability to keep pushing deals with Tehran and to help the Islamic Republic avoid accountability in the form of sanctions snapbacks and arms embargoes. Like Hezbullah, they are increasing armed with sophisticated missiles, drones, and mining capabilities which so far they have used primarily against Saudi Arabia, but which, as with Hezbullah can be used against Israeli targets or to supplement Iraqi militia targeting of US sites.

The ruse is working with the European Union, which has criticized the possibility of snapback sanctions over the violations of the JCPOA, and shown reluctance to back the renewal of the arms embargo due to expire in the fall. Furthermore, several leading European countries are working to circumvent US economic sanctions on Iran through various financial instruments. All of this points to Iran’s position that there is international goodwill to exploit, but that Iran needs “safe spaces” to distract the world from its general malfeasance.

Yemen is a perfect convergence of a multitude of crises, illnesses, debilitating conditions, threats, and conflicting interest that becomes increasingly more complicated to untangle with time. Iran has in part succeeded in discrediting Saudi Arabia’s efforts in that regard through a combination of intense and largely successful one-sided media and political campaigns, which the Saudis and their allies have struggled to refute, coupled with the limited attention span for the conflict accorded by the US government. Saudis themselves appear to be demoralized as rumors of their eventual withdrawal persist, without any of the accompanying defense and security concerns being addressed or resolved. Separatists have taken control of a portion of Aden; the territories once cleared of Al Qaeda presence by UAE backed forces are now increasingly falling prey to the sprawling Muslim Brotherhood ideologies.

Despite a few key victories in terms of eliminating Al Qaeda and ISIS leaders in Yemen by joint operations with the Coalition, the groups are finding fodder for radicalization. The Houthis are increasingly legitimized by the Western media, the United Nations and other international organizations, and by human rights NGOs. While key donors have cut humanitarian aid, the Houthis are using the chaos to their advantage to amass power, impose self-serving new taxes, such as the “khums” tax to benefit “Hashemites” – tribal affiliates of prophet Mohammed, to which some Khomeinist followers also lay claim,  and to mobilize support from youngsters recruited and indoctrinated through special training camps since they are children.

With the situation spiraling out of control and little international support for the Arab Coalition’s operations, Yemen is quickly becoming Iran’s backdoor to the Middle East. Once strengthened, Houthis can infiltrate the Saudi borders and through subversion, spread radical ideology and recruit supporters in the East, and mobilize the Yemeni diaspora in the South. They can exploit factionalism and alliances of conservative clergy, remnants of Islamists, pan-Arabists obsessed with the Hashemite return to power and opposed to the idea of even limited defense rapprochement between Israel and the Kingdom, as well as various opportunists who may not particularly care for Shi’a but will jump on any bandwagon that can bring them to power.

The Houthis are already using routes through Lebanon and Oman to reach Iran and to engage in effective trade, training, and the spread of Khomeinist revolutionary thinking and corona virus all over the region. Finally, Turkey is looking to make limited alliances with both Muslim Brotherhood (Al Islah) followers on the ground, the Hadi government, and even the pro-Iran Houthis to exploit the vacuum of power left by UAE withdrawal, US unwillingness to engage beyond defensive measures, and the beat down against the Saudis by the international community. They are offering to send humanitarian aid and ideological material through Somalia, using same routes that could in the future also deliver weapons.

It is time for Israel and the United States to start taking Yemen as more than just a backwater battle for Saudi self-assertion and to treated as part of Iran’s and its allies’ strategically important entry to the takeover of the Middle East and later, important, African and Middle Eastern routes – by political, military, and ideological means.

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Has Turkey Colonized Libya?

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During his visit to Tripoli July 4th Turkey’s defense minister Hulusi Akar signed an agreement on military cooperation with the representatives of the Government of National Accord (GNA). The signature was held behind the closed doors, but the few details that were leaked to the media are enough to conclude that the GNA has effectively traded its ostensible sovereignty for the Turkish support in the stand-off against the Libyan National Army and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives.

The agreement between Turkey and Tripoli authorities stipulates that the GNA is a guarantor of Turkish interests in Libya. The real meaning behind that is that the government led by Fayez al-Sarraj officially put the Turkish interests before the national concerns of Libya. The GNA also gave Turkey an official permission to establish military bases on the Libyan territory.

These concessions are no doubt important, but perhaps the most brazing innovation introduced in the agreement is that all Turkish servicemen are given diplomatic immunity. This effectively means that the representatives of the Turkish metropole walking the Libyan soil are automatically granted a number of important privileges, granting them a legal advantage over the indigenous population.

Furthermore, the diplomatic immunity unlocks new possibilities for the transfer of foreign militants and supplies of arms, including internationally banned munitions, in violation of the arms embargo. Since the beginning of the year Turkey flew in to Libya over 15,000 of Syrian mercenaries, including child soldiers, who were recruited in the Syrian province of Idlib and received military training under the supervision of the Turkish advisers. In addition to that, it has been recently discovered that Turkish campaign to recruit fighters is not limited to Syria, but also includes Yemen.

The new agreement further facilitates transfer of foreign fighters into Libya. The GNA has officially given up its right to at least formally check Turkish ships and planes and allowed Ankara to create military bases that are out of Libyan jurisdiction. In these conditions the Turks will be able to send in as many mercenaries, including former members of terror groups, as they see fit without any restrictions or knowledge of the outside world.

In truth, Turkey’s behavior in Libya is already that of a colonial power in the new incarnation of the Tripolitanian Wilayet, a former colony of the Ottoman Empire. Human rights watchdogs report that the next day after the agreement was signed a number of Turkish planes with members of radical groups on board landed in Tripoli.

By signing the new agreement Fayez al-Sarraj and his government pledged allegiance to Turkey and cast away any pretence of being a leader of Libya. Turkey, in turn, is reluctant to declare Tripoli its colony, but this thin varnish will not hide the ugly reality behind.

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Palestinians between COVID-19 pandemic and unilateral Israeli plan of annexation

Paola Canale

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Al-Walaja, a Palestinian village in the West Bank. Photo: UNRWA/Marwan Baghdadi

On March 2020 took place the third general elections in the parliamentary Republic of Israel, for the 120 seats of the Knesset. The results viewed the victory of the right-wing Likud party, leaded by Netanyahu, obtaining 58 seats, although his charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in November 2019, and the left-wing “Blue and white” party, headed by Gantz. After several compromises, the 20 April formed an emergency government of national unity for a limited period of 36 months, presided by Netanyahu for the first 18 months and by Gantz during last 18 months, under the approval of the president Rivlin. In the first phase Gantz will be vice-premier and Minister of Defence. The alternation on the guide of executive will be enshrined by a law of the Knesset.

This even slight predominance of Likud party will entail the implementation of the so-called US President Trump “deal of the century”, which encompasses the Israel political process of incorporation of the occupied West Bank, that include Israeli settlements, the region of Jordan Valley and nature reserves. In other words, government has been authorized to bring a de-facto ‘annexation” plan to debate in the Knesset since 1 July 2020. This Israeli proposal would include up to 30% of the total areas of West Bank.

Amnesty International underlines that this agreement would worsen the violations of human rights, the impunity of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other gross violations, perpetrating a flagrant violation of international law. Being annexation an acquisition of territories by the use of force, it’s breaching at the same time art. 2 (4) UN Charter, generally set out jus cogens norms and humanitarian laws. This plan would extend Israeli law to the OPT, not changing their legal status. In fact, under domestic Israeli law, it’s nothing else but an Israeli settlement expansion, thus denying civil and political rights to Palestinians, their freedom of movement, of speech, of association, equality and non-discrimination rules.

As well known, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world longest-running struggle between two self-determination movements: the Jewish Zionist and the Palestinian nationalism that claim the same territories and throughout this atavic conflict Israel has been accused of treating non-Israelis people as in the Soth African’s apartheid.

On both sides, have been recorded unlawful killings, that are crime of war, arbitrary detentions, many forms of discrimination, human trafficking, denial of humanitarian access, abuses and maiming of women and children, used as human shields and forced to be involved in military actions in an overall framework of rides, incitation campaigns and retaliations.

In his annual report on children and armed conflict, the UN Secretary General Guterres reported in June 2020 the omission from the “list of shame” of  States perpetrating these crimes, such as Saudi-led coalition, Yemen, Myanmar and also Israel, despite abuses in the occupied territories have been well-documented by UN. Human rights associations and organizations from all over the world are asking  this list be evidence-based, avoiding to coddle powerful countries.

The uprising of the turmoil in these strips of land are likely to escalate at a planetary level.   In front of what has been described by A.I. as an incoming “law of the jungle” after latest elections, this ngo is currently urging international community to strengthen the implementation of international law stressing, that any annexation of the occupied West Bank is nul and void. It’s also claiming an halt of the construction of Israeli illegal settlements and infrastructures in the OPT and all trades with them, decrying the Israeli attempts to undermine Palestinian human rights, including the right of return of Palestinian refugees and supporting ICC investigations and calls on governments to offer political and practical support to the Court over the Palestinian situation.

In fact, according to art.47 of the 4th Geneva Convention, protected people who are in occupied territories shall not be deprived of their rights as the result of the occupation neither by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the occupying powers, not by any annexation of whole or part of the occupied territories.

Moreover, it’s not clear what will be ruled out about citizenships and residency under this incorporation of lands. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu affirmed that Palestinian residents in the areas that will be annexed wouldn’t get Israeli citizenship.

Profiting from illegal blockade on Gaza and fragmentation of the population in the OPT, annexation would result in a mass-expropriation of private and agricultural Palestinian lands and home demolition, thus violating the right to adequate housing (in 2019 Israel demolished 617 Palestinian structures and evicted 899 people in the West Bank). The law of occupation prohibits demolitions if not necessary for military operations. Punishing demolitions are collective punishments, thus forbidden by international law as well as the transfer of prisoners in the occupying country, being in Israel occurring administrative detentions, with neither fair process nor accusations, of about 4600 people.

The PA (governing body of autonomous Palestinians regions) and the paramilitary  PLO called international community to impose sanctions against Israel and started boycotts and disinvestment, announcing that this Israeli expansion would face with the resistance of Palestinians in any forms, considering it as a “declaration of war” .

On the wave of the USA proposed “Deal of the Century”, an “International Conference on the Question of Palestine” was held last February in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, gathering practitioners, academics and civil society, in order to thwart the phenomenon of unilateral actions and to implement the substantive exercise of inalienable rights in Palestine. In this occasion Member States of ASEAN were urged to continue their operations in the pursuit of justice and peace and was highlighted the uselessness of a new plan and the necessity of an effective execution of existing agreements and UN resolutions, based on the two-State formula.

More precisely, the 28 January Trump administration held a press conference in the White House, announcing a “peace to prosperity: a vision to improve the lives of the Palestinian and Israeli people” plan, that pleased to the new coalition government in Israeli. It proposed the incorporation of the existing Israeli settlements in West Bank, including Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem; Jerusalem as undivided capital of Israel; a territory for the future Palestine, including parts of West Bank, Gaza strip and some Jerusalem surrounding; linking of the Palestinian territories through new roads, bridges and tunnels; freezing for 4 years Israeli settlement construction; US embassy in Palestine; investment of $ 50 billion to build a new Palestine state.

The PA and the League of Arab States, among others, rejected the plan and under the mounting pressure of Tunisia and Indonesia, thereafter USA proposed many amendments.

Thus it’s crystal clear that lately  protests against the recently announced plan for annexation, proclaimed by Israel and sponsored by USA, and lockdown security measures against Covid-19 have dragged Palestinians in a hell of oppression and restrictions that considerably limit the freedom of civilians that are currently exacerbating further clashes and opposing resistance, regardless the ban of gathering for the pandemic and the quarantine imposition, being their lives at risk in any case.

The outbreak of coronavirus in 2019 propelled a common effort and a new opportunity of collaboration between Palestinians and Israelis in the attempt to enforce the Middle East peaceful process, being the watchword a strong cooperation on the ground and one at an international level. Nicholay Mlandenov, the Bulgarian Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process in the UN Security Council, stressed the “inspiring example” of cooperation in these lands, before the elections, in order to contain the spread of the virus and seized the moment to impact communities in order to make further steps toward peace and to reject unilateral decisions. In this perspective, UN has delivered over 1 million of aid items, such as protective equipment and test kits, for Palestinians hospitals and clinics, due to insufficient funding. Special Coordinator added that UN will do its utmost for the well-being and safety of Palestinians and Israelis, ensuring that no less than $137 million would be transferred to the region in the coming four months.

UN will move in this direction especially through the Middle East Quartet (composed of Russian Federation, USA, EU, UN), that see cooperating the world’s existent superpower countries and institutions involved in the pacification of these areas, its agencies (i.e. UNRWA and coordination office for Humanitarian Affairs -OCHA) and other international organizations, such as WHO.

In order to tackle the spread of the virus, Israeli government has approved a legislation for a partial lockdown and has increased restriction of movement of people and trade, exception done for health workers in Gaza strip, for special medical and humanitarian cases. Furthermore, it has imposed a curfew in the West Bank. It has also tactically allowed counter-terrorism surveillance technology to be used to track infections. On the other hand, an internal cooperation within Palestine, between Hamas and Fatah (in the PA) has been tightened.

Israel was one of the first countries to close its borders and imposed restrictions when the global pandemic first outburst and soon after PA followed its example, by adopting measures such as the suspension of. public prayers, although the mosques are still opened.

All over the world, many western countries, such as France and UK, but also countries in the Arab world, such as Gulf Arab states, are declaring and recognizing that, although their Israeli backing, this plan is occurring in open violation of international law, thus execrable, severely damaging and affecting human rights of Palestinians, not even ensuring the international minimum standard and the right of repatriation, compelling those who left their country to stay abroad.

The 1 July hundreds of Palestinians gathered in Gaza and West Bank against the annexation. The following day, Pope Francis summoned the US and Israel ambassadors for preventing an escalation of violence in these lands, reckoning that the state of Palestine and that of Israel have the same right “to exist and live in security, within international recognized borders”, discouraging unilateral actions.

The Pope and UN are, in fact, in search of an establishment that seems will never happen, trying to demonize the upcoming of a new world conflict, triggering an international alarm to stop this crusade and massacre of civilians. The Holy See recognized the State of Palestine in 2013, soon after followed the recognition by the UN with the status of non-Member observer State. Last March also the Muslim World League urged the moral duty of an interfaith partnership to overcome the crisis.

Israeli defence minister and alternate prime minister Gantz has announced that it would be desirable that the propaganded annexation would take place after the proclaimed state of emergency due to the coronavirus. In fact, the Palestinian ministry of health last week said that 2636 people have tested positive for Covid-19 compared with 1256 recorded a week ago, expressing the fear of a “second wave”of infections after the easing of the full lockdown since last May.

What furthermore is inflaming the crisis is the Palestinian economic dependence on Israel, especially for the 150.000 Palestinians working in Israel (5000 in Gaza) with official permit and about 60.000 work illegally in Gaza strip and West Bank. Their average daily income is 250 Israeli shekels (about $70 per day), so the adopted restrictions mean depriving hundreds of millions of dollars flowing for Palestinian market and a decline of Palestinian purchasing power due to the lack of liquidity, causing a reduction of 50% of the Palestinians civil servants wages. Moreover, the health measures imposed at Israeli airports, crossings and ports have impeded the arrival of imported products from Palestine, whose exportations have been banned, putting at risk the furniture of goods and foods. To get things worse OPEC continues to cut oil exports, holding up the prices. The World Bank reported in April that, if coronavirus crisis and its economic effects wouldn’t ease, the Palestinian economy will shrink by 7%, causing an unprecedented collapse.  Palestinian financial minister has already asked for a loan from Israel of 500 million Israeli shekels ($141 millions) per month until the end of the pandemic but it’s unlikely it could fulfill its obligations.

So, in conclusion, the economic downturn, the spread of Covid-19 and the paralysis of the both nationalisms, that claim the same lands under their religious auspices and believes, have highlighted the weakness of the international system in the Middle East, and in particular in Israel and Palestine, putting them in the hands of Trump’s American hegemonic policy of “America first”, consisting in the affirmation of its economic global power and its presence on the field in an anti-terrorist key of interpretation.

 As a matter of fact, although resonant speeches, has been revealed a consistent lack of democracy and effective protection of liberal values, especially from USA and UN on one hand, and through continuous terrorist attacks from Palestinian organizations recognized as terrorists by UN and EU such as i.e. Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, al.Aqsa Martyr Brigade and LFP, on the other

Bearing in mind that “terrorism” has been defined in 1994 by the UN as “criminal acts intended or calculating to provoke a state of terror in general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstances unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them”,  it’s clear that on both sides the destiny of innocent civilians, that are daily struggling simply for their livelihood are nowadays still put at risk.

In an economic strangulation and political entanglement, many Palestinian people are actually living in danger and facing violence; they are often forced, having no choice, to be enrolled in military corps, both terroristic or legally recognized, in order to avoid indigence, in a quest for revenge and social redemption.

 Once again, in the slowness and inadequacy of political summits in the control rooms of power, through the diplomatic meetings and clumsy changing strategies in the international arena, long distant from the dramatic reality ground, this is one of the saddest quarrels in which are always the helpless battered people that continues on suffering and paying for economic giants damages and interferences and that are far to be resolved in a lack of a clear direction and  solutions for a long-lasting peace and security at the four corners of the world.

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