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Middle East Press ( 24 Sept 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Middle East Press on Israeli Hard Liners and Rohingya: New Age Islam's Selection, 24 September 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

24 September 2020

• Peace Will Pull the Rug From Under Israel’s Hard-Liners

By Ray Hanania

• US Push To Get Sudan to Recognize Israel Faces Setback

By Jared Szuba

• Palestinian Security Forces Round up Dahlan Supporters in West Bank

By Daoud Kuttab

• Other Nations Must Join ICJ Action On Behalf Of Rohingya

By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim


Peace Will Pull the Rug From Under Israel’s Hard-Liners

By Ray Hanania

September 23, 2020

In the fog of years of anger, it is perhaps easy to lose sight of the fact that Israel and the Israeli government are two different things. The extremists who defend the government want us to combine the two so that they can point fingers at us and make false and ugly accusations of anti-Semitism.

They argue that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. Sadly, we fall into the trap of making it easy for them to make that argument when we, as Palestinians championing our rights in historic Palestine, fail to distinguish between the two entities.

Israel was founded in 1948. I wasn’t around then but I understand why my father and his family opposed its creation. They wanted a single state that was equal and fair to all religions. That is not what was formed when the UN recognized the partition of Palestine and the creation of two rival areas: One Jewish and the other non-Jewish.

But Israel was founded nonetheless. More than 70 years of conflict has driven that reality home for the majority of Palestinians, who are a peace-loving people that wants justice. They are willing to accept the reality and embrace a two-state solution, which was rejected by the Arabs in 1948. It was only “recently” accepted during the failed Oslo Peace Accords and the famous and inspiring 1993 handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, my personal hero.

Israel’s existence has been recognized internationally, as well as by the nearly 2 million Christian and Muslim Palestinians who live in the “Jewish state.” Those Arabs make up more than 20 percent of the country’s population, but they are, unfortunately, treated as second-class citizens — not by the mere existence of the state, but by the governments that have ruled Israel.

However, those Palestinians have a significant voice in defining Israel’s policies. The Joint Arab List holds 15 of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, making it the third-largest grouping behind coalition government partners the right-wing Likud and the centrist Blue and White. The number of Arab Knesset members has the potential to grow, increasing their influence and political empowerment. One day, they will change Israel’s government. But they shouldn’t have to do it alone.

Palestinians deserve to have a state and they deserve to have all of their civil and human rights respected. Israel’s governments have not lived up to the ideals that were laid out in the country’s declaration of statehood of May 14, 1948. They have passed more than 60 laws that treat non-Jews differently to Jews. Many of those differences are significant.

Palestinians can continue to fight these discriminatory government policies, but they need to do it smartly, by focusing their criticisms on Israel’s government. That means we Palestinians should not oppose Israel’s treaties with the UAE and Bahrain, for example. What we should do instead is focus our opposition on the conduct of Israel’s government.

Much of Israel’s Jewish majority lives in fear due to the endless conflict and the violent actions of extremists on both sides — that is why so many of them choose to vote for the likes of the Likud party. However, the UAE and Bahrain peace accords could be the first steps toward changing that mind-set and they could, perhaps even by the time of the next election, prompt a shift to the left in the Knesset.

The election of right-wing Israelis has been fueled by the fear of continued conflict with the Arab world. Could it be that, with a growing peace, fear will recede and more moderate Israeli leaders will be voted into office?

Israel’s hard-line, anti-Palestinian peace governments thrive on the continuation of conflict. As long as there is conflict, these right-wing parties find empowerment. Take away that conflict and you pull the rug from underneath them.

It is up to the leaders of the Arab world to encourage this change as they forge ahead with peace. As peace partners, the UAE and Bahrain have the ability to pressure Israel to offer justice and fairness for the Palestinians, the sacred heart of the Arab people.

If that happens, Israel’s government could change, and that would be a good thing for peace.


Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist.


US Push To Get Sudan to Recognize Israel Faces Setback

By Jared Szuba

Sep 23, 2020

A delegation of top Sudanese officials returned to Khartoum from Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, but there were no clear signs of progress toward the White House’s goal of getting Sudan to normalize ties with Israel.

A statement by Sudan's ruling Sovereignty Council said the talks focused on a number of issues, including Sudan's planned removal from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, "stability in the region," and Sudan's role in achieving peace between Israel and Arab countries.

Two sources briefed on the meeting told Al-Monitor that members of the American delegation, led by US National Security Council senior director for Gulf Affairs Brig. Gen. Miguel Correa, were noncommittal amid a request for $3 billion in immediate economic aid by Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council.

Instead, US and UAE officials raised the possibility of several hundred million dollars in future investment and business deals, which the Sudanese officials did not immediately accept, according to the sources.

Why it matters:  The Trump administration is hoping to clinch other regional states’ recognition of Israel ahead of the 2020 US presidential election. The UAE and Bahrain have already agreed to normalize ties with the Jewish state, making them the third and fourth countries in the region to do so, after Egypt and Jordan.

During a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Khartoum last month, Burhan floated a request of some $3 billion per year over the next three years in economic aid for Sudan, which is laden with massive debt and facing an internal economic crisis.

Pompeo last month had requested Sudan’s leaders normalize ties with Israel and said the United States could quickly remove Sudan from the US state sponsors of terror list as a result, though that had not previously been among the conditions agreed upon by US and Sudanese officials for removing Khartoum from the blacklist.

What’s next:  It’s not clear the Trump administration has a plan to come up with the emergency cash that Sudan’s leaders are requesting.

Recognizing Israel is politically risky for Sudan's post-revolution transitional government. Although Burhan and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok are said to be open to establishing ties, they will likely require more tangible guarantees of support as the country navigates a slew of crises along its transition to democracy.

Despite a push by Pompeo and members of the Senate, it’s unlikely a resolution to immunize Sudan from future terror lawsuits in US courts will make it into legislation by the end of September, as some US lawmakers have hoped.

Members of Congress have sought to include a measure enshrining Sudan’s court settlement to compensate victims of the 1998 Kenya and Tanzania bombings into legislation to fund the US government by Oct. 1. But the House passed funding legislation on Tuesday that did not include the “legal peace” sought for Sudan.

Meanwhile, Israel’s new relations with the UAE and Bahrain are moving ahead, and the Trump administration is looking to additional countries to normalize ties.


Palestinian Security Forces Round Up Dahlan Supporters In West Bank

By Daoud Kuttab

Sep 23, 2020

The decision by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel has prompted an internal political realignment in the Palestinian territories, especially in the West Bank.

The two gulf countries' decision to turn away from the Arab Peace Initiative has brought Hamas and Fatah closer than ever to each other, at least for now, and has increased the chances of general Palestinian elections. At the same time, it has increased tensions within the ruling Fatah movement. Supporters of exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan appears to be taking the brunt of the Fatah leadership's anger.

Dahlan has been living in the United Arab Emirates since 2011. His ambition of one day becoming the leader of the Palestinians has fed concerns of a coup.

When US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was asked if Washington supports the replacement of President Mahmoud Abbas with Dahlan, the US official initially answered in the affirmative, but later insisted that he meant to say the opposite. The pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom, which had published the initial statement, printed a retraction, but by then the damage to Dahlan and his supporters was done.

The turmoil has forced Dahlan and his supporters to come out of the shadows and declare themselves.

Dimitri Diliani, a Dahlan supporter in East Jerusalem, declared himself the spokesman of a reformist wing of Fatah. Dahlan himself addressed Friedman's words, insisting, “Whoever is not elected by his people will not be able to lead and accomplish national independence. I … am convinced that Palestine desperately needs to renew the legitimacy of all Palestinian leaderships and institutions, and this will only be achieved through comprehensive and transparent national elections. No one has yet been born who can impose his will on us."

While many of Dahlan’s supporters are based in Gaza or East Jerusalem just outside the reach of Abbas’ security forces, some who live in the West Bank have been feeling pressure to choose between Dahlan and the central leadership. In some cases, Abbas’ security forces have arrested Dahlan supporters, including the Sept. 20 detention of four Dahlan supporters and a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, which acts as a sort of legislature for the movement and elects the powerful Central Committee. The full scope of the arrest campaign is unclear.

Jibril Rajoub, the secretary of the Fatah Central committee, heads a Fatah delegation that is carrying out negotiations in Istanbul between Fatah and Hamas to mend the split and pave the way for general elections.

From Turkey, Rajoub said that elections will take place based on proportionality, insisting that everyone will be allowed to participate. “There will be no veto on any individual or faction,” he said.  It was unclear whether Rajoub was sending a message to Dahlan, his former deputy in the Preventative Security Service, or if it was a general statement encouraging all Palestinian to participate.

While the Fatah movement will find it difficult to win re-election, the possibility of a reconciliation with Dahlan and his supporters as well as an agreement with the imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti would certainly improve the chances of victory for Fatah.

A recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Studies and Research shows that Abbas would lose to Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh in a head-to-head vote for presidency, while other Fatah leaders such as Rajoub or Barghouti would do much better. Dahlan’s chances of winning a presidential election are very low.

Not only do the Palestinians need to reformulate their goals and liberational strategy, they also need to prepare for a new era. The arrests of Dahlan supporters might be the last, desperate acts of a leader who knows he is not popular.

Abbas, 84, has repeatedly said he doesn’t plan to run for president. If he does not, then the ruling Palestinian movement must get its house in order. Arrests and blocking of factions and activists run contrary to the democratic electoral process.

If an election date is indeed set, the most important component of the elections will be the internal struggles within the various Palestinian factions. The democratic or top-down choice of lists will prove to be as important as the general elections.


Other Nations Must Join ICJ Action On Behalf Of Rohingya

By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

September 23, 2020

The governments of Canada and the Netherlands this month announced in a joint statement that they would be joining The Gambia’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) action against Myanmar for genocide against the Rohingya. The new participants in the suit intend to focus on the sexual violence aspect of Myanmar’s “clearing operations” in particular. This has been expected for some time and there are a handful of other countries that are also considering joining the suit.

What is remarkable about this case, however, is that it took the small African nation of The Gambia to initiate this process at all, while the countries that typically like to portray themselves as the global enforcers of international law, such as the US and UK, have been nowhere to be seen.

In a sense, this is a good thing, both for the international community and for the notion of international law itself. It is not healthy to always rely on just one or two powerful sponsors. The potential for the politicization of these norms and institutions of international conduct in that context is ever-present. So the fact that small African nations can bring such significant legal action to the fore, and that the legal movement started by The Gambia is now aided by middle-sized countries that are beyond suspicion of playing power politics, are both things that should be celebrated.

This is a genuine community-led effort to find legal redress for a genocide and, if these proceedings succeed, this should act as a solid deterrent against such crimes against humanity in the future — at least when the perpetrators are not themselves one of the great powers.

What is disheartening, however, is what the lack of action by other countries says about them. We can suppose that the current US administration would never join in these sorts of actions because it is ideologically hostile to any kind of international institutional order as a matter of principle. But where are the likes of the UK, France and Germany?

The Europeans continue, even in the wake of their handling of the 2015 refugee crisis, to vocally pride themselves on their adherence to the notions of international law and human rights. The EU as a whole also has an autonomous foreign policy executive, which has been actively engaged in Myanmar’s supposed transition to a democratic constitution, and substantial financial aid continues to flow from Brussels to Naypyidaw in the name of the European values of law and the human dignity of all. That is all well and good on paper, until even the civilian government in Myanmar appears to be complicit in the genocide of the Rohingya. Why is the EU continuing to fund Naypyidaw instead of supporting The Gambia’s suit at the ICJ?

The action taken by The Gambia is to be celebrated as a landmark in international law and the history of human rights on our planet. The recent moves by Canada and the Netherlands are also to be commended as a great example of what the West is supposed to stand for, and a model to be emulated by every other country that likes to claim it is civilized. Any countries that join these proceedings in the future on a similar basis as Canada and the Netherlands should also be welcomed and commended. But where is the rest of the international community? Where are all the other countries that appeal to international law when they have disputes with their neighbours or when they wish to claim more territorial waters, and so on? And, most of all, where is the rest of the West?


Dr. Azeem Ibrahim is a Director at Center for Global Policy in Washington, D.C.



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