Saturday, February 13 2016

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Commentary and Analysis

Palestinians do not have high hopes for reconciliation

MEMO CommentaryThe fact that the two largest Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, are speaking to each other is a welcome development. Put mildly, their relationship has been afflicted by mistrust for too long. In recent weeks, though, both parties have come under immense pressure from various quarters to bury their differences. Sadly, the gap between the two remains wide and few Palestinians are pinning their hopes on the expected meeting between leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal in Qatar.


With leaders like these there is no hope for Palestinian independence

MEMO CommentaryHot on the heels of the revelation that an Israeli mole has been operating from within the office of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, for the past 20 years came the admission by Major General Majid Faraj, the head of the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service, that his officers have foiled 200 attacks against Israeli targets since the current intifada began in October last year. Neither of the two disclosures was surprising; after all, the Ramallah authority has a distinguished record of collaboration with the Israeli occupation. What they serve to confirm, though, is that with a leadership like this, the people of Palestine have very little hope for independence.


Ban Ki-moon must do the honourable thing and resign

MEMO CommentaryUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s condemnation of Syria’s starvation policy is welcome. He was absolutely right to make clear that the use of starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime. However, he seems to have overlooked the situation in the Gaza Strip, where two million Palestinians have been “put on diet” by the Israeli occupation for almost ten years. Whether it is used as a weapon of war, or for political gain, the siege of civilians is both immoral and illegal.


Although 2016 looks bleak for Gaza, there is a chink of light

MEMO CommenatryThroughout the whole of 2015 the Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was open for just 21 days. On 31 December, the Egyptian authorities opened the border to deliver the corpse of a 28 year-old mentally-ill Palestinian, Ishaq Khalil Hassan, who was shot in full view of the cameras after he had strayed into Egyptian waters while swimming in the Mediterranean. As the Israeli-led — and Egyptian-backed — blockade of Gaza enters its tenth year, there is little hope that the Rafah Crossing will be opened for any meaningful number of days in 2016.


Israel wants to treat Sweden as a banana republic

MEMO CommentaryDiplomatic spats between Sweden and Israel have become a regular occurrence. Ever since the Scandinavian country recognised the state of Palestine in October 2014 relations between Stockholm and Tel Aviv have gone from bad to worse. At the heart of this stand-off is Sweden’s determination to pursue an independent foreign policy without diktats from any quarters, including Israel.


Abbas must be aware of the Arab-Israel threat

MEMO CommentaryTime is running out for Mahmoud Abbas, the embattled President of the Palestinian Authority. Israel and the US are outraged because after two months he has failed to end the intifada in the occupied West Bank. US officials fear that the uprising could spiral out of control and make an already bad situation in the region much worse.


The net is closing around Israeli war crimes suspects

MEMO CommentaryThree and a half years have passed since Archbishop Desmond Tutu refused to share a platform with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister. The veteran anti-apartheid campaigner believed that Blair’s actions over the war in Iraq were both “morally indefensible” and criminally culpable. Apart from the dreadful consequences of the war, Tutu’s action drew attention to the shocking failures of the international criminal justice system. South Africa’s Directorate of the Priority Crimes Investigation Unit (DPCIU) took a major step last week to address this shortcoming by issuing warrants for the arrest of four senior Israeli military officers for their role in the attack on the Freedom Flotilla ships which were sailing to Gaza from Turkey and Greece in 2010.


The ANC and Hamas stand shoulder to shoulder against apartheid in Palestine

memo commentaryWhatever political and practical weaknesses it may have, there are some things that will remain forever constant within the African National Congress (ANC). Opposition to apartheid is one of them. It was, therefore, quite natural that South Africa’s ruling party should host leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) last week.


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