**A Palestinian boy sits inside the ruins of his family house in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City which was destroyed during the 50-day Israeli aggression, on September 24, 2014. (Photo: AFP- Mahmud Hams) Al Akhbar
Firstly: Tomorrow (Sep 28) there’ll be an amazing “pro-resistance solidarity event for Gaza and Palestine” (“this will be an indoor rally type of event which will celebrate the Palestinian Revolution, explore its challenges, and there will be slide shows, music and poetry; organised by the Tricontinental Anti-Imperialist Platform and Invent the Future”), “GAZA AND THE PALESTINIAN REVOLUTION”, in London
…including the following speakers:
– Legendary Palestinian revolutionary, PFLP Polit Buro member and Palestinian National Council representative speaking via live video link
Dr Saeb Sha’ath
– Former head of the Palestine General Delegation to Ireland , author and Palestinian political activist.
– Palestinian in Gaza, political activist and Gaza-wide relief worker, via live video link from Gaza
– President of General Union of Palestinian Students in Britain
– Palestinian singer and musician
– Dr Abdal Aziz
– Libyan Al-Jud Charity
– Former Irish Prisoner of War in england, and former Sinn Fein councillor
George Galloway MP
– Steering committee member of Stop teh War Coalition
– Veteran of the Zimbabwean struggle against white settler colonalism, and independent radical scholar
– Pan-African Community Society Forum
– President of NUS Black Students
– Invent the Future and Tricontinental Anti-Imperialist Platform
– Tricontinental Anti-Imperialist Platform
Chaired by Sukant Chandan
– Tricontinental Anti-Imperialist Platform
Sep 26, 2014, Foreign Policy: In the Eye of a Man-Made Storm As residents of the Gaza Strip try to recover from the worst war in decades, the world — and Israel — must understand that the status quo is unsustainable:
* At present, 1.8 million live in the Gaza Strip. In its urban areas, the population density is above 20,000 people per square kilometer — one of the highest in the world. Over 70 percent of Gaza’s residents are Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced to leave their homes during the war of 1948.
* The staggering increase of people on UNRWA’s food distribution lists is another serious concern: These lists have soared from 80,000 people in 2000 to nearly 830,000 people just before the war.
* I have yet to meet anyone, anywhere in the world, who wishes to remain a refugee — and this includes Palestinian refugees. The increase in the number of people dependent on UNRWA assistance is the direct consequence of the illegal land blockade imposed on Gaza since 2007.
* The ultimate denial of dignity would be to allow the dead and injured to remain anonymous: I invite all observers tempted to minimize the war’s impact on civilians to join me on my next visit to Gaza.
* Another dramatic aspect of this conflict was — and still is — the high number of people displaced by the fighting. UNRWA sheltered nearly 300,000 Gaza residents in some 90 of its school buildings. In other words, we had to assist between 2,500 and 3,000 people per school — or over 80 people per classroom
* The number of people displaced by this war was over six times more than during the conflict in Gaza that ended in January 2009. It was as if almost twice the entire population of my hometown of Geneva, Switzerland, was forced to flee their homes and live in shelters in the middle of an active war zone.
* As many as 60,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in this conflict, of which 20,000 are totally uninhabitable, rendering around 110,000 people effectively homeless.
* The United Nations estimates that 80,000 projectiles fell on Gaza, of which as many as 8,000 may have failed to explode.
* It is time to address the human cost of these repeated and avoidable tragedies — including the cost to our own colleagues, 11 of whom have been killed since July 8. It is time for a change of paradigm in Gaza, one that recognizes that the population of the Strip, and all Palestinians, have the same aspirations for freedom as any other people in the world.
“Winter this year will find thousands of residents of the besieged Gaza Strip – still reeling from a recent Israeli military onslaught – without shelter from the elements.
Israel’s recent offensive left thousands of homes in ruins and others partially damaged, further aggravating the suffering of thousands of Gazans as they prepare to brave the winter season.
“Most homes have no windows now because of the Israeli attacks,” Samah al-Masri, Gaza resident and a mother of six, told Anadolu Agency.
Al-Masri, 35, said she would have to use pieces of plastic and cloth to seal up the windows and prevent the chill wind from blowing inside.
The Popular Committee for Breaking the Gaza Siege warned in a Thursday statement that residents of the strip would face “catastrophe” if winter came before they had found shelter.
It went on to urge the international community to find a swift solution for thousands of Gazans rendered homeless by Israel’s recent 51-day onslaught.
Israel’s offensive against the blockaded Gaza Strip finally ended on August 26 after Palestinian and Israeli negotiators signed a cease-fire deal in Cairo.
Along with thousands of homes totally or partially destroyed by the offensive, Israel’s onslaught also killed more than 2,150 Palestinians and injured more than 11,000.
Fadl al-Helw, a 40-year-old unemployed worker, lost most of his modest home to the Israeli assault.
“I can’t buy a new house,” al-Helw told AA. “That’s why I have to stay here along with my family.”
He said he was bracing for a cold winter season, which should show signs of arriving in the Gaza Strip this weekend.”
Jonathan Cook: Is There a Plan to Force Palestinians into Sinai?:
“Desperately overcrowded, short on basic resources like fresh water, blockaded for eight years by Israel, with its infrastructure intermittently destroyed by Israeli bombing campaigns, Gaza looks like a giant pressure cooker waiting to explode.
…This month Israeli media reported claims – apparently leaked by Israeli officials – that Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, had offered the Palestinian leadership the chance to annex to Gaza an area of 1,600 sq km in Sinai. The donated territory would expand Gaza fivefold.
…According to the reports, the territory in Sinai would become a demilitarised Palestinian state – dubbed “Greater Gaza” – to which returning Palestinian refugees would be assigned. The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas would have autonomous rule over the cities in the West Bank, comprising about a fifth of that territory. In return, Abbas would have to give up the right to a state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The plan, which would most likely result in significant numbers of Palestinians moving outside the borders of historic Palestine, was quickly dismissed as “fabricated and baseless” by Egyptian and Palestinian officials.
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a spokesman for Abbas, accused Israel of using the proposal to “destroy the Palestinian cause”, referring to Abbas’ efforts at the United Nations to win recognition of Palestinian statehood on parts of historic Palestine.
But Abdel Rahim’s denial raised more questions than it answered. While rejecting suggestions that Sisi had made such an offer, he added that the plan originated with Giora Eiland, Israel’s national security adviser from 2004 to 2006.
Abdel Rahim appeared to be referring to a plan unveiled by Eiland in 2004 that Israel hoped would be implemented after the withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from Gaza – the so-called disengagement – a year later.
Under Eiland’s terms, Egypt would agree to expand Gaza into the Sinai in return for Israel giving Egypt land in the Negev.
Abdel Rahim also stated that a similar plan – the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in Sinai – had been advanced briefly by Sisi’s predecessor, Mohamed Morsi.
Morsi, who served as president for a year from the summer of 2012 until his ousting by Sisi in a military coup, headed a Muslim Brotherhood administration that tried to strengthen ties to the Hamas leadership in Gaza.
…the scheme became the centrepiece of the 2004 Herzliya conference, an annual meeting of Israel’s political, academic and security elites to exchange and develop policy ideas. It was then enthusiastically adopted by Uzi Arad, the conference’s founder and long-time adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister.
He proposed a three-way exchange, in which the Palestinians would get part of Sinai for their state, while in return Israel would receive most of the West Bank, and Egypt would be given a land passage across the Negev to connect it to Jordan.
A variation of the “Sinai is Palestine” option was dusted off again by the right during Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 50-day attack on Gaza this summer.
Moshe Feiglin, the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset and a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, called for Gaza’s inhabitants to be expelled from their homes under cover of the operation and moved into Sinai, in what he termed a “solution for Gaza”.
Given that the rationale of the Sinai option is to remove Palestinians from what the Israeli right considers Greater Israel, and such a plan is vehemently opposed by all Palestinian factions, including Hamas, why would Morsi have backed it?
Further, why would he have proposed giving up a chunk of Egyptian territory to satisfy Israeli ambitions, thereby undermining his domestic credibility, at a time when he was fighting for political survival on many other fronts?
One possibility is that Abbas’ office simply made up the story to discredit Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, and by extension Abbas’ political rivals in Hamas, and thereby win favour with Sisi.
But few Palestinians or Egyptians appear to have found the claim credible, and Sisi has shown no interest in pursuing this line of attack against Morsi. Why would Abbas fabricate a story that might rebound on him by linking him to such underhanded diplomacy by Egypt, Israel and the US?
There are two further pieces of the jigsaw suggesting that there may be more to the Sinai story than meets the eye.
The first are comments made by Abbas shortly before the Israeli media began reporting the alleged offer by Sisi. Abbas was responding to earlier rumours that began in the Arab media.
Abbas signalled at a meeting with Fatah loyalists on 31 August that a proposal to create a Palestinian state in Sinai was still of interest to Egyptian officials.
He reportedly said: “A senior leader in Egypt said: ‘a refuge must be found for the Palestinians and we have all this open land.’ This was said to me personally. But it’s illogical for the problem to be solved at Egypt’s expense. We won’t have it.”
The Times of Israel website said it had subsequently confirmed the comments with Abbas.
The Palestinian leader made similar remarks on Egyptian TV a week earlier, when he told an interviewer an Israeli plan for the Sinai had been “unfortunately accepted by some here [in Egypt]. Don’t ask me more about that. We abolished it, because it can’t be.”
The second clue was provided in a barely noticed report in English published last month on the website of the Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, headquartered in London but with strong ties to the Saudi royal family.
It claimed that in the later years of his presidency, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak came under concerted and repeated pressure from the US to cede territory in Sinai to the Palestinians to help them establish a state.
The article, based on information reportedly provided by an unnamed former Mubarak official, stated that pressure started to be exerted on Egypt from 2007.
The source quoted Mubarak as saying at the time: “We are fighting both the US and Israel. There is pressure on us to open the Rafah crossing for the Palestinians and grant them freedom of residence, particularly in Sinai. In a year or two, the issue of Palestinian refugee camps in Sinai will be internationalised.”
In Mubarak’s view, according to the report, Israel hoped that, once Palestinians were on Egyptian soil, the combined area of Sinai and Gaza would be treated as the Palestinian state. This would be the only territory to which Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return.
Anticipating later statements by Abbas’ office, the Egyptian source said a similar proposal was put to Morsi when he came to power in 2012. A delegation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders travelled to Washington, where White House officials proposed that “Egypt cede a third of the Sinai to Gaza in a two-stage process spanning four to five years”.
US officials, the report stated, promised to “establish and fully support a Palestinian state” in the Sinai, including the establishment of seaports and an airport. The Brotherhood was urged to prepare Egyptian public opinion for the deal.
Each in itself can be discounted. The Asharq al-Awsat report is based on an anonymous source and there may be Saudi interests at work in promoting the story. Likewise, the Israelis could be waging a misinformation campaign.
But taken together, and given that Abbas appears reluctantly to have conceded key elements of the story, it becomes much harder to ignore the likelihood that the reports are grounded in some kind of reality.
There seems little doubt – from these reports and from the wider aspirations of the Israeli right – that a Sinai plan has been crafted by Israel’s security establishment and is being aggressively advanced, not least through the current leaks to the Israeli media. It also looks strongly like variations of this plan have been pushed more vigorously since 2007, when Hamas took exclusive control of Gaza.
Israel’s current rationale for the Sinai option is that it undermines Abbas’ intensifying campaign at the United Nations to seek recognition of Palestinian statehood, which Israel and the US adamantly oppose.
It also seems plausible, given the strength of its ties to Israel, that the US is backing the plan and adding its considerable weight to persuade the Egyptian and Palestinian leaderships.
…An Egyptian analyst explained the expected reaction from Sisi and his generals: “Egypt is relentlessly trying to keep Gaza at bay. Tunnels are being destroyed and a buffer zone is planned. Bringing more potentially hostile elements closer to Egypt would be a dangerous and reckless move.”
…Israel may hope it can “soften up” Palestinian opinion, especially in Gaza, by making life even less bearable than it already is for the population there.
It is noticeable that Israel’s large-scale operations attacking Gaza – in the winter of 2008-09, 2012 and again this year – started shortly after, according to Asharq al-Awsat, Israel and the US began turning the screws on Mubarak to concede part of Sinai.
The massive and repeated destruction of Gaza might have an added advantage for Israel: it allows Cairo to cast its offer of a small slice of the Sinai to the Palestinians as a desperately needed humanitarian gesture.
The success of Israel’s approach requires isolating Gaza, through a blockade, and inflicting massive damage on it to encourage Palestinians to rethink their opposition to a state outside historic Palestine. That precisely fits Israel’s policy since 2007.”