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UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.

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Wednesday
May062015

Call to EU - Act now on Israeli military training

http://jordanvalleysolidarity.org/index.php/news-2/news2015/824-call-to-eu-act-now-on-israeli-military-training

Today, May 4 2015, the Land Defense Coalition and the Jordan Valley Solidarity has submitted a letter to the EU Commission and diplomatic missions of member states asking for urgent action and denouncing the military exercises that Israel is holding to an unprecedented length and extent in the Jordan Valley occupied Palestinian territory.

The organizations ask for clear actions, including the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement and the immediate exclusion of Israeli military and security companies from the EU funding cycle Horizon2020. Read the full text of the letter in the following.

We are asking all our international friends to put pressure on your elected representatives to put pressure on the Occupation Forces to STOP THE MILITARY TRAINING in the Jordan Valley

Jordan Valley Solidarity, May 4 2015

To: The Office of the European Union Representative West Bank and Gaza Strip,

       Diplomatic missions of EU member states

Subject: Urgent action against large scale military training in the Jordan Valley

Dear sir/madam,

We are writing to ask you to a) urgently intervene through the appropriate diplomatic channels with the Israeli authorities to ensure an immediate stop of the military training exercises Israel is holding in the Jordan Valley to an unprecedented extent and length since yesterday, Sunday May 3, until likely Thursday, May 7, b) pressure for an end to all Israeli military training in Palestinian occupied territory and the revocation of the military zones and firing zones c) take effective steps to stop Israel’s ongoing population transfer in Area C, including the exclusion of all Israeli military and security companies from funding within the framework of Horizon2020 and the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

Since yesterday, Sunday May 3, in the area of Twayyel, in the Aqraba area of the Jordan Valley, a heavy military exercise has started which, according to witnesses, includes over 100 military vehicles, including helicopters and other heavy military equipment. The population had not been informed but alerted by the construction of a military camp in the area roughly a week ago and suffers currently threats to their lives, properties and livelihoods.

In a large area around the Hamra checkpoint, which includes Humsa Fouqa, Khirbet Ibziq, al Borj, al Meeta and al Maleh areas and Ras ar Ahmar, last Thursday, April 30, Israeli military forces addressed the Bedouin and farming communities living there forcing them to sign papers that obliged them to leave the region starting from today Monday 4th of May to Thursday 7th of May, as the army intends to conduct training. These communities comprise 47 extended families. Since this morning, heavy explosions are being heard that are similar to another military training in the same area of Humsa Fouqa, held on April 28. That military exercise had resulted in the destruction of 3,000 to 4,000 dunams of crops and trees after the shootings and ammunitions of the Israeli army started fire on the land and Palestinian firefighter crews were prevented from reaching the area.

While some of the families are currently leaving the area, part of the population in the area around the Hamra checkpoint has decided to stay in the area during the training and is risking immediate threat to their lives. All of the affected population is deeply concerned about their livelihoods. Their harvest may be destroyed even further through fires ignited during the military training and abandoning or moving their livestock during the current lambing season would risk the survival of large part of the animals. The communities further fear for their property, including homes, animal sheds and water storage may be damaged.

Military trainings in the Jordan Valley have increased dramatically since 2012 and are part and parcel of Israel's systematic and forced transfer of the Palestinian population from the Area C, which is implemented through a variety of means including demolitions, denial of access to water, movement and access restrictions. Bedouin communities as the above are to be forcibly transferred in the so-called 'relocation zones' currently under construction in the area of Abu Dis and in planning around Jericho. In May 2014, Col. Einav Shalev, operations officer of the Central Command told the subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that "the goal of preventing illegal construction is one of the main reasons the Israel Defense Forces has recently increased its training in the Jordan Valley". Once people are transferred, the area is ready to be annexed and Palestinians will be left with some 13% of their historic homeland, reduced to ghettos and Bantustans. 

The equipment used during these operations is provided partially by Israeli military companies, which find in the military trainings held in the West Bank another opportunity to further develop and showcase their technology.

According to UN OCHA, approximately 18% of the West Bank has been designated permanently as a closed military zone for training, or “firing zone”. This is roughly the same amount of the West Bank under full Palestinian authority (Area A, 17.7%). Some 5,000 Palestinians reside in the firing zones. They live in 38 communities and are mostly Bedouin tribes that have been expelled to this area during the ethnic cleansing of the Naqab (Negev) from 1948-52. The declaration of military firing zones comes together with a series of human rights violations and grave breaches of Israel’s obligations under international law, including the right to life, adequate housing, access to water and sanitation as well Israel’s obligation to protect the occupied population and not to alter the demographic composition of the area it holds occupied.

The International Criminal Court has defined the forcible and arbitrary transfer of population as a crime against humanity when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, such as is the case of Israel’s policies against the Palestinian people. The crime of forcible transfer of populations can be carried out through a large range of 'coercive pressures' forcing people to flee their homes. Displacement of individuals when undertaken on discriminatory grounds may amount to persecution. Transfer of population “designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups” as well as “the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including [...] the right to freedom of movement and residence” is a core part of the policies that constitute the crime of apartheid.

Already in 2011, EU Heads of Mission report on Area C and Palestinian State-Building has underlined that Israeli policies in Area C “result in forced transfer of the native population” and pointed out that the Israeli practice of maintaining over decades closed military and ‘firing zones’ is illegal and has grave consequences for the population. In 2012, the UN Secretary-General stated that the implementation of the proposed 'relocation' would amount to individual and mass forcible transfers and forced evictions, prohibited under international humanitarian law and human rights law. The 2012 Council conclusions on the Middle East process express “deep concern about developments on the ground which threaten to make a two-state solution impossible”, in particular Israeli policies of forced transfer in Area C. The resolution of the 2012 EU parliament on policy on the West Bank and Jerusalem “calls on the Council and the Commission to continue to address these issues at all levels in the EU's bilateral relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority; stresses that Israel's commitment to respect its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law towards the Palestinian population must be taken into full consideration in the EU's bilateral relations with the country”. The policy briefing on Area C by the policy department the director-general for external relations of the EU concludes that “nothing of substance has been accomplished to implement the minimal recommendations set out by the EU's 2011 report on Area C. While the EU has expressed its concern about the state of affairs, decisive effective action is long overdue”, including the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

In 1967 there were 350,000 Palestinians living in what is now Area C. Today there are only 150,000 left. Some Israeli politicians consider this number “acceptable to integrate into the Jewish state”. The population transfer is a de facto annexation making any formal steps redundant. The EU cannot wait any longer before taking strong responses and effective measures to be taken, including:

 

  • Intervening immediately to stop the military training.
  • Pressuring Israel to revoke all military orders establishing ‘closed military zones’ and ‘firing zones’, which are in their practice in contravention of international law and a mechanism of forced population transfer.
  • Excluding immediately Israeli military and security companies from funding within the framework of Horizon2020.
  • Suspending immediately the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

The Land Defense Coalition                      Jordan Valley Solidarity

Land Defence Coalition member organizations:

  • The Popular Council to Protect the Jordan Valley
  • Stop the Wall Campaign
  • Palestinian Farmers Union
  • Palestinian New Federation of Trade Unions
  • Palestine Youth Forum
  • Association for Farmers’ Rights and for the Preservation of the Environment
  • Women Center for Social Development
  • Association Jadayel/Palestinian Center for Culture
  • Arts and Creativity
  • Palestinian Farms Society-Tulkarem
  • N'lin Society for Development Community Work
  • Al-Amal Association for Childhood and Development 
  • [1]http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.591881
  • [5] European Parliament resolution of 5 July 2012 on EU policy on the West Bank and East Jerusalem (2012/2694(RSP)),http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P7-TA-2012-0298&language=EN
       
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    Friday
    Jan162015

    PSC update: Urgent Action - Winter Crisis in Gaza

    Please take urgent action for Gaza we need to increase political pressure

    In Gaza, 1.8 million Palestinians are being pushed even further into a humanitarian crisis. The terrible winter weather, combined with the ongoing siege and the constant attacks by the Israeli army, with the harshest phase of this winter, is killing Palestinians. Children and the elderly are most at risk.

     

    Please email/write/phone your MP now and ask them to write to David Cameron urgently on your behalf to raise the following points:

     ·         Six months since the start of the Gaza war, which resulted in massive destruction and hardship, but the UK government appears not to be taking any steps to bring the blockade of Gaza to a complete and immediate end. Palestinians are dying as a result.

    ·         Israel and the UK must both uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1860 on Gaza access which obliges Israel to open Gaza’s port, and facilitate free movement of goods and people between Gaza and the West Bank, and obliges the UK governments to provide arrangements and guarantees to bring this about. The UK is failing to do this, let alone step in and help negotiate a ceasefire and access agreement before another war starts. The UK is quick to act when other countries breach UN Security Council resolutions on humanitarian access, but on Gaza it has failed to go to the Security Council.  

    ·         Palestinians in Gaza remain homeless, struggle to find access to clean water, are jobless and farmers and fishing boats are regularly being shot at by Israeli government to go about their trade.  Over 700,000 truckloads of construction materials are needed to rebuild the homes and schools the population need but only a few hundred truckloads were allowed over the past six months.   The blockade is not about security. Israel demolished the Karni crossing which used sophisticated x-ray technology with a capacity to allow nearly a thousand truckloads of goods every day to transit Gaza. Why should Palestinians wait decades to rebuild their homes?   

    ·         MPs and the UK government received more correspondence on the Gaza than any other international issue, and MPs have been very vocal, yet ministers have been silent on Gaza for months and I cannot find any information about UK efforts to end the blockade.  

    Urge the PM to take the following urgent steps:

    -           urgently act to end Israel’s blockade 

    -           support genuine Palestinian reconciliation and not condition the delivery of assistance on political actions ensuring aid reaches all civilians in need without discrimination.  

    -           end all arms trade with Israel

    -           seek compensation from Israel for damage they have caused to UK and EU funded aid projects

     

    To find your MP's contact details: www.writetothem.com

     

    Please let us know their response – many thanks!

    Sunday
    Jun292014

    PRESS RELEASE: "This Week in Palestine" offices thrashed by IDF

    PRESS RELEASE

    On Sunday, 22 June, at around 4:00 AM, Israeli Occupation Forces broke into the

    company premises of Turbo Computers and Software Co. Ltd., a graphic design firm

    established in 1985 and publisher of This Week in Palestine magazine, and into the

    premises of its sister company, Jeel Publishing Co. Ltd., publisher of the Arabic youth

    magazine Filistin Ashabab. Seven computers including the servers were confiscated,

    severely hampering the companies' operating capacity.

     

    As private-sector companies, we deplore such an action which not only clearly violates

    our personal rights, including freedom of expression, but also jeopardizes the livelihood of

    our employees. During our 28-year history, we have had no affiliation with any political

    faction. Our work includes graphic design and print-management services offered to a

    large number of institutions, both local and international, including the Office of the

    President. This Week in Palestine is a 15-year-old nonpolitical cultural publication that

    promotes and documents Palestine, and Filistin Ashabab is a platform for Palestinian

    youth to express and develop their writing skills as well as their photography and artistic

    skills.

     

    We call upon the international community, particularly the US and the EU authorities that

    have been trying to encourage the development of the Palestinian private sector, to voice

    its opinion on these barbaric actions and recognize the obstacles that we face as a people

    under military occupation. Our full economic potential will never be realized if actions like

    this continue – actions that threaten our investments and, more importantly, the livelihood

    of our people.

    The attack on This Week in Palestine and Filistin Ashabab is a message to our readers

    that they might be deprived of access to these two independent Palestinian publications.

    But we want to assure them that we will continue to publish both magazines, despite the

    hardships, in order to continue to play our part in building the independent, secular, and

    pluralistic society that we all dream of.

    We question the uncivilized manner in which we were violated and our computers

    confiscated. With today's technology anyone with adequate resources can easily tap into

    any system and have total access to its files. As totally transparent companies, we have

    nothing to hide and we pose no security threat to anyone.

    We demand the immediate restoration of our computers, and we hold the Israeli

    authorities responsible for the integrity of the data that we have collected and worked on

    for over two decades. Finally, we reserve the right to claim reparation for damages

    incurred, and to consider legal action, both locally and internationally.

    Sani Paul Meo

    General Manager

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Letter from Sani Meo   30 June 2014         Ramallah, Palestine

    “WHAT? Have they gone mad?” Was practically the unanimous reaction to the raid of the Israeli army into our offices on the 22nd of June at 4:00 AM and confiscating practically all the computers in the company. Incidentally, it was my reaction too when I found our through a phone call from the office building doorman last Sunday morning; our day off. Please read the attached press release that we distributed a few days after the incident.

    I was a fool to think that sitting in downtown Ramallah, having lead a non-violent life-style approach, both personally and in my business, being liberal and secular, would make me beyond the reach of direct contact, much less a confrontation, with the Israeli army. What happened on the 22nd of June was a clear reminder that the occupation of Palestine is real and the open prison we are living in is exactly that; a prison.

    The fact that you are reading this message which announces a new edition of This Week in Palestine, the July 2014 edition, is a message in itself. A good friend of mine just posted something wise Robert Frost had said about summing up everything he had learned from life in three words; it goes on.

    The current (threatening) July 2014 issue, the “Where to Go” issue, takes our readers on trips to various Palestinian destinations to explore their beauty and charm. We’ve included lots of images to make the edition more attractive. I do hope you will enjoy reading it.

    To remind you, “Social Media in Palestine” is our theme for the upcoming August 2014 issue, and that of September 2014 issue is “An Eye on Science.. As always, if you feel you can contribute to any of the mentioned issues, by all means, do contact us. Finally, the theme of our upcoming October 2014 issue is “Habitat in Palestine.

    Before ending I would like to pay tribute to our exiting content editor, Dr. Riyam Kafri-AbuLaban who truly did a marvelous job throughout being part of the editorial team, and has added tremendous value to each edition she has worked on. Actually, Riyam will not leave us totally; she will still be responsible for our new permanent section TWIP’s Kitchen since cooking is something she loves to do apart from teaching Organic Chemistry! Equally, I would like to welcome Ahmad Damen, a bright young director of the two documentaries Forbidden Pilgrimageand The Red Stone, a musician, and now the new TWIP’s content editor.

    With the scorching heat, today is the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. I wish all a merciful, and a peaceful month. Ramadan is a reminder to us all to search our souls to become better human beings in being kind, and thoughtful to others whom we have done them wrong by being unjust.

    Thank you all again for your continued support.

     Warmly,

    Sani P. Meo / GM

    www.thisweekinpalestine.com

    www.filistinashabab.com

     

    The Last Word – July 2014; Gentlemanly Manners

    http://www.thisweekinpalestine.com/details.php?id=4309&ed=232&edid=232

     

    Thursday
    Jun122014

    Press release: Urgent representations against destruction of Bedouin village

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    press release 
    Date of issue: 12 June 2014
    For immediate release 
    PSC calls for UK intervention against Israel's destruction of Al Arakib village 
    Today, Thursday 12 June 2014, Palestine Solidarity Campaign called for the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to intervene to stop Israel's demolition of Al Arakib village.
      http://revolution-news.com/southern-israel-bedouin-village-al-arakib-demolished-today-64th-time/
    PSC called for the Foreign Secretary "to urgently meet with the
    Israeli Ambassador to the UK and for the UK Embassy in Israel to meet their counterparts to express the UK’s shock and displeasure at Israel’s demolition of Al Arakib villag
    Demolition of minaretDemolition of the minaret of the Mosque

    This was following news from the Negev Forum for Coexistence, alerting the international community to Israel's demolitions in Al Arakib this morning. According to the Negev Forum, Israeli Forces began demolishing water tanks and structures around the cemetery.

     
    The village of Al Arakib has already been destroyed more than 60 times since July 2010, and each time the villagers have rebuilt their homes, determined to stay on their ancestral lands, despite the physical and emotional hardships.
     
    The remaining residents had already received eviction orders stating that by 13th July they must leave the village or be evicted by force. The orders include the dead and people who have left the village.
     
    The residents of Al Arakib lay claims to the lands on which their village is built and from which they were first evicted after the establishment of the
    Israeli state in the fifties. Their land claims are still before the courts and have yet to be decided.
     
    During the last four years the non-violent resistance of Al Arakib has become a symbol of the Arab-Bedouin struggle against Israeli government plans to forcibly concentrate its Bedouin citizens in government “planned” townships and to demolish 35 so-called unrecognised villages, whose population numbers in the thousands.
     
    Sarah Colborne, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: 
     
    "We are calling on the Foreign Secretary to immediately
    tell the Israeli Ambassador that the demolitions must be stopped. It is not enough for the UK Government to simply express its displeasure. The government must impose sanctions upon Israel for its violations of international law.
    Only action will work."
     
    ends 
    notes for the editor  

    1. PSC is the biggest membership organisation dedicated to campaigning for Palestine in Britain www.palestinecampaign.org <http://t.ymlp270.net/msjmhapaubemeadahyapaujjm/click.php>
    2. PSC is supporting a petition for the villagers of Al Arakib www.palestinecampaign.org/help-save-al-arakib <http://t.ymlp270.net/msjmwanaubemeatahyaaaujjm/click.php>

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    The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the Israeli occupation and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seeks to apply pressure on both the British and Israeli governments into bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!

    Join: www.palestinecampaign.org/join
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    Palestine Solidarity Campaign
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    London
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    Tel: 020 7700 6192
    Fax: 020 7609 7779

    Email: info@palestinecampaign.org
    Web: www.palestinecampaign.org 

    Wednesday
    Jan082014

    The Prawer Law is being implemented even before it has been legislated

    Minister Yair Shamir has received the Prawer Law – What can we expect?

    Early in December it seemed that justice had prevailed, as Minister Beni Begin announced that he has recommended to the Prime Minister to stop the Prawer Law, and the Prime Minister agreed. However, only four days later the Knesset continued to deliberate the law, as if nothing had happened. Now we know that the Law is still on the table, and that the Minister that has been assigned to forward it is Yair Shamir, a member in Liberman's party, the right-winged partners of our right-winged government.
     
    The Prawer law, officially named "The Law for the Settlement of the Bedouin", in fact does not have any settlement component in it. Of this long and convoluted law, the first 2/3rds are about how to bring to an end the process of land claims the government started in the early 1970s and had never continued: the law in effect will erase most of the land claims presented by the Bedouin, while allowing some meager compensation for few of the Bedouin land owners. The last part of the Prawer law is a mechanism for village evacuation and destruction that bypasses the regular legal system and the judicial system. All in all – a horrific law.
     
    It is no wonder that such a law has brought about massive and intense resistance – and that the police is being used to crush this resistance. The violence of the police in the demonstration of November 30th has brought the conflicts in the Negev to a new level of aggression. After the demonstration the police continued to arrest youngsters, trying to instill fear in the community, hoping this will stop the demonstrations.
     
    Moreover, even though the law has not yet completed the process of legislation, the government has already created the manpower to implement the law. New police forces – commando trained, new police cars – that can easily traverse the desert terrain and are armored, a bureaucracy of over 60 managers and employees (all Jewish), along with scores of freelance lawyers and "mediators", have been employed in the two offices created to implement the law: "The Authority for the Settlement of the Bedouin", and "The Implementation Unit for the Prawer Law". Both headed by ex-security high ranking officers – as the Bedouin are not seen as civil issue, but rather as a security issue.
     
    The law is being implemented even before it has been legislated: weekly home demolitions all around the Negev. The village of Im-El-Hiran, which is one of the first slotted for erasure, is being "measured" in preparation of the building of the Jewish settlement to replace the existing Bedouin village. The new and combat trained police forces are itching for action, and this can be seen in every opportunity that they receive. Even if the Prawer law is halted in the Knesset, this massive apparatus already has a life of its own…
     
    The government map for the Bedouin settlement was presented in the Knesset. It completely ignores the existence of several Bedouin villages – not surprisingly  it ignores Im el Hiran. It also ignores the Wadi Naam – with its 10,000 residents. Then it goes on to claim that the lands of another 10-15 villages will be "returned to the government". These lands have never been owned by the government, as they are the lands claimed by the Bedouin in the 1970's and that the government never processed. These 15 villages are to be erased, and their inhabitants are to be settled in urban neighborhoods of other villages and towns. The remaining villages (about 15) are to be concentrated on a fraction of the land available to them today – in effect – to become neighborhoods of the close by towns. The Bedouin villages now are sitting on less than 3% of the Negev lands, and this is very minimal land for an agrarian community. After the implementation of this map – they will be allowed to live on only 1% of the Negev lands – with no access to the land so necessary for the income and wellbeing of the community. The "cleared out" 2% of Negev (desert) lands are to remain clear – clean of Bedouins.
     
    The RCUV together with Bimkom (planners for human rights) and Sidreh (Bedouin women's empowerment organization) and headed by Prof. Oren Yiftahel are at the final stages of creating a Bedouin settlement master plan. This plan was created in the manner the government should have created its plans for the Bedouin: basing it on the community needs as well as the principals of planning accepted in Israel. Furthermore, if follows the principles of equality. This master plan shows that there is no need to remove, erase or concentrate any of the Bedouin villages. We call upon Minister Shamir and the Government of Israel to adopt this master plan and to implement policies that are based on equality and human dignity, and that will begin the process of healing from the 60 years of harmful policies towards its Bedouin citizens.

     
    You can help! Contact Minister Shamir and call on him to discontinue the Prawer Law and to begin a just and inclusive process that will bring about prosperity for the Bedouin community and the entire Negev people. Write to him: fax - +972-3-9485835 <tel:%2B972-3-9485835>  email: yairs@moag.gov.il  or on facebook: https://he-il.facebook.com/Shamir.Yair

    Join us in our demonstration tomorrow in front of the "Authority for the Settlement of the Bedouin" in Beer Sheva at 10:00am.
     

    For more information: Atia el-Asam, RCUV chair. 050-570-2064; Yeela Raanan, RCUV: 054-748-7005 or yallylivnat@gmail.com