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Summary: AMEF webinar on Israeli annexation of West Bank




The Asia Middle East Forum organized its second live webinar to discuss the Israeli plan to annex parts of the Palestinian West Bank. The event featured a talk by a senior Palestinian political leader from the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), Dr. Mousa Abu Marzook.

In his talk, Dr. Mousa Abu Marzook outlines five main themes in connection to the Israeli annexation of the Palestinian West Bank. The themes are: roots of the Israeli settlement, implications of the annexation plan, international and regional positions and the Palestinian strategy of resistance.

Dr. Abu Marzook began his talk with historical and factual backgrounds of the Israeli occupation, and particularly traced the Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank. The talk shows that for many years, numerous Israeli governments erected settlements over the Palestinian territory without disruption. As a matter of fact, the speaker says that Israelis have built about 200 settlements in the West Bank from 1967 to 2017.

The speaker emphasizes the Israeli annexation of the West Bank is a serious matter as the Palestinian territory has literally become an isolated island or a Bantustan. He explains that the West Bank has been divided into three areas with multiple security and administration authorities. The division can be seen in three parts: Area A (administered by the Palestinian Authority), Area B (under Palestinian civil administration and Israeli security control), and Area C (fully controlled by the Israeli occupation authorities). In addition, Dr. Abu Marzook sees a jeopardy in the association between the annexation plan and Trump-Netanyahu deal (Deal of the Century). The Palestinian leader explains that while the international community agrees on the two-state option in Palestine, the enforcement of the Israeli law in the West Bank means the end of such proposed solution. It eliminates the possibility of establishing a state that includes the West Bank as the area shrinks significantly and it would become smaller ghettos surrounded by the Israeli entity from all sides. Furthermore, the annexation plan has implications over the Palestinian freedom of movement and commercial and economic activities. It also gives the Israeli occupation more freedom to attack Palestinian rights, steal extra Palestinian lands and control water sources and strategic locations, such as halls and mountains.

The head of Hamas’ International Relations Bureau reviews a number of international actors’ positions on the Israeli settlement. First, the official American attitude towards settlement has transformed from labeling the activity as illegitimate, then illegal and later to merely describe it as an obstacle to peace. And finally, the speaker points to the current supportive position of the US administration which he views as completely contrary to the international law.
The European position on settlement seemingly moves to criminalize the Israeli activity. However, the speaker questions the EU effective role over this matter as it could translate its position into, for instance, exerting economic pressure on the Israeli occupation. And he further contemplates that a confusion of EU positions could have negative reflections in the future.

As for the Arab and Muslim worlds, the leader of Hamas acknowledges the firm support of public and highlights the wider rejection of the occupation existence and any normalization of relations with the occupiers among them. The Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and individual states declared their disagreements over the Israeli plan, and there remains a hope for more steps.

Dr. Abu Marzook states that Palestinians reject and confront the Zionist plan to implant settlements and settlers. To the speaker, the situation is not easy, considering the alliances and crisis that take place in the region and beyond which ,for him, leads to a lack of influence for the Palestinian political system. Also, the history informs that (Israel) did not adhere to any international resolution. This all guides to the reality that the Palestinian armed resistance constructs the greater impact in the context, as justified by the speaker.

Dr. Mousa Abu Marzook proposes a Palestinian strategy and program to address the current situation, which includes:
– Achieving the Palestinian national unity

– Cancelling the Oslo Accords

– Withdrawing the recognition of (Israel)

– Terminating the Palestinian Authority to push the occupation authorities to endure the responsibility towards the occupied people (while Palestinians would focus on their struggle to get rid of the occupation).

A summary prepared by: Belal Samir.

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Report: First Global Conference on Israeli Apartheid




First Global Conference on Israeli Apartheid

Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territory, as well as the efforts that Israel goes to to impose second-class citizen status on Palestinian citizens and inhabitants of the occupied West Bank prompted the “First Global Conference on Israeli Apartheid” to take place in Istanbul, Turkey, last weekend.

Inaugurating the conference, President of the Union of Non-Governmental Organisations in the Islamic World (UNIW), Ali Kurk reiterated the Western governments’ overwhelming support for Israel’s apartheid system and the country as a whole, and stated: “International law has become meaningless now the law of the strong rules.”

Retired general of the Turkish armed forces who was appointed Chief Political Adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016, Adnan Tanriverdi, said Jerusalem was particularly under threat of becoming a purely Jewish city as a result of Israel’s policy of evacuating Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem and then either allowing Jewish settlers to occupy them or destroying them.

Jewish exclusivity

Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Rima Khalaf, said Israel is “the only country in the world to confer full citizenship based on inherited religion.” She also linked the Israeli apartheid system to the racial Darwinism that was prevalent throughout the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe, which fostered an ideology of racial and ethnic supremacy that is the root cause of apartheid.

Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, Atallah Hanna, added: “Israeli occupiers want Muslims and Christians to be racist to each other,” but that will not work as “we share a common Palestinian identity.”

He warned that Israel is carrying out a gradual ethnic cleansing campaign in Jerusalem in an effort to turn it into a purely Jewish city. The Christian population of the holy city has been decreasing over the years, he added, making up only one per cent of the population now. The solution, he said, is for both Christians and Muslims to join forces as they are both being insulted and oppressed by the Israeli occupation.

Former United Nations human rights investigator Richard Falk said Israel is continuing the legacy of European-style colonialism by shifting entire demographics on the ground. This Zionist project “was unfolding at a time when colonisation was collapsing,” and that colonial legacy did not simply end in 1967 but is continuing to this day with its allies such as the US providing “unconditional” support.

This policy of demographic change makes the two-state solution defunct and no longer a viable solution, Falk added. It is “a ghost-solution or a zombie-solution” which refuses to die, which Israel holds onto due to the fact that if it renounces that concept then it will effectively renounce the very legitimacy of a separate and autonomous Jewish state. This reality of Israel’s established population plan, international political manipulation, and US support makes for a “dystopian outcome which rests on violence and apartheid”.

The unreliability of the two-state solution has long been espoused by many among both the pro-Palestine and pro-Israel communities, with some calling for a one-state solution instead, in which Palestinians have an equal status as Israelis and apartheid is abolished, while others call for a more Jewish identity and supremacy in the state of Israel.

Palestinians need to have a clear vision of how to navigate through their predicament, former Arab member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) Haneen Zoabi said. She stressed that Palestinians – whether in the West Bank or in Israel – will not be liberated and apartheid will not be destroyed by going to the courts and asking for help.

Israel’s monopoly in the court system and its apartheid policies will not enable such endeavours to succeed, she explained. But the failures of such attempts have woken Palestinians up and encouraged them to be more active.

The conference was hugely effective in shedding light on the extent of the Israeli apartheid system and its suppression of the Palestinian people, with a variety of well-experienced and knowledgeable speakers, intellectuals, academics and figures at the forefront of it. A plethora of statistics and research were efficient in propagating the continued plight of Palestinians living under occupation and the numerous unspeakable violations of human rights and international law that the state of Israel has committed.

What the conference failed to do, however, was provide clear and direct solutions to the issue of the Israeli apartheid as a whole. This is not entirely blameworthy on the conference itself – the crisis of the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict” is not an easy one to find solutions for – but apart from Tanriverdi’s call for a united military force in the Muslim world, recommendations on how to pressure Israel using international law, frequent references to toppling of apartheid in South Africa and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a clear and united solution was sorely lacking.

The final communique on the conference, UNIW included the five primary guidelines which are to be observed in its aim to form the Global Coalition against Israeli Apartheid:

  1. The Coalition shall be open to all individuals and organizations committed to the principles of justice, equality, and dignity for all;
  2. The goal of the Coalition is to contribute to and expedite the dismantlement of the Israeli apartheid regime imposed on the Palestinian people, in the framework of achieving equality, dignity, and justice for all;
  3. The Coalition shall use all legal means possible towards that end;
  4. The Coalition shall act as a forum and support network allowing its members to maximize the impact of their work in their respective fields, 4 including research, awareness raising, legal action, and activities of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS),with a view to combatting Israeli apartheid;
  5. In all its initiatives and activities, the Coalition shall adhere to the principles set forth in international law.

From: MEMO

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International issues

Indonesia’s Foreign Policy Priorities for the Next 5 Years




The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released details of Indonesia’s foreign policy direction and priorities for the next five years on Tuesday.

“We live in a world full of uncertainty, which poses great challenges to all countries. We see rivalry for political influence, along with economic rivalry, while new conflicts continue to emerge,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in Jakarta.

She added that the protectionist trend also posed new challenges for global trade.

“Amid this upsurge in protectionism, Indonesia has much to be grateful for, as our economy is still growing at more than 5 percent. We have an incredible asset – a huge, growing domestic market. This will make the Indonesian economy indispensable in geo-economics in the future,” Retno said.

She announced that Indonesia’s foreign policy will be based on the following five priorities:

Economic Diplomacy

Retno said Indonesia would firstly capitalize on the strengthening of its domestic market and use it as leverage to increase the country’s bargaining power.

“We must protect our domestic market from the dumping of products subsidized by foreign entities. This has increased due to the currently low global economic growth, and we must be wary of it,” the minister said.

Indonesia will secondly focus on strengthening its traditional markets and entering new markets in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific for goods and services, investment and infrastructure development.

“Thirdly, we will strengthen our trade negotiations and investments. Over the next five years, we will accelerate comprehensive economic partnership agreements, free-trade agreements and preferential trade agreements with various countries,” Retno said.

The minster added that then ministry would also bolster trade and investment promotion and encourage outbound investment.

“It is time for Indonesia to expand outbound investment internationally, in synergy with our national economic interests,” Retno said.

Fifth, the ministry will optimize its diplomatic efforts to protect Indonesia’s strategic economic interests, including palm oil exports.

“Indonesia’s palm oil interests are fundamental, because they determine the fate of about 16 million people, particularly farmers and their families. We will continue to resist any discrimination against palm oil, because it not only harms our national interests, but also threatens the global population’s need for palm oil,” the minister said.

Lastly, the ministry will continue to bolster Indonesia’s adoption of Industry 4.0, including the digital industry, creative economy and human resources development.

Citizen Protection

Retno said the ministry would integrate Peduli WNI, an online portal for Indonesians living abroad, with the religious affairs ministry’s marriage management information system and the law and human rights ministry’s electronic citizenship administration system.

“Once the integration is complete, we will have a single data portal for all Indonesians living abroad,” Retno said.

The foreign ministry will further improve its governance to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration, and implement measures to protect Indonesian citizens abroad.

“As a preventive measure, we will educate the public to reduce the risk of human trafficking,” she said.

National Sovereignty

Retno said the ministry would intensify efforts to settle border disputes through dialogue.

“Indonesia’s sovereignty is non-negotiable. We will not back down one centimeter and always stand our ground,” she said.

Regional and Global Leadership

Indonesia occupies a seat on the United Nations Security Council until 2020 and will assume the chairmanship of the global body in August next year. Then country will also serve on the UN Human Rights Council between 2020 and 2022, and chair both the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the Group of 20 in 2023.

“Asean remains the pillar of Indonesia’s foreign policy. We seek to ensure the implementation of the already adopted Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific over the next five years, so we will host the Asean Indo-Pacific Infrastructure and Connectivity Forum in 2020,” Retno said.

She added that Indonesia wants to be a part of a solution and that it would therefore contribute to resolving various international issues, including in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Afghanistan, Palestine and the South China Sea.

Diplomacy Infrastructure 

Retno said Indonesia must strengthen its diplomacy infrastructure to achieve its foreign policy priorities.

“The focus is on bureaucratic reform, improvement of human resources quality, development of physical diplomacy infrastructure, use of technology and information, and digital transformation,” the minister said.

From: Jakarta Globe

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