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The Day In Israel: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009

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Saudi Arabia flatly rejected American calls for gestures toward Israel.

“Incrementalism and a step-by-step approach has not and – we believe – will not achieve peace. Temporary security, confidence-building measures will also not bring peace,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said at a State Department press conference.

“What is required is a comprehensive approach that defines the final outcome at the outset and launches into negotiations over final status issues: borders, Jerusalem, water, refugees and security.”

In response, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed that it is not just her husband who is capable of lying.

Asked repeatedly whether Saud’s comments made America’s efforts more difficult, Clinton responded, “No, I don’t think so at all.”

Instead, she said, “I think that the efforts we are undertaking are to create a negotiation that will lead to a comprehensive settlement in the interests of both the Palestinian and the Israeli people,” and indicated that Saud’s perspective was in line with that.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

10:45PM: Photo of the day:


Palestinian Fatah member Khaled Abu Usba, center, talks with other Fatah members prior a Fatah convention in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem Sunday Aug. 2, 2009. The Fatah oldtimers from Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries stepped on Palestinian soil for the first time this weekend, converging on this West Bank town for their party’s first convention in a generation. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

Clearly, the picture depicts a number of Fatah “oldtimers”shooting the breeze, looking like average people enjoying themselves.

You need to do some digging to realize that it’s not just the breeze this Khaled Abu Usba likes to shoot.

Bethlehem – Ma’an Exclusive – “I have waited 30 years to come back to Palestine, and I won’t leave. I will wait until I get a Palestinian ID card so I can bring back my wife and children,” said Khalid Abu Isba, one of two Palestinian fighters who survived the famous attack on a beach in north of Tel Aviv on 11 March 1978.

In the city for Fatah’s upcoming convention, Abu Isba was speaking during an interview at Ma’an’s Bethlehem office.

The operation that made him famous was led by the legendary female fighter Dalal Al-Mughrabi. Al-Mughrabi’s name is synonymous with the 1978 attack, which is today a symbol of an earlier era when the Palestinian movement was led by refugees living in Lebanon and other places of exile, struggling to retrieve the homeland they lost in 1948.

The Palestinians who carried it out called the attack the “Martyr Kamal Udwan operation,” after the PLO chief of operations killed in an Israeli commando raid on Beirut in April 1973. The Israelis called it “Coastal Road Massacre.”

Palestine, Abu Isba says, is the homeland for which he sacrificed in the 1978 operation that saw him injured and detained. During that operation, 13 Palestinian fighters hijacked an Israeli bus, and fierce battle erupted between them and Israeli forces. Thirty five Israelis were killed as well as all the Palestinian fighters except Abu Isba and another named Hussein Fayyad.

Both were injured and detained by Israeli forces. After spending seven years in prison, both were released in a prisoner exchange deal in 1985 between Israel and The Popular front for the Liberation of Palestine- General Command led then by Ahmad Jibreel.

Abu Isba says he was worried Israel would not allow him to come to Palestine to partake in sixth Fatah conference in Bethlehem. For reasons that may never be known, Israeli authorities allowed the former guerilla leader to cross into the West Bank this weekend.

Yet Abu Isba is returning to a Palestine, and a Fatah, that have changed dramatically in the three decades since the raid on the coast road. Inside the occupied territories, his movement has become closely identified with the Oslo peace accords and its offspring, the hapless bureaucracy of the Palestinian Authority. A weak Palestinian “sovereignty” has returned to a few square kilometers of the homeland, but the rest has been annexed, splintered, and subdivided over the Olso years. Fatah is embroiled in a bitter power struggle with Hamas. It is a movement also seeking to reconcile its past as a resistance movement with its present state.

While visiting Ma’an, however, Abu Isba seemed happy to be back in one corner of Palestine. He says he is happy with the young Palestinian generation. “For your sake, young people, we sacrificed, and we will continue to,” he said.

”Bring back the Fatah of the revolution”

Asked about his expectations for the Fatah conference, he said, “After the conference is finished, Fatah should continue with change, close the ranks, and restore Fatah’s dignity.”

The veteran fighter said he hoped his movement would return to a program of popular resistance.

“We hope the conference will bring back the Fatah of the revolution, the Fatah of Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat] and the Fatah of sacrifices after waiting 20 years since the fifth conference,” he added.

By the way, here’s more on the Coastal Road Massacre. 13 of the murdered Israelis were children.

9:15PM: Here is Tawfiq Tirawi, the security advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, letting us know the PA’s negotiating strategy.

8:12PM: Police have recommended that the state prosecution indict Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on charges of bribery, fraud, money laundering, witness harassment and obstruction of justice, carrying a combined maximum sentence of 31 years.

7:50PM: Israel has been slammed for evacuating two palestinian families from homes in the disputed East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The evacuation of two Palestinian families from the homes in the disputed East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Sunday drew a slew of condemnations.

The neighborhood was at the center of escalating tensions between Israel and the U.S. last month, when Israel’s plan to build some 20 new apartments there was revealed. The U.S. has demanded that the project be halted, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said two weeks ago that “Israel will not agree to edicts of this kind in East Jerusalem.”

The evacuation comes after a decision by the High Court of Justice last week, which ruled that the homes belong to Jewish families.

Robert Serry, the United Nations envoy to the Middle East, criticized the evacuation of the Palestinian families, saying “Israel’s actions are unacceptable.”

“I deplore today’s totally unacceptable actions by Israel, in which Israeli security forces evicted Palestinian refugee families registered with UNRWA from their homes in the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem to allow settlers to take possession of these properties,” Serry said in a statement.

“These actions are contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions related to occupied territory. They also contravene the united calls of the international community, including the Quartet?s, which in its recent statement urged the Government of Israel to refrain from provocative actions in East Jerusalem, including house demolitions and evictions,” he went on to say.

“These actions heighten tensions and undermine international efforts to create conditions for fruitful negotiations to achieve peace,” Serry went on to say.

The British consulate also issued a statement condemning the move, saying that Britain does not accept Israel’s claim that its courts are preventing radical settlers from entering Arab neighborhoods.

The British statement went on to say that the evacuation and such moves come in contrast with Israel’s declarations regarding its desire to achieve peace with the Palestinians. The British statement also called on Israel not to allow extremists to control the government’s agenda.

Of course, it would be too much to ask these critics to look closely at the reasoning behind the judgment.

Two Arab families were evicted from Jewish-owned homes in the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood of Jerusalem on Sunday morning. The evictions took place following a Supreme Court ruling in which the court found in favor of Jewish families who claimed ownership of homes in the area.


The Arab families claimed that they owned the houses in which they lived. Jewish families argued that they were the legal owners of the homes, and that the Arabs had squatted there illegally in an attempt to wrest control of the property from its rightful owners.

The Arab families presented documents that appeared to show Arab ownership of the homes dating back to the Ottoman period. However, the court found that the documents had been forged, and that the documents presented by the Jewish plaintiffs were legitimate.

The neighborhood in question is located near the 2,000-year-old gravesite of the sage Shimon HaTzaddik. The neighborhood was founded in the first half of the 20th century by Jewish families, but fell under Jordanian rule following the 1948 War of Independence and was quickly populated by Jordanian Arabs.

Since the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli rule in 1967, a number of Jewish families have moved back into the area. Their arrival has been greeted with hostility from local Arabs and from the Palestinian Authority, which has demanded control over the neighborhood as part of a future Arab capital city in Jerusalem.

Jewish activists have fought several legal battles in recent years regarding properties in Jerusalem and in Shimon HaTzaddik in particular. Activists say they are undeterred by the difficulties of regaining control of Jewish property, and plan to continue their efforts to reestablish a Jewish presence in historic Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Unless the mere fact of Jews living in Jerusalem is an unacceptable situation to the likes of the UN and UK, irregardless of its legality.

5:00PM: The Chief Rabbinate has condemned last night’s attack on a gay youth center as “an unthinkable, vile crime.”

4:55PM: Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has called the Fatah platform outline – which opposes recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, calls on its supporters to use civil disobedience (including violence) against Israel, and considers launching strategic dialog with Iran- a “declaration of war against Israel.”

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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