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#Opinion: Two-State Solution Slipping Away! Do Not Miss the Opportunity to Reverse the Negative Trends #Israel #Palestine @UNSCO_MEPP

03/07/2016 2 comments

The report published last week by the Quartet – the Russian Federation, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations – presents an analysis that should come as no surprise to anyone. The negative trends on the ground continue to jeopardise prospects for peace and diminish the prospects for a two-state solution.

Palestinian frustration after half a century of occupation, dozens of failed peace efforts cannot be wished away; it cannot be vanquished by aggressive security measures, continued illegal settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, arrests or punitive home demolitions. Neither is it helped when Israeli ministers openly reject the very notion of a Palestinian state, call for the complete annexation of the West Bank or rush to approve more settlement construction.

But neither will the violence and terror we are witnessing again help bring about a Palestinian state. A peaceful future for both peoples cannot emerge on the back of statements that glorify terror and justify killing; mutual respect cannot come as a result of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings.

Most Palestinians have lived with the humiliation of occupation all their lives.

They do not need the Quartet to tell them about the devastating impact of the illegal settlement enterprise on their lives, their economy, and their legitimate aspirations for an independent, sovereign, viable state. For them, a nine-page report could never fully capture what it is like to live under a military rule which governs every aspect of their daily existence and which has the power of life and death over them and their children. The shooting of 15 year old Mahmoud Raafat Badran, on his way home from a swimming pool is the latest testament to this sad predicament. No army should kill children by mistake.

Equally so, Israelis know that continuing terrorist attacks, the incitement which encourages such acts, and the ongoing militant activity in Gaza are major obstacles not just to peace, but to rebuilding trust. The recent murder of Hallel Yaffa Ariel provided further testimony to that. Heroes do not kill sleeping children. Most Israelis have lived with such fears all their lives. It is also clear that the takeover of Gaza undermines the ability to achieve and implement a negotiated solution.

Given this stark reality, Palestinians and Israelis have reached a point where many on

both sides have lost faith in the other’s commitment to a future of two states

living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition. Many of them have also grown critical of the international community – some thinking it is not doing enough to resolve this conflict while others see it as overly involved with it.

 At the end of the day, the sad reality for peoples on both sides of the conflict is that the things which they hold most dear – statehood and security – are slipping further away.

 The report published by the Quartet sends two very clear messages. First, to those who hope that the international community would somehow abandon this conflict and let it descend in a deteriorating status quo to perpetual chaos, we say: no, you are wrong. The report reflects the determination of the Russian Federation, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations not to look away, but to expose and draw attention to the problems in a more detailed and uncompromising manner than ever before and to hold the leaderships to account on their actions and inactions.

Second, to those who hope that the international community will enforce a solution on this conflict, we say: you, too, are wrong. No third party can decide for Israelis or Palestinians what compromises to make and what risks to take for peace. None of us can convince them to begin trusting each other. What the international community can and must do is to provide the parties with support and incentives to take the right path, the one towards peace, in line with commitments they have already made to each other and before the world. We must pledge to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) through negotiations in a manner that resolves all permanent status issues, meets Palestinian aspirations for statehood and Israeli security needs.

The report describes the Quartet’s view on the main obstacles blocking the path forward, and what needs to be done to overcome them. Both have been critical of the report.

But can anyone deny that violence is a problem for rebuilding trust? Who will make the argument that more cannot be done to end incitement?

Can anyone question the fact that illegal settlements, the taking of land for exclusive Israeli use and the prevention of Palestinian development in Area C of the occupied West Bank are not undermining the prospect for a two-state solution? Who will say that the Russian Federation, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations are wrong when they call for these policies to stop?

Who can question the need to fully lift the closures on Gaza, end militant activity and reunite it under one single legitimate leadership?

This conflict is so complex and so long-standing, that any expectation of a quick fix that resolves all final status issues is at best naïve, and at worst a cynical strategy to avoid the painstaking work needed to rebuild trust and create conditions for a realistic, serious and ultimately successful negotiations that will end the occupation that began in 1967 and realize a two state solution. No one is talking about yet another new transitional agreement but rather about

implementing what both sides have already agreed upon

and changing reality on the ground to pave the road for the final deal.

The Quartet report sounds an alarm bell that we are on a dangerous slope towards a one state reality that is incompatible with the national aspirations of both peoples.

The international community stands ready to engage both with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the implementation of the report’s recommendations. We believe that if they take up this challenge, in cooperation with regional actors, Palestinians and Israelis will experience a positive change in their lives and sense renewed hope – a first and necessary step towards a future in which they can each live in freedom and dignity on their ancestral homeland, as good neighbours and masters of their own fate. I urge leaders on both sides not to miss this opportunity.


this opinion piece was published or quoted in the following media:

In Full/English

·         Israeli and Palestinian Media 

Ø     Jerusalem Post, 4 July, Link

Ø     Maan News Agency, 4 July, Link

·         Forum/Blogs

Ø     Naruto Café, 6 July, Link

Excerpts/English

·         Israeli and Palestinian Media 

Ø    Times of Israel, 4 July, Link

Ø    Arutz Sheva, 4 July, Link

Ø    Jerusalem Post, 4 July, Link

Ø    Maan News Agency, 5 July, Link

·         Regional Media

Ø    Press TV (Iran), 4 July, Link

Ø    Al-Bawaba, 4 July, Link

·      International

Ø    Reuters, 3 July, Link

Ø    Reuters, 4 July, Link

Ø    Reuters, 5 July, Link

Ø    Breitbart, 4 July, Link

Ø    Camera, 6 July, Link

Ø    Sputnik, 7 July, Link

Ø    Russia Today, 4 July, Link

Ø    The Nation (UAE), 4 July, Link

Ø    The Forward, 3 July, Link

Ø    EuroNews, 4 July, Link

Ø    Business Insider (UK), 3 July, Link

Ø    New Europe, 5 July, Link

Ø    Daily Mail, 3 July, Link

Ø    Germany Sun, 5 July, Link

Excerpts/Arabic

·         Palestinian Media

Ø     Al-Quds Newspaper, 3 July, Link

Ø     Al-Ayyam Newspaper, 4 July, Link

Ø     PalSawa, 3 July, Link

Ø     Palestine News Network (PNN), 4 July, Link

Ø     Amad, 3 July, Link

Ø     Shams News Agency, 4 July, Link

Ø     Panet, 5 July, Link

Ø     Arab48, 3 July, Link

Ø     Al-Hourriah, 9 July, Link

·         Regional Media 

Ø     Al-Arabiya, 3 July, Link

Ø     Sky News Arabic, 3 July, Link

Ø     Al-Hurra, 4 July, Link

Ø     Al-Mayadeen, 4 July, Link

Ø     Al-Bayan (UAE), 4 July, Link

Ø     Masr Al-Arabia, 4 July, Link

Ø     Lebanon Daily, 4 July, Link

Ø     Al-Rai, 5 July, Link

Ø     Al-Mydan, 4 July, Link

Ø     New Middle East, 4 July, Link

Ø     Al-Khaleej, 4 July, Link

Ø     Sana (Syria), 4 July, Link

·         International Media

Ø     Reuters, 3 July, Link

Ø     Russia Today, 4 July, Link

 

الأطفال ليسوا جنودا

12/06/2015 Leave a comment

القدس، 11 حزيران 2015 – في تاريخ 8 حزيران، أصدر الأمين العام  

 للأمم المتحدة تقريرا طال انتظاره حول الأطفال والنزاعات المسلحة في العام 2014. لقد شهد العام الماضي تحديات غير مسبوقة لحماية عشرات الملايين من الأطفال الذين ينشأون في البلدان المتأثرة بالنزاعات. في العراق وسوريا، قام تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام بخطف أكثر من ألف فتاة وفتى. في احدى الحوادث التي حصلت في حلب في سوريا، قام التنظيم بخطف ما يقارب 150 من الصبية الصغار فور انتهائهم من أمتحاناتهم المدرسية وبينما كانوا بطريق عودتهم لمنازلهم. وفي حادثة أخرى، أصدر التنظيم وثيقة تبرر الاسترقاق الجنسي للفتيات اليزيدية اللواتي تم خطفهم في العراق. أما في نيجيريا، فقد قامت جماعة بوكو حرام بخطف المئات من الفتيات.

لقد كان عام 2014 مدمرا في دولة فلسطين وبالأخص بما يتعلق بالأطفال. ويبين التقرير بشكل واضح على أن الأمين العام قلق جدا بشأن الزيادة الهائلة في عدد الأطفال الذين قتلوا وجرحوا في الأرض الفلسطينية المحتلة، حيث فقد 557 من الأطفال حياتهم في العام الماضي. وهذا العدد هو ثالث اعلى عدد من الأطفال الذين قتلوا في العالم بعد أفغانستان (710) والعراق (679). لا ينبغي لأي من الوالدين أن يضطر لدفن طفله أو طفلته، ولا ينبغي حرمان أي أسرة من أبتسامة وفرح أطفالها. ان وراء كل هذه الأرقام المروعة تكمن مأساة إنسانية، اننل لن ننسى هؤلاء العائلات الذين فقدوا أحبائهم في صلواتنا وأفكارنا.

ان استمرار الاحتلال يؤثر على حياة الأطفال من جميع أطراف الصراع. ففي رفح قتل كل من محمد،6 أعوام، وأخاه أمير، 12 عام، خارج منزلهم بواسطة صاروخ أطلق من طائرة بدون طيار. في حين قتل دانيل، 4 أعوام، بواسطة صاروخ عشوائي أطلق من غزة. كلتا الأسرتين، الفلسطينية والإسرائيلية، يحزنون لهم على حد سواء.

مقتل طفل واحد يعتبر عددا كبيرا

أنه لمن المحزن أنه في عام 2014، تحمل الأطفال، عبء الهجوم العسكري الواسع والذي يعد الثالث في غزة خلال السنوات الستة الماضية. ان عدد الأطفال الفلسطينيين الذيت قتلوا في الحرب الأخيرة قد فاق مجموع ما قتل من الأطفال خلال الحربين السابقتين. ففي خلال الخمسين يوما ما بين تاريخ 8 تموز و26 اب، قتل ما لا يقل عن 540 طفلا فلسطينيا (70% منهم تقل أعمارهم عن 12 عاما). وأصيب ما لا يقل عن 2,955 طفلا فلسطينيا، وتشير التقديرات الأولية على أنه ما لا يقل عن 1,000 من هؤلاء الأطفال سيعانون من عجز دائم.

وفي الضفة الغربية، قتل 13 فتى فلسطيني يتراوح أعمارهم ما بين 11-17 عاما. وفي تاريخ 15 أيار 2014، تم اطلاق الرصاص الحي على أثنين من الفتية الفلسطينيين مما أدى الى مقتلهم خلال مواجهات مع جنود اسرائيليين قرب حاجز بيتونيا. وتشير التقارير على أن الأطفال لم يظهروا بشكل يدل على انهم يشكلون تهديدا قاتلا. وبعد شهر من ذلك تم اختطاف ثلاثة شبان اسرائيليين، وفي وقت لاحق تم العثور على جثثهم الثلاثة قرب مدينة حلحول في شمال الخليل. ومن الفظيع أنه قبل حوالي العام، تم حرق محمد أبو خضير وهو على قيد الحياة في هجوم انتقامي على ما يبدو لخطف وقتل الشبان الإسرائيليين. وقد تم ألقاء القبض وتوجيه التهم لثلاثة مدنيين إسرائيليين، من بينهم اثنان تقل أعمارهم عن 18 عاما. ان من بين 1,218 طفل أصيبوا في الضفة الغربية، تقل أعمار نصفهم عن 12 عاما، و91% منهم أصيبوا خلال مواجهات في مدينتي الخليل والقدس الشرقية.

الأطفال ليسوا جنودا

إنه لمؤلم جدا مجرد كتابة هذه الكلمات والأرقام والتفكير في الدمارالذي لحق بالآلاف من الأسر. ان الأطفال ليسوا جنودا وينبغي أن يتم حمايتهم من العنف. بغض النظر أين يعيش هؤلاء الأطفال، فإن حياتهم ثمينة على حد سواء. لا ينبغي أن تعرض مدارسهم الى الخطر عن طريق إخفاء الأسلحة فيها، ولا ينبغي أيضا أن تتعرض الى القصف. لا ينبغي تجنيد الأطفال للقتال، ولا ينبغي سوء معاملتهم أو تهديدهم أو قتلهم.

يوضح التقرير مدى غضب الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة عن ما حدث لأطفال غزة العام الماضي. ان التقرير هو أكثر من مجرد قائمة، فينبغي أن يقرأ بأكمله. أن الأمم المتحدة تواصل رصد وتوثيق الوضع في فلسطين وإسرائيل، وقد كنا منذ سنوات عديدة قلقين إزاء تأثير النزاع على الأطفال هناك. أن هذا القلق آخذ بالازدياد.

لا يمكن لهذا العدد الهائل من الأطفال الذين قتلوا في غزة العام الماضي أن يمر دون عواقب. لقد أصدر الأمين العام دعوة قوية جدا الى اسرائيل باتخاذ خطوات ملموسة وفورية لحماية ومنع قتل الأطفال أوتعريضهم للأذى، بما في ذلك من خلال مراجعة السياسات والممارسات القائمة وضمان مساءلة مرتكبي الانتهاكات المزعومة. ولقد حذر بشدة جميع الأطراف التي تنخرط في العمل العسكري الذي ينتج عنه العديد من الانتهاكات الجسيمة ضد الأطفال، بغض النظر عن النوايا، على أنها سوف تخضع لتدقيق مستمر من قبل الأمم المتحدة، بما في ذلك من خلال التقارير وآلية الأدراج التي أنشأها مجلس الأمن. أن من واجب السلطات الإسرائيلية والفلسطينية ضمان اجراء تحقيقات في الاتهمات التي تنتهك القانون الدولي الإنساني وحقوق الإنسان بشكل سريع وفعال ومستقل ودون تحيز، وتقديم المسؤولين عنها للعدالة.

تهدف اللأمم المتحدة من خلال اصدارها لهذا التقرير الى زيادة الوعي العالمي حول الانتهاكات وضمان المساءلة لجميع الأطراف التي يتم توثيق ممارساتها في التقرير – في سبيل الوصول للهدف النهائي وهو وقف ومنع انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان ضد الأطفال. ان الحقائق المروعة الواردة في التقرير تتحدث عن نفسها. ان هذه الحقائق تعتبر إهانة لضمائرنا جميعا. لقد توجه الشعب في الارض الفلسطينية المحتلة الى المجتمع الدولي لبذل كل الجهد الممكن في التوصل إلى سلام عادل مبني على أساس حل الدولتين، حيث فلسطين وإسرائيل تعيشان جنبا إلى جنب في سلام وأمن. ويقع على مسؤوليتنا تحقيق هذا المطلب من أجل أن يحظى أطفال هذه الأرض بالمستقبل الذي يستحقون.

As published in Al Quds Newspaper on June 11 2015

 

#Children are not #soldiers @UNSCO_MEPP

11/06/2015 1 comment

Children sitting on top of the ruins of their bedroom in Gaza.

On 8 June, the UN Secretary General published a much anticipated report on Children and Armed Conflict in 2014. Last year saw unprecedented challenges for the protection of tens of millions of children growing up in countries affected by conflict. In Iraq and Syria, over one thousand girls and boys were abducted by ISIL. In one incident in Syria, ISIL abducted approximately 150 young boys on their way home from school exams in Aleppo. It also issued a document justifying the sexual slavery of Yezidi girls abducted in Iraq. In Nigeria, Boko Haram abducted hundreds of girls.

This period was particularly devastating for children in the State of Palestine. The report clearly shows that the Secretary-General is deeply alarmed by the dramatic increase in the number of children killed and injured in the occupied Palestinian territory, where last year 557 children lost their lives. This is the third highest number of children killed in the world after Afghanistan (710) and Iraq (679). No parent should have to bury his or her child, no family should be deprived of the laughter and joy of their children. Behind each of these shocking numbers lies a human tragedy and our prayers and thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their loved ones.

The occupation continues to affect the lives of children on all sides of the conflict. Mohammed, aged 6, and his brother Amir, aged 12, were killed by a drone missile outside their house in Rafah. Daniel, aged 4, was killed by indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza. Both families, Palestinian and Israeli, grieve equally for their children.

One child killed is one child too many…

Sadly, in 2014 children have borne the brunt of the third major military offensive in Gaza in six years. The number of Palestinian child casualties in this latest conflict exceeds the combined number killed during the two previous escalations. In the 50 days between 8 July and 26 August, at least 540 Palestinian children were killed (70 per cent of them under 12), and at least 2,955 Palestinian children were injured; preliminary estimates indicate that up to 1,000 of them will be permanently disabled.

In the West Bank, 13 Palestinian boys, aged 11 to 17 years, lost their lives. On 15 May 2014, two Palestinian boys were shot and killed with live ammunition during clashes with Israeli soldiers near Beituniya Checkpoint. Reports indicate that they did not appear to pose a lethal threat. One month later three Israeli youths were abducted. Their bodies were later found near Halhul in northern Hebron. Most shockingly, almost exactly one year ago Muhammad Abu Khudair was burned alive in an apparent revenge attack for the kidnapping and killing of the Israeli youths. Three Israeli civilians were arrested and charged, including two under the age of 18 years. Of the 1,218 children injured in the West Bank, more than half were under age 12, and 91 per cent were injured during confrontations in Hebron and East Jerusalem.

Children are not soldiers

It is painful to even write these words and these numbers and to think of the devastation wrought upon thousands of families. Children are not soldiers and they should be protected from violence. It does not matter where they live, their lives are equally precious. Their schools should not be put at risk by hiding weapons in them, nor should they be bombed; they should not be recruited to fight, nor should they be abused, threatened or killed.

The report makes unmistakably clear how angry the United Nations Secretary-General is with what happened to the children of Gaza last year. The report is more than just a list, it should be read in its entirety. The UN continues to monitor and document the situation in Palestine and Israel and for many years we have been concerned about the impact of the conflict on children there. This concern is growing.

The staggering number of children killed in Gaza last year cannot remain without consequence. The Secretary-General has issued a very strong call on Israel to take concrete and immediate steps to protect and prevent the killing and maiming of children, including through the review of existing policies and practices and by ensuring accountability for perpetrators of alleged violations. He has also firmly warned that all parties that engage in military action which results in grave violations against children, regardless of intent, will be subject to continued United Nations scrutiny, including through the reporting and listing mechanism established by the Security Council. The Israeli and the Palestinian authorities have an obligation to ensure that allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law are promptly, effectively, independently, and impartially investigated, and that those responsible are brought to justice.

By publishing the report, the UN aims to raise global awareness of the violations and to ensure the accountability of all parties whose actions are documented in the report – with the ultimate aim to stop and prevent human rights violations against children. The shocking facts presented in the report speak for themselves. They are an affront to our collective conscience. In the occupied Palestinian territory, people look to the international community to expend every effort to bring about a just peace on the basis of a two-state solution where Palestine and Israel live side by side in peace and security. It is our responsibility to make this happen so that the children of these lands have the future they are entitled to.

The Arabic version of the article was published in Arabic in Al-Quds Newspaper on June 11th 2015