Trump’s embassy move is a gift to extremists

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This article is also published at The New Arab
Days into Trump’s inauguration, millions of Palestinians and Israelis are waiting for a
decision that could destroy all hopes of any upcoming peace resolution. Comments made during his campaign which promised Israel to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv are causing tensions.

The decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a big one. Palestinians consider Jerusalem as their capital, and Israelis have been attempting to shift their capital to Jerusalem too, claiming Solomon’s temple under the al-Aqsa mosque.
Trump’s step will overturn the international agreements including the 1947’s UN partition plan that considered Jerusalem an international city, the western part under the Israeli authority and the eastern under the Jordanian authority after the war of 1948. After the 1967 war, the old city fell to full Israeli control.
Trump’s inauguration sent Palestinians a clear message that the threat of moving the embassy is real, appearing on Israeli media saying that he is, “not a person who breaks promises.” Trump’s promise is a destructive one for Palestinians, who consider themselves victims of any new American administration, while a gift for Israel. Many Israelis, even the right-winged, never consider moving the embassy to Jerusalem a priority for them.
Considering it an Islamic capital for the entire of the Islamic and Arab world, Muslims and Arabs all over the world oppose this step, it will not only ignite a new Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but one between Israel and the Arab world.

Speaking during his sermon at the al-Aqsa mosque in the old city, the Palestinian Authority’s Sheikh Muhammed Hussien, said that moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is not only an assault against Palestinians, but also an assault against Arabs and Muslims who would not stay silent.

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a red line for Jordan, inflame the Arab and Islamic streets, and serve as a gift for extremists
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, during his visit to the Vatican to open the Palestinian embassy in the city, warned that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would not help the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis. The President added that if the embassy is relocated to Jerusalem, the Middle East will enter a crisis no one would be able to overcome; adding that anything would disrupt Jerusalem is, “a red line that we will not accept.”
Abbas’ warning against Trump’s decision also comes days after Sultan Abu al-Einein, a Fatah Central Committee member, had said that this step would set a new violent uprising between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Any American act of stupidity would ignite the Palestinian lands.” Abu al-Einein added.
Palestinian international diplomats have added to the warnings. Senior PLO official, Saeb Erekat, threatened that if the US moves its embassy to the Old City, Palestinians will no longer recognize Israel as a state, pointing out again that the Israeli government is igniting war against Arabs and Muslims all round the world.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians poured out in streets of the occupied West Bank against the decision waving Palestinian flags, calling Donald Trump not to go on with his decision. The protesters held signs saying that relocating the US embassy is a new Balfour promise for the Palestinian people.
“We will not give up on our capital,” demonstrators shouted.
Jordan, as an ally to the US, has warned against this decision. In his interview with AP, the Jordanian minister of information, Mohammed Momani, said that this step could affect the relations between America and regional allies, including Jordan.
“Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a red line for Jordan, inflame the Arab and Islamic streets, and serve as a gift for extremists,” Momani said.
Former American President, Barack Obama, was also one of those opposing the move, adding that if the American embassy moved to Jerusalem, it would be explosive. He suggested that the step would end the two-state resolution between Palestinians and Israelis.
Longtime Israeli columnist and co-author, Akiva Eldar, added that no serious person, or even the secret service, would accept the relocation with the situation being “so fragile” currently.

In a move that appears to attempt to sooth the Arabs, Walid Phares, Arab advisor to the new American President, said that the President’s decision is a complex one, and would take a long time to implement. Phares added that Trump is concerned and seeks to achieve peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Mohammed Arafat

26-01-2017 

 

 

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Dear Trump: A message from Gaza to the US new leader

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This letter is also published at FOSNA Voice

For the desk of:

His Excellency, President Donald Trump

The American President

USA

From the desk of:

Mohammed Arafat

A Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip

Palestine

Dear President, Mr. Donald Trump,

My name is Mohammed Arafat, a three-war old Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip where more than 1.816 million people are suffering from the aftermath of the continuous siege! We have been under this siege since 2006, affecting every aspect of our life, the life I wonder whether we deserve.

You don’t know how much we Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been waiting for the American Presidential elections’ results since we know that the American leader can make a change in our lives. You have won the presidency, and we have been a little shocked because of your declarations, during your campaign, which were biased to Israel. We were really shocked over your declaration of banning Muslims from entering Muslims the U.S as well as the one of moving the US consulate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Dear President, I know we are just a small enclave that is incomparable to other countries having civil wars and other conflicts, like Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. However, we are still humans wishing to live a normal life like others.

Mr. Trump, do you believe that more than the half of Palestinians in this area can’t travel abroad to do what they seek to do? Some wish to travel to pursue their studies in Europe or in your country so they can serve and help the lives of civilians residing in this Strip. Others wish to travel to get treatments that they can’t get inside this cage!

Mr. President, do you believe that the rate of unemployment between graduated educated youths has exceeded 60%? Youths here are looking for jobs with a salary of at least 100$ to just get food for themselves and their families. Palestinians in this area are known of the best skillful and talented people though compared to many other countries, but they are in a cage its key is between your hands. Do we deserve that Sir?

Dear Sir, have you ever tried living in darkness just for one night in your life? If so, how did you feel? Do you believe that in Gaza we just have four hours of power per day, while many people with special needs cannot live without access to it? A lot of organizations, factories and bakeries have been affected by this crisis that no one could help to solve until this moment! I am pretty sure that you have pets at the Trump Tower, and I am pretty sure that they have access to light, warmth and the life requirements! It’s not a kind of envy or something else, but it’s just a wonder whether we are humans or not.

Mr. President, do you know how many have been killed during the last three wars on Gaza? More than 3400 Gazans, most of whom were women and children, were the victims of those brutalities in few days only. Moreover, media did not care about this number which seems large. On the other hand, I have a question for your Excellency! What if an American man is killed? Would not the world stand out and never sit? I really do not know why we are being unvalued while others are. I wonder why we are being ignored while others are not! I wonder why we are not backed while others are!

Dear Mr. Donald Trump, I am sorry I took some of your precious time, but I am trying to make you feel how we feel! I am trying to make you know the suffering we have been through since a decade, and we are still the same; no changes! We all know that the American policy can change the current situation between Israelis and Palestinians, and we know that your respectful administration can do something to make both sides, finally live peacefully! I want to tell you to please not to believe those who say both sides will never ever have peace. You, everyone and I know that there are good people from both sides needing peace, love and happiness to be showered over them, to make them forget the bad memories, hatred and hypocrite that have killed our lives and dreams for decades. We only hope from you to separate politics from humanities because we know politics are always ways to wars and conflicts!

Dear President, as Palestinians wishing to have a country with Jerusalem to be a capital, we have heard about your declaration about moving the US consulate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and we all are hurtful for that! I think you know that this decision might kill the hopes of peace in this area, and maybe in the Middle East as a whole. As a result, we kindly ask you to please don’t move the consulate to Jerusalem so we can avoid any confrontations or violence between both sides since we are peace demanders!

Dear Sir, I am sorry if I spoiled your mood with my words, but here is a short poem that I ask you to please read while drinking a cup of coffee:

Being Palestinian is not a crime,

We want to achieve peace over time,

We have suffered enough,

Our life has been tough,

Humans we are after all,

Why is there a high wall?

We need to live a normal life,

With lots of joys without any strife,

We are hopeful for you, Mr. Trump,

Fear, violence and terror we need to dump,

Remember us while at the White House,

With beautiful family and your spouse,

We don’t ask for money or fame,

We just need you to end this game,

Palestinians are peace demanders,

Please, don’t believe fake slanders,

Would you please cease this conflict?

Would our days be light or strict?

We believe in you, dear Sir,

Knowing you will make peace occur,

Much respect for you and love,

Much mercy and greets from above,

Mohammed Arafat

23-01-2017

Get Me Out of Here: Gaza’s marriage crisis

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This is also published on The New Arab

The daily life of Palestinians in Gaza is hard to imagine. In a densely populated area, the problems go far beyond not having food, jobs or a balanced life.

Many single Gazans consider marriage an important aspect of life and a way to provide emotional, social and physical support in the face of hardships.

Since 2006, thousands have graduated and have embarked on a job search in the hopes of securing a better life for themselves.

The continuous conflict between Palestinians and Israelis on one hand, Fatah and Hamas on the other and the unemployment crisis has forced the youth to fall into despondency.

Young men, to find a way to cope, have resorted to fleeing the Gaza Strip, leaving a large deficit in the population ratio. Around 230,000 Gazans are unemployed, and poverty is at an all-time high of 65 percent.

Official Palestinian statistics show that there are 125,000 single women of marriageable age, in a population of 180,000.

Researchers link the marriage crisis to several reasons; the three wars that left thousands of young men dead and the unemployment crisis that forced thousands more to immigrate to other countries in the hope that they can find their future there.

Studies have also revealed however that many young people in Gaza, who are able to marry, refuse to do so, from a fear of what the future may hold; and looming threats of a war that can end their dreams entirely.

With the cost of a wedding exceeding $10,000, marriage does not come cheap. The average dowry can range anything from five to seven thousand dollars, while many families on the brides’ side request an apartment as a condition for marriage. With an average income for those employed at $300, and rent at $400, the cost is often too high for those wanting marriage.

A decade ago, life in the Strip was cheaper than now due to the assistance the Palestinian Authority could get from Israel when it was governing Gaza. Thousands of Palestinians from Gaza were able to work in Israel with monthly salaries around $1500, allowing them to go about their lives with more ease.

With the cost of a wedding exceeding $10,000, marriage does not come cheap

Since Hamas took control in 2006, and the resulting restrictions that came about from air, sea and ground, life in the Gaza Strip became a lot more costly; with goods rarely able to enter Gaza from time to time through Israeli and Egyptian borders.

With an ongoing siege, unemployment and a rapidly growing population, it has become harder to live and tolerate the high costs.

Palestinians are no longer able to work inside Israel, and jobs in the Strip have declined due to the high demand and low supply in the labour market, affecting most of Gaza’s families financially.

Mohammad Abdulrahman, a worker at Gaza’s social court, said that many young men leave their fiancées due to financial constraints. Social stigma, he added, prevents men from approaching women for marriage.

“The rate of marriage decreased in 2016,” Mohammed confirmed. “And the rate of divorce increased in the same year.”

Nora, 28, speaks about her experience. “I refused many grooms who came to ask for my hand so I could complete my studies.

“After graduating, some asked for my hand, but most put down the condition of me having a job – practically impossible in Gaza.

“What made me feel bad is that most of those who came to ask my hand after graduation were old and married men needing me to ‘serve’ them and their children,” Nora explained.

Despite being young, Nora talks about how the culture in Gaza has changed, and how many families look for girls aged 18 to 20 for their sons. “If the girl is 25, then she is considered old!”

If the girl is 25, then she is considered old!

Wisam, 34, shared his story while sitting beside his wooden cart. “I live with my family,” he began, “and I am the only one working for my family.”

He paused as though he did not want to say something, and then resumed: “My family consists of six, I share a room with three of my brothers, and of course I do not think of marriage.

“I really can’t marry because most of the families ask for impossible conditions before discussing marrying their daughters, and I can’t afford any of that,” he added.

The widespread problem however, still holds social stigma. Many were reluctant to share their stories on public platforms and we could only interview Nora and Wisam.

But what I did find was that marriage in Gaza is just one more impossible dream.

Mohammed Arafat

18-01-2017

 

Paris talks: What’s next?

1117c4248d3eea5d204aadc0f4e355a7a6171ea7Palestinians’ eyes and hearts were waiting for the Paris talks between Palestinian Authority in one hand and the Israeli government in the other hand. A lot of politicians meanwhile have asserted the conference would bring in peace between both sides. However, the talks have finished with a meal, report and a group photo compromised some of international leaders who promised to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

While our leaders are hopeful of the Paris talks and the road map they planned to have in the French capital, Israeli army is still committing crimes, murdering Palestinian youths in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank, and constructing illegal settlements on Palestinian private lands.

After he had considered Paris conference ‘absurd’, Israeli Prime Minister’s policy with the Palestinians seems to be clear now. He is happy with neither the two-state resolution nor the one-resolution, which harden the conflict, posing threats that the area is going to have some changes, either on the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.

Furthermore, Palestine is already having internal conflict between the two main parties, Fatah and Hamas, that could not solve their ‘personal’ issues until this moment, even though they have had talks in several countries, including Qatar, Egypt, and Russia the current time. Their conflict, ‘ornamented’ with strong-worded statements, controversial discussions, and polemics, has already destroyed the hopes of those who reside in the Strip and the West Bank.

The conciliation is considered the main crisis affecting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, whether it’s discussed within talks in Paris, USA or any other country, since both parties are trading blames between each other over the current situations, leaving Palestinians living in darkness, unemployment and carelessness, giving us signs that Palestinians, especially in the Strip, are on verge of explosion.

Yet, millions of Palestinians, refugees or non, are still waiting for any solutions that can uproot the conflict entirely so they can finally catch a clear life. However, the rational ones know that the current situation can change only if our internal conflict stops.

Palestinians’ eyes and hearts were waiting for the Paris talks between Palestinian Authority in one hand and the Israeli government in the other hand. A lot of politicians meanwhile have asserted the conference would bring in peace between both sides. However, the talks have finished with a meal, report and a group photo compromised some of international leaders who promised to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

While our leaders are hopeful of the Paris talks and the road map they planned to have in the French capital, Israeli army is still committing crimes, murdering Palestinian youths in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank, and constructing illegal settlements on Palestinian private lands.

After he had considered Paris conference ‘absurd’, Israeli Prime Minister’s policy with the Palestinians seems to be clear now. He is happy with neither the two-state resolution nor the one-resolution, which harden the conflict, posing threats that the area is going to have some changes, either on the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.

Furthermore, Palestine is already having internal conflict between the two main parties, Fatah and Hamas, that could not solve their ‘personal’ issues until this moment, even though they have had talks in several countries, including Qatar, Egypt, and Russia the current time. Their conflict, ‘ornamented’ with strong-worded statements, controversial discussions, and polemics, has already destroyed the hopes of those who reside in the Strip and the West Bank.

The conciliation is considered the main crisis affecting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, whether it’s discussed within talks in Paris, USA or any other country, since both parties are trading blames between each other over the current situations, leaving Palestinians living in darkness, unemployment and carelessness, giving us signs that Palestinians, especially in the Strip, are on verge of explosion.

Yet, millions of Palestinians, refugees or non, are still waiting for any solutions that can uproot the conflict entirely so they can finally catch a clear life. However, the rational ones know that the current situation can change only if our internal conflict stops.

Mohammed Arafat

17-01-2017

Fuse blown: Gaza living on four hours of power

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 This article is also published on The Arab News

While people around the world try to reach Mars and work on inventions almost unimaginable that would better people’s lives, the Gaza Strip is still suffering from a power shortage problem affecting every aspect of life. A problem only exacerbated by the freezing weather and the dropping temperatures.

Students struggle to study for their final exams, patients have their health compromised in hospitals and children and elders alive suffering and trying to understand whether this problem is going to fixed or not. Over ten years ago, Israel destroyed a large part of the power plant located in central Gaza after the abduction of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, by Hamas militants. Since then, the electricity crisis has controlled every aspect of life in Gaza, an ongoing concern.

Local and international organisations have suggested numerous solutions in the past ten years to solve the crisis, leading to the reconstruction of the destroyed power station. Yet the crisis persists, and the three concerned sides, the Palestinian authority, Hamas and the Israeli government continue to trade off blame among each other.

Tensions and anger are rising in the Gaza Strip as power cuts exceed 18 hours a day. Hundreds of angry demonstrators have poured into the streets, protesting against the Gaza electricity company and the government, demanding them to find a solution that everyone in the Strip is suffering from. Protesters have asserted that electricity is a right every human needs and it must be provided for all.

Like hundreds of students in Gaza, Abdullah, a university student, explains how he can’t concentrate on studying and preparing for his exams since the power only comes three hours a day. “Sometimes, it is off the whole day”, he adds, saying that he uses chargeable torches to get him through his studies – when he can manage to charge them.

The elderly are also facing issues. Huda Ahmed, who depends on her medical air mattress for her back ache, has spoken about her suffering during the night. “I don’t know why we’re facing these troubles,” Huda says. “We’re humans, and we need power in our daily lives, it’s a right everyone should have!”

Some social media activists have accused the Hamas government in the besieged Strip of arresting protestors in the demonstrations held in Gaza’s suburbs. Comments blaming both Fatah and Hamas of being careless towards their people and criticising their uncompromising stance fill social media.

Politicians meanwhile, insist that the continuous power shortage problem tightens the noose on Gazans, and warn that Gaza is on the verge of explosion against both the government ruling it, and the occupation holding it under siege.

In a strongly worded statement, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has said that the power crisis is being exacerbated which worsens the sufferings of the Palestinians living in Gaza, while solutions are still “in the drawers of the governors.” The statement has also accused the Palestinian political parties of aborting the suggested initiatives that aimed to solve the problem, focusing on themselves and forgetting the citizens.

Tarek Lubad, spokesman for the Gaza electricity company being held responsible, said that the company suffers from shortages of fuel needed for the power plant, and the remaining amount can only run one generator. Lubad added that the crash of Egyptian power cables into Gaza has also aggravated the crisis.

The Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority had its own claims as well, demanding from the responsible sides to open Kerem Shalom border crossing and to provide the power plant with the fuel needed for the second generator. The Palestinian Prime Minister meanwhile, has relieved the minister of the Palestinian Energy, Omer Katana, from his position.

In the midst of the blame game, the people in Gaza are demanding from those responsible to separate the power cut issue from the political battles between the Palestinian parties, urging both Fatah and Hamas to accelerate the reconciliation process and to look after the needs of their people.

Mohammed Arafat

13-01-2017 

My Experience Being Deported from Apartheid Israel, Part Three.

By Altaaf Adam

DEPORTATION “You’re being denied access.” “After all that,” I thought. That earlier feeling of power quickly diminished and I felt defeated, powerless and empty. I was angry. I was very angry and I…

Source: My Experience Being Deported from Apartheid Israel, Part Three.