Emergency UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday to discuss Israeli aggression

Palestinian relatives mourn over the death of 29-years-old Yussef al-Fassih during his funeral after he was shot dead by Israeli soldiers the day before, in Khan Yunis on June 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2018
0

Emergency UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday to discuss Israeli aggression

  • At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30
  • The Jewish state maintains a crippling blockade of Gaza

UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency meeting next Wednesday at 3 p.m. to vote on an Arab-backed resolution on Gaza, the body’s President Miroslav Lajcak announced Friday.

The resolution will condemn Israel, and will be similar to one vetoed by the US in the Security Council last week, which called for protecting Palestinians from Israeli aggression, according to diplomats.
It comes as four Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border on Friday, as weeks of deadly clashes with protesters continued.
There are no vetoes in the 193-member world body, but while Security Council resolutions are legally binding, General Assembly resolutions are not.
“We will work next week to get the maximum number of votes,” a diplomat from a country that supported the measure told AFP.
Arab countries turned to the General Assembly in December after the US vetoed a Security Council vote on a resolution to condemn its decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

December resolution
Fourteen members of the Security Council backed the December resolution, though the US as well as the council’s four other permanent members retain a right to veto.
The measure then received 128 votes out of 193 in the General Assembly.
A diplomatic source said the emergency meeting had been pushed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League.
Several European countries have tried to dissuade Palestinians and Arab countries from demanding a vote in the General Assembly after last week’s US veto.
“Everyone told them not to do it,” said a diplomat on condition of anonymity, arguing the resolution could be counterproductive if it doesn’t receive at least as many votes as the one obtained in December on Jerusalem.
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, condemned the planned resolution.
“It is unfortunate that instead of condemning the terrorists of Hamas, some countries are looking to satisfy their domestic political needs by bashing Israel at the United Nations,” Danon said in a statement.
It is not entirely clear what form of protection the Palestinians of Gaza are seeking, from observers to a full blown peacekeeping force.
Arab states have recently turned to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make proposals on this matter. But according to a diplomat who asked for anonymity, he said he needed a mandate from the Security Council to look further into the issue.
On Friday, four Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers near the border fence during new clash-ridden protests in the blockaded enclave.
At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30. There have been no Israeli casualties.
Protests peaked on May 14 when at least 61 Palestinians were killed in protests to coincide with the controversial opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem

Crippling blockade
The Jewish state maintains a crippling blockade of Gaza it says is necessary to isolate Hamas.
Critics say it amount to collective punishment of the territory’s two million residents.
The resolution expected to be put to a vote also demands that Israel refrain from the use of excessive force and “deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas.” It calls for an immediate cease-fire.
The Palestinians are also strongly backing an investigation into events in Gaza by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council and a separate General Assembly investigation, said Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour.
“We are mobilizing all of our efforts with as many as we can reach from groups and member states to receive the largest number of votes possible to support us,” Mansour said.


Palestinian protest icon goes from jail cell to VIP suite

Updated 21 October 2018
0

Palestinian protest icon goes from jail cell to VIP suite

  • Tamimi is on a victory tour, crisscrossing Europe and the Middle East as a superstar of the campaign against Israeli occupation
  • She gained international attention last year when she confronted an Israeli soldier in front of her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh

JERUSALEM: When Israel locked up Ahed Tamimi for slapping a soldier last year, it hoped to finally silence the teenage Palestinian activist. Instead, it created an international celebrity.
Less than three months after walking out of prison, Tamimi is on a victory tour, crisscrossing Europe and the Middle East as a superstar of the campaign against Israeli occupation. She has spoken to throngs of adoring fans, met world leaders and was even welcomed by the Real Madrid soccer club.
The VIP reception has dismayed Israeli officials and is prompting some to ask if Israel mishandled the case.
“We could have been smarter,” said Yoaz Hendel, a media commentator and former spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Tamimi gained international attention last year when she confronted an Israeli soldier in front of her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. She kicked and slapped him, and then took a swing at a second soldier in a videotaped incident that spread quickly on social media.
Tamimi’s extended family has long been on Israel’s radar screen. Nabi Saleh is home to some 600 people, most of them members of the clan. For years, they have held weekly protests against the expansion of a nearby Israeli settlement, gatherings that sometimes turn to stone-throwing, prompting Israeli troops to respond with tear gas, rubber bullets or live fire.
For Israelis, the Tamimis are a group of provocateurs intent on manipulating the media to hurt the country’s image. One cousin, Ahlam Tamimi, was an accomplice to a suicide bombing. Among Palestinians, they are seen as brave heroes standing up to Israel.
But neither side anticipated the fallout from last December’s standoff, which occurred during one of the weekly protests.
The military said it moved in after villagers began throwing stones at troops. In the video, Tamimi and her cousin, Nour, walk toward the two soldiers. Tamimi tells the soldiers to leave, pushes and kicks them and slaps one of them.
As the cousin films the scene on her mobile phone, Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, arrives. At one point, she steps between Ahed and the soldiers, but then also tries to push back the soldiers, who do not respond. Ahed Tamimi later said that she was upset because a cousin had been shot in the face by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli troops.
As the video spread, Palestinians celebrated Ahed as a hero. Cartoons, posters and murals portrayed her as a Joan of Arc-like character, confronting the Israeli military with her mane of long, dirty-blond curls flowing in the breeze.
In Israel, the incident set off its own uproar. While the army praised the soldiers for showing restraint, politicians felt the army had been humiliated and called for tough action against the young firebrand. Days later, in an overnight raid, troops entered Tamimi’s house and took her and her mother away. Both were given eight-month prison sentences.
Israel has traditionally been obsessive about defending its image — making the term “hasbara,” which roughly translates as public relations, part of its national lexicon. But as the country has moved toward the right under the decade-long rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, charm has been replaced increasingly with confrontation.
Netanyahu, an admirer of President Donald Trump, rarely speaks to the media anymore and often lashes out at reporters for what he believes is unfair coverage. Under his watch, Israel has tried to weaken liberal advocacy groups critical of his policies, detained Jewish American critics at the airport for questioning and banned people who boycott the Jewish state from entering. It attempted to expel an American woman who will be studying at an Israeli university, accusing her of being a boycott activist. She was held in detention for two weeks until Israel’s Supreme Court overturned the expulsion order.
While widely supported at home, these policies risk backfiring on the international stage.
Weeks after her release from prison, Tamimi began a tour that has taken her to France, Spain, Greece, Tunisia and Jordan. At nearly every stop, she has been welcomed by cheering crowds.
“I don’t like living as a celebrity. It’s not an easy life to live. I’m exhausted,” she said in a telephone interview from the Jordanian capital, Amman. “But what I like more is delivering the message of my people. That makes me feel proud.”
She kicked off her tour on Sept. 14 in Paris, where she participated in the Communist Party’s “Humanity” rally. The popular weekend festival attracts rockers, rappers and other entertainers and celebrities. On the festival’s last day, she spoke to thousands of cheering supporters. She traveled to other cities around France at the invitation of the France Palestine Solidarity Association.
In Greece, she was a headliner for the 100th-anniversary celebration of the country’s Communist party, KKE. Addressing a crowd of thousands, she was interrupted by several long ovations and chants of “Freedom for Palestine.”
“Your support means a lot to me. It gives me a big push to return to my homeland and continue my struggle vigorously against the occupation,” she told the crowd. “Free people unite to face capitalism, imperialism and colonization ... We are not victims. We are freedom fighters.”
Her family was invited as official guests of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Israeli bombing of what was then the Palestine Liberation Organization’s headquarters. At the ceremony, Essebsi gave her a statue of a silver dove with an olive branch.
Meetings with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are in the works, said her father, Bassem Tamimi, who has been accompanying her.
“On the Champs-Elysees in Paris, we were surrounded by hundreds of people who wanted to talk to Ahed and take pictures with her,” her father said. “The same thing happened in every other city we visited.”
In a sign of her mainstream appeal, Tamimi recently wrote a first-person account of her time in prison for Vogue Arabia, a Middle Eastern edition of the popular fashion magazine.
“I want to be a regular 17-year-old. I like clothes, I like makeup. I get up in the morning, check my Instagram, have breakfast and walk in the hills around the village,” she wrote. “But I am not a normal teenager.”
Israeli officials have remained silent throughout her tour — with one exception. Tamimi’s reception at Real Madrid, where she met the legendary striker Emilio Butragueno and received a team jersey with her name on it, was too much to bear.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon called the team’s embrace of Tamimi “shameful” in a Twitter post. “It would be morally wrong to stay silent while a person inciting to hatred and violence goes on a victory tour as if she is some kind of rock star,” he said.
Israel faces a dilemma — wanting to respond but fearing criticism will attract even more attention.
Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for public diplomacy and a former ambassador to the United States, learned a bitter lesson when he acknowledged earlier this year leading a secret investigation into whether the Tamimis were “real” Palestinians.
He said their light features, Western clothes and long history of run-ins with Israeli forces suggested that they were actually paid provocateurs out to hurt the country’s image. The investigation concluded that the family was indeed real — prompting mockery and racism accusations from the Tamimis.
Tamimi is reflective of changing Palestinian sentiment. Where an older generation of political leaders sought either armed struggle or a two-state solution with Israel, many younger Palestinians have given up on the long-stalled peace process and instead favor a single state in which Jews and Arabs live equally. Israel objects to a binational state, saying it is merely an attempt to destroy the country through a nonviolent disguise.
“Israel is unhappy because she highlights to the world both how unjust the occupation is and how absurd their legal system is,” said Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestinian Authority. “Israel instead wants subservient Palestinians who simply stay quiet in the face of the denial of freedom. Ahed shows that won’t happen — including not with this generation.”
Hendel, the former Israeli government spokesman, said he initially supported Israel’s tough response to the slapping incident but now thinks it was an error. He said issuing a fine or punishing her parents for their daughter’s actions might have generated less attention.
He acknowledged there is a broader problem for which Israel does not seem to have a good answer.
“She’s powerful, part of a sophisticated machine that tries to delegitimize Israel by using photos and creating scenarios that portray Israel as Goliath and the other side as David,” he said. “It is much easier to fight terrorism than to fight civilians motivated by terrorist leaders. I think Tamimi in this story is a kind of a front line for a much bigger organization, or even a process.”
Tamimi could continue to frustrate the Israelis for many years to come. She completed her high school studies in prison and now hopes to study international law in Britain. She dreams of one day representing the Palestinians in institutions like the International Criminal Court.
“International law is a strong tool to defend my people,” she said. “We are under occupation and we have to rely on international law to get the world behind us.”