Gaza artists call on Eurovision singers to boycott Israel

Laborers work on the construction of stands that will be located besides the Eurovision Village, a space dedicated for fans of the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest, in Tel Aviv, Israel May 6, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 09 May 2019
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Gaza artists call on Eurovision singers to boycott Israel

  • The association held a sit-in outside the EU’s Gaza office and wrote a letter of protest

GAZA/GENEVA: Palestinian artists are calling on Eurovision singers to boycott the international music competition that Israel is hosting next week.

The Gaza Strip-based Palestinian Artists Association said on Wednesday that Israel was using the event to “perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime.”

The artists cited the killing of over 60 Palestinians during Gaza border protests on May 14 last year, the same day Israel won the Eurovision. The association held a sit-in outside the EU’s Gaza office and wrote a letter of protest.

At least 25 Palestinians, including 10 militants and four Israeli civilians, were killed after hundreds of rockets were fired at Israel over the weekend. Israel retaliated with airstrikes.

Food crisis

Separately, the UN warned on Wednesday that its agencies providing food assistance to Gaza must raise tens of millions of dollars within weeks to avoid significant aid cuts.

The United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP) and its agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, currently provide food assistance to more than one million people in Gaza.

But the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Jamie McGoldrick, warned that the agencies were facing “a serious funding crisis.”

They needed to raise money fast to be able to make a looming order for the food needed for the remainder of the year, he told journalists in Geneva.

“We envisage that if WFP and UNRWA don’t get around 40 million dollars by the end of May — beginning of June, they will not be able to order the pipeline,” he said.

UNRWA is planning to host a donor’s conference next month and another one in September, as it struggles to fill the void after Washington, traditionally its largest donor, withdrew its support.

Last year, a number of countries stepped up to generously compensate for the lacking US funding, but McGoldrick said that this year a huge shortfall remained.

“If they don’t get the funding, clearly they can’t order the food,” he said, adding that this would mean that in the second half of the year, either the number of people receiving aid will be cut or rations will be slashed, or both.

In Gaza, where unemployment stands at 54 percent and is much higher for young people, people do not have the purchasing power to fill in the gaps, McGoldrick said.

“There is no alternative,” he said, describing the situation as “very, very serious.”

It is not only the UN agencies providing food aid who are facing a shortfall.

McGoldrick said that the $350 million requested for UN’s overall humanitarian response plan for the West Bank and Gaza so far this year was so far only 14-percent funded.

“There is something happening in terms of donor support to the Palestinian situation, which we have to better understand,” he said.


Door will stay open to Palestinians despite Bahrain boycott, Kushner tells Arab News

Updated 26 June 2019
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Door will stay open to Palestinians despite Bahrain boycott, Kushner tells Arab News

  • Kushner said US President Donald Trump had delivered on his promises to everyone, and would deliver on his promise to Palestinians
  • Kushner says he has laid out a great framework in which Palestinians can engage 'if they want to make their people’s lives better'

MANAMA: The “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain was “a remarkable couple of days,” White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday as he was pressed by Israeli reporters demanding to know what consequences Palestinians would face for refusing to attend.
The conflict was a “solvable problem economically,” Kushner said. “The Palestinian people have been promised a lot of things over the years that have not come true, and I do want to show them that this is the plan, this is what could happen if there is a peace deal.”
Kushner said he planned to follow up with investors to secure the funding. “Once we have that, we will roll into the political plan but we will do it with a context of people having the opportunity to digest what is possible.” It was a “constant theme” during the conference “that this is actually very doable,” he said.
Kushner’s press secretary controlled who could ask questions. He said he would only allow four, and called Israeli journalists from i24 Israeli TV and The Times of Israel.  When the press secretary waved me away, I asked if he would take a question from the only Palestinian reporter present, writing for Arab News. Kushner said: “Yes.”
I asked if he was going to close the door or leave it open to the Palestinians as his vision for economic peace moved forward.
“If they actually want to make their people’s lives better, we have now laid out a great framework in which they can engage and try to achieve it,” Kushner replied.
“We have left the door open the whole time. One thing you have seen with me is I tend not to get emotional about transactions at the end of the day, I understand people have their domestic politics and people have different ways of reacting.

“I think what you have seen from us is that we have been very respectful, very straightforward. We have been very deliberate. We take actions, not weighing the
political consequences. We have been weighing what is right and wrong.”
Kushner said US President Donald Trump had delivered on his promises to everyone, and would deliver on his promise to Palestinians.
“President Trump has said he wants to help the Palestinians achieve a better future for themselves, and I hope they will take it very seriously that he has been trying to do that. Hopefully what you have seen in the last couple of days shows there has been a lot of effort on a very high level, a lot of resources devoted to it.
“We are going to keep moving forward and we will put out our political plan at the right time. I do think that one of the things from today is that it will be very hard for people to go back to looking at this through a traditional lens. I do think that hopefully we have helped people look at it a little bit differently, and that is one of our goals.”