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Wikileaks: Economic Reasons Behind the Siege on Gaza

Wikileaks: Economic Reasons Behind the Siege on Gaza

Thursday, 10 February 2011 17:20 Shir Hever, JNews
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The ripple effects of the Wikileaks documents are still being felt, but until recently Israeli officials continued to boast that the documents were ‘good for Israel’.

break-siege

As opposed to the way the Palestinian Authority (PA) was portrayed in leaked cables, leading to scandalous revelations, for a while Israel suffered no such scandal from the documents pertaining to its conduct. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even came out in support of the leak of the papers, suggesting that the documents can do no harm to Israel’s foreign policy.

He spoke too soon. More recent cables have provided unflattering revelations about Israel’s policies in the Gaza Strip, quoting Israeli officials spelling out their attempts to keep the Gaza Strip on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe. They have also described howcorruption is rife at the checkpoints through which goods are brought into Gaza.

Yet this information failed to shock. It was already well-known and widely reported by UNbodies, NGOs, scholars and journalists.

One cable, however, does contain some new information and has so far received no coverage at all.

The cable, titled “Shin Bet Talks Gaza Economics,” was written by David R. Burnett, Economic Counselor in the US embassy in Tel Aviv. It describes a briefing given to Embassy officials by senior members of the Israeli Shin Bet*, on how Israel uses the banking system in Gaza to increase the political influence of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Gaza, by attempting to starve the Hamas government of cash.

The Shin Bet informed the US embassy that banks in Gaza know that they must neither allow Hamas members to open bank accounts nor have salaries deposited into existing accounts. If the banks disobey, they will lose their stamp of approval from the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA), a branch of the PA that is under constant pressure by Israel and the US to prevent any dealings with Hamas members. The Shin Bet expressed satisfaction that the Gaza banking system has indeed been cowed into submission.

Meanwhile, the PA is allowed to continue to pay wages to its employees in the Gaza Strip, thus creating a privileged class in Gaza with reliable income as long as they do not cooperate with the Hamas de-facto government.

While the Shin Bet officers gave no evidence that Hamas uses its budget for terrorism, they did give an interesting breakdown of Hamas’s overall budget. However, considering that this is a Shin Bet estimate, one should take the following figures with a grain of salt.

According to the leaked cable, Gaza’s de-facto Hamas government spends an estimated budget of US$290 million annually, on a population of approximately 1.5 million residents.

The PA’s budget is four times bigger, at approximately US$1.24 billion in 2010. The PAprovides services to about 2.4 million residents in the West Bank, as well as covering some of the costs of certain services for Gaza’s residents.

The Shin Bet estimates that Hamas uses US$40 million (13.8% of its budget) for military and security needs, and invests the remainder in administration and civilian projects.

Israel, by comparison, ran a budget of US$96 billion in 2010 (for a population of 7.6 million), and spent 18.6% of it on military and security purposes – so that, ironically, even according to Shin Bet estimates, Israel spends proportionately more on its military than Hamas spends.

The report further elaborates that the circulation of Israeli Shekels (NIS) in Gaza is increasing, while foreign currency supplies are dwindling. This is clearly a direct result of thealmost total ban on exports from Gaza (although Gazan merchants may still import certain products) – yet the Shin Bet kept silent regarding the reason for the shortage in foreign currency.

One wonders why Israeli officials feel more threatened by, say, vegetable exports from the Gaza Strip than by imports of materials into Gaza. What possible security justification can there be to keep Gazans from earning their living by exporting products?

The Shin Bet’s argument – and that of the Israeli government – seems to be that Israel should keep Gaza’s standard of living low, because Hamas somehow gains popularity when Palestinians are able to make a decent living.

However, the Shin Bet did acknowledge in their briefing that Israel’s policy is to maintain the predominance of the Israeli currency in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). This admission can perhaps shed light on another, undeclared reason for the ban on exports.

This document demonstrates that the Israeli government is in fact strangling the Gazan economy in order to turn Gaza into a captive market for Israeli products and maintain demand for the Israeli shekel – all in the name of “fighting terrorism.” It also demonstrates that the international community – and especially the US – have allowed this policy to continue.

* The Shin Bet or Shabak, officially called the Israel Security Agency (previously the General Security Service) is Israel’s secret police, and is directly subordinate to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Shir Hever is an Israeli economist and commentator who researches the economic aspects of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Robert Fisk: A new truth dawns on the Arab world – Robert Fisk, Commentators – The Independent

Robert Fisk: A new truth dawns on the Arab world

Leaked Palestinian files have put a region in revolutionary mood

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator, during a rally yesterday

Reuters

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, during a rally yesterday

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The Palestine Papers are as damning as the Balfour Declaration. The Palestinian “Authority” – one has to put this word in quotation marks – was prepared, and is prepared to give up the “right of return” of perhaps seven million refugees to what is now Israel for a “state” that may be only 10 per cent (at most) of British mandate Palestine.

And as these dreadful papers are revealed, the Egyptian people are calling for the downfall of President Mubarak, and the Lebanese are appointing a prime minister who will supply the Hezbollah. Rarely has the Arab world seen anything like this.

To start with the Palestine Papers, it is clear that the representatives of the Palestinian people were ready to destroy any hope of the refugees going home.

It will be – and is – an outrage for the Palestinians to learn how their representatives have turned their backs on them. There is no way in which, in the light of the Palestine Papers, these people can believe in their own rights.

They have seen on film and on paper that they will not go back. But across the Arab world – and this does not mean the Muslim world – there is now an understanding of truth that there has not been before.

It is not possible any more, for the people of the Arab world to lie to each other. The lies are finished. The words of their leaders – which are, unfortunately, our own words – have finished. It is we who have led them into this demise. It is we who have told them these lies. And we cannot recreate them any more.

In Egypt, we British loved democracy. We encouraged democracy in Egypt – until the Egyptians decided that they wanted an end to the monarchy. Then we put them in prison. Then we wanted more democracy. It was the same old story. Just as we wanted Palestinians to enjoy democracy, providing they voted for the right people, we wanted the Egyptians to love our democratic life. Now, in Lebanon, it appears that Lebanese “democracy” must take its place. And we don’t like it.

We want the Lebanese, of course, to support the people who we love, the Sunni Muslim supporters of Rafiq Hariri, whose assassination – we rightly believe – was orchestrated by the Syrians. And now we have, on the streets of Beirut, the burning of cars and the violence against government.

And so where are we going? Could it be, perhaps, that the Arab world is going to choose its own leaders? Could it be that we are going to see a new Arab world which is not controlled by the West? When Tunisia announced that it was free, Mrs Hillary Clinton was silent. It was the crackpot President of Iran who said that he was happy to see a free country. Why was this?

In Egypt, the future of Hosni Mubarak looks ever more distressing. His son, may well be his chosen successor. But there is only one Caliphate in the Muslim world, and that is Syria. Hosni’s son is not the man who Egyptians want. He is a lightweight businessman who may – or may not – be able to rescue Egypt from its own corruption.

Hosni Mubarak’s security commander, a certain Mr Suleiman who is very ill, may not be the man. And all the while, across the Middle East, we are waiting to see the downfall of America’s friends. In Egypt, Mr Mubarak must be wondering where he flies to. In Lebanon, America’s friends are collapsing. This is the end of the Democrats’ world in the Arab Middle East. We do not know what comes next. Perhaps only history can answer this question.

Like Robert Fisk on The Independent on Facebook for updates

There is nothing wrong with co-operations. It is for the benefits of the both sides, but the problem is that the occupiers use the PAlestinian Authorities and their police as their extended arm and unpaid servants of the Israeli government.
When there is a true peace between Israel and Palestine, such co-operation should be encouraged and supported, but as long as the Israel is not recognizes Palestine as a state, this is nothco-operation but collaboration.
Wikileaks exposes Palestinian collaboration with Israeli security forces – DN.SE

Wikileaks exposes Palestinian collaboration with Israeli security forces

Publicerad i dag 00:01

An Israeli border police officer fires tear gas at Palestinian protesters during a demonstration against the expansion of the Jewish settlement of Halamish. Photo: Majdi Mohammed/AP

The Palestinian security forces engage in extensive cooperation with the Israeli occupation forces, a practice that the Palestinian Authority has taken great pains to conceal from the world.

The emergence of details in newly released Wikileaks diplomatic cables, first reported by Dagens Nyheter (DN), place the already beleaguered Palestinian Authority under even greater pressure.

In Gaza and on the West Bank collaboration with Israel is considered to be the worst form of treason. Palestinian informers face the death penalty. But in reality the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority on the West Bank has itself long engaged in an extensive exchange of information with military, police and even Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency. The contacts are “friendly, professional and sincere,” according to a US diplomatic wire reporting a conversation between Yuval Diskin, Shi Bet’s head, and James Cunningham, the US Ambassador to Israel.

The Wikileaks diplomatic cables between the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and the State Department in Washington reveal particulars about the exchange of information.

A Palestinian security detail, for example, provided a so-called Qassam rocket, a type of homemade missile directed at targets within Israel, to the Israeli defence forces, according to document from January 2010. The Palestinian security forces seized the rocket in conjunction with the arrest and interrogation of two members of Hamas. The two Hamas operatives also confessed that they planned to establish an underground weapons factory on the West Bank. After the Israelis concluded a technical analysis of the rocket they returned it to their Palestinian counterparts.

Another wire records dissatisfaction among those responsible for security in the Palestinian Authority. They desired more out of the collaboration with Israel and complained about the “one-sided Israeli approach”.

The West Bank’s top police official, Hazim Atallah, also expressed frustration “with far more information flowing from the Palestinian side to Israel than is received in return”.

Said Abu Ali, the minister of interior in the Palestinian provisional government, emphasized that it was “necessary” that the security collaboration with the Israelis remain confidential: “keep them [the contacts] out of the public eye,” the wire quotes him as saying.

The Wikileaks wires make clear that the civilian public security forces on the West Bank have long running formal collaboration with the Israelis police, including joint working groups to combat violent crime and traffic violations.

On Monday, the TV station Al Jazzera published secret documents concerning negotiations for settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Among the revelations was the proposal by Palestinian negotiators in 2008 to allow Israel to annex the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem and all of the settlements, except one in East Jerusalem. Israel declined the offer.

Furthermore, the Palestinian’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erakat, accepted that only 100,000 Palestinians with refugee status would be allowed to return to what today is Israel. There are currently around 5.0 million Palestinian refugees.

The portrayal of Palestinian docility in the negotiations, like the divulgence of the extended collaboration with the Israeli security forces, is awkward for Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, who publicly maintains a much tougher stance towards Israel than that which has emerged from the Wikileaks wires.

Translation and summary: Davrell Tien

Erik Ohlsson

erik.ohlsson@dn.se

Can this be the end of the corrupt gangster like band of Abbas and those who have done nothing but harm to the Palestnians since the time they signed the Oslo peace accord?

Can this be the beginning of a true peace process where both partners can come to the table with equal genuine desire for peace and not just dragging on while they go on with their ‘business as usual’ approach to enact more land and build more houses on occupied land and the other one just does everything to stay in power?

Lest hope so, the ME really need a true peace and neither the Israeli regime nor the PA are the ones who want or can be the creators of it.

Aljazeera’s Leaks Reveal Sham ‘Peace Process,’ Israeli Stonewalling

Posted on 01/24/2011 by Juan

The Qatar satellite channel Aljazeera has gotten hold of some 1600 documents from the Palestine Authority regarding negotiations with Israel, which cast the Israelis, the Americans and the Fatah faction of Palestinians in the worst possible light. The leaked documents were shared exclusively with The Guardian newspaper.

The documents could well destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization, a coalition of parties that includes Fatah, which is led by Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Among the politicians who comes off the worst in these documents is Saeb Erekat. The Palestinian Authority is revealed as feeble as a kitten. Like a a spurned suitor, Erekat kept offering the Israelis more and more, and they kept rejecting his overtures.

The documents have frank admissions. Tzipi Livni said:

“Israel takes more land [so] that the Palestinian state will be impossible . . . the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that is impossible, we already have the land and we cannot create the state”. She conceded that it had been “the policy of the government for a really long time”.

Although she said that in 2007 the Olmert government was not following this policy, she admitted some parties were. And, of course, in February 2009, parties came to power that would not so much as give Palestinians a glass of water.

Saeb Erekat,an old-time Fatah operative, is in trouble because he is revealed to have offered the Israelis much of East Jerusalem. He is also said to have been convinced by the Israelis that the future Palestinian state would not have an army, air force or navy (i.e. it would lack sovereignty over its own territory and would only be an ersatz state). Even then, the Israelis kept demanding more and more.

Erekat’s enemies, the Hamas movement based mainly in Gaza, are using the revelations to paint him as a traitor to the Palestinian and indeed the Muslim cause. I saw him on Aljazeera, where he was very defensive. London-based journalist Abdel Bari Atwan let him have it with both barrels.

Erekat and other Fatah leaders are accusing Aljazeera of forging the documents and of attempting to scuttle the Palestine Authorities’ plan to go to the United Nations to get an international resolution against ever-expanding Israeli colonies.

But even PA loyalists like attorney Diana Buttu have called for Erekat’s resignation in the wake of the revelations.

The Fatah-dominated Palestine Authority has long been regarded as corrupt and authoritarian by many Palestinians, not to mention wusses when it came to dealing with Israel. These documents demonstrate that its leaders were willing to give away just about anything to have a state they could preside over, even something that was only a state in name.

I’m not sure that Fatah can survive being discredited to this extent. Nor, likely, can the American farce of a ‘peace process’ or a ‘two-state solution.’ (The state Erekat was trying to get would have no sovereignty, as he admitted, which means it would not be a state and the entire end goal is a chimera).

As for the Americans, Condi Rice is said to have told the Palestinians (with regard to their mass expulsion in 1948 and their loss of statehood) that lots of peoples have had bad things happen to them. But ‘lots of peoples’ don’t have nearly 5 million stateless people currently. Stateless people have no real rights. They are not citizens. The Nazis prepared for their move against the Jews by first stripping them of German citizenship. That gave denaturalizing people a bad name. There are only a few million stateless people in the world now, and the biggest group of them is the Palestinians. (No, illegal aliens and frustrated sub-nationalists are not like the stateless. The illegals have a state, to which they are sometimes deported. The sub-nationalists may not like the citizenship they hold, but they do have passports, property rights that a judge will back up, etc. The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Lebanon, plus about 130,000 in Jordan, have bupkus).