The Palestinian Authority’s looming succession crisis

The octogenarian leader of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will not be around forever.

Elected as president of the PA back in 2005, the democratic mandate of Mahmoud Abbas expired years ago. Armed putschist forces loyal to Abbas took over the West Bank back in 2007, several months after democratic elections to the PA’s legislative body did not go Abbas’s way.

The “Palestinian Authority” is a thorough misnomer: it has no real authority, and its ultimate loyalty is to Israel, not to the Palestinian people. Indeed, the entire raison d’être of the PA since its inception has been to act as a violent buffer between the Israeli occupation and popular Palestinian anger and resistance.

It is in fact a subcontractor for the occupation.

The PA, of course, does have some perfectly legitimate civilian functions, such as education and health. But these are dwarfed by its massive budget for “security” and policing, including of the feared mukabarat, or secret police. Some 31 per cent of the PA’s total budget is spent in this way. This far outstrips spending on health, education or agriculture. In proportionate terms, this is much more than the UK (10 per cent), India (16 per cent), Israel (20 per cent) and even the USA (23 per cent).

Read more over at MEMO.

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Hilary Clinton poses imminent danger to Palestine

Out of all this week’s speeches of presidential candidates to AIPAC, the powerful Israel lobby group, Hilary Clinton’s was in my book the most convincingly pro-Israel.

But she has had to work hard to achieve this status. The Israel lobby is becoming increasingly right wing. AIPAC is widely perceived to have now become the American wing of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. More and more, it pushes even Israel down an ever-increasingly fanatical right-wing path.

So when Clinton makes the usual liberal platitudes about “two states for two peoples”, there is a perception by many in these circles that she may deviate from the path of Israel-right-or-wrong. Kahanist fanatics like the Jewish Defence League in particular hate Hilary Clinton (in this respect, sexism and anti-black racism play a part, since Clinton is perceived to be pro-black, and Kahanist activists like former Jewish Defence League bomber Victor Vancier are extremely racist against African-Americans).

Read the rest over at MEMO.

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The Trump show reaches Israel

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America’s annual festival of pandering to Israel

What a disgusting show. The annual policy conference of AIPAC, the most influential pro-Israel lobby group in the Unites States, has just been held. Most of the main candidates in this year’s US presidential election lined up to make speeches, each trying to outdo the others in their ever more fulsome praise of Israel. Watching them speak was an exercise in filtering out lie after lie, after which there was pretty much nothing left to mull over.

Perhaps predictably, Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, made most of the headlines. Trump had made previous speeches about Israel that were considered (by the supporters of Israel-right-or-wrong) to be insufficiently enthusiastic about the prospect of an increase in Israeli war crimes. With a racist “America First” attitude, Trump seems to have an isolationist streak, and had seemed to want to be neutral.

The consensus after Trump’s speech on Monday, though, seems to be that he has turned it around. “He faced a tough test of his mettle but passed it with flying colours,” gushed Chemi Shalev of Haaretz, Israel’s leading liberal newspaper. His column on the subject came out all conflicted between perplexed and impressed.

Read more over at MEMO.

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Are you now or have you ever been an anti-Zionist?

Last month the American reporter Eli Clifton revealed a secret “Anti-Israel” enemies list maintained by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The ADL was founded 103 years ago as a civil rights organisation to defend Jews in America from then-rampant anti-Semitism. However, long ago, it all but abandoned this mission.

Instead, its main function today is to act as one of the main lobby groups for the continuation of Israeli war crimes and apartheid in the Unites States. It even works hand in glove with both American and Israeli spy and police agencies.

Any genuine civil rights group would be aiming to hold such agencies to account, not cosying up to them.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

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Victories come thick and fast, despite ‘war’ on BDS

It seems like no sooner did the British government issue its new regulations aimed at “banning” boycotts of Israel than the move backfired. “BDS,” the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement,protesters declared in response, “is here to stay.” There was immediate talk of defying any ban, with civil disobedience if necessary. That may not be needed: while the full facts are still being debated, according to lawyers who spoke to anti-poverty charity War on Want, “there is nothing new in the new procurement guidance aside from some overblown rhetoric clearly intended to scare campaigners.”

The “BDS ban” in fact is no real ban at all. It has essentially restated existing legislation, campaigners say. This is likely to be tested in courts, however. Although Israeli campaigns of “lawfare” (tying campaigners up using spurious litigation in courts around the world) have often proven fruitless, even disastrous in the past, it seems Israel’s supporters have not given up the strategy.

Such litigation can be costly for BDS activists, who are almost all volunteers and have little in the way of serious funding to defend against such cases. Local councils do have more serious resources to defend their democratic mandates. But with ever increasingly budget cuts, thanks to Conservative austerity, they may prove unwilling to fight back against such cases: they’d often rather avoid them altogether if the popular pressure is not enough.

Read more over at MEMO.

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Mossad touts cyberwar against BDS

At a cyberwar forum in Tel Aviv in January, it came out that Israel has allocated almost $26 million in this year’s budget to fight the ever-growing movement to boycott, divest from and sanctions Israel – BDS for short.

An Associated Press report on the event quoted one high Israeli official as saying that she wanted “to create a community of fighters” against BDS in the online world.

That little snippet of cyber-sabre-rattling came from Sima Vaknin-Gil, the director general of Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs (the former chief military censor of the press in Israel). The head of this ministry is Gilad Erdan, last year crowned the “BDS minister” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Read more over at MEMO.

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