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Palestinian children need improved protection in Israeli military detention – UNICEF
JERUSALEM, 6 March 2013 – UNICEF today outlined practical measures that could be adopted to improve the treatment of Palestinian children who are in contact with the Israeli military detention system.
In a briefing paper titled Children in Israeli military detention: observations and recommendations, the children’s agency recommends measures so that Palestinian children in Israeli military custody are treated in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards.
State of Palestine name change shows limitations
By Mohammed Daraghmeh and Karin Laub, AP, Jan 7, 2013
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP)—With U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state in his pocket, President Mahmoud Abbas wants official documents to carry a new emblem: “State of Palestine.”
But scrapping the old “Palestinian Authority” logo is as far as Abbas is willing to go in provoking Israel. He is not rushing to change passports and ID cards Palestinians need to pass through Israeli crossings.
The very modesty of Abbas’ move to change official stationery underscores his limited options so long as Israel remains in charge of territories the world says should one day make up that state.
“At the end of the day, the Palestinian Authority won’t cause trouble for its people,” Nour Odeh, a spokeswoman for Abbas’ self-rule government, said of the need for caution.
Abbas won overwhelming U.N. General Assembly recognition for a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in late November, a rare diplomatic victory over a sidelined Israel. The U.N. nod was important to the Palestinians because it affirmed the borders of their future state in lands Israel captured in 1967.
Recognition, however, has not transformed the day-to-day lives of Palestinians, and some argue that it made things worse. In apparent retaliation for the U.N. bid, Israel in December withheld its monthly $100 million transfer of tax rebates it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, further deepening the Abbas government’s financial crisis.
Since the U.N. recognition, Abbas has maneuvered between avoiding confrontation with Israel and finding small ways to change the situation on the ground.
Last week, his government press office urged journalists to refer to a state of Palestine, instead of the Palestinian Authority, the autonomy government set up two decades ago as part of interim peace deals with Israel.
Palestinian diplomatic missions around the world have been told to use the new names, including those in countries that did not vote “yes” at the General Assembly, said Omar Awadallah, a Palestinian Foreign Ministry official.
Since the U.N. vote, Abbas has shied away from measures that could close the door to talks by upsetting Israel or the U.S., which also objected to his U.N. bid.
Abbas has not taken practical steps toward seeking membership for Palestine in U.N. agencies, something made possible by the November vote, and his security forces continue to coordinate with Israeli troops in tracking Islamic militants in the West Bank.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed U.S. opposition to using the term “State of Palestine.”
“You can’t create a state by rhetoric and with labels and names,” she told reporters. “You can only create a state, in this context, through bilateral negotiations.” Nuland called Abbas’ decision “provocative, without changing the condition for the Palestinian people.”
She said the U.S. peace envoy for the Mideast, David Hale, was headed to the region and would meet the Palestinian leader on Tuesday.
Some countries, such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, have adopted the new name. Others, like Norway, Sweden and Spain, stick to the Palestinian Authority term even though they supported U.N. recognition.
Analysts said Abbas holds out hope that President Barack Obama will get more involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his second term and—freed from the restraints of seeking re-election—take a tougher stance toward Israel.
The gap between the symbolic U.N. nod and the reality on the ground remains wide.
The Palestinian Authority administers some 38 percent of the West Bank, but Israel maintains overall control over the territory. Abbas has no say in east Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1967, or in Gaza, seized by his political rival, the Islamic militant group Hamas, in 2007.
Palestinians must pass through Israeli-run crossings to leave the West Bank and also carry an ID card at all times or risk arrest if stopped at an Israeli military checkpoint inside the territory.
The name change has even less meaning for Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Israel withdrew from the coastal strip in 2005 but continues to control access by air, sea and land, with the exception of one Gaza border crossing with Egypt.
“For me, it’s just ink on paper,” said Sharif Hamda, a 44-year-old pharmacist in Gaza City. “I wished they would save the money they will spend on this and use it for helping needy families.”
State of Palestine - Food Security Watch, April 2013
- In addition to regular week-end closure, Israel suspended humanitarian deliveries to the Gaza Strip for a total of 17 week days in March & April, including 11 working days of closure in relation to cross-border violence. These measures set an alarming precedent against humanitarian organizations, which could affect availability of food and humanitarian goods and increase costs to humanitarian actors.
- Weather conditions are favourable for proliferation of pests and diseases in the upcoming spring season: Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) threaten herders’ livelihoods, Red Palm Weevil (RPW) threatens the date palm sector.
Susan Rice Irked at 'State of Palestine' Nameplate in Security Council
Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki was the first Palestinian to address the Security Council since the Nov 29 Vote Recognizing the State of Palestine (photo credit: UN Photo)
Jan. 23, 2013 - Palestinian Foreign Minister Riayd Al Maliki addressed the Security Council’s regular monthly Mideast meeting on Wednesday sitting behind a “State of Palestine” nameplate, provoking a stern response from US envoy Susan Rice
Since the Nov 29 General Assembly vote recognizing Palestine as a non-member observer state, the UN Secretariat has changed the designation of ‘Palestine’ to ‘State of Palestine,’ in line with the GA resolution.
In her remarks to the Council, Rice had this to say:
The United States does not consider UNGA resolution 67/19 as bestowing Palestinian “statehood” or recognition. Only direct negotiations to settle final status issues will lead to this outcome. Therefore, in our view, any reference to the “State of Palestine” in the United Nations, including the use of the term “State of Palestine” on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term “State of Palestine” in the invitation to this meeting or other arrangements for participation in this meeting, do not reflect acquiescence that “Palestine” is a state. This statement of our position shall apply to Palestinian participation in meetings of United Nations Security Council or in other UN meetings, regardless of whether the United States specifically intervenes on this matter in the future.
She also had tough words for Israel, whose envoy, Ron Prosor, told the Council - in reference to Israeli settlement plans - that “Jews have been building homes in Jerusalem since the time of King David 3,000 years ago” and that “the presence of Jewish homes in Jerusalem” is not a threat to peace.
Rice, who spoke after both Maliki and Prosor, said Israel’s current settlement plans “run counter to peace” and “would be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution.”
Meanwhile, the Holy See (Vatican) envoy, speaking at the same meeting, suggested that the solution to the Jerusalem issue is to have the city administered by a body similar to the UN Trusteeship Council (which suspended operations in 1994 following the independence of Palau).
Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt said that the only way to guarantee freedom of religion and access to holy sites “might be to involve the United Nations in the Holy City’s safekeeping and administration in some relevant and effective capacity.”
Such a plan was originally envisioned in Resolution 181, which the General Assembly passed on Nov 29, 1947.
- Denis Fitzgerald