Wednesday, February 7, 2007

so will canada show SOME support?

i'm not going to debate the israel conflict. the issue is clear, we have a segment of people who are in dire need; a humanitrian crisis. we've had a group of british mp's who have addressed the subject; we have Prominent Jews Call for Open Debate on Israel "declare independence from the country's Jewish establishment, arguing that it puts support for Israel above the human rights of Palestinians"

do we have anyone in government ready to stand up to the plate and address this cause? because sanctions aren't the answer, not when the cause and effect creates a humanitarian crisis.

we know clearly where harper stands: Harper vows to stand by Israel ; and from this article i appreciate what dion says in regards to "Dion also expressed his disgust at the recent firebombing of a Jewish elementary school in his Montreal riding. "When the United Talmud Torah school is attacked . . . its windows broken, its library burned – it is an attack on the values of every Canadian," his text said." When even one Canadian child is threatened because of her religion, we all feel the cold breath of intimidation. We can only imagine the insecurity that Israelis feel day after day." "

well boys ... what about; what the Palestinian civilians feel or the suffering they are experincing everyday? damn it, find some balance!

World urged to address Palestinian crisis
2/7/2007 The Peninsula Qatar

The UN seminar on assistance to the Palestinian people concluded here yesterday with a call to the international community to address the rapidly worsening humanitarian situation in the occupied territories in Palestine and redouble its efforts to assist the Palestinians in need.

Summing up the discussions of the two-day meeting at the closing session yesterday, Paul Badji, chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which organised the event, said, "We were reminded about the serious effects that the occupation poses to the daily life of the Palestinians, including its most vulnerable segment – women, children and the elderly. The participants concurred that the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people should not be taken hostage to political constraints, and renewed a call to international community to redouble efforts to assist the Palestinians in need."

H E Mohammed Abdullah Mutib Al Rumaihi, Qatar's Assistant Foreign Minister for Follow Up Affairs, Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, also addressed the session.
The meeting asked Israel to release the withheld Palestinian tax revenues, which account for a large part of the Palestinian Authority's revenue and resume the periodic tax payments without further delay.

"That money belongs to the Palestinian people, withholding it intensifies their suffering and constitutes a violation of Israel's international obligations as the occupying power," said Paul.

“Financial restrictions immediately imposed during the past year are holding back the release of contributions by well-meaning donor governments, organisations and individuals," he added.

The meeting also asked Israel to implement the Agreement on Movement and Access of 15 November 2005. If fully implemented, the agreement could serve as a comprehensive mechanism that allows a flow of humanitarian aid and trade, simultaneously taking into account Israel's security concerns, it noted.

The participants also called for an immediate stop of the Palestinian internal violence and urged the feuding Palestinian factions to achieve national unity by peaceful means without delay.

On behalf of the Committee, Paul appreciated the tireless of works of the different UN agencies on the ground in the occupied territories and urged them to further coordinate their activities and evaluate them periodically.

The seminar, however, noted that all those valuable efforts would not lead to a sizeable social or economic recovery, unless a political solution is achieved to the question of Palestine.

“Sustainable economic and social development will only materialise in a viable Palestinian State created on the basis of the 1967 borders, in conformity with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003), supported by the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative," said Paul.

80pc of Palestinians below poverty line
2/7/2007 The Peninsula Qatar

Eighty per cent of the Palestinian people are now living below the poverty line and per capita income has plummeted from $2,000 to $1,000, according to Palestine's Permanent Observer to the UN, Dr Riyad Mansour.

From 2006 onwards, said Mansour, Palestinians have become a group of individuals dependent on humanitarian aid and donors. "If this is to continue, there will be a huge humanitarian problem," said the envoy.

He was speaking at a media briefing after the second plenary session of the UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People' which concluded here yesterday at the Sheraton.

The meeting's findings and recommendations will be forwarded to the UN Secretary-General and the General Assembly for further consideration.

Also present at the press conference were Qatar's Permanent Representative to the UN, Nasser Abdul Aziz Al Naseer and Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People Chairman and Senegal's Permanent Representative to the UN, Paul Badji.

Mansour stated the previous seminar was held in Cairo last year with two objectives, to avoid sanctions because of the Palestinians' choice in the elections and to evaluate the work of the various UN institutes operating there. "What we warned against last year actually took place. This year, the siege on Palestinian policy has been referred to by several experts. The ground situation has worsened a great deal."

The "occupation forces", i.e. Israel, should shoulder some responsibility. "Now they are building a wall of separation. They are failing to provide services to Palestinians. The Palestinians just want to live in a dignified manner. It is the Arab and international responsibility to show the occupation in its true colours. We do not want Band-Aid solutions."

He said a request had been put out for $475m in emergency aid for the Palestinians. "We do not expect pledges in this meeting but the seminar highlights the coordinated efforts of agencies helping. It is an opportunity to get educated and we are sure that representatives of countries will be in touch with their governments on the matters discussed."

EU paying one million euros a month in bank charges for Palestinian aid: Oxfam
February 7 / AFP

More than one million euros is being paid each month to banking giant HSBC for them to process European Union aid to impoverished Palestinians and key workers, British aid agency Oxfam has claimed.

"It is a fiasco that HSBC is being paid to act as a middleman," said Oxfam's director, Barbara Stocking, in a statement. "European states are wasting millions of euros of aid to Palestine through this bureaucratic scheme."

According to its own calculations based on EU documents, Oxfam said that between August and December 2006 the bloc spent 3,246,472 euros (4.2 million dollars) on bank charges to transfer cash to more than 140,000 Palestinians.

It said HSBC made eight euros per transaction, so that by the end of last year, the bank received more than one million euros a month in charges.

Bank sources told AFP that Oxfam's figures were wrong and were in fact less than half what they claimed.

Stocking said the mechanism to deliver financial aid directly to individuals working in the social sector, pensioners and low-income families was too complex and was causing "irreparable damage".

British Prime Minister "Tony Blair needs to persuade Europe to put an end to this and resume direct funding of the Palestinian Authority (PA)," she added.

HSBC spokesman Richard Lindsay told AFP: "We have a client confidentiality agreement with them (the EU) so we are not able to answer questions on it."

The EU stopped all direct aid to the PA in January 2006 after the hardline Islamist group Hamas won elections but resisted international calls for it to renounce violence, recognise Israel and abide by previous peace agreements.

In June last year, the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) was set up to pay allowances to public sector workers -- including nurses and teachers -- pensioners and social hardship cases. Payments began in August.

The international aid and political boycott of the Hamas-led government has caused hardship on the ground, fuelling an economic crisis that has added to continuing tensions between rival factions, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

The United Nations relief agency has expressed concern about the effects of the funding freeze on ordinary Palestinians during the political stalemate.

Oxfam wants the TIM, which Britain played a leading role in setting up, to be scrapped and for European states to resume funding for essential services delivered by local and national Palestinian authorities.

Britain has provided 24 million pounds (36 million euros, 47 million dollars) for the Palestinians since Hamas came to power, the Department for International Development (DfID) in London said in December.

Total EU aid in the calendar year 2006 was 650 million euros, about 27 percent higher than in 2005, it added.

A DfID spokeswoman told AFP Tuesday about 9.7 million pounds of the 12 million Britain committed directly to the TIM in July had been transferred so far.

Britain will pay a further six million pounds to the scheme through the EU by the end of the financial year on March 31, 2007, she added.

"The TIM is the best alternative to ensure that Palestinian teachers, nurses and other public sector workers receive allowances, essential health supplies are available and water, sanitation and electricity services are improved," she said.

"The bank charges, which are under four percent of the total TIM budget for 2006-07, reflect the fact that each individual who receives a payment through the TIM goes through five different counter-terrorism checks, thereby safeguarding taxpayers’ money."