The Order for Beatings Came From Abbas's Office
If Abbas endorses the findings of the Palestinian commission of inquiry and takes action against the officials who ordered the beatings, he will send a message to his constituents which reassures them that no one is above the law, and that he cares about freedom of media and human rights. But any attempt to sweep the findings under the carpet will show that the talk about transparency and accountability in the Palestinian Authority is not serious and will play into the hands of Hamas.
A Palestinian commission of inquiry into the beating of Palestinian journalists and demonstrators in Ramallah has found that top officials in Mahmoud Abbas's office had ordered the assault.
The discovery did not come as a surprise to many Palestinians, who have long been accusing the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank of waging a campaign of intimidation and terror against journalists, bloggers and political opponents.
Western donors who are funding the Palestinian Authority are willing to turn a blind eye to human rights violations as long as Abbas and his aides remain "committed to the two-state solution" and do not believe in violence against Israel, as a Western diplomat based in Israel explained.
The commission of inquiry was established after Palestinian policemen and security personnel -- in civilian clothes -- attacked Palestinians who were demonstrating several weeks ago against a planned visit to Ramallah by then Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz.
Mofaz was scheduled to meet with Abbas to discuss ways of reviving the stalled peace process; however, the protests that erupted in Ramallah forced Abbas to cancel the meeting with Mofaz.
The demonstrations -- most of whom were young men and women protesting not only Mofaz's planned visit, but also Abbas's failed policies, especially in combating financial and administrative corruption --were seen as a huge embarrassment to Abbas and his inner circle.
The protesters had also demanded an end to the ongoing violations of freedom of speech and abuses of human rights by the Palestinian Authority.
Over the past few years, Abbas and his aides have repeatedly demonstrated intolerance toward criticism: Palestinians who have dared to speak out against dictatorship and corruption in the West Bank have often found themselves either behind bars or in hospital.
The Palestinian Authority has also been firing public servants who dare to disagree with Abbas or Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
In recent years, for example, hundreds of school teachers were dismissed for "security reasons" -- a charge used against those who belong to rival political groups or who are not Abbas loyalists.
The commission of inquiry did not name the senior Palestinian officials who had issued the orders to the police to beat the journalists and peaceful protesters.
Yet many Palestinians in Ramallah said this week that they hold Abbas personally responsible for the assault. "If Abbas does not know what is happening inside his office, that's very serious," said a Palestinian human rights activist. "And if he knew what his officials were up to and approved of it, that is even more serious."
If, however, Abbas endorses the findings of the commission of inquiry and takes action against the officials who ordered the beatings, he will send a positive message to his constituents -- one that reassures them that no one is above the law and that he cares about freedom of media and human rights.
But any attempt to sweep the findings under the carpet will show that the talk about accountability and transparency in the Palestinian Authority is not serious. This choice, of course, will further play into the hands of Abbas's rivals, above all Hamas.
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by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
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"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
by Soeren Kern
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For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.
by Shoshana Bryen
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"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
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