U.S. to reveal ‘Deal of the Century’ to Israel in early November

from: Middle East Monitor (MEMO) | October 27, 2018

Israeli public radio reported that the U.S. administration would reveal the details of its “Deal of the Century” to Israel during the first week of November.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, is scheduled to travel to the region to meet with Israeli officials and reveal the details of the U.S. plan, Quds Press reported.

The so-called “Deal of the Century” is claimed by Trump’s Administration to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict …

(See MEMO’s original article with its pro-Palestinian rhetoric.)

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Demise of the U.S. Consulate General to Jerusalem after 174 years

On October 18, 2018, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the merger of the U.S. Consulate General to Jerusalem with its Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.

Citing significant efficiencies and increased effectiveness, Pompeo said that a full range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem will be conducted through a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside the U.S. Embassy.

Pompeo added that this action does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip. “As the President proclaimed in December of last year, the United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders. The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.”

The Consulate General to Jerusalem was established as an independent mission in 1844. Since 1912, it has operated out of a complex on Agron Street in western Jerusalem not far from its earliest location in the Old City.

The U.S. State Department built a contemporary annex in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood. Although styled as an annex, this new campus is larger than the facilities on Agron Street.

In May 2018, the U.S. Embassy to Israel began operations on a small scale in the Arnona annex.

The Palestinian Legislative Council: moving closer to Jerusalem

“How can we reach Jerusalem?” So asked Ahmad Qurei (Abu Alaa), former Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PA) and earlier (1993) the director of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR).

In his capacity as director of PECDAR and using funds from a Japanese grant, Qurei acquired land for the new offices of the Economic Ministry from a charitable trust. The parcel was supposedly in the village of Abu Dis, certainly closer to Jerusalem than the city of Ramallah. “Abu Dis is a village that belongs to Jerusalem,” explained Qurei. But, Qurei had actually chosen a location mostly within the Jerusalem municipal boundary, with Abu Dis to the east.

In an interview for Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR; see “Assembling Voices“), Qurei continued, “There is no Palestine without Jerusalem … I told [Yasser Arafat] that he was the only one that could create the necessary conditions. If he came closer to Jerusalem, he could create the conditions … his dream and hope was Jerusalem. If he could not reach Jerusalem, he would not have achieved anything.” The city of Ramallah, headquarters of the PA, is closer to Jerusalem, but not close enough.

So, Arafat’s strategy was to first move closer to Jerusalem. “The closer we come to Al Quds (Jerusalem) the closer we come to our national rights,” Qurei asserted.

Qurei hired an architect and began the construction project. Construction caught the attention of Israel’s then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In a meeting with Arafat, Rabin wanted to know what the building was. Arafat answered that it was not for him. It was for Qurei. Qurei then claimed that the building was to be his own house, a building for himself, but it could be used for the government. Rabin insisted that the construction was not permitted. He said that it was a serious matter for Israel. Qurei also received pushback from the military and from a couple of Israeli organizations (Ateret Cohanim and Elad). Nonetheless, the ministry building was finished.

“Arafat’s dream, as President of the Palestinian National Authority, was to visit the new building, to stay for several hours,” said Qurei. For Arafat’s sake, the eastern room has a view of the Haram ash-Sharif and the Al Aksa Mosque through a wide window.

About the same time, Qurei was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council – the PA’s parliament. Qurei asked the architect to add a hall for the parliament.

However, the parliament building is still incomplete and unusable because the PA does not have full autonomy in Abu Dis where the entry is.

Looking back, Qurei viewed the building as temporary. Jerusalem as it was before 1967 was going to be the capital of the Palestinian state. Nothing less would be acceptable.

Even so, the building in Abu Dis is closer to Jerusalem than Ramallah. Asked Qurei, “Isn’t that coming closer to Jerusalem?”
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DAAR interviewed three Palestinians who objected to a center of governance that excludes Palestinians wherever they are. They voiced the spirit of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence: “The State of Palestine is the state of Palestinians wherever they may be.”

The Palestinian National Council (PNC), they explain, is the true parliament of the Palestinian nation. The PNC (an arm of the PLO – Palestine Liberation Organization) still meets outside of Israel so that all its members can attend.

On the other hand, the local Legislative Council for the West Bank and Gaza is not sovereign, so how can it decide where to have a capital?

Fajr Harb, activist, objected that “politically the location is problematic” and that it represents the end result of the Oslo Accords. The legislature of the PA does not articulate the common ground and collective fate of Palestinians. It could be regarded not as a parliament but more like a municipality’s council, said Harb.
_____________

See a photo, a map and an aerial view (from DAAR). The Guardian also covered the subject of the legislative building.

U.S. warns no one will be ‘fully pleased’ by Israeli-Palestinian peace plan

“No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that’s the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved,” officials said. “Peace can only succeed if it is based on realities.”

NoOnePleasedPeacePlan

(Times of Israel August 15, 2018)

Embarrassment and sadness in the U.S.

I don’t think … that the American people, by and large, are angry. I think they’re deeply embarrassed, and I think they’re sad about what has come to the country. And I think, at the end of the day, embarrassment and sadness are more explosive than anger.

George F. Will

Conservative columnist
Interviewed by Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC
July 24, 2018

From the Quran: giving and taking away power

From the Surah “Family of Amram” — Chapter 3
Verse: 3:26

Say, “O G-d! the L-rd of all power, You grant power to whomsoever You will and take away power from whomsoever You please, and confer honor and dignity on whomsoever You will and disgrace whomsoever You will. All good lies in Your hand. Verily, You are the Possessor of full power to do all You will….”

(I misplaced the source for the above translation.)

This verse is cited at the end of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s legislative body, the Palestine National Council, on November 15, 1988.

An English translation of the declaration that is attributed to Edward Said reads:

[In the name of G-d, the Compassionate, the Merciful:]
Say: O G-d, Master of the Kingdom, /
Thou givest the Kingdom to whom Thou wilt, /
And seizes the Kingdom from whom Thou wilt, /
Thou exalted whom Thou wilt, and Thou /
Abasest whom Thou wilt; in Thy hand /
Is the good; Thou art powerful over everything.

(See Benny Morris, One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009, pp. 125-6)

Also see the translation of this verse by Maulana Muhammad Ali at the website of The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement (retrieved July 20, 2018):

Say: O Al-lah, Owner of the Kingdom, Thou givest the kingdom to whom Thou pleasest, and takest away the kingdom from whom Thou pleasest, and Thou exaltest whom Thou pleasest and abasest whom Thou pleasest. In Thine hand is the good. Surely, Thou art Possessor of power over all things.