Category Archives: Palestine

The Next Gaza War

Max Blumenthal writes for Tom Dispatch:

‘“A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable,” declared Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in February. His ominous comments came just days after an anti-tank missile fired by the Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hezbollah killed two soldiers in an Israeli army convoy. It, in turn, was a response to an Israeli air strike that resulted in the assassination of several high-ranking Hezbollah figures.

Lieberman offered his prediction only four months after his government concluded Operation Protective Edge, the third war between Israel and the armed factions of the Gaza Strip, which had managed to reduce about 20% of besieged Gaza to an apocalyptic moonscape. Even before the assault was launched, Gaza was a warehouse for surplus humanity — a 360-square-kilometer ghetto of Palestinian refugees expelled by and excluded from the self-proclaimed Jewish state. For this population, whose members are mostly under the age of 18, the violence has become a life ritual that repeats every year or two. As the first anniversary of Protective Edge passes, Lieberman’s unsettling prophecy appears increasingly likely to come true. Indeed, odds are that the months of relative “quiet” that followed his statement will prove nothing more than an interregnum between Israel’s ever more devastating military escalations.

Three years ago, the United Nations issued a report predicting that the Gaza Strip would be uninhabitable by 2020. Thanks to Israel’s recent attack, this warning appears to have arrived sooner than expected. Fewof the 18,000 homes the Israeli military destroyed in Gaza have been rebuilt. Few of the more than 400 businesses and shops damaged or leveled during that war have been repaired. Thousands of government employees have not received a salary for more than a year and are working for free. Electricity remains desperately limited, sometimes to only four hours a day. The coastal enclave’s borders are consistently closed. Its population is trapped, traumatized, and descending ever deeper into despair, with suicide rates skyrocketing.’

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New Probe Exposes Horrific Abuse of Palestinian Children by Israeli Forces

Sarah Lazare reports for Common Dreams:

Israeli border police arresting Ahmad Abu Sbitan, 11, in front of his school in East Jerusalem. (Photo: Majd Gaith/HRW)Israeli forces are choking, beating, and abusing Palestinian children as young as 11, arresting and coercing them into confessions without granting them access to lawyers or even informing their parents of their whereabouts, a new investigation from Human Rights Watch reveals.

The findings are contained in a report—Israel: Security Forces Abuse Palestinian Children—based on interviews with six children between the ages of 11 and 15, and corroborated by witness testimony and video evidence. All of the children were accused of throwing rocks between March and December 2014—a common charge that can lead to decades in prison.

“Israel has been on notice for years that its security forces are abusing Palestinian children’s rights in occupied territory, but the problems continue,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director for HRW. “These are not difficult abuses to end if the Israeli government were serious about doing so.”‘

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More than 2,800 people are dead in Yemen – so why aren’t we outraged?

Sophia Dingli writes for The Conversation:

In the summer of 2014, our screens were inundated with videos of the carnage from the streets of Gaza. The European media was outraged, and the sense of moral urgency was amplified across social media. Similar outrage greeted the destruction of UNESCO heritage sites in both Iraq and Syria with the condemnation of Islamic State’s barbarism reaching a crescendo when it overtook Syria’s majestic city of Palmyra.

Compare this coverage to the almost universal silence on the ongoing war in Yemen, which is largely absent from our TV screens, Facebook and Twitter trending topics sections and the front pages of broadsheet papers.

Admittedly, the Yemen conflict is a complicated matter, where the Saudi “bad guys” in the northern half of the country are looked upon as potential saviours in the southern half. The war includes a number of factions, and provides no easy narratives for the casual news watcher to follow.

Of course, neither the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nor the Islamic State’s onslaught are simple matters, but the Western media has plenty of simplified narratives and stereotypes at its disposal to structure its coverage. And crucially, the media coverage of both Israel-Palestine and Islamic State is loud and clear in its condemnation of the human cost, both civilian and cultural.

So it may come as a surprise to learn the the damage inflicted upon Yemen and Yemenis since March 2015, when the Houthi rebels’ march toward Aden was met with a massive Saudi-led offensive, has already claimed more casualties than the last Israeli offensive in Gaza and has destroyed parts of a UNESCO world heritage site. Worse yet, it shows no signs of stopping.’

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Israel Attacked Gaza One Year Ago Today: Interview with Max Blumenthal

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

One year ago today, Israel invaded, bombed and shelled Gaza, and continued to do that for the next seven weeks. According to the U.N., at least 2,104 Gazans were killed — 1,462 of whom (69 percent) were civilians, including 495 children. A total of 6 Israeli civilians, and 66 soldiers, were killed. The shockingly high civilian death rate in Gaza included the now-iconic imagery of four young boys from the same family being killed by Israeli warships while they played on a beach in front of a hotel filled with foreign journalists.

Months after the attack concluded, U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon visited Gaza and labeled the destruction “beyond description,” far worse than prior Israeli attacks. At least 17,000 homes “were obliterated or severely damaged during the conflict,” and it will take two decades to rebuild them; that means that “nearly 60,000 people have lost their homes.” On countless occasions, entire large families of Gazans were instantly extinguished by Israeli violence. Because the population of Gaza is so young — 43 percent are under the age of 15, while 64 percent are under the age of 24 — the majority of its residents know little beyond extreme suffering, carnage, violence and war.

As harrowing as that data is, it tells only a small part of the story. Statistics like these have an abstract property to them: cold and clinical. Viewing the devastation of Gaza through their lens can have a distancing effect. They erase the most affecting facts: the stories of human suffering and devastation caused by this attack, the sadism and savagery that drove it.’

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Gaza Remains in Ruins a Year After Deadly Israeli Assault: Interview with Mohammed Omer

‘As Gaza marks one year since the launch of Israel’s devastating 50-day assault, it remains in a state of crisis. The assault killed 2,200 Palestinians, including 550 children. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. A year later, none of the 12,000 homes destroyed in Gaza have been rebuilt, in part due to the ongoing Israeli blockade. The World Bank is warning the Gaza economy is on the verge of collapse. Overall unemployment now stands at 43 percent — the highest in the world. We speak with Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, author of “Shell-Shocked: On the Ground Under Israel’s Gaza Assault.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

UN Official: ‘Gaza reconstruction could take 30 years’

The National reports:

‘Gaza reconstruction could take 30 years’Gaza reconstruction is moving at a “snail’s pace” and at this rate, it would likely take 30 years to rebuild the extensive damage from last summer’s Israel-Hamas war, a senior UN official said. Roberto Valent, the incoming area chief of a UN agency involved in reconstruction, blamed the delays on the slow flow of promised foreign aid and continued Israeli curbs on the entry of building material to Gaza.

Speaking in the Gaza City office of the UN Development Programme, he said his tour of destroyed neighbourhoods this week was “very, very disheartening”.

Israel and Egypt have severely restricted access to Gaza since the militant Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

After last year’s 50-day war, Israel allowed the import of some cement and steel under UN supervision to ensure the materials would not be diverted by Hamas for military use.

Mr Valent said on Wednesday that the system is too slow and Israel must open Gaza’s borders to allow for the speedy rebuilding or repair of 141,000 homes he said suffered minor to severe damage or were destroyed.’

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UN Report: Israel Committed Unprecedented Devastation and Killings in 2014 Gaza War

US Secretary of State John Kerry Pushed Israel on Gas Policy, Supporting Company He Owned Stock In

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

In a revelation that’s getting a lot of play in the Israeli press but remarkably little in the United States, Secretary of State John Kerry is revealed to have been using his post to push Israel on issues of natural gas policy in ways which would have bolstered Noble Energy, a company which at the time he owned roughly $1 million in stock in.

Noble Energy and its partner Delek have been under intense pressure in Israel for having formed an effective monopoly on the nation’s natural gas, controlling the nation’s sole import facility as well as having a majority interest in its two large offshore gas fields, Tamar and Leviathan.

Israel’s antitrust commissioner had been pushing the government to move against the monopoly, which prompted Kerry to call Netanyahu and urge him to follow through on a plan to retroactively “forgive” the monopoly, telling Netanyahu it was important for Israel to have a “consistent regulatory environment.”’

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Israeli Report Finds 2014 Gaza War “Lawful” and “Legitimate” Ahead of Critical U.N. Investigation: Interview with Yousef Munayyer and Gideon Levy

‘The Israeli government has released a report that concludes its military actions in the 2014 war in Gaza were “lawful” and “legitimate.” The findings come ahead of what is expected to be a critical United Nations investigation into the 50-day conflict that Israel has dismissed as biased and refused to cooperate with. More than 2,200 Palestinians died in what was called “Operation Protective Edge,” the vast majority civilians. On Israel’s side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. In its report, Israel says it made “substantial efforts” to avoid civilian deaths, insisting Hamas was to blame for the high number of civilian casualties and accusing Hamas militants of disguising themselves as civilians and of converting civilian buildings into military centers. We are joined by Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the former executive director of The Jerusalem Fund. We also go to Tel Aviv to speak with Gideon Levy, Haaretz columnist, whose latest piece is “Israel washed itself clean of Gaza’s dead beach children.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

The Enron of Sports: FIFA’s Upheaval, from Corruption Arrests to Rising Death Toll in Qatar

‘In what’s been described as the largest scandal in modern sports history, nine high-ranking soccer officials, including two current vice presidents of soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, were indicted along with five sports marketing executives on federal corruption charges by the U.S. Justice Department. Among those arrested in connection with the probe is Jack Warner, former vice president of FIFA, who is accused of taking a $10 million bribe to cast his ballot for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup. Despite the arrests, FIFA is holding an election today to pick the next president of the organization. FIFA President Sepp Blatter is seeking re-election for the post he has held since 1998. Many commentators have predicted he will be re-elected, though some nations, including the United States, have vowed to vote against him. We speak to sportswriter Dave Zirin and Jules Boykoff, former professional soccer player who represented the U.S. Olympic soccer team.’ (Democracy Now!)

FIFA corruption scandal may prove fortuitous for Israel

Ben Sales reports for The Times of Israel:

Israelis were expecting some big news to come out of the annual FIFA Congress this week. But they probably weren’t expecting this.

[…] The allegations are damning, but frankly, they couldn’t have come at a better time for Israel. Until Wednesday, much of the coverage of the FIFA Congress surrounded whether delegates would vote to suspend Israel from world soccer.

The Palestinian Football Association is introducing the motion to suspend Israel, accusing it of unjustly restricting Palestinian soccer players’ freedom of movement and claiming that Israel’s West Bank settlement teams violate FIFA rules. Israeli officials have called the effort blatantly political and said that the Palestinians’ complaints all concern Israel’s security forces — not Israel’s soccer teams.

For Israel to be suspended, three quarters of delegates would need to approve the motion. If that were a long shot before, it’s even more unlikely now.’

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Palestinian Israel FIFA Vote: Sepp Blatter fears suspension vote could set precedent

Samples of Israeli Horrific Brutality and War Criminality in Gaza

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Samples of Israeli Horrific Brutality and War Criminality in GazaThe Israeli group Breaking the Silence issued a report this morning containing testimony from Israeli soldiers about the savagery and criminality committed by the Israeli military during the attack on Gaza last summer. The Independent has a good article describing the report’s findings: “The Israeli military deliberately pounded civilian areas in the Gaza Strip with incessant fire of inaccurate ordinance” and “was at best indifferent about casualties among the Palestinian population.” At best.

This should surprise nobody who paid any attention to the brutal Israeli destruction of Gaza or, for that matter, countless Israeli attacks before that. The U.N. has said that 7 out of 10 people killed by the Israelis were civilians, “including 1,462 civilians, among them 495 children and 253 women”;video of Israelis killing four Gazan boys as they played on a beach sickened anyone decent.

Nonetheless, reading the accounts from these Israeli soldiers is revolting and important in equal parts. It shines considerable light on the reality of what Israeli loyalists have long hailed as “the most moral army in the world,” one unfairly held to a difference standard that ignores their great “restraint.”’

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Israel “directly targeted” children in drone strikes on Gaza, says rights group

Rania Khalek reports for Electronic Intifada:

Israel deliberately targeted children in Gaza last summer, according to a new report by Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine).

Of the 2,220 Palestinians killed during Israel’s 51-day bombing campaign, at least 1,492 were civilians, including at least 547 children.

A total of 535 of those children were killed as a direct result of Israeli attacks. Moreover, 68 percent of children Israel killed in Gaza were under the age of twelve, according to the report.

An additional 3,374 children were injured, including over 1,000 who have been left with lifelong disabilities, many of which require medical care that is inaccessible in Gaza due to a crushing Israeli siege that has yet to be lifted. Another 373,000 children are suffering from deep trauma and require desperately needed psychosocial support that is severely lacking in the Gaza Strip.

As a matter of policy, Israel deliberately and indiscriminately targeted the very spaces where children are supposed to feel most secure. Such acts violate international law and amount to war crimes, according to the report.’

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Israel killed more Palestinians in 2014 than in any other year since 1967, says UN report

Mairav Zonszein reports for The Guardian:

Israel killed more Palestinian civilians in 2014 than in any other year since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in 1967, a UN report has said.

Israel’s activities in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem resulted in the deaths of 2,314 Palestinians and 17,125 injuries, compared with 39 deaths and 3,964 injuries in 2013, according to the annual report (pdf) by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The conflict in Gaza in July and August was largely responsible for the dramatic increase in fatalities. It claimed the lives of 2,220 Gazans, of whom 1,492 were civilians, 605 militants and 123 unverified.’

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Netanyahu Victory Lays Bare Israel as Racist, Colonial State: Interview with Shir Hever

Netanyahu Says There Will Be No Palestinian State

Noam Chomsky: Despite Iran Spat, U.S. Support for Israeli Occupation Continues Without Pause

Rebuilding Gaza could take a century if Israel keeps blockade, says Oxfam

Kieran Guilbert reports for Reuters:

‘The rebuilding of homes, schools and hospitals in Gaza could take more than a century to complete unless an Israeli blockade restricting imports of construction materials into the Gaza Strip is lifted, aid agency Oxfam said on Thursday.

Gaza needs more than 800,000 truckloads of building materials to repair infrastructure damaged in the 2014 war with Israel, yet less than a quarter of one percent of the materials needed have entered Gaza in the last three months, Oxfam said.”

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IDF broke international law in dozens of Gaza war strikes, Israeli rights group says

Gili Cohen reports for Haaretz:

Two boys walk past destroyed homes in the northern Gaza strip a few miles away from the border with The Israel Defense Forces broke international law at least in some of the dozens of strikes it made against homes during the fighting in Gaza last summer, according to a report released this week by the human rights group B’Tselem.

[…] More than 70 percent of the people killed in 70 incidents examined by B’Tselem were non-combatants, according to the report, a copy of which was also given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In these 70 strikes, 606 Palestinians were killed, B’Tselem says, including 93 children under age 5, 129 children ages 5 to 14, and 42 teens, ages 14 to 18. This figure also included 135 women ages 18 to 60, and 37 men over 60 years old.’

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Who Should Be Blamed For Muslim Terrorism?

Andrew Vltchek writes for CounterPunch:

A hundred years ago, it would have been unimaginable to have a pair of Muslim men enter a cafe or a public transportation vehicle, and then blow themselves up, killing dozens. Or to massacre the staff of a satirical magazine in Paris! Things like that were simply not done.

When you read the memoirs of Edward Said, or talk to old men and women in East Jerusalem, it becomes clear that the great part of Palestinian society used to be absolutely secular and moderate. It cared about life, culture, and even fashion, more than about religious dogmas.

The same could be said about many other Muslim societies, including those of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. Old photos speak for themselves. That is why it is so important to study old images again and again, carefully.

Islam is not only a religion; it is also an enormous culture, one of the greatest on Earth, which has enriched our humanity with some of the paramount scientific and architectural achievements, and with countless discoveries in the field of medicine. Muslims have written stunning poetry, and composed beautiful music. But above all, they developed some of the earliest social structures in the world, including enormous public hospitals and the first universities on earth, like The University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco.

The idea of ‘social’ was natural to many Muslim politicians, and had the West not brutally interfered, by overthrowing left-wing governments and putting on the throne fascist allies of London, Washington and Paris; almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders.’

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A City Divided: Jerusalem’s Most Contested Neighborhood

‘Throughout the past several months, Jerusalem has been a scene of clashes and violent attacks. Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood just steps away from Jerusalem’s Old City, has been at the heart of the unrest, and is becoming one of the most contentious neighborhoods in the most contested city in the world. As settlement expansion into East Jerusalem continues, Israeli authorities have ramped up their practice of demolishing homes built without proper permits — permits which are near impossible for Palestinians to acquire. In addition to the demolitions due to lack of permits, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in early November the reinstatement of the policy of demolishing terrorists’ homes, which Palestinians claim is a form of collective punishment. VICE News traveled to Silwan and met with Palestinians and Israelis living in this contested neighborhood at a time when Jerusalem is more divided than ever.’ (VICE News)

Palestinian step to join ICC will have implications, says U.S. State Dept.

Reuters reports:

‘The US State Department said on Friday that the Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court will have “implications” for US aid to the Palestinian Authority.

“It should come as no surprise that there will be implications for this step, but we continue to review,” the official told Reuters.

“US assistance to the Palestinian Authority has played a valuable role in promoting stability and prosperity not just for the Palestinians, but also for Israel as well,” the official added.

Washington sends about $400 million in economic support aid to the Palestinians every year. Under US law, that aid would be cut off if the Palestinians used membership in the International Criminal Court to make claims against Israel.’

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Behind the UN vote: How the Palestinian bid was defeated

Itamar Eichner reports for Ynet News:

  “There was a clear message from international community to the Palestinians: Do not try to use tricks to replace negotiations,” a top Foreign Ministry official told Ynet, but the American effort to torpedo the Palestinian’s UN Security Council resolution demanding Israel end its ‘occupation’ of the West Bank proved once again the importance of maintaining good relations with Washington.

Furthermore, the abstention by African nations also demonstrated the importance of the visits made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to the African continent. However, the change of power set to take place in the Security Council on Thursday will change the balance of power against Israel.

The rejection of the Palestinian resolution by the UN Security Council on Tuesday night was a reminder of the great extent to which Israel-US relations serve as a critical factor in Israeli national security. It only strengthens the need for Israel to maintain good relations with Washington in general and more specifically with the White House, and prevent disagreements such as the one that occurred between Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Israeli diplomats say that the US played a crucial role in the effort to block the Palestinian resolution which sought to set a time table for Israel’s disengagement from territories for a future Palestinian state without direct negotiations.’

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“When they say effective, they’re talking about the killing of civilians” – Interview with John Hilary on Drones

‘John Hillary, director of War on Want, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about drones. The UK is working with Israel, who are now the largest exporter of drones around the world, to develop drones.’ (Going Underground)

‘Palestine is not an environment story’: How Nafeez Ahmed was censored from The Guardian for writing about Israel’s war for Gaza’s gas

Editor’s Note: Nafeez Ahmed recently launched a crowdfunding drive in order to support his great journalism and with the hopeful aim of creating his own investigative journalism collective. Please support him in any way you can. You can find links to more of his work here.

Nafeez Ahmed writes Medium:

‘After writing for The Guardian for over a year, my contract was unilaterally terminated because I wrote a piece on Gaza that was beyond the pale. In doing so, The Guardian breached the very editorial freedom the paper was obligated to protect under my contract. I’m speaking out because I believe it is in the public interest to know how a Pulitizer Prize-winning newspaper which styles itself as the world’s leading liberal voice, casually engaged in an act of censorship to shut down coverage of issues that undermined Israel’s publicised rationale for going to war.

I joined the Guardian as an environment blogger in April 2013. Prior to this, I had been an author, academic and freelance journalist for over a decade, writing for The Independent, Independent on Sunday, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, among others.

On 9th July 2014, I posted an article via my Earth Insight blog at The Guardian’s environment website, exposing the role of Palestinian resources, specifically Gaza’s off-shore natural gas reserves, in partly motivating Israel’s invasion of Gaza aka ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ Among the sources I referred to was a policy paper written by incumbent Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon one year before Operation Cast Lead, underscoring that the Palestinians could never be allowed to develop their own energy resources as any revenues would go to supporting Palestinian terrorism.’

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On Berlin Wall’s collapse anniversary, Palestinians punch hole through West Bank wall

Haaretz reports:

West Bank wall, Nov. 8, 2014.‘As the world marks the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s collapse Sunday, Palestinians knocked a hole through an altogether different wall this weekend.

Palestinian activists affiliated with local popular resistance committees broke through the West Bank separation barrier Saturday, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.

“No matter how high walls are built, they will fall,” the popular committees said in a statement cited by Ma’an. “Just as the Berlin Wall fell, the wall in Palestine will fall, along with the occupation.”‘

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The Special Interest Problem: How AIPAC and the NRA Came to Rule American Politics

Lawrence Davidson writes for CounterPunch:

‘The problem of special interests or lobbies was one of the foremost concerns of the Founding Fathers of the United States. In their day they were called factions. James Madison, who is considered the architect of the U.S. Constitution, devoted the entire tenth Federalist Paper (1787) to the problem. He defined a faction as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority … actuated by some common … interest, adverse to … the aggregate interests of the community,” and believed that within the context of liberal republicanism, they could never be eliminated. However, he did feel they could be controlled. To this end he sought to create representative bodies with high numbers of delegates and a wide diversity of interests in the hope that they would counterbalance each other.

When George Washington delivered his famous Farewell Address in 1796, he too noted the problem. Washington warned of “combinations and associations” which attempt to “direct, control, counteract and awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities” and thereby substitute their own desires for the “delegated will of the nation.” As Washington’s continued concern implied, James Madison’s approach to controlling special interests or factions never proved adequate.’

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Noam Chomsky at United Nations: It Would Be Nice if the United States Lived up to International Law

Israel Sidelined as Nations Pledge $5.4 Billion to Rebuild Gaza

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Israeli officials were unsuccessful in their attempts to condition the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, badly damaged during the summer Israeli invasion, on a full disarmament of Hamas and other factions within the strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly demanded the precondition, but it was ultimately sidelined, as the donor nations pledged $5.4 billion for reconstruction, solely on the condition that the ceasefire with Israel hold.’

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