The Israel/Palestine renewed peace talks moved an inch closer today with the announcement that the US had appointed Martin Indyk as their envoy for the talks, and that preliminary discussions will start in Washington next week.
However, I can only view these developments with skepticism given that Mr. Indyk is a former US ambassador to Israel, so how balanced will he be? Also, there has been no mention of the core and fully justified Palestinian needs being met, such as the right of return for refugees, a return to pre-1967 borders, and East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, let alone the dismantling of the illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land and the dismantling of the ‘wall’.
Secretary of State Kerry has also talked of “meaningful compromises” from both sides, but how many more compromises can the Palestinians be expected to make?
And what of Gaza and Hamas?
I fear that once again, as per Camp David and Oslo, the Palestinians will be short-changed, but of course I hope for the opposite. We’ll see, but I won’t hold my breath.
Palestine – Israel peace talks are soon to resume, according to media reports (Al Jazeera, SBS), though it is not clear if they will be actual substantive talks or merely setting the agenda. Apparently US Secretary of State Kerry has been busy with ‘shuttle diplomacy’ (a very over-used expression) lately.
Though hopefully this is good news, though I have some worries. Will it be a just peace, that is, a return to pre-1967 boundaries, with East Jerusalem included in Palestine, the right of return for refugees, and the dismantling of Israeli settlements, or a sell-out, like the Camp David talks and the Oslo Accords?
Will Hamas be included or is Fatah the only Palestinian ‘partner’? I saw some television news coverage that showed President Abbas with Kerry and an Israeli negotiator, but didn’t see anyone who looked as though he might be a Hamas spokesperson. But without Hamas would a peace settlement stick, even if it was a ‘just’ one, given Hamas’ stand on the legitimacy of Israel?
Many questions before I can relax about what should, but may well not, be good news.
The Israelis are attempting to move Bedouin tribes out of their traditional homes to make way for new settlements. So much for US talk about pressuring the Israelis to stop new settlement building. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the European Union has announced that it will no longer do business with anyone active in Palestinian lands occupied by Israel since the 1967 war. It was also good to see and hear Hanan Ashrawi speaking again on the news about it, as she has been quiet for a number of years, at least as far as the news media I see. As a means of exerting pressure on Israel it is good to hear, though how effective it will be I have my doubts, and it certainly falls far short of a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), which is probably all that will have an impact – it worked to help end the apartheid regime in South Africa, after all, and the parallels are very similar.
Amnesty International Australia AGM in Canberra was informative, inspiring and also enjoyable. I wasn’t sure if the plan of a videoconference link up of every state and territory branch would provide for an inclusive and participatory meeting, but to my pleasant surprise it did. It was also of course less expensive than a full face-to-face meeting, and the ‘oil miles’ were far, far less.
Though I’ve been a petition signer and financial contributor for many years, and more lately a local group letter writer I’ve only recently become a signed up financial member, and this was my first AGM. As such I learned a lot about how AI works, as is common for a ‘new chum’ on such occasions.
As an AGM the essentials such as governance, elections and finances were dealt with, and efficiently and quickly too. As a Green I was pleased to see decisions made by consensus if possible, though AI has no qualms about going to a vote if there isn’t consensus, unlike the Greens, where a vote is the last resort.
But what really interested and pleased me was the other business that was dealt with, which made it more like a conference than an AGM.
So the meeting dealt with issues such as effectively campaigning for Human Rights in the light of the up-coming federal election, the ‘decentralisation’ of AI by creating ‘hubs’ world wide as opposed to the large secretariat in London (which currently has a staff of 500), a move to create those hubs in the ‘south’ in places such as India and the Middle East, and also a great workshop on the benefits and disadvantages of activism versus organizational structures.
Most of these topics were discussed through face-to-face workshops rather than videoconferencing, which later reported to the plenary videoconference.
So all in all a very productive exercise that taught me a lot and was also quite inspiring.
In Canberra for the Amnesty AGM, which I’m really looking forward to. This was my first time travelling to Canberra by public transport, which worked quite well: train to Cootamundra and a seamless transfer to coach for the rest of the journey. Both legs were pretty full, but it was Friday afternoon, with presumably many people travelling for the weekend. I’ll report on the Amnesty AGM tomorrow.
I also saw an APHEDA job advertised in Palestine yesterday. I’d love it, but sadly I’m too old and don’t really meet the selection criteria.
Otherwise a quiet week past for volunteering, just Wagga City Library Home Delivery Service for the house-bound on Monday, taking talking audio books to my blind client, and the local Amnesty International letter writing group on Tuesday. Both were very fulfilling.
But I did see ‘Jack Charles versus the Crown’ at the Wagga Civic Theatre on Wednesday evening, which was a worthwhile indigenous play in part written and dramaturged by John Romeril that explored well through music, visuals, and first person spoken monologue the autobiography of an Aboriginal man who was for a large part of his life ‘eaten up’ by the white man’s justice system.
But considering I came down with a bad cold earlier in the week it was quite busy enough for me, as I had time to nurse the cold, which I think I may have managed to keep in reasonable bounds.