Gaza: Days of rage - ‘Either we live in dignity or we all die’

On the night of 7/8 July 2014 Israel launched its latest terrorist onslaught on Palestine. ‘Operation Protective Edge’, a campaign of military terror and collective punishment against the people of Gaza, is aimed at political submission. The Zionist state stepped up its assault when, on the evening of 17 July, it began a ground invasion. Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz declared ‘Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army.’ As we go to press, however, it is evident that the Zionists are failing to meet their objectives. Bob Shepherd reports.

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Onslaught on Gaza: ‘Take to the streets…intensify the boycott!’

On the night of 7/8 July Israel launched its latest racist onslaught on the people of Palestine ‘Operation Protective Edge’, a campaign of military terror and collective punishment on the Gaza Strip, designed to bomb the Palestinian people into political submission. The death toll is rising rapidly with over 160 dead and over 1,000 injured within the first five days of bombardment with an estimated 25% of the casualties being children. Israel claims their campaign of terror is necessary to stop Hamas 'rocket attacks' and is backed up in this grotesque parody of the truth by Britain, the US and their pro-imperialist media corporations. The destruction of Gaza and the brutal human cost being paid by Palestinians has nothing to do with ‘rocket attacks’ and everything to do with crushing the growing spirit of anti-occupation resistance in Palestinian towns, cities and refugee camps. This military assault is a political campaign. The US plan to 'negotiate' new terms for the occupation is dead and buried. The attempt to pacify Palestinians to follow a Palestinian Authority which rejects resistance has failed. A new uprising is under way in Palestine.

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Palestine: Fatah-Hamas talks

Reconciliation talks that are taking place between Hamas and Fatah follow months of ‘peace’ negotiations between Israel, the US and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Throughout, Israel has maintained the Gaza blockade, violently invaded the West Bank, killed civilians and activists, increased arrests, bulldozed hundreds of homes and continued to build settlements. In talks opposed by many Palestinians, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has offered more concessions to Israel, proposing a three-year ‘transition’ period to keep Israeli troops in the West Bank after the announcement of a Palestinian state. For Abbas, the reconciliation talks are an attempt to recover some credibility and support from the Palestinian people; for Hamas, they offer a way out of its isolation in Gaza. Louis Brehony reports.

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Palestine: repression and resistance

In March, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas went to Washington for talks about US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ‘peace’ plan. Negotiations between the Israeli occupiers, their US sponsors and the unelected Palestinian leadership, have done nothing to stop illegal Zionist settlements, house demolitions and land grabs, maintaining Israel’s total control of the borders and water and energy supplies to the Occupied Territories. Even the trickle of Palestinian political prisoners released in ‘goodwill gestures’ looks likely to stop, as chief Zionist negotiator Tzipi Livni claims: ‘There was never any automatic commitment to release prisoners unrelated to making progress in negotiations’. Meanwhile, Israel is intensifying its daily war on Palestinians in the West Bank, through murder, detention and terror. Gaza remains blockaded and is regularly bombed, with no US, EU or UN opposition. No wonder ordinary Palestinians are rejecting negotiations and rebuilding resistance. Louis Brehony reports.

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Zionism: racism without end

Confident that it can act with impunity, the Zionist state continues to treat the US-sponsored Peace Talks with complete contempt while treating thousands of African asylum seekers with racist brutality.

At the end of 2013, a third batch of 26 long-term Palestinian prisoners was released in line with the terms of the Peace Talks. In response, on 10 January 2014, the Israeli government announced the construction of around 1,400 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The decision met with ritual criticism from EU countries, Britain, France, Italy and Spain calling in their respective Israeli ambassadors to rap their knuckles. This in turn was met with manufactured outrage by the Israeli government. Foreign Minister Lieberman condemned their supposed support for Palestine and grotesquely announced: ‘Israel is making great effort to allow the dialogue with the Palestinians to continue and the position these states are taking, beyond it being biased and unbalanced, is significantly harming the chances of reaching an accord.’

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Gaza: Humanitarian crisis intensifies

‘Gaza is quickly becoming uninhabitable’

It is now one year since the 21 November 2012 ceasefire agreement that ended the eight-day Israeli bombardment of Gaza during which at least 165 Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured. Living conditions for the people of Gaza have continued to deteriorate despite Israel’s agreement to open the border crossings. A report issued by Oxfam entitled Gaza: one year since the ceasefire, the blockade goes on, states: ‘The blockade has devastated the lives and livelihoods of Gaza’s population: 80% of people in Gaza receive international aid, 57% of households are food insecure, exports are virtually nonexistent, many basic services are barely functioning and unemployment is over 35% and rising.’ Bob Shepherd reports.

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Occupied Palestine: an eyewitness report

As a teenager, I became painfully aware of the Palestinian people’s oppression through television images of a 12-year-old boy named Muhammed Al-Durrah who was brutally shot down by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip in September 2000. This event is what eventually led me to volunteer in Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in September 2013. ISM was the organisation that activists Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie, who were murdered by Israeli forces for standing with the Palestinian people, belonged to.

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The Oslo ‘peace’ agreement, 20 years on

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has urged the US to make ‘the biggest effort in 20 years’ for a peace agreement. The last ‘big effort’ was the Oslo peace accords, signed at the White House 20 years ago, on 13 September 1993. Led by US President Bill Clinton and heralded with the (in)famous handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Yasir Arafat, the agreement ignored key issues – the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the status of Israel’s illegal settlements, and the borders of a future Palestinian ‘entity’ (the words ‘Palestinian state’ were not used). These issues were set aside for discussion as part of a five year process that never happened. In return for PLO recognition of Israel – a rejection of the right of return – the Palestinian leadership believed they would gain a state in the remaining 22% of historic Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital city. Mahmoud Abbas, today the unelected president of the Palestinian Authority, wrote the Palestinian documents submitted for Oslo. Robert Fisk writes that Abbas wrote ‘600 pages in which he did not once use the word occupation'. In which he referred only to the 'redeployment of the Israeli army rather than its withdrawal.’*

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Eyewitness report Palestine 20 years after Oslo –no justice, no peace!

I visited the West Bank recently, just before the 20 year anniversary of the Oslo ‘peace’ accords in September. Two decades on, the US, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are engaged in ‘talks about talks,’ while Israel continues its settlement building and ethnic cleansing operations. As Western backed leaders hold discussions in luxurious locations, the occupation is intensifying for the people of occupied Palestine.

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Palestine: More peace talks leading nowhere

On 19 July US Secretary of State John Kerry declared, ‘I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.’ This required yet another climb down by the supine pro-imperialist leadership of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) whose public position since the end of the last talks in 2010 was no further negotiations without a complete suspension of Zionist settlement construction. New settlement building is taking place all the time, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was reported in the Israeli paper Haaretz as boasting to his Cabinet, ‘I pulled the Palestinians down from the tree of preconditions; I didn’t agree to a further freeze of building in the territories; I refused the release of 120 prisoners before the talks began; and the 1967 borders are not mentioned.’

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UEFA out of Israel! Israel out of Palestine!

FRFI activists in London and Manchester are participating in the international campaign to demand that UEFA pull its Under-21s final football tournament out of Israel, where it is due to be held from 5 to 18 June 2013.

In London, on 24 May, activists assembled outside St Pancras International station to receive around 40 activists from several European countries, mainly France, who arrived to cheers and chants of Free Palestine! Boycott Israel! We then set off for a 250-strong march to Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane where the UEFA annual congress was taking place. FRFI was among the coalition of groups which organised the day of action, along with Football Beyond Borders and Red Card Israeli Racism – which held a five-hour rally outside the hotel. A small group of intrepid activists even managed, later, to get past security and protest at the UEFA dinner itself. In front of guests including David Beckham and Alex Ferguson, one got onto the platform to denounce Israel and another stood behind UEFA president Michel Platini holding a flag.

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Palestine: Zionist settlers on the rampage

On 16 May the Israeli government announced it would legalise four settlement outposts on the West Bank. These settlements were constructed unofficially and, in 2003, the then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised to demolish them as part of the ‘Road Map for Peace’. The reality of an Israeli government ‘promise’ can be seen in this little episode: pledge to do something, don’t do it for ten years and then do the reverse. The announcement followed on from the government’s approval for around 300 new housing units in the Beit El settlement just outside Ramallah, increasing the size of that settlement by around a third.

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Obama re-affirms support for Israel

Obama’s visit to Israel in March was designed to reassure Israel that they still play a central role in imperialism’s plans to control the Middle East and Central Asia. It was also an opportunity for Obama to point out to the Zionists that they won’t find a more pliant and servile Palestinian leadership than Abbas and the current Palestinian Authority (PA).

Obama’s speech in Jerusalem on 21 March was deliberately phrased in a pro-Zionist language. Full of distortions and outright lies, it praised the ‘achievements’ of Israeli democracy, equated Jewish culture with Israel and highlighted the shared interests of Israel and the US, only adding the plight of the Palestinians for liberal effect.

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Israel general election sees no change

A few days before Israel’s general election on 22 January, Prime Minister Netanyahu appealed to the racism dominating Israeli society, guaranteeing that no Jewish settlement in the West Bank would be demolished if he remained in office. He declared that he would seek a ‘real and fair solution’ with the Palestinians but ‘that certainly doesn’t include driving out hundreds of thousands of Jews who live in the suburbs of Jerusalem and… Tel Aviv, in the Ariel block’. The ‘suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv’ and the Ariel block are illegal colonial settlements built on stolen Palestinian land after driving out thousands of Palestinians from their homes.

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Palestine: Gaza ceasefire setback for Zionists

On 21 November, following eight days of Zionist bombardment of Gaza and the deaths of around 170 Palestinians, Israel and Hamas agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire. Bob Shepherd reports.

The Israeli blitzkrieg began on 14 November with the assassination of Ahmad Al Jaabari, head of Hamas’s military wing, in a missile attack on his car. During the eight days’ onslaught, Israel claimed it had attacked 1,500 sites across Gaza. 300 Palestinian homes had been destroyed or damaged. Eleven members of the Al Dalou family, including four children, were massacred when a bomb flattened their house in Gaza City on 18 November. Two bridges linking north and central Gaza were destroyed, government buildings including the Prime Minister’s office were hit, and health, education and media facilities were also targeted. Two mosques were also blown up. All this took place under the grotesque banner of ‘Operation Pillar of Defence’.

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Israeli blitzkrieg: victory to the people of Gaza!

On the morning of 14 November, under the grotesque banner ‘Operation Pillar of Defence’, Israel launched yet another barbaric attack on the Gaza Strip. Its opening act was the assassination of Ahmad Al Jaabari, the head of Hamas’s military wing, the Izzedin Al Qassam Brigades, with a missile attack on the car in which he was travelling. Within the first five days of this onslaught the Israeli military claimed it had carried out 1,350 attacks on ‘terror’ targets: these attacks had claimed the lives of over 80 Palestinians including 11 members of the Al Dalou family, four of them children, massacred when a bomb flattened their house in Gaza City on Sunday 18 November. Over 700 were wounded in the same period, the overwhelming majority of the victims being Palestinian civilians As of the end of 20 November, the seventh day of the onslaught, 140 Palestinians have been killed (compared to five Israelis) and over 900 wounded. There is as yet no sign of agreement on a cease-fire.

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Palestinian Authority in economic crisis

At the beginning of September protests against the high cost of living and the rising prices of fuel and basic food items swept across the West Bank. The protests were directed against the economic policies of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and in particular of the Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, and his subservience to the dictates of Israel. Fayyad is a former IMF economist and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the strategy put forward by Tony Blair and the Quartet of security cooperation with Israel and the cutting of public expenditure, under the guise of Palestinian state building. Fayyad had announced an increase in the level of VAT to 16% and an increase in the cost of fuel to the equivalent of over $2 a litre, while employees of the PA had still not received their salaries for August. This came on top of an inflation rate of 3.5% for 2011 which included a massive rise of 18% in electricity prices. On 4 September protests erupted in Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin and other cities.

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Israel: a racist apartheid state

Since the end of the mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in May, the Zionist state has been backtracking on its agreement and is continuing its repression of both the prisoners and their families. Within Israel itself the government has stepped up its racist offensive: 97 encampments are being erected in the Negev desert to keep African refugees out of Israeli cities. Racist attacks, including the firebombing of the homes and businesses of black Africans, are now a common occurrence in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel is a racist apartheid state.

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Israel: A rotten racist state – June 2012

Israel: A rotten racist stateOn 7 June an Israeli court in Jerusalem rejected appeals from human rights organisations that had delayed the implementation of an order from the Interior Ministry, issued on 1 April, which called for the deportation of around 1,500 refugees from the South Sudan. The Interior Minister, Eli Yishai a member of the Shas party, at the beginning of June had expressed clearly the racist ideology behind the Order when he declared, ‘Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man’!

There are an estimated 60,000 African refugees in Israel, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea. The vast majority have been granted temporary status visas and are not legally allowed to work in Israel, although up to now in the majority of cases, the state has been turning a ‘blind eye’ to their exploitation by Israeli firms. The state gives no benefits or aid to these asylum seekers. A report just issued by the Hotline for Migrant Workers in Israel showed that the Israeli state deliberately prevents refugees from being granted official asylum. Last year out of the thousands of applications for asylum only eight were granted.

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Palestine: New Israeli coalition spells no change on occupation

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227 June/July 2012

On 8 May Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made the surprise announcement that his Likud party had formed a coalition with Kadima, a centre-right breakaway from Likud, and that elections planned for September were cancelled. The new coalition has an overwhelming majority of 94 out of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. Shaul Mofaz the leader of Kadima is now deputy prime minister to Netanyahu and part of the government’s Security Commission that oversees Israel’s military actions.

Mofaz and Kadima are portrayed in the mainstream media as being from the centre ground of Israeli politics and so are expected to have a moderating effect on Netanyahu, specifically in relation to possible military action against Iran. Mofaz has lined up with most of Israel’s military class in opposing any military action at the present time, against Netanyahu’s threats of an imminent military strike. The present head of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), Benny Gantz, also supports diplomacy over military action, declaring that he thinks Iran is ‘rational’ and is not constructing a nuclear weapon. Both the current and former heads of Mossad oppose military action, as does the former head of Shin Bet who argued that an attack on Iran would accelerate rather than prevent its development of nuclear weapons. In the end, the determining factor in any Israeli attack on Iran will be the position of the US, and at present deepening and extending economic sanctions on Iran is President Obama’s preferred political strategy.

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British Banks – No More Profits from War!

42,000 signatures delivered to M&S to mark the Nakba.

On Saturday 19th May 2012, supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and other activists held a day of protest in Newcastle city centre against banks and businesses to expose their role in the continued domination and exploitation of the Middle-East and Africa- from Syria, to Somalia, and Palestine – and their complicity in the government’s savage austerity measures being forced upon the British working classes. The protest was also to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the Nakba.

Targets included branches of Barclays, Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Halifax, Natwest and Marks and Spencer – many of which were forced to close their doors. Activists went from bank to bank along the high street and used a megaphone, banners, placards and leaflets to put forward a message of ‘No to War! No to Austerity! Socialism is the Alternative!’ A lot of support was given from people passing by, some people joining in with the chanting, one person expressed their outrage at the banks:

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Solidarity with Palestine and the prisoners of imperialism - 20 April 2012

As the crisis of imperialism deepens, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only solution the ruling class the world over can the offer is further violence and repression. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Glasgow has in recent weeks been taking to the streets to defend the right to protest and to express active solidarity with anti-imperialist prisoners struggling from within the darkest recesses of the torture apparatus.

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Palestine: occupied, imprisoned, but undefeated!

The brutal Israeli policy of snatching and kidnapping Palestinian activists from their homes and imprisoning them without trial for periods of up to six months using an Administrative Detention order is being challenged head-on by Palestinian prisoners following the brave example of Khader Adnan. On 18 December 2011, one day after he had been detained under the Administrative Detention law, Khader, a member of Islamic Jihad, began a hunger strike in protest at his detention. 66 days later, on 21 February 2012, he ended it after winning concessions on his release. On 16 February, following Khader’s example, another member of Islamic Jihad, Hana Al Shalabi, began a hunger strike against her detention. As we go to press, over 20 Palestinian prisoners have declared a hunger strike in solidarity with Hana and against Administrative Detention, and Hana herself is close to death.

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House Demolitions in East Jerusalem: Occupation and Resistance – eyewitness report – Feb 2012

Photo: The wall of 'Beit Arabiya' commemorated Nuha Sweidan, who was nine months pregnant when she was crushed by a bulldozer, and activist Rachel Corrie, killed whilst resisting house demolition.

Palestinian homes are being demolished on an ever-increasing scale. Construction of Israeli settlements is accelerating in key strategic parts of the West Bank. The occupation is being expanded and strengthened, violating international law - yet the imperialist powers continue to fund Israel.

Each individual demolition is an example of the violence and destruction imposed upon the whole Palestinian people. Salim Shawamreh and his family have already lost their home four times. Four times their belongings have been bulldozed, and the entire family made homeless. Arabiya, Salim's wife, suffered extreme stress, unable to speak after the first demolition. Their children have all shown signs of trauma. This, of course, is not an isolated incident. Rather, house demolition is a daily issue in Palestine and increasingly so for Palestinians living within Israel itself. The Shawamrehs were unable to move into their home the fourth time it was rebuilt, with its memories of destruction and violence. They decided to dedicate the house to the community - 'Beit Arabiya' (the house of Arabiya) became a hub of resistance, education and solidarity. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) had rebuilt the house alongside the family each time - in summer, rebuilding participants stayed in the house with Salim and Arabiya. On 23rd January 2012, this was bulldozed for the fifth time. ICAHD members were instantly at the scene, only to be beaten by the army and police. Women came under particular attack, with sexualised taunts. The bulldozers didn't stop there, but carried on to destroy the Jahalin Bedouin enclave close by; six homes were destroyed and most of the animal pens.

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Palestine: no two-state solution possible

In January 2012, the Israeli group Peace Now, issued a report, Torpedoing the Two State Solution – The Strategy of the Netanyahu Government, setting out the record levels of illegal Israeli settlement construction in 2011 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its clear objective of strangling any hope for a viable Palestinian state under the two-state solution scenario. Another report, written by European Union (EU) Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah in 2011, and leaked to the press this January, comes to much the same conclusion after analysing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from what is known as Area C in the West Bank. The Heads of Mission report expresses the concerns of European imperialism over developments in Israel and its potentially destabilising effects on the wider region. It also points to a developing rift with US imperialism over the issue. What is clear from both reports is that the strategy of the ‘two-state solution’ is a political dead end for the Palestinians. Bob Shepherd reports.

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Palestine: UN statehood bid falters

After the fanfare accompanying the application to the United Nations for full Palestinian statehood by Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Abbas at the end of September there has been silence. There have been no mobilisations on Palestine’s streets, no international campaign and hardly a murmur of response from the UN. The application to the Security Council went immediately to its Committee on the Admission of New Members for ‘examination and report’ and on 11 November it became clear that out of the 15 states that make up the Security Council, Palestine could count on, at most, eight votes; one vote short of the nine needed for a Security Council majority which would force the US to use its veto. Britain indicated that it would abstain, which in practical terms is the same as opposing Palestinian statehood. Bob Shepherd reports.

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Videos from FRFI public meeting: Palestine: Unity and Liberation - Oct 2011

On Friday 14 October 2011, at Bolivar Hall, London, FRFI hosted a public meeting, "Palestine: Unity and Liberation". Speakers included Adam Hanieh (Development Studies Department, School of Oriental and African Studies), Jody McIntyre (Journalist and Political Activist) and Trevor Rayne (Editorial board - Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!). Watch videos of the speeches here.

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Palestine statehood: no to imperialist veto

On 23 September 2011, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas submitted the widely-heralded application for full Palestinian statehood to the UN, defying months of diplomatic pressure from the US and European imperialist powers. Earlier, US President Obama criticised the initiative, declaring ‘peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations’. The PLO has placed Obama and US imperialism in an almost impossible position: in opposing the Palestinian bid, the US’s talk of supporting the ‘Arab Spring’ and democratic change in the region is shown to be empty rhetoric. If the US uses its Security Council veto, it will be the 41st time it has done so in support of Israel since 1967. Bob Shepherd reports.

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Palestine: national unity stalls

At the beginning of May 2011, Hamas and Fatah signed a national unity agreement, brokered by the new regime in Egypt. This was supposed to see a new national government of technocrats, a unified security force across Gaza and the West Bank, and fresh elections within one year. In practical terms it seems nothing much has happened since then, with the main public stumbling block being the choice of Prime Minister. Mahmoud Abbas insists his main ally, Salam Fayyad, should continue as head of the interim government, while Hamas wants an independent figure. There is also disagreement over Abbas and the PLO’s determination to present a motion calling for recognition of an independent Palestinian state at the UN in September. On 17 July a leading member of Hamas, Ezzet Al Resheq, declared that Palestinian independence could only come through resistance and that Abbas’s insistence on continuing with the UN strategy was against the interests of national unity. He also condemned Fatah in the West Bank for continuing to arrest supporters of Hamas.

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Palestine: unity in the face of Zionist terror

In a significant defeat of Zionist and imperialist plans to keep Hamas isolated, on 3 May the new Egyptian government brokered a national unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the principal Palestinian factions. The response from Israel was outrage. Less than two weeks later, on 15 May, Nakba Day, which commemorates the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their land in 1948, Zionist forces showed how they would respond to any ‘Arab Spring’ amongst the Palestinian people. As thousands of Palestinian refugees demonstrated on the Israeli borders with Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli soldiers used live fire to drive them back, killing many and injuring hundreds more. Bob Shepherd reports.

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Palestine: US and Israel defy the UN

As we go to press, Israeli forces have launched a series of murderous attacks on Gaza; more can be expected following a bomb explosion which killed a woman at a bus stop in Jerusalem. There will be no imperialist no-fly zone over Gaza, despite the deaths of a family of four on 22 March, their home hit by an artillery shell. Two children were among the dead.

Bob Shepherd reports.

US imperialism’s opposition to Palestinian democratic rights remains as intransigent as ever. On Friday 18 February at the United Nations Security Council the US vetoed a resolution put forward by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which condemned continued Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. The resolution had the support of over 130 member states of the UN and 14 of the 15 current members of the Security Council. The US was the only Security Council member to vote against.

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