Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A New Type of Conversation in the U.S. Media

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart hosted Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian, and Anna Baltzer, and Jewish American, were on the show on October 28th. These are figures calling for nonviolence to pressure Israel to end the occupation to allow for a peaceful resolution.

The Daily Show has been getting lots of criticism for inviting these guests and the content of the discussion. Click here to voice your support for the Daily Show.

Hopefully this a step towards a more balanced and open dialogue in the U.S. media.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Anna Baltzer & Mustafa Barghouti Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Anna Baltzer & Mustafa Barghouti Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Quote of the Week: Vol 10

From the Guardian (the whole article is worth reading).
Agassi, one of the most important officials in the military courts wielding authority over large parts of the West Bank, says settling Jews on lands that made up ancient Israel stands above all other biblical commandments and only when it is done can they have "a promised land and a promised life".

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Most Dangerous Walk to School (in the world).

Direct from At-Tuwani, just moments ago. Israeli settlers came out with intentions to beat up Palestinian children and international activists. Can you put yourself in these parents' shoes? If your children faced grown men, faces covered, with slingshots, ready to beat them, what would you do? What if you were powerless to do nothing without negative consequences facing you? Would you even keep sending your kids to school? Could you even fathom the world doing nothing, not even caring? Could you fathom the local police doing nothing? Could you imagine that you may be the one arrested for yelling at the people who tried to attack your children, for calling the police to accountability?

This is outrageous. None of these settlers will be arrested. The military may very well fail to escort the kids tomorrow. These settlers are currently building more homes in this very settlement, on stolen land. We should all be outraged.


Israeli military negligence again exposes young Palestinian children to threat of attack from Israeli settlers
27 October 2009

On Tuesday 27 October 2009, Palestinian school children from the villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed did not attend school in At-Tuwani due to threat of violence from Israeli settlers from the Israeli settlement of Ma'on and the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma'on.

Internationals from Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove made repeated calls to the Israeli military, who were mandated by the Israeli Knesset to escort the children from Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed to the area school in At-Tuwani. After waiting forty five minutes for the Israeli military to arrive, the children and the internationals began walking a longer route to school at 8:15 am, fifteen minutes after the start of the school day. However, four adult Israeli settlers, one masked and armed with a slingshot, in addition to settlers in a pickup truck, blocked their way. The internationals ran with the children back to Tuba. As a result, sixteen children missed a day's education.

Later, at 8:47, after the children returned to Tuba, an Israeli military jeep came to the area in which the settlers had threatened the children. Soldiers from the jeep spoke with members of Operation Dove who were in the area. The soldiers claimed they were new and did not know where to meet the children for the escort, though at no point previously did international volunteers see a jeep driving in the area.

This is the second consecutive day in which the Israeli military has failed to arrive to escort the Palestinian children to and from school, forcing them to take a longer path on which they have been attacked by Israeli settlers on numerous occasions.

In 2004, following a series of attacks by Israeli settlers on the young Palestinian schoolchildren and also on international volunteers, the Israeli Knesset mandated the Israeli military to provide daily accompaniment for the children on the shortest possible route to and from school. The Israeli military have repeatedly failed to carry out this task adequately, resulting in children being late for school and subject to unnecessary anxiety and risk.

Background information
During the 2008-2009 school year, settlers used violence against the children ten times; two of these times the settlers threw rocks at the children.

For a complete report on the school escort in 2007-2008, including maps,
photographs and interviews with the children, please see "A Dangerous
Journey" at www.cpt.org/files/Dangerous-Journey-Summary-2008.pdf

Settlers Clash with Palestinians Harvesting Olives

From Haaretz:
Residents of the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel clashed on Tuesday with Palestinians harvesting olives in nearby groves.

The settlers, who were joined by residents of nearby illegal outposts, headed out in the morning to hold a protest march against the harvest.

"If they harvest near us, then we'll be near them," one of the settlers said.

Settlers said the olive harvesters posed a security threat, since the Palestinians could gather intelligence and launch attacks from the groves.
I am speechless.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Religion, Geography and Human Dignity


This from a blog on the Haaretz website. (Much of the last paragraph rings so true for me).

by Shoshi Rosenbaum

I have been in Israel for two weeks, and I have not yet been to the old city, but I have been to Hebron. This has been far from a conscious decision; I have been meaning to go to the old city since I got here. But there has been much here to keep my roommates and me busy in terms of setting up our apartment, so we have spent more time in areas with stores that sell household items and food, such as Emek Refaim Street, which is a ten minute walk away from where we live, and our favorite place to buy delicious produce, the shuk.

I went to Hebron with an organization called Breaking the Silence, which was started by a group of Israeli soldiers who felt strongly that the general public--both Israelis and non-Israelis--should know what is going on in Hevron. The most striking part of this day trip for me was not the political-religious perspectives and implications of the groups and individuals we encountered. I am generally uncomfortable with extreme opinions from both sides, and this trip helped me explore to a larger degree why I feel that way. Physically standing in a place about which there is so much controversy--and actually experiencing the tensions there--was a raw, unparalleled learning experience for me.

We got on the bus, crossed the Green Line, and passed through 4 or 5 checkpoints to get to Hevron. We sat in the home of a Palestinian man who spoke to us about the damage that had been done to his house by the Israeli Army and how his sixteen-year-old son is beat up regularly by soliders because this man speaks with tours like this. We saw the ghost town that Hevron is today--small Palestinian roads that have been blocked so that Palestinian cars do not have access to the main roads. Closed shops covered with stars of David drawn in blue spray paint, reminiscent for me of Holocaust movies and pictures of swastikas. We saw settlers, dressed more or less in clothes like those that I wore in high school, walking on the streets. We experienced tension between ourselves and the soldiers on duty. We felt the tension between our group leader and the police officers that accompanied us on the tour.

And then, as if I were not conflicted enough already, I felt the religious significance of the place of Hebron. As we stood outside of Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs, I felt connected to the Bible and the significant ancestors whose tombs are there.

I felt as if my head were going to explode with the difficult thoughts and feelings that this trip evoked, but I left with one thought ringing in my ears:

I truly believe that human dignity is paramount and that religion is secondary. In situations such as these, God has far more to do with human dignity than with religion. I cannot relate to a God who uncompromisingly commands people to live in specific geographical locations or a God who orders people to refrain from leaving their homes in the most dire of circumstances. I am concerned with a God who cares deeply about humanity and the basic human dignity that each and every person deserves. And this realization leads to a new set of questions entirely, including: how to relate to others in the same religious tradition who do not agree with this core issue, and: how exactly should human dignity be defined, and how does that play out?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Torching Cars: The Video

Here is the video relating to my previous post.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Borders, Walls, and Border Patrols. Generally Bad Ideas.

The Separation Wall which creates a barrier between the West Bank and Israel (but also annexes large portions of Palestinian territory) is not completed on the southern border of the West Bank. Therefore, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) heavily patrols the area to prohibit Palestinians from crossing the border. Palestinians from the South Hebron hills use the southern border as their conduit to find work in Israel. Jobs in Israel and much more abundant and much better paying than the few that are available in Palestine. It's necessary for many families to cross the border to find work in order to provide for their children.

It seems the new IDF policy in the South Hebron hills is to set fire to cars which are caught trying to cross the border.

When the IDF spots a car full of workers, one of two things will happen: 1) the workers will abandon the car to avoid arrest or detention 2) the workers will stay with the car and the IDF will force the workers out of the car, often confiscating IDs and dishing out beatings (which has very recently been documented by B'tselem). Once the workers are out of the car, the IDF has been vandalizing vehicles: cutting electrical wires, puncturing tires, or pushing cars off the road.

See this testimony from a man involved in one of the recent torchings:

"Suddenly, an army Hummer jeep pulled up [...]. I stopped and stayed in the car with the four workers. Three soldiers got out of the jeep and one of them asked for our ID cards. He checked [the ID numbers] with someone on the two-way radio and wrote our names down on a page. Then he gave us back the ID cards and told us to continue on foot.

We walked about 50 meters away and waited, hoping that the jeep would leave and we could go back to the car. I saw the three soldiers break the rear window. One soldier open the engine hood, sprayed something flammable on the spare tire and set fire to it. The tire caught fire and exploded, and then the fire went out. The soldiers punctured all the tires on the car and broke the front window. It lasted about forty minutes. Then they got into the jeep and left."
From time to time At-Tuwani is a hotspot for this madness because At-Tuwani is the conduit to the south. Workers must pass through At-Tuwani coming or going from work in Israel, if they are crossing on the southern border. Today I caught a glimpse of this madness.

Villagers started yelling that the IDF was in the village and was searching a car. When I got to the car the license plate was gone (it had been removed by the Israeli soldiers), the soldiers had opened all the doors and the trunk and were searching through the belongings. I got the story from one of the villagers that the man was driving south to try to enter Israel for work. The army had cut him off so he turned back towards the north to evade trouble. The hummer chased him and he ended up ditching his car in At-Tuwani with the soldiers on his tail. He had ran and hid in someone's house. 2 of the 4 soldiers proceeded to get in the Palestinian man's car and drive off. I demanded to know why they were driving off with someone else's car, to which they responded, "I cannot speak with you."

One of the men suggested that the soldiers were driving to a more isolated area, without cameras and angry people, to set fire to the car. This caused a bit of a panic and 30 men from the village started running after the car. Some men blocked the path of the hummer (with 2 remaining soldiers) while the rest of the men chased the Palestinian car being driven by Israeli soldiers. After a few hundred meters the soldiers exited the vehicle. It seemed to me that the soldiers were rethinking their plan. There was a brief argument between them after they exited the vehicle. They then walked back to the hummer and left the scene.


Setting fire to cars, vandalizing cars, beating up grown men to within an inch of their life; this must be the work of the 'most moral army in the world.' It simply must.

Oh and by the way. Borders suck. This is what happens to people who are poor and need to get enough money to feed to their kids. For wanting to feed your kids you get your jaw broken or your car torched. Borders and walls...not so clever.

Quote of the Week: Vol 9

Zvi Bar'el writing for Haaretz, says that there is fuel, but no spark, for a third intifada (meaning uprising in Arabic).

Bar'el goes on to nearly equate the intifada with suicide bombings. Bar'el fears that if things don't change soon then suicide bombings will once again be used against Israel. Speaking of the 'fuel' that is there for the third intifada, Bar'el says:
The causes for the previous intifadas still exist: the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are going nowhere; the national aspiration to establish an independent Palestinian state is not being realized, whether because there is no negotiating partner in Israel or because the Palestinian leadership is incapable of making practical decisions; and the economic situation, while it has improved, is still far from providing the standard of living the Palestinians expect or the income level that was the norm in the territories before the second intifada.
But not the occupation right? Some of these reasons are valid points of discontent for Palestinians, but the daily humiliation and strangulation of the occupation is what drives people to respond. Bar'el touches upon elements of the occupation later in his column, but his initial explanation of the causes of the first two intifadas isn't fully accurate. If land wasn't being stolen, if student visas weren't being denied, if goods were flowing in and out of Gaza, if the occupation wasn't in your face each day, suicide bombings wouldn't be on the news, because they wouldn't exist.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quote of the Week: Vol 8

From Gideon Levy's recent column "A Nation Alone."
Dividing the world up between absolute good and evil - our side and our enemies, with no middle ground - is a sign of despair and a complete loss of direction.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bombs Over Fakhit

I traveled to the south, within throwing distance of the border with Israel. The area is incredibly rural with villages scattered sparsely amongst the desert hills. This area scattered with these rural Palestinian villages is within an Israel military firing range. There are consistently explosions and bursts of machine gun fire. Helicopters, tanks, hummers, and other vehicles are constantly patrolling the area. Sometimes the vehicles seem to be doing training maneuvers and sometimes they are acting as border patrol for Palestinians trying to cross into Israel to find work.

As as I sat in the village of Fakhit, taking the testimony of a man who's tractor was confiscated (read stolen) in the middle of the night by the Israeli military, a helicopter appeared. The helicopter flew a circle pattern around the village, touching down 3 times for no apparent reason (although the whole touching down incidents basically caused a dust storm to rain over the village). The helicopter banked a hard turn just feet over the ground and within a dozen meters of the nearest home in the village.

Military training areas should not include residential areas, they should be on unpopulated land, NOT on stolen land, wait no, they shouldn't exist at all, but that's a different argument. Helicopter training courses should not use Palestinian homes as flagsticks, bobbing and weaving amongst the villages. Israeli military helicopters shouldn't fly in the West Bank. Helicopters shouldn't send dust storms over remote villages. Need I go on?

Oh and by the way, this EXACT SAME incident happens once a day, 5 days a week.

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

  • The sound of children's voices echoing through the hills on their way to school, as I sit looking out over the countryside early in the morning,
  • The sound of sheep making their way into the valley, as I sit looking out over the countryside early in the morning.
  • The sound of machine gun and heavy artillery fire emanating from the firing range to the south, as I sit looking out over the countryside early in the morning.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Planting Patience

One of the words for cactus in Arabic is saber, which also means patience.

Today's action in At-Tuwani involved watering cactus plants that were recently planted along a contentious border. In the recent years, Israeli settlers from Ma'on have gradually encroached upon land that is owned by Palestinians from the village of At-Tuwani. Within the last year, settlers fenced off another section of a fertile valley which is Palestinian-owned. As a means of responding to the the illegal settlement expansion (in this case it could also be called stealing), cactus were planted to 'make a stand' on the land that is still under the villagers' control.





Last night, H. the landowner was talking to us about the significance of the plants. H. said that these plants won't produce much fruit, and the cactus isn't used in Palestinian cuisine, so it's more symbolic than anything else. Planting saber (cactus) in the ground is a form of acting out saber (patience). They understand that they can't take back their land overnight. The settler orchard that was planted on stolen Palestinian land cannot be cut down by the Palestinians overnight, because that would contribute to the cycle of fear and hatred that already seems to be running wild. But instead, planting cactus, symbols of patience, on the border between the orchard and the rest of the valley is a form of resistance. It's a means of peacefully yet persistently remaining on the land. Part of that ongoing resistance each week is to gather villagers, Israeli and international peace activists to come to the valley to assist in watering the plants.

As I sat with H. this morning he stressed the importance of coming to the land each week. He said we aren't here for a photo op or as a political ploy, but the Palestinians come back to the land each week as a demonstration of their inner strength. That inner strength is required in order to keep on living life despite the strangulation of the occupation. The strangulating Israeli occupation is manifested as water confiscation, land confiscation making farming and grazing unfeasible, roadblocks and checkpoints limiting movement, and physical attacks against schoolchildren. In spite of these risks and these realities, you keep coming back to the land. Your perseverance and your inner strength keep you coming back to the land. You come back the land, believing that planting saber in the earth will help to cultivate saber in the lives of your self and your children.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quote of the Week: Vol 7

An excerpt from Rattling the Cage: Our exclusive right to self-defense in the Jerusalem Post.

This is the Israeli notion of a fair deal: We're entitled to do whatever the hell we want to the Palestinians because, by definition, whatever we do to them is self-defense. They, however, are not entitled to lift a finger against us because, by definition, whatever they do to us is terrorism.

After all, we're acting in self-defense. By definition.

And what right do the Palestinians have to defend themselves against this?

None.

Why? Because we're better than them. Because we're a democracy and they're a bunch of Islamo-fascists. Because ours is a culture of life and theirs is a culture of death. Because they're out to destroy us and all we are saying is give peace a chance.

New Name and New Look


So I hired a marketing professional and web designer to come up with a new feel to the blog.


No not really, I just used a few spare hours and adapted a template for the blog. I think it looks better, and is a bit cleaner.

There is also a new title. Sammertime had run its non-thought-out-and-slightly-egotistical-college-dormitory-like existence. The content will remain the same, but I wanted the name to reflect the content, rather than having no connection to the content. I wanted to have a big brainstorm session (with myself) to come up with the best name my brain could conjure up. Instead, I went with Katie's suggestion, "Do Unto Others." I figured that was a good name, probably a better name than my brainstorm session would produce. Thanks Katie.

I like how interfaith and multicultural the name is, yet at the same time specific to the tradition I come from, Christianity. I mean it's the Golden Rule. It's Golden Delicious.

The Modern Journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem

Atlanta to Tel Aviv

I found myself surrounded by two Christian Holy Land tour groups. The three people sitting across the aisle were from Florida. Their pastor had been to Israel 29 times and was yet again bringing a big group from his church. One of the ladies across the aisle, to my left, told me the pastor “is a big supporter of Israel, in fact, he is practically Israeli.”

The three folks sitting in front of me were from Orange County, California. They were from a Calvary Chapel church that had a group of 17 on a two-week trip of the Holy Land. I was not a part of the conversation, but was eavesdropping as these folks talked to a young Israel woman who was sitting next to them.

The pastor of the Calvary Chapel group assumed the position as spokesperson. He said no one from the group had ever been to Israel, except for himself, but all knew it was very important because this was the nation that God promised would be reconstituted from all corners of the globe, and that has now happened. He emphasized this is the only nation that God spoke about, and allied Himself with. He later called himself Jewish but soon clarified he wasn't ethnically Jewish, but spiritually Jewish.

The Israeli woman asked about their itinerary and as the pastor began to the young woman interrupted, “are you going to the West Bank?”

After a long pause, he gradually slid into an apologetic, “yeah, we are going to Bethlehem. We are a Christian group so Bethlehem is a site a lot of people want to see, but to tell you the truth, if I could choose, we wouldn't go to the West Bank at all. But like I told my group already, it's important to see how they live. It's like how Christian groups from the United States will go to Mexico, so you see how they live.”



Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day

Today is a national holiday in the United States, despite the fact that Columbus never set foot on the land that is now called the United States of America, we celebrate Columbus.

Here are two pieces I found interesting which shed some light on this day that the U.S. remembers Christopher Columbus. Excerpts are included.

Why Celebrate Columbus Day? - by Randy Wooley
"The accomplishments of the people who were here prior to their arrival should be celebrated and memorialized along with those who came here later. If Woody Guthrie was right, “this land was made for you and me.” Why can’t we share it together?"

A Columbus Day Meditation - As Nobel Laureate Obama Decides Whether to 'Conquer' Afghanistan...by Thom Hartmann

"These are all dimensions, after all, of our history of patriarchy, hierarchy, and slavery, which we celebrate on Columbus Day. But if we wake up, and we help the world wake up, they need not be our future.

Let's hope that President Obama brings the wisdom and intellect he has so often displayed to all of these issues, particularly (on this day) the ones that can bring about or further disrupt peace in this world."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Nobel Peace Promise Prize

Gideon Levy writing for Haaretz wrote a great piece about Obama's failed attempt to forge peace in the Middle East, in light of his recent Noble Peace Prize.

See the full text here and see highlights below.

If the Norwegians wanted to reward a promise, Obama has earned his Nobel. If they wanted to reward a change in the language America speaks to the world, he is the honorary laureate. If they wanted to reward his intentions, that would be fine, too. He might even deserve a prize for promoting peace, but only pending the fine print on his diploma, which will run: Anywhere but the Middle East.
------

What has the new Nobel laureate done so far in our region? Mitchell Shmitchell, a bitter and lost struggle over settlement expansion, a bizarre struggle against the Goldstone report, a disgraceful silence about the Gaza siege, and the ultimate proof that there's nothing new under the Middle Eastern sun. It's not Obama who "can," it's Israel. Israel can twist the arms of any president. You don't want to freeze the settlements? Okay, never mind. You don't want to take responsibility for the crimes in Gaza? Okay, never mind. You don't want to end the occupation? Okay, never mind. This is not the conduct of a Nobel laureate and president.

------
Unlike in Afghanistan and Iraq, in this region he will not need to shed American blood to secure peace. It's enough to show political determination, apply pressure and use Israel's isolation and dependency for the cause of peace. Israel needs a friend to save it from itself.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Childhood in Palestine

by Jan Benvie (fellow CPTer)


A few days ago, while I was sitting on the hillside watching the shepherds and their sheep, some young girls from the village brought me flowers. Their kind act brought back memories of when my daughter was young. She too used to love gathering wildflowers (more often than not flowering weeds) and giving them as gifts.

I thought about how safe and comfortable children's childhoods had been compared to that of my young friends.

My children walked to and from school without threat of attack. My greatest worry was their safety as they crossed the road; I hoped they would do so under the protection of the friendly person at the school crossing point. Palestinian children walking to and from school in At-Tuwani often suffer attacks and threats by armed Israeli settlers. Israeli soldiers-the same soldiers who invade their villages or chase their fathers and brothers off their grazing land- escort them to and from school in At-Tuwani. The escort soldiers often shout at the children or make them run. On numerous occasions, I have heard Israeli escort soldiers refer to the children as ‘terrorists.'

My children grew up strong and healthy. They turned on a tap and fresh, clean water ran out of it. I was able to provide them with a healthy diet. The children do not have access to clean running water here. A few weeks ago, I spoke with a doctor at the village clinic (only staffed for a few hours, one day a week). She told me that most of the children in the area suffer from iron deficiency due to their poor diet.

Forty-two years of Israeli occupation has severely damaged the Palestinian economy, and the unemployment rate is over 20%. Israelis have stolen valuable Palestinian agricultural land to build their illegal settlements and outposts. Armed settlers, in collusion with the Israeli military, regularly chase Palestinians off their land when the villagers try to cultivate crops or graze their livestock.

The various illegal Israeli settlements and outposts in the area receive electricity and running water, yet none of the Palestinian villages have such basic infrastructure. Tuwani and the neighbouring villages are not without water and electricity because they are situated in remote, inaccessible locations, but because of the political will of the occupying Israeli regime. *

The fate of my children was not in the hands of incessantly prattling politicians, and their peace was not simply a ‘process.' For now, the lives of Palestinian children continue to be blighted by the Israeli occupation.


*At-Tuwani and surrounding villages are in Area C according to the Oslo Accords, placing them under Israeli military and civilian control. However, Israel does not fulfill its obligation under international law to provide necessary services to the Palestinian civilian population in the region.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Quote of the Week: Vol 6

John Bolton, former U.S. rep to the United Nations, on Barack Obama
"I think his naivete is overwhelming, it's not American strength that's provocative, it's American weakness."
Thanks John, that pretty sums it up. American weakness is provocative. 9/11 were terrorists trying to say, "America you are weak sauce." And insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan are saying, "Obama, this occupation of our country is so WEAK, ramp it up a notch." Come on.

Israel Threatens Palestinian Phone Service Over War Crimes Claims

Another possible headline could read, "Israel blackmails Palestine: Israel steals Palestinian radio frequencies and demands Palestinian Authority revoke war crimes claims before they give back the frequencies." From the Independent, via HuffPost

Israel is threatening to kill off a crucial West Bank economic project unless the Palestinian Authority withdraws a request to the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged Israeli crimes during last winter's Gaza war.

Shalom Kital, an aide to defence minister Ehud Barak, said today that Israel will not release a share of the radio spectrum that has long been sought by the Palestinian Authority to enable the launch of a second mobile telecommunications company unless the PA drops its efforts to put Israeli soldiers and officers in the dock over the Israeli operation.

Currently Palestine has one cellular phone company, Jawwal. Jawwal started in 2005 and the company Paltel, accounts for 19% of the Palestinian GDP. Four Israeli cell phone service providers have customers in Palestine. Some Palestinians carry both a Jawwal phone (cause it's cheap) and one of the Israeli companies (cause the service is sometimes better). Settlers in the West Bank (all 500,000) also are customers amongst these competing companies.

As long as the Wataniya Mobile company is unable to begin its operations, communications costs are likely to remain inordinately high for Palestinian businesses and individuals. But thwarting the company benefits four unauthorized Israeli operators who make sizeable profits in the Palestinian market using infrastructure they have set up in the illegal Israeli settlements across the West Bank.

The Qatari-owned Wataniya had begun making what was planned as the second largest private investment in West Bank history - to total seven hundred million dollars. But amid frustration at more than two years of Israeli foot-dragging over the frequencies it is now warning that if forced to miss its launch date of 15 October it may close down West Bank operations and seek the return from the Palestinian Authority of its $140m licensing fee and other damages. Mr Kital said the possibility of Wataniya closing "is something the PA will have to take into consideration."

So the blackmail is used intelligently here. The Palestinian economy is hurting and Wataniya would be a major boom to the economy. Israel has been dragging it's feet for some time but saw this UN war crimes report as a good opportunity to take an official position.

Israel's official position was this:
"It's a condition. We are saying to the Palestinians that 'if you want a normal life and are trying to embark on a new way, you must stop your incitement," Mr. Kital said. "We are helping the Palestinian economy but one thing we ask them is to stop with these embarrassing charges."
Translation: If you want a normal life, where your economy has the opportunity to expand and grow and attract investors, then stop telling the world what we are doing to you, it's that simple. I mean we are helping you in so many ways, so please stop telling the UN to go after us for war crimes, those war crimes are embarrassing and will hurt our reputation.

The Palestinian response to the issue is poignant and I will conclude with it.
"This is sheer blackmail by the Israelis," said Nabil Shaath, the former PA foreign minister. "Israel has no business stealing the frequencies, keeping them and using them as blackmail to escape an international inquiry into its violations."