Dromocratic Palestine

by John Collins
published in MER248

Toward the end of January 2008, residents of Gaza living under a suffocating Israeli blockade managed to punch holes in the wall separating Gaza from Egypt. For a few days, thousands of Gazans were able to cross into Egypt and purchase needed supplies before Egyptian officials, bowing to US and Israeli pressure, moved to refortify the border.

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Time in a Bottle

The Uneasy Circulation of Palestinian Olive Oil

by Anne Meneley
published in MER248

Olive oil has been a central element of Palestinian agriculture for centuries. It is a relatively durable food commodity, unlike fresh produce such as strawberries or tomatoes, which rot quickly in the sun. Unlike wine, however, olive oil does not improve with age, and is best consumed within a year or two of its production. It is extremely sensitive to exposure to heat, air and light, which cause the quality of the oil to deteriorate rapidly. It is also expensive to store and ship; the days of the Roman terracotta amphorae are gone, and now olive oil is often stored in glass bottles, heavy and easily breakable.

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The Iron Fist in the Peace Process

by Roger Normand | published October 4, 2000

Televised images of Israeli combat soldiers killing unarmed Palestinian children and helicopters strafing Palestinian neighborhoods have publicly exposed the Israeli military force that undergirds and shapes the Oslo process.

The Tar Baby of Foreign Aid

How Palestinians Are Trying to Keep Their Hands Clean

by Charmaine Seitz
published in MER234

In his 2005 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush, hailing “the beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories,” pledged $350 million in US aid to the Palestinian Authority. One day before the heralded meeting of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at Sharm al-Sheikh on February 8, the State Department announced the immediate transfer of another $40 million in aid to the Palestinians.

"The Future is on Our Side"

An Interview with Mustafa Barghouthi

by James E. Bishara
published in MER234

Mustafa Barghouthi is the secretary and co-founder of the Palestinian National Initiative (Mubadara), formed in 2002 to advocate for an immediate end to the occupation of Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967, a Palestinian state on those territories, and expedited reform of Palestinian Authority governance. Mubadara called from its formation for “free, democratic elections for all political posts” in the Palestinian Authority (PA). A physician, Barghouthi is the long-time president of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and founder of the Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute, a think tank focused on public health and public policy and based in Ramallah in the West Bank. During the second Palestinian intifada, he helped to organize the Grassroots International Protection for the Palestinian People program, which, like the International Solidarity Movement, brings activists from around the world to the Occupied Territories to bear witness to and attempt to deter Israeli army and settler violence directed at Palestinian civilians. Mustafa Barghouthi was a candidate for president in the Palestinian election held on January 9, 2005. He finished second to President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). James E. Bishara, an editor of Middle East Report, spoke with Barghouthi on February 20, 2005.

The Targeted and the Untargeted of Nablus

by Amahl Bishara
published in MER235

On April 14, 2005, Ibrahim Isneiri, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was shot dead by Israeli forces in the Balata refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus, a town located between two mountains in the northern West Bank. Palestinian eyewitnesses said Israeli forces opened fire first, while the Israeli military claimed that they were returning the Palestinian’s fire. Israeli soldiers had entered the camp looking for Isneiri because, Israeli security sources alleged, he was planning an armed operation to be carried out inside Israel.

The Hamas Headache

by Ranjit Singh
published in MER238

Two days before the January 25 Palestinian legislative elections, Birzeit University professor and Hamas campaign adviser Nashat Aqtash found himself in an unusual situation. Bound by US regulations forbidding direct contact with Hamas, the joint National Democratic Institute (NDI)/Carter Center election observer delegation asked Aqtash -- who pointedly describes himself as a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but not of Hamas -- to brief its members on the Islamic organization’s philosophy and electoral activities. After enthusiastically showing several Hamas TV advertisements, Aqtash provided the large group of observers gathered in Ramallah a list of reasons why Hamas may consider a long-term hudna (state of calm), but never a permanent peace with Israel.

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Hamas Risen

by Graham Usher
published in MER238

On January 27, 2006, Fatah activists and Palestinian security personnel converged on the Palestinian Authority’s parliament building in Gaza City. Within minutes, cars were torched, tires set aflame and stones thrown at election banners displaying the visages of victorious Hamas candidates. The cry was for vengeance, particularly against a leadership that had just presided over Palestine’s premier nationalist movement’s worst political defeat in its 47-year history.

The Only Place Where There's Hope

An Interview with Muhammad Khatib, Jonathan Pollak and Elad Orian

by Robert Blecher
published in MER240

Beginning in December 2004, and then every Friday since February 2005, Palestinians, Israelis and internationals have converged on the West Bank village of Bil‘in to demonstrate against the barrier that Israel is building there, as part of the chain of walls and fences (the Wall) that the Israeli government hopes will be Israel’s unilaterally declared eastern border. The protests in Bil‘in have been among the most effective and sustained of any in the Occupied Territories.