Is the Palestinian Authority Using Bedouin Children?

Is the European Union placing children in harm’s way by funding the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to make Bedouins forced footsoldiers towards unilaterally establishing a Palestinian State? Naomi Khan, a land activist in Israel with Regavim seems to think so. In this episode Naomi takes us on a road trip to show us what is happening on the ground. Our story starts off in East Jerusalem overlooking area E1.

In this episode we visit with Naomi Kahn from Regavim as she takes us on a tour of the wild, wild, east. That is, the desert communities east of East Jerusalem in Area C which is controlled by Israel and is home to both Arab and Jewish communities. Naomi asserts that the Bedouins are being used as pawns by the Palestinian Authority to create facts on the ground in accordance with the Fayyad Plan with intentions to unilaterally declare a Palestinian State regardless of Israeli standpoint or negotiations.





Background

For those unfamiliar with some of the complexities of the background, we have aggregated a few quotes to give the reader some context. Spoiler alert, no matter which way you spin this story, it is basically yet another story of government officials and NGO's tragically and irresponsibly using children as fodder for headlines to accomplish what they think will be a better overall outcome for millions of other human beings in a region. The rest is commentary.


The Fayyad Plan was introduced in 2009 by then Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad. Prior to Fayyad's becoming prime minister, he earned a degree in economics the University of Texas, Austin, worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louisa and represented Palestinians at the International Monetary Fund. He was primarily viewed as a western educated moderate that would fend off Hamas and create the reforms in the Palestinian territories that the United States and its allies were in favor of. According to CBS News Arafat was hiding a portfolio of $1 billion of public funds stolen from the Palestinian people.

"So far Prince's team has determined that part of the Palestinian leader's wealth was in a secret portfolio worth close to $1 billion -- with investments in companies like a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Ramallah, a Tunisian cell phone company and venture capital funds in the U.S. and the Cayman Islands." - Tricia McDermott, CBS News

The article also reported:


"That's what happened with the portfolio money, which is now under the control of Salam Fayyad, a former World Bank official who Arafat was forced to appoint finance minister last year after crowds began protesting his corrupt regime. According to Fayyad, 'There is corruption out there. There is abuse. There is impropriety, and that's what had to be fixed.'" - Tricia McDermott, CBS News

The west clearly had hopes for Fayyad to clean up the Palestinian territories and try to create a more transparent democratic society. BBC in June 2011 reported that as a result of his affiliation with Fatah, the Hamas rival group rejected his leadership.

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has rejected its rival Fatah's nomination of Salam Fayyad as prime minister in a transitional government. - BBC

Reuters reported that Fayyad was appointed to "reduce the influence of Hamas and its welfare arm and to build an alternative, government-run social service system using Western and Arab funds."

"'Hamas has multiple ways to raise and launder funds but none are as effective as the social welfare structure. The Hamas charity system is the secret to its success,' Levitt said." - Rueters

However, in 2013 he resigned from office with media outlets reporting that he was brought in to remove corruption and injustice and he accomplished what he set out to do but not without expected backlash.

In 2013 Mr. Fayyad resigned as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority after a series of policy disagreements with PA President Mahmoud Abbas —who is now serving the 11th year of his elected four-year term. - Chloe Valdery (Op Ed), Wall Street Journal

The Washington Post reported in 2013 that on the ground the people were somewhat dissatisfied with the results of his efforts.

While he has drawn praise from Western nations, Fayyad’s critics have accused him of failing to develop the West Bank economy, making the Palestinian Authority dependent on foreign financial support and vulnerable to diplomatic pressure from donor nations. In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Fayyad and his government had “worked to protect the Zionist occupation and U.S. interests.” - Joel Greenberg, Washington Post

Regardless, Fayyad is a leader being lauded by many in the west as a potential future for the region especially since the current leader, Mahmoud Abbas feels political backlash after a corruption activist Nazir Banat who was arrested by the Palestinian Authority died while in custody. In July The Jerusalem Post reported on the fall out.

"The head of the European Union’s mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, on Thursday called for an independent and transparent investigation into the killing of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat." - Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post

All of this is to provide a bit of background information on Salaam Fayyad and his public role in the region. This episode of Tribe Journal takes a closer look at the ramifications of his plan. Unilaterally working towards a declaration of an independent Palestinian State and the European Union's and NGO's funding such efforts can have dire unintended consequences on people's lives, including the Bedouin community and their children.


The Real Issue

Israel obviously objected to such a unilateral plan to establish a new state especially given the constant rejection of generous offers which would give Israel some sense of national security and defense from existential wars which have been waged upon it in the past and have been an explicit and highly vocal rhetoric from the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas. According to the New York Times article in 2009, then Likud Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz voiced concerns.

“This is contrary to all the agreements signed between the sides,” Mr. Steinitz told Israel Radio. “There is no place for unilateralism, no place for threats, and of course, there will be no Palestinian state at all, if any, without ensuring the state of Israel’s security.”

In this video we take a closer look at the positioning of the Bedouin communities specifically as it relates to both Israel's security and the well being of the Bedouin communities themselves. Naomi Kahn brings us on a journey to understand just how challenging the situation is becoming regardless of ruling by the Supreme Court of Israel and the Israeli government's efforts to prepare proper plots of land for the Bedouin communities squatting in these strategic locations to relocate. According to Naomi, those efforts by the Israeli's were challenged by the European Union and the Palestinian Authority and the local Bedouin leadership were threatened with violence if they come to any agreement with the Israelis.


The Headlines Demonize Israel

The allegedly illegal squatting villages are allowed to grow, and grow and grow. They refuse the warnings and then when the government takes action to protect itself and the Bedouin communities by trying to maintain the military corridor for defense purposes, human rights activists jump into the mix instigating and furthering the media war to demonize Israel.

"Israel has repeatedly denied Palestinians permits to build schools in the West Bank and demolished schools built without permits, making it more difficult or impossible for thousands of children to get an education. On April 25, 2018, Israel’s high court will hold what may be the final hearing on the military’s plans to demolish a school in Khan al-Ahmar Abu al-Hilu, a Palestinian community. It is one of the 44 Palestinian schools at risk of full or partial demolition because Israeli authorities say they were built illegally." - Human Rights Watch

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Most people don't remember every case or instance or headline. Today, people remember narratives and aggregate vibes. This episode takes a closer look at the actual places referred to in the above headlines, the actions of those involved and the frightening potential ramifications that many NGO's, governmental leaders and the Palestinian Authority are having and will continue to have on the lives of countless children in the Middle East.


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