NGO ACTION NEWS

NGO Action News

August-September 2006


No. 12


North America

Arab American Institute (AAI) held its National Leadership Conference from 10 to 12 September 2006, in Washington D.C. On 11 September, leaders of humanitarian organizations discussed the crisis in Lebanon and in the Occupied Territory, and underscored their belief that American policy must address the deteriorating situations in both cases as part of an overarching plan to deal with extremists. Speakers included: Peter Grubser, President of ANERA; Andrew Whitley, UNRWA Representative Office in New York; and Jack Connoly, Senior Regional Representative for Eurasia of Catholic Relief Service (CRS), the charity arm of the Catholic Church. Afif Safieh, the Palestinian Representative to the US, opened the conference. For further information, visit the web site: http://www.aaiusa.org

Brit Tzedek V’Shalom – The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace issued a press release on 15 September 2006 entitled “Tell Bush: Intervene in Gaza Crisis Now”. The press release stresses that while cease fire holds in Lebanon, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is being entirely forgotten. For further information, contact E-Mail: info@btvshalom.org or visit Brit Tzedek’s web site: http://www.btvshalom.org

International Crisis Group (ICG) issued on 22 September 2006 a new global initiative entitled “Towards a Comprehensive Settlement of the Arab-Israeli Conflict”, designated to generate a new political momentum for a comprehensive settlement of the conflict. The Group’s initiative will have five dimensions: (1) an international publicity campaign, mobilizing former presidents, prime ministers, foreign and defence ministers, congressional leaders and heads of international organizations around a statement of support for a comprehensive settlement, and a new process to achieve it – involving a possible international conference to kickstart negotiations, and the leadership of the Quartet being reinforced by greater participation of the Arab League and regional countries; (2) a series of brainstorming sessions, bringing together officials and regional experts, to inform the actions of the UN Secretary-General, his Middle East Envoys, the other Quartet players and relevant regional countries; (3) a high level group of former US Government officials convened to generate bipartisan support for the US Administration; (4) a Crisis Group task force of respected international forces established; (5) the Crisis group will continue to produce a series of reports and briefings on the Arab-Israeli conflict; as well as the domestic situation in Palestine, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. The initiative is designed to help filling the present policy vacuum and provide a viable alternative to moderates in the region on both sides. For further information, visit the Crisis Group’s web site: http://www.crisisgroup.org

Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a press release on 13 September 2006 entitled “Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Don’t Fire on Gaza Medics”. The press release informed that the Israeli security forces launches attacks that harmed medical emergency personnel and damaged ambulances on several occasions. For further information, visit the HRW web site: http://www.humanrightswatch.org

Jewish Solidarity with Lebanese and Palestinians issued on 5 August 2006 an open letter in support of the Lebanese and Palestinian people, to be signed by individuals and organizations around the world. For further information, contact E-Mail: jas80@columbia.edu


Europe

Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) issued a press release announcing the “Walk for Gaza and Lebanon” on 17 September 2006, sponsored by the Karim Rida Said Foundation, to raise funds for children and young people with asthma or disabilities in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. The Foundation will share the donations with two organizations: The Physically Handicapped Union and Ard al-Insan (Terre des Hommes), an organization in Gaza that deals with children from poor families with severe and chronic asthma who cannot obtain vital medication due to the conflict. For further information, contact E-Mail: doylec@caabu.org or septemberwalk@googlemail.com or visit the web site: http://www.justgiving.com

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign issued a press release on 1 September 2006 informing about the letter by the Palestinian Campaign for Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel. The letter, signed by 61 academics and published in The Irish Times, calls for a moratorium on EU support to Israeli academic institutions until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The letter does not call for a comprehensive boycott, but requests that Europe cease funding collaborative projects with Israeli institutions. It was organized in response to the call from 171 Palestinian civil society organizations - including the Palestinian General Federations of Trade Unions (PGFTU), the General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPT), and the Federation of Unions of Palestinian University Professors and Employees - for an academic and cultural boycott in response to the ongoing Israeli measures to close off Palestinian educational establishments. For further information, contact E-Mail: supportpalestine@ireland.com or visit the web site: http://www.pacbi.org

The Norwegian Association of NGOs for Palestine will hold a national conference on 23 and 24 September 2006 supported by the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions. The Association is a platform of 20 Norwegian organizations comprising trade unions, political parties and humanitarian organizations. The Association is also one of the major organizations behind the Norwegian Tear the Wall Campaign. For further information, visit the web site: http://www.palestina.org or http://www.stopthewar.org

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK with the support of the Stop the War Coalition organized a demonstration on 16 September 2006 in Manchester. For further information, visit the web site: http://stopthewar.org.uk

World Council of Churches (WCC) sent a delegation in August 2006 to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Israel and Lebanon. The delegation was headed by the President of the Conference of European Churches, Rev. Jean-Arnold de Clermont. The aim of the delegation was to offer solidarity to the churches in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and all the victims of the conflict. The delegation met with President Mahmoud Abbas, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, as well as Israeli and Palestinian civil society representatives. In a statement issued at a press conference before their departure, the delegation called for the World Council of Churches not only to pray for the situation, but to act. For further information, contact E-Mail: eappi-co@wcc-coe.org or visit the WCC web site: http://wcc-coe.org/wcc/press_corner/index-e.html

The summer edition of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel magazine, a World Council of Churches Programme, is entitled “Holy City? Jerusalem – at the heart of the conflict”. The articles deal with some of the issues facing Jerusalemites, and reasons why many are choosing to leave, including: the division of families, home demolitions, the checkpoint and permit systems and the impact of the settlements and the wall in the eastern part of the city as Israel pursues its dream of a “Greater Jerusalem”.


Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

Al –Mezan Center for Human Rights wrote a letter to the European Union on the closure of the Rafah Crossing, the only link for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with the outside world. The letter states that according to the agreement, both Rafah and Karni economic crossing would “operate continuously”. In reality, however, Karni was fully of partially closed for 199 days, or 77% of the period between 15 November 2005 and 31 July 2006, while Rafah was fully or partially closed for 98% of the time during the same period. For further information, contact E-Mail: mezan@palnet.com or visit the Al-Mezan web site: http://www.almezan.org

Al Mezan launched an International campaign on 18 September 2006 under the slogan “Gaza Still Occupied”, to demonstrate that the Gaza Strip remains under Israel’s effective control.

The East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine started the “Al Ard Al-Taybeh” (The Good Earth) Campaign to provide support to economically disadvantaged Palestinians who gain their livelihood from their land. The Campaign seeks to make a difference through: creating marketing and sales opportunities for Palestinian producers; providing an opportunity for organizations and individuals throughout the world to act in solidarity through the purchase of land products; and promoting economic independence for marginalized and disadvantaged producers. Products are available at the YMCA shop in Beit Sahour and the YWCA Gift Shop in Jericho. For further information, contact E-Mail: pr.advocacy@ywca-palestine.org or advodesk@east-jerusalem-ymca.org

Gisha: Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement has started a campaign to undo a ban that prevents residents of the Gaza Strip from studying at higher learning only possible in the West Bank, since 2000. Last December, Gisha and two Gaza-based community organizations, The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and Bitona, petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice. As part of the public campaign, Gisha published on 6 September 2006 a quarter-page ad in Ha’aretz signed by 200 Israeli professors and lecturers, asking the Defence Minister to undo the ban. “The support of the Israeli academics and intellectuals reflects Gisha’s belief that investing in Gaza’s human resources is in everyone’s interests – Israelis and Palestinians together”. For further information, contact E-Mail: sari@gisha.org or visit Gisha’s web site: http://www.gisha.org

Gush Shalom started a petition in support of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. For further information, visit the web site: http://gush-shalom.org

Israel/Palestine Center for Research & Information (IPCRI) and the Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the Occupied Territory organized a Campaign Meeting on 6 September 2006 in Jerusalem. The Campaign seeks to reverse the policies and practices regarding the entry and re-entry into the Occupied Palestinian Territory for non-resident Palestinians who have been living in the area for years and for non-Palestinian foreign nationals who are spouses of resident Palestinians. Sam Bahour of the Campaign Committee opened the meeting and representatives of B’Tselem and HaMoked made presentations. IPCRI released the report of the Meeting posted at its web site: http://www.ipcri.org

The Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory will hold a public rally on 22 September 20006 at Al-Bireh Municipality Hall. Speakers include: a representative of the PA President’s Office; the mayors of Ramallah and Al-Bireh; Palestinian political parties, Al-Haq, BZU Right to Education Campaign and Israeli journalist Amira Haas. For further information, contact E-Mail: info@righttoenter.ps and visit the web site: http://www.RightToEnter.ps

Olive Trees Foundation for Peace has started a campaign to plant olive trees. This planting season will begin in November, focusing on Gaza. The organization comprises American Jews, Christians and Muslims who came together to raise awareness and funds to begin to replant the olive trees the wall has destroyed. To date, 30,000 trees have been rooted. The campaign is now connected to the YWCA in Bethlehem and YMCA in Jerusalem’s Keep Hope Alive Olive Tree Campaign. For further information, visit the web site: http://www.ej-ymca.org/site

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) issued a press release on 20 September 2006 informing about the confiscation of six million shekels in raid on one bank and 11 money exchanges in the West Bank. For further information, contact E-Mail: pchr@pchrgaza.org or visit PCHR’s web site: http://www.pchrgaza.org

Peace Now issued a press release on 4 September 2006 informing that the Housing and Construction Ministry published a tender for the construction of 700 housing units: 342 units in Betar Ilit, and 348 in Maale Adumin. Peace Now statement said: “The Olmert Government is acting according to right wing policies; instead of dismantling outposts and freezing construction in the settlements, the government is constructing further units and plans to authorize tens of illegal outposts. All these actions are in contradiction of the Israeli commitment to the Road Map, and the commitment of the Labour and Kadima parties to their voters”. For further information, visit the web site: http://www.peacenow.org.il

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) – Israel issued a press release on 4 September 2006, entitled “Humanitarian Disaster in the Gaza Strip”, following a visit to the Gaza Strip. A delegation of physicians and staff members from PHR met with their Palestinian colleagues in the Gaza Strip, visited hospitals and toured areas that were especially harmed in the Israeli army’s attacks. The Israeli medical staff met patients that do not have treatment in Gaza and are sentenced to a slow death as they cannot leave for treatment in Israeli and in Egypt. The staff also reported that in order for an ambulance to approach a scene of an attack where there are injured people, it required permission from the IDF. This could take an extended period of time, leading to cases of people not critically injured who died from loss of blood at the scene of the attack. In light of the visit, PHR wishes to express its position that the de-humanization of the Palestinians by Israel allows for the state to wage against the residents of the Gaza Strip an indiscriminate attack. For further information, contact E-Mail: shabtai@phr.org.il or visit PHR’s web site: http://ww.phr.org.il

The Ramallah Cultural Center held an international cultural resistance concert on 17 September 2006, entitled “Conquering the Silence” and featuring music, poetry, theatre, film and dance, transmitted via satellite between Ramallah, Beirut, Cairo, London, Paris, Dubai and New York. The artists come from Lebanon, Iraq, South Africa, UK, Egypt and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The event was sponsored by the Ramattan News Agency. For further information, visit the Agency’s web site: http://ramattan.com

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center will hold its Sixth International Conference from 2 to 9 November 2006 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel. The theme of the conference is “The Forgotten Faithful: A Window into the Life and Witness of Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land”. The conference will be a roving one, beginning in Jerusalem and moving to Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, as well as a number of smaller Christian villages around Ramallah and in the Upper Galilee. For further information, contact E-Mail: sabeel@sabeel.org or visit Sabeel’s web site: http://www.sabeel.org

Stop the Wall issued a press release on 18 September 2006 informing that over 7,000 dunums of land in the Bethlehem and Hebron area are to be confiscated in preparation for the construction of the wall and a road which will carve through the south of the West Bank. Military orders confiscating 152 dunums of land were handed out in the towns of Um Salamuna, Beit Fajjar and Beit Ummar in September to allow the continuation of the wall around the Gush Etzion settlement block; a further 7,200 dunums of land around Palestinian towns are to be isolated behind the wall or destroyed by its footprint. The affected towns are totally dependent on the land for their income. In Um Salamuna, the wall will isolate 200 dunum of land behind the wall, uproot more than 800 olive trees, 1,500 grape vines and a large number of almond and other trees.

The press release also informed that Britain’s largest trade union body, the TUC, has passed a motion calling on Israel to tear down the wall. In addition, it informed that protests in Norway continue in solidarity with the Lebanese and Palestinians. On 22 August 2006, the Oslo Confederation of Trade Unions organized a demonstration in Oslo with the participation of over 1,000 persons. In addition, the press release informed that Palestinian traders and farmers gathered on 20 September 2006 for the first Palestinian goods market, boycotting Israeli products as a statement of resistance against Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. For further information, contact E-Mail: global@stopthewall.org or visit Stop the Wall’s web site: http://www.stopthewall.org

Stop the Wall launched the international campaign against the wall from 9 to 16 November 2006 entitled “We Shall Stay Generation after Generation – Defiant and Steadfast until Liberation”.

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The NGO Action News is a bi-weekly newsletter issued by the Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat and intended to provide information on worldwide NGO activities relevant to the question of Palestine. Organizations interested in sharing information about their activities through this newsletter may contact the Division for Palestinian Rights at:

United Nations Headquarters
Room S-3350
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 963-1550
Fax: (212) 963-4199
E-mail: dprngo@un.org

Please be advised that the final decision with regard to selecting material for inclusion in the newsletter rests with the Division for Palestinian Rights. The Division cannot take responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided to it by contributing organizations.

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