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A privatized Nakba
Palestinians describe the Israel Land Administration Law (ILA) quietly passed by the Israeli Knesset in 2009 as the final stage in the 62-year process of displacement from their homeland. The legislation is expected to have a long-term, disastrous impact on Palestinian lives and precludes the possibility of a negotiated resolution to the conflict. ... In contrast to most countries, Israel has retained state control over and ownership of the bulk of its land. During the establishment of the state in 1948, Israel expelled more than 700,000 Palestinians from approximately 400 villages and cities -- what Palestinians call the Nakba or catastrophe. Since then publicly-owned lands have accounted for 93 percent of the state's territory. "The state nationalized all the land in 1948 in order to facilitate the misappropriation of Palestinians and the reallocation of land in favor of Jews," Shir Hever, an economist for the Alternative Information Center, commented to The Electronic Intifada. Israel has operated a system wherein Israelis and Palestinians leased their property from the state. However, in August 2009, the Knesset made the first move to end this system by enacting the ILA, also referred to as the Land Reform Law. This law allows the state to transfer ownership of all developed land to an individual, private company or corporation. With egregious disregard for international law, Israel's Land Reform Law applies not only to land within Israel proper, but also to occupied East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, which Israel annexed in violation of international law in 1981. The passage of this bill has grave consequences for internally-displaced Palestinians living in Israel and Palestinian refugees everywhere. Palestinians have long maintained a legal claim to return to the land from which they were forcefully evicted from and have held on to the hope to do so.
Mubarak's Critics See Hypocrisy in U.S. Support
In the latest example of a widespread campaign of media repression, Kareem Nabil, an Egyptian blogger who completed a four-year prison term, was still being detained and beaten at the State Security Intelligence (SSI) headquarters in Alexandria by security officers, according to the New York- based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. Nabil had been released from Burj al-Arab Prison on Nov. 6. He was subsequently re-arrested by security officers in Alexandria without charges. A student at Cairo's state-run religious university, Al- Azhar, Nabil was convicted in 2006 by an Alexandria court of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak, who he called a dictator. ... The government's efforts to stifle opposition to the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) have included firing an influential newspaper editor, revoking the licenses of TV channels, arresting bloggers, changing the rules governing political slogans, and fabricating infractions to disqualify opposition candidates from running. ... The Obama administration has been most outspoken regarding the emergency laws, whose renewal it regards as a broken promise. It has also publicly condemned the June murder of blogger Khaled Saeed, who was dragged out of an Internet café and beaten to death on the street. He had recently posted a video online exposing police corruption. Human rights advocates charge that the government has kidnapped bloggers and Internet activists, tortured them, and then imprisoned them until the bruises on their bodies have disappeared so there is no evidence of abuse.
France says Afghanistan is a trap
The war in Afghanistan is a trap for all parties involved and France will discuss how to draw down its troop presence at a NATO summit this week, the newly-appointed defence minister said on Wednesday. ... France has about 3,500 troops in Afghanistan, although the U.S.-led war has been largely unpopular at home. At least 50 French soldiers in Afghanistan have been killed since 2001.