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Archive for September, 2014

Abbas at UN: World Must Hold Israel to Account for “War of Genocide”

Abbas at UN: World Must Hold Israel to Account for “War of Genocide”

Leader of Palestinian Authority tells General Assembly that recent assault on Gaza was a “war crime” and new paths towards peace must now be considered


President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas speaking before the General Assembly of the United Nations on Friday, September 26,  2014. (Image: Screenshot / Public domain)

A day after the Palestinian Authority and Hamas announced a “comprehensive” agreement to implement a unity government to rule the Gaza Strip, PA President Mahmoud Abbas delivered an impassioned speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations on Friday as he accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” against the Palestinian people during more than 50 days of bombing and military attacks in July and August that left thousands dead, thousands more wounded, and life-supporting infrastructure obliterated in Gaza.

Abbas pleaded with world leaders and the international community to do their part in bringing an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and set out a new timetable for a full withdrawal of IDF forces from the West Bank and a permanent lifting of the seige in Gaza. In essence, Abbas took the opportunity to say that the official and so-called “peace process” that began with the Oslo Accords in 1993 has proven an utter failure and that new avenues to a just solution would now be put forward.

“In this year, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Israel has chosen to make it a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people,” Abbas told those gathered in the main hall of the  General Assembly.

Citing the more than 2,000 people—which the UN estimates a large majority were children, women, and non-combatant adult males—who were killed during Israel’s assault, Abbas said he and the Palestinian people “will not forget and we will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment.”

Abbas recognized that he had given similar speeches at the UN before, but that Israel’s most recent attack has drastically altered dynamics.

He said:

The difference today is that the scale of this genocidal crime is larger, and that the list of martyrs, especially children, is longer, as well as lists of the wounded and disabled, and that dozens of families have been completely decimated.

The difference today is that approximately half a million people were displaced from their homes, and that the number of homes, schools, hospitals, public buildings, residential buildings, mosques, factories and even cemeteries destroyed is unprecedented. And, the difference today is that the devastation caused by this recent aggression is unmatched in modern times, as confirmed by a witness, the honorable Commissioner-General of UNRWA.

This last war against Gaza was a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment, in a manner that makes it inconceivable that anyone today can claim that they did not realize the magnitude and horror of the crime. And, it is inconceivable that some are unable to characterize this situation in real terms and that they suffice with simply declaring their support for Israel’s right to self-defense without regard for the fate of the thousands of victims of our people, ignoring a simple fact that we remind them of today: that the life of a Palestinian is as precious as the life of any other human being.

We must also assume that no one will wonder anymore why extremism is rising and why the culture of peace is losing ground and why the efforts to achieve it are collapsing.

While affirming the right of Palestinians to both defend themselves and resist the occupation, Abbas said that the Palestinian people would never betray their “humanity” or “commitment to international law” as they push even harder to achieve official statehood and freedom from Israeli subjugation. Abbas also lamented recent breakdowns in peace negotiations, arguing that despite “unimaginable self-restraint” showed by the Palestinian side, Israeli leaders were once again notable for not missing “the opportunity to undermine a chance for peace.”

The speech continued:

Israel refuses to end its occupation of the State of Palestine since 1967, but rather seeks its continuation and entrenchment, and rejects the Palestinian state and refuses to find a just solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees.

The future proposed by the Israeli government for the Palestinian people is at best isolated ghettos for Palestinians on fragmented lands, without borders and without sovereignty over its airspace, water and natural resources, which will be under the subjugation of the racist settlers and army of occupation, and at worst will be a most abhorrent form of Apartheid. Israel has confirmed during the negotiations that it rejects making peace with its victims, the Palestinian people.

Calling for a new approach, Abbas confirmed in his speech that the Palestinian leadership, alongside Arab partners and other backers, are working on a resolution that will be introduced to the United Nations. The resolution would put the prospects of a negotiated settlement back in the hands of the  international community and mark the end of the U.S.-brokered negotiations that have failed repeatedly.

“The adoption of this resolution,” Abbas told world leaders, “will affirm what you strived to realize in this year is the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, who will continue their struggle and steadfastness and will rise brave and strong from the rubble and destruction.”

As the Guardian reports Friday in the wake of Abbas’ speech:

According to diplomatic sources, the proposed resolution has caused a rift with the US, which had been working for some months on another resolution with the Israelis, Jordanians and Qataris aimed at bolstering the Gaza ceasefire with an exchange of Palestinian security guarantees with some loosening of Israel’s economic stranglehold.

Even though the US holds the presidency of the security council, diplomats said the Abbas resolution would most probably find support from the nine council members necessary to pass. Only the UK, Australia and Lithuania would be expected to abstain, forcing Washington to use its veto.

However, the US has signalled it would have no compunction to use that veto power.

Although Abbas insisted that Palestine was committed to achieving “a just peace through a negotiated solution”, the moves underlined the deep frustration among Palestinians over US proprietorship of the peace process amid a new desire to internationalise efforts to secure a two-state solution.

Abbas returned in the end to “historical injustices” perpetrated against the people of Palestine and said that peace within the borders of a new state and throughout the Middle East region remains the goal of Palestinians.

“There is an occupation that must end now,” Abbas concluded. “There is a people that must be freed immediately. The hour of independence of the State of Palestine has arrived.”


2014 on Track to Be Hottest Year on Record

2014 on Track to Be Hottest Year on Record

NOAA data suggests that 2014 is on a trend to edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record globally

Sep 23, 2014 |By Andrea Thompson and Climate Central
Temperature departures around the world for the period from January-August 2014, which ranks as the 3rd warmest such period on record. Credit: NOAA

Just days after NASA data showed that August 2014 was the warmest August on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed the ranking and raised the ante: There’s a good chance 2014 could become the warmest year on record.

“If we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record,” said Jake Crouch, a climatologist with NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, during a press briefing Thursday.

Specifically, if each of the remaining months of the year ranks among the top five warmest, 2014 will take the top spot, he said.

The news may come as a surprise to those living in the eastern portion of the U.S., which has seen a relatively cool year so far, with a frigid winter followed by a near-average summer (which seemed extremely mild compared to recent steamy summers). But the global picture shows that the East was “pretty much the only land area in the globe that had cooler-than-average temperatures,” Crouch said. (The western U.S., on the other hand, has been baking.)

For the year-to-date, the globe has measured 1.22°F above the 20th century average of 57.3°F, which makes January-August 2014 the third warmest such period since records began in 1880. The record-hot August marks the 38th consecutive August and the 354th consecutive month with a global average temperature above the 20th century average, according to the NCDC.

The oceans have fueled much of this year’s warmth, with parts of the Indian Ocean and central Pacific, among other spots, recording their record warmest conditions in both August and the entire January-August period. “And most of the oceans were much warmer than average” during that period, Crouch said.

The Pacific warmth is due in part to the El Nino that has been struggling to develop there for much of the year. An El Nino is defined by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical central and eastern Pacific and tends to raise global temperatures; some El Nino years rank among the warmest on record.

Of the five warmest years on record (2010, 2005, 1998, 2013, and 2003, in that order), only 2013 and 2014 didn’t start with a mature El Nino, according to NOAA. Of the top 10 warmest years on record, 1998 is the only year that didn’t occur in the 21st century, showing how much global temperatures have risen due to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The top 10 warmest years on record globally, according to NOAA data.


While some argue that a weak El Nino has arrived, it has not yet been officially declared by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, which makes such a ruling when the temperatures in a particular region of the eastern Pacific reach 0.5°C (0.9°F) above normal for more than a month and when the atmospheric patterns typically seen with an El Nino are in place. These patterns haven’t been seen yet, and the temperatures have only recently crossed the threshold, said CPC scientist Dan Collins during the briefing.

If the El Nino does officially develop, which has been given a 65 percent chance of occurring over the rest of the year, “that’s another sign that global conditions will continue to be warm for the rest of 2014,” Crouch said, bolstering the chances that 2014 will top the record books.

You May Also Like: NASA Ranks This August as Warmest on Record  The $90 Trillion Climate-Stabilizing Cookbook What Will Survive in Hot, Acidic Oceans? Arctic Sea Ice to Reach Sixth Lowest Extent on Record

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