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UNRWA rejects US bid to remove its mandate

Head of UN agency rejects US proposal for countries hosting Palestinian refugees to take over food aid services.

The head of UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl , the United Nations agency that has supported Palestinian refugees for 7 decades, has rebuffed a US proposal to have host countries take over the services it provides across the Middle East.

The suggestion, from US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt at a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, that UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, should be effectively dismantled was the latest US attack on an agency that began operations in 1950.

Formerly UNRWA’s largest donor, the US cut off its roughly $300 m annual donation in 2018, deeming its fiscal practices “irredeemably flawed”, stoking tensions between the Palestinians and US President Donald Trump‘s administration.

“We need to engage with host governments to start a conversation about planning the transition of UNRWA services to host governments, or to other international or local non-governmental organisations, as appropriate,” Greenblatt said after the Security Council was briefed by UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl.

Asked at a Gaza news conference on Thursday about Greenblatt’s remarks, Krahenbuhl said UNRWA’s mandate was a matter for the entire UN General Assembly to consider, not by “one or two individual member states”.

“Therefore, Palestinian refugees should remember that the mandate is protected by the General Assembly, and of course, we will engage with member states to ensure what we hope is a safe renewal of that mandate,” Krahenbuhl said.

Strong backing in UN General Assembly

UNRWA’s mission is due to come up for renewal later this year in the General Assembly, where support for the agency has been traditionally strong and the United States would likely face an uphill battle to change or cancel its mission.

Greenblatt said UNRWA was “currently running on fumes, surviving on a surge in foreign donations in 2018”, and it was time for the international community to address the needs of Palestinians in refugee camps in a sustainable way.

He said it was time to hand over services assured by the UN agency to countries hosting Palestinian refugees and NGOs.

The logic behind US humiliation of the Palestinians

Marwan Bishara
by Marwan Bishara

Greenblatt said the US had given six billion dollars in aid to UNRWA since it was founded in 1949 “and yet, year after year, UNRWA funding fell short”. (US tax payer pay Israel $6 billion each year in direct and indirect aids and loans)

More than half of the two million Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip, under Israeli blockade, receive food aid from UNRWA.

“We need to be honest about the situation. UNRWA is a band-aid and the Palestinians who use its services deserve better,” Greenblatt said.

Since Trump assumed office in 2017, Palestinians have grown concerned that he intends to bring about UNRWA’s demise.

US ally Israel says the work of UNRWA only perpetuates the plight of Palestinians.

“Year after year, Palestinians in refugee camps were not given the opportunity to build any future; they were misled and used as political pawns and commodities instead of treated as human beings,” Greenblatt told the Security Council.

Krahenbuhl however, rebuffed Greenblatt’s criticism at a conference in Gaza saying UNRWA cannot be blamed for stalled peace efforts.


Palestine: Diary of an UNRWA kid

Ramzy Baroud
by Ramzy Baroud

“I unreservedly reject the accompanying narrative that suggests that somehow UNRWA is to blame for the continuation of the refugee-hood of Palestine refugees, of their growing numbers and their growing needs,” Krahenbuhl said in response to a question about Greenblatt’s comments.

“The fact that UNRWA still exists today is an illustration of the failure of the parties and the international community to resolve the issue politically – and one cannot deflect the attention onto a humanitarian organisation.”

UNRWA says it provides services to about five million registered Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and that it safeguards and advances their rights under international law.

Most are descendants of about 700,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their homes or fled in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation and claim a right of return to the lands they left.

Israel has ruled out such an influx, fearing the country would lose its Jewish majority. Palestinian leaders reject settling refugees in host countries, saying their presence there should be considered temporary.

Palestinians in host countries complain of restrictions on jobs and benefits there.

Note: the current Trump administration is doing its utmost to bury the Palestinian identity and rights under an old carpet


Lebanon budget seen ‘a good first step’, but numbers questioned

BEIRUT/LONDON (Reuters) – Heavily indebted Lebanon has unveiled an unprecedented plan to bring its public finances “under control” but faces an uphill struggle to restore investor confidence that is needed to stave off crisis. (This was Not a plan, just a financial gimmick and nobody is fooled)

After years of backsliding on reform, fear of economic catastrophe has forced action on Lebanese leaders who have overseen the post-civil war policies that landed the country with one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens. (135% of GDP and increasing rapidly. High way robbery of the militia/mafia leaders)

Minds in Beirut have been focused by years of low economic growth and a slowdown in deposit growth in the banking sector. This has been vital to meeting Lebanon’s financing needs, helping an economy that produces very little and imports lots to “defy gravity” for years, economists say.

The budget includes some politically difficult moves such as a three-year state hiring freeze (that was Not applied), capping bonuses and a tax on state pensions.

Others were sidestepped, notably proposals for a temporary public sector wage cut.

“The main test of this budget is whether it can bolster market confidence and usher fresh hard currency inflows that are urgently needed to cover Lebanon’s substantial external financing gap,” said Farouk Soussa, Middle East and North Africa economist at Goldman Sachs. (Lebanese Banks have been using Ponzi schemes of high interest returns in order to cover overseas investment losses)

“So far, there is little evidence of this.”

Credit ratings agency S&P Global said the announcement of the budget itself may not be enough to restore damaged confidence among non-resident depositors and investors.

News of the budget’s approval helped Lebanon’s dollar bonds to climb on Tuesday and the cost of insuring exposure to its sovereign debt fell.

The budget aims to cut the deficit to 7.6% of GDP from 11.5% in 2018. It will now go to parliament for debate.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has called it the start of a “long road” towards steering the economy “to safety” and shows Lebanon is determined to tackle public sector waste.


Together with a plan for reforming the waste-ridden power sector, a major drain on the public purse, the budget could help Beirut tap into some $11 billion in financing pledged at the CEDRE conference for Lebanon in Paris last year.

“This budget is a good first step, and signals a genuine commitment by the Lebanese government to take some politically difficult but economically necessary steps,” said a Western diplomat from a country that took part in CEDRE.

“But the key now is in delivering lasting reform, and providing a vision for the long term growth of Lebanon’s economy.”

Wissam Harake, World Bank economist in Lebanon, said the deficit cut — if it materializes — would be a big adjustment. (Adjustment my ass Wissam: the richest billionaires who have their account frozen in Switzerland have Not been approached) 

“I reserve judgment on the outcome of this, but I think it illustrates seriousness,” he told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: People take part in a protest over the Lebanon’s economy and politics in Beirut, Lebanon December 23, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

Some economists remain wary of Lebanese government numbers.

Soussa noted that the government had targeted a 2018 budget deficit of 8.4% of GDP but it ended up at 11.5%.

Soussa said he was sticking by a forecast of a 9.4% deficit for 2019 “given the government’s poor track record in meeting its targets … and the fact that the budget is unlikely to be passed into law for another month, by which time almost half of the fiscal year will have passed”.

Alia Moubayed, managing director at Jefferies, said the budget targets lacked realism given optimistic revenue forecasts that ignored the recessionary impact of the proposed measures and cuts in capital spending. The government had failed to pursue critical structural reforms, she added.

“We think the total deficit is unlikely to fall below 9 to 9.5% of GDP,” Moubayed said.

Revenue generating measures include a 2% tax on imports and increasing the tax on interest to 10% from 7%. This will hit both depositors and the income banks earn on treasury bonds.

The government also plans to slice some $660 million from debt servicing costs by issuing low interest treasury bonds to the domestic banks, the finance minister has said. (Will Not materialize)

As cabinet debated the budget, public sector workers staged multiple strikes and army veterans protested against any cuts.

Since budget was finalised on Friday, there has been no sign of new protests or strikes.

Jason Tuvey of Capital Economics said the budget showed the difficulties of driving through public sector pay cuts.

“They’ve struggled to push through austerity and ultimately some form of debt restructuring will be needed in the next couple of years,” he said.

Additional reporting by Angus McDowall and Laila Bassam in Beirut and Marc Jones in London; Editing by Catherine Evans

Note: there are no jobs or shops are closing. and any incoming resources in the coming 6 months will Not cover the 12 months of high expenditure

Here are all the companies that have cut ties with Huawei, dealing the Chinese tech giant a crushing blow

Again, what is Trump/Kushner infamous “Deal of century”?

The Trump administration will unveil the first phase of its long-awaited blueprint for Middle East peace next month at a conference in the region designed to highlight economic benefits that could be reaped if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, the White House said on Sunday.  (The political terms are Not yet exposed)

The plan, which has been two years in the making, envisions large-scale investment and infrastructure work in the Palestinian territories but the central political elements remain mostly unknown.

However, the Palestinian leadership said they weren’t consulted about the US-led economic conference.


‘NYT’ coverage of Trump peace plan news quotes 5 pro-Israel voices, 0 Palestinians

Media Analysis


The New York Times covers phase one of the Trump peace plan, an economic “workshop” in Bahrain next month at which the administration is expected to dangle the money it wants to give Palestinians and states neighboring Israel, so that Palestinians will sacrifice their political demands/rights (among them sovereignty on ’67 borders; return of refugees; shared Jerusalem)– a figure said to be $68 billion.

The article quotes No Palestinians. (No Palestinian business person will attend this faked “workshop”)

It does include quotes from Aaron David Miller, Jared Kushner, Robert Satloff, Treasury’s Steve Mnuchin, and Brookings pundit Tamara Cofman Wittes. Five (Jewish) Americans, all five of them strong supporters of Israel. (Mnuchin’s background is here.)

Satloff, Wittes, and Miller are all presented as “critics” of the plan, but they are all Zionist critics of the plan. Just different shades of Zionist.(No, not shade. Stauncher Zionists than most Israelis)

Why? This is racism in journalism before your eyes.

The Times clearly has a structural bias against Palestinians. (As all colonial powers’ administrations in the last century)

Even as it demonstrates its higher consciousness in other left zones, the newspaper is stuck in the old paradigm on Israel.

How else could a newspaper publish four justifications of the killings of nonviolent protesters inside of a few months, as it did last year in Gaza?

This would never happen in any other context when a government opens fire on demonstrators.

But the Times columnists offered those justifications, in Shmuel Rosner’s case almost a bloodthirsty one, and there was no balance, let alone criticism from the Roger Cohens, David Brookses, and Michelle Goldbergs of the world.

Palestinians simply don’t count as full human actors.

The Palestinian Prime Minister released a statement rejecting the economic summit today. He and his cabinet surely were available yesterday. So was Sam Bahour, who writes that Palestine cannot have an economic future without an independent political future, in which construction workers and university graduates will be able to find employment inside a Palestinian state.

Diana Buttu, Saeb Erekat, Hanan Ashrawi (who has been denied a visa to travel to the U.S.), Omar Barghouti, Mustafa Barghouti, Haider Eid surely would have spoken to the Times, too.

Palestine is truly teeming with sophisticated political actors on a wide range who would have something to say about the implausibility of economic peace.

And if the Times says this was an American politics piece, well, there are Palestinians here, too, who have a lot to say. The bottom line here is obvious and disturbing. Palestinians aren’t equals.

Hojarasas (Hurricane): the mass transfer of working people everywhere

Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote this novel when he was 18 and it was published years later, before he expanded on the story in “100 years of Solitude”.

Marquez could Not at this age write an epic story of the phenomena as John Steinbeck did in the Dust Bowl, the thousands who left their land to move to California during the financial crush of 1929.

This mass transfer of people following the trail of multinational companies, carrying them to where is their next exploitation of land and downtrodden people has been practiced in ancient civilizations but started actively and documented in the 19th century. People who learned to live for the “present” and could no longer take roots anywhere.

I figured out that this phenomena started after USA civil war when the urgency of linking East and West with train rails and the mushrooming of temporary villages along the way.

As the the company moves on, the people moves along, and the residents are left with an environment much degraded, in landscape and older people down on their fate, not able survive on their own toil and resigned to State subsidies, if any.

All the colonial powers performed the same “feat”, first with their poorer classes at home and then transferred to their colonies at a vast scale.

The older ugly face of slavery has mutated into a mass moving slavery, transferred everywhere where multinational companies settled for a while.

This phenomenon is the same, , even today, everywhere multinationals decide to exploit an under-developed country, or a country reeling after a civil war, or a pre-emptive war, planned, funded and executed by the colonial powers.

In the Hojarasas, Marquez mentions the Great War. I guess it is the period that started in 1880’s of endless civil wars in Latin America. Panama was part of Columbia and the USA wanted to conquer Panama and fomented most of these civil war. And also to pave the way for its agro-multinationals (Banana companies) to exploit the land and people in Latin America.

Marquez opted Not to give names of his major protagonists. There are the colonel, the doctor, the cleric El Cachorro (the Savage who was a terrible rebel, joined the army, rose to grade of colonel before reverting to be a man of religion). Even the daughter of the colonel has no name, neither his grand son. Names are totally irrelevant in period of calamities.

So many colonels in civil wars and so many captains, even today.

The author even asks questions, repeatedly, and never offer answers.

For examples: the second wife of the colonel, Adelaide, suspected she recognized a resemblance of the doctor with someone when he first visited them. She threw a lavish dinner in his honor. She got totally disappointed when he didn’t match her conservative attitudes or offered any explanation on who he is. The doctor said: “I eat only grass, like what the donkey eats”

The doctor and El Cachorro have many resemblance. So many half brothers and half sisters are generated in civil wars and when the hojarasas are on the move. Martin, the husband of the colonel’s daughter moved away when the Banana company folded, never to return, and left behind a son and his wife.

The doctor and El Cachorro arrived to Macondo on the same day and same hour. I doubt that was a coincidence: Some one must have dispatched them to Macondo, hoping they meet and link up. Probably it was colonel Buendias who was still fighting in Panama and who must have had many illegitimate sons and daughters.

We don’t know anything of the origin of the doctor or how he lived before he arrived to Macondo, as this small village experienced the mass transfer of workers to join the banana company.

The doctor lived in the colonel house for 8 years: he was allocated a room that opened to the street. He practised from his room and ate after the household finished eating. He never paid any dues to his room or the food he ate and waited  Saturday for the maid to come a clean up his filthy room.

The doctor got even more recluse when the company sanitary services robbed him of his clients.

There was a period when he decided to get out on evenings, trying his best to look presentable and smelling of cheap cologne. He sat outside the barber shop. Was he trying to find a hapless girl to marry and follow the trail of the company? Possibly, the doctor must have experienced before the hojarasas phenomenon and was willing to undertake another exodus?

The doctor was unable to explain the complex disaster and calamities of that period to non-educated or cultured people, which also would open wide the reasons for multiple questions on his former life.

Actually, it is the doctor who pronounced the term hojarasas to the colonel, as the village flourished for a while and he expected the coming calamities when the company moves on to “greener pastures”

Meme’, the Indian girl, a guajira, who lived in the colonel household since childhood had secret sexual relationship with the doctor. She got pregnant once and the doctor helped her abort. She got pregnant again and this time she wanted to keep the child.

The colonel demanded explanation and the doctor had to move to the corner house with Meme’ in order to save the “honor” of the colonel, since they were not married. Did Meme’ gave birth? Probably not: the doctor had funded a shop for Meme’ and she was never seen holding a baby to feed for 4 years.

The doctor doesn’t lie, and doesn’t respond when he has to lie, kind of observing his right of the “fifth”. The doctor told the colonel that Meme’ had left him, 4 years after she barricaded herself with him in the small house. The municipality broke into his house and dug the garden, hoping to find the body of a “murdered” Meme’ and found nothing.

Militias had entered the village and many residents were injured. The residents deposited the injured in front of the doctor door, but he refused to open or tend to the injured. He said: “I know nothing anymore to care for them and it is no longer my business”.  I guess he was frank and didn’t want to get involved in anything or get in touch with the community.

The community decided not to bury him after he dies and when once they wanted to burn the house, El Cochorro intervened and calmly told them: “No one is to approach this house”.

The doctor finally hanged himself and only the colonel came and did the necessary arrangement to be bury the doctor. The colonel asked his daughter to join him, and the daughter brought along her 8 year-old son to the deceased house.

The colonel had promised the doctor to bury him when the doctor saved his life after he seriously fell and broke his leg. The doctor told him “you cannot bury me if you die before me”

Note 1: The Hojarasas is fraught with repetitions and redundancies. I doubt an 18 year old would use this style: Marquez must have edited his original to mark the repetitious tendency in conversations in Latin America literature, or mainly in Columbia

Note 2: The oldest main colonial powers were Spain, Portugal, then England, France and the USA. Later on Germany abused of the people in Namibia and East Africa, Belgium in the Congo (over 5 million were mutilated for not satisfying the daily quota of rubber collection off the trees), the Netherlands in Indonesia, Italy in Ethiopia and Libya, Japan in Korea and China, and Russia and China with their own citizens.

All these “prosperous” nations got their wealth on the blood, sweat and suffering of the indigenous people and their own downtrodden citizens.  The price of adopting the “Capitalism” system was pretty high for the poorer classes everywhere in the world. And communism refused to be left behind in cruelty and humiliation of its own citizens.


Lebanon is Not bankrupt: it is highway robbed, internally and externally

اليوم كان في مؤتمر صحفي للدكتور حسن خليل (خبير اقتصادي)، ملخص ما قاله:
ان كل المرافق العامة تخضع لعملية نهب ممنهجة من قبل اصحاب النفوذ!

– المحاصصة أكلت الدولة وكل مفصل من مفاصلها تسيطر عليه جهة سياسية!
– المستثمر الاجنبي يهرب من لبنان لان استثماره مشروط بشراكة صاحب نفوذ!

– لما لا يتم دمج الفا وتاتش؟ لان خلف كل شركة جهة سياسية تستفيد منها!

– بين ٤٠٠ و ٧٠٠ مليون دولار هي خسائر الدولة من مشتقات النفط لانها تستوردها عبر وسطاء.
– مرفأ بيروت جمهورية بحد ذاتها ادارته تقرر كم ستعطي لخزينة الدولة دون أي رقابة.

-قيمة التهرب الضريبي في المرفأ تبلغ سنويا ٧٠٠ مليون دولار
– اوجيرو اخذت سلفة ٥٥٠ مليار ليرة في عهد الجراح وحتى الآن لم يعرف اين تم صرفها!
– الدولة تعتمد في استدانتها على اموال المودعين وهذه سابقة لم تحدث من قبل!

– قسم كبير من الاملاك البحرية تسيطر عليه الاحزاب والسياسيين!
– قيمة الودائع تبلغ 180 مليار دولار، ماذا لو قرر المودعون سحب اموالهم؟

– في مراجعة لما سُجل في سجلات جمارك الصين من بضائع تم شحنها الى لبنان تبين انها تبلغ ٣ أضعاف ما تم تدوينه في سجلات الجمارك اللبنانية!
– تدخل البلد مجوهرات ولكنها تسجل على انها “صرامي”

– 250 مليار دولار انفقت في لبنان وحتى الآن لا وجود لبنية تحتية
– مجلس المهجرين بعد ٣٠ سنة من انتهاء الحرب يريد ٢ مليار دولار لاغلاق الملف.

– ٢٠ مليار دولار انفقت على قطاع الكهرباء وحتى الآن لا كهرباء ولا احد يعلم سرها النووي.
– ايرادات الاتصالات انخفضت في سنة من مليارين الى مليار و٣٠٠ الف دولار من دون معرفة كيف حصل ذلك!

– كيف يأملون بأن يأتي سياح الى لبنان وبحره تحول الى جورة مجارير؟ بالأمس امرأة أغمي عليها من رائحة نفايات الكوستا برافا
– اجراءات الحكومة ضرورية ولكنها حتما غير كافية والموازنة خالية من اي رؤية اقتصادية.
– كيف يمكن لمن اوصل البلد الى هذه الحالة ان يضع حلولا ؟

– يوجد وزراء لديهم كفاءة ولكن للأسف القرار الحزبي يأتي قبل ذلك!
– السلطة موحدة فيما المجتمع المدني مشتت!
المسؤولون بلا ضمير والشعب نائم!…

وماذا بعد كل هذه المعلومات .. السؤال المطروح هل نحن شعب يحاسب …ام اننا مجموعات ورعايا تابعة لزعيمها الطائفي والمذهبي وهو المستفيد ..؟
متى يستفيق هذا «الشعب » ؟




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