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israeli flags flyingJerusalem, Sunday, August 23

Greetings, everyone.

I can’t believe I’m here again, starting a journal four years after my last stint in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Much has changed in my own life in four years, most importantly I have three new grandchildren. Yet the Occupation is still both depressingly the same and, even more depressingly, changed by hi-tech ‘improvements’.

Plenty has changed on the political front. In the Israeli elections earlier this year, the ruling Kadima Party’s Tzipi Livni won a larger share of the vote but was unable to form a government. Binyamin Netanyahu’s right wing Likud party eventually formed a coalition with Avigdor Lieberman’s further to the right Ysrael Beitenu party together with an assortment of smaller religious and settler parties. Netanyahu is prime minister, ex-IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon is his deputy, and Lieberman is Foreign Minister, a huge lurch to the right by any standards.

On the Palestinian side, when I was last here, Hamas had just won the elections. They were, however, prevented from governing when the EU cut off funding to the PA. They were also unable to form a coalition government with the previous ruling Fateh party, and the subsequent infighting between the two sides resulted in Fateh taking control of the West Bank and Hamas ruling in Gaza. (There is much more to this, of course, including the West and Israel choosing the loser in the elections Abu Mazen as the man to fund.).

Then the two year siege of Gaza started, followed by Qasam rockets, and earlier this year, the Israeli onslaught which killed 1,500 people, dropped white phosphorus on a captive civilian population, and left Gazan infrastructure in ruins…

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