Palestine, Gaza, West Bank, Hamas

Written by  //  June 15, 2024  //  Israel, Middle East & Arab World  //  Comments Off on Palestine, Gaza, West Bank, Hamas

History of the Question of Palestine
The Geopolitics of Palestine, Explained
Gaza wasn’t always the hot spot it is today
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Marwan Barghouti
…a Palestinian political leader convicted and imprisoned for murder by an Israeli court. He is regarded as a leader of the First and Second Intifadas. Barghouti at one time supported the peace process, but later became disillusioned, and after 2000 went on to become a leader of the Second Intifada from the West Bank. Barghouti was a leader of Tanzim, a paramilitary offshoot of Fatah.
Israeli authorities have called Barghouti a terrorist, accusing him of directing numerous attacks, including suicide bombings, against civilian and military targets alike. Barghouti was arrested by Israel Defense Forces in 2002 in Ramallah. He was tried and convicted on charges of murder, and sentenced to five life sentences. Marwan Barghouti refused to present a defense to the charges brought against him, maintaining throughout that the trial was illegal and illegitimate.
Barghouti still exerts great influence in Fatah from within prison. With popularity reaching further than that, there has been some speculation whether he could be a unifying candidate in a bid to succeed Mahmud Abbas.
This Easter, let’s not try to pretend Jesus was a ‘Palestinian Jew’
By Paula Fredriksen
(WaPo) Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus, but this year the holiday comes with a twist: Jesus resurrected as Palestinian. Never mind that Jesus was born and died a Jew in Judaea. From the pronouncement of a member of Congress to the pages of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Jesus is now heralded as a “Palestinian” or, more delicately, as a “Palestinian Jew.”
Jesus made an appearance on social media as a “Palestinian” around Christmas, and the meme has flourished since then. The gambit casts 1st-century Jews in the role of an occupying power and “Palestinians” as their victims. Just as Herod, the king of Judaea in Jesus’ time, persecuted the “Palestinian” holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, so, too, goes the claim, is modern Israel an occupying power persecuting Palestinians today.
… Jesus was not “Palestinian.” Nor was he a “Palestinian Jew.” This is so for a simple reason: There was no political entity called “Palestine” in his lifetime. If Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he was born in Judaea as a Jew. He certainly died as one, under Rome’s heavy hand — the political condition that led to the two Jewish revolts.
It was Roman colonizers who changed the name of Judaea to Palestine.
Why rehearse this well-known history? Because now, in the current crisis, even Jesus is being enlisted for attacks on Israel. Calling Jesus a “Palestinian” or even a “Palestinian Jew” is all about modern politics. Besides being historically false, the claim is inflammatory. For two millennia, Jews have been blamed for Jesus’ execution by the Romans; casting him as a Palestinian just stokes the fires of hate, using Jesus against Jews once again.

14-15 June
As War Drags On, Gazans More Willing to Speak Out Against Hamas
(NYT) Ordinary Gazans are bearing the brunt of the 8-month Israeli milias the Israeli onslaught has brought widespread devastation and tens of thousands of deaths, the group and its leaders have remained broadly unpopular in the enclave. More Gazans have even been willing to speak out against Hamas, risking retribution.
In interviews with nearly a dozen Gaza residents in recent months, a number of them said they held Hamas responsible for starting the war and helping to bring death and destruction upon them, even as they blame Israel first and foremost. …
For Hamas, Everything Is Going According to Plan
Why accept a peace proposal when the goal is “permanent war”?
By Hussein Ibish
(The Atlantic) The leaders of both Israel and Hamas seem content for the war in Gaza to grind on into the indefinite future. Such is the upshot of their ambiguous, but essentially negative, responses to President Joe Biden’s peace proposal, which is now fully backed by the United Nations Security Council. And the reasons are obvious. …
So why would Hamas possibly want the war to continue, given the devastation of Gaza and its beleaguered Palestinian population, and the decimation of the group’s organized military strength? The answer is that Hamas leaders in Gaza almost certainly believe that the war is going according to plan.
Hamas has never really hidden its motivations. The October 7 attack proved even more devastating than Hamas surely anticipated, and afterward, the group’s leaders repeatedly insisted that they would have continued such assaults until they produced “a state of permanent warfare” with Israel. But what could they have meant by “permanent warfare”? Hamas surely understood that its civic power, military infrastructure, and above all its organized paramilitary forces stood no chance against the Israeli military. The group’s leaders knew that practically everything tangible they possessed would be smashed in relatively short order by the Israelis. And that’s essentially what has happened, although some important tunnels apparently remain, along with, reportedly, three or four battalions in Rafah.

22 May
Spain, Norway and Ireland Recognize a Palestinian State, a Blow to Israel
Recognitions of Palestinian statehood are a rebuke to Israel, if a largely symbolic one reflecting dwindling international patience with its military offensive in Gaza and its decades of occupation of Palestinian territories.
(NYT) Scores of countries have recognized Palestinian statehood, but the closely coordinated announcements by the three nations carried added weight amid the growing toll of the war in Gaza, and because most Western European countries have resisted taking such a step out of solidarity with Israel.
Thirty years ago, a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seemed achievable. The story of how it fell apart reveals why the fight remains so intractable today.

15 May
Palestinians mark 76 years of their dispossession as more catastrophe unfolds in Gaza
Palestinians are marking 76 years of dispossession on Wednesday, commemorating their mass expulsion from what is today Israel, as a potentially larger catastrophe unfolds in Gaza where over a quarter of the population has been displaced by fighting in the last few days alone.
Israel has been pressing its military operations in Rafah, a city along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, and in northern Gaza, where Hamas has regrouped. Around 600,000 Palestinians have been driven out of Rafah since the beginning of last week, a U.N. spokesperson said Wednesday. In northern Gaza, Israeli evacuation orders have displaced at least 100,000 people so far.
Some 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes since the start of the war, with many relocating multiple times.
No food has entered the two main border crossings in southern Gaza for more than a week. Some 1.1 million Palestinians are on the brink of starvation, according to the U.N, while a “full-blown famine” is taking place in the north of the territory.

3 May
U.S. tells Qatar to evict Hamas if it obstructs Israeli hostage deal
Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered the message to Qatar’s prime minister, a U.S. official said, signaling Washington’s impatience as cease-fire talks have languished.
(WaPo) Three diplomats familiar with the situation said officials in the Gulf emirate, which has hosted Hamas’s political leadership at America’s request since 2012, have anticipated the request for months, but those expectations sharpened in recent weeks amid mounting frustration over a prolonged impasse on the cease-fire deal. Qatari officials have advised Hamas officials — including Ismail Haniyeh, the group’s political leader who lives in Doha, Qatar’s capital — that they should devise a backup plan for residency should they need to leave, said one of the diplomats.ling Washington’s impatience as cease-fire talks have languished.

30 April
Sheryl Sandberg Screams Back at the Silence
By Bret Stephens
(NYT) … “I’ve spent my life, obviously, building businesses,” Sandberg told me toward the end of our interview. “And separately I’ve spent a lot of my life fighting for women. And I never thought I was going to work on antisemitism. I didn’t think it was a problem, and I was absolutely wrong. And I never thought that politics could make any group or feminist leader turn a blind eye to just such clear documentation of sexual violence.”
With “Screams Before Silence” Sandberg has screamed back at the silence. Is anybody listening?

27 April
In war-battered Gaza, residents grow angry with Hamas
“In reality, we are in full retreat, the domestic front is destroyed. We, as a people, want a cease-fire, the withdrawal of the Israeli army. We want to return to our homes even if they are in rubble.”
(WaPo) More than six months into the war in Gaza and with dimming hopes for a cease-fire deal, Palestinians there are growing more critical of Hamas, which some of them blame for the months-long conflict that has destroyed the territory — and their lives.
The war has displaced most of the Gaza Strip’s population, killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the enclave toward famine, its infrastructure in ruins. The Israeli military waged a punishing campaign to eliminate Hamas after the group, which has ruled Gaza for 17 years, attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing an estimated 1,200 people and abducting more than 250.
But while the majority of Palestinians in Gaza blame Israel for their suffering, according to polling conducted in March, they also appear to be turning their ire toward the militants. In interviews with more than a dozen residents of Gaza, people said they resent Hamas for the attacks in Israel and — war-weary and desperate to fulfill their basic needs — just want to see peace as soon as possible.

17-18 April
US vetoes widely supported UN resolution backing full UN membership for Palestine
(AP) — The United States vetoed a widely backed U.N. resolution on Thursday that would have paved the way for full United Nations membership for the state of Palestine.
The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 12 in favor, the United States opposed and two abstentions.
… Palestinian membership “needs to be the outcome of the negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians,” U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood said. It “is something that would flow from the result of those negotiations.” …
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas first delivered the Palestinian Authority’s application for U.N. membership to then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2011. That initial bid failed because the Palestinians didn’t get the required minimum support of nine of the Security Council’s 15 members.
The Palestinians then went to the General Assembly and by more than a two-thirds majority succeeded in having their status raised from a U.N. observer to a non-member observer state in November 2012. That opened the door for the Palestinian territories to join U.N. and other international organizations, including the International Criminal Court.
Why “The State of Palestine” Can’t Join the United Nations
Palestine’s 2011 campaign for full-fledged membership to the UN…was partially successful. The Security Council blocked Palestine’s bid for full membership, but a few months later, the General Assembly overwhelmingly agreed to upgrade Palestine’s official presence at the UN to a “non-member observer state.” This put The State of Palestine on par with…The Vatican, giving Palestinian representatives most of the privileges that UN-member states have, like participating in meetings and co-sponsoring resolutions. But not all — they don’t have a vote in the General Assembly and could not join key UN bodies as full voting members.
… On April 2, Palestine issued a formal request to the Secretary-General for the reconsideration of its 2011 application. Antonio Guterres duly transmitted that request to the Security Council. On Thursday, the Council will hold a formal vote over whether or not to admit The State of Palestine as the 194th full-fledged member of the United Nations.
… On Thursday, the Security Council will again take up the question of Palestinian membership to the United Nations. While this bid will almost certainly fail, the diplomatic dynamics around Palestine’s bid to join the United Nations are changing in some important and revealing ways.

1 April
The Two-State Solution Is an Unjust, Impossible Fantasy
By Tareq Baconi, author of “Hamas Contained” and the president of the board of al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network.
There will be neither peace nor justice while Palestinians are subjugated behind walls and under Israeli domination.
(NYT opinion) The vacuity of the two-state solution mantra is most obvious in how often policymakers speak of recognizing a Palestinian state without discussing an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Quite the contrary
… Now, with international attention once again focused on the region, many Palestinians understand the dangers of discussing partition, even as a pragmatic option. Many refuse to resuscitate this hollowed-out policy-speak. In a message recently published anonymously, a group of Palestinians on the ground and in the diaspora state wrote, “The partition of Palestine is nothing but a legitimation of Zionism, a betrayal of our people and the final completion of the nakba,” or catastrophe, which refers to the expulsion and flight of about 750,000 Palestinians with Israel’s founding. “Our liberation can only be achieved through a unity of struggle, built upon a unity of people and a unity of land.”
For them, the Palestinian state that their inept leaders continue to peddle, even if achievable, would fail to undo the fact that Palestinian refugees are unable to return to their homes, now in Israel, and that Palestinian citizens of Israel would continue to reside as second-class citizens within a so-called Jewish state.
Global powers might choose to ignore this sentiment as unrealistic, if they even take note of it. They might also choose to ignore Israeli rejection of a two-state solution, as Israeli leaders drop any pretenses and explicitly oppose any pathway to Palestinian statehood.

31 March
Israel lodges proposal with UN for dismantling of Palestinian relief agency
Aid officials warn that transferring Unrwa’s functions to other bodies with famine looming would be disastrous
(The Guardian) Israel has given the UN a proposal to dismantle Unrwa, its relief agency in the Palestinian territories, and transfer its staff to a replacement agency to make large-scale food deliveries into Gaza, according to UN sources.
The proposal was presented late last week by the Israeli chief of the general staff, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, to UN officials in Israel, who forwarded it to the organisation’s secretary general, António Guterres, on Saturday, sources familiar with the discussions said.
Unrwa was not involved in the talks as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been refusing to deal with it since last Monday, on the basis of claims, so far unproven, of affiliations of some of the agency’s staff with Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

30 March
World Central Kitchen aid shipment heads to Gaza
A convoy of ships carrying nearly 400 tons of aid departed Cyprus on Saturday bound for Gaza, where it is set to meet a dire situation, as international and humanitarian organizations have warned that famine looms and medical care is scantly available.
(WaPo) It is the second shipment of aid to Gaza organized in part by the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, which said in a statement that the convoy is ferrying rice, pasta, flour and canned vegetables, among other food supplies, as well as machinery to offload the aid. It also includes a “special shipment” of dates, which are eaten to break Ramadan fasts, that was provided by the United Arab Emirates, WCK said. It is enough food to prepare 1 million meals, the organization said.
The shipment by sea comes as deliveries of aid through means such as truck convoys have faced hurdles. Humanitarian groups said in a March 23 statement that their work in Gaza “has been consistently and arbitrarily denied, restricted, and impeded by the Israeli authorities.”

29-30 March
Palestinian factions warn against ‘dangerous’ Arab military force proposal
(Al Jazeera – live blog) The Alliance of Palestinian Forces, which includes major factions Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), strongly opposed the idea of establishing an Arab military force in the Gaza Strip.
The idea, according to media reports, was pitched by Israel to the US and at least three Arab states including Egypt. The plan is an Israeli “trap” designed to serve its interests and “get the occupation army out of the great quagmire it has found itself in the Gaza Strip”, a joint statement said.
The factions said Palestinians, who have stood up to Israel during six months of devastating war, “are capable of choosing their leaders and institutions to manage the Gaza Strip and preserve national sovereignty”.
Palestinians reject proposal to introduce Arab multi-national force in Gaza – report
(Jerusalem Post) This recent proposal by leaders of the Arab World would see a multi-national force establish order in Gaza, with whispers that Arab leaders are interested in seeing a similar force in the West Bank.
Al-Mayadeen, a Hezbollah-affiliated network, reported on Saturday that “Palestinian factions” in Syria rejected the proposal to establish a multi-national military force of Arab countries with the backing of the US. This force would be responsible for controlling law and order in Gaza and escorting humanitarian aid convoys.
“Arab countries, together with the US, are trying to rescue the IDF from the situation it has found itself in Gaza. The Palestinian people are capable of choosing their leaders and institutions that will manage the Strip,” the report stated.
A senior Israeli official said that “such a move will build a governing body in the area that is not Hamas and will solve Israel’s problem with the US regarding the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”
Israel proposes regional security force in Gaza
(Axios) According to the Israeli officials, the proposal is for an Arab force to stay in Gaza for a limited transition period and be responsible for securing the temporary pier that the U.S. will build off the coast and for escorting humanitarian convoys so that aid reaches the population, will not be looted, and will not be under the control of Hamas.


Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
(Smart Traveller, Australia) We’ve reviewed our advice for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and continue to advise reconsider your need to travel due to the volatile security situation, including the threat of terrorism, armed conflict and civil unrest. We continue to advise do not travel to Gaza, border areas with Gaza, border areas with Lebanon closed by Israeli authorities and the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), due to the volatile security situation.

28 March
ICJ again orders Israel to ensure aid to Gaza
In a new set of provisional measures, the World Court ordered Israel to open more land crossings to allow aid into Gaza.
Judges at the International Court of Justice have unanimously ordered Israel to take all the necessary and effective action to ensure basic food supplies arrive without delay to the Palestinian population in Gaza.
The ICJ judges said in an order on Thursday that Palestinians in Gaza face worsening conditions of life and famine and starvation are spreading.
The Palestinian Authority has announced the formation of a new Cabinet as it faces international pressure to reform.
(AP/The World) President Mahmoud Abbas, who has led the PA for nearly two decades and remains in overall control, announced the new government in a presidential decree on Thursday. None of the incoming ministers is a well-known figure. Abbas tapped Mohammad Mustafa, a longtime adviser, to be prime minister earlier this month. Mustafa, a politically independent US-educated economist, had vowed to form a technocratic government and create an independent trust fund to help rebuild Gaza. He will also serve as foreign minister. At least five of the incoming 23 ministers are from Gaza, but it was not immediately clear if they are still in the territory.
The PA administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Its forces were driven from Gaza when Hamas seized power in 2007, and it has no power there.
It has little popular support or legitimacy among Palestinians, in part because it has not held elections in 18 years. Its policy of cooperating with Israel on security matters is extremely unpopular and has led many Palestinians to view it as a subcontractor of the occupation.
Opinion polls in recent years have consistently found that a vast majority of Palestinians want the 88-year-old Abbas to resign.
The United States has called for a revitalized PA to administer postwar Gaza ahead of eventual statehood.

25 March
Israel isolated as UN security council demands immediate ceasefire in Gaza
Palestinian ambassador hails ‘vote for humanity to prevail’ after US abstains, raising hopes for breakthrough in hostage talks

21 March
Blinken meets with Arab officials, calls for ‘enduring end’ to Gaza crisis
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and reiterated the call for a truce in the war on Gaza and support for the two-state solution, the US Department of State has said.

19 March
Incoming Palestinian prime minister lays out plans for reform but faces major obstacles
The incoming Palestinian prime minister said on Tuesday that he will appoint a technocratic government and establish an independent trust fund to oversee Gaza’s reconstruction.
In a mission statement acquired by The Associated Press, Mohammad Mustafa laid out wide-ranging plans for the kind of revitalized Palestinian Authority called for by the United States as part of its postwar vision for resolving the conflict.
But the PA has no power in Gaza, from which Hamas drove its forces in 2007, and only limited authority in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out any return of the PA to Gaza and his government is staunchly opposed to Palestinian statehood.

18 March
Famine in Gaza is imminent, with immediate and long-term health consequences
(WHO) The latest analysis from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) partnership released today warns that the situation in Gaza is catastrophic, with northern Gaza facing imminent famine and the rest of the Strip at risk as well.
“The IPC announcement reflects the dire situation that the people of Gaza are facing,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Before this crisis, there was enough food in Gaza to feed the population. Malnutrition was a rare occurrence. Now, people are dying, and many more are sick. Over a million people are expected to face catastrophic hunger unless significantly more food is allowed to enter Gaza.”
Before the recent months’ hostilities, 0.8% of children under 5 years of age were acutely malnourished. Today’s report shows that as of February in the northern governorates, that figure is between 12.4 and 16.5%.
Without a significant and immediate increase in deliveries of food, water and other essential supplies, conditions will continue deteriorating. Virtually all households are already skipping meals every day and adults are reducing their meals so that children can eat.

15 March
Palestinian leader appoints longtime adviser as prime minister in the face of calls for reform
(AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has appointed his longtime economic adviser to be the next prime minister in the face of U.S. pressure to reform the Palestinian Authority as part of Washington’s postwar vision for Gaza.
It’s unclear whether the appointment of a new Cabinet led by a close Abbas ally would be sufficient to meet U.S. demands for reform, as the 88-year-old president would remain in overall control.
In a statement announcing the appointment, Abbas asked Mustafa to put together plans to re-unify administration in the West Bank and Gaza, lead reforms in the government, security services and economy and fight corruption.
Washington welcomed his appointment but urged Mustafa to quickly form a Cabinet to implement changes.

12 March
For the first time in weeks, UN aid teams reach Gaza City
(UN news) Enough aid for 25,000 people has reached Gaza City for the first time in weeks, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced on Tuesday, in a call for daily aid missions and better access.
WFP delivered enough food for 25,000 people to Gaza City early Tuesday in first successful convoy to the north since 20 February,” the UN agency said in a tweet. “With people in northern Gaza on the brink of famine, we need deliveries every day and we need entry points directly into the north.”
The news came as UN humanitarians also welcomed the announcement on Tuesday that an aid ship, Open Arms, had left Cyprus for Gaza carrying 200 tonnes of relief supplies. But they stressed that it was “not a substitute” for overland assistance to Gazans on the verge of famine.
… Underscoring the dire humanitarian emergency still unfolding in Gaza, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, condemned the refusal to allow so-called “dual-use” items destined for the enclave. “A truck loaded with aid has just been turned back because it had scissors used in children’s medical kits,” tweeted Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General on Tuesday.
“Medical scissors are now added to a long list of banned items the Israeli Authorities classify as ‘for dual use’. The list includes basic and lifesaving items: from anaesthetics, solar lights, oxygen cylinders and ventilators, to water cleaning tablets, cancer medicines and maternity kits.

6 March
Israel blocks UN food convoy for north Gaza
By Zaheena Rasheed and Alastair Mccready
The World Food Programme (WFP) said an aid convoy was denied entry to north Gaza by Israel’s military, preventing the first attempt by the UN agency to deliver aid there since February 20. WFP said “to avert famine”, there must be road access to Gaza’s north.
Hamas says ceasefire negotiations are ongoing but “the ball is in the Israeli court”, while the US says obstacles to a truce are “not insurmountable”.
(Al Jazeera) Israeli forces have turned back a 14-truck food aid convoy bound for northern Gaza following a three-hour wait at a checkpoint, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
The convoy was then rerouted but later stopped by a large crowd of desperate people who looted the food and took about 200 tonnes, the UN food agency said in a statement. The incident forced the agency to airdrop food for some 20,000 people into northern Gaza, which has almost been cut off from aid since late October.
“Airdrops are a last resort and will not avert famine,” said Carl Skau, the agency’s deputy executive director. “We need entry points to northern Gaza that will allow us to deliver enough food for half a million people in desperate need.”

7 February
Israel’s Self-Destruction – Netanyahu, the Palestinians, and the Price of Neglect
By Aluf Benn, Editor in Chief of Haaretz
(Foreign Affairs)
… Ultimately, Israel’s future may look very much like its recent history. With or without Netanyahu, “conflict management” and “mowing the grass” will remain state policy—which means more occupation, settlements, and displacement. This strategy might appear to be the least risky option, at least for an Israeli public scarred by the horrors of October 7 and deaf to new suggestions of peace. But it will only lead to more catastrophe. Israelis cannot expect stability if they continue to ignore the Palestinians and reject their aspirations, their story, and even their presence.

10 January
Blinken seeks Palestinian governance reform for postwar Gaza as deadly Israeli strikes continue
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed a case filed by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice accusing it of genocide, calling the allegations “meritless” and saying they distract from efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He also called on Israel to take greater steps to protect civilians, allow more aid into Gaza and work with moderate Palestinian leaders, saying regional countries would only invest in the reconstruction of Gaza if there is a “pathway to a Palestinian state.”
The U.S. wants a reformed Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza once the war is over. Getting President Mahmoud Abbas on board, as well as other Arab countries the U.S. hopes will help rebuild Gaza, depends on promising movement toward a Palestinian state after years of a defunct peace process.
But the vision outlined by Blinken faces serious obstacles.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has so far rejected Palestinian Authority control in Gaza and adamantly opposes the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The autocratic, Western-backed Palestinian leadership, whose forces were driven from Gaza when Hamas took over in 2007, lacks legitimacy in the view of many Palestinians.

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