Palestinian universities set strike for Wednesday

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Employees at all Palestinian universities will go on general strike Wednesday protesting the government’s failure to respond to their demands, a joint committee of the employees’ union and the union of students councils said Tuesday.

The committee explained in a statement that both academics and students could understand the ongoing popular protests in the streets. “The occupation is behind all our calamities and problems,” the statement added.

“After the Palestinian government has failed to undertake its basic duties toward the different sectors in the Palestinian society, especially the education sector, despite being given enough chances, you have to listen to the cries of anger and to comply with the popular demands,” the statement said addressing the PA premier.

The statement urged the protestors to keep their movement peaceful and show a sense of responsibility.

On the other hand, schools will operate normally, according to the secretary general of the Palestinian general federation of teachers, Muhammad Suwwan.

( / 12.09.2012)

Report: Israel to transfer 250 million shekels to PA

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pictured in a cabinet meeting.

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late Tuesday that his government will transfer 250 million shekels ($63 million) to the Palestinian Authority to ease the current economic crisis in the West Bank, Israel’s Haaretz reported.

The Israeli premier ordered the advance payment of tax money collected on behalf of the PA, the report sid.

Netanyahu met with Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Tuesday to discuss ways to ensure the stability of the PA in light of recent protests against economic conditions.

The Israeli prime minister said it is “in our joint interest” that the PA overcomes the financial crisis and sent a message on the issue to President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad via envoy Yitzhak Molcho, Haaretz reported.

Frustrated by rising prices and high levels of unemployment, Palestinians took to the streets this week to protest the dire economic outlook, with many demanding that the Paris Protocol agreement signed with Israel in 1994 be amended.

UN agencies and Palestinian economists say the economic sections of the Oslo interim peace deals, outlined in the Paris Protocol of 1994, have been implemented by Israel selectively and mostly to its benefit.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 and interim peace deals have tasked it with levying taxes and customs duties on the Palestinian Authority’s behalf, amounting to around $100 million a month, on goods imported into the territories.

( / 12.09.2012)

Open brief aan Uri Rosenthal

Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken
t.a.v. de heer Uri Rosenthal
Bezuidenhoutseweg 67
2594 AC Den Haag

betreft: Open Brief

Harderwijk, 12 september ’12


Geachte heer Rosenthal,


Vandaag hoorde ondergetekende over de aanslag op het Amerikaanse consulaat in Benghazi, waarbij doden zijn gevallen. Met u, ben ik van mening, dat “een dergelijke, gruwelijke aanslag op geen enkele manier te rechtvaardigen is.” Ik ben ook blij dat u heel snel gereageerd heeft. Respect.

Dat u in dit geval zo snel bent geweest, verbaast me niet zoveel; echter het verbaast me daarentegen wel dat u nooit een uitspraak doet als Palestijnen worden gedood, gevangen worden gezet, kinderen worden vergiftigd door besmet water, en zo kan ik wel doorgaan.

Normaal gesproken is een minister van buitenlandse zaken onafhankelijk t.o.v. alle landen en kiest niet zo sterk een zijde als de Nederlandse regering doet in de kwestie Palestina, heb ik altijd gedacht. Maar wat wordt ik elke dag belogen, voor de Nederlandse regering bestaat er maar één partij: Israël.

Ik verzoek u met klem om – in de tijd die deze minister nu nog rest – ook op te komen voor het Palestijnse volk, om ook uitspraken te doen als er weer een onbeschofte aanval door de vrienden van Nederland wordt uitgevoerd op het Palestijnse volk.

Door de verkiezingen is het heel goed mogelijk dat er een andere minister van Buitenlandse Zaken gaat komen, een die minimaal neutraal staat in deze kwestie. Ik hoop het van harte. Een die wel luistert naar de pijn van Palestina, een die wel luistert naar de kinderen van Palestina, een die wel luistert naar de gevangenen van Palestina die zonder enige vorm van proces voor onbepaalde tijd worden opgesloten, een die wel luistert naar Palestijnse ondernemers wanneer de elektriciteit weer eens voor uren ‘uitvalt’. En liefst een die ook opkomt voor de rechten van de Palestijnen en voor hun grondgebied.

Laten we hopen voor Palestina en de rechten voor de Palestijnen dat zo’n minister van Buitenlandse Zaken snel gevonden wordt en op zijn plaats geïnstalleerd wordt. Ik durf er vanuit te gaan, dat ik spreek namens meerderen in Nederland maar vooral in Palestina.

Met vriendelijke vredesgroet,

Henny A.J. Kreeft
hoofdredacteur KhamakarPress en vriend van Palestina

Hebron is an apartheid town: FOR Palestine arts delegation report 2

As always, it is an amazing experience to be in Palestine. Connecting with long time friends in Hebron, Beit Sahour, and Bethlehem reminds me that to be involved in the struggle for freedom for Palestinians under Occupation is, at the same time, a struggle for the heart of Judaism and Jewish people as well. It is hard to sit with the ugliness of the settler community throughout the West Bank, which is completely supported by the entire political, economic, and military infrastructure of Israel.

The very first night in Hebron, as others have written, a young 19-year-old woman named Sundus and her brother were viciously attacked by a “known troublemaker” named Eitan who drives settler children in a bus. He stopped his bus and beat up Sundus’s brother, who was then brought to a police station (without his parents), fingerprinted, and sent home at 1:00 a.m. in the monring. When the news came, our host families were frantic. The children started crying. Heshem apologized to us and ran out of the house to see if he could be of assistance to his neice. The next day Sundus and her brother and mother came over. I saw the bruises.

1150The settler community here, as everywhere, is given permission to settle above Palestinians on hilltops, and then, quickly or slowly, drive them from their homes. In the case of Tel Rumeida, the families are holding on, even though they have no direct access to their own houses. The settlers poisoned their 2,000-year-old olive tree, cut the grapevines in half, ripped up their water pipes, beat up their families, and block their access. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) hangs out on their roof top every night. The IDF also enters their house at will several times a year.

Hebron is truly an apartheid town. There are roads that settlers can drive while there are 101 internal checkpoints for Palestinians and over ten kilometers of roads that are off limits to them, even as settlers drive by cursing out the window. All the passageways to Abraham’s tomb are blocked and only one is open — and that has three separate checkpoints, making prayer during holy days almost impossible.

As an older person, I found it physically challenging to go back and forth to my host family’s home. I had to hold on to a younger person to go up and down the unpaved roads and rocky pathways to the houses, since the regular routes are blocked. The families have to carry everything to their home. Everything. There is no ambulance access either. Part of Shuhada Street is literally cut down the middle with a barrier. [See photo above, at left.] One side for Palestinians, one side for Jews. It is guarded by Israeli soldiers. If this isn’t apartheid, I don’t know what is.

1151The murals we painted were very well received. I love being part of a project that not only reports what we see, but is also able to involve the community in creating beauty in the neighborhoods. Once again I am here in the Jewish holy day season, and once again I am overwhelmed by the complete contrast I feel between the worlds of Israelis and Palestinians. I feel like the regime of Occupation has stolen my beautiful heritage from me — and I want it back.

Forty-two years ago in Wadi Qelt, I became a pacifist. Today I stood overlooking this same valley and realized how long my path has been from then to now. This year is also the beginning of my fortieth year as a rabbi. I hope and pray, and of course pledge my activism, to overcoming the militarism that has transformed life into a constant struggle. May this be the year that the tide turns and hearts awaken to the possibility of peace. In order for that to happen, all of us have to demand an end to occupation. This injustice cannot remain.

(Lynn Gottlieb / / 12.09.2012)

Libya’s parliament elects technocrat as the country’s new PM

Libya’s new technocrat Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagour wins 96 votes from the 200-strong national assembly. (Photo courtesy Sawt Bladi website)

Libya’s new technocrat Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagour wins 96 votes from the 200-strong national assembly.

Members of Libya’s 200-strong national assembly on Wednesday elected technocrat Mustafa Abu Shagour as the country’s new prime minister in a close vote.

Shagour, previously deputy prime minister, won 96 votes, beating the liberal candidate Mahmud Jibril by just two votes to take control of Libya’s transitional administration for the next 18 months.

Abu Shagour, a respected optical engineer, carved out a career as an academic in the United States before returning to Libya last year where he was an adviser to the now dissolved National Transitional Council.

He was appointed a deputy to Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib in November.

In an interview with Reuters last month, Abu Shagour said that getting a grip on security, in an often anarchic Libya after the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi, would be the priority for Libya’s new rulers.

His election comes after the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed in an attack on the Benghazi consulate and a safe house refuge, stormed by Islamist gunmen blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.

The United States, meanwhile, has evacuated all of its personnel from Benghazi to the Libyan capital and has reduced the staff at its embassy in Tripoli to unspecified “emergency” levels, a senior U.S. official told reporters in a conference call.

( / 12.09.2012)

Israeli filmmaker says ‘Islam is a cancer’

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — An Israeli filmmaker whose depiction of the Prophet Muhammad led to deadly protests in Libya and Egypt called Islam ‘a cancer’ on Wednesday, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Sam Bacile went into hiding on Tuesday after demonstrators denouncing the film attacked the US consulate in Libya, leaving the US ambassador and three embassy staff members dead.

“Islam is a cancer, period,” Haaretz quoted the self-identified Israeli-Jew as saying, adding that he intended his film to be a provocative statement condemning the religion.

Responding to reports that an American was killed as a result of the outrage provoked by his portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad, Bacile responded that the security system at the US embassy is no good and America “should do something to change it.”

The film portrayed Muhammad as a fool, a philanderer and a religious fake and many Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet offensive.

Around 2,000 protesters gathered in Cairo to denounce the film and gunmen in Libya attacked and burned the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Ma’an’s editor-in-chief Nasser Lahham said the film, entitled ‘Innocence of Muslims’, has “no artistic or cultural value and is a deliberate assault on the Islamic culture and religion.”

( / 12.09.2012)

British Foreign Secretary optimistic about Egypt’s new government

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Wednesday the United Kingdom has no intention of allowing access to funds in the UK belonging to Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak and his family, adding that he looks forward to the upcoming parliamentary elections in Egypt.

“[The] freezing of assets has been done in line with Egyptian requests,” Hague said in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya, adding that “there is no lack of willingness from the part of the British government to deal with this but it has to be done in a way that is legally correct.”

Reports emerged earlier this month that the UK government was failing in its commitment to freeze assets of those belonging to Mubarak’s regime, ousted from power last year following a mass uprising in the country.

During the interview, Hague repeatedly said his country welcomes the transition to democracy in Egypt, adding that Britain does not wish to interfere.

“With their [Egypt’s] now legitimately and elected president in due course parliament to help the economic links to thrive and to help the people of Egypt to achieve their aspirations but we are not going to comment on their political campaigns or amendments to their constitutional drafts,” Hague said.

He also congratulated President Mursi after his election and said he “look[s] forward to see the writing of the new constitution for the parliamentary elections.”

Hague expressed Britain’s desire to welcome Egypt’s president, saying: “I delivered a letter to the president today from Prime Minister Cameron of the UK inviting him to Britain. He said he would like to come. So we look forward to that visit.”

Egypt’s president has also received an invitation from the United Nations.

The British foreign secretary said that Mursi’s recent visits to China and Iran did not raise suspicions that Egypt’s Foreign Policy is biased towards the East.

“I’m sure he [Mursi] will be heading West as well; there is no doubt that,” said Hague.

“[Mursi] gave a strong message when he was in Tehran which we respect and support, about the situation in Syria,” and “it seems clear from what he is doing in setting out an independent foreign policy for Egypt and that is something of course that we respect,” he added.

However, Hague criticized Iran’s recently publicized participation in a quartet conference, consisting of Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, discussing the crisis in Syria.

“Iran is part of the problem, actively supporting the Assad regime in murdering the people of Syria,” Hague said.

He added that the solution to the crisis will begin with the departure of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and a transitional government “which could include the members of the current government.”

According to Hague, the situation in Syria is “much harder” than that of the Libyan conflict.

“Our resolutions have been vetoed by Russia and China,” he said, referring the veto prohibiting foreign military intervention in the crisis-torn country.
As a result, the British official said Syria is a “more difficult area to intervene [in] because of the geography and history being so close to Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.”

Hague said Britain is not supplying weapons to Syria however; the country is the second-largest donor of humanitarian aid to Syria.

Asked about the Iran’s nuclear program and his position on this issue, Hague said that sanctions and talks are yet to bring about a solution.

In response to questions about the Palestinian cause, Hague said that Britain will continue to work on implementing a two-state solution.

( / 12.09.2012)