League chief says no changes to Arab peace initiative

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with top Arab League officials in Washington, DC, on April 29, 2013.

CAIRO (Ma’an) — No amendments have been made to the Arab peace initiative proposed in 2002, Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said Sunday.

A delegation from the Arab League visited Washington in late April to discuss the Arab peace initiative with US Secretary of State John Kerry, but no amendments to the proposal were made, Elaraby said.

“The delegation went to Washington to negotiate the initiative, not change it,” he said.

Following the discussions with Kerry and US Vice President Joe Biden, Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim, who headed the delegation, said that he backed Obama’s proposals for a “comparable and mutual agreed minor swap of the land” between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel’s lead peace negotiator Tzipi Livni praised the “important” concession, but top PLO official Saeb Erekat said minor agreed border modifications were already part of the Palestinian position.

The Arab peace initiative was proposed by then Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah at the Arab League Summit in Beirut in 2002, and called for comprehensive peace and fully normalized relations between Israel and all 22 Arab states in return for Israel’s withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories.

The initiative includes the possibility for reciprocal and equal border modifications if agreed upon by both parties. It also calls for a just and agreed upon solution to the Palestinian refugee question.

Israel has never accepted the proposal.

(Source / 12.05.2013)

Fayyad: Press freedom essential for Palestinian state

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Freedom of the press must be an essential component of the Palestinian state, resigned premier Salam Fayyad said Sunday.

“When it comes to freedom of the press, there is nothing called excessive freedom,” Fayyad said while addressing media at a photography awards ceremony in Ramallah.

“What we aim to do is to make the freedom of speech a part of our daily life, unrestrained by laws,” he said.

Fayyad praised Palestinian journalists, especially photographers, and stressed the importance of capturing and circulating what is happening in Palestine.

The protection of the freedom of expression is one of the most important priorities of the Palestinian Authority’s work, he added.

Palestine is ranked 146 out of 179 countries according to the 2012 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.

(Source / 12.05.2013)

Abbas meets Israel opposition leader in Ramallah

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — President Abbas met with the leader of Israel’s opposition party in Ramallah on Sunday, Israeli media reported.

Abbas and Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich discussed the possibility of moving the peace process forward, with the opposition leader reiterating her support for a two state solution, The Times of Israel reported.

“The Labor Party is deeply committed to the peace process and the two-state solution,” Yachimovich told Abbas, according to the Israeli news site.

The Israeli opposition leader called on Abbas to respond to US mediation efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry to renew peace talks, but stressed that Israel’s first priority was the security of its citizens.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine slammed Abbas’ meeting with Yachimovich, claiming that the Labor leader is exploiting the meeting to serve her own party’s agenda.

Such talks only serve the interests of Israel and the United States, who both want to maintain the current status quo, the statement added.

In late April, top Arab League officials met with Kerry to discuss the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, a Saudi proposal which would see 22 Arab countries normalizing ties with Israel in return for a withdrawal from lands it occupied during the 1967 Six Day War.

Speaking after the talks, Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim, agreed that any deal should be based on a two-state solution with the borders defined by the lines which existed before June 4, 1967, but also expressed support for mutually agreed land swaps.

Israeli minister Gilad Erdan, considered close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, responded by saying Israel will keep refusing to negotiate on the basis of a total withdrawal from land it seized during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Netanyahu has so far categorically rejected outright any return to the “indefensible” lines which existed before June 4, 1967.

(Source / 12.05.2013)

Sharif in talks to form Pakistan government

 

LAHORE: Pakistani election winner Nawaz Sharif was in talks Sunday to form a new government, with fixing the shattered economy and tackling  militancy likely to be his two biggest challenges.

Pakistan’s largest domestic observer mission, The Free and Fair Election Network, said Sunday that the polls were “relatively fair” despite some irregularities and violence at the polling stations.

Talks

Sartaj Aziz, a senior PML-N official and former cabinet minister, said Sharif was in talks Sunday with some independent MPs to get them on board and in discussions to work out “a few key portfolios” in the cabinet.

The election was defined by the tanking economy, an energy crisis that causes power cuts of up to 20 hours a day, the unpopular alliance in the US-led “war on terror” and chronic corruption.

Sharif has vowed a pro-business agenda to revive the feeble economy for what will be his third term as prime minister, a record in Pakistan, following two tenures in the 1990s.

Asked how his time in prison and exile had changed him, Aziz said it had “matured him and “made him more thoughtful.”

Militancy

It remains unclear whether Sharif will preside over any substantive policy change in the war on militants. While he has voiced support for peace talks with the Taliban, he has been less vocal against US drone strikes than his main rival Imran Khan, and is considered a pragmatist with whom Washington can work.

Relationship with neighbours

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated Sharif on his “emphatic victory” and wrote on his official Twitter page that he hoped to chart “a new course for the relationship” between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Sunday called on Sharif’s incoming government to help negotiate an end to the Taliban insurgency that has ravaged his country since 2001. Pakistan suffers from its own home-grown Taliban insurgency.

Democracy – an unfelt phenomenon

Pakistan, which has had three coups and four military rulers, is marking the first time that one elected civilian administration will hand power to another after a full term in office.

TV projections suggested no single party would win an absolute majority in the 342-seat national assembly.

But Sharif’s centre-right Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) was well ahead with more than 115 of the chamber’s 272 directly elected seats, according to various projections by private channels and as many as 128 according to Geo TV.

Khan’s reaction

Khan welcomed the high turnout as a step forward for democracy but alleged vote-rigging in a televised statement from the hospital bed where he is laid up with a fractured spine following a fall at an election rally last week.

“They placed election staff and administration officials for rigging at various places. Rigging was done in Punjab, in Karachi it was visible to everyone and in Sindh also,” he said.

Khan declared he would go into opposition and said that if his party forms a government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, they would turn it into a “model province”.

“I want to assure that the change has come in Pakistan, whatever others say. The foundation of a new Pakistan has been laid,” he said.

Election Result

Partial, unofficial results from Saturday’s election represented a stunning comeback for the wealthy 63-year-old tycoon who was deposed as prime minister in a 1999 military coup and spent years in jail and exile.

Sharif appears to have done well enough to rule out the prospect of a weak coalition, as the party of former cricket star Imran Khan achieved its own breakthrough on an anti-corruption platform that resonated with younger voters.

Khan’s party also looked set to take over the provincial government in the restive northwest, where he has vowed to end US drone strikes.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was neck and neck with the outgoing Pakistan People’s Party on around 30 to 25 seats, a remarkable achievement given that it only won one seat previously, in 2002.

Besides the national assembly, voters also elected four provincial assemblies and Khan’s party emerged on top in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, putting PTI on track to form a government on the frontline of the war against the Taliban.

The Bhutto clan’s PPP, which led the outgoing coalition, was heavily defeated over its record of ineffectual administration over the past five years.

Flanked by his brother and daughter, Sharif gave a victory speech late Saturday to hundreds of jubilant supporters at PML-N headquarters in Lahore.

“We should thank Allah that he has given PML-N another chance to serve you and Pakistan,” he said, after nearly 60 percent of the 86 million electorate.

“I appeal for all parties to come to the table and sit with me and solve the country’s problems,” Sharif said.

Taliban violence marred the election campaign with attacks killing more than 150 people, including 24 on polling day itself.

(Source / 12.05.2013)

B’Tselem report delivers blow to narrative that November attack on Gaza was ‘surgical’

Gaza

Palestinians try to extinguish a fire after an Israeli air strike.

“Precise” and “surgical”: those were the buzz words mouthed by the Israeli army and its supporters to describe the November air assault on Gaza. But a new report by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem calls that narrative into question. The report reveals that over half of Palestinian casualties during Operation Pillar of Defense, the army name for the assault, were civilians.

In the midst of Israel’s attack on Gaza last November–which began with the assassination of a Hamas leader while truce negotiations were ongoing–the army claimed it was ensuring limited harm to civilians. “The IDF goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and to minimize collateral damage,” the Israeli army’s official blog claimed. A November 14 explanation of the military’s activities on that day says that the “IDF has precisely hit 80 more targets.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that “the targets of Israeli operations are all military. Israeli strikes are conducted in a precise surgical manner.”

That narrative was also pushed by supporters of Israel outside of official state channels. Writing for Foreign Policy magazine, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Jeffrey White said: “Based on the relatively low number of Palestinian casualties — roughly 110 killed, including both civilians and fighters — in the first six days, the strikes seem to have been relatively precise.” The Institute for National Security Studies, a leading Israeli think tank with ties to the government, also propagated this narrative. In an analysis of Operation Pillar of Defense, former Israeli general Amos Yadlin wrote that the attack was characterized by “a limited surgical aerial attack.”

But as B’Tselem states, their report “challenges the common perception in the Israeli public and media that the operation was ‘surgical’ and caused practically no fatalities among uninvolved Palestinian civilians.”

The numbers say it all: according to the B’Tselem report, “167 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli military during Operation Pillar of Defense, including at least 87 who did not take part in the hostilities, 31 of whom were minors.” (United Nations figures are slightly higher: a Human Rights Council report documents that 168 Palestinians were killed by Israel, 101 of whom are civilians.) B’Tselem also states that “over the course of the final four days of the operation, the number of Palestinians killed who did not take part in the hostilities was 4 times greater than their number during the first four days.”

As the Israeli group points out, Pillar of Defense paled in comparison to Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-09 Israeli assault on Gaza that generated international outrage. Indeed, the specter of another Goldstone report hung over the military’s conduct, and they were restrained by a stricter firing policy. As the Jewish Daily Forward’s Nathan Jeffay reported, it was a “common view” among critics of the Israeli army and supporters that “the military had acted on some of the criticisms in the United Nations investigation into Operation Cast Lead.” But the fact that Cast Lead–a brutal assault that killed 759 civilians–is a yardstick speaks volumes.

The B’Tselem report, drawn from on the ground investigations, concludes that Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups violated international humanitarian law (IHL) by firing rockets on Israeli civilian sites. It also says the firing of rockets from within civilian neighborhoods in Gaza violates international law. Palestinian rocket fire killed at least one Palestinian woman, and perhaps up to five. As for Israel, B’Tselem says that “in some cases at least, the military violated IHL and in other cases there are substantial reasons to believe IHL was violated.”

The human rights group investigated a number of specific cases that call into question the Israeli army’s stated aim of ensuring little harm to civilians. For instance, on November 18, 2012, the Israeli air force bombed the Jabayla refugee camp in Gaza, killing 36-year-old Jalal Naser and his 6-year-old son Hussein. According to B’Tselem’s investigation, Naser was not a member of any armed group and no rockets had been fired in the vicinity of their area. But the roof of their house was targeted anyway. Naser’s wife Maryam provided testimony to B’Tselem on the strike:

On Sunday evening, 18 November 2012, the whole family was home. Now and then we heard explosions and airplanes flying overhead, above the refugee camp. Just before 10:00 o’clock, we heard a powerful explosion that shook our house. My husband, Jalal, went up to the roof to see where the bomb had hit.

About ten minutes later, my son Hussein, who is six years old, went up to the roof to get his father. He was afraid that something would happen to him. A few minutes later, I heard a powerful explosion from the direction of the roof. The house filled with dust and smoke. I went outside. I was hysterical. I was crying and screaming. I asked Jalal’s brothers to come over and they came to the house. I told them that Jalal and Hussein had been on the roof. We went up to the roof and called Jalal but he didn’t answer. Then I saw Jalal and Hussein. They were covered in blood. I began screaming hysterically. Jalal’s brothers took me out of the house and brought me to one of their houses. A few minutes later, they told me that Hussein had been killed and that Jalal was seriously wounded and on his way to the hospital. A few hours
later, at around two o’clock in the morning, I was told that Jalal had died too. I was in shock and couldn’t stop crying.

In response to B’Tselem’s inquiry on the case of Jalal and Hussein Naser, the military said that “no suspicion of a criminal offense or a well-founded suspicion of violation of laws of war by any military entity had been found.”

The report also publishes the testimony of Israelis who endured Palestinian rocket attacks, which killed four civilians.

Other human rights investigations have also criticized Israel–and militant groups–for alleged violations of international law during Operation Pillar of Defense. AHuman Rights Watch investigation concluded that “at least 18 Israeli airstrikes during the fighting in Gaza in November 2012 were in apparent violation of the laws of war.”

But the Israeli Military Advocate General has said that the vast majority of cases they looked into “did not justify a criminal investigation,” though they are still examining some other cases.

The B’Tselem report concludes by demanding more information on the Israeli attacks, and states:

The relevant authorities must explain the greater number of Palestinian fatalities in the last four days of the operation in comparison to the first four days. The explanation must relate particularly to the fourfold increase in the number of fatalities among Palestinians who did not take part in the hostilities. In view of the military’s pronouncements of “surgical” strikes based on technological capacities that enable great precision and of information as to the presence of uninvolved civilians at the target immediately prior to the attack – the difference in the number of fatalities give rise to serious questions: Did the military, during the last four days of the operation, choose not to make use of these technological capabilities? Alternatively, did the military have accurate information and yet decide to authorize the attacks, despite the anticipated injury to uninvolved civilians?

 (Source / 12.05.2013)

Tevredenheid van Allah ST

By Marianna Laarif

“Papa ik heb gehoord dat de mensen slecht over u praten, waarom doet u er niet wat aan?” De vader zei tegen hem: “Je begrijpt het nog niet, mijn zoon. Je zult het wel leren.”

De volgende dag riep de vader zijn zoon en zei tegen hem dat ze even naar de stad gingen. Ze pakten de ezel erbij en liepen naast hem. Al snel zagen ze een groepje mensen, eenmaal langs lopend hoorden de vader en zijn zoon de mensen zeggen: “Wat een idioten zijn die twee, ze lopen met z’n tweeën en hebben een ezel. Waarom stapt één van hen niet op de ezel? Dat bespaart ze energie, en daar is die ezel voor bedoeld.” De vader vroeg aan de zoon: “Heb je gehoord wat ze zeiden?” De zoon antwoordde: “Ja,” en zei: “Misschien hebben ze gelijk papa?”

Even verderop zagen ze weer wat mensen lopen en de vader zei tegen zijn zoon: “Stap nu maar even op de ezel dan.” Eenmaal langs lopend hoorden ze de mensen zeggen: “Wat een onbeschofte jongen is dat toch, zijn vader is oud en zwak en hij is nog jong en sterk en dan gaat hij zelf op de ezel zitten.” De vader vroeg de zoon of hij ze had gehoord, de zoon zei: “Ja, misschien hebben ze gelijk papa?”

Even later kwamen ze weer wat mensen tegen en ging de vader op de ezel stappen. Toen het groepje mensen langs liep hoorde ze de mensen zeggen: “Wat een tiran is die vader zeg, hij zit op de ezel en laat zijn zoon er achteraan lopen.” De vader vroeg aan de zoon: “Heb je het gehoord?” De zoon zei: “Ja papa, misschien moeten we er beiden op gaan zitten?” Even later zagen ze een groepje mensen en gingen beiden op de ezel zitten. Eenmaal langs lopend hoorden ze de mensen zeggen: “Wat een kwaadaardige mensen zijn dat zeg, beiden gaan op een weerloze en onschuldige ezel zitten omdat ze macht over hem hebben. Ze schamen zich niet!” De vader vroeg zijn zoon: “Heb je het gehoord?” de zoon zei: “Ja papa.”

De vader vroeg zijn zoon: “wat heb je hiervan geleerd?” De zoon antwoordde:
“Als je mensen tevreden wil stellen, zal dit je niet lukken. Er zijn altijd mensen die negatief praten over je. De mens moet alleen naar de tevredenheid van Allah zoeken.”

ACTIEOPROEP: NEE TEGEN EK IN ISRAEL

Het zal je niet ontgaan zijn: het EK voetbal onder de 21 jaar vindt dit jaar plaats in Israel. Deze keuze heeft internationaal tot protesten geleid vanwege de betrokkenheid van Israel bij de systematische schending van elementaire rechten van het Palestijnse volk. Tijd voor actie dus.
Op woensdag 15 mei vindt de finale van de UEFA-cup plaats in Amsterdam. Goede gelegenheid om onze stem te laten horen: zeg NEE tegen EK in Israel.

 

PRAKTISCHE INFO ACTIE

Datum: woensdag 15 mei

Locatie: Amsterdam Arena

Tijdstip: 18 uur – 20 uur

Wil je meedoen, mail dan voor meer info: marloes@docp.nl | www.docp.nl

RED CARD FOR ISRAELI RACISM                            

This summer, the European Championship for players under 21 will take place. Unfortunately, UEFA has chosen Israel as the venue for this important tournament.

This choice has led to international protests because of the involvement of Israel in the systematic violation of basic rights of the Palestinian people and Palestinian footballers. The Israeli government systematically violates international law. The United Nations has qualified the Israeli system as Apartheid.

Such institutionalized racism is unacceptable and does not fit in Europe! Israel does not deserve the honor to host the UEFA competition.

WHAT DID KNOWN ATHLETES DO?

Palestinian sports organizations and prominent athletes have publicly spoken out against Israel as a location for the championship. Leading players like Frederic Kanoute, Eden Hazard Chelsea, Abou Diaby from Arsenal and five players from Newcastle Papiss Cissé, Cheick Tiote, Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba, have launched a call to remove the championship from Israel.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Make your voice heard and call on UEFA to not give Israel the honor to host the European Championship under 21. Sign the petition now! Hereby, the link with the petition.  “UEFA President Michel Platini: Remove UEFA 2013 European Under-21 Championship from Israel” or scan the QR-code.

                                                 

(Mail / 12.05.2013)

Ahrar: “Israel Still Holding Captive 13 Legislators, 2 Ministers”

The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights reported, Saturday, that Israel is still holding captive 13 democratically-elected legislators, and two government ministers.

Detained Legislators - File Ahrar Center
Detained Legislators

Fuad Al-Khuffash, head of the Ahrar Center, stated that Israel is deliberately kidnapping the legislators, releases some and kidnaps them again, similar to what it did with Minister Wasfi Qabha, and legislators Mahmoud Ar-Ramahi and Mohammad An-Natsha.

Al-Khuffash said that most of the imprisoned legislators are elderly and suffer various health issues, and that they are not receiving the needed medical attention in prison.

Al-Khuffash added that the imprisoned legislators are; Yasser Mansour, Ahmad Attoun, Mohammad Totah, Marwan Barghouthi, Mohammad An-Natsha, Ahmad Saadat, Mahmoud Ar-Ramahi, Fathi Qar’awy, Imad Nofal, Bassem Az-Zaareer, Hatem Qfeisha, Mohammad At-Tell, Hasan Yousef, and that the detained legislators are Wasfi Qabha and Khaled Abu Arafa.

He further stated that all legal and human rights groups must act on the international level to secure the release of all elected legislators, ministers and officials, and to end the ongoing Israeli violations against the Palestinians and their elected representatives.

(Source / 12.05.2013)

Fatah accepts Arab League land swap proposal

Fatah Central Council welcomes US efforts to revive peace process.

A Palestinian shouts as he holds a Fatah flag at the funeral of terrorist Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh.

A Palestinian shouts as he holds a Fatah flag at the funeral of terrorist Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh.

The Fatah Central Council has accepted the Arab League’s latest proposal for land swaps with Israel.

Following a meeting in Ramallah late Saturday, members of the council also welcomed US efforts to revive the peace process with Israel.

The announcement is seen as a boost for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been facing criticism from some Fatah officials for supporting the land swap idea.

The Arab League proposal, which was presented to US Secretary of State John Kerry last month, has drawn different reactions from Palestinians across the political spectrum.

Although Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat initially said that this was not a new idea and that the proposal was presented in coordination with the Palestinians, some Fatah and PA officials have come out against the land swap plan.

Other Palestinians said that the Arab League did not have a mandate to speak on behalf of Palestinians and offer territorial concessions to Israel.

Opponents of the land swap idea said they were against it because it would “legitimize” settlements in the West Bank by allowing them to remain under Israeli sovereignty in a final deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Unlike most Palestinian factions, Fatah said that it was not today opposed to the land swap idea.

However, Fatah’s leaders stressed after their meeting that they perceive the idea as meaning that there would be “minor and mutual adjustments” to the future border between Israel and a Palestinian state.

Accepting the idea does not mean “legitimizing settlement blocs” in the West Bank, they explained.

“Settlements in all the Palestinian lands are illegal. There can be no land swaps without an Israeli recognition of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.”

Fatah said it was dealing “seriously with US efforts in order to make them succeed. The success of these efforts first requires a clear Israeli recognition of the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, a freeze of settlement construction and the release of prisoners, especially those who were arrested before 1994.”

Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official, said that the Palestinians were awaiting a “full process to revive the peace talks.”

He said that Kerry was expected to announce the results of his current efforts to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians on June 7.

“This is the date we have agreed upon,” al-Ahmed said. “Either Kerry comes forward with specific proposals to revive the peace process or he shuts the door because of Israeli intransigence.”

The Fatah official said that the Palestinian position regarding the resumption of the peace talks remains unchanged – namely a full commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the context of a two-state solution, the release of prisoners and a cessation of settlement construction.

“Without this, there will be no return to the peace negotiations,” al-Ahmed emphasized. “We hope Kerry will carry something positive to resume the peace process.”

(Source / 12.05.2013)

Two more police stations bombed in Libya’s Benghazi

Libyan bystanders inspect the damage on one of the two police stations that were bombed in the early hours of May 12, 2013 in Benghazi.

Two police stations were bombed early Sunday in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, a security official said, the second such attack in days that caused damages but no casualties, AFP reported.

“There were two new attacks today targeting al-Gwarcha and al-Uruba police stations, and both buildings have been lightly damaged,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

On Friday bomb attacks targeted Ras Obeida and al-Madina police stations in Libya’s second city causing extensive damage to the buildings and cars parked nearby.

The attacks are the latest signs of insecurity in Libya’s second city, birthplace of the uprising that toppled the dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

Nearly two years after his fall, rebel groups that helped to overthrow him are still refusing to disband and remain a more visible presence on the streets than the state security forces.

“We are not satisfied with the performance of the Ministry of Interior,” said Osama al-Sharif, Benghazi’s local council spokesman told Reuters. “And especially with the leadership of Benghazi’s police.”

The recent violence against diplomats, military and police includes an attack in September that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

This week, diplomats began to withdraw from the capital Tripoli, where security took a turn for the worse in late April when armed groups seized two ministries for about a fortnight to press demands on parliament.

(Source / 12.05.2013)