Israel frees Palestinian speaker after year behind bars

Palestinian parliament speaker Aziz Dweik, seen here in 2012 after his release from Israeli prison on a previous occasion

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities on Tuesday released the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Aziz Duweik, following a year in administrative detention.The Ahrar Center for Prisoners and Human Rights Studies said that Duweik, 67, was released from the Ofer prison near Ramallah after paying a fine of 6,000 shekels ($1,565).Duweik, who is a member of Hamas, was detained from his home in Hebron during a massive arrest campaign in June 2014, known as “Operation Brother’s Keeper,” which was carried out in search of three missing teenage settlers.During the campaign, which lasted until June 30 when their bodies were found, Israel arrested hundreds of Palestinians, most of them members of Hamas, including leaders and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Palestine’s parliament.Commentators suggested that Israel’s real motive had been to drive a wedge between Hamas and Fatah, which earlier that month formed a national unity government.More than 14 court sessions were held for Duweik during his year-long detention, the Ahrar Center said.Elected Speaker of the PLC in 2006, Duweik had previously been arrested by Israel forces three separate times between 2006 and 2014.During a stint in prison in 2008, the imprisoned leader praised efforts by Fatah and Hamas toward forming a unity government, saying: “The honest support for a national unity government — with all its contents — will spare great effort on all sides.”Duweik is among many Palestinian political leaders to have spent time in Israeli prisons, with 12 other members of the PLC currently behind bars, in contravention of international law according to rights groups.Many have been held under administrative detention without trial, most recently PLC member Khalida Jarrar, who has been held since April 2.Jarrar’s detention has sparked international outcry, forcing Israel to bring her case to trial. However, despite an Israeli military court decision to release the leader on bail, the decision was later overturned, and she continues to be held.Official charges made against Jarrar included membership of an illegal organization, carrying out services for the illegal organization, participation in protests and incitement to violence.The majority of Palestinian political organizations are considered illegal by Israel, including those that make up the PLO, and association with such parties is often used as grounds for imprisonment, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer.The PLC has not met since 2007 following a major rift between the Fatah and Hamas, which saw Hamas forcibly expel Fatah loyalists from Gaza.

(Source / 09.06.2015)

Palestinians see no possibility of talks with Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again accused Palestinian officials of evading the so-called peace talks with Tel Aviv. This comes as Palestinians say they do not engage in negotiations with the occupying forces as Palestinian lands are undoubtedly theirs and Israel should be sued for illegally grabbing them.

Once again, the Palestinian officials have reiterated their stance, that it’s impossible to engage in any form of the so-called peace talks with Israel. Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in remarks before a meeting with Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, had accused the Palestinians of refusal to negotiate with Israel for the past decade.

Observers meanwhile, say that the Palestinians do not expect anything from any foreign country as the U-S and most of the European countries will never withraw their support from Tel Aviv.

The most important thing for the Palestinians now, is to sue Tel Aviv for war crime charges. On the 25th of June, the Palestinian authority will be submitting two lawsuits against Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The cases are related to Israel’s ongoing settlement activities, and Tel Aviv’s last summer deadly war on the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu is trying to put the blame on Palestinians for fear that Israel could face further international isolation. The Palestinians insist that Israel’s aggression and settlement activities are the main reasons for the failure of any form of negotiations.

(Source / 09.06.2015)

IOF raids house of prisoner Khader Sarkaji

NABLUS, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Tuesday stormed the house of Palestinian prisoner Khader al-Sarkaji in Nablus city and confiscated money and a car.

The wife of Sarkaji told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli troops broke into their house in Haifa street and interrogated her for about one hour.

She added that the soldiers ransacked the house and confiscated a car and 4,300 shekels, claiming they belonged to Hamas.

The prisoner, 39, is the brother of Yousuf al-Sarkaji, a senior leader of al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas, and he has been administratively detained with no indictment for about two years.

(Source / 09.06.2015)

IOA reopens two Gaza crossings

GAZA, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) on Monday morning opened Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) commercial crossing and Beit Hanoun (Erez) passenger crossing after one day of closure.

A senior Palestinian official at Karam Abu Salem said that the IOA opened today the crossing before movement of goods after closing it on Sunday for security reasons, noting that the crossing is routinely closed on weekends, Fridays and Saturdays.

The official added that about 600 truckloads of goods and humanitarian aid as well as shipments of cocking gas and diesel for the power station would be allowed into Gaza.

For his part, Maher Abu Sabha, director of the authority of crossings in Gaza, said that the Israeli opened Beit Hanoun crossing before patients and traders in order for them to travel to the West Bank.

Israel had closed the crossings on Sunday after the fall of a Palestinian rocket in an empty area, south of the 1948 occupied lands.

(Source / 09.06.2015)

Logistics 101: Where Does ISIS Get Its Guns

43411222Since ancient times an army required significant logistical support to carry out any kind of sustained military campaign. In ancient Rome, an extensive network of roads was constructed to facilitate not only trade, but to allow Roman legions to move quickly to where they were needed, and for the supplies needed to sustain military operations to follow them in turn.

In the late 1700’s French general, expert strategist, and leader Napoleon Bonaparte would note that, “an army marches on its stomach,” referring to the extensive logistical network required to keep an army fed, and therefore able to maintain its fighting capacity. For the French, their inability to maintain a steady supply train to its forces fighting in Russia, and the Russians’ decision to burn their own land and infrastructure to deny it from the invading forces, ultimately defeated the French.

Nazi Germany would suffer a similar fate when it too overextended its logical capabilities during its invasion of Russia amid Operation Barbarossa. Once again, invading armies became stranded without limited resources before being either cut off and annihilated or forced to retreat.

And in modern times during the Gulf War in the 1990’s an extended supply line trailing invading US forces coupled with an anticipated clash with the bulk of Saddam Hussein’s army halted what was otherwise a lighting advance many mistakenly believed could have reached Baghdad had there been the political will. The will to conquer was there, the logistics to implement it wasn’t.

The lessons of history however clear they may be, appear to be entirely lost on an either supremely ignorant or incredibly deceitful troupe of policymakers and news agencies across the West.

ISIS’ Supply Lines

The current conflict consuming the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria where the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) is operating and simultaneously fighting and defeating the forces of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, we are told, is built upon a logistical network based on black market oil and ransom payments.

The fighting capacity of ISIS is that of a nation-state. It controls vast swaths of territory straddling both Syria and Iraq and not only is able to militarily defend and expand from this territory, but possesses the resources to occupy it, including the resources to administer the populations subjugated within it.

For military analysts, especially former members of Western armed forces, as well as members of the Western media who remember the convoys of trucks required for the invasions of Iraq in the 1990s and again in 2003, they surely must wonder where ISIS’ trucks are today. After all, if the resources to maintain the fighting capacity exhibited by ISIS were available within Syrian and Iraqi territory alone, then certainly Syrian and Iraqi forces would also posses an equal or greater fighting capacity but they simply do not.

3077964822And were ISIS’ supply lines solely confined within Syrian and Iraqi territory, then surely both Syrian and Iraqi forces would utilize their one advantage – air power – to cut front line ISIS fighters from the source of their supplies. But this is not happening and there is a good reason why.

Terrorists and weapons left over from NATO’s intervention in Libya in 2011 were promptly sent to Turkey and then onto Syria – coordinated by US State Department officials and intelligence agencies in Benghazi – a terrorist hotbed for decades.ISIS’ supply lines run precisely where Syrian and Iraqi air power cannot go. To the north and into NATO-member Turkey, and to the southwest into US allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Beyond these borders exists a logistical network that spans a region including both Eastern Europe and North Africa.

The London Telegraph would report in their 2013 article, “CIA ‘running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked’,” that:

[CNN] said that a CIA team was working in an annex near the consulate on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.

Weapons have also come from Eastern Europe, with the New York Times reporting in 2013 in their article, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” that:

From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

And while Western media sources continuously refer to ISIS and other factions operating under the banner of Al Qaeda as “rebels” or “moderates,” it is clear that if billions of dollars in weapons were truly going to “moderates,” they, not ISIS would be dominating the battlefield.

Recent revelations have revealed that as early as 2012 the United States Department of Defense not only anticipated the creation of a “Salafist Principality” straddling Syria and Iraq precisely where ISIS now exists, it welcomed it eagerly and contributed to the circumstances required to bring it about.

Just How Extensive Are ISIS’ Supply Lines?

While many across the West play willfully ignorant as to where ISIS truly gets their supplies from in order to maintain its impressive fighting capacity, some journalists have traveled to the region and have video taped and reported on the endless convoys of trucks supplying the terrorist army.

Were these trucks traveling to and from factories in seized ISIS territory deep within Syrian and Iraqi territory? No. They were traveling from deep within Turkey, crossing the Syrian border with absolute impunity, and headed on their way with the implicit protection of nearby Turkish military forces. Attempts by Syria to attack these convoys and the terrorists flowing in with them have been met by Turkish air defenses.

Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published the first video report from a major Western media outlet illustrating that ISIS is supplied not by “black market oil” or “hostage ransoms” but billions of dollars worth of supplies carried into Syria across NATO member Turkey’s borders via hundreds of trucks a day.

The report titled, “‘IS’ supply channels through Turkey,” confirms what has been reported by geopolitical analysts since at least as early as 2011 – that ISIS subsides on immense, multi-national state sponsorship, including, obviously, Turkey itself.

Looking at maps of ISIS-held territory and reading action reports of its offensive maneuvers throughout the region and even beyond, one might imagine hundreds of trucks a day would be required to maintain this level of fighting capacity. One could imagine similar convoys crossing into Iraq from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Similar convoys are likely passing into Syria from Jordan.

In all, considering the realities of logistics and their timeless importance to military campaigns throughout human history, there is no other plausible explanation to ISIS’s ability to wage war within Syria and Iraq besides immense resources being channeled to it from abroad.

If an army marches on its stomach, and ISIS’ stomachs are full of NATO and Persian Gulf State supplies, ISIS will continue to march long and hard. The key to breaking the back of ISIS, is breaking the back of its supply lines. To do that however, and precisely why the conflict has dragged on for so long, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and others would have to eventually secure the borders and force ISIS to fight within Turkish, Jordanian, and Saudi territory – a difficult scenario to implement as nations like Turkey have created defacto buffer zones within Syrian territory which would require a direct military confrontation with Turkey itself to eliminate.

With Iran joining the fray with an alleged deployment of thousands of troops to bolster Syrian military operations, overwhelming principles of deterrence may prevent Turkey enforcing its buffer zones.

What we are currently left with is NATO literally holding the region hostage with the prospect of a catastrophic regional war in a bid to defend and perpetuate the carnage perpetrated by ISIS within Syria, fully underwritten by an immense logistical network streaming out of NATO territory itself.

(Source / 09.06.2015)

New Jordan Valley ‘Marshall Plan’ brings hope for future Palestinian prosperity

EcoPeace will use the Master Plan to advocate for regional integration in the Jordan Valley. (Photo courtesy of Corporate Occupation)

EcoPeace will use the Master Plan to advocate for regional integration in the Jordan Valley

A consortium of leading environmental groups released a Regional NGO Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley. They announced the action – the first of its kind – earlier today at a conference held on the Jordan side of the Dead Sea. The strategy is akin to a modern Marshall Plan; it aims to convert a toxic river and highly depressed economic area into an international model for river rehabilitation and regional stability.

The conference, under the patronage of Jordan Minister of Water Dr. Hazim al Nasser, marked the end of a European Union (SWIM) funded program and brought together government officials from Jordan, Palestine and Israel, diplomats, international development agencies, and river basin experts to discuss how best to move the program from planning to implementation. EcoPeace Middle East, together with partners at the Stockholm International Water Institute and Global Nature Fund, and lead consultant Royal Haskoning DHV, were instrumental in creating the planning document.

“The Master Plan highlights how the current ecological and economic demise of the valley is a lose/lose situation for all sides concerned. Through the Marshal Plan type investments, undertaken in a manner that supports regional integration and a healthy Jordan River, stability and security can be achieved, a key concern of the Israeli public”, said Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Middle East Israeli co-director.

This echoes the findings of  Mumbai-based think tank Strategic Foresight Group, who assert that “any two countries engaged in active water cooperation, do not go to war for any reason whatsoever.” This truism also extends to environmental protection and remediation activities for internationally shared waters, such as the Jordan River.

“From a Palestinian perspective the Master Plan helps advance a two state solution with an independent Palestine prospering in the West Bank of the Jordan Valley due to full access and riparian rights to both water and land resources in the valley. All sides will gain when independence and integration lead to economic prosperity”, said Nader Khateeb, EcoPeace Middle East Palestinian co-director.

EcoPeace will use the Master Plan to advocate for regional integration in the Jordan Valley and for increasing political will for adoption in full, or in part, of the study’s recommendations by the national authorities in the region.

“I am proud that the Kingdom of Jordan is the first to have endorsed the Jordanian interventions of the master plan. Facing 40% unemployment in the valley and an influx of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to the valley, Jordan well understands that only regional integration will bring the needed prosperity and stability to the region. A healthy Jordan River on which the Kingdom is named better reflects our broader aspirations as Jordanians”, said Munqeth Mehyar, EcoPeace Middle East Jordanian co-director.
The plan’s framework identifies 127 specific regional and national projects (called “interventions”) with a total investment value of $4.58 billion USD until the year 2050. Many projects are “no regret actions” that can quickly commence to help build confidence in the broader political situation.

The interventions address seven strategic goals:
•    Pollution Control
•    Sustainable Water Management and River Rehabilitation
•    Sustainable Agriculture
•    Jordan River Basin Governance
•    Ecological Rehabilitation
•    Sustainable Tourism and Cultural Heritage Development
•    Urban and Infrastructure Development

As importantly, financial experts Levant Consultancy gave an overview today of capital market funding opportunities that, together with donor states, will finance the projects.

Dr. Therese Sjömander-Magnusson, SIWI Transboundary Water Management Unit Director, remarked, “The basin states now face a unique opportunity to support sustainable socio-economic development in their region by turning their cooperation into concrete investment. SIWI has been commissioned to produce a policy tool outlining potential options for a governance structure for the Jordan Basin. We remain committed to supporting regional efforts in the Jordan River Basin, both by identifying innovative funding frameworks and helping to advance governance issues”.

The announcement follows an action by mayors from 114 North American cities who last month entered into an agreement to rehabilitate the Jordan River.

(Source / 09.06.2015)

Political Committee Meets Friends of Syria Group Ambassadors

Political committee members met with Friends of Syria Core Group Ambassadors this morning in Istanbul. The two sides discussed consultations carried earlier between the Syrian Coalition and the international envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura and mechanisms for pushing the political process forward to achieve a political solution to the conflict.

Political committee members reiterates their commitment to a political solution in Syria that achieves the aspirations of the Syrian people to establish a pluralistic civil system based on peaceful circulation of power. They also reaffirmed their commitment to international points of reference for a political settlement with the United Nations based on the Geneva I Communique and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Moreover, they emphasized faith in national partnership to build a new Syria through the participation of all components of the Syrian people, the ensuring of their rights according to the constitution, and through renouncing all forms of terrorism and fighting the Assad regime and its allied militias.

They stressed the need to refer the situation in Syria to the UN Security Council in the case of no commitment to the political process and called for activating the international reference and not allowing any attempts to create a rift in this reference.

Political committee members also calls for encouraging intra-opposition dialogue, supporting the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and supporting counterterrorism efforts including countering the Assad regime and its allies.

The Syrian Coalition stresses the need for putting an end to Assad’s massacres, calling on the Core Group to pass a UN Security Council resolution that obliges the Assad regime to accept a political solution, starting with the implementation of the Geneva I Communique and the formation of a transitional governing body with full powers.

Furthermore, the Syrian Coalition stresses that the fight against extremism in Syria begins with the formation of a transitional governing body as a central sovereign authority responsible for fighting terrorism all Syrian territory. It is also the sole body capable of including all components of the Syrian people and of the formation of a national army tasked with protecting the Syrian territory and the defending the Syrian people against terrorism.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 09.06.2015)

Egypt summons U.S. envoy over Brotherhood

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, walks to his motorcade after being greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Stephen Beecroft, left, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Friday, March 13, 2015

Egypt summoned the U.S. ambassador in Cairo to show displeasure at Muslim Brotherhood figures coming to Washington for a private conference, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency on Monday.

One source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. officials did not intend to meet the group although they had met some Brotherhood figures that came to Washington in January.

The tensions reflect a clash between U.S. diplomats’ desire to deal with the whole political spectrum in Egypt and a fear of alienating Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who, as army chief, toppled a Muslim Brotherhood-led government in 2013.

The sources declined to say precisely when U.S. Ambassador Stephen Beecroft was call in by the Egyptian government, though one said it was in recent days. Egypt sought the meeting to make clear its unhappiness at U.S. dealings with the Brotherhood.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke declined to say whether Beecroft was summoned by the Egyptian authorities or whether U.S. officials would meet Brotherhood figures visiting Washington, telling reporters he was aware of media reports of such a visit but that “I don’t have any meetings to announce.”

He said it continued to be U.S. policy to engage with people from across the political spectrum in Egypt.

The United States has had ambivalent dealings with Sisi, prizing the stability has brought to Egypt while cautiously criticizing Egypt’s human rights record and the authorities’ crackdown on the Brotherhood.

Sisi, who was elected president in a 2014 landslide but with lower-than-expected turnout that raised questions about his mandate, regards the Brotherhood as part of a terrorist network that poses a threat to the Arab and Western world.

The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful movement.

The fall of veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, a long-time U.S. ally ultimately abandoned by Washington, paved the way for the Brotherhood to rule the most populous Arab country, something that was unthinkable for decades.

Mohammad Mursi, who rose through the Brotherhood’s ranks before winning the presidency in 2012, was a polarizing figure during his troubled year in office. His policies alienated secular and liberal Egyptians, who feared the Brotherhood was abusing power.

In January, the State Department said its officials met a group of visiting Egyptian former parliamentarians, including former members of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political wing. The Brotherhood was banned by an Egyptian court in 2013 after Mursi was ousted.

(Source / 09.06.2015)

Israeli PM wants Arab states to press Palestinians back to peace talks

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the annual Herzliya conference in Herzliya near Tel Aviv, Israel June 9, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he hoped Arab states could press the Palestinians to return to talks to reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu, speaking to a strategic conference near Tel Aviv, blamed the Palestinians for the 14-month impasse in negotiations but said he felt there was a chance to renew them if the Palestinians could be persuaded.

“There might be an opening because some of the Arab states silently agree with (my position) … (and) they might be in a position to influence the Palestinians to adopt a more conciliatory and positive approach,” he told the annual Herzliya Conference.

U.S.-brokered peace talks broke off in April 2014, with disputes raging over Israeli settlement-building and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s unity deal with Hamas Islamists, who do not recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Like Israel, Gulf Arab states are worried about Iran’s nuclear program, which they perceive as a threat to their security. Iran maintains that its nuclear goals are purely peaceful.

In an hour-long speech covering issues including Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Netanyahu said Palestinian efforts to force a peace deal on Israel through proposals by world powers would be counter-productive.

France recently handed a working document to Arab League countries in preparation for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would set the exact parameters of new peace talks and a timeframe of 18 to 24 months to complete them.

“The idea of imposing peace from the outside doesn’t work,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu repeated his commitment to a two-state solution, drawing applause.

Earlier, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said he did not believe a stable peace agreement could be reached with the Palestinians in his lifetime — one of the bleakest assessments from a top-level cabinet member since the talks collapsed.

Yaalon, 64, one of Netanyahu’s closest allies, said: “I don’t see a stable agreement during my lifetime, and I intend to live a bit longer.”

(Source / 09.06.2015)

Israeli courts extend detention of 53 Palestinian prisoners

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Palestinian Prisoner’s Society revealed on Sunday that six Israeli courts extended the detention of 53 Palestinian captives under the pretext of the continuation of investigation and judicial procedures.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society disclosed that Ofer military camp extended the imprisonment of 15 Palestinian detainees. Meanwhile, Salem military court extended the detention of 17 others.

The Israeli court of Petah Tikva extended the detention of 9 prisoners, while al-Jalama court extended the detention of 6 others, the Society pointed out.

The Society also revealed that the Israeli court of the Russian Compound extended the detention of 3 Palestinian captives while the imprisonment periods of 2 others were extended by Ashkelon Israeli court.
(Source / 09.06.2015)