Israel deports 6 Palestinians to U.S.

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)–  The Israeli Interior Ministry and the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) at dawn on Friday deported six Palestinian citizens from Occupied Jerusalem to the U.S. 33-year-old Kareem Faysal Abu Khdheir, who was banned from Occupied Jerusalem and deported to the U.S., said as he spoke by phone from the Lod Airport: “I was transferred from the Negev jail to the airport on Thursday morning. The Israeli occupation authorities claimed the flight was scheduled for five p.m. on Thursday before they updated me that it was delayed for six a.m. on Friday.” “I was locked up in the airport detention center with five other detainees. Each one of us was allowed to make one phone call only to update his family on the deportation order,” he added. Kareem, from the Shu’fat refugee camp, was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces on September 5, 2015 following clashes with the occupation troops.  Right before the detention, Kareem was subjected to heavy beating by the IOF and sustained critical bruises in his chest, face, and teeth.  The IOA extended his remand several times despite his deteriorated health status.  Deliberations and hearings held by the Israeli Magistrate’s court over the past four months culminated in a verdict that condemned Abu Khdheir, a holder of American citizenship, of involvement in Jerusalem demonstrations and sentenced him to nine months and a fine of 8,000 shekels.  Born and raised in the U.S. since October 2, 1983, Kareem Abu Khdheir popped in the occupied Palestinian territories on August 28, 2015 for the first time to get married.  He had been held for nine months in the Negev jail on allegations of resisting detention, attacking an Israeli border guard, and joining anti-occupation demos.  “Someday I shall return to my motherland, from which I was banned because I attended my friend’s funeral,” said Abu Khdheir.  “Someday I shall come back and live on Palestine’s soil for eternity,” Abu Khdheir added as he bid farewell to his family.

(Source / 03.06.2016)

Factions: Resistance is our sole option

GAZA, (PIC)– Palestinian factions’ leaders affirmed adherence to resistance as the sole option as well as maintaining Palestinian rights and constants.   The factions stressed on the fact that the Palestinian land is an Islamic waqf property that cannot be waived and that Jerusalem constitutes the cornerstone of the unity and civilization of the Islamic world.  This came during a political workshop organized by the national Islamic relations committee west of Gaza in the anniversary of the 49th Palestinian Naksa. The Hamas leader Ismail Radwan emphasized during the session on his Movement’s adherence to the Palestinian constants and rights especially the right if return. He called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to stop counting on the option of negotiation and urged it to halt its security coordination with Israel.  The Islamic Jihad leader Ahmad al-Mdalal slammed the PA for its pointless negotiations which have been saught for over 20 years leading to the weakness of the Palestinian national project.  The secretary general of al-Ahrar Movement Khaled Abu Helal opined that the Muslims’ preoccupation with other issues than the Palestinian central question encouraged the Israeli occupation to go too far in practicing violations and crimes against the Palestinian people and sacred places.

(Source / 03.06.2016)

Palestinian family must pay the Israeli state to remain in own home

MEMO's week in pictures

Palestinian woman holds and protests the right to her home from 1948, during the 68th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’ in Ramallah Palestine

One Palestinian family’s legal battle to remain in their own house is a microcosm of Israel’s institutionalised discrimination.

In the 1920s, Salim Khoury Shaya built a large house in Jaffa where his seven children were born and raised. Shortly before the unilateral establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948, three of the siblings travelled to Lebanon, and when war broke out, were unable to return.

In 1950, following the Israeli government’s passing of the Absentee Property Law – more on which below – the siblings who went to Lebanon were declared ‘absentees’, and the Israeli authorities took over the house, despite the fact that the rest of the family was still living in it. Nine years later, the state made a ‘concession’; it would retain its hold over 40 per cent of the house.

The property is now managed by Amidar, a public housing agency. In 2007, Amidar went to court to force the Shaya families to pay 471,000 shekels in backdated rent. The state agency also asked the court to dissolve the partnership, enabling it to sell the house to the highest bidder.

Last month, a Tel Aviv court ruled that the family would not have to pay the sum demanded for rent – but at the same time, also ruled that the family would have to buy the 40 per cent stake of the property from the state, in order to regain ownership (of their own house).

According to reports, the 40 per cent stake is valued at 2 million shekels, which the families cannot afford. They thus face being evicted from a home passed down the generations for almost a century.

In 2009, the lawyer representing the family gave his assessment of the case thus: “The state is cynically and aggressively seeking to dispossess citizens of their home that was built before the state’s founding, solely because they are Arabs.” Family member Mary Kusa added: “I have no doubt that if we were Jews the state would not be doing this.”

This story is not unique. A report a few years ago estimated that 40 percent of the Palestinian population in Jaffa lives in absentee ownership properties – one in four of whom were facing eviction (497 homes). In 2007-’08, Amidar issued at least 400 eviction notices in Jaffa’s Ajami neighbourhood.

A 2014 article described how, “in recent years”, Israeli authorities have “issued hundreds of eviction orders to tenants who breached contract conditions.” For example, “any tenant who renovated without permit, or overstayed the protected tenancy agreements (which expire past the third generation) were forced out.”

But the significance of this case goes beyond Jaffa; the legislative framework that first took the Shaya family home from its owners, and now forces them to buy their own home or face expulsion, is at the heart of what it has meant, in practice, for a ‘Jewish state’ to be established in Palestine.

The Absentee Property Law was a key tool used to transfer land from ethnically cleansed Palestinians to the new State of Israel. It declared land ‘abandoned’ if its owner was absent for just one day from November 1947 – but excluded Jewish Israelis from its provisions.

The Law of Return and Citizenship Law, meanwhile, meant that any Jew could emigrate to Israel and receive citizenship, while Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 – or, who like the Shaya siblings, were simply outside the country at the time – were denationalised and prevented from returning.

All these laws remain in force, and, as this case in Jaffa demonstrates, continue to effect even those Palestinians who remained and have Israeli citizenship. Thus any discussion about Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ is incomplete without reference to the Shaya family (and those like them); fragmented and part-exiled, and forced to buy their own home or face eviction – simply because they are Palestinian.

(Source / 03.06.2016)

Israel’s settlement drive is becoming irreversible, diplomats fear By: Luke Baker

In the hills east of Jerusalem, overlooking the Palestinian city of Jericho and the Jordan Valley, stands a religious Jewish settlement whose red-tile roofs, neat gardens and brightly colored playgrounds give the sense of permanence.

Mitzpe Yericho has stood on this escarpment close to the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth – since 1978. It is one of more than 230 settlements Israelis have built on occupied land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past half-century.

Diplomats and international monitors are increasingly concerned that the drive, which has seen Israel settle more than half a million of its people at a cost of tens of billions of dollars, may be reaching the point of irreversibility.

The ongoing expansion further diminishes the prospect of any significant progress being made when foreign ministers from 20 countries meet in Paris this week to discuss how to revive Middle East peace efforts, given the settlements have been a central obstacle for at least two decades.

If a peace deal were magically struck tomorrow, the Palestinians would expect the Israelis living in Mitzpe Yericho to leave. But its 3,000 residents, nearly all whom are religious nationalists, have no such intention. To them, the settlement enterprise is God-given and irreversible.

“If there’s peace with the Palestinians we’re staying and if there’s no peace we’re staying,” said Yoel Mishael, 65, who has lived in Mitzpe Yericho since its founding. “It’s part of Israel, according to the Bible. It’s something from God.”

The foreign ministers will meet on Friday with the aim of paving the way for a summit later in the year that they hope the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will attend.

On Monday, in a sign that he is aware of the growing international pressure, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was in favor of parts of the Arab peace initiative, a proposal put forward by Saudi Arabia in 2002 that would grant Israel recognition in exchange for withdrawing from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, among other steps.

Yet while some momentum may be building, there is scant indication the settlement enterprise can be halted, let alone reversed, leaving a fundamental barrier in the path to peace.

A VAST INVESTMENT

The settlement project began after Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. In the 1970s, with the government’s encouragement, large number of Jews began moving onto the occupied land. There are now 550,000 of them.

Many live in large blocs near Jerusalem or the ‘green line’ that separates Israel from the Palestinian territories, while others live deep inside the West Bank, in highly protected enclaves or pre-fabricated ‘outposts’ perched on hill tops. All the constructions are considered illegal under international law. Israel disputes this, and plays down the term occupation.

Calculating the financial cost of settlements to Israel is difficult; as well as the capital required to build there are defense and infrastructure costs and the price of tax breaks for residents who move there. But the Macro Center for Political Economics, an Israeli think-tank, estimates building alone has cost around $30 billion over the past 40 years.

Barely a month goes by without a fresh announcement from the government or one of its ministries about West Bank territory being declared “state land”, a precursor to settlement building, or a decision to allow new construction to proceed.

At the same time, Palestinians living in a part of the West Bank known as Area C, which accounts for 60 percent of the total and is where most settlements are located, are being uprooted from the land in increasing numbers.

During a visit to a sensitive part of the West Bank near the Palestinian city of Nablus, where settlements occupy almost every hilltop and are steadily expanding their footprint, U.N. diplomats studied maps and pointed out how the Israeli enclaves were spreading east toward the Jordan Valley.

“It starts to look irreversible,” said one official, a view separately supported by half a dozen foreign diplomats.

Under the Oslo accords of the mid-1990s, Israel retains full control over Area C, where large tracts have been declared closed military areas. As a result, Israeli courts tend to approve the removal of Palestinians from the area and the demolition of their homes, even though the accords did not change the illegal status of settlements there.

“Settlements are the vehicle for taking control of the land,” said Catherine Cook, an official with the U.N. office for the coordination of humanitarian assistance and an authority on settlements, speaking last month.

Asked whether she believed the settlement enterprise was irreversible, she replied: “Some of it has to be reversible.”

PRESSURE FROM WITHIN

If a peace deal were struck, many settlements would undoubtedly remain. While not openly acknowledged, Palestinian negotiators accept that land swaps, in which the Israelis would keep major settlement blocs along the green line and near Jerusalem, and the Palestinians would receive equivalent amounts of land from Israel in return, would be part of the deal.

But that would still leave vast areas of the West Bank, where 2.8 million Palestinians live in major cities such as Hebron, Nablus and Ramallah, dotted with more than a hundred settlements, many large and protected by the military.

Within Israel’s right-wing government, there is little appetite to cede any ground to the Palestinians. Netanyahu says their failure to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is the biggest obstacle to peace, not the settlements.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett is an ardent supporter settlements and wants Israel to annex all of Area C rather than allowing a Palestinian state to emerge. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman lives in a settlement and is similarly wary of Palestinian statehood, even if like Netanyahu he has welcomed elements of the Arab peace initiative.

Hagit Ofran, a senior official at Peace Now, an Israeli NGO opposed to settlements, believes lines could be drawn that would allow a Palestinian state to emerge even if Israel kept many of its enclaves. But even then she estimates that as many as 150,000 settlers may have to be uprooted.

While some might leave willingly if offered the right compensation, many others would not. The removal of just 8,500 settlers from Gaza in 2005 caused violence and outrage.

Many of the settlers in the heartland of the West Bank are religious nationalists who believe all the land, which they call Judea and Samaria, was gifted to Israel in the Bible. They are not interested in financial incentives to leave.

On the northern edge of Mitzpe Yericho, a lookout point provides sweeping views of Jericho and the Jordan Valley. An audio recording gives visitors a selective history of the region, with an English narration explaining how in the Bible God spoke to Joshua after the death of Moses, saying:

“Prepare to cross the River Jordan together with all these people into the land which I am giving the Israelites. Every spot on which your foot treads, I will give to you.”

At the end of the account, the narrator adds: “Today, more than 3,000 years later, Israeli settlements have once again renewed this Biblical landscape … We wish you a pleasant visit.”

(Source / 03.06.2016)

Palestinian government slams Rabbi’s threats to destroy Al-Aqsa

Rabbi Yehuda Glick

Extremist Jewish Rabbi Yehuda Glick. He has previously called for daily raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque and its demolition to pave the way for the construction of the Temple Mount

Extremist Jewish Rabbi and Member of the Knesset Yehuda Glick’s threats to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque are aggressive and disgusting, the Palestinian unity government said yesterday.

Government spokesperson Yusuf Al-Mahmoud warned that Glick’s comments will increase tensions on the ground and push the situation towards a religious war.

“MK Glick would not have made such statements if he was not supported by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who made several arrogant and hostile allegations saying that Jerusalem will remain under Israel’s sovereignty,” Al-Mahmoud said.

“We are not in a debate with Netanyahu and other extremists, but we are repelling the Israeli occupation,” he added.

(Source / 03.06.2016)

Saudi Arabia Blacklisted By UN For Killing Children In Yemen

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “grave violations against children increased dramatically” in Yemen because of the Saudi coalition’s involvement.

A young boy who lost his leg in the Yemen war uses a prosthetic limb at a government-run rehabilitation center in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday, March 5, 2016. Yemen's conflict pits the government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, against Shiite rebels known as Houthis allied with a former president. Yemen's war has killed at least 6,200 civilians and injured tens of thousands of Yemenis, and 2.4 million people have been displaced, according to U.N. figures. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

A young boy who lost his leg in the Yemen war uses a prosthetic limb at a government-run rehabilitation center in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday, March 5, 2016. Yemen’s conflict pits the government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, against Shiite rebels known as Houthis allied with a former president. Yemen’s war has killed at least 6,200 civilians and injured tens of thousands of Yemenis, and 2.4 million people have been displaced, according to U.N. figures

The annual “name-and-shame” blacklist of children’s rights violators was released today by the United Nations, with a conspicuous addition to the usual suspects. The new list included the Saudi-led coalition currently engaging in a war in Yemen.

The Saudi forces launched the war in Yemen in March of last year, and have killed massive numbers of civilians in airstrikes. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “grave violations against children increased dramatically” in Yemen because of the Saudi coalition’s involvement.

The UN report from last year already included the Shi’ite Houthis, along with the pro-Saudi Hadi government and al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate. All were present again, and are all “persistent perpetrators,” being listed for at least five consecutive years.

Other governments named directly in the list were Afghanistan, DR Congo, Somalia, Myanmar, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria. A large number of other “warring parties” were named in the list across several continents as well.

The US was named only indirectly, with the report faulting the US attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, but conspicuously only blaming it on “international forces.” The US has admitted to the attack, but denies it was a war crime. The US is also a party of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, though once again not singled out in the report.

As usual, the report did not include Israel or Hamas. The inclusion of one or both of those factions is a subject of hot debate each year, though recently Ban has sought to simply keep them off the list and fault specific actions by each side.

(Source / 03.06.2016)

Abbas’s explicit calls for oblivion

President Mahmoud Abbas

President Mahmoud Abbas

The Palestinian Authority has surpassed itself with ludicrous statements revealing the extent to which it will subjugate itself to the occupation authorities. Speaking during a meeting with Israeli mayors after the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as defence minister was made public, President Mahmoud Abbas asserted that the PA judged people “on their practices on the ground” rather than in relations to comments or political affiliations.

Quoted by Ma’an news agency, Abbas stated: “If Lieberman shows that he really accepts the two-state solution, we will forget his previous remarks describing Palestinian diplomacy as terroristic.”

Given the level of collusion with entities supporting the destruction of Palestine, it is no surprise that Abbas is taking an identical approach to Lieberman, who is notorious for his disdain for the international community and intent to destroy Palestinians. Israel has thrived upon an evolution of political rhetoric that pairs purported collaboration and adherence to international law with condescension. It’s a strategy validated by the international community in its scramble to protect the colonial entity in Palestine.

There are various implications for Palestinians from the latest declaration by Abbas. Given the PA’s reluctance to consider anything but diplomacy as the means to achieve its objectives, a few carefully chosen words by Lieberman are being interpreted as an acceptance of the two-state paradigm, despite the treachery inherent in such discourse. Although obsolete in practice, the internationally-imposed complicity is still serving diplomatic interests, particularly those of Israel. Whether or not Lieberman is disposed to consider the framework is irrelevant; Israel’s interests are protected by the mere regurgitation of two-state rhetoric. Hence, Abbas has not only invalidated his statements, but also sought to embroil Palestinians in yet another PA gimmick.

Apart from the abhorrent insistence upon complicit diplomacy to the exclusion of other options, including legitimate armed resistance, the PA’s perpetual references to, and impositions of, oblivion as opposed to strengthening collective memory, is by far one of the most damaging scenarios for the people of Palestinian. Every action undertaken by the PA is an exercise in oblivion; however, there are instances where Abbas deems it pertinent to issue an explicit recommendation to take that route.

Undoubtedly, the PA president is partial to opposing Palestinian collective memory, given that he is undaunted by the overt action which Netanyahu is taking to steer colonialism at a faster pace. Expecting Palestinians to comply, or even feign acquiescence, with the erroneous reference to forgetting Lieberman’s remarks is another story. Such comments should be considered as a form of incitement by Palestinian leaders against the people they claim to represent, even though Palestinians have constantly proved their allegiance to land and resistance, not to Abbas.

The only vicious implication as regards Palestinian diplomacy on behalf of the PA is directed towards Palestinians themselves. Mired in complicity, Abbas’ statement only singles out a sliver of Lieberman’s rhetoric while discarding all evidence of Zionist colonial violence against Palestinians, of which the new defence minister has not only been a keen supporter but also a prime instigator during his time as foreign minister. Abbas is basically calling for Palestinians to forget the PA’s role in perpetuating the unending trauma of loss and its collaboration with Israel in its settlement expansion, security, torture and murder. Needless to say, it is also a remark that will add to Palestinian resentment against Abbas and the PA, as well as recognition that an organised strategy emanating from the people is not an option, but a necessity.

(Source / 03.06.2016)

Leaked video documents Israel’s torture of 20 children

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)–  A video leaked on Thursday evening by the Israeli B’tselem rights group kept record of Israel’s torture of 20 Palestinian children in al-Khalil city a few days earlier. According to B’tselem, the Israeli occupation claimed the children were detained after an Israeli bus was hurled with stones in al-Khalil on Tuesday. B’tselem said the Israeli occupation soldiers arbitrarily arrested 20 Palestinian minors near the Jaber neighborhood after they ordered them to stand against a wall. Testimonies given to B’Tselem and footage filmed by B’Tselem volunteer Suzan Zraqo, who lives in the neighborhood, indicate that the soldiers passed through the neighborhood, gathering, seemingly at random, some twenty children and teens from the streets. The soldiers had them stand against a wall and began questioning them about an incident that occurred in the area earlier that day, in which stones were thrown at an Israeli bus. They then took a photo of every child and teen using a mobile phone.  B’Tselem obtained the details of fourteen of these minors, seven of whom are under the age of twelve – the cutoff age for criminal liability. Fourteen-year-old neighborhood resident M.G. gave his account of the events to B’Tselem field researcher Manal Ja’bri on 29 May 2016: “It was after dark. I was playing cards outside with two friends, who are seven and ten years old, and my brother, who is eleven. Suddenly, we were surrounded by Israeli jeeps and lots of soldiers got out of them. Ten of them came over and detained us, and the others spread out along the roads that lead off towards Kiryat Arba.”  “The soldiers told us to stand against the wall. We were frightened by the number of soldiers and because they’d detained us,” the child added. “Every group of soldiers was leading several children. I also saw soldiers grab N., who is seven years old, by the neck and lead him toward us. He was crying. They kept us there by the wall for about fifteen minutes,” he further stated.  This is not the first instance that B’Tselem has documented soldiers torturing minors in al-Khalil. Several of these incidents have occurred within homes, with the children’s parents present.  Given the soldiers’ conduct in this incident, it appears that their goal was primarily to intimidate the children. This demonstrates blatant disregard for the military’s duty to protect the rights of minors. The legality of this course of action is doubtful: the military is prohibited from treating civilians – certainly minors, and especially those under the age of criminal liability – as potential criminals and using soldiers to deter them, the B’tselem statement read.

(Source / 03.06.2016)

Israel indicts 3 Palestinian boys of anti-occupation attack

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)–  An Israeli occupation court indicted three Palestinian boys in their 17’s of age of carrying out an anti-occupation stabbing last month. The Israeli general prosecutor charged three Palestinian anti-occupation youths with involvement in a stabbing attack in May in the Armon Hanatziv illegal settlement, in Occupied Jerusalem.  The three youngsters were also accused of planning an attack on a bus. The Israeli attorney general claimed that a conversation on Facebook showed the three Palestinian boys were seeking Israeli targets and planning to kill Jews.

(Source / 03.06.2016)

Israel allocates $220m to develop Jerusalem

illegal Israeli settlements in Jerusalem

File photo of illegal Israeli settlements in Jerusalem

The Israeli government yesterday approved an extra 850 million shekels ($220 million) to develop the city of Jerusalem over the next five years.

“This is almost NIS 1 billion that we are investing in the development of Jerusalem, in technology and in companies,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. Palestinians believe this is a further step towards the Judaisation of the city.

The announcement came during a special cabinet meeting for Jerusalem Day; a national holiday in Israel that marks the capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War.

“The face of Jerusalem is changing. There is an interesting technological development here,” Netanyahu said.

According to the prime minister, the extra fund will be invested in technology, business and tourism.

Israeli public radio quoted Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat calling on the government to transfer the country’s ministries and government institutions to Jerusalem.

Former Minister for Jerusalem Affairs in the Palestinian Authority, Hatem Abdel Qader, said: “The Israeli extra budget aims to foster the occupation in Jerusalem and supports the settlers.”

“The Arab population will not benefit from the projects,” he added.

He called on Arabs and Muslims to shoulder their responsibilities towards Jerusalem and confront the Israeli attack against it.

(Source / 03.06.2016)