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Dagelijks archief 26 december 2016

Israel’s other army expanding illegal settlements

Rights group cites abuses of power by Israel’s Civilian Security Coordinators in the occupied West Bank.

Whenever Yesh Din has attempted to file complaints against CSC offences, the army 'always pushes away' from holding the guard accountable [Emily Mulder/Al Jazeera]

Whenever Yesh Din has attempted to file complaints against CSC offences, the army ‘always pushes away’ from holding the guard accountable

Bethlehem, occupied West Bank – Abuses of power committed by Israel’s Civilian Security Coordinators (CSCs), civilian guards of the illegal settlements, continue to contribute to settlement expansion into Palestinian-owned land across the occupied West Bank, according to an Israeli rights group.

In following the behaviour of the CSC guards over a decade, rights group Yesh Din has come across reports of guards doling out death threats and chasing Palestinian farmers from their fields at gunpoint to prevent them from harvesting, among other violations.

“When these [violations] are done systematically over the years, Palestinian farmers understand that it’s not useful to come to their own land located near what used to be settlement outskirts,” said Eyal Hareuveni, a researcher at Yesh Din. “And when done repeatedly again and again for a few years, the Palestinian gives up.”

The “unused” space is then allocated for settlement expansion, according to Yesh Din lawyer Michal Pasovsky.

“The minute these borders of the CSC [guarding zone] extend beyond municipality borders and Palestinians are afraid to go to their land, that gives the settlers an opportunity to build there,” Pasovsky said.

When these [violations] are done systematically over the years, Palestinian farmers understand that it’s not useful to come to their own land located near what used to be settlement outskirts.

Eyal Hareuveni, Yesh Din researcher

Under Israeli military law, CSCs are settlers armed and trained by the military to protect their settlements on behalf of the army. While CSCs are given policing powers and work in coordination with army forces, they are appointed by fellow settlers and directly employed by settlements.

However, according to Yesh Din’s chronology and analysis, the Israeli military’s declared goal of employing CSCs to protect Israeli civilians conceals a more important function the CSCs serve: expanding Israel’s borders.

“Not only do they [CSCs] harass these Palestinian farmers, but they also seek to expand the areas under their control and annex as much of that land as possible,” Pasovsky told Al Jazeera.

According to Yesh Din, the concept of a CSC was initially conceived by Zionist forces during the British Mandate, through a doctrine of “regional defence” that relied on civilians in frontline communities to fight in support of armed forces in demarcating the borders of the future state.

The regional defence approach was formalised by Israeli law in 1961 and later applied in illegal settlements in the West Bank – four years after Israel illegally occupied the area – through a military order stipulating that CSCs take position in the 12 settlements that had been constructed by 1971.

The 1971 order loosely defined CSC powers for protecting settlements and remains in effect today. A number of military orders have been issued since, specifying their exact policing powers and guarding zones.

The doctrine was used again during the late 1970s in Supreme Court rulings that enabled theft of Palestinian land for settlements, as well as in military orders defining the role that CSCs would play in their protection, according to the Yesh Din report

The Israeli authorities have continued to reference the doctrine ever since to justify the use of CSCs in illegal
settlements, which now number more than 220 and are home to well over a half-million settlers.

The Ministry of Defence, which gives money to settlements to pay CSC salaries, was not able to provide the current number of CSCs, nor was the Israeli army.

Yesh Din, for its part, argues that a major conflict of interest arises when law enforcement powers are granted to individuals who hold special interests – in this case those who represent interests of the settlement enterprise.

“The granting of such sweeping powers to an interest group that openly and declaratively rejects the provisions of international law is indicative of the chaos that characterises the official Israeli attitude toward law enforcement in the West Bank,” Hareuveni wrote in the Yesh Din report.

Simon Reynolds, a former legal advocate for the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, said that giving law enforcement powers to special interest groups by the Israeli military is part and parcel of the ongoing settlement expansion which is, and always has been, an Israeli national interest.

“Settlement expansion represents a strategic interest which has been consistently and publicly stated by the highest echelons of Israeli government, while the impunity enjoyed by CSCs and other settlers contributes to the continued erosion of Palestinian ‘safe space’,” Reynolds told Al Jazeera.

Yesh Din’s documentation of violations carried out by CSCs – while fairly low in number – align with long-lived trends of settler violence leading to illegal expropriation of Palestinian land, in addition to near-daily demolition of Palestinian homes and structures, forced transfer, and implementation of military training zones on – or near – Palestinian land.

New outposts often created through such tactics are retroactively legalised, with nearly one third of outposts to be illegally established in the past two decades later okayed by the Israeli government.

The Israeli Knesset most recently passed a first reading of a bill that would retroactively legalise some 55 illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank, in what Peace Now said would constitute “grand land robbery” and “another step towards annexation”.

OPINION: Israel’s culpability in settler violence

Yesh Din reported that Israeli military orders issued in 2009 defined the exact parameters of CSCs’ guarding zones and designated – for the first time – the territorial borderlines of 35 unauthorised outposts, some of which were later legalised by the government. The 2009 orders also drew guarding zones around 40 outposts located outside settlement municipal boundaries.

Reynolds said CSC offences, as documented by Yesh Din, “enjoy the tacit acceptance of the government by way of a culture of impunity”. This impunity is demonstrated by Yesh Din’s failed efforts to hold CSCs accountable for abuses of power.

The rights group’s spokesperson, Gilad Grossman, said that out of 16 cases of CSC violation in 2014 that the group brought to the police or military, none led to indictments. In five other cases, Palestinians chose not to file complaints either out of fear of negative repercussions from the Israeli authorities or the CSC, or lack of confidence in the Israeli justice system.

Pasovsky told Al Jazeera that the while CSCs work on behalf of the army inside of guarding zones, the military considers the guard a civilian as soon as they exit these zones, subject instead to investigation by Israeli police and border police, who systematically ignore infractions against Palestinians.

If the military does choose to investigate a CSC for offences, the “administrative investigation” allowed by military law is “problematic”, Pasovsky said, fundamentally flawed in its ability to effectively investigate CSC violations because Palestinian complainants are excluded from the investigation process.

“If we [Yesh Din] come forth with our information, they’re [the army] able to investigate it only with the security coordinator,” Pasovsky said. Hareuveni told Al Jazeera that whenever Yesh Din has attempted to file complaints against CSC offences, the army “always pushes away from” holding the guard accountable, adding that there is no documentation showing that a CSC has ever been tried in a disciplinary manner by the army.

In response, the Israeli army said claims that the army turns a blind eye to CSC violations of the law were “unfounded”.

“Whenever knowledge of a possible overstep of boundaries by a security coordinator reaches authorities, an inquiry is mounted, and when relevant, sanctions are levied, as part of the coordinator’s employment contract,” an Israeli army spokesperson told Al Jazeera in a written statement.

READ MORE: Palestinians – Israel settlement expansion a ‘war crime’

The army added that the military commander – the direct supervisor of a CSC – “takes further proactive measures in order to ensure security coordinators act within the limits of their authority and in accordance to the law”.

Hareuveni rejected military claims of oversight of CSCs, citing the army’s role in facilitating nearly five decades of settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“The army is part of this political system,” Hareuveni told Al Jazeera. “It doesn’t play any kind of independent professional role, as many Israelis want to see. It supports the settlements, it supports the illegal outposts … it doesn’t do anything meaningful about settlers’ violence or anything about settlers taking by force Palestinian private land,” Hareuveni said.

While Yesh Din acknowledges that impunity towards CSC violations is systematic, Pasovsky hopes that documenting their violations through complaint processes to the military will place pressure on CSCs to stop transgressions.

“They [CSCs] need to understand that there’s someone watching, they cannot do whatever they want … if they are being called into a military office to discuss their actions, this for us is very important,” Pasovsky said.

(Source / 26.12.2016)

‘Santa stands with Palestinians!’ Red-suited protesters clash with Israeli police (VIDEOS)

‘Santa stands with Palestinians!’ Red-suited protesters clash with Israeli police (VIDEOS)

A man tends to a Palestinian protester, dressed as Santa Claus, after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, December 23, 2016

Palestinian protesters dressed in Santa outfits clashed with Israeli forces in Bethlehem – the birthplace of Jesus according to Christian tradition. The IDF used tear gas to suppress the crowds ahead of Christmas celebrations.

Wearing symbolic red suits and white beards, with some completing their outfits with traditional Palestinian keffiyehs and even gas masks, the protesters marched towards a checkpoint connecting Bethlehem to Jerusalem.

Calling for the free movement of people between the two cities, activists carried signs which read “Santa Claus stands with the Palestinian people” and “Jesus came with a message of peace, his city suffers oppression.”

in a cloud of Israeli fired tear gas at the Wall. Merry  

The procession of roughly one hundred activists was halted on Friday by Israeli troops in front of Checkpoint 300, which serves as one of the main transit gates between occupied West Bank cities.

Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, pepper spray and stun grenades at Palestinians who allegedly attacked IDF lines with rocks.

A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus and wearing a tear gas mask returns a tear gas canister during clashes with Israeli border

A number of people were injured, including journalists, after the activists were met by force, according to reports. Several people suffered smoke inhalation injuries during the clashes. At least five journalists covering the event, were also injured, Ma’an reports.

Israel defended its actions, saying that Palestinians pelted stones at IDF lines, which forces the soldiers to respond.

“15 men … threw rocks at Israeli soldiers,” an Israeli border police spokesperson told Ma’an, adding that “some of them were dressed as Santa Claus and tried to cross the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.” The spokesperson added that two Israeli soldiers suffered light injuries in the clashes.

READ MORE: 14 injured as Palestinian ‘Santas’ clash with Israeli police in Bethlehem (VIDEO)

This is not the first year that Santas have clashed with the IDF around the the Christmas period in the West Bank. Similar scuffles erupted both in 2015 and 2014.

(Source / 26.12.2016)

Concerns raised over Egypt withdrawal from UN vote on Palestine

Egypt’s withdrawal of the UN Security Council’s resolution on the illegality of the Jewish settlement activity, which was approved by 14 countries on Friday, was said to have raised a “strong sense of disappointment” among Palestinians, especially after it was revealed that Cairo had acted under pressure culminated in a series of contacts between Israel, US President-elect Donald and his transition team and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

The UN resolution proposed by Egypt declares that Israel’s settlements have “no legal validity” and constitute a “flagrant violation under international law.”

The Egyptian foreign affairs ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu-Zeid said in a statement on Saturday that the abrupt withdrawal was an attempt to avoid the resolution being vetoed. “Egypt wanted more time to make sure that no country would use its veto power to block the resolution, especially after US president elect [Donald Trump] called on the current US administration to veto the resolution”, he said.

Sisi’s spokesman, Alaa Yousef, said on Friday that the two presidents had agreed to give Trump’s incoming administration a chance to tackle the issue. “The presidents agreed on the importance of affording the new US administration the full chance to deal with all dimensions of the Palestinian case with a view of achieving a full and final settlement”, he stressed.

The resolution, which stipulates that the establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 has “no legal validity,” was reintroduced by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela and put into vote. Earlier, the four countries – all non-veto-wielding members of the security council – have warned Egypt that if it did not clarify on whether it planned to call the vote, they would press ahead without Cairo’s involvement.

Politicians have condemned Egyptian president’s retreat on the anti-Jewish settlement UN resolution, describing it as “blunder” in Egypt’s foreign relations.

For his part, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef has described the postponement to the UN vote as “miscalculation” by Egypt, stressing that the Palestinian citizens have trust in Egypt’s stance on the Palestinian case.

Egypt was severely criticised after it backpedalled from filing its resolution, as it is the only Arab country that is currently a member of the UN security council. Before Egypt withdrew its resolution, it was considered almost final and it was assumed that the US would not cast a veto vote.

Israeli settlements have long been seen as a stumbling block in peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state. The UN maintains that settlements are illegal. UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months.

(Source / 26.12.2016)

Call to action: On the eighth anniversary of the sentencing of Ahmad Sa’adat, take action for freedom

Reprinted from the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat:

On the eighth anniversary of the sentencing of Ahmad Sa’adat in Zionist military courts, the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat urges a broad popular, political and media campaign to free Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners on January 13-15, 2017. These dates mark the 15th anniversary of Ahmad Sa’adat’s abduction by the Palestinian Authority at the behest of Israel, the United States and their allies.

On December 25, 2008, one day before the launch of the brutal attack on the Gaza Strip by Zionist occupation forces, Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a Zionist military court. The sentencing came nearly two years after the attack on Jericho prison and the seizure of Sa’adat and his comrades.

Sa’adat spoke at the military court: “In defense of the justice of our cause and in defense of the legitimate struggle of our people against the occupation, I refuse to recognize the legitimacy of your court or to legitimize your occupation or to stand before either of these. Because what you call a list of accusations and ‘security infractions’ are in reality my patriotic duties…and would have to be framed within the context of the general duty of resistance against occupation. At the same time, and as the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, I would like to reaffirm my pride in belonging to the Palestinian Revolutionary Movement and to the extensions of this movement in the regional, national and international planes that form the components of the international movement against the imperialist system ”

Eight years later, we urge all supporters of justice in Palestine, Palestinian organizations and communities and international movements of solidarity, BDS organizations and prison justice campaigns to join us in days of action from January 13-15, 2017 to highlight the struggle of over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

On this occasion we also highlight the policy of Palestinian Authority security coordination with Israel and its responsibility and complicity in the ongoing imprisonment of Ahmad Sa’adat, as well as the responsibility of the United States and the United Kingdom in Sa’adat’s imprisonment and the attack on Jericho prison.

On January 13, 14, and 15, 2017, the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat calls for:

1) A broad campaign of events, protests and actions in support of the freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Protest at Israeli, US and UK institutions, gather in public squares, and organize educational events and actions about the Palestinian prisoners’ cause.

2) Building the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and against complicit corporations, including Hewlett-Packard. We echo Sa’adat’s call for “all forms of boycott: political, economic, academic and cultural of the occupation state and the creation of a real economic cost for its industries of colonization and settlement..escalating the global campaigns for boycott of all corporations that support and invest in the occupation militarily and economically.”

3) Demanding an end to Palestinian Authority security coordination with the Israeli occupation and an end to PA political arrests that serve the interests of the occupation.

Freedom for Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners!

Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat
December 25, 2016

(Source / 26.12.2016)

Interim Ministry of Local Administration Seeking to Empower Judiciary and Police Force in Liberated Areas

Mohammed Mouthayeb, Minister of Local Administration in the Syrian interim government, said that that the ministry is working on empowering judiciary institutions and the deployment of local police stations across all liberated areas to end all armed presence among the civilian population.

Mouthayeb said that the southern region has a law court that adopted the Unified Arab Law approved by the Arab League. The court was established in agreement between the Free Syrian Army groups and local councils in southern Syria. Mouthayeb pointed out that the ministry is seeking to apply this experience in all the liberated areas across Syria.

Mouthayeb said that the law court in the southern region is working on enforcing the law in the region with the help of an experienced judiciary, adding that the court is also providing training to judges on the Unified Arab Law to adopt it in all law courts.

The law court has a bureau in which all lawsuits are documented and classified according to the regulations governing the work of the court, Mouthayeb said. He pointed out that the judicial staff in the law court in the southern region is composed of 45 judges distributed in two courthouses. The law court has an administrative staff composed of 50 employees as well as an executive body of 120 members.

Mouthayeb said that the interim government set up a unfired police force in the southern region in coordination with provincial councils and FSA groups. Colonel Ahmed Miqdad was appointed commander of the unified police force in the southern region, while the ministry is working on setting up a command structure for the police force.

The ministry is currently developing plans to set up police stations in the rest of the liberated areas across Syria, Mouthayeb said.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 26.12.2016)

32 Gazans managed to visit their imprisoned relative


32 Palestinians coming from Gaza Strip managed Monday to visit their imprisoned relatives in the Israeli Ramon prison.

Spokeswoman for the Red Cross Suhair Zaqut told the PIC reporter that 32 Gazans including eight children visited their relatives held in the Israeli jail this morning.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons and detention centers amid very difficult detention conditions especially due to the very cold weather.

(Source / 26.12.2016)

Hamas leader tells Israel to implement UN resolution

Khaled Meshaal

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has urged Israel to implement the recently-passed UN Security Council resolution demanding a halt in illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.

Speaking at an event organised by the Turkey-based YediHilal (Seven Crescent) Association in Istanbul, Meshaal said Palestinians want their lands to be “completely free from occupiers”.

“We want to take back our land in such a way that settlers are removed and there are no more settlements. We want to return to a Palestine where there are no invaders and enemies,” the Hamas political bureau chief said.

His speech at the Halic Congress Center saw several pauses during which people from the crowd chanted pro-Palestine slogans and called on the Israeli government to revise its policies that oppress Palestinians in their lands.

“We want to declare that we back the UN’s fair decision and we expect more such fair decisions on this issue,” Meshaal said.

On Friday, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding Israel to halt the building and expansion of settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.

The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela, was passed by a 14-0 vote after the US abstained.

“This is a correction of at least one of the mistakes that the US and the international community have previously made in matters related to Palestine,” the Palestinian leader added.

He thanked all governments and institutions who opposed Israel’s settlement policies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had described the UN Security Council resolution as “anti-Israel” and “shameful”.

About the Israeli leader, the Hamas leader said: “Netanyahu is in a state of madness because of this decision.

“In the past years, Israel’s presence for some states could be seen as a profitable investment. But today, for the international community, Israel has become a burden.”

He urged the international community and the Muslim world to stand with the “righteous struggle” because “the invaders are spreading their occupation step by step by opening new settlements in our territory”.

Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, has called repeatedly for taking steps to end the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

(Source / 26.12.2016)

The UN settlement resolution is too little and too late

Palestinians know that they have been offered only stale crumbs from the UN Security Council’s table.

The UN Security Council vote to pass a resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction as Samantha Power, centre, the US' permanent representative abstains on December 23 [EPA]

The UN Security Council vote to pass a resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction as Samantha Power, centre, the US’ permanent representative abstains on December 23

The United Nations Security Council vote decrying Israel’s policy of settlement expansion is a welcome, but empty, gesture – all but irrelevant to the contest waged daily between Israel and Palestinians, but perfectly suited to the new fascination with entertainment as policy.

Every lead player in this manufactured drama on New York’s East River has written a script that puts its role in the best light.

The international community has done nothing of substance in almost 50 years to constrain Israel’s appetite for new territory in Palestinian areas conquered in June 1967.

READ MORE: A symbolic resolution against Israeli settlements

Now once again, and with great difficulty, it has trumpeted its opposition, content to warn of the consequences of the status quo, but not to proscribe its central features, let alone to mandate a diplomatic road map for effectively addressing the issue.

Huffing and puffing of this sort is yet another sad reminder that, if, after so many decades, yet another toothless statement of concern is cause for such self-congratulation, Israeli settlers have nothing to fear.

Indeed, the only one to suffer material and immediate consequences of this vote is hapless Senegal, whose role in bringing the resolution to the table has won it an immediate Israeli decision to end its aid programme.

The ineffectiveness of the resolution

Israel has not been able to achieve the extraordinary feat of defying the international consensus against its settlement policies for decades by being complacent in the face of such international opposition, no matter how inconstant.

It has long pursued a policy based on the adage that “creating facts on the ground” – moving its citizens to conquered territory and in doing so, denying Palestinians the opportunity to create sovereignty based upon unchallenged control of territory – creates the context for diplomacy, and that everything else, including the pontifications from New York, or even Washington, while certainly a cause for concern, is hostage to this strategy.

Indeed, the UNSC vote, which fails to suggest any remedy, is scripted perfectly to match the central claim of Israel’s long-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who himself learned a thing or two about international diplomacy as Israel’s representative to the UN a generation ago.

The vote, and its self-evident, if notable, inclusion of East Jerusalem as occupied territory, will play well in Israel and among its many allies as yet the latest in an ignominious history of international opposition to the Jewish state, and will offer Netanyahu another politically potent arrow is his “the world is against us” quiver.

UNSC Resolution 2334 joins an undistinguished list of long-forgotten efforts to end occupation and settlement, and more broadly to create a Palestinian state and fix Israel’s place as an accepted and acknowledged part of the region.

For the small but vocal pro-Palestinian Israeli community that punches well above its weight, if only in foreign capitals, the UNSC resolution is the best news they have heard in many years.

Like wanderers in the desert, they see the vote as an oasis – offering a tantalising hint of effective international action to force an Israeli retreat to secure and defensible borders.

Like all mirages, however, this one too is a dream that is bound to disappoint. The international community remains unwilling to save Israel from itself by imposing a diplomatic framework to negotiate an end to occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state, and, with or without the council’s actions, Israeli opponents of occupation are too weak and uncertain to succeed on their own.

Stale crumbs

Palestinians know better than anyone the calamitous effectiveness of this strategy. They are at the centre of an Arab political community that, in our generation, is distinguished by its weakness in the face of external and internal challenges and the consequent undermining of state sovereignty across the region that follows as a result.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its tired representatives have not scored a substantive diplomatic achievement since Yitzhak Rabin acknowledged them a quarter century ago.

OPINION: Obama, Kerry, and the Palestine saga

An Israeli decision to withdraw its settlements and army from Palestinian territory – the ostensible objective of the international community – was won not by the UN, Washington, or the PLO, but by Hamas, which convinced Israel the old fashioned way – through blood and fire – that sitting in Gaza as conquerors was simply not worth the trouble.

Palestinians know that they have been offered only stale crumbs from the Security Council’s table, none better than the villagers who have seen their lands and livelihoods compromised by settlement expansion.

But what else can their leaders do, but wave this new resolution as proof of yet another historic achievement on the road to an inevitable, if faraway victory?

Another record of US failure

The United States as always reserves for itself a key influence in matters international, but this time it has chosen a non-speaking role.

The Obama administration has recorded a singular failure. It is the only US administration since the June 1967 war that has left barren the diplomatic effort to negotiate an end to the occupation.

During eight years of energetic effort, it failed to move Israel to negotiate directly with the PLO, let alone to withdraw from territories occupied almost half century ago.

OPINION: How Barack Obama failed to stop Israeli settlements

Washington had not had an idea in more than three years, since the expected failure of its central proposition that US good offices were enough to convince Israel to act in its enlightened self-interest, get with its facile “right side of history” programme, and lighten up on the Palestinians.

Now as he heads for the exit, Barack Obama has yet again been dragged from behind, letting the caravan pass in a feel-good abstention that puts Washington on the periphery of the right side of history.

That moment is destined to pass. US support for the vote would not, in and of itself, been a game changer. Remember the Clinton parameters, an inexact, but far more prescriptive, policy that fell from the tree almost as soon as it was ripe.

The Trump factor

Perhaps the most important players were those not celebrating the victory on First Avenue. Donald Trump has promised to ignore Obama’s last, toothless gasp, and offered the UN as yet another object of Washington’s scorn by adopting a new look in US policy that treats Israel’s expanding presence in the West Bank and Jerusalem as legitimate.

Trump’s main allies in this effort are not surprisingly Netanyahu, for whom a Trump White House is almost a dream come true, and less obviously Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s Egypt, who offered to sacrifice the resolution it had drafted and sponsored in the hope of re-establishing a more solid base of cooperation with the incoming administration and preserving its expansive security ties in the Sinai and Gaza with Israel.

UNSC Resolution 2334 joins an undistinguished list of long-forgotten efforts to end occupation and settlement, and more broadly to create a Palestinian state and fix Israel’s place as an accepted and acknowledged part of the region.

The international community continues to bark, but Israel’s settlement machine sees no cause to pause the work of generations in the service of Greater Israel.

(Source / 26.12.2016)

Assad Now in Control in Syria: Robert Fisk

Assad Now in Control in Syria: Robert Fisk

Alwaght- After the liberation of Syrian city of Aleppo from militant and terrorist groups, the British Independent daily says “Assad is back in control in Syria”.

The Independent’s article, written by Robert Fisk, goes on to say “Russia and Iran and the Shiite Muslims of the region are now deciding its future; Bashar al-Assad cannot claim victory – but he is winning”.

The well known British writer and journalist mentions the fast advancements of Syrian army in the operation to liberate the city from terrorists as he recalls “Aleppo must be taken quickly – before Mosul falls, a Syrian brigadier announced to me with a wan smile in the country’s army headquarters in Damascus. And it did, scarcely a month later”.

The article believes western media’s description of the “good guy” and the “bad guy” in Syria is “still being re-threaded into old loops” as the militants and terrorist occupying cities are introduced as mere “rebels” who oppose Assad but when the national army goes to defeat them, it is compared to Milosevic’s Serb killers or Saddam’s gas-bomb pilots.

“Russia realized that Obama and the weeping liberals of Europe were bluffing about the overthrow of Bashar – who, unlike Putin’s Ukrainian ally in Kiev, did not run away – and backed his army. The Economist made fun of Syrian soldiers because they supposedly couldn’t march in step when Moscow staged a military parade at its Syrian air base. But you don’t have to march like the Wehrmacht to win battles,” it writes.

Independent’s correspondent also says “after almost five years of battle, the Syrian army is still in action. The Nusrah and ISIS forces surrounding the government sector of the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zour will almost certainly be its next target — after the retaking of Palmyra, but long before the ISIS capital of Raqqa, which will probably be retaken by Washington’s Kurdish allies. And it is the Syrian army which will most likely have to rebuild the new Syria when the war eventually ends. It will certainly decide the future of the country.”

“That doesn’t mean the overthrow of Bashar. Neither among his official opponents nor his mortal jihadi enemies nor the corrupt and corrupted political opposition in Turkey is there anyone who can challenge him on the ground”.

Concluding his article, the writer advises western leader to realize the realities on the field in Syrian war. He mentions those realities as “Russia is back in the Middle East. Iran is securing its political semi-circle of Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut. And if the (Persian) Gulf Arabs – or the Americans – want to re-involve themselves, they can chat to Putin. Or to Assad”.

(Source / 26.12.2016)

Netanyahu freezes ties with UN resolution backers


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered during the cabinet weekly meeting late Sunday to reduce all diplomatic relations with 12 of the countries that voted in favor of UNSC settlement resolution.

According to Haaretz Hebrew newspaper, Netanyahu instructed his government to reduce ties with countries that backed the UN anti-settlement resolution.

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu decided not to declare future settlement plans to avoid any new UN resolutions.

The UN Security Council voted last week in favor of a resolution demanding a halt to Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank, with no votes against, and the United States notably abstaining.

The resolution calls the Israeli settlements a violation of international law and an obstacle to implementing a two-state solution.

(Source / 26.12.2016)