Palestinian Authority Seeks to Freeze Settlement Expansion

A general view taken on March 29, 2016 shows Israeli construction cranes and excavators at a building site of new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov, in the northern area of east Jerusalem. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

A general view taken on March 29, 2016 shows Israeli construction cranes and excavators at a building site of new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov, in the northern area of east Jerusalem

Ramallah – The Palestinian Authority asked the U.S. administration to interfere and put an end to Israeli settlement expansion, while some officials accused President Donald Trump of encouraging this policy.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the Palestinian authority seeks to cooperate with the Trump administration.

They said the authority does not want to anger the new administration, and would rather take its time before filing a complaint withthe Security Council.

The sources indicated that at the same time, Palestinians can’t stay silent towards settlement expansion.

On Tuesday, Israel announced it was approving permits for some 3,000 new homes in settlements sprinkled throughout the West Bank. The move came a week after the approval of some 2,500 homes in the territory and another 500 in East Jerusalem, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “just a taste of what’s to come.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the announcement of new settlements. He said: “We have started urgent consultations in order to take the necessary measures to confront settlement activities.”

Abu Rudeineh did not elaborate on what steps were being considered or who was taking part in the meeting. He urged the U.S. government to take action to “rein in” Israel.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said Wednesday that Israel’s building plans signaled the death knell for the two-state solution, blaming the Trump administration for being complicit.

“The silence of the new American government, including those who actively support the settlements in the White House and the administration as a whole, has emboldened Netanyahu to persist with his settlement activities,” she said.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry agreed with Ashrawi’s statement and accused the U.N and international community, primarily the U.S., of using “silent policy” which provided Israel with the cover to proceed with the construction.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has also accused the Trump administration of encouraging Israeli settlement construction, and hurting the chances of a two-state outcome.

“We Palestinians are so worried,” said Erekat during a telephone interview with Newsweek. “[Trump] does not comment. Trump is Trump and it’s up to him what he will do with the settlement policies. At the end of the day, peace is made between Palestinians and Israelis.”

He added that Palestinians were very concerned. “If that’s the trend of four years: God help us, God help the whole world.”

The announcement appeared to be an attempt by the Israeli government to calm settler anger over the court-ordered removal of Amona.

In a statement late Tuesday night, the Israeli Defense Ministry said the new construction “comes as part of a return to normal life in Judea and Samaria, as well as conduct which provides real solutions to housing and living needs.”

The new homes will include 700 homes in Alfei Menashe, 650 in Beitar Illit, 650 in Beit Arye, 200 in Nofim, 150 in Nokdim, 100 in Shilo, 100 in Karnei Shomron and 100 in Metsudot Yehuda.

(Source / 02.02.2017)

Lebanese Women Call for 30 percent Quota in Parliamentary Seats

Lebanon gets its very first ministry for women's affairs [AFP]

Lebanon gets its very first ministry for women’s affairs

Beirut– Lebanese women rallied on Wednesday to call for an increased female representation in any parliamentary electoral law approved by the different political parties.

While women constitute 51 percent of the Lebanese population and 54 percent of university graduates, they are merely represented in Parliament, as they currently occupy 3.1 percent of parliamentary seats.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri have stressed on several occasions their commitment to allocate a certain quota to women to support their active participation in political life.

On Wednesday, dozens of women and activists gathered in downtown Beirut to voice their demands for a women’s quota. State Minister for Women’s Affairs Jean Oghassabian joined the march to express his solidarity with the demonstrators.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Free Patriotic Movement MP Alain Aoun said that the parliamentary administrative and justice committee was currently studying “women’s quota”, in addition to other necessary reforms that should be implemented in the new electoral law.

Aoun added that while the majority of parliamentary blocs support the introduction of a women’s quota in the new law, some other blocs have expressed reservations on the matter.

“Reservations are not on women’s participation but rather on the quota,” the FPM deputy said.

For his part, Oghassabian expressed full support for women’s demands. “It’s a righteous cause; we will work on it until we reach the aspired goals.”

“We believe that women have strong capabilities; we need such energy inside Parliament and the government,” he said.

The minister hoped that Wednesday’s rally would spread across different Lebanese areas to guarantee a women’s quota in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Oghassabian also expressed the prime minister’s support to this endeavor.

“Prime Minister Hariri joins you in these demands and believes in your cause,” the minister said, addressing the demonstrators.

(Source / 02.02.2017)

Israel to build first new West Bank settlement since 1990s

JERUSALEM – DECEMBER 29: Construction workers are seen, at the Israeli settlement construction site in Palestinian lands in Jerusalem, on December 29, 2016. Settlement constructions by Israel continue in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish settlement located in east of Jerusalem. However, UN Security Council adopted a resolution with 14 votes demanding Israel to halt settlement building and expansion in the Palestinian territories, Israel announced to build 5,600 new houses at Palestinian territories

Israel said on Wednesday it would establish a new settlement in the occupied West Bank, the first since the late 1990s, to rehouse settlers evicted on the same day from an outpost built on private Palestinian land.

A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he was making good on a commitment to the settlers of Amona and had ordered the formation of a committee to locate a site where they could rebuild their homes.

“As promised a month and a half ago to the settlers, (Netanyahu) has set up a committee that will promote the establishment of a new settlement… It will begin work immediately to locate a spot and to establish the settlement,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The announcement was made shortly after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a government plan to rehouse some of the Amona settlers on an adjacent plot because it ruled that homes built there would also encroach on land owned by Palestinians.

According to the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, Israel last established new settlements in the West Bank in 1999, although outposts such as Amona, that settlers set up without official permission, have been built far more recently.

Around 330 Israeli settlers live in Amona, the largest of scores of outposts built in the West Bank. The Supreme Court ruled in November, after a lengthy legal battle, that settlers had to leave because their homes were built on privately owned Palestinian land.

Read: ‘Two-state solution is dying,’ say Euro MPs

On Wednesday, rightist protesters scuffled with Israeli police carrying out a court order to evict the Amona settlers, hours after the government announced more construction in larger settlements.

With no weapons visible but wearing backpacks, hundreds of police walked past burning tyres and pushed back against scores of nationalist Israeli youths who flocked to Amona in support of the settlers.

Working into the night the forces made slow progress, with three or four policemen at a time lifting each of the protesters out of dwellings in which they had holed up, and carrying them away onto buses.

By dark police said many of Amona’s 40 families had left but some protesters remained holed up in the settlement’s synagogue and negotiations were ongoing to secure an orderly eviction.

Thirteen protesters were detained by police during the scuffles and there were a few instances of stone-throwing. A police spokesmen said at least 20 officers were injured slightly by rocks and caustic liquid thrown at them. The youngsters chanted:

A Jew doesn’t evict a Jew!

The Amona settlers themselves stayed largely put inside their homes after erecting makeshift barriers in front of their doors and vowing passive resistance to eviction.

“We won’t leave our homes on our own. Pull us out, and we’ll go,” one settler told reporters. “It is a black day for Zionism.”

On a nearby hilltop, Issa Zayed, a Palestinian who said he was one of the owners of the land on which Amona was built, watched the scene through binoculars. “With God’s help, it will be evacuated and our land will return to us,” he said.

Most countries consider all Israeli settlements to be illegal. Israel disagrees, citing historical and political links to the land – which the Palestinians also assert – as well as security interests.

Israel approves more than 3,000 new settlement homes in the Occupied West Bank 

New settler homes

Earlier, Israel announced plans for 3,000 more settlement homes in the West Bank, the third such declaration in 11 days since US President Donald Trump took office. Trump, a Republican, has signalled he could be more accommodating toward such projects than his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

An announcement a week ago by Israel that it would build some 2,500 more dwellings in the West Bank, territory captured in the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war and where Palestinians now seek statehood, drew rebukes from the Palestinians and the European Union. It followed approval a few days before of over 560 new homes in East Jerusalem, also taken by Israel in 1967.

“The decision … will place obstacles in the path of any effort to start a peace process that will lead to security and peace,” said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinians want the West Bank and Gaza Strip for an independent state, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Israeli troops and settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

In 2006 Amona saw a violent partial eviction, with nine shacks torn down by authorities. Police were confronted by thousands of settlers and more than 200 people were injured.

The Amona issue had caused tension within Netanyahu’s coalition government. But it eased after he got behind a law proposed by the Jewish Home party, a far-right political ally, to retroactively legalise dozens of outposts. This would not apply to Amona because of the existing court decision.

“We have lost the battle over Amona but we are winning the campaign for the Land of Israel,” Cabinet minister and Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett tweeted after the evacuation began.

Parliament is expected to pass the legislation next week. It is opposed, however, by Israel’s attorney-general, and legal experts predict that it will eventually be overturned in court.

הפסדנו בקרב על עמונה, אך אנו מנצחים במערכה על ארץ ישראל.
נאומי כרגע במליאה: 

 (Source / 02.02.2017)

Committee: Palestinian prisoners forced to stand outdoors naked


Tensions escalated this afternoon at Israel’s Nafha prison in the southern Negev desert, as reports surfaced of a Palestinian prisoner allegedly stabbing an Israeli officer inside the prison.

Israeli news sites reported that a Palestinian prisoner “attacked an Israeli prison warden with a sharp tool”, causing the warden to suffer a light injury.

Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe said in a statement that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) “claimed that the Palestinian prisoner stabbed that Israeli officer,” highlighting that immediately following the incident, IPS officials began conducting punitive procedures “humiliating Palestinian prisoners”.

Qaraqe said IPS officials conducted an “unprecedented raid” in Section 1 of Nafha, forcing the Palestinian prisoners to fully undress, leading them outside of the section “while naked in the cold weather, also searching and destroying their personal belongings and cutting the electricity off.”

He called the situation in Nafha “unbearable” and said that the stabbing was a Palestinian prisoner “reacting to these [common] procedures and trying to defend himself”.

Noting that the IPS has banned family and lawyer visitations to prisoners inside Nafha, Qaraqe called upon the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to immediately intervene and visit the prison.

“Palestinian prisoners will conduct group protests and hunger strikes if humiliating Israeli raids continued against them,” Qaraqe’s statement concluded.

Later today, Qaraqe said in a statement that 400 Israeli prison officers raided section 2 and 12 of Nafha prison, handcuffing prisoners and forcing them out into the prison yard.

An IPS spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Yesterday, Palestinian prisoners set fire to a cell in Nafha prison after IPS wardens stormed the prisoners’ cells and assaulted prisoners.

Qaraqe told Ma’an at the time that “prisoners announced a state of alert and set fire inside a room at Nafha prison” after Messada officers, the “takeover” unit of the IPS, reportedly stormed Section 2 of the prison and assaulted prisoners.

(Source / 02.02.2017)

Netanyahu Prepares For New Colony In The Occupied West Bank

02 FEB
9:51 AM

On Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of the Likud Party, announced that he was working on appointing a team tasked with creating a new colony in the occupied West Bank, to fulfill what he called “a promise” to the illegal colonists of Amona outpost.

Netanyahu stated that the soldiers and officers who are removing Amona outpost, were acting under direct orders following a High Court decision deeming it illegal, because it was built on private Palestinian lands.

His promise to the illegal colonists was made nearly a month and a half ago, after the High Court decision.

Netanyahu stated that he was working on appointing a special team tasked with creating a new “legal settlement, to house the settlers.”

His announcement was made one day after Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the extreme right-wing “Israel Our Home Party (Yisrael Beiteinu), announced the approval of 3000 new units in Israeli colonies, most of the not even in “Settlement Blocs,” in the occupied West Bank.

It also comes one week after he announced the construction of 2500 new units in various colonies in the West Bank.

Several countries around the world, mainly France, and the European Union, have criticized the new plans, and dubbed them as obstacles to the efforts for “resuming peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The United Nations said it was “concerned” about the new construction plans, and said that “unilateral moves jeopardize the efforts to resume direct peace talks.”

It also called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to “return to negotiations’ table to resolve all issues based on all related Security Council resolutions and International Law.”

Furthermore, Tobias Ellwood, British Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, condemned the Israeli Government’s announcement to build 3,000 settlement units in the West Bank

“The announcement of further settlement units in the West Bank is part of a growing trend which we condemn. We have consistently been clear that settlements are illegal under international law, and not conducive to peace. This spike in settlement activity undermines trust and makes a two state solution – with an Israel that is safe from terrorism and a Palestinian state that is viable and sovereign – much harder to achieve.”

The announcements for new constructions and expansions in the West Bank came after a phone conversation between Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump, who vowed unlimited support to Tel Aviv.

|Trump Donated $10,000 to Beit El Settlement|

All of Israel’s colonies in the occupied West Bank, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem, are illegal under International Law, various United Nations and Security Council resolutions, and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory and a constant violator.

Also read:

Amona Settlers Accept Relocation Plan

After Court Ordered Removal Of Nine Illegal Colonist Units, Netanyahu Decides To Build 68


(Source / 02.02.2017) 

Human Rights Activists Establish ‘Association of War Victims in Syria’ to Prosecute Assad Regime’s War Crimes

A number of human rights activists announced the establishment of the Association of War Victims in Syria to collect evidence and document war crimes and violations committed against Syrian civilians by individuals or state parties and prosecute these crimes in the future.

The Association comprises a committee of lawyers and human rights specialists who will interview the victims themselves or their families. The interviews will be conducted in four cities with the highest concentration of Syrian refugees. The Association signed a contract with Stoke & White LLP, a London-based law firm to support its activities.

The Association will help victims file lawsuits over cases of death of relatives, torture, rape, humiliation and ill-treatment, detention, kidnapping of relatives, exposure to injury or disability, loss of property, siege and starvation, and exposure to bombing with barrel bombs, chemical weapons, cluster bombs and other internationally prohibited weapons.

The Association’s constitutive declaration said that countless war crimes and violations have been committed in Syria since March 2011. The high percentage of civilian victims of human rights violations makes it imperative to look into these crimes and name the perpetrators to bring them to justice and ensure accountability, the Association added.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 02.02.2017)

‘Two-state solution is dying,’ say Euro MPs

Image from October 2012, showing the work being done at the time to expand the Israeli settlement of Harmoun Hanatsave in Gilo, south of Jerusalem city [Mahfouz Abu Turk / ApaImages]

Image of construction work after Israel approved to construct new settlement units in the West Bank

Members of the European Parliament said on Wednesday that the situation in the Middle East is “disappointing” and the two-state solution is “dying” due to ongoing Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories, Anadolu has reported.

Elmar Brok MEP, of the European People’s Party Group, visited the Palestinian territories last month. “Hopes for the two-state solution in the Middle East have started to diminish,” he said. He made his comments during a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs held in Brussels to discuss the results of the visit made by a number of MEPs to occupied Palestine. Brok warned of “new apartheid” in the Middle East in the light of the growing Palestinian population.

Read: Israel to build first new West Bank settlement since 1990s

“The Palestinian Authority does not have real control of the Gaza Strip,” he explained. “Nor is it able to impose its sovereignty over the others parts of its land.” The German MEP noted that the PA has already started to lose hope of having an independent state based on the two-state solution.

According to Gilles Pargneaux MEP, who also took part in the visit to the Palestinian territories, “The two-state solution is gradually dying and fading due to Israel’s continuous settlement policy.”

Nevertheless, he stressed, the two-state solution remains the only solution that the EU has adopted as a means to reach a sustainable peace in the Middle East.

(Source / 02.02.2017)

Trump threatens to punish Palestinians if they sue Israel in ICC


The Haaretz newspaper on its website on Wednesday said that the U.S. president, Donald Trump has threatened to punish Palestinians if they sue Israel in the international criminal court.

According to Haaretz, officials said that the new right-wing U.S. administration will take “severe punitive measures” that will damage the position of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) if it goes to the ICC.

Haaretz pointed out that the administration would cut the aids to the PLO and close down the offices of the PLO in Washington.

Since Donald Trump became president, Israel has approved the construction of over 6,000 settlement units all over the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Trump has declared his approval of settlement expansion, and in turn received support from the Israeli PM on building a wall along the Mexico borders.

(Source / 02.02.2017)

New settlement for evacuated Jewish settlers

Many outposts had been built since the 1990s and considered illegal. Knesset is to approve them retroactively

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday plans to build new settlement for Jewish settlers evacuated from illegal outpost of Amona.

In the less than two weeks since new American President Donald Trump took office, Israel has announced the construction of some 6,000 new homes in existing settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday plans to build new settlement for Jewish settlers evacuated from illegal outpost of Amona.

The new settlement would be the first one to be officially planned, approved and built in some 25 years.

While Israel stopped establishing new settlements in the early 1990s, outposts set up since then have been retroactively given approval, and existing settlements have expanded their footprints, sometimes being neighbourhoods of existing settlements in name only.

In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said he had instructed a team to look into possible locations for the new settlement. The team consists of his chief of staff, representatives of the settlement movement and defence Minister Avigdor Liberman’s adviser for settlement affairs.

The statement said Netanyahu a month and a half ago promised the settlers a new settlement if efforts to save Amona failed.

The announcement was made as police were evacuating the West Bank outpost, which the Israeli High Court of Justice has long held was built on privately owned Palestinian land.

After years of legal wrangling, the High Court in 2014 ordered the government to evacuate and demolish the hilltop settlement by December 25, 2016.

But under fierce pressure from settlers and their Knesset supporters, the government sought to reach a compromise with residents that would allow them to remain in their settlement without circumventing the court.

In late December, a deal was struck that would see 24 of the outpost’s 41 families moved to an adjacent plot of land on the same hilltop, while the rest would relocate to the nearby settlement of Ofra.

In the less than two weeks since new American President Donald Trump took office, Israel has announced the construction of some 6,000 new homes in existing settlements, drawing rebuke from the international community.

The Trump White House has remained silent, a dramatic departure from the vocal condemnations issued by Obama.

(Source / 02.02.2017)

Israeli MKs allowed to desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque

Knesset took the decision under pressure of extremist right-wing MKs

Israeli Knesset decided Wednesday to allow Jewish MKs to desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place for 2 billion Muslims on earth.

Knesset Ethics Committee said that it agreed on the decision to allow the raid of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Jewish MKs although it knew this would provoke Muslim worshipers and cause instability

Israeli Knesset decided Wednesday to allow Jewish MKs to desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place for 2 billion Muslims on earth.

The Israeli Knesset took the decision after much pressure put by the extremist right-wing blocs, which controls almost all the committees.

In a statement, the Israeli police reiterated that there had been no change in the mechanism of raiding Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Jewish MKs since the ban was put in place in November 2015, the Israeli TV Channel 2 reported.

Last October, the Israeli police introduced a recommendation allowing the Israeli Jewish MKs to raid Al-Aqsa Mosque but on condition of mutual prearrangement related to time and date of the raid, which must be without media coverage or religious purposes.

A number of the Knesset Ethics Committee said that they agreed on the decision to allow the raid of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Jewish MKs although they knew this would provoke the Muslim worshipers and cause instability.

In November 2015, the committee banned Jewish MKs from raiding Al-Aqsa Mosque after chaotic incidents took place due to their mythical activities inside the Islamic holy site.

(Source / 02.02.2017)