Assad backs Trump ‘Muslim Ban’, says Syrian refugees ‘terrorists’

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad [file photo]

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad [file photo]

Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad said US President Donald Trump’s ban on Syrians entering the United States targeted terrorists, not the Syrian people, appearing to defend the logic of the measure in an interview broadcast today.

Trump last month issued an executive order, since suspended by a US district judge, that temporarily barred travellers from seven mostly Muslim countries including Syria, as well as imposing an indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees.

“It’s against the terrorists that would infiltrate some of the immigrants to the West. And that happened. It happened in Europe, mainly in Germany,” Al-Assad said in the interview with Europe 1 radio and TF1 television which was recorded on Tuesday in English.

“I think the aim of Trump is to prevent those people from coming.” It was “not against the Syrian people”, he added.

Read: Trump to begin immigration crackdown, targets Syrians, Middle Easterners

The Syrian dictator, who has been in power since he inherited power from his father Hafez Al-Assad in 2000, has overseen a period in Syrian history that has witnessed the deaths of half a million Syrians, the imprisonment and torture of millions more, and a mass refugee crisis that has blighted the Middle East and Europe.

People fleeing Syria and the Assad regime often cite the ongoing civil war as a reason, but also the fact that the Assad regime habitually imprisons, tortures and commits widespread and systematic extermination campaigns and the systematised rape of Syrian women.

There has yet to be a proven link between refugees fleeing such horrific cruelty and terrorism.

Trump said his order, which triggered protests at home and abroad and confusion at US and international airports, was intended to prevent militants from entering the United States. His administration is challenging the suspension ruling, which was upheld last week by appeal court judges.

Opinion: With the Muslim ban, Trump poses a threat to the US constitution

The Assad regime has often criticised Western states for their support for Syrian opposition groups, all of which are regarded by Damascus and their Russian and Iranian allies as terrorists, and has warned that such backing will lead to militant attacks around the world.

Trump has not yet set out a clear policy on Syria but has indicated he could cut US support for insurgent groups and has said he wants to mend ties with Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin is Al-Assad’s strongest international ally.

Asked directly whether Trump’s immigration policy was the right one, Assad did not answer. He also said he had not yet seen what Trump’s Syria policy would be.

(Source / 16.02.2017)

PA governor of Jerusalem denounces Israeli violations in holy city


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority (PA)-appointed governor of Jerusalem denounced on Wednesday statements by Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Adnan al-Husseini said that comments made on Monday by Erdan affirming that “the Temple Mount was the holiest site for the Jewish people, and only for the Jewish people” — using the Jewish term for the Al-Aqsa compound — were “extremely dangerous.”
Al-Husseini said that Israeli measures in Jerusalem, including visits of the Al-Aqsa compound by extremist Israelis and detentions of Al-Aqsa employees, were “unprecedented.”
According to the Islamic Endowment, 2016 saw the highest number of incursions on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by right-wing Israelis than previously recorded years, these incursions being often accompanied by assaults on employees of the endowment.
The Al-Aqsa compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The third holiest site in Islam, it is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.
While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. Despite this agreement, Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site and carry out religious worship — often under armed guard.
Al-Husseini added that Israel was attempting to “change the status quo” in East Jerusalem through procedures at Al-Aqsa and demolitions of Palestinian homes, notably in the neighborhood of Silwan.
The PA official also slammed Israel’s recently passed “Regularization law” and the “Muezzin bill” set to be considered by the Knesset as “unprecedented” moves showing the influence of extremist settlers on Israel’s far-right government.
Al-Husseini went on to add that the “Regularization law,” which grants official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank established on private Palestinian lands, amounted to a “war crime.”
He said that the Arab and Muslim worlds’ responses to the offenses committed in Jerusalem by Israel were “not sufficient.”
Palestinians charge that the forceful eviction of Palestinian families is part of a larger strategy to “Judaize” Jerusalem and deny Palestinians the right to live in the holy city.
East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as Palestinian territory, but Israel occupied it in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never considered legitimate by the international community.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
(Source / 16.02.2017)

Slain Palestinian’s sister arrested for alleged stabbing attack


The Israeli police forces arrested Thursday the slain Palestinian Ali Shioukhi’s sister after breaking into her house for allegedly planning a stabbing attack.

Family sources affirmed that Israeli Special Forces stormed the house overnight and arrested Rawan, 21, before transferring her to a nearby investigation center.

Israeli forces claimed that Rawan planned to carry out an alleged stabbing attack without giving further details, the family added.

Her detention was then extended till next week, according to Quds Press.

The family pointed out that Ali and Rawan’s mother has been transferred to hospital after her health condition deteriorated following her daughter’s arrest.

Ali Shioukhi was shot and killed by Israeli gunfire on Oct. 12, 2016 when clashes broke out in Silwan town. His twin brother was recently sentenced to ten months in prison for alleged Facebook incitement.

(Source / 16.02.2017)

Israeli soldier shoves elderly women in Nablus

B’Tselem documented two incidents in January, but such incidents take place everyday and night

An Israeli occupation soldiers raided several Palestinian homes, threatened children and “violently” shoved elderly Palestinian woman in January, Israeli rights group said.

They threatened the residents’ – including children – and shoved an elderly woman, who fell down and lost consciousness

An Israeli occupation soldiers raided several Palestinian homes, threatened children and “violently” shoved elderly Palestinian woman in January, Israeli rights group said.

The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) documented two incidents in which soldiers raided homes in Kafr Qadum, a village west of the city of Nablus, at night.

Based on a report issued by B’Tselem, the Israeli occupation soldiers threatened children and warned them not to participate in the weekly protests in the village.

According to B’Tselem, these demonstrations have been held since July 2011 to protest that residents’ access to the road that links their village to Nablus was cut off.

The road runs between the two sections of the illegal Israeli Jewish settlement of Kedumim, which was expanded in 2003.

Because their access to the road was barred, villagers must travel by a bypass road that makes the trip to Nablus much longer, about 40 minutes instead of about 15.

Investigations carried out by B’Tselem indicate that the Israeli occupation soldiers, who wore masks, conducted themselves violently and aggressively when they broke into the homes.

They threatened the residents’ – including children – and shoved an elderly woman, who fell down and lost consciousness.

Such threats violate the villagers’ legitimate and legally recognised rights of expression, protest and demonstration, B’Tselem said.

Israeli occupation forces carry out daily night and day raids against Palestinians homes, threaten residents, investigate children and kidnap and murder civilians before the eyes of their relatives.

(Source / 16.02.2017)

Israel tells Gaza patient: ‘spy for us or die’

Israeli intelligence officer told Ahmed he would die if he did not spy for Israel

A heart patient from Gaza has died after he refused an Israeli offer to spy on Palestinians in order to access treatment.

During the meeting, Ahmed was explicitly told that in order to have his operation, he would have to cooperate with the security forces and spy for Israel

A heart patient from Gaza has died after he refused an Israeli offer to spy on Palestinians in order to access treatment.

Seventeen-year-old Ahmed was born with a congenital heart defect and had undergone a number of operations.

He regularly made the trip from the Gaza Strip to the occupied West Bank for treatment and underwent 18 operations in Israeli hospitals.

The operation to have his heart valve replaced was postponed a number of times until finally he was asked to meet an intelligence officer at the Erez crossing, the only border passage open for Gazans to enter Israel.

During the meeting, Ahmed was explicitly told that in order to have his operation, he would have to cooperate with the security forces and spy for Israel.

According to Ahmed’s father, Hassan Shubeir, the Israeli intelligence officer told Ahmed that he wanted him to help by giving Israel the names of specific locations in Gaza. He said he would send him to an Israeli hospital in exchange for the information.

The Israeli officer told him that if he does not provide the information he would not be allowed to cross the border.

Ahmed chose to stay in Gaza even if it meant signing his own death warrant.

Back in Gaza, Ahmed’s health deteriorated and he passed away last month.

(Source / 16.02.2017)

Report: 11 citizens kidnapped during current week by PA security


The Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces kidnapped 11 Palestinian citizens during the current week in the context of its security collaboration with the Israeli occupation.

According to a report released by the official website of Hamas, those detainees included four university students and six citizens who had spent several years in Israeli jails.

In Nablus, elements from the PA preventive security apparatus kidnapped Sa’ied Bilal, a student at an-Najah University and a member of the Islamic Bloc, in addition to the ex-detainees, Abdul-Rahman Akuba and Hudaifa Salama.

In Tulkarem, PA security men kidnapped another ex-detainee called Hikmat Odeh, from Saida town, after he participated in a reception held for a prisoner released from an Israeli jail.

In Tubas, the PA intelligence apparatus summoned on Wednesday journalist Abdullah Bani Odeh for interrogation.

Another journalist called Sami al-Sa’ie has been in a PA prison in Ariha (Jericho) for about two weeks, without indictment or trial.

(Source / 16.02.2017)

Leila Khaled (PFLP) on Daesh and Islamism, Syria and Palestine

Article of September 15th 2016


ISIS is a criminal organization which was created, and is used, by the USA. As for Syria, it was not only the intervention of Russia, which in any case came after a number of years of war. It was also the ability of the Assad government to defend itself, in particular by securing the economic viability and nutritional sufficiency of Syria but also by forging an army capable of defending its country. This is emphasized by Leila Khaled, leading cadre of People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in the following interview. 

The People’s Front (PFLP) is, after Fatah, the second most powerful grouping in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). It has its headquarters in Damascus and is the most important organization of the Palestinian Left, with more combative positions than those of Fatah. We took advantage of Leila Khaled’s recent visit to Athens, where she participated in the festival “Resistance”, organized by the newspaper “Dromos tis Aristeras” (Left Road) to obtain from first hand, the judgements of one of the centres of the Palestinian movement, on the dramatic developments that are now unfolding in all of the Middle East.

A terrorist for the Israelis, Khaled was a symbol throughout the world for the Palestinian armed struggle, following her participation in one of the four simultaneous hijackings of September 1970, inspiring songs, films and works of art internationally. These hijackings were part of the Palestinian “response” to the ignominious defeat they suffered with the occupation of their territories by Israel in 1967 and their massacre by Jordan in the “Black September” of 1970.

Because the PFLP was a Marxist organization with an internationalist ideology it was feted by the circles both of the European “anti-imperialist” Left (such as, for example, the International Revolutionary Marxist Tendency [TMRI], an international organization headed by the Greek Michaelis Raptis (Pablo) ) and by the “Third Worldist” groupings such as the Sandinistas of Nicaragua. These forces also contributed practically to the international (outside the Arab world) armed actions of the PFLP. Conversely, their cadres were trained in Palestinian refugee camps. They included Greek opponents of the military dictatorship and Cypriot socialists, who wished to prepare for similar forms of action for the liberation of their island from Turkish occupation.

“I’m not interested in what they say about me. I know who I am and I know my people,” Khaled replies when reminded of the accusations of terrorism that are levelled against her. As for the repeated defeats suffered by the Palestinian and Arab national movement (reflected, in her view, in the rise of Islamism among the Arab masses) they do not represent a “definitive defeat” of the Palestinians. “We have internalized a culture of resistance” she says, adding that “the Arab national question is not a matter of a single generation” and emphasizing that the struggles and the experiences build upon each other until the day that they yield the desired result.”

For Leila Khaled developments in the Middle East are the outcome of implementation of a plan aimed at destroying the strongest armies of the Arabs (the Iraqi, the Libyan and the Syrian) but also their countries, the site of great ancient civilizations. As for the differences between neo-conservatives and the tendency of Brzezinski or Obama with Netanyahu, she believes them to be tactical, with no bearing on major strategic objectives. Khaled believes that the plan for federalization of Syria is part of a scheme for “fragmentation” of the states of the Middle East. She says that the Kurds “are being used” and she maintains that Israel is evolving towards a variety of fascism.

This is the complete text of the discussion we had with Leila Khaled:

D.K. Summarizing many decades of Palestinian struggle, it would be easy to conclude that the Palestinian movement has been defeated. It waged a heroic struggle, but it did not achieve its aims. What would you say in response to such a remark?

  • L.K. I don’t see it that way. The struggles of the peoples are not measured in terms of a handful of years. They are cumulative and this aggregation leads, as Marxists say, to qualitative change. The Arab movement needs more than one generation. We succeeded in assimilating a culture of resistance, the conviction that we cannot continue living as we live now, under occupation, that we cannot permit the continuation of this occupation. It is for this reason that we are obliged to continue, with all the trials and tribulations, all the pain, all the sacrifices. And despite all this we remain devoted to the dreams of our people, to the goal of restoration and return to our homeland, liberated from the Zionists.

D.K. In the course of the past decades we have seen, within the Palestinian movement, but also more generally in the Arab world, a turn from the predominance of nationalism to the predominance of Islamism. Probably this was something preferred by Israel, so as to secure the support of the West, something that was harder to achieve for as long as it was confronted by national liberation movements and secular regimes. How do you interpret this turn?

  • L.K. Our region in any case has the culture of Islam, and I don’t mean just the religious phenomenon but the culture in a broader sense, for the last 1,400 years. Even the Christians of the region have been imbued with that culture. Dr. Habash, the founder and historical leader of the PFLP, was born a Christian but he too believed that the Christians as well have the culture of Islam because that, for 1,400 years, has been the culture of all of Arabia. In Palestine there were Islamist movements but they dissolved when we were faced by the Zionist invasion and everyone united to confront it. In Egypt the British had founded the Muslim Brotherhood when they colonized the country. They were active in Egypt but they were not leaders of the people and of the masses, though they maintained sections in various parts of the Arab world. In 1952, when Nasser, with his comrades and the army made their revolution in Egypt, they suppressed the Brotherhood because they regarded them as an internal threat. But this changed with the war of 1967, when all of Palestine, the Golan Heights and Sinai was occupied by Israel and in 1973 Israel’s agreement with Egypt was signed, removing it from the conflict. Egypt is the dominant power in the Arab world. As for the reactionary Arab regimes, they said they were with the Palestinians, but they stabbed us in the back, despite financing the Palestinian resistance and the PLO.When the Palestinian armed resistance made its appearance after 1967 it was hit by Jordan, in Lebanon and by Israel of course. The Palestinian revolution was hit by the Israelis and in 1982 it was forced to leave Lebanon. And before that it had taken a beating from Jordan, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the US administration, who planned and directed the whole process, following a strategy of splitting the Arabs and the Palestinians, the better to deal with them. Kissinger’s first move was at Camp David (1973), to detach Egypt from the conflict. There was popular resistance to the agreement in Egypt, because the Egyptian people supported the Palestinians and the Egyptians, who had gone to war three times against Israel, perceived it as an enemy. This gave the Islamists the opportunity to resurface, giving expression to this opposition.

D.K. By the way some people believe that even today Israel has quite an influence with the Egyptian army.

  • L.K. That’s true to some extent, but it is not so effective today. To return to the Islamists, Hamas, which is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, was founded in 1988, to participate in the Palestinian popular insurrection, the Intifada. They were supported by various countries and the international Muslim Brotherhood. But they didn’t join the united Palestinian national resistance. They preferred to remain on their own. And of course the Iranian revolution against the Shah played its part.Look now at what happened. In 1982 we sustained a defeat. The PLO leadership was out of the country. In 1990 the Soviet Union and the socialist countries collapsed. We lost the support that we had had. The Arab national cause was defeated. So it was very easy for the Islamist groups to rise up again.

D.K. So what is involved reflects the defeat of the Arab national cause.

  • L.K. Exactly. Seeing in our societies that everything was collapsing around them, they went back to Islam. And they believed in the Islamists also because Hamas and El Jihad were in fact putting up a resistance, apart from the split they were provoking.

D.K. Many people say that the Arabs themselves are at fault for what is happening to them. They never unite, etc. etc.

  • L.K. That is true. It is not just our enemies. It is we ourselves. How we act against our enemies and against our peoples. At the official level, the Arab regimes are not democratic. They don’t do what they should do for their people. They don’t have democracy, sustainable development. Their economies are linked to the imperialist centre. .

D.K. The Soviet Union played a role in the creation of the state of Israel, but later they helped the Arabs. What was the effect of all this on the Arab Left?

  • L.K. The Soviets developed a good relationship with Egypt in Nasser’s time, with Syria and with Iraq. They supported South Yemen in its struggle with the British. But unfortunately all this collapsed with perestroika, glasnost, Gorbachev and Yeltsin. This represented a great loss, at first, for theor people themselves.

D.K. How do you see the role of Russia in the Middle East today?

  • L.K. First and foremost they want to defend their allies. They want a foothold in the region, in accordance with their interests. Now they don’t base themselves on principles. They base themselves on vested interests. And it is in their interest to defend their own country in the Middle East. In reality they are defending themselves. This is why they intervened to defend the Assad regime from ISIS and from foreign interventions. Because the Americans are in Iraq but also in Syria, surreptitiously, employing other means.

D.K. Do you judge the Russian intervention as positive or negative?

  • L.K. To some extent it has thwarted attempts to bring down the regime.

D.K. Recently we have seen very serious and quite unaccustomed differentiations within the Israeli establishment, such as the declarations of the former Defense Minister and senior officers of Mossad, against Netanyahu, using very harsh language. How do you interpret this?

  • L.K. Israel is moving more and more towards extremism and is being transformed into an apartheid state (of racial discrimination). But this is just one aspect of it. Another is that the society is on the road towards fascism. All the polls indicate that this government is a government of colonists and extremists. And a senior military man came out recently and said it, that he was concerned about the course that both society and the army were on and that we are seeing in society and in the army features comparable to what was seen in the thirties in Germany. And he was denounced very vigorously by the government. But he was telling the truth. Because more and more parties are appearing that, even in their own name, regard Israel as a Jewish state. But when you say a Jewish state you are saying apartheid, because 20% of the population of Israel are Palestinians.

D.K. Such a historic turn, if in fact confirmed, would be very impressive. Given the great role played, at least by poor Jews, by their workers and intellectuals, a century ago, in the international socialist movement. But also the history of their persecution, particularly by the European far right. It seems as this people goes through a monumental “paradigm change”.

  • L.K. Look, they have placed the Holocaust as the founding stone for their demand to have a country of their own in Palestine and now they are carrying out the Holocaust of the Palestinians. But the Palestinians had no involvement in what happened in Europe with the two world wars. We were under a mandate. We were under a colonial regime also.

D.K. In human psychology it is said that human beings behave as they are behaved to. I wonder if the same applies with nations. One day, going to Ramallah with George Papandreou where we were to meet Arafat, I saw written on a brick, next to the checkpoint, the word “Achtung” (“attention” in German). Not even one German a year goes through there. I thought I was entering symbolicall the Warsaw ghetto.

  • L.K. Fascists are in action there, against the Palestinians. .

D.K. Speaking of fascism, I have been impressed by the approach of many organizations of the European far right to circles in Israel. Given the history of it and their ideology up to now, it was the last thing anyone would expect.

  • L.K. It took us twenty years to educate our people that Judaism as a religion is one thing and Zionism another. When we were kids and our mother wanted to punish us or frighten us she would say: “I will tell the Jews.” Always the Jews were our enemy. But we changed that. Our people does not equate the Jews with the Zionists. They understand that a Jew is a human being. But of course with the Jews and Israel strange things happen. For example American presidential candidates usually highlight on their programs the security of Israel, not the security of the USA!

D.K. What do you think of Trump?

  • L.K. He is crazy (she laughs). But I will say this. At the beginning of his campaign he said “I will solve the conflict with the Palestinians peacefully.” They all say that. Bush said it and Obama said it. But they don’t do anything. There is a Lobby and they can’t get round it. Later Trump laid emphasis on the security of Israel. I have the impression that if they elect him it will be a disaster for the USA. He wants to have files on Muslims and stop Muslim immigration, even though they need migrants for economic reasons. But of course in the USA isn’t only the President that makes policy. It is a country with institutions. The war industry and AIPAC (the most important pro-Israeli lobby in the USA) also have their influence over the President. After Bush and the war in Iraq the USA’s image throughout the world was ruined. So they brought Obama, the first black President in the history of the US, an exceptional public speaker and went about examining the question that their own media was continually presenting to them: “Why does everyone hate us?”

D.K. You present Obama as a simple changing of the guard. But he disagreed with Netanyahu and stopped the plan for war with Iran. That is not insignificant.

  • L.K.. Between Israel and the USA there is a powerful bond of support from the latter to the former: economic and military. Netanyahu wants more economic assistance and is continually pushing for new wars. The Americans studied the case for making war in Iraq. They went to war whose only result was to destroy Iraq. They destroyed that country and left it in a state of civil war. They did this because they thought that this state was a threat to Israel. After that came Syria, in the context of the American plan for the new greater Middle East, with Israel as the strongest power in the region.

D.K. Still, there were potent differentiations inside the American establishment. What you describe was primarily the plan of the neocons.

  • L.K. These are tactical differences, not major disagreements. The American-Zionist plan was for destruction of the three biggest Arab armies: the Iraqi, the Syrian and the Egyptian. All three of these countries are also countries of great civilizational significance. Look what they did in Baghdad when they occupied  it: the looting and the destruction of the museum. Now they’re doing the same thing again, but using ISIS.

D.K. You think that the Americans founded ISIS?

  • L.K. Yes. They founded it in Iraq and they are using it. Even though they say that they are fighting terrorism. There have been many appeals for a conference to define terrorism. But they have never done this. Because they want to use the term “terrorism” as it suits them.

D.K. You are a terrorist for them, though I admit you don’t look very much like one.

  • L.K. I’m not interested in what they say. I know who I am and I know my people and that’s enough as far as I’m concerned.

D.K. On a Russian site, Sputnik, I recently read an article saying that Russia could replace the USA as Israel’s strategic ally. Could something like that happen?

  • L.K. No, it’s not possible. Their interests are different.

D.K. Look now, they’ve destroyed Iraq and Libya and in part Syria also. Those three states were based on a specific balance between the national components in them, which in part reflected the colonialist strategy. Do you think that it is possible for there to be a return to the previous status quo, e.g. in Syria. Or a federation, for example?

  • L.K. The aim was for them to destroy Syria.

D.K. The Russian intervention prevented that.

  • L.K. Not only. The regime itself resisted. The army defended the regime and the country, against the criminals from all over the world that they brought to Syria under the flags of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al-Nusra…

D.K. But at the beginning of the troubles there was social discontent with the Assad regime…

  • L.K. Of course, but it’s not the only country where there is unrest. Look, Syria was able to resist because it was not in debt and was economically viable. Assad took the appropriate measures. From the time that the Americans imposed sanctions on him, Assad took the appropriate measures for farming and stockbreeding, before the war. Syria has enough bread to feed the population. It doesn’t need to import it. It has secured its supply of meat, for four years. It’s true that there is no democracy, just as there wasn’t in the USSR either. This is one of its great failures. So to some extent the regime was able to stand up to the pressure and didn’t collapse like Libya. The Russians came later, at the end. With Syria, if you criticize the foreign intervention, they tell you that you are with the regime. If you criticize the regime, they say you are part of the conspiracy against it. We, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, made our position clear from the outset.We are not part of this crisis. We are refugees in Syria. The people of Syria has the right to make decisions for its country. We support the popular demands for democracy and freedom. It is the people of Syria who have the right to change its regime. It isn’t our task. We have our hands full with Israel.Neither the opposition nor the regime were happy with that stance and they openly disapproved of it. But we didn’t leave Syria. We are going to stay here because we have nowhere else to go. And they give us due respect as Palestinians in Syria. 600,000 Palestinians live in Syria, though many have left because of the crisis.

D.K. How do you see the role of the Kurds today?

  • L.K. They are using them now. Barzani is with the Israelis and the same applies for the Kurds of Iraq. Israeli companies are now operating in Iraqi Kurdistan.

D.K. What about the Kurds in Turkey and Syria?

  • L.K. They have the right to autonomy in Turkey and in Syria. .

D.K. Autonomy or a state?

  • L.K. Look, the Kurds live in four countries: Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. If they want to secede I don’t think it will work. These countries are not allies. But when it comes to the Kurdish issue, all four of them ally with each other!

D.K. The plan for a federation in Syria?

  • L.K. I disagree with it. This plan is part of a project for fragmenting Syria into small states.
(Source / 16.02.2017)

IOA plans to expand Benjamin settlement


Israeli occupation authorities declared intention to expand Benjamin settlement illegally built near Ramallah, Haaretz Hebrew newspaper revealed Thursday.

New settlement homes are scheduled to be added to Benjamin illegal outpost at the expense of Palestinian-private lands near Ramallah, the paper added.

The decision to expand Benjamin settlement was not approved yet; however, its regional council has started working to establish a neighboring outpost to host the settlers recently evacuated from Amona settlement.

(Source / 16.02.2017)

Finkelstein: The Palestinians have the right to resist Israel


Noted American intellectual and writer Norman Finkelstein has said that the Palestinians have all the right to resist the Israeli occupation at all levels, whether militarily or politically, in accordance with the principles of the international law.

Finkelstein made his remarks during a symposium held by the Palestinian “Center for Political and Development Studies” (CPDS) in Gaza last Monday to review what came in his book, “Method and Madness: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Assaults on Gaza.”

The writer criticized all rounds of peace negotiations that had taken place between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel as “a waste of time and effort,” stressing that Israel is the biggest beneficiary of such talks.

He explained that Israel takes advantage of any peace talks with the PA in order to dwarf the Palestinian people’s rights and portray to the whole world that the peace process is ongoing with the occupied people of Palestine.

According to him, the Palestinians should hold talks with the occupation after winning a field battle and not before that, citing as an example the South African people’s experience.

In another context, Finkelstein expressed his shock and dismay over the intention of the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres to name former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni as his deputy despite her role in massacring many innocent people in Gaza.

He slammed Guterres for appointing someone who blatantly declared her disregard for the international law.

(Source / 16.02.2017)

Hamas: IPS forced to meet prisoners’ demands


The leader in Hamas Movement Rafat Nassif hailed the strong determination of Palestinian prisoners after they forced the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to meet their demands and to improve their detention conditions.

Speaking to a PIC reporter, the newly released leader said that Israeli prisons witnessed over the past period a state of tension due to the IPS’s punitive measures against the prisoners.

The IPS was forced to meet the prisoners’ demands after a series of protest steps, he continued. He called on the Palestinian people to increase their support for the prisoners’ issue.

The prisoners are looking forward to a new exchange deal which would liberate thousands of them, he added.

Nassif, 52, spent 12 years in Israeli jails, mostly in administrative detention.

He was released on Wednesday evening after spending nine months in administrative detention according to which he was held without charge.

(Source / 16.02.2017)