Abu Mazen plays losing hand badly in Gaza Strip

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) holds a news conference after a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Belgium, March 27, 2017

Fatah-Egypt at “bone-breaking stage”

Adnan Abu Amer writes that “the relationship between Fatah and Egypt has reached the bone-breaking stage, especially with [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas as head of the movement.”

Abbas has played a weak hand as badly as one could imagine it being played. His plan to pressure Hamas by cutting both staff salaries and electricity in the Gaza Strip has earned him the wrath of the people there. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi rejected Abbas’ plan, contributing to a downward spiral in Fatah’s ties with Cairo.

Adding insult to injury, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) choreographed a deal between Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan, Fatah’s former head in Gaza and Abbas’ bitter rival, to provide badly needed fuel during the Eid al-Fitr holiday last month.

Dahlan, who comes from the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, was once a blood enemy of Hamas. In addition to street battles with Hamas while with Fatah, Dahlan was implicated in an American plot to overthrow the elected Hamas government in 2006. Dahlan was forced into exile in the UAE in 2012 after Abbas accused him of corruption, for which Dahlan was tried in absentia, and complicity in the murder of PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Dahlan relocated to the UAE where he became an adviser to Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces.

Shlomi Eldar explains that Samir al-Mashharawi, Dahlan’s right-hand man, who has recently returned to Gaza, had provided refuge to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in 2004 to evade Israeli attack helicopters, forging an unusual personal bond.

Al-Monitor has covered how Hamas has been on defense since the US-Saudi-Islamic summit in May, when it was lumped with Hezbollah, the Islamic State and al-Qaeda on the list of deplorables. These developments led Hamas to consider better ties with Iran and Russia. Like Abbas, Hamas holds a weak hand, but seems to be playing it better. Hamas has so far outmaneuvered Abbas in relations with Egypt and the UAE, and by leveraging Dahlan.

Of course, Dahlan’s return, if it happens, would hardly be a win for Hamas. If Hamas allows him to return, Dahlan would be little more than a Trojan horse, giving Cairo and Abu Dhabi the foothold they have desired to eventually unseat the Islamic Resistance Movement, which both countries associate with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, as Fatah-Egypt relations were hitting a new low, the Palestinian Authority sent a parliamentary delegation to take part in a conference organized by the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (Mujahedeen-e-Khalq), perhaps as a sop to Saudi Arabia, upon which Abbas depends for support.

Ahmad Melhem writes, “In light of the PA’s adherence to Saudi positions on most of the region’s issues and the political and financial support it receives from Riyadh on the one hand and the support Iran provides to resistance factions, especially Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the other, the relations between Iran and the PA continue to deteriorate, with no sign of the slightest improvement.”

Qatar and Iraq

Mustafa Saadoun reports that Qatar, which is seeking improved relations with Iraq, continues to host family members and loyalists of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other prominent Sunni Iraqi opposition politicians.

“Among the most prominent figures hosted by Qatar are the wife of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Sajida Khairallah Talfah; the last foreign minister in Saddam’s regime, Naji Sabri al-Hadithi; and Saddam’s longtime aide [and Saddam’s brother in law] Arshad Yassin,” writes Saadoun.

He continues, “There are also other Iraqi figures in Qatar, such as Abdul Hakim al-Saadi, brother of Abdul Malik al-Saadi, who is considered the most prominent Sunni cleric in Iraq; Tariq al-Hashemi, the former vice president whom Iraq convicted of terrorism; and other academic and military oppositionists.”

Saadoun explains that Qatar is unlikely to deport or hand over any of their Iraqi guests, which provide Doha with leverage on Iraq as well as other Gulf countries.

“Qatar probably doesn’t want to take the same step the Iraqi government took when it deported members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq of Iran and gave up a card it could have exploited to strong-arm Iran,” Saadoun writes. “Doha will not be deporting any Iraqi opposition member at Iraq’s request because the opposition can always be used as leverage. Doha will remain an important location for the Iraqi opposition, if not a center of support for it, especially for the Sunni Islamic parties that draw from the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, because the opposition is not only a pressure card on Iraq but also on Qatar’s fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members.”

Russia wary of Turkish military in Syria

Fehim Tastekin writes that both the United States and Russia are wary of Turkish military intervention in Syria.

“What is always overlooked in the tense politics between Turkey and the Kurds is that an amplified Turkish military presence disturbs both Russia and Syria. … Russia does not want the deployment of the Turkish army and Syrian Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Moscow wants to use military police detachments from friendly, Muslim countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to enforce law and order at Idlib. After the Syrian army took over Aleppo, Russia deployed a 250-strong elite military police force from Chechnya and Ingushetia,” Tastekin reports.

Last week, this column explained how the prospects of US-Russian coordination in Syria could serve to weaken Moscow’s leverage with regional players and present opportunities for Turkey to be a spoiler, including through Ankara’s improved ties with Tehran. All this depends on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan being able to manage the deft diplomacy required to right his costly intervention in Syria.

“Moscow sees the ‘Turkish threat’ as a useful instrument of political manipulation, but fears it would further complicate the process,” Tastekin writes. “The United States fears a Turkish operation against Afrin will hamper the operation at Raqqa, where the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (of which the YPG [People’s Protection Units] is a part) is trying to drive out IS. An interruption to that effort would further deepen the US-Turkey rift. … Ankara was comforted a bit by several factors: the US intention to deploy at Tabqa air base; its targeting of Syrian regime forces approaching the training base the United States had set up at the Jordanian border; and, finally, its shooting down of the Syrian plane. But he agreement between the United States and Russia last week for a deconfliction area that will cover Daraa, Suwayda and Quneitra could have opened the door a bit for cooperation between the two major powers. This meant Turkey’s effort of taking advantage of a split between the two powers was futile.”

(Source / 18.07.2017)

Makassed appeals to international organisations to intervene immediately so as to provide the Hospital with protection following its storming by occupation forces

The administration of Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital in Jerusalem issues an urgent appeal calling on all international bodies and humanitarian organisations to intervene in order to protect the Hospital following on-going raids by Israeli occupation forces since yesterday.

A reinforced unit of the Israeli occupation police and security guards are still roaming Hospital corridors under the pretext of looking for injured Palestinians admitted to the Hospital’s intensive care unit.

The administration states in its appeal that the Israeli occupation forces have surrounded Makassed since yesterday evening, while a number of soldiers are still standing guard outside the surgical recovery unit, obstructing the work of the Hospital’s medical staff, in addition to impeding the entry of patients’ companions, as well as checking the identity cards and permits of staff and Hospital visitors.

Makassed’s administration stresses that the occupation forces’ intimidation of patients, their companions and medical staff is a serious and flagrant violation of international humanitarian laws and conventions, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and calls on all international and human rights organizations to intervene urgently to protect East Jerusalem hospitals and the wounded.

The Hospital’s administration has also begun working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to intervene quickly and immediately and put an end to the chaos caused by the raids carried out by the Israeli occupation forces inside the Hospital’s grounds and premises.

(Source / 18.07.2017)

54 Palestinians injured during clashes at Al-Aqsa

Israeli policemen intervene Palestinians who protest in front Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’ after metal detectors were placed at the entrances of Al-Aqsa by Israel, on 16 July 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli policemen intervene Palestinians who protest in front Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’ after metal detectors were placed at the entrances of Al-Aqsa by Israel, on 16 July 2017

Some 54 Palestinians have been injured and four have been arrested after Israeli occupying forces used violence to disperse worshippers from outside the Al-Aqsa compound.

Following the installation of metal detectors at the mosque gates on Sunday, Palestinians staged a sit-in; praying in the streets of the Old City in protest of the increased restrictions on their access to the Muslim holy site. Last night, Israeli police attacked worshippers as they performed the evening prayer using rubber bullets, stun grenades and batons, according to the Wafa news agency.

Four members of the Palestinian Red Crescent paramedic service were also injured while trying to treat the wounded, which included the chairman of the Palestinian National Initiative Party, Mustafa Barghouti who was shot in the head with a rubber coated bullet.

Read: Scores of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa while Muslims left outside

This is the second time since Sunday that Palestinian worshippers have been attacked outside the compound, following the mosque authority’s call on Muslim worshippers not to enter Al-Aqsa if they have to undergo searches.


The Fatah movement, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has also called for a “Day of Rage” tomorrow, encouraging Palestinians across the occupied territories to march against the “terrorist procedures” of the Israeli forces.

Twelve Palestinians were also arrested in the occupied West Bank this morning during clashes after Israeli occupation forces completed raids across the occupied Palestinian territory.

(Source / 18.07.2017)

Israel declares West Bank town a ‘military zone’

Israeli soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in West Bank [Issam Rimawi/Apaimages]

Israeli soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in West Bank

Israel has blocked all routes to a town east of the occupied West Bank city of Qalqilya preventing anyone from entering or leaving it, according to Wafa news agency.

Late last night, Israeli occupying forces declared Azzun a closed military area and set up checkpoints on all roads leading to it.

Read: Israel confiscates Palestinian land for ‘military purposes

Witnesses reported that army units patrolled the streets checking identity card, and that several homes were raided.

Several clashes broke out between the Palestinian residents and the occupying forces; Israeli police responded by firing stun grenades at the protestors’ homes leading to a number of people to suffocate.

(Source / 18.07.2017)

Israeli Soldiers Fire Live Rounds At Homes And Lands, In Khan Younis

18 JUL
8:42 AM

On Tuesday morning, Israeli soldiers, stationed across the border fence, fired dozens of live rounds at homes and farmlands, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip.

The soldiers, stationed on military towers surrounding Kissufim military base, east of Khan Younis, fired dozens of rounds into agricultural lands and homes, causing damage, and forcing the Palestinians out of their lands in fear of further escalation.

The violations and attacks against the Palestinian lands and homes was carried out amidst extensive deployment of tanks and armored vehicles near the border fence, while military drones flew overhead.

The soldiers also detonated explosives in several areas near the border fence; medial sources in Khan Younis said the explosions could be heard in all parts of the governorate.

On  Monday at dawn, Israeli navy ships opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats, close to the shore in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip, wounding two.

(Source / 18.07.2017)

Israeli Soldiers Invade Al-Makassed Hospital, Surround ICU To Abduct A Seriously Wounded Teen

18 JUL
12:22 PM

Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday morning, the Al-Makassed Hospital, in occupied Jerusalem, and surrounded the Intensive Care Unit, to abduct a seriously wounded Palestinian teenage boy.

The soldiers invaded the hospital, and stationed themselves in front of the Intensive Care Unit, to abduct ‘Ala Abu Tayeh, 17, who suffered a life-threatening injury, after the soldiers shot him last night, in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem.

Medical sources at Al-Makassed Hospital said dozens of soldiers are deployed around the medical center, in addition to many soldiers who invaded it, and broke into various patient’s rooms, before surrounding the ICU where the seriously wounded teen is receiving treatment for his serious injuries.

The hospital administration strongly condemned the Israeli military invasion into the hospital, including its Intensive Care Unit, especially since this invasion is part of various previous invasions.

It called on international human rights groups to immediately intervene, especially since dozens of soldiers are still surrounding the hospital, in addition to several soldiers who are stationed in front of the ICU, in addition to harassing and inspecting the ID cards of patients, physicians, nurses, workers and visitors.

Also in Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted six young Palestinian men in several areas of the city, and took them to a number of interrogation centers.

Furthermore, many Palestinians suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation, on Wednesday morning, after Israeli soldiers invaded Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

On Tuesday at dawn, the soldiers abducted seven Palestinians, including a journalist, from the West Bank governorates of Jenin, Tulkarem, Nablus and Tubas.

In addition, the soldiers fired dozens of live rounds at homes and farmlands, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip.

(Source / 18.07.2017)

Israeli forces detain 20 Palestinians in predawn raids across West Bank

20 Palestinians detained WB and East Jerusalem

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces carried out multiple predawn military raids across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem overnight Monday, detaining at least 20 Palestinians and enforcing a closed military zone around one village, with a number of raids sparking clashes.

Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the old quarter of Askar refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus and detained Palestinian journalist Radwan Abd al-Qadir Qadamani.
Israeli forces also raided the northern mountain area of Nablus and detained Muhammad Bahjat al-Khalili, the Palestinian security sources said.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that a total of four Palestinians were detained in Nablus, and claimed two of them were “Hamas operatives.”
In Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank, local sources said Israeli forces detained 22-year-old Ahmad Muhammad Shihab and that another Palestinian man from the Tulkarem area was detained at the Innab Israeli military checkpoint in the district.
In the village of Tammun in the northern Tubas district, Israeli forces detained Imad Bani Udah, according to locals.
In the northernmost occupied West Bank district of Jenin, Israeli forces detained al-Yamoun residents Abdullah Abu al-Heija and Abdullah al-Jaabari. The two, according to local sources, were detained at a military checkpoint that Israeli forces set up at the entrance to the village.
The Israeli army spokesperson said that one Palestinian was also detained in the northern West Bank city of Qalqiliya.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces reportedly raided the village of Azzun, east of Qalqiliya city, and declared the town a closed military zone, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
Witnesses told Wafa that Israeli soldiers were preventing Palestinians from entering or leaving the village, as all connecting roads to Azzun were sealed with military blockades.
Local pedestrians and commuters reported being subjected to arbitrary security checks, while a number of homes were also raided, sparking clashes with Israeli soldiers who fired stun grenades and tear gas at protesters, according to Wafa.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were “aware of reports” of the closed military zone in Azzun, but said she could neither confirm or deny them.
In the nearby Salfit district, one Palestinian was detained in the village of Haris and another in the village of Qira, the army spokesperson said.
Elsewhere in the central occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian from the Ramallah area al-Jalazun refugee camp, and two people in the town of Abu Dis in the Jerusalem district, according to the Israeli army.
Wafa also reported that the Israeli army raided the town of Beit Ummar in the southern Hebron district, sparking clashes with locals.
Israeli forces raided the Beit Ummar home of Jamil Masharqa looking for his 25-year-old son Khaldoun, Wafa quoted local activist Muhammad Awwad as saying.
When Israeli soldiers failed to find the young man, they informed the father that his son had until later Tuesday to turn himself in at a military outpost set up at the entrance to the town.
During the raid, residents clashed with the soldiers, throwing rocks at them, and soldiers responded by firing tear gas at homes, causing several suffocation cases, according to Wafa.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into reports of the raid.
She added that Israeli forces also detained one Palestinian in the Hebron area town of Beit Ula, and another in the village of Qila.
Israeli forces had also delivered a notice to Hazem Jamil al-Jaabari to meet with Israeli intelligence after raiding his home in Hebron City.
Meanwhile, Israeli police forces also raided a number of areas in occupied East Jerusalem overnight. According to police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, one Palestinian was detained in Silwan, during a raid in which one Palestinian was shot and injured, while two others were detained in Issawiya.
Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
According to a joint report released by a number of Palestinian rights groups on Sunday, Israeli forces detained a total of 388 Palestinians, including 70 minors and 13 women, across the occupied Palestinian territory during the month of June.

(Source / 18.07.2017)

Israeli police detain Palestinian citizen of Israel over PFLP posters in dorm room

Detain Palestinian because leftist posters

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police briefly detained a Palestinian citizen of Israel at Tel Aviv University on Monday after finding leftist posters and flags in his dorm room.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that police had received several complaints regarding “strange noises” and “repeated disturbances” coming from a room in one of the university dormitories.
Police officers searched the room, only to find a flag of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), as well as pictures of Che Guevara, slain Palestinian intellectual Basel al-Araj, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and PFLP leaders such as Ahmad Saadat and George Habas.

Detain Palestinian because leftist posters1

Detain Palestinian because leftist posters2
Rosenfeld said that police then detained the man who had rented the dorm room, identifying him as a 26-year-old Palestinian with Israeli citizenship from northern Israel.
The spokesman reported that the Palestinian was interrogated and later released, adding than an investigation was still ongoing in the case.
Israel considers the PFLP, a prominent leftist Palestinian political party and resistance movement, to be a terrorist group.
Israeli authorities have claimed that a wave of violence that peaked in the fall of 2015 was caused largely by “incitement” among Palestinians, notably through social media or expressions of support towards groups or individuals opposing the Israeli occupation.
Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the outbreak of violence. Many Palestinians have also pointed out that Israeli violence has continued to shape everyday life in the occupied territory, regardless of any recent “upticks” in clashes or attacks.
Israeli forces have raided bookstores, print shops, and media institutions in the occupied West Bank in past months over allegations that the businesses were inciting violence against Israel.
The raids have come amid a wider crackdown by Israeli authorities on Palestinian freedom of expression, through censoring social media activity and jailing journalistsactivistspoets, and novelists.

(Source / 18.07.2017)

Israel frets over Congress push to slash Palestinian aid over terror payments

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) arrives for a classified briefing on the airstrikes launched against the Syrian military, at the US Capitol in Washington, April 7, 2017

WASHINGTON — A Republican effort to prohibit US aid to the Palestinians until they stop payments to the families of those imprisoned or killed for attacking Israelis is running into opposition from a surprising source: Israel.

Publicly, the Benjamin Netanyahu government supports any effort to stop what it dubs the Palestinian Authority’s (PA’s) practice of “pay to slay.” Privately, however, a number of Israeli officials and pro-Israel advocates fret that a blanket ban on US assistance would undermine Israel’s flawed but crucial security partnership with the PA.

Testifying Wednesday at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing about the pending Taylor Force Act, former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said he supported the bill in principle but warned that cutting all economic support to the PA could have a destabilizing effect on Israel. He urged lawmakers to give the Donald Trump administration the flexibility to target cuts as it sees fit.

“I base my judgment that the assistance is valuable in the analysis that’s conveyed to me by the Israeli military leaders I’ve worked with who saw that assistance as having a significant stabilizing impact, which is very much in Israeli security interests,” Shapiro told Al-Monitor.

The very next day, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones told a House Foreign Affairs panel that the Donald Trump administration also has reservations. The State Department is seeking $215 million in economic assistance for the West Bank and Gaza in its Fiscal Year 2018 Budget request, all of which would be at risk if the bill passes.

“It is not clear that the Taylor Force Act, as currently drafted, would help accomplish the objectives that are needed,” Jones said. He noted that President Trump had directly raised the issue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and that the PA had made some progress on the issue.

“For the first time in 52 years of the Palestinians’ prisoner payment program, the Palestinian Authority cut funding to 277 Hamas-affiliated former prisoners,” Jones pointed out.

Compounding the complexity of the situation, about $50 million in US assistance to the Palestinians does not flow directly to the PA but instead to Israel, which uses the money in part to pay off Palestinian debts to Israeli service providers such as electricity companies. And Israel is wary of compounding hardships for West Bank Palestinians at a time when Abbas is cutting off aid to his Hamas rivals in Gaza, further stoking unrest in the volatile strip.

The Israeli Embassy in Washington has stopped short of endorsing the bill. An Israeli official told Al-Monitor that “Israel welcomes any effort to prevent the Palestinians from engaging in ‘pay to slay’ and has confidence that the Congress will address this matter in a forthright and direct manner.”

The powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has also been conspicuously silent about the bill and did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Al-Monitor. AIPAC’s last publicly available lobbying disclosure form, filed more than a month after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced his bill, indicated the group was not lobbying on the issue as of late March.

J Street, a liberal group that seeks greater rapprochement with the Palestinians, warned the cuts could fuel sympathy for Hamas and other anti-Israel groups.

“A reduction in humanitarian aid and basic government services … would only increase deprivation and despair among the most vulnerable in Palestinian society, fermenting further extremism,” J Street’s chief lobbyist, Dylan Williams, told Al-Monitor. “We therefore support current US law, which requires a one-to-one reduction in US assistance for every dollar paid by the PA to those who committed acts of terrorism.”

Current law indeed already requires the United States to cut Palestinian aid in parallel with the so-called martyr fund payments, but Republican critics say it doesn’t go far enough. The PA is estimated to allocate more than $300 million to the fund every year.

As a result, Graham first introduced his legislation last year and has made steady progress since, culminating with this week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. The bill is named after Taylor Force, a 28-year-old US Army veteran who died during a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv last year.

The attack took place roughly a mile away from a meeting between former Israeli President Shimon Peres and former Vice President Joe Biden, who was in Israel for an official visit at the time. Police killed the attacker, Bashar Massalha, at the scene. The Israel Defense Forces retaliated by demolishing Massalha’s family home in the West Bank, while the PA has been distributing monthly stipends to them since.

Graham’s effort remains an entirely Republican effort. Likewise, the House version from Reps. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., has yet to attract any Democrats.

Efforts are being made, however, to alleviate some of the concerns with the bill and attract bipartisan support. Shapiro, for example, suggested a series of six options to narrow the scope of the bill, including limiting the cuts only to funds that more directly target the PA, such as electricity payments, and redirecting funds to other activities, such as programs promoting people-to-people ties or the West Bank’s technology sector. He also recommended setting the annual PA assistance fund aside in an account until the PA changes its stipend laws and including a set date for the cuts to take effect.

The Israelis, Shapiro told Al-Monitor, “seem very much to support the goals of the legislation. They seem not to want to be too proscriptive about exactly what form it takes, recognizing that it may go through some amendments from the original version.”

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., indicated that Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer is receptive to at least some aid cuts.

“To my knowledge in speaking directly with the ambassador,” Corker said, Israel supports adding to the pressure on the PA. But the chairman also indicated an openness to making changes to the bill in order to win Democratic support.

“We have some additional conversations to take place with Sen. Graham,” Corker said, “but I think we’re getting to a place where we’re going to have a very effective piece of legislation working with [ranking member Ben] Cardin to get to that place.”

However, Corker also suggested that Israel itself should do more to cut off their own funding to the PA over the so-called martyr stipends. He indicated his support for a pending Israeli bill that would do just that, even though the bill’s future in the Knesset is uncertain.

“They’re cheering us on and they’re going to pass the bill and I’m all for it,” said Corker. “They should be doing more themselves.”

Congressional Democrats have also indicated that they’re open to passing a revised version of the Taylor Force Act.

“Prior to today’s hearing, there’s been lots of conversation about how we can make this legislation more effective in reaching our objective of putting maximum pressure on the Palestinian Authority to change its policy,” Cardin said. He said a modified version of the bill “can enjoy broad, bipartisan consensus support” in the Senate, “and I think we’re very close to achieving that.”

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Middle East panel, also indicated his willingness to support a revised version of the Taylor Force Act.

“There is momentum in Congress and in the administration,” said Deutch. “The witnesses at yesterday’s hearing have offered a number of suggestions of revision to the legislation that would ensure that we maintain Israel’s security, such as withholding PA debt payments, and setting aside the money as an incentive to retrieve it once changes to the practice are made.”

(Source / 18.07.2017)

Seif: Coalition Seeks to Preserve Syria’s Unity without Assad & His Clique

President of the Syrian Coalition Riad Seif said that the preservation of Syria’s unity without Bashar Assad and his clique is the only way to put an end to the continued suffering of the Syrian people.

Seif made his remarks during the opening speech he delivered at the third meeting of the General Assembly of the Syrian Islamic Council. He stressed that the interest of the Syrian people today is to preserve the unity of Syria and prevent division as well as the establishment of a democratic system of rule in which all citizens are equal before the law.

Seif called on everyone to work to raise awareness of the importance of tolerance among all Syrians and the need for people of different faiths and cultures to accept each other and work together to get rid of tyranny and regain freedom and dignity.

Seif vehemently denied reports being circulated about the opposition accepting the survival of Bashar al-Assad in a transitional period and the future of Syria, stressing that Assad’s survival in power will only lead to further killing and destruction.

Seif underscored that the Assad regime must be held accountable for the killing and displacement of millions of Syrians and for committing war crimes against the Syrian people. He rejected attempts to work with the regime or to rehabilitate it.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 18.07.2017)