Netanyahu in London: Palestinian sovereignty may not work

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) meets with British Prime Minister Theresa May (R) during his official visit in London, UK on 2 November 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Friday that Palestinian sovereignty may not work, in remarks made during a visit to London.

Speaking at Chatham House, Netanyahu said that before establishing a Palestinian state “it’s time we reassessed whether the modern model we have of sovereignty, and unfettered sovereignty, is applicable everywhere in the world”.

According to Haaretz, “he emphasised that for Israel ‘the overriding concern is always security’, and therefore other models of sovereignty should be studied.”

At the same event, Netanyahu described the demand for the removal of West Bank settlers as “ethnic cleansing”, comparing the settlers to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Netanyahu: No Palestinian unity at Israel’s ‘expense’

“From the Palestinian point of view, why do I have to take out Jews for peace? Do I have to take Arab citizens out of Israel for peace?”

Meanwhile, speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Netanyahu refused to be drawn on whether he supported a genuine Palestinian state, merely saying that the Palestinians should have “powers to govern themselves”.

In January this year, Netanyahu told his cabinet ministers that the most he is prepared to give the Palestinians is a “state minus”, which is “why the Palestinians do not agree”. Ahead of his re-election in 2015, Netanyahu vowed there would be no Palestinian state on his watch.

(Source / 06.11.2017)

Israel general calls to improve economic situation in Gaza to avoid war

A Gazan boy walks with his younger sibling through their poverty stricken neighbourhood in Gaza on 4 September 2013

The Coordinator of the Israeli Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai, has called to improve the economic situation in Gaza Strip to avoid future escalations.

Israeli media reported Mordechai as saying that the continuous deterioration of the situation in Gaza would accelerate the risk of escalation between Israel and Hamas.

“I therefore recommend that Israel supports a large-scale process that will improve the living conditions of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

“The continuation of the current situation in Gaza will make Hamas more extreme, and regardless of the debate over Israel’s interest in which party controls the Gaza Strip, if no real efforts are made to change the situation, we could reach a situation where the most extreme people in Hamas have the greatest chance in the future to win the authority there.”

“We must take into account security and economic arrangements to improve the lives of Gaza residents while preventing the development of Hamas’ military wing and solving the problem of the missing Israelis in the Gaza Strip,” he added.

Ashrawi: Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank amounts to war crimes

(Source / 06.11.2017)

Israel arrests 483 Palestinian children this year

Israeli forces attempt to grab Palestinian children as they walk past [file photo]

Israeli occupation forces have arrested 483 Palestinian children since the start of 2017, the Prisoners and Freed Prisoners Committee announced yesterday.

Quds Press reported the official Palestinian rights groups saying that the Israeli occupation locked up a number of these children in Ofer Military Prison under administrative detention.

The lawyer of the rights group Louai Al-Mansi said “40 Palestinian children were arrested in October”; eight of them were tortured.

Al-Mansi said that one child was arrested after he was shot and wounded by Israeli occupation forces.

Read: 250 Palestinian children placed under house arrest

The children range in age from 13-17 years old, he explained.

Fines of 78,000 shekels ($21,430) had been levied on them.

(Source / 06.11.2017)

Position Paper: Unleashing Media Freedoms Should be Priority in Reconciliation Table Agenda

06 NOV
7:49 AM

In light of the Palestinian reconciliation, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) preferably focused on media freedoms through organizing a panel discussion titled as, “The Future of Media Freedoms in light of National Reconciliation”.

The panel discussion was attended by experts, decision-makers, journalists, politicians, civil society representatives, academics and new media activists.

The meeting was held on 02 November 2017 in the Lighthouse Hall in Gaza City. The meeting concluded with several results and recommendations.

The most important of which was the need to include journalists in the reconciliation, ensuring the creation of a proper legal and political environment to unleash press freedoms, including the amendment of laws, correction of policies, and the need to unify the Journalists Syndicate to confront the risks and challenges facing journalists and media activists in the next stage.

The participants presented interventions about the reality and expectations regarding the media freedoms.

The meeting began with reviewing the two main themes of discussion: 1. the prominent obstacles facing journalists and media activists that prevent having free press that could practice its monitoring role; and 2. What we need for building better media and free press to play its role as a fourth authority capable of engaging in the social and cultural problems, to put forward facts, reveal corruption and raise awareness.

The participants also addressed the status of press freedom and violations against journalists in addition to the bad situation of media freedoms in view of the division.

They also talked about the importance of getting rid of the division’s outcomes and policies and unleashing media freedoms in the next stage.

Furthermore, the participants stressed the important role of freedom of opinion and expression in supporting democracy, freedoms and rights in general, emphasizing the Journalists Syndicate’s role in promoting and guaranteeing freedom of information.

They also stressed the role of the Journalists Syndicate in promoting and guaranteeing freedom of media.

Some participants emphasized the importance to unify the Syndicate and hold elections based on transparency and inclusiveness to guarantee the participation of all parties on an equal basis.

The attendance talked about the importance to develop the Syndicate and its means so it would be the guaranty for the protection of press freedoms.

The attendance also stressed the need for the Syndicate to enjoy independence when confronting the public authorities.

The discussion extensively addressed the need to amend the legal system related to the freedom of media, including amending the Press and Publications’ Law of 1995 and cancelling all the laws and decisions related to the freedom of press issued in light of the division.

The attendance emphasized the importance to work on adopting the law of the right to information access. Moreover, the attendance highlighted the need to cancel the Cyber-crimes Law considered as the worst law, which imposed exaggerated and serious restrictions on the media freedoms.

The participants agreed on prioritize the cancellation of this law in the file of unleashing rights and freedoms, which is scheduled in the Palestinian reconciliation’s agenda.

The participants emphasized that media institutions should cooperate and form a lobby to practice pressure on the authority to respect the rights and public freedoms and the freedom of press, including the freedom of expression on social media, which has become the main target of the authorities.

The participants focused on the political participation of youth by practicing the freedom of expression, especially through the social media.

During the discussion, the young participants displayed an overview of the impact of the division on the youth’s role in political participation through the freedom of expression and how their role undermined as a result of the self-control policy practiced by the two parties to the division during the Palestinian division.

Furthermore, the young attendees called for necessarily involving them in the plans for a better media future and enabling them to practice the freedom of expression with different means without restrictions.

Results of the Panel Discussion:

  1. Journalists have been in the eye of the storm during the division and so far bear its consequences even though they were subject to ongoing violations by both parties to the division.
  2. Treatment of the past vestiges takes time and needs political will to reform what the division has destroyed during the last ten years.
  3. The Cyber-crimes Law is considered the worst outcome of the internal division stage in the context of press and media freedoms.
  4. The ,Intentional or unintentional, exclusion of youth from the plans and projects conducted by the media institutions, and absence of a vision on how to deal with these young people to benefit from their energy and potentials.
  5. Although the implementation of the reconciliation steps has started, the authority has not yet taken any steps to unleash the public freedoms, particularly the press freedoms.
  6. The greatest danger facing the press freedoms is absence of the right to information access.
  7. According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has international obligations to respect the freedom of opinion and expression that was not respected by the PA either through not amending the legal system on freedoms in light of this obligation or through the repressive practices against the press freedom on the ground or even through enacting new laws in an explicit violation of these obligations.

Recommendations:

 The National Unity Government should prioritize the press freedoms, unleash the media freedoms and reopen the media institutions, which were closed due to the division.

  1. The legal system on media freedoms should be reformed, including but not limited to:
  • All laws violating freedoms and issued during the division shall be abolished, particularly the amendments to the Penal Code by the Change and Reform Bloc the Gaza Strip and the Cybercrimes Decree issued by the Palestinian President in the West Bank.
  • The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), if convened, should issue a law that guarantees and regulates the right to information access to ensure transparency conform to the PA’s binding international standards.
  • The Press and Publications Law should be amended in accordance with the PA’s binding international standards.
  1. The civil Society shall form a lobby to practice pressure on the authorities to promote press and media freedoms.
  2. Young people should be involved in the media institutions’ plans and engaged in the projects and programs carried out by the human rights and civil society organizations.
  3. Journalists and media institutions shall cooperate to ensure that efforts would focus on the syndicate and to call for holding free and democratic syndicate elections on professional grounds.

It should be mentioned that this panel discussion is part of the campaign carried out by PCHR within its regular efforts to support the press freedom and funded by the Canadian Government within a project conducted by PCHR to protect the freedom of journalists and media activists.

 “The designations employed and the representation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Government of Canada.”

(Source / 06.11.2017)

Woman, her brother among several Palestinians kidnapped by IOF

Woman and brother arrested

Several Palestinians were kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at daybreak Monday in abduction sweeps rocking the West Bank.

Reporting from Tulkarem, a PIC news correspondent said three Palestinians were kidnapped by the IOF from their family homes in the city, shortly after the latter broke into the area and ravaged civilian homes.

The list of detainees included 50-year-old Iyad Jarad and 16-year-old Mohamed Abu Saqafa, the son of the slain Palestinian activist Muhannad Abu Saqafa.

At the same time, Palestinian woman Zeinat Halaykah, 50, and her brother, Ali, were kidnapped by the occupation soldiers from their family homes in al-Shoyoukh town, in al-Khalil, her husband, Adel, told PIC.

The IOF also wreaked havoc on Halayka’s family homes and seized two mobile phones and cash.

Mrs. Halayka is mother of five children. Her other brother, Hamza, is serving a 17-year-sentence in Israeli jails.

Meanwhile, the IOF soldiers rolled into Jenin’s western town of Yamon in army jeeps at the crack of dawn and rummaged into Palestinian homes. A series of ambushes was set up by the occupation soldiers in the assault.

Clashes further burst out in Ramallah’s northwestern town of Beit Rima after Israeli army troops showed up in the area and searched civilian homes. A round of clashes was also spotted in Bethlehem’s refugee camp of al-Azza.

(Source / 06.11.2017)

Ministry: 125 Israeli violations against holy sites in OPT in October

125 violations

More than 125 violations by the Israeli occupation forces and authorities were carried out against holy sites in the occupied Palestinian territories in October, a report by the Palestinian Religious Affairs Ministry said.

A Sunday report by the ministry said the occupation authorities banned the Muslim call to prayers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil at least 65 times in October.

The occupation forces escorted over 23,000 Israeli settlers as they stormed the Ibrahimi Mosque and performed sacrilegious rituals at and around the site. At the same time, the Muslim worshipers were denied access into the mosque to perform their daily prayers.

Meanwhile, the occupation authorities ordered the staff members of al-Latawani Mosque, in al-Khalil’s southern town of Yatta, to stop the call to prayers via loudspeakers.

October had also witnessed a swift surge in the Israeli break-ins at al-Aqsa Mosque—the third holiest site in Islam—particularly during Jewish Holidays. MKs (members of the Israeli parliament—Knesset) were also increasingly given green light to storm the site.

Religious Affairs Minister, Youssef Id’is, said the Israeli break-ins at al-Aqsa Mosque signal Israel’s disrespect for the sanctity of the site.

The minister further spoke out against the assaults launched by Israel’s municipal crews on the Islamic Mamanullah Cemetery.

(Source / 06.11.2017)

Abbas meets with Sisi to discuss reconciliation

Abbas and Sisi

The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Monday met with the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to discuss the Palestinian reconciliation before heading to Saudi Arabia to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

According to a statement issued by the Egyptian presidency, Abbas and Sisi discussed the latest developments in the Palestinian issue as well as ways of reviving the peace process in the region.

During the meeting held on the sideline of the second day of the World Youth Forum launched in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, Sisi stressed the importance of continuing efforts to completely end the Palestinian division and achieve reconciliation.

He said that his country will work to resume negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to reach a just and comprehensive solution that guarantees the Palestinians’ right to establish their independent state.

For his part, Abbas affirmed that the Palestinian Authority is determined to make its utmost effort to unite the Palestinian people, the same statement noted.

Abbas’s visit to Egypt is the first since the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation deal was signed on 12th October between Hamas and Fatah movements.

The Palestinian factions are expected to meet in Cairo on 21st November to discuss mechanisms for the implementation of the agreement.

Wafa news agency reported that Abbas headed to Saudi Arabia following the meeting to meet with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

(Source / 06.11.2017)

Why hasn’t Abbas lifted sanctions on Gaza?

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are outraged that sanctions against Gaza remain in place despite the reconciliation agreement signed Oct. 12 by Fatah and Hamas in Cairo. They are upset in particular about the reduced fuel supply to Gaza’s only power plant. Any euphoria over news of the reconciliation in this regard has worn thin, as it appears relief may not be in sight for at least another month.

The reconciliation agreement calls for “completion of the necessary procedures to enable the consensus government to fully exercise its tasks and assume its responsibilities in the administration of both Gaza and the West Bank by Dec. 1.” The transfer of Hamas’ control over Gaza, in fact, began in early October, kick-started by the movement’s Sept. 17 announcement of the dissolution of the administrative committee it formed in March to oversee Gaza. Hamas took full control of Gaza in 2007 after a violent conflict there with Fatah, the main party in the Palestinian Authority (PA).

A delegation from the Ramallah-based consensus government headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in Gaza on Oct. 2 after Hamas announced the demise of the administrative committee. On Oct. 3, the ministers of the consensus government began taking control of Gaza ministries from Hamas. On Nov. 1, the PA took control of the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings with Israel. The Israeli crossings are expected to be opened immediately, but the crossing at Rafah will be delayed to address security issues given the Islamic State insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.

In an Aug. 3 statement to the Quds Press International News Agency, Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and the Fatah official responsible for the reconciliation file, said that dissolving the committee was necessary to end the sanctions imposed on Gaza. The Hamas administrative committee was dissolved after that statement. Many Palestinians, apparently erroneously, had assumed that relief would immediately follow dissolution.

Yahya Moussa, a Hamas leader in Khan Yunis, expressed surprise at the current situation. He told Al-Monitor, “We do not know why [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas continues to impose sanctions on Gaza, even though we have dissolved the administrative committee and handed over all the ministries and crossings to the consensus government.”

He added, “The delay in removing the sanctions is unjustified. Those suffering from these sanctions are the Palestinians in Gaza, who receive electricity only four hours a day, who are prohibited from traveling and who do not have access to medical treatment abroad. Thus, the government, or Palestinian Authority, are asked to end these sanctions immediately and without delay.”

During an Oct. 3 press conference after the PA Cabinet’s first meeting in Gaza following the start of reconciliation talks, government spokesman Yousuf al-Mahmoud said, “These measures will be discussed in Cairo during the meeting of Fatah and Hamas,” referring to the gathering scheduled for the first week in December to resolve outstanding issues.

Jamal Muheisen, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, told Al-Monitor, “The measures imposed on Gaza are not sanctions, but steps for the sake of the reconciliation. The proof is that these measures succeeded in pushing Hamas toward reconciliation and toward handing over rule to the consensus government.”

Muheisen further explained, “The sanctions on Gaza have not been abolished yet given that the government has not been handed the totality of its tasks and prerogatives for the management of Gaza’s affairs. It is true that the government’s members came to Gaza, and its ministers have received their ministries in Gaza. However, the government’s direct rule in Gaza will begin as soon as Hamas and Fatah resolve pending issues, namely the Gaza employees crisis, the security of Gaza and the [holding of] general [parliamentary and presidential] elections. These matters are scheduled to be discussed in the upcoming meeting that will take place in Cairo in December.”

Muheisen concluded, “We do not want to anticipate things before we see the results of the Cairo meeting, and it is not possible to address the repercussions of more than 10 years of Palestinian division in one night. Therefore, the reconciliation necessarily takes time.”

In regard to the Cairo meeting, Muheisen said, “[It] will be considered a new turn for better living standards for Gaza residents, since the government will begin to implement dozens and perhaps hundreds of development and operational projects aimed at improving life in Gaza.”

Talal Okal, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, told Al-Monitor, “These sanctions [are] a power card in the hands of the Fatah movement to pressure its most prominent political rival to accept Fatah solutions to the pending issues that will be discussed at the scheduled Cairo meeting.” He emphasized, “It is clear that Fatah is trying to manipulate Hamas through its continuous sanctions in order to force it to make more concessions and show more flexibility in the scope of the unresolved issues.”

Moussa, however, dismissed the idea that Fatah is trying to “blackmail Hamas.” He said, “Reconciliation is based on partnership and cooperation, not on manipulation, blackmail or isolation of Hamas from the Palestinian scene. The relationship among partners is not based on such logic, but on the strengthening of cooperation and complementarity.”

Iyad al-Qara, the director general of the Hamas-affiliated newspaper Felesteen, told Al-Monitor that the movement is doing everything it can for the sake of reconciliation and that its leaders are making statements to indicate their flexibility in trying to resolve the existing division. Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in Gaza, told representatives of trade unions on Oct. 24 that his movement has made a strategic decision to achieve reconciliation and end the Palestinian division at any cost.

According to Qara, Abbas was surprised by Hamas’ willingness to dissolve the administrative committee in the hope of reconciliation and relinquish control over Gaza. Abbas’ wariness about the decision may be what has led him to maintain the sanctions on Gaza until he is certain of full PA control over Gaza.

Given demands calling for sanctions to be lifted, Abbas said in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency on Oct. 23 in regard to the reconciliation, “[It] requires time and patience, and we don’t want to rush things.”

It now seems clear that the reconciliation agreement signed in October was basically a protocol, a memorandum of understanding, paving the way for the real test for the success or failure of reconciliation in December. With sanctions relief in the balance, the concern now is the possible failure of Fatah and Hamas to reach attainable solutions to their outstanding issues.

(Source / 06.11.2017)

Lieberman urges presidential pardon to IOF soldier

Lieberman and Azaria

Israeli Army Minister Avigdor Lieberman, on Sunday, sent an appeal to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin urging him to grant pardon to IOF soldier Elor Azaria, who is currently serving a 14-month prison sentence for deliberately killing a Palestinian injured detainee in February 2017.

“I would like to ask that you accept Elor Azaria’s request, and grant a pardon for the remaining period of his prison term,” Lieberman wrote in a letter to Rivlin, calling the shooting of the Palestinian “an operational mistake”.

“People with much more senior positions than Azaria have been pardoned for acts similar or even more severe than Azaria,” Lieberman wrote.

“We must put an end to the affair that shook the Israeli society, and at this time show leniency and mercy to the soldier,” he urged.

“We send our daughters and sons to defend the security of the state,” he wrote, “placing them in complex situations unlike any other in the world, and demanding that they act courageously, resolutely, professionally and morally.”

Azaria was convicted of “manslaughter” after he was caught on film in March 2016 shooting the Palestinian young man Abdel Fattah al-Sharif as he lay immobilized on the ground.

(Source / 06.11.2017)

Settlers destroy water pipe used by Palestinians in Jordan Valley

Water pipe destroyed

Israeli settlers ruined on Monday morning a water pipe used by Palestinian farmers in the village of Sakout, in the northern Jordan Valley, according to a local official.

In a press statement, the official of settlement in the area Mutaz Besharat said a group of settlers escorted by Israeli forces destroyed the water pipe that was recently installed by Palestinian farmers in the area to irrigate their crops.

The village is located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli military and administrative control. Palestinian residents in that area are often harassed and attacked by Israeli settlers, who repeatedly carry out their violations in the presence of Israeli military forces.

Israeli practices in the Jordan Valley are aimed at pushing the Palestinians out of the Jordan Valley district using all means in order to replace them with Jewish settlers.

(Source / 06.11.2017)