I urge President Mahmoud Abbas to step down immediately

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on 22 June 2017 [İper Topal/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on 22 June 2017

By Dr Mohammed Saleh Al-Misfer

I wrote an article that was published in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 18 June 2001 about the city of Jerusalem. “They conspired against you, Jerusalem, the city of the Arabs of the past and present, the home of Jesus son of Mary, and the destination of Prophet Muhammad during his [miraculous] night journey,” I said. “Oh Jerusalem, the first Qiblah, it was towards you that the first prayer was performed, when the Arab Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, performed his first prayer in Islam.”

I continued: “O sister city of Mecca and Medina [sic], some senior Arab leaders conspired against you, even before the West, with its organisations, institutions and doctrines, conspired against you. The plotting of these Arab leaders against you lies in the fact that they are incredibly silent in the face of the destruction, damage, attacks, confiscation, killings and torture you are being subject to at the hands of the Zionist leaders, without any real objection to these actions against your perseverant people.”

Instead, such leaders were content only with condemnation and disapproval. Now, in the light of the unprecedented Arab subjugation and submissiveness in order to keep their authority in some regional capitals, last month US President Donald Trump was emboldened to announce his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also instructed his Secretary of State to work on moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority leadership went to the UN Security Council, but failed to achieve what it wanted. The PA then went to the General Assembly under the principle of “Uniting for Peace” and obtained a vote against the American decision with a majority of 128 in favour to 9 against; there were 35 abstentions and 18 countries absent. I now have a question to ask the PA: what is the next step after this?

Read: 70% of Palestinians want Abbas to resign immediately

Mahmoud Abbas says that he will seek to join more international organisations, such as the International Criminal Court, but what will the Palestinian people benefit from that step? The answer is simple: they will benefit nothing at all.

During the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held in Istanbul to reach a unified position on the aforementioned US announcement, Abbas said that the Palestinians “will no longer accept” any American role in the Middle East process at all. Very close sources said that Saudi Arabia asked Abbas not to participate in the Istanbul summit (Middle East Eye, 25 January 2018). However, how can a summit be held for the sake of Jerusalem without the attendance of the PA president or Jordan?

All the evidence suggests that Mahmoud Abbas is no longer the decision-maker when it comes to the Palestinian cause. As I have noted previously, he is no longer trusted in Jordan or by many Palestinian officials, let alone the Palestinian people. This is because he is not transparent or honest in his dealings with his partners for the future of the region.

Jordan is the main partner in the future of Palestine, along with the leaders of other Palestinian organisations. Hence, the PA leadership must be honest and trustworthy, and exchange information with its partners as well as the Palestinian people in order for them to plan how they will confront the mutual enemy. They must avoid the fatal mistakes made in the Madrid and other Conferences.

Read: What options does Abbas have after that General Assembly vote?

After the Istanbul summit, it was expected that Abbas would take executive measures to respond to the Trump administration’s decision, especially after the UN General Assembly vote and an implementation of the spirit of the summit in Turkey. Such measures should, it is reasonable to assume, have included ending the internal political conflict and announcing a comprehensive reconciliation with the Gaza Strip, as well as bringing to an end the PA’s security coordination with Israel. Due to the fact that he has not made any decision that benefits the Palestinians, as well as many other reasons that date back to the Oslo Accords in 1993, Abbas is no longer worthy of leading the Palestinian people. He should step down and leave the matter to younger leaders capable of achieving the goals of the Palestinian people.

Mahmoud Abbas turns a blind eye on Gaza's blockade - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

In Egypt, meanwhile, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is deceiving his citizens and the Arabs in general; indeed, he is also deceiving himself. How? I will not talk about the internal affairs of Egypt. What concerns me today is Egypt’s position on the Palestinian issue. When it was a member of the Security Council representing the Arab cause, its performance did not match Egypt’s great regional status. It proposed a draft resolution to the Security Council on Jerusalem on behalf of the Arabs, and the US amended it in order to make it worthless. The resolution did not mention the US by name in order to avoid it participating in the vote since it is a party to the matter, in accordance with the UN Charter. The Egyptian delegate informed Cairo of this and the Egyptian president agreed to the US amendments. The draft was then put to a vote and US Ambassador Nikki Haley used her veto to block the resolution.

Everyone went to the General Assembly, and Egypt dutifully voted in favour of the US announcement. Leaks broadcast by Mekameleen TV have revealed that Egypt colluded with America and Israel. They also indicated that the belief in Cairo is that any Palestinian uprising would harm Egypt’s national security; that it would favour Hamas and the Islamic groups; and that it must, therefore, be thwarted. The leaks also revealed that an anonymous Egyptian intelligence officer gave instructions to some local journalists and artists to promote the acceptance of Ramallah as the capital of Palestine instead of Jerusalem. This has apparently been accepted by Al-Sisi’s government. Furthermore, additional leaks will soon emerge to confirm that Egypt and some Gulf countries are working hard to block an Arab summit on Jerusalem, following US instructions and Israeli insistence.

We need to stop Mahmoud Abbas from becoming little more than a nightwatchman protecting Israel’s illegal settlements and the world’s Zionists. I urge him to step down and to announce to the Arab and international media that he has been subjected to the worst forms of threats from powerful and influential Arab leaders.

This article first appeared in Arabic on Arabi21 on 9 January 2018

(Source / 10.01.2018)

Israeli forces shoot 2 Palestinians, detain minors during predawn raids

2 Pal's injured WB

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Two Palestinian youths were injured with live ammunition as Israeli forces conducted predawn detention raids in several districts across the occupied West Bank before dawn on Wednesday, detaining 12 Palestinians.

Locals in the city of Jericho told Ma’an that two youths, whose identities remained unknown, were shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition during a raid on the Aqbat Jaber refugee camp. Two other Palestinians were detained during the raid.
According to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), a 16-year-old Palestinian and his 26-year-old brother were detained from Jericho.
Meanwhile, PPS said in a statement that Israeli forces detained 10 other Palestinians during West Bank raids.
In the northern West Bank, PPS reported that Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from the Jenin district, two from the Nablus district, and one from Qalqilya.
In the central West Bank district of Ramallah, PPS said that Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from the al-Amari refugee camp.
One of the detainees was identified as Jihad Abu Hmeid, 30, whose four brothers are serving life sentence in Israeli prison.
Abu Hmeid and four of his family members, including children, were reportedly “roughed up” and handcuffed during the arrest of Abu Hmeid, official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported.
PPS said Israeli forces detained two people, including a 15-year-old, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron.
The Israeli army said in a statement that 11 Palestinians were detained during raids.Israeli raids into Palestinian towns and villages are near daily occurrence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
According to UN documentation, between December 19th and January 1st, Israeli forces carried out 170 search and arrest operations in the West Bank.
(Source / 20.01.2018)

WHO: “Israel Delays Permit Application For Half Of Gaza Patients”

10 JAN
5:06 PM

Reprinted From WAFA News Agency: A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that almost half of the Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip, who need treatment outside of the besieged Gaza Strip and applied for exit permits from Israel, have their exit permit applications delayed, and lost their hospital appointment as a result.

In its report on Health Access for Referral Patients from the Gaza Strip covering the month of November, WHO said that out of 2,047 patient applications for permits to exit Gaza through the Israeli Erez checkpoint for health care, 54% of applications were approved; 2% were denied; and 44% were delayed, receiving no definitive response from Israeli authorities by the date of hospital appointment.

Losing the appointment date means the patients have to re-schedule their hospital appointment before they can re-apply for an exit permit, a process that can take months and therefore cause long delays for possibly badly needed treatment not available in Gaza.

Most of the referrals are for hospitals in East Jerusalem and Israel, with some to the West Bank and Jordan and many are for cancer patients.

In addition, out of 2,351 permit applications for patient companions to Israeli authorities in November. 43% were approved, 2% were denied and 55% were delayed, still pending by the date of the patient’s hospital appointment.

The report said 58 patients (37 males; 21 females) were requested for interrogation by Israeli General Security Services at Erez during November. Only seven were approved permits to travel for health care.

Palestinians in Gaza were also advised that permit applications will take 26 working days to process, more than twofold increase from 10 working days prior to May 2017, said the report.

(Source / 10.01.2018)

Israeli Police, Soldiers and Security Officials Prevent a Forum In Occupied Jerusalem

10 JAN
6:38 AM

Dozens of Israeli officers, soldiers and security officials, invaded, on Tuesday morning, the ad-Dar Hotel, in Nablus Street, in occupied East Jerusalem, and prevented a forum, titled “Hasn’t the Time Come For the World To Hear the Cry of Jerusalem?” that was to take place in cooperation between the ad-Dar Cultural Institute and Elia Association for Youth Media.

The soldiers and police officers surrounded the hotel, and prevented the Palestinians from entering it, in addition to invading its halls, and confiscating the conference signs.

The soldiers also summoned for interrogation the head of ad-Dar Educational Center, Engineer Samer Sari Nusseibeh, and the head of the Education Department in East Jerusalem, Samir Jibril.

The soldiers also abducted Abdul-Latif Gheith, and Hani al-Isawi, members of the Revolutionary Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in addition to Ahmad Safadi, the head of Elia Association, after they and other participants headed to the “American House” in Nablus Street, to hold their activity there.

Palestinian intellectual, writer and author, journalist Rasim Obeidat, said this activity was meant to express the voice of Jerusalem, of the oppressed Palestinians who live in the occupied city, who also wanted to send a message to the United States and Tel Aviv, rejecting the illegal and immoral American recognition of occupied Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel.

“The United States has created a new, very dangerous era, where it wants to impose an Israeli-led alleged resolution to the conflict, by burying any chance of peace, and a two-state solution. The U.S recognition, and the stance of Donald Trump, have encouraged Israel and its leaders to issue many more racist laws, aiming at changing the entire demography of occupied Jerusalem, and to isolate the city from its surrounding Palestinian communities,” Rasim said.

“We have witnessed the latest ‘unified Jerusalem law” which was passed in the second and third readings at the Knesset, and now the Israeli legislators are paving the road to the so-called Greater Jerusalem, which will result in massive illegal annexation of Palestinian lands, and aims at removing all Palestinians from the occupied city,” he added, “The American stance is immoral, and illegal under International Law, and all related Security Council Resolutions – it is an outrageous violation targeting the indigenous Palestinians, and their legitimate rights. We also want to send out respect and appreciation to all countries, and nations, that stood against these violations, and voted for Palestine at the General Assembly.”

Many Palestinian institutions in occupied Jerusalem strongly denounced the Israeli attack against this educational event, and considered it part of Israel’s attempts to silence the Palestinians, media freedom, and all events that expose the ongoing and escalating Israeli violations.

They stated that what Israel is doing violates International Law, Security Council Resolution #2222, and all internationally-guaranteed media freedoms.

It is worth mentioning that Israel has been preventing various activities in occupied Jerusalem, including cultural, social, educational and even athletic events, in addition to attacking media outlets and intellectuals, and preventing Palestinains from expressing their opinions, by assaulting their nonviolent educational and cultural events.

(Source / 10.01.2018)

Syrian Coalition Official: Russia & Iran are Partners in Crimes Against Syrians

An official in the Syrian Coalition stressed that Russia and Iran are not committed to international resolutions on Syria, adding that they are partners in all the crimes the Assad regime is committing against Syrian civilians.

Member of the Coalition’s political committee Okab Yahya said that Moscow is exploiting the inaction of the world community to unilaterally impose its agenda for solution in Syria.

Okab was speaking during a meeting that was co-organized by the Parties Committee and the Coalition’s representation office in the Turkish city of Mersin with Syrian political bodies. Around 40 people attended the meeting.

Member of the Coalition, Fadi Ibrahim, gave an overview of the Coalition’s plans to reach out to the political opposition forces with the aim of working out an appropriate formula that includes the various Syrian activities in Turkey. The plans also include preparations for the holding of extensive consultative meetings paving the way for the holding of an expanded conference of the Syrian revolutionary and opposition forces.

The meeting also discussed the latest political developments and the challenges ahead. Tabled for discussions was also the eighth round of negotiations in Geneva and their outcome as well as the performance of the Syrian Negotiations Commission and its efforts to lay out unanimous positions and attitudes.

At the end of the meeting, participants agreed on the formation of a seven-member committee whose task will be to consult with the Coalition’s political committee about all the political and field developments.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 10.01.2018)

Student activist sentenced to 12 months in Israeli jail

Ahmed al-Ayesh

An Israeli court on Tuesday sentenced the student activist Ahmed al-Ayesh to a twelve-month prison-term and a fine.

Ahmed al-Ayesh, former head of the Student Council at Birzeit University, received a 12-month sentence and a bail of 2,000 shekels.

Al-Ayesh served as the head of Brizeit’s Student Council during the academic year 2016/17. He has spent several months in Israeli jails in several earlier arrests.

Al-Ayesh was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces from a student hall in October 2017.

(Source / 10.01.2018)

Hamas blasts UN coordinator’s ‘terrorism’ remarks

Hamas blasts UN coordinator’s ‘terrorism’ remarks

By Mohammed Majid

GAZA CITY, Palestine

Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Wednesday blasted Nikolai Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, for describing Palestinian resistance activity as “terrorism”.

“Mladenov knows very well that, according to international law, the real terrorism is the [Israeli] occupation, which kills children, violates holy places and perpetrates massacres,” the group said in a statement.

“Resistance is the legitimate right of people under occupation,” the statement read.

“Our people’s resistance is a reaction to the occupation; it is aimed at regaining our stolen rights,” Hamas added.

Earlier Wednesday, Mladenov tweeted: “There is no justification for #terror and those who condone it, praise it or glorify it. This is not the path to #peace! The perpetrators of yesterday’s attack must be brought to justice.”

On Tuesday evening, a Jewish settler was shot dead by unknown gunmen in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Shortly afterward, the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, praised the attack.

(Source / 10.01.2018)

B’tselem: IOF killed eight unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza

Report B'tselem

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) shot and killed over December eight unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, none of whom posed mortal danger, who were participating in protests near the Gaza perimeter fence, B’tselem’s new report revealed.

According to the report, Israeli troops fired live ammunition during protests against US recoginition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, killing 10 Palestinians and injuring hundreds in West Bank, Gaza, and occupied Jerusalem.

In the Gaza demonstrations, the soldiers were located on the Israeli side of the fence, at some distance from the Palestinian protesters. They were undeniably not in mortal danger – certainly not of a kind that could not be prevented by other means, the report said.

Yet even this recent upsurge in the killing and injury of Palestinians through the unlawful and excessive use of live ammunition will not, most probably, be addressed any differently than thousands of other cases in which no one was held accountable.

The announcement of the launching of an investigation by the Military Police Investigation Unit into the killing of Ibrahim Abu Thuraya – released after the incident sparked headlines in Israel and around the world – holds no promise. It is no more than the first in a routine series of steps taken to whitewash the circumstances in which Israeli security forces kill Palestinians.

With the MAG Corps at the helm, the process will inevitably yield the familiar result: instead of being held to account, those responsible for these killings will be afforded protection.

(Source / 10.01.2018)

Palestinian mother of five kept in Israeli jail without trial

Khadija Raba'i

An Israeli military court at noontime Tuesday sentenced the Palestinian woman Khadija Raba’i to a renewed three-month administrative term.

33-year-old al-Raba’i, from al-Khalil’s town of Yatta, in the southern occupied West Bank, got her administrative sentence renewed once again with neither charge nor trial.

Raba’i, mother of five children, was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces from her home on November 9, 2017.

A hearing was expected to be held on January 15 to decide on her case. However a three-month administrative sentence was abruptly issued by the Israeli court prior to the expected hearing.

In administrative detention, a Palestinian is sent to an Israeli jail without having committed an offense and on the grounds that he or she plans to break the law in the future. It has no time limit and the evidence on which it is based is never disclosed. Israel employs this measure extensively and routinely, and has used it to hold thousands of Palestinians for lengthy periods of time in its dungeons.

(Source / 10.01.2018)

Israeli minister: ‘I haven’t heard news about deaths in Gaza for months’

He wants extensive Israeli strikes in Gaza and wants to see many deaths everyday

Israeli Minister of Agriculture Ori Ariel said on Wednesday that he did not have heard news about deaths in Israeli strikes in Gaza Strip.

Speaking to Israeli general radio, the Israeli minister said that he wanted “qualitative” responses to alleged Palestinian rockets attacks.

“For months, I haven’t heard about news and wounded in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip,” he told the Israeli radio.

He wondered: “Which is the weapon we use when we strike the Gaza Strip that does not cause death and injuries among the Gazans?”

He continued: “When the Israeli forces strike Gaza, we only see smokes rising from the rubble of Palestinian houses and later on, no news about casualties.”

(Source / 10.01.2018)