Former Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman speaks during a press conference at the Israeli Parliament on November 14, 2018 in Jerusalem, Israel
Former Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman yesterday launched his party’s electoral campaign with a pledge to fight – and not surrender to – Hamas, Quds Press reported.
In a press conference held in Tel Aviv, Lieberman pledged to made the fight against Hamas the top of his priorities, adding he would not become involved in coalitions with other parties.
During the press conference, he attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because he apologised to Turkey over the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla in 2010 and the killing of nine Turks.
Israeli radio reported that Lieberman did not reject the idea of participation in a future government headed by Netanyahu.
Lieberman resigned from his position as defence minister in Netanyahu’s coalition government on 14 November 2018 following a disagreement over the recently-signed ceasefire with Gaza.
Israeli elections are due to take place in April and the Likud party, headed by Netanyahu, is likely to win the elections and form the new government.
Netanyahu is currently entangled in four political scandals: Case 1000 which involves allegations that the PM and his wife accepted illegal gifts from businessmen; Case 2000 which accuses Netanyahu of attempting to buy favourable newspaper coverage; Case 3000, also known as the “submarine scandal”; and Case 4000, in which a close associate of Netanyahu is suspected of providing confidential information to Israel’s largest telecoms company.
The prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, has also been accused of using public funds for private expenditure in the prime minister’s households. Only 20 per cent of respondents to the recent survey believe she is innocent.
Majed Al-Zeer (C) the chairman of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC)
In a blow to Israel, a British high court has ordered World-Check, a subsidiary of Reuters, to pay compensation and offer an apology to a pro-Palestine organisation listed as a terrorist group on its global online database.
A two-year legal battle concluded with World-Check offering a public apology in open court and a legal settlement of $13,000 plus legal costs to Majed Al-Zeer, the chairman of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), for classifying them as “terrorists”.
It was found that Israel’s designation of PRC and its chairman as terrorists was adopted by World-Check which supplies private information on potential clients for corporations, businesses and even governmental agencies, such as police and immigration.
With more than 4,500 clients including 49 of the world’s 50 largest banks and 200 law enforcement and regulatory agencies, World-Check has become essential in satisfying statutory requirements towards due diligence obligations. However their failure to carry out satisfactory checks and independent verification has raised concerns over the misuse and falsification of data that can have severe consequences for victims.
Declaring his victory over World Check service today at a London press conference as “a precedent for those who are on the forefront of human rights and justice” Al-Zeer said he had been a “victim of an organised campaign waged by Israel and its spin machine of propaganda and false information.”
Pointing to World-Check’s failure to carry out independent verification he said that “companies and [news] outlets are failing utterly in protecting the basic ethics of media and reporting by adopting false fabrications often reiterated by Israel propaganda doctors” while claiming that they are “often wittingly or unwittingly mislead by the Israeli propaganda which aims at damaging the reputation and fine image of human rights defenders”.
The PRC has been granted consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. Over the past 30 years the centre has advocated for Palestinian refugees at international forums like the UN and EU. In addition to producing reports on the situation of Palestinian refugees; hosting conferences to defend their human rights, the UK organisation has been leading parliamentary delegations to refugee camps across the Middle East. Following Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in 2009 during operation “Cast Lead” in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed and thousands more were wounded, the centre organised the largest European parliamentary delegation to the besieged enclave.
In the case summery it was pointed out that Al-Zeer is a British citizen and the PRC is a UK company. The centre has never faced any issue with British authorities let alone being charged with terrorism. They are subject to very high levels of scrutiny with a particular focus on security and any possible links that they may have to terrorists.
Al-Zeer’s lawyers pointed out that he “has never been subject to any charge or even suspicion of terrorism. However, Israel has made this extremely serious and damaging allegation without bringing any proof, thereby subverting the sovereignty of England and are manipulating the banking sector to carry out their policies in an underhand way.”
Al-Zeer’s lawyers described the victory as “shedding light into the secretive and unknown world of regulatory agencies” and the potential for their abuse. During their press conference, both expressed the urgent need to develop mechanisms for independent verification of entries that may have a “crippling effect” on people’s lives. “Such a company has a moral and ethical duty (at least from the perspective of the Media) to provide its clients with verified and real information,” said Al-Zeer, “yet, it has chosen to ignore that and stuff its database with merely politically motivated information.”
“Instead of providing risk management solutions service to expose heightened risk individuals and organisations including corruption and financial crimes,” as they are meant to, Al-Zeer charged World-Check of Reuters Limited of going after people and organisations defending human rights and subjecting themselves to politically motivated campaigns. It was also pointed out that several Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt have taken advantage of regulatory agencies such as World Check to go after political oppositions.
In his comments to MEMO Al-Zeer said that the PRC was targeted because of its long campaign for the rights of Palestinian refugees. Israel has never accepted responsibility for the 750,000 Palestinians that were ethnically cleansed from their homes in 1948 and the hundreds of Palestinian villages that were razed to the ground to make way for the state of Israel. Under International Law, refugees have a right to return to their land and seek compensation. Both have been denied to Palestinians.
Al-Zeer explained that the refugees issue is crucial to resolving the conflict but Israel has continually rejected to address this historical crime against the Palestinian people. PRC’s work in exposing Israel’s responsibility for the plight of refugees and its legal duty under international law has made the centre a target of the Israeli government.
Israel has gone to great length to discredit the PRC, he said, pointing to its efforts to classify the organisation as a terrorist group. He insisted he will not be intimidated by Israel’s disinformation campaign and “vowed to continue working for [my] people and the mission of refugees right of return to Palestine”.
PRC’s legal team believe that hundreds if not thousands of individuals and organisations may have been placed on World-Check’s list without their knowledge. They pointed to several cases including that of a British mosque which also won an apology and compensation after being designated “terrorists” by the risk screening agency.
An Israeli hospital in city of Ashkelon, in southern Israel, is forcing Palestinians to get off public buses to undergo a security check before allowing the vehicles to enter on hospital grounds, while Israeli passengers continue their passage uninterrupted.
Haaretz news outlet reported, according to Ma’an, that the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights have documented that Palestinians who take Dan Badarom’s line 18 have to get off the public bus at the entrance to the Barzilai Medical Center and undergo a security check.
After the security check, they are then picked back up when the bus exits the hospital to continue on its route.
Haaretz published a video that showed a daily bus ride on line 18, during which the bus is seen stopping at the entrance to the hospital, a female security guard entering and then a number of Palestinian passengers exiting the bus with the guard, who doesn’t check any other passengers or force them to exit the bus.
The bus driver explained to one of the passengers that those who are forced to exit the bus “are Arabs who work with a permit here, in Israel. They enter the hospital, it’s security. They are checked. She took them off and now I’ll pick them up.”
Reportedly, if Palestinians do not exit the bus themselves, they will be forced by the security guard off of the bus.
Dan Badarom and the Barzilai hospital confirmed the details to be correct.
Dan Badarom said that it follows the instructions it receives from the hospitalL “On the part of the route where the bus enters Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon, we are subject to the instructions of its security department and obligated to act according to those instructions.”
The Barzilai Medical Center said that “in the case of Israeli citizens and residents, no further security check is conducted. In the case of green ID holders, who are residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the passenger is asked to accompany the security guard outside of the bus in order to conduct a security check of their belongings, including a check with a metal detector to ensure they are not carrying weapons or explosives.”
Physicians for Human Rights warned the hospital about continuing their methods and said, “A medical institution is first and foremost obligated to the rules of medical ethics and respecting human dignity, and therefore is supposed to prevent any racist behavior within its gates.”
Physicians for Human Rights also called on the Israeli Health Ministry to inform the hospital that “security issues cannot and will not be used as an excuse for its commitment to medical ethics and ensuring equality.”
Israeli authorities have decided to close schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), as soon as early 2020.
Israeli Channel 12 reported, earlier, according to the PNN, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the decision with members of the Israeli National Security Council, during a meeting last week.
The TV channel reported that no permissions will be issued for UNRWA schools to act in East Jerusalem from early next year, saying they will be replaced by schools run by the Israeli municipality of the city.
The United States, the largest single contributor to UNRWA, announced last August that it would end its $350 million a year funding for the agency, describing the organization as an “irredeemably flawed operation”.
The UNRWA is responsible for delivering services to some 5.4 million Palestinians, while this move will affect some 3,000 students who attend seven UNRWA schools in two refugee camps that sit within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, according to the agency.
UNRWA spokesman Sami Meshasha, said on Sunday that the agency has not received any official notice from Israeli authorities regarding reports of an Israeli plan to shut down UNRWA-run schools in occupied Jerusalem.
The statement came only after Israeli media published reports saying Israeli officials are set to revoke permits.
“UNRWA’s existence in Jerusalem is not a gift from Israel,” Meshasha said in a press statement, adding: “There are bilateral agreements binding on Israel to respect the agency’s installations, jurisdiction and immunity in Jerusalem. In addition, Israel is a party to the 1946 Refugee Convention, and such attempts are in violation of this Convention.”
He said the agency had been in contact for some time, with several parties, regarding the renewal of the mandate of the Agency, which typically begins by the end of this year.
According to UNRWA, the agency runs seven schools in two refugee camps that are located within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, which serve about 3,000 students enrolled.
Commenting on the reported Israeli plan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said that the decision of the Israeli occupation authorities to close UNRWA schools in occupied Jerusalem “aims at ethnically cleansing the Palestinian citizens living in Shu’fat refugee camp.”
“The failure of the international community, particularly the Security Council, to implement the resolutions of the international legitimacy on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and to hold the occupation authorities accountable for their grave violations of international law, human rights principles and the Geneva Conventions has encouraged the occupation authorities to begin the most dangerous episode of the liquidation of the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem,” the Ministry said in a statement, according to WAFA.
Meanwhile, Ma’an further reports, Israel and the US have criticized UNRWA for its count of Palestinian refugees, which included the descendants and not only the original refugees displaced from their homes.
The US demanded that UNRWA “figures out the actual number of true Palestinian refugees,” emphasizing that the total is not correct, in order to restore aid funds to the agency.
In July, a new bill, entitled “The UNRWA Reform and Refugee Support Act,” was introduced in the US Congress that recognizes only 40,000 Palestinian refugees instead of 5.3 million refugees.
The newly introduced bill would ensure that the contributed to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) would go towards the resettlement of Palestinians displaced by the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, and not their descendants – who are a total number of 5.3 million people.
According to Republican Congressman and initiator of the bill, Doug Lamborn, said that the “refugee status is not something that can be handed down from generation to generation,” referring to the descendants of Palestinian refugees who were born and are living in other countries.
UN statistics reveal that Palestinians are, in fact, the largest refugee group, anywhere in the world.
Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday at night, four young Palestinian men in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, after assaulting and wounding them.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said the soldiers assaulted and injured Tha’er Maswada, Nour Asfour, Montaser Siyam and Yazan Siyam, after invading their homes, and ransacking them, in Wadi Hilweh neighborhood.
It added that the soldiers repeatedly assaulted the four young men before abducting them, causing various cuts and bruises.
It is worth mentioning that the soldiers also invaded Silwanic, and the home of its director Jawad Siyam, and took measurements of the two properties, under the allegation of calculating property taxes.
Dozens of Israeli soldiers and police officers invaded, Monday, the al-Makassed charitable society hospital in occupied Jerusalem to prevent the Palestinians from holding a celebration for the fiftieth anniversary of the medical center’s establishment.
The celebration was being held in the theater room of the hospital’s medical college, in Jabal az-Zeitoun area, in occupied Jerusalem.
Palestinian Health Minister, Dr. Jawad Awwad, and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Adnan al-Husseini in addition to Jerusalem Governor Adnan Gheith, the head of the Higher Islamic Committee, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, and the head of al-Makassed Hospital, al-Makassed Chairman Dr. Arafat Hadmi, along with many other officials and figures were participating in the celebration, which is sponsored by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Besides honoring the golden anniversary of its establishment, the hospital was also celebrating the opening of several news branches in the medical center.
It is worth mention that the soldiers forced everybody out of the theater where the celebrating was about to take place and abducted several Palestinians.
Nevertheless, the Palestinians later conducted the celebrations despite the army’s invasion and violations.
During the last several years, Israeli soldiers and police officers have repeatedly invaded al-Makassed, especially to attempt to abduct wounded Palestinians.