(L to R) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, touch the stones of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on 21 March 2019
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has renewed his claim that Israel has the right to annex parts of occupied West Bank.
According to Quds Press, Friedman told Israeli radio that there is no scenario in which Israel would have to leave the West Bank, which it has occupied since 1967.
Friedman reiterated his previous comments to the New York Times, in which he claimed Israel has the “right” to annex parts of the West Bank. The US ambassador stressed this is the policy of his country, or at least “the American expectations for the coming decades”.
His comments provoked a wave of criticism, with the Palestinian Foreign Ministry consideringfiling a complaint against the ambassador at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“I do not understand why this issue was faced with such criticism,” Friedman argued, stressing that “there is not scenario in which Israel is leaving the whole West Bank”.
Israel’s illegal settlement of the occupied West Bank has continued apace; on Monday, Palestinian research Hanna Issa issued a statement noting that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem have reached 503, with more than one million settlers.
Israel’s settlement is a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bans an occupying power from transferring civilian populations into territories it occupies.
In 2016, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 2334 in a 14–0 vote, stating that Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal.
Israeli troops demolished a barn in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on 13 June 2019
Israeli occupation forces demolished several agriculture and commercial facilities on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, Felesteen.ps has reported.
According to the Head of Ballout Municipality, Yahya Mustafa, the Israelis demolished a barn owned by Tayseer Abdullah and a car wash business owned by Amer Abdullah. He said that the demolitions were carried out without any prior notification, or even ultimatums. The Israeli occupation authorities, explained Mustafa, said that the facilities were demolished because they are located in Area C, which is under Israeli security and administrative control.
Meanwhile, local sources in occupied Jerusalem said that the Israelis also demolished a petrol station on Wednesday morning. No further details were provided.
The Israelis demolish Palestinian homes and facilities on a daily basis, usually claiming that they have been built without the necessary permits. Israel rarely, if ever, gives such permits to Palestinians, although illegal Jewish settler-colonists are allowed to build and occupy buildings almost at will.
Dozens of Israeli soldiers and police officers invaded, Thursday, Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood, in Sur Baher town, in occupied East Jerusalem, and took measurements of 16 apartment buildings, in preparation for demolishing them.
Hamada Hamada, the head of Wadi al-Hummus Committee said the families have filed appeals with the Israeli High Court in an attempt to save the sixteen residential building of more than 100 apartments.
He added that the Israeli “justification” to the destruction of their buildings is “due to their proximity” to a section of illegal Annexation Wall, which was built on Palestinian lands owned by the families in the neighborhood.
He added that the families are awaiting the ruling of the High Court, especially since they petitioned it to hold an extended hearing to listen to their cases, and to investigate the documents they have submitted.
However, the soldiers invaded the neighborhood, and they not only took measurements of the 16 apartment buildings, but also of many roads and surrounding buildings.
Hamada also said that the families were given until the 18th of July to demolish the buildings, or else, the City Council will commence with the destruction and bill them for the costs in addition to heavy fines and fees.
It is worth mentioning that, two weeks ago, the Israeli High Court approved the demolition of the sixteen apartment buildings, and one week later, the army ordered the families to commence the demolition and finish it within three weeks.
Most of the apartment buildings Israel intends to demolish are in Area A of the occupied West Bank, which means that they are under the supervision and administrative control of the Palestinian Authority, and were licensed by it.
However, Israel is claiming the buildings were constructed without permits for the City Council in occupied Jerusalem, and cited “security considerations” for their destruction.
It is worth mentioning that, despite the Israel allegations, the real reason for demolishing the buildings is because Israel prevents the Palestinians from building within 250 meters from the illegal Annexation Wall, which was built in the first place on Palestinian lands across the West Bank, including the areas surrounding occupied East Jerusalem.
In related news, the soldiers demolished the foundations of two buildings in Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood in the town.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday, at dawn, at least nine Palestinians, including former political prisoners, from their homes, in several cities, towns and refugee camps across the occupied West Bank.
The PPS office in Jenin, in northern West Bank, said the soldiers abducted Jihad Tawalba, Ahmad Mohammad Shaqfa, and a former political prisoner, identified as Abdullah al-Hosary.
It added that the soldiers also detained Morad Tawalba for several hours, before releasing him.
In Sielet al-Harithiyya town, west of Jenin, the soldiers also searched homes, and abducted Adnan Monir al-Moher.
In addition, the soldiers invaded and searched homes in Kobar town, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, before abducting two former political prisoners, identified as Yahia Mahmoud Amriyya, and Qassam Majd Barghouthi, who was only released from prison three days ago.
During the invasion into Kobar, the soldiers attacked many Palestinian protesters, and fired several gas bombs and concussion grenades at them, in addition to surrounding homes and buildings.
In Bethlehem, south of occupied East Jerusalem, the soldiers invaded Teqoua’ town, east of the city, searched homes, and abducted Omar Thiab al-’Amour.
Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and searched many homes.
The soldiers also abducted a former political prisoner, identified as Mahmoud Mohammad Abu Warda, from his home in the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron.
In Tubas, in northeastern West Bank, the soldiers searched homes and abducted Othman Abdul-Mon’em Sawafta.
EUROPE, PALESTINOW.COM — Several protest rallies were staged Tuesday in different European countries against the US deal of the century and the Bahrain economic workshop, with the participation of European activists and citizens from Palestinian, Arab and Islamic communities.
Most of the protests were held outside US embassies in European capitals.
In the Netherlands, the Palestinian community organized a sit-in outside the US embassy in The Hague to express its rejection of the US peace plan, describing it as a project aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause and usurping the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.
A representative from the community handed a letter to an official at the embassy. The letter said the Palestinians in the Netherlands reject the Bahrain normalization conference and considered the deal of the century a violation of international law.
Similar protest sit-ins also took place in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, Brussels of Belgium, Berlin of Germany, Milan of Italy, Gothenburg of Sweden, and Athens of Greece.
Participants in those protests carried placards and banners reading “Palestine is not for sale.”
Khadija Khweiss has been repeatedly prevented from accessing Al-Aqsa because of her activism
By Juman Abu Arafeh
Hanadi Halawani’s home lies just a few metres away from Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. Yet, for the past few months, the 39-year-old has not been able to step foot into the holy mosque. Halawani is one of several Palestinian women who have been repeatedly barred from entering the al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Israeli authorities for her political activism.
Israeli authorities have consistently slapped Halawani and Khadija Khweiss, a 42-year-old political activist, with temporary expulsion orders over the years. Their case has managed to draw attention through their activism both in the media sphere and on the ground.
The religiously observant pair spent the holy month of Ramadan away from the Al-Aqsa, prevented from even approaching it. They decided to bring food and break their fast at the closest possible point in the vicinity and called on others who were also barred from entering to join them.
Since the two have been systematically targeted by Israeli authorities, they have garnered much sympathy among Palestinian Jerusalemites and have become icons giving voice to those who have faced a similar injustice.
Labelled as ‘security threats’
Halawani told Middle East Eye she can “no longer count the number of temporary expulsion orders she has received”; she has not been able to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during Ramadan or religious holidays. Her last expulsion order lasted a whole year.
Israeli authorities allege that Khweiss’s presence at the mosque compound constitutes a “security threat”. During Israeli settler raids on the compound’s premises, Khweiss would peacefully protest by chanting against their presence.
She and Halawani have been accused in Israeli courts of incitement on social media due to their posts calling for solidarity with the cause of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and rejection of Israeli policies of expelling, killing and imprisoning Palestinians.
During their trials, Khweiss and Halawani’s charge sheets included “disturbing public order”, “belonging to a banned organisation”, and “incitement”.
The two women have rejected such charges, saying they are invalid and are used solely by the Israeli occupation to suppress their activism and banish them from the mosque to provide full protection to Israeli settlers raiding the compound.
According to an agreement between Israeli authorities and Jordan – which is the custodian of Al-Aqsa – Jewish worship is not allowed on the premises of the mosque compound. However, a growing far-right movement has been calling for Israel to take control of Al-Aqsa, arguing that it is in fact a holy Jewish site.
Khweiss and Halawani have resorted to various methods to reject and resist their expulsion orders. They set up camp at the entrance to the mosque compound during Ramadan, praying there and serving home-cooked dishes of traditional Palestinian food such as stuffed vine leaves and courgettes.
Those who regularly frequent the mosque know that during Ramadan, Halawani could be found on a near-daily basis at an entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound alongside Khweiss, her partner in exile.
Yet, even while merely sitting at the entrance to the compound, Israeli soldiers surround them, trying to irritate them. The soldiers would eat seeds and throw the husks towards the two women. When they performed their prayers, the soldiers would begin to sing and laugh loudly over the sound of the adhan – or call to prayer.
The pair have received many invitations to give talks abroad and advocate for the cause of Jerusalem and al-Aqsa in Arab and Muslim-majority countries. They have tens of thousands of followers on their social media accounts, where they regularly post about the holy city and the mosque.
But their peaceful activism has come at a cost: the Israeli occupation has filled their path with obstacles by imposing on them a general travel ban, cutting off access to health and national insurance for them and their families, and subjecting them to physical and verbal harassment while arresting them during protests against settler raids.
During her many arrests, Halawani recalls that Israeli authorities tried to humiliate her by rummaging through her undergarments and throwing them on the floor while searching her home. She said that during her interrogations, officers verbally abused her, using obscene language she preferred not to repeat.
“We will teach you a lesson and humiliate you,” she remembered an Israeli officer saying to her the last time she was arrested.
Halawani says she was blindfolded and her hands were cuffed behind her back at a police station when another officer said: “We will throw water and food to you like you’re a dog.” Such threats, she said, were not uncommon to her. A few years back, she said officers threatened to send her into exile out of Jerusalem altogether, to Gaza or Turkey.
Israel has long used temporary bans against Palestinian Jerusalemites as punishment. The practice goes as far back as 1967, when it occupied East Jerusalem, where the Old City is located.
Expulsion orders render Palestinians unable to access their workplaces, schools or universities, homes and even their hometowns, particularly Jerusalem, for extended periods of time.
Khaled Zabarqa, a lawyer specialising in Jerusalem affairs, told MEE that temporary bans violate basic principles of international law such as freedom to worship and freedom of movement.
“It is about displacing Palestinian Jerusalemites from the city, and aims to alter the demographic balance” in favour of Israelis, he said.
The Israeli government has publicly stated that it has policies in place to ensure a Jewish majority in Jerusalem.
Statistics on the number of Palestinians that have received temporary expulsion orders are not accessible. Yet, presently more than 20 men and women from Jerusalem and from present-day Israel are currently barred from entering the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound for varying periods.
Many Palestinians who participated in protests against the closure of Rahma Gate in February were given temporary bans from the city and the mosque at the time.
The order generally states that the individual is barred from entering al-Aqsa Mosque for a period of time, ranging from a matter of days, to a year. The period is arbitrarily determined by an Israeli officer and the orders are issued for the most part without a court ruling.
In many cases, temporary expulsion orders encompass a ban from the entire city of Jerusalem, or the Old City which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, or the alleys leading to the latter. They are issued only to Palestinians from Jerusalem or those still residing in areas now part of modern-day Israel. Those who breach the order face incarceration and/or a hefty fine.
Over the past few years, hundreds of Palestinians have been slapped with temporary expulsion orders of varying time periods ranging from days to months, with some individuals receiving multiple orders.
Excluding religious holidays and the elderly, the more than three million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are already barred from accessing the city by an eight-metre high concrete wall and manned checkpoints. They can only enter with a military permit that is difficult to obtain and has a time limit – sometimes a matter of hours.
Tensions in Jerusalem
Despite all that she went through at the hands of the Israeli occupation, Khweiss says that the attempts to discourage her are the least of her worries.
What keeps her up at night, she continues, is Israel’s success at emptying the Al-Aqsa compound of Muslim worshippers and implementing plans to Judaise the space. She describes the mosque as an orphan that she has adopted as one of her children, cleaning its wounds and amplifying its voice.
Israel’s control of East Jerusalem, including the Old City, violates several principles under international law, which stipulates that an occupying power has no sovereignty in the territory it occupies and cannot make any permanent changes there.
Among Palestinians, particularly Jerusalemites, fears are rampant of an Israeli scheme to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews, similar to how the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron was divided in the 1990s.
Jewish Israelis believe that the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound stands atop where the Second Temple once stood, and some far-right Israeli activists have called for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa compound to make way for a Third Jewish Temple.
In 1990, an Israeli group known as the “Temple Mount Faithful” attempted to place a cornerstone for the Third Jewish Temple in the compound. Israeli forces responded with live fire to quell confrontations and protests by Palestinians, killing more than 20 and wounding at least 150.
Later on, the Israeli government authorised the opening of a tunnel to the Western Wall, under the foundations of the Al-Aqsa compound, and continues to sponsor archaeological digs in the vicinity of the mosque operated by Jewish settler groups.
A series of events since Israel wrested control of East Jerusalem has placed Palestinians on edge over the fate of the mosque compound. It has provided a drive for activists such as Halawani and Khweiss to draw attention to the cause in an effort to prevent Israel from changing the status quo, particularly with the provocative daily raids by settlers flanked by soldiers and police.
British emergency law
Under the pretext of security, Israel uses the Defence (Emergency) Regulations enacted by the British occupation of Palestine in 1945 to quell dissent to its rule before pulling out in 1948.
Following the occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967, Israel re-enforced the regulations, using them to punish Palestinians, and continues to use them to this day, claiming it was the local law prior to occupation.
Khaled Abu Arafeh, who was elected in 2006 to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) on the Hamas Change and Reform List, and who served as minister of Jerusalem affairs, has been banned from entering Jerusalem since his election. Abu Arafeh, among other Palestinian parliamentarians, was ordered to leave his home and family in East Jerusalem and to move to the West Bank.
He explained that expulsion orders are aimed at “emptying Jerusalem of Palestinians” by forcing them to leave or disrupting their lives.
“Banning Palestinians from Al-Aqsa is merely to make way for Israel to continue Judaising Jerusalem,” he told MEE.
Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh (C) attends a demonstration against the U.S.-led conference in Bahrain, 26 on June 2019 in Gaza City, Gaza
Head of Hamas’ political bureau Ismail Haniyeh has said that the Manama workshop “secures economic cover for a political attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
Haniyeh’s statement came in a speech during a conference organised by Palestinian factions on Tuesday, entitled the Palestinian National Conference to face the Deal of the Century and Reject the Manama Workshop held in Gaza.
He added: “We are witnessing a crucial historical moment. Our position is clear: Palestine is not for sale. No for deals which consecrate the occupier’s hegemony over our land.”
He continued: “The Palestinian people stand today in the face of the Manama workshop in a renewed uprising and political revolution, as Palestinians have sensed the unprecedented strategic threat facing the Palestinian cause.”
Haniyeh pointed out that the Manama workshop “grants Israel the green light to expand its occupation efforts and control over the entire West Bank, in addition to paving the way for normalisation with Arab countries and the integration of the occupier in the region.”
He stressed that the workshop “was born dead and frustrated. The Palestinian people today stand unified in the face of these deals.”
Haniyeh continued that “all Arab people stand today to emphasise the significance of the Palestinian cause and that Jerusalem is the compass of the nation.”
On Tuesday evening the Manama Peace to Prosperity Workshop began in Bahrain, looking at the economic aspects of the Middle East peace settlement plan, known as the deal of century, according to US media.
Haniyeh demanded all factions “insist on steadfast adherence to the Palestinian cause, primarily Jerusalem, the right of return and a sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital on the entire national territory.”
Haniyeh said: “We, Hamas, are ready now to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza, in Cairo or anywhere.”
Haniyeh called for “the formation of a government of national accord to run our affairs, and prepare for the presidential and legislative elections as well as the Palestinian National Council.”
The movement’s leader also called for “the reconstruction of the Palestine Liberation Organisation to include all factions under one single leadership.”
Palestinians children fill plastic bottles and water containers with drinking water from a public tap on 27 July 2014
Up to 850 Palestinians from the village of Marda in the northern West Bank were infected by organisms in polluted water between Monday and Wednesday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has revealed.
According to Hisham Mansour, the director of health in Salfit, the issue is now under control. Cultures from the drinking water, he explained, have been taken for testing, but local people have been ordered not to use the water until the results are known and it is declared safe to use.
Mansour added that some of those infected were transferred to the government hospital in Salfit while others were treated in their village.
The international community has pledged more than $110 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
In a statement – a copy of which was sent to MEMO – UNRWA yesterday announced that at its annual Pledging Conference in New York “representatives of states and institutions unanimously commended the Agency’s role in preserving the rights and dignity of Palestine refugees”.
These representatives “praised [UNRWA] staff members for their commitment in support of the human development of 5.4 million Palestine refugees in the Near East,” the statement added.
During the conference, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl stated that “today, in New York, we witnessed another remarkable mobilisation and great generosity in support of UNRWA”.
“I am deeply grateful for the trust of United Nations (UN) member states for the pledges of more than US$110 million, and for the commitment to the dignity and rights of Palestine refugees.”
The Commissioner-General stressed that UNRWA’s current financial situation will be particularly challenging for emergency operations in the besieged Gaza Strip and war-torn Syria, as well as for UNRWA schools across the region.
He added that food for one million refugees in Gaza, but also essential cash assistance to over 400,000 people in Syria, will be severely affected if the Agency’s financial requirements for 2019 are not covered.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres added that “given what is at stake at the human level, at the political and security level, and at the multilateral level, we must rise to the challenge and empower UNRWA to continue its important and impressive work.”
UNRWA has been suffering severe cash shortages since the US announced last year that it would cease all financial assistance to the organisation. Though other countries have since increased their contributions to meet the shortfall, the agency has continued to struggle to meet its obligations.