Netanyahu seeks Trump go-ahead for Israel’s West Bank annexation to help win election

US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they meet in the Oval Office of the White House March 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. [Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images]

US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they meet in the Oval Office of the White House 5 March, 2018 in Washington, DC

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing US President Donald Trump to give the go-ahead for Israel’s annexation of the West Bank before the country’s upcoming general election.

Officials in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office told the Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language site on Sunday that Netanyahu is seeking a public declaration from President Trump in support of Israel’s annexation of “Area C” of the occupied West Bank, where the majority of its some 500illegal settlements are located.

Netanyahu is pushing for President Trump to issue such a declaration before Israel’s general election on 17 September in a bid to secure his Likud party’s victory and therefore his re-election as prime minister.

The revelation has angered the Palestinian Authority (PA), with spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, yesterday slamming the planned declaration as “playing with fire”.

“This step would neither establish any right [to Israel in the West Bank], nor it will create a viable false reality,” Abu Rudeineh stressed, adding that any decision which affects Palestinian national rights and violates international resolutions will be considered “illegitimate”.

For its part, the White House has declined to comment on the allegations.

READ: Likud MK claims that ‘stars aligned’ for annexation of West Bank land

Speculation that the US could give the go-ahead for Israel’s annexation of all or parts of the West Bank has been rife since President Trump took office in January 2017.

Throughout his presidency Trump has ripped up the rule book on Israel-Palestine, recognisingJerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City in May 2018 and recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights in March 2019.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at the dedication of an Israeli settlement to US President Donald Trump, in the Golan Heights on 16 June 2019 [USAmbIsrael / Twitter]

Though thus far Trump has stopped short of expressing his support for annexation, senior officials have paved the way for the expected announcement, most noticeably Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt.

Last month Greenblatt claimed that the occupied West Bank is “disputed”, arguing that “calling it occupied territory does not help resolve the conflict”. He had previously argued that Israel’s illegal settlements should be referred to as “neighbourhoods and cities”, saying that the term “settlements” is “pejorative”.

Greenblatt has also stood behind comments made by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman that “under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank”. Greenblatt backed Friedman’s stance saying: “I will let David’s comments stand for themselves. I think he said them elegantly and I support his comments.”

READ: 41 US Democrats land in Israel for AIPAC-affiliated tour

Domestically the timing of Netanyahu’s bid is no coincidence. Much like the US President’s recognition of Israeli “sovereignty” in the Golan Heights shortly before the country’s Aprilelection, should the latest announcement go ahead it will be seen as a “gift” to Netanyahu’s re-election bid.

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It will also give Netanyahu a chance to fulfil his previous promise to annex Area C if he is re-elected as prime minister. Netanyahu’s pre-April election promise was seen as a bid to “cannibalise” smaller right-wing parties, which have used annexation as their unique selling point, and therefore secure support for his Likud party. His strategy succeeded, with Likud winning 35 seats and long-time rivals Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s party failing to cross the minimum electoral threshold.

However, Netanyahu’s strategy backfired when in May he failed to form a ruling coalition and was subsequently forced to call a do-over election for September. With the latest polls once again showing Netanyahu could struggle to form a government and that Shaked’s new party Yemina – formerly known as the United Right – could gain as many as 11 seats, an announcement by President Trump could play into Netanyahu’s campaign message that he has “got things done” and thus save his re-election bid.

Ayelet Shaked: Only a strong United Right will lead to Area C annexation

(Source / 13.08.2019) 

Will the UN act if the US recognises Israel’s sovereignty over West Bank?

An Israeli flag can be seen atop a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on 26 July 2017. Over 100 settlers stormed the house and evicted the Palestinian family which legally owns it. [Mamoun Wazwaz /Anadolu Agency]

An Israeli flag can be seen atop a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on 26 July 2017 

By Ramona Wadi

The UN has advanced no further than acknowledging that Israel is seeking to “advance a claim of sovereignty” over settlements in the occupied West Bank. As the Israeli elections approach, the main contenders – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz from the Blue and White alliance – are prioritising settlement expansion and the elimination of all possibilities of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu’s alliance with US President Donald Trump has reaped an entrenching of violating Palestinian rights, which the international community has refused to consider as a strategy to displace Palestinians physically and politically. In his latest demands to the US, Netanyahu is reportedly asking Trump to support Israeli sovereignty over settlements. While official diplomatic confirmation of such reports is not yet available, such a move would tie in to the annexation comments made in June by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

US-Israeli actions do not leave space for manoeuvre unless this is for further colonial expansion. While the UN was busy churning out its usual statements on violations dissociated from the wider colonial framework, Israel benefited from US decisions which run contrary to the Palestinian political demands the UN purportedly supports.

READ: Need to invest in education in Palestine says UN official

In less than two years, the US recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassyfrom Tel Aviv, recognised Israel’s control over the Golan Heights and set in motion plans to exacerbate UNRWA’s financial crisis by withholding funds. The US has also announced its intent to redefine the Palestinian refugee identity in order – ostensibly to render UNRWA defunct. However, the underlying motive is to eliminate the Palestinian right of return from political discourse.

While the US was divulging its economic plans as part of the “deal of the century”, the UN was looking the other way, preoccupied with saving the two-state hyperbole. Israel’s settlement expansion has also elicited a predictable response by the international community – save the two-state compromise to save international diplomacy regardless of whether it fails Palestinians. The absence of action by the international community has facilitated this alliance between the US and Israel in contempt of international law.

With no political will forthcoming from the rest of the world to halt the colonisation of Palestinian land, Israel generates additional impunity as well as the possibilities for the international community to align itself gradually with US-Israeli interests.

READ: UNRWA schools to open on time despite funding cuts

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) is calling for international sanctions over Israel’s recent approval of additional settlement construction, yet “welcomes the principled statements of condemnation by responsible international actors”. This constant downgrading of political expectations reinforces the international community’s reliance on perfunctory statements, which also include the occasional deviation from condemnations to suggesting holding Israel accountable. The latter are disseminated as if constituting a breakthrough in a process dominated by international complicity, thus further harming the Palestinian cause for liberation and political rights.

It is no secret that the Trump administration has set an overt plan in motion to support Israel unequivocally. Meanwhile, the international community has yet to clarify its true stance over the colonisation of Palestine. Its refusal to hold Israel accountable at least for its violations points to a tacit agreement to allow a complete deterioration of Palestinian rights before spelling out its duplicitous diplomacy.

(Source / 13.08.2019) 

‘In what state did you come Eid?’

Israeli forces attack Palestinians worshippers in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque on 11 August 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency

Israeli forces attack Palestinians worshippers in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on 11 August 2019

By Dr Amira Abo el-Fetouh

“In what state did you come Eid? Are things the same or is there anything new?”

As we welcomed Eid Al-Adha, I recalled this verse from a poem written by Abu Tayyib Al-Mutanabbi (915-965 CE). The state of our Muslim Ummah is worsening day after day, breaking our hearts and tearing us apart. There is no doubt that any Muslim who cares about their religion is sad at how weak, fragile and humiliated we have become. The Almighty has bestowed on our nation more sources of power, wealth and the right path than he did to others, and despite this, it lies defeated before its enemies. The Ummah has been lost for decades, and every time it tries to find its way, it becomes more and more lost and fragmented. By its enemies, I mean those who openly admit their hostility towards Muslims, those who label them as terrorists, and those who no longer shy away from saying publically that Islam is their enemy and fight it under the pretext of “the war on terror”. These enemies are using the Arab leaders, who are concerned only with their positions of authority, as the spearhead of this dirty war.

This year, Eid Al-Adha arrived on the eve of the division of Yemen into two parts, with the separation of the south from the north courtesy of a UAE conspiracy. The UAE armed and funded the separatists, enabling them to seize the presidential palace and state institutions. The government in Abu Dhabi claimed that it had withdrawn from the Saudi-led coalition that has destroyed Yemen, demolished its homes over the heads of their residents, killed thousands of Yemenis, and burned everything in the country. Yemen used to be known as “happy Yemen”, but it is now known as “miserable Yemen”.

READ: UAE calls for dialogue to end violence in Yemen’s Aden

They wanted to erase Yemeni civilisation, which dates back thousands of years, out of hatred and spite. Instead, they drowned in the quagmire largely of their own making.

Eid came with many new but painful things. During the Eid prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli occupation forces stormed in and opened fire on peaceful worshippers. Zionist settlers, who had been gathering all night, were determined to storm the sacred compound and desecrate it. The Palestinian Muslims heard no condemnation of Israeli actions from any country in the world, although these self-same countries proclaim themselves to be the guardians of human rights. The UN was also silent. Why should we criticise them, though, when the Arab League, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab countries all witnessed what happened at Al-Aqsa and did and said nothing. Shame on them. Their silence and lack of action is a disappointment to Al-Aqsa, which is only defended by Palestinian activists.

Palestinians can be seen in the marketplace preparing for Eid celebrations in Gaza on 3 June 2019

Yes, Al-Mutanabbi, there are new things that happened this Eid, and if you were here, I do not know what you would’ve said about them. India revoked the autonomy of Muslim Kashmir a few days before Eid and claimed that the decision was taken to combat terrorism. The first country that rushed to express its support for India’s move was the centre of Arab conspiracies, the UAE, where all of the plots against the Muslim Ummah are put together, with the help of the US and Zionist intelligence agencies. The UAE also referred to Kashmiris as “terrorists”.

This reminds me of what happened in Timor and how it was removed from the Muslim state of Indonesia and separated under the pretext that the people are Christians. They declared it to be a state, although its population was no more than 900,000 at the time, with the encouragement of the Crusader countries. However, Kashmir, which has a population of over 13 million Muslims, has not been allowed to become a state nor can it be annexed to Muslim Pakistan. Instead, they have deprived it of the bare minimum, some degree of autonomy. Muslims have no defenders nowadays, while during Al-Mutanabbi’s time, with the Abbasids ruling all of these countries, including India itself, were under Islamic rule. This Islamic polity knew no borders or divisions, it was a single nation.

READ: This triumvirate of evil has turned its sights on Kashmir

What can I say? Should I tell you, Al-Mutanabbi, about what is happening in Syria which, during your time, was known as the Levant and was the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate? Should I tell you about the conspiracies to divide and occupy it put together by the Russians and the Safavids, which you were confronting and did not allow to establish a state in the Levant? Shall I tell you how the murderer Bashar Al-Assad, who kills, oppresses and tortures his people because they ask for freedom and dignity, uses his allies Russia and the Safavids against his own people?

Or should I tell you about Libya and the divisive projects plotted by all of the colonial powers, who are trying to take a piece of the country for themselves? They are using their agent, Khalifa Haftar, to attack the capital Tripoli and kill its helpless people who are defending their country and dignity.

A picture taken on April 17, 2019 shows remnants of a rocket and burnt vehicles at the scene of an overnight rocket attack which no group claimed responsibility for so far in the Libyan capital Tripoli. [Mahmud TURKIA / AFP / Getty]

Perhaps I should I tell you about Iraq and Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid state, which Iran, your archenemy that you defeated and triumphed over, has taken control of. Today, Iran has returned to seek revenge and it now has the upper hand in Iraq, appointing presidents who are loyal and report directly to Tehran. One of its leaders has even said that Iran occupies five Arab capitals in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain. Yes, Iran, or the Safavid state, as you called it during your time, has basically seized control of these five countries and is now seeking to posses a nuclear bomb.

What more can I say? Everything is painful and there is so much to say, it is like constant gunfire on the wounded nation and no one is treating its wounds. This is the state we are in, Abu Tayyib Al-Mutanabbi.

READ: Saudi, UAE blocked Pakistan issuing statement rebuking India over Kashmir   

(Source / 13.08.2019) 

Armed Colonists Invade An Archeological Site Near Nablus, Conduct Training

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Several armed illegal Israeli colonialist settlers, accompanied by soldiers, invaded the al-Mas’udiyya area, on Palestinian lands in Burqa village, northwest of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and conducted training.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israel’s illegal colonialist activities in northern West Bank, said the colonists were armed with assault rifles, and conducted training in the archeological site.

He added that the soldiers closed the area and surrounded it, before allowing the colonist in, and prevented the Palestinians from entering.

Daghlas stated that the colonists were mainly women and children, and almost all of them were armed.

Al-Mas’udiyya area is a destination for internal Palestinian tourism and is known for once having the railway station during the Ottoman era.

When the railway lines were functional during the Ottoman era, they linked the area with Haifa, and all the way to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

(Source / 13.08.2019) 

Army Shoots A Young Man And His Wife Near Tulkarem

13 AUG4:06 PM

Israeli soldiers shot, Tuesday, a young Palestinian man and his wife, near the Annexation Wall, west of Zeita village, north of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem.

Eyewitnesses said the soldiers, stationed at the gate of the Annexation Wall in that area, opened fire at Yahia Abu Khater, 25, and his wife, while they were walking near it.

The Palestinian couple were both injured, before the soldiers abducted the husband and took him in an Israeli ambulance, while his wife was transferred by Palestinian medics to a governmental hospital in Tulkarem.

There were no protests or incidents taking place when the soldiers opened fire at the Palestinian husband and his wife, and it remains unclear why the soldiers opened fire in the first place.

(Source / 13.08.2019) 

Two Drones Cross Israeli Border, Return To Gaza

The Israeli occupation army on Tuesday claimed that two drones or small unmanned aircraft crossed the border in the south of the Gaza Strip.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth website, Israeli forces observed the drones crossing the border for a short while and then returning to Gaza.

Meanwhile, other Hebrew websites said that Palestinian young men hurled stones at Israeli soldiers behind the security fence in northern Gaza and fled the area.

Last July, the Israeli army shot down a drone overflying the Israeli side of the border, claiming that it came from Gaza.

Similar incident happened last January, when Hebrew newspapers reported that unknown drones, which breached Israel’s airspace, were believed to have managed to photograph important sites belonging to the air forces and fly back to their station.

(Source / 13.08.2019) 

Israel To Build Concrete Wall North Of Gaza

The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has decided to build a new concrete wall around all areas in the northeast of the Gaza Strip.

According to Israel’s Channel 12, the wall is intended to prevent any infiltration attempt by Palestinians on Israel’s southern border with Gaza.

The wall will be built along Road 34, which is located near Sderot settlement and agricultural settlements.

(Source / 13.08.2019) 

Israel approves 641 new illegal settlement units in Al-Quds

AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — The Israeli “Planning and Construction Committee” in occupied Jerusalem has approved two plans for the construction of 641 units for illegal colonialist settlers, west of Hebron Road, in the city.

The first plan aims at building new units around Talpiot area, west of Hebron road, along the blue light-railroad line and east of Bethlehem, while the second plan will add units in Shaare Zion illegal colony.

They aim at building two apartment buildings, in addition to a Synagogue, an industrial structure and various health facilities for the colonists.

The Palestinian National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Colonies, which is run by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has reported that Israel’s illegal colonialist activities are also tools used by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and other extreme right-wing parties, in their election campaign, especially ahead of the new election in the country this coming September 17th.

It added that Israel has approved, last week, more than 2304 units in illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank, and stated that the new approvals, including upcoming plans, are part of a series of constructions Netanyahu aims to carry out, in direct cooperation with U.S. President D. Trump, and his fanatic cabinet.

Two weeks ago, the Israel government approved structural plans for 6000 units in the West Bank, while the “Higher Planning Council” of the so-called Civil Administration Office, the executive and administrative branch of Israel’s illegal occupation, has approved preliminary plans for additional 200 units in Mitzad colony, and the constriction of 100 units in Abi Hanahal colony, east of Gush Etzion Bloc, south of Bethlehem.

While Israel continues to approve plans, build and expand its colonies in the occupied West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem, under the full support of the Trump administration, all if the colonies are illegal under International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention and various United Nations and international resolutions and treaties.

(Source / 13.08.2019) 

BLOOD IN THE DARK: RECENT DEATHS ON THE GAZA BORDER

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Conflicting claims have been made about the five young men killed by Israel’s occupation forces in two separate occasions during the weekend of August 11th – 12th in the besieged Gaza Strip. Four youths were killed on the early hours of Saturday in the central part of the border at Deir al-Balah and a fifth on Sunday in the north at Beit Hanoun.

A claim has been made that most, if not all, would have been members of Hamas’ armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades and especially of its group operating on the border with ethnically cleansed Palestine 1948, the so-called ‘Restraint Force’ which is intended to manage the border region and stop people from crossing or approaching too close to the border fence.

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Further it is alleged that in the Saturday’s incident three of those killed (Ahmed al-Adaini, Abdullah al-Ghamri and Abdullah al-Hamaydeh) would have tried to stop the fourth person (Ahmad Tarabin or Abdullah al-Masri according to different reports) from attacking Israel’s occupation forces or would have been targeted by Israeli occupation forces after the fourth person would have opened fire at occupation forces after crossing the border.

There are doubts about the details, and overall whether the young men (aged from 18 to 20) did belong to that particular group of al-Qassam Brigades; the solitary man killed on Sunday in another sources is claimed by a relative to have been a member of al-Qassam Brigades but his role is not elaborated further.

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This victim, Marwan Khaled Nasser is further reported to have tried to carry out an attack on the Israeli occupation forces on himself, both for political and personal reasons. After taking part in the Great Return March demonstrations he would have been experiencing difficult relationship with his family, which would have moved him from presence in demonstrations to a plan of a solitary attack.

There has now been three attempted attacks on Israeli occupation forces in August on the border, in two cases with solitary persons acting on their own, and none apparently with any support from any of the armed resistance factions. In Nasser’s case his relative, interviewed by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, claimed that he acted on his own. There is little reason to doubt that, but to what extent these kind of individual and small group desperate actions are influenced by previous examples is open to debate.

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The amount of equipment in the Saturday’s case where the four young men were killed at least implies significant preparation, while the two other examples – the other beyond Nasser being that of Hani Abu Salah(20) on August 1st – could have been made based on little planning and could be driven by examples of similar acts.

(Source / 13.08.2019) 

Samidoun mourns the passing of Nader Abuljebain

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network mourns the passing of Nader Abuljebain, Palestinian writer and lifelong activist, in California on 11 August 2019. Nader Abuljebain was born in 1950 to Palestinian parents from Yafa, occupied Palestine, and attended school in Kuwait before university in the United States.

He lived between the United States and Kuwait throughout his life, and he was a dedicated activist for Palestine and a strong exponent of the Right of Return movement. He was an early member of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, in the United States, where he organized together with many activists across generations who continue to mobilize for Palestine today, including those involved with Samidoun.

He was a strong leader in the anti-war movement, especially the widespread protests against the U.S. war on Iraq and the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon, and frequently spoke at demonstrations representing the Free Palestine Alliance.

He participated in numerous conventions and international mobilizations in support of Palestine and the Palestinian people, and he always held his eyes fixed on return, signing his messages tirelessly, “Until return, Hatta al-Awda.”

His work lives on in his book, “Palestinian History in Postage Stamps,” documenting the historical legacy of postage stamps in Palestine, including Ottoman stamps, Egyptian stamps, British mandate stamps, stamps produced by the Palestinian resistance and the PLO, stamps produced to support the Palestinian people around the world and other postage documents that represent the history of the Palestinian people, with extensive documentation in Arabic and English.

His legacy also lives on in the continuing work of so many who learned from and worked with him throughout his life, remaining committed to his clear vision: the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.

Nader Abuljebain speaking at the Fifth Al-Awda Conference

As he wrote, “The very fact of our continued existence in the face of the world’s longest standing and horrific occupation is living testimony to the heroism of our people. This process has given the newer generations a pride of their ancestry and heritage and the momentum and strength to resist inside Palestine and in exile. Under the leadership of Palestinian community-based groups, we must all assume a larger role in cultural activism focusing on the Right of Return, and reminding the world that colonial ‘Israel’ was not established on an empty piece of land but rather its imposition was based on a slow genocide and expulsion of the Palestinian Arabs, and the expropriation of the Arab Palestinian land. Anywhere in the world people know they live on the land, but for the Palestinians their land lives in them. They are inextricably and intimately linked to that space and that land in all of Arab Palestine. There will be no lasting peace in the region UNLESS that link, that organic unity between the exiled Palestinians and their homeland, is restored. It is at the core of the Palestinian struggle.”

Rest in power, Nader Abuljebain!

(Source / 13.08.2019)