‘Palestine Ambassador Initiative’ launched in Nablus

Rawan Damen, Director of Stream Media Consultancy

Rawan Damen, Director of Stream Media Consultancy 

A scheme intended to enhance the voice of Palestine globally and professionally has been launched in Nablus at the Second Conference for Palestinian Expatriates. The “Palestine Ambassador Initiative” will equip anyone wanting to present the Palestinian cause in the public domain with access to concrete facts and the skills necessary to do so. The initiative was mooted at last month’s Palestine Expo event held at London’s Olympia.

According to the director of Stream Media Consultancy, Rawan Damen, the aim is to set common grounds and develop a common language. “The Palestine Ambassador Initiative hopes to open the door to specialising in the issue while raising skill levels, as well as enhancing the voice of Palestine both locally and globally,” she explained.

The initiative consists of a teaching platform available in three languages: Arabic, English and Spanish. The platform is based on remote learning at a time and pace that are convenient for the learner, from anywhere in the world through various audio-visual and print materials. It will take nine months to complete a diploma in this subject and anyone can register via the website, regardless of their age, original nationality or place of residence.

READ: Palestinian newlyweds separated due to travel ban

“The idea was born due to the continued demonisation of Palestinians in a number of Arab countries and under a lot of pressure to normalise relations with the Zionist project,” said Damen, the founder of the initiative. “The digital world opens up very wide horizons for communication between individuals. As such, there has to be a platform that equips participants with accurate information and sound presentation.”

She added that there needs to be such ambassadors for Jerusalem, for Safed, for the environment and water in Palestine, as well as an ambassador for the Palestinians of Lebanon and even the Palestinians of Chile. The cause of all Palestinians everywhere needs to be highlighted and promoted.

The initiative has partnered with a number of organisations, including the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad, the Moroccan Observatory Against Normalisation, the Palestinian Centre for Policy Research and Strategic Studies (Masarat), the Academy of Refugee Studies, the International Campaign for Preserving Palestinian Identity (Intimaa), Dar Al-Awda for Research and Publications, the Jordanian Engineers’ Association, Engineers for Palestine and Jerusalem, Association 302 for Defending the Rights of Refugees and Thabit Organisation for the Right of Return.

The platform is expected to be operational next month. Online teaching and discussions will be supplemented by a competition next year.

(Source / 20.08.2019) 

Abbas sacks advisers, orders ex-PM to repay salary

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds a press conference at the Presidency Building in Ramallah, West Bank on 3 July 2019. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds a press conference at the Presidency Building in Ramallah, West Bank on 3 July 2019

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas sacked all of his advisers, Wafa news agency reported yesterday.

The Fatah head also ordered former Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and his ministers repay money they received “illegally”. The ministers, Abbas ruled, must repay the funds in a single payment and not in instalments.

The Palestinian Authority has been reeling as a result of a reduction of funding after the US cut aid to a number of Palestinian and international organisations with support Palestine refugees including UNRWA, and also as a result of Israel’s decision to withhold millions in taxes it collects on behalf of he PA which it says are used to pay salaries to the families of Palestinian prisoners.

In spite of this, in 2017 Abbas approved a 67 per cent pay rise for Palestinian Authority (PA) officials – as well as other financial benefits amounting to tens of thousands of dollars – while the West Bank’s economy struggled and swathes of public sector employees spent months with reduced pay.

At the time, Abbas approved pay rises for PA officials, increasing their monthly salaries from $3,000 to $5,000. The prime minister’s monthly salary was raised to $6,000.

PA report: Another intifada is coming in West Bank

(Source / 20.08.2019) 

Israel holds Palestinian hunger strikers in solitary confinement

Prisoners gesture from their cell Hasharon, an Israeli prison [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]

Prisoners can be seen through barbed wires from an Israeli prison

Eight Palestinian prisoners in Israel are continuing their open-ended hunger strike in protest at being held under so-called administrative detention having been neither charged with any offence nor put on trial, Arab48.com reported on Monday.

According to the PLO’s Prisoners’ and Freed Prisoners’ Committee, the hunger strikers have been enduring harsh treatment at the hands of the Israeli prison service in its efforts to stop their strike. The Committee released a statement confirming that Israel is now holding the hunger strikers in solitary confinement as part of these efforts.

The cells being used, the Committee pointed out, are not fit for human use. The prisoners are prevented from sleeping and subjected to physical and verbal abuse.

NGO: 40 Palestinian prisoners launch hunger strike in Israel jails

Huthayfa Halabiyeh has been on hunger strike for 50 days, the PLO statement added, noting that this is longer than the others involved in this protest. Halabiyeh, 28, has health problems and the Israeli authorities have refused to ease the conditions in which he is being held.

The other prisoners on hunger strike are Ahmad Ghannam, who has been refusing food for 37 days; Sultan Khallouf, 33 days; Ismail Ali, 27 days; Wajdi Awawdeh, 22 days; Tariq Qidan, 20 days; Naser Al-Jadei, 13 days; and Thaer Hamdan, eight days.

Both Halabiyeh and Ghannam are suffering from leukaemia and are in need of specialist medical care only available in a hospital.

(Source / 20.08.2019) 

Hamas: Those who believe Palestinian refugees are a burden should help them return to Palestine

'Despite my age, I still receive food aid from the UN. Our refugees' lives need to be changed for the better, but not change in the American way,' Mohammed Rawwad, 70, originally from Jaffa

‘Despite my age, I still receive food aid from the UN. Our refugees’ lives need to be changed for the better, but not change in the American way,’ Mohammed Rawwad, 70, originally from Jaffa

Countries that believe Palestinian refugees are a burden on their economies or on others should help Palestinians gain their right of return, Hamas chief abroad said in a statement.

Released on the movement’s site the statement said measures such as those taken by Lebanon which quash Palestinian worker rights are in line with international efforts to displace Palestinian refugees. Maher Salah said as refugees displaced from their homes and country over 70 years ago, Palestinians should not be treated as foreigners by the countries that host them.

The occupation, he continued, is the “root of all evil” in the region and the US is helping Israel restructure the Middle East according to its vision. Washington is doing this by targeting the Palestinian right of return, cutting off funding to UNRWA and unilaterally recognising the occupation’s rights over land it forcibly controlled in wars with its neighbours.

In early July, Lebanon’s Minister of Labour Kamil Abu Sleiman tightened restrictions imposed on foreign workers, including Palestine refugees, to force them to obtain working permits. The move saw shops which employ foreign workers illegally closed.

READ: Encouraging Hamas to stop its secret operations

Palestinians held mass protests against the move, saying the new measures were discriminatory and supported US efforts to force Palestinians to accept the “deal of the century” by reducing their economic independence.

Though Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called on Abu Sleiman to remove the restrictions on Palestinians, no such decision came.

This comes a time when other Middle Eastern countries are increasing their dealings with Israel and targeting Palestinians. A Saudi columnist last week described Palestinians as a “scourge on the countries that host them”.

In a tweet Mohammed Al Shaikh said: “Palestinians are a scourge on the countries that host them. Jordan hosted them and it was a black September, Lebanon suffered a civil war. Kuwait hosted them and they became soldiers for [former Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein].”

(Source / 20.08.2019) 

Israeli Forces Arrest Several Palestinians From the West Bank

20 AUG5:35 PM

Israeli forces arrested, Tuesday at dawn, a number of Palestinian youths in a wide arrest campaign in several cities of the occupied West Bank.

Local sources told Alray that the “Israeli Defence Forces” detained Mohammed Assafra, accused of stabbing an Israeli soldier in the illegal Etzion settlement, two weeks ago, in addition to family members Ahmad Assafra, Mua’weyah Assafra, and E’krema Assafra.

Also arrested was Ahmad Azzahour, Mumen Azzahour, and Mahmoud Al-Atawna.

A number of private Palestinian homes were stormed by Israeli soldiers who blocked the streets and entrances of the Biet Kahel town of southern Hebron, in the southern West Bank.

IOF also detained two brothers, identified as Omar and Farouq Badeer, after intruding on their family house in Aida refugee camp in southern Bethlehem.

Mohammed Al-Wahsh, a minor, was detained after his family home in Biet Ta’mour town, east of Bethlehem was stormed by Israeli forces.

(Source / 20.08.2019) 

Israeli official: Israel increases restrictions on Gaza to push its residents to emigrate

Gaza Strip has been under strict Israeli siege since mid-2007 and has been under four Israeli massive offensives that rendered it almost unliveable

Senior Israeli official revealed on Monday that Israel is increasing restrictions on Gaza to push its residents to emigrate, stating that Israeli authorities ready to arrange their flights.

The senior official revealed this during the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic visit to Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters, the officials said that Israel had asked a number of European and Middle Eastern countries to absorb Gaza emigrants.

“Israel is even willing to arrange transportation for them, at least to one of the airports in the Negev and arrange for them to travel out of the country,” the Israeli officials said.

Israel’s National Security Council has been spearheading the initiative, with Netanyahu’s blessing, for about a year, the Times of Israel reported, citing the official.

The Israeli daily added that the programme has also been discussed several times in Israel’s security cabinet.

He also claimed that thousands of Gazans are leaving of their own volition, pointing to 35,000 Palestinians who left the Strip in 2018.

“That’s a pretty high number,” the official stated, even claiming that those who remain “are being held hostage in Gaza.”

The official, however, failed to mention Israel’s now 12-year-old siege of the Strip – which has devastated its infrastructure, economy, health sector and Palestinians’ livelihoods – or its threeassaults on Gaza in the past decade.

The UN has predicted that the Strip will be “unliveable” by 2020 due to the Israeli restrictions, calling the fate of Gaza’s some 2 million Palestinians into question.

(Source / 20.08.2019) 

Israeli forces wound several Palestinians as Jewish settlers storm Nablus

Extremist Israeli Jewish settlers claims they have a religious site and after a couple of years they establish a settlement around it

Several Palestinians were injured by Israeli gunfire on Tuesday night as hundreds of Israeli settlers forced their way into Joseph’s Tomb in West Bank city of Nablus.

Israeli occupation forces escorted a convoy of buses packed with hundreds of fanatic Jewish settlers into the site, located in the Palestinian-controlled area, sparking confrontations with Palestinian residents.

Occupation forces opened fire on Palestinians protesting the raid and attempting to block settlers’ access to the Muslim site, injuring several protestors with rubber coated steel bullets.

Soldiers also showered protesters with tear gas canisters, causing several to suffocate. All suffocation cases received first aid treatment at the scene.

Jewish settlers repeatedly break into Joseph’s Tomb, located in a densely Palestinian populated area in Nablus, provoking chaos and confrontation with local residents.

(Source / 20.08.2019) 

Are new Palestinian construction permits paving the way for annexation?

Israel’s decision to approve 715 housing units in Palestinian towns could be a token gesture, or preparation for a broader takeover of West Bank land

By Ben White

The recent Israeli security cabinet decision to approve construction permits for Palestinian homes in Area C of the occupied West Bank was somewhat of a rarity, “the first such decision since 2016”.

While the figure of 715 housing units in Palestinian towns sounds positive, thus far no details have been revealed – including for example, whether the plans relate to new construction or the retroactive legalisation of homes built without Israeli-issued permits.

In addition to this lack of clarity, these housing units are a drop in the ocean – according to Peace Now, “it is estimated that there are at least a thousand young Palestinian couples in need of housing in Area C each year”.

From 2009 to 2016, Israeli occupation authorities approved just 66 construction permits for Palestinians in Area C – a mere two percent of total applications. Over the same time period, there were 12,763 housing unit construction starts in Israeli settlements in Area C.

However, while the new construction permits barely scratch the surface of the needs resulting from an intentionally discriminatory system, it is still an unusual development. Why would a hard-right government – in the run up to elections – take such a step?

One vital piece of context is the White House “peace plan”; Haaretz citedunnamed “political sources” who believe the move “could be due to American pressure”. The approvals came ahead of a visit by a US delegation led by White House adviser Jared Kushner, part of a regional tour promoting the plan.

This possibility was a cause for concern for some in the settler movement; two senior leadersdescribed the Palestinian construction permits as “particularly worrying”, given what they described as the Palestinian Authority’s “clear goal of establishing a terrorist state in the heart of the country”.

They needn’t worry. Reports quickly emerged that the Israeli cabinet decision is in fact “part of a policy shift intended to push out the Palestinian Authority’s involvement in planning and construction in the [occupied] territories”, with Haaretz citing “sources familiar with the details”.

Moreover, Transportation Minister and Union of Right-Wing Parties MK Bezalel Smotrich took to Facebook to publish a detailed explanation for the permits.

Affirming that one of the central goals of his political career is “to prevent the establishment of an Arab terror state in the heart of Israel” (referring to the West Bank), Smotrich wrote: “Now, finally … Israel is forming a strategic plan to stop the creation of a Palestinian state.”

According to Smotrich, the cabinet decision marked “the first time” Israel “will make sure that in Area C, there will only be construction for the Arabs who were original residents of the area since 1994 and not Arabs who came later from Areas A and B”.

Palestinian construction then will be allowed “only in places that do not harm the settlement enterprise and security, and do not create territorial contiguity or a de facto Palestinian state”.

That wasn’t all. “For the first time ever,” the minister went on, “the State of Israel will implement its sovereignty over the entire territory and take responsibility for what happens inside it.”

So, there we have it. The permits for Palestinians in Area C are a demonstration of Israeli “sovereignty” – yet another precursor to formal annexation. In this light, a connection between the permits and the Trump administration’s plan takes on a more disturbing – though hardly surprising – dimension, suggestive not of a “concession” to lubricate talks, but of Israeli-US coordination with respect to Area C annexation.

Instructively, in parallel to advancing permits for Palestinians, the Israeli cabinet approved some 6,000 housing units in Israeli settlements; the day after, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on a visit to the Efrat settlement: “No settlement or settler will be uprooted … What you’re doing here is forever.”

But, whether the Palestinian construction permits – should they ever materialise – are merely a token gesture, or preparation for annexation, these developments highlight the limitations of a purely humanitarian-framed critique of Israeli policies of demolition and displacement.

Israel’s crude “separate and unequal” approach to communities and housing in Area C of the West Bank has quite rightly prompted growing international criticism in recent years, with the likes of Amnesty International condemning Israel’s discriminatory planning regime as “unique globally”.

As Israel moves towards a formalisation of Area C annexation, however, there will be those who argue that such a development will benefit Palestinian residents on the basis that Israel will grant them citizenship, legalise their communities, issue permits, and so on.

Of course, such an argument can be countered on its own terms, including by citing the arguments openly made by the likes of Smotrich that planning policy will continue to prioritise Jewish communities (as, indeed, has always been the case inside the 1967 lines).

However, a much stronger position is to understand Israel’s demolition and displacement in Area C, including those permits it does issue, in the context of a much broader apartheid regime where Palestinians are expelled, fragmented and segregated to serve the primary goal of maintaining a “Jewish state” – and the control of land and demography that such a goal necessitates.

Israel’s discriminatory planning regime is a humanitarian and human rights crisis, but it is not only that – and if opposition to demolitions is expressed purely in such terms, critics make themselves vulnerable to Israeli moves such as a token increase in permits, or even annexation.

Ultimately, as elsewhere across Palestine, Israeli policies can be best understood and confronted as part of a decades-long, settler-colonial project – a framing that retains its relevancy whether we soon see formal annexation of Area C, or a continuation of the status quo.

(Source / 20.08.2019) 

Haneyya: Hamas Ready For Prisoner Swap Negotiations

Head of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Ismail Haneyya on Sunday said that the movement is ready to engage in indirect negotiations with Israel to reach a prisoner exchange deal.

This was voiced during a meeting with a number of dignitaries in Deir al-Balah City in the central Gaza Strip.

“The day will come when we will liberate you,” Haneyya said in a message to the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

On the regional situation, Haneyya confirmed Hamas’s keenness to build balanced relations with all Arab and Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.

He also stressed the need to confront Israel’s penetration attempts in the region through normalization.

As for the Palestinian political split, the Hamas leader said that the internal front must be strengthened to face the Deal of the Century.

He reiterated that Hamas welcomes a new reconciliation agreement based on an agreed national plan, inclusive leadership represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, and new legislative and presidential elections.

(Source / 20.08.2019) 

Palestinian Newlyweds Separated Due To Travel Ban

Israel is preventing a Palestinian woman from returning to Turkey after travelling to Palestine with her fiancé to get married.

Israeli authorities on Monday rejected Mecdulin Hassune’s visa application, preventing her from returning to Istanbul, where she lives and works, with her new husband Palestinian Muhammed Hayri, who was granted a visa.

Both are employees of the Arabic branch of Turkish Radio and Television (TRT).

“We will meet soon no matter what,” Hayri said, waiting for his wife in Istanbul.

Hayri described Israel’s move as “unethical and unlawful”.

Hassune said what they have gone through is “the ugly face of Israel that restricts freedom of travel and speech and makes life unbearable for Palestinians”.

She stressed that she is not the only person to have been victimized.

“The Palestinian people are experiencing serious grievances because of Israel’s travel ban,” she said.

Israel’s act of curbing free speech, restricting freedom of travel and banning freedom of movement has invited condemnation from Sweden, Ireland and Denmark as well as international rights organizations such as Amnesty International.

(Source / 20.08.2019)