Kushner: ‘Israel is not the cause of all the suffering of the Palestinian people’

US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner [Aqsa News Agency/Twitter]

US President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner 

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser has said that Israel is not responsible for all of the suffering of the Palestinian people. Jared Kushner made his comment at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia.

“If you want to go and invest in the West Bank or Gaza,” Kushner insisted, “the issue that’s holding you back is the fear of terrorism and that your investment could be destroyed.”

The Palestinian Authority has been suffering a serious financial crisis since February, when the Israeli parliament passed a law to withhold tax revenues from the PA over its payments of stipends to the families of Palestinians jailed by Israel or killed while carrying out attacks against the occupation. The legislation freezes part of the $130m in tax collected by Israel on behalf of the PA each month.

These cuts have hit the Palestinian territories hard; they are already suffering from an unemployment rate of around 26 per cent in the second quarter of 2019, according to the World Bank. According to France24, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s administration has had to impose austerity measures, including a cut of almost 50 per cent in the salaries of its employees.

READ: What does Kushner have up his sleeve now?

Kushner went to Saudi Arabia after a visit to Israel, where he met both Prime Minister-designate Benny Gantz and the outgoing incumbent, Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss “various regional issues including the growing Iranian security threat, regional stability and the peace process.”

He also focused on the Trump administration’s peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 13 last night, Kushner said that the Trump peace plan offered Israel regional opportunities and was important for its security. Israelis and Palestinians would need to make compromises, said Kushner. It is believed widely that Trump’s plan would allow Israel to retain all of its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, where some 430,000 Jewish Israeli colonist-settlers live.

In June, Kushner unveiled the economic aspects of a US Israel-Palestine peace initiative at a special conference in Bahrain. He proposed $50 billion in investment for the region if the Palestinians agree on a political deal.

Dubbed the Deal of the Century, Kushner said that over half of the funds ($28 billion) would go towards the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while $7.5 billion would go to Jordan, $9 billion to Egypt and $6 billion to Lebanon. However, the Palestinian leadership boycotted the conference, accusing Washington of ignoring key political issues and trying to buy its acceptance of Israeli rule.

From Sudan to Kuwait, prominent commentators and ordinary citizens denounced Kushner’s proposals in strikingly similar terms: “colossal waste of time”, “nonstarter” and “dead on arrival”.

READ: Is Trump helping or harming Israel?

(Source / 30.10.2019) 

Hamas calls for national conference to establish election rules

Hanna Nasser

Palestinian chief of Election Commissioner, Hanna Nasser

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement called on Tuesday for a comprehensive national conference to establish election rules. Hamas said that it is ready to take part in elections, but needs “clear directions”.

A statement from the movement noted that senior officials from Palestinian factions and a delegation from the Central Election Commission, headed by Hanna Nasser, have met in Gaza to discuss a call for a general election made by Mahmoud Abbas at the UN General Assembly last month.

“A responsible spirit prevailed in the meeting, as all national factions have realised the dangers posed to the Palestinian cause, including conspiracies and serious challenges that require a unified Palestinian position to protect the Palestinian people and cause,” explained Hamas. “All PLO-affiliated factions and resistance movements have endorsed a specific national stance based on positivity and flexibility to meet the higher Palestinian interests.”

The movement added that Nasser has been given a responsible national position to be communicated to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority leadership. “This is based on the necessity to hold an inclusive conference as a compulsory and necessary condition to ensure holding national elections that unify the Palestinian people and heal divisions.”

READ: Hamas says its ready for elections

All of the Palestinian factions, said Hamas, have agreed unanimously that holding elections simultaneously or respectively if a national consensus is reached will ensure their transparency and acceptance of the results.

Ahead of the arrival of the Election Commission delegation, Hamas said that it had held a series of intensive meetings with the PLO and resistance factions to discuss how to ensure a successful visit to the Gaza Strip. “The meetings were characterised with a strong sense of honesty, clarity and joint understanding.” The movement stressed its own commitment to unity and reconciliation, as well as to the rebuilding of the Palestinian national home.

“The position has become clear,” insisted Hamas, “that the Palestinian consensus requires a clear commitment from the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards this stance by calling for a national conference to agree on how to maintain and advance the national project and on the mechanisms of holding elections.”

(Source / 30.10.2019) 

UN slams PA for blocking news sites

Image of the United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov on 17 February 2015 [A Paranoid Optimist/Flickr]

United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov on 17 February 2015 

The Unites Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process yesterday criticised the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s recent decision to block a number of websites and social media platforms.

Nickolay Mladenov told reporters that he was “disturbed” by the Ramallah court decision on 17 October to block 50 Palestinian and Arabic websites, as well as the social network Facebook.

“The fundamental right of freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the freedoms associated with a free access to information are of utter importance and must be protected,” Mladenov said.

Earlier this month, the PA’s attorney general issued a verdict to block 59 Arabic and Palestinian websites, accusing the social platforms of spreading criticism against the PA officials.

Headed by judge Mohammed Hussein, the court’s decision claimed that such sites which publish pictures and articles threaten Palestinian national security and civil peace, as well as disrupt public order and morals, and arouse Palestinian public opinion.

READ: The EU, UN and PA masquerade as activists while highlighting their colonial complicity

(Source / 30.10.2019) 

Israeli Soldiers Demolish Home, Barns And Structures In Occupied Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers and police officers demolished, Tuesday, a Palestinian home, along with commercial structures, and barns, in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said dozens of soldiers, and officers, invaded the Suwwana neighborhood in Jerusalem, and surrounding a home, owned by Khaled al-Fahham.

Silwanic added that the soldiers proceeded to demolish the property, although the Palestinian managed to obtain a court order delaying the destruction of his property for one week, as his appeal case is still unresolved.

The family stated that the City Council in occupied Jerusalem issued a demolition order against their property nearly 18 months ago, after alleging that it was built without a permit.

The family denied the Israeli allegation, and said that their home was built in 1964, before Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, and that they own all needed permits and documents, however, the Central Court recently decided that the property must be demolished by October 27th.

“We then headed to the High Court and managed to obtain a ruling delaying the demolition for one week,” the family added, “Our appeal was approved, but the City Council went ahead and demolished our home anyway.”

It is worth mentioning that six family members, including three children, lived in the demolished property.

The soldiers also invaded the al-‘Isawiya town, in Jerusalem, and forced one Palestinian, identified as Luay Obeid, to demolish his under-construction home, after threatening excessively high fines and fees.

In addition, the soldiers demolished a stable for horses, a metal shed, and the foundation of a building, owned by Ishaq Hamdan.

A commercial structure owned by Luay Mansour was also demolished in the town. The building contained an office for a car rental service and a carwash facility.

(Source / 30.10.2019) 

Palestine Through The Eyes Of A Visitor

Larissa Fernand, Oct 18, 2019

There are no words to describe the bleak reality of actual humans who are trapped and whose lives are scarred by loss, oppression, and uncertainty. And, yet, cling to hope against all odds.

I am not writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If anything, I am acutely aware of my incompetence, in this regard. All I seek to do is recount my personal experience against the backdrop of the conflict, and my pain at the treatment of Palestinian civilians, by the State of Israel.

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On a hot Saturday, as Israel observed the Shabbat, we headed to a Bedouin village in the Negev desert.

What struck us instantly was the hospitality and warmth of the Bedouins. Their homes had been demolished a few days ago, but their spirit was not broken. Under a makeshift arrangement, women chatted and cooked a meal. The children were all smiles as they greeted us and shook our hands eagerly, before darting off to play and find some shade from the scorching sun. We sat under a tree and were served coffee, followed by tea.

The is one of the many “unrecognized” Palestinian villages constantly targeted for demolition. The Israeli authorities claim that the land is state property. The Bedouins have ownership registered under the Ottoman rule and the British Mandate. The State of Israel does not recognize their title deeds.

Over the years, the village of Al-Araqeeb has been subject to frequent demolitions. When we met them, we were informed that over the past 60 days, their houses were broken down 25 times. And, in the latest hearing, the Israeli judge openly directed and aided the prosecution, when it came to utilizing aspects of the law against the Bedouins.

(For background, read about the Jewish National Fund’s reforestation of the land and the plan to “Judaise” the Negev.)

The leader, Sheikh Sayyah Al-Turi, has been the focal point of the Bedouins’ non-violent struggle against the land-grab. He has been arrested numerous times and has around 50 court cases slapped on him by the State of Israel. The attack on him is systematic and consistent — physically, emotionally, financially.

A polite, but imposing personality, he exuded no hatred. Just the steely determination to keep fighting, however hopelessly, against the might and power of the state.

Someone asked him, “Where do you get your strength from?” He very matter-of-factly responded, “This is my land. This is my home. It protected and fed my ancestors, and my family. I must fight for it.”

As we got up to go, a lady told him, “You shall be in my prayers.” He smiled gratefully and responded, “In your prayers, also remember people all over the world who are suffering injustice, that God will strengthen and comfort them.”

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When we met Mr A, his first words were, “Welcome to the world’s classiest prison.” Though he was jovial guy and sported a big grin, I found it hard to even smile. The Separation Wall and watchtower in Bethlehem loomed menacingly; Banksy graffiti providing little relief.

He told us how once upon a time he and his friends used to hang out at pizza joints and coffee shops, and drive around, listening to music. But, those days are gone. To feel good, some people may buy a car. But, others see it as a waste of money because “there is nowhere to go.”

We asked him why he does not venture “out of the prison” more often. “You cannot imagine how it feels to get interrogated like a criminal every single time,” he burst out in frustration. His answer made us realize how insensitive and clueless we were to the everyday experiences of Palestinians.

For Palestinians to enter Israel, they have to pass through checkpoints. Over there, the contents of bags are examined and scanned. They could be asked to remove their belts. Their documents are scrutinized. They have to explain the reason they want to get to the “other side.” There are 42 types of exit permits (eg: college, medical treatment, day-time jobs such as construction work in Israel, pray at a holy site, attend a function or a funeral, visit relatives) for which they have to pay for.

At any given point in time, there could be hundreds or even over a thousand waiting to cross over. Once cleared, they have to wait for organized transportation on the other side. This could take up considerable time, and their eventual passage rests on the discretion of the young military officers manning the checkpoint, laden with combat gear and ammunition.

At times, the checkpoint could shut down and no one is permitted to leave.

It is humiliating and dehumanizing.

During a conversation, he pointed to the rooftops which had water tanks. “For every 250 litres of water an Israeli household gets, the Palestinian equivalent will be around 48 litres.”

“They make it so bad that they hope we will leave. But I have nowhere else to go. This is my home.”

We pass by a group of kids playing. They give us the sweetest smiles and enthusiastically wave hello. We go to click a photograph and a few of them shout with alarm, “No, no. Don’t take photo.” A lady with us blew them a flying kiss, with pure innocence they grin and return the gesture.

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I remember reading that Hebron is like a movie set with no actors. Yet, nothing prepared us for reality.

Abandoned. Eerie. Desolate. Deserted. Run down. A ghost town.

Israel has implemented a strict segregationist policy in Hebron, and the Palestinians residing here are extremely marginalised. The settlers deliberately pick fights with them, and this gives the police the legitimate right to come knocking on their doors, in the night, and drag them out.

We met the owner of a shop who told us that his store has been attacked and ransacked on several occasions, over the past years, and the wares sometimes destroyed.

Another man showed us the bullet scar on his leg.

We had lunch in Mr M’s house. He lives there with his entire family. He told us that he has been beaten black and blue on numerous occasions, by the police.

At one time, an Israeli settler put a gun to his head. When he lodged a complaint with the Israeli police, they asked him for the name of the aggressor. Despite seeing the incident captured on military camera installations, the police registered the case against an “anonymous” attacker, since Mr M could not produce the full name. The next day, in the street, the settler grinned and made a gesture at him.

Every time the sound of bullets is heard, he tells his children that they are wedding celebrations. He instructs them to greet the military and police with a “Shalom.” As long as he can, he wants to protect his children from harsh realities and not instill fear in them.

In the market, there is a small stretch with shops owned and run by Palestinians. Israeli settlers have moved into houses above the bazaar and toss garbage, eggs, dirty water, used diapers, and sometimes pour urine, onto the street below. As a result, the shopkeepers have had to put up sheets of corrugated iron. In no time, the Israeli authorities got them dismantled and prohibited such coverings. Hence, a wire mesh to prevent the “big” trash from falling in front of their shops has to suffice.

The harassment of the Palestinians is done with the sole aim of getting them to flee in frustration and replacing them with more settlers.

It is impossible to not leave Hebron with a heavy heart.

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The Palestinians could be Druze, Christians, Muslims, or Bedouins. But, they are human, like you and me. They are faced with tumultuous circumstances and very real threats which are ugly, stressful, and often violent.

Children are not spared either. Bedouin children have been thrashed by settlers, on the way to school. Due to international pressure, the military was forced to accompany the children, to prevent physical abuse.

Yet, while they bear witness to the loss of life, shelter, protection, and possessions — they have not lost hope. They fervently pray and wish for a better tomorrow. If not for themselves, at least for their children.

They never asked us for money.

They never asked us for clothes.

They never asked us for food.

They never asked for charity.

All they asked was that we tell their story.

(Source / 30.10.2019) 

250 PALESTINIAN CHILDREN KILLED IN SYRIA SINCE 2011

Damascus (QNN)- 250 Palestinian refugee children have been killed throughout Syria since the start of the war in 2011.

The Action Group for Palestinians of Syria stated in a press conference on Wednesday that its monitoring and documentation team has documented those numbers until October 29, 2019.

The group revealed that 128 of the victims were killed in bombings, 15 by snipers, 11 by shootings, 2 under torture, 22 of drowning, one from unknown cause, and 25 in car bombs.

The group also stated that the regime’s blockade and lack of medical care caused 34 children to die, while 12 children were killed in fire, suffocation, run-over incidents, and kidnapping and executions.

The real number, according to the group, is probably much more, however the group was able to document only 250 victims due to the conditions in the country.

(Source / 30.10.2019) 

FACEBOOK SUES ISRAELI COMPANY WHICH HELPED HACK WHATSAPP

Facebook filed a lawsuit against the Israeli hacker-for-hire company NSO Group on Tuesday in U.S. federal court for targeting some 1,400 users of its encrypted messaging service WhatsApp with highly sophisticated spyware.

The lawsuit filed in San Francisco is the first legal action of its kind, according to Facebook, involving a nearly totally unregulated realm.

Facebook said that NSO Group used WhatsApp servers to spread malware to 1,400 mobile phones in an attempt to target journalists, diplomats, human rights activists, senior government officials and other parties. The targeted phone numbers were in countries including Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Mexico.

The malware was unable to break the Facebook-owned app’s encryption, according to the lawsuit, and instead infected customers’ phones, giving NSO access to messages after they were decrypted on the receiver’s device.

NSO used its flagship software, “Pegasus,” Facebook alleges, not only to access messages sent via WhatsApp, but also messages sent on competing platforms, including Apple’s iMessage, Microsoft’s Skype, Telegram, WeChat and Facebook Messenger.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the NSO group denied being involved in the attacks and claimed that its surveillance technology called Pegasus, which it sells to governments around the world, is being used to save lives:

“In the strongest possible terms, we dispute today’s allegations and will vigorously fight them. The sole purpose of NSO is to provide technology to licensed government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to help them fight terrorism and serious crime. Our technology is not designed or licensed for use against human rights activists and journalists. It has helped to save thousands of lives over recent years.

The truth is that strongly encrypted platforms are often used by pedophile rings, drug kingpins and terrorists to shield their criminal activity. Without sophisticated technologies, the law enforcement agencies meant to keep us all safe face insurmountable hurdles. NSO’s technologies provide proportionate, lawful solutions to this issue.

We consider any other use of our products than to prevent serious crime and terrorism a misuse, which is contractually prohibited. We take action if we detect any misuse. This technology is rooted in the protection of human rights — including the right to life, security and bodily integrity — and that’s why we have sought alignment with the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to make sure our products are respecting all fundamental human rights.”

Facebook says NSO group workers created WhatsApp accounts to send malware components to the targetted devices. They also initiated calls to “secretly inject malicious code” in the targeted devices.

Facebook demands in the suit that NSO Group be denied access to Facebook’s services and systems and seeks unspecified damages.

WhatsApp head Will Cathcart said leaders of tech firms “should join U.N. (free speech) Special Rapporteur David Kaye’s call for an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of dangerous spyware.”

NSO Group Technologies is an Israeli technology firm focused on cyber intelligence. It reportedly employs around 500 people and is based in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. According to the company, NSO provides “authorized governments with technology that helps them combat terror and crime”.

NSO’s spyware has repeatedly been found deployed to target such people. Most notably, the spyware was implicated in the gruesome killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year and whose body has never been found.

The NSO Group previously confirmed that Pegasus was used to target the phone of a British lawyer, who contacted Citizen Lab and kickstarted the investigation that led to this lawsuit.

(Source / 30.10.2019) 

Israelis flood sewage into Palestinian olive groves

Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property is a routine occurrence in the occupied West Bank, and all acts go unpunished by the Israeli authorities

Illegal Israeli settlers flooded on Tuesday night sewage into groves belonging to Palestinian farmers near Deir al-Hatab village, east of occupied West Bank of Nablus.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the area, said that farmers from Deir al-Hatab were shocked to find that their groves were flooded with sewage by settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Elon More.

The settlement is notorious for its hardline Jewish settler community, who in the past years carried out acts of vandalism of Palestinian property.

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is a routine occurrence in the occupied West Bank, and most acts of vandalism and attacks by settlers often go unpunished by the Israeli occupation forces.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers attacked today a Palestinian family with stones as they were picking olives in their own land near the village of Rujib, to the east of Nablus City in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources.

They said that settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Itamar hurled a barrage of stones at a Palestinian family while harvesting olive trees in their land . There were no reports of injuries though.

Earlier today, settlers from the same illegal settlement of Itamar stole the olive harvest and chopped off some of the trees belong to Palestinian farmers near the village of Awarta, to the southwest of Nablus City.

Over the past four weeks, the West Bank witnessed a wave of settler attacks and as Palestinian farmers began the year’s olive harvest.

Attacks were mainly in the vicinity of the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank districts of Nablus, Salfit and Bethlehem.

(Source / 30.10.2019) 

Minor Among 18 Detained From West Bank

Israeli occupation forces overnight detained 18 Palestinians, including a minor and three siblings, and ransacked houses across the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

PPS confirmed that Israeli forces detained four Palestinians from Beit Duqqu village, northwest of Jerusalem.

It added that two other Palestinians, including a 14-year-old minor, were rounded up from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

Meanwhile, PPS said that Israeli forces detained five people, including three siblings, from the southern West Bank district of Hebron.

One of the five detainees was identified as a 16-year-old teen from Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, and the siblings as residents of Dura town, south of Hebron.

In Bethlehem district, Israeli military vehicles raided Marah Rabah village, south of Bethlehem city, where soldiers rounded up two Palestinians.

Soldiers also conducted a raid in al-Azzeh refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, resulting in the detention of two Palestinians.

In Ramallah district, PPS confirmed a military raid in Sinjil town, north of Ramallah, resulting in the detention of a Palestinian.

Two others were rounded up in separate two raids in Deir Abu Mashaal and al-Mazraa al-Gharbiyya villages, located to the northwest and north of Ramallah city respectively.

Israeli forces frequently raid Palestinian houses almost on a daily basis across the West Bank on the pretext of searching for “wanted” Palestinians, triggering clashes with residents.

(Source / 30.10.2019) 

Israel Shoots Injured A Palestinian Woman Left Her Bleeding

Photo File

Israeli occupation forces shot and injured a Palestinian woman on Wednesday at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron’s Old City following an alleged stabbing attempt.

Sources confirmed that Israeli soldiers deployed at the entrance to the Ibrahimi Mosque, known to Jews as Cave of the Patriarchs, shot the woman and left her bleeding on the ground without allowing Palestinian medics to approach her.

Israel claimed the casualty, identified as Suheir Ahmad Said Salamiyah, 37, attempted to stab soldiers at the entrance of the mosque, and therefore was shot. No injuries were reported among Israeli soldiers though.

Salamiyah was transferred to the Israeli hospital of Shaare Zedek, but her medical condition was not identified.

Following the shooting, Israeli soldiers sealed off all the gates and checkpoints leading to the mosque and Hebron’s Old City and expelled the Waqf-appointed personnel from the mosque at gunpoint.

Many Palestinians were injured or killed in similar incidents under the pretext of alleged stabbing attempts.

Israeli has been criticized for its reflexive use of lethal force and “extrajudicial killings” when Palestinian alleged attackers no longer pose an immediate threat. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that circumstances surrounding such killings over the past months remain disputed.

Various international, Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations have slammed Israel’s policy of “extrajudicial killings” against Palestinians.

Video footage for similar alleged attacks appear to disapprove Israeli military claims, showing alleged Palestinian attackers did not even attempt to carry out any attacks. Some footage showed Israeli forces manipulating the crime scene following such killings.

(Source / 30.10.2019)