Palestinians Slam Australia’s ‘Irresponsible Policies’

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat speaks during an interview with Reuters, in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank September 10, 2018

The Palestinian leadership on Saturday slammed Australia’s “irresponsible policies” after its recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The country became one of just a few to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognize the contested city as Israel’s capital.

Australia said it would open a defense and trade office in the west of the holy city and Prime Minister Scott Morrison also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital.

“The policies of this Australian administration have done nothing to advance the two-state solution,” senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said in a statement, stressing the Palestinian view that the holy city remains a final-status issue in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which have run aground.

There was no immediate comment from Israel’s government on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

Morrison had earlier floated the idea that Australia may follow the contentious US move of relocating its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, but it was seen by many Australians as a political stunt. Critics called it a cynical attempt to win votes in a by-election in October for a Sydney seat with a high Jewish population.

(Source / 15.12.2018)

Israeli Forces Shoot Dead Palestinian in West Bank

Israeli soldiers stand at the scene of attempted car ramming attack, in Hebron in the occupied West Bank June 2, 2018

A Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces on Tuesday near the flashpoint city of Hebron in the south of the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said.

Official Palestinian news agency Wafa identified the dead man as Omar Awwad, 27, and said he was shot by Israeli forces near Hebron. 

The health ministry confirmed he had died after being taken to hospital.

Israeli police said a man was shot after his car “drove towards border police” at a checkpoint.

“Shots were fired at the suspect vehicle. No injuries to officers,” spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement, adding that the incident was being investigated.

Israeli forces in the West Bank have been on high alert since Sunday evening, when seven Israelis were wounded in a shooting at the entrance to a West Bank settlement.

Following that attack, Israeli forces carried out raids in the West Bank city of Ramallah in search of the gunmen, including into the offices of the official Palestinian news agency. 

Speaking Tuesday at the opening of an interchange near an Israeli settlement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned this week’s shooting and promised to “hunt down those responsible for the attack and make them pay.”

Netanyahu said the attackers intended to push Israel out of the West Bank but that Israel would deepen its ties to the territory under his leadership.

“As long as I am prime minister, not even one Jew will be uprooted from his home. Not only will they not be uprooted from their homes, they will build more homes,” he said at the event, about a half-hour’s drive from the site of Sunday’s shooting.

(Source / 11.12.2018) 

UN to Vote on Haley’s Last Stand: Condemning Hamas

US Ambassador Nikki Haley (C) has been a strong supporter of Israel at the United Nations

The UN General Assembly will vote Thursday on a US-drafted resolution condemning the Palestinian Hamas movement, in what could mark US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s parting gesture at the United Nations.

Haley, who will step down as UN ambassador at the end of the year, has repeatedly accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias and strongly supports Israel in its latest confrontation with Hamas in Gaza.

If adopted, it would mark the first time the 193-nation assembly has taken aim at Hamas, the Islamist militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

The United States has won crucial backing from the European Union, with all 28 countries set to support the US measure that condemns Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and demands an end to the violence.

Diplomats, however, warn the session could go awry over procedural issues, notably whether a majority of two-thirds will be required for adoption or a simple majority.

There was also much diplomatic wrangling after the Palestinians presented an amendment to the US text to include a reference to UN resolutions that condemn Israeli settlements, call for negotiations on East Jerusalem and pledge support for the two-state solution.

In negotiations with the Europeans, the United States agreed to add a mention of “relevant UN resolutions” without specifying which ones. The US text does not refer specifically to the two-state solution.

After talks with the Europeans late Wednesday, the Palestinians agreed to withdraw their amendment and instead table a separate resolution, diplomats said.

That move increased the chances that the US measure will be adopted, as well as the Palestinian-drafted resolution. EU countries plan to support both measures.

– US takes vote seriously –

Haley rattled the United Nations when she arrived in January 2017 vowing that the United States will be “taking names” of countries that oppose President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

Ahead of the vote on Thursday, the US ambassador sent a letter to all UN missions to make clear that “the United States takes the outcome of this vote very seriously.”

The vote at the assembly could be a crowning achievement for Haley as she prepares to step away from public life.

Diplomats say the US administration has lobbied hard to win votes.

“She would like to go out with something,” said a Security Council diplomat.

EU backing for the US measure buttressed Haley’s stance.

The European Union, like the United States, considers Hamas a terror group, but the 28-nation bloc is divided over how to support peace efforts.

Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding, but they carry political weight and are seen as a barometer of world opinion.

The United States put forward the resolution as it prepares to unveil new peace proposals that the Palestinians have already rejected.

The Palestinians have severed ties with the Trump administration after the decision a year ago to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and declare the city Israel’s capital.

The US administration has also cut more than $500 million in Palestinian aid.

The Palestinians see the city as the capital of their future state. International consensus has been that Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated between the two sides.

The General Assembly session to vote on the US draft resolution is scheduled to begin at 3:00 pm (2000 GMT).

(Source / 06.12.2018)

Israel Releases Jerusalem Governor, 9 Fatah members

Gheith and members from Fatah movement warmly welcomed after their release

Jerusalem magistrate court released on Sunday Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Governor Adnan Gheith and nine activists of Fatah movement, but it banned them from entering the West Bank for two other weeks.

The prosecution confirmed that their arrest was due to their “involvement in military activities serving the interests of PA security services” and their role in pursuing Palestinians who sell real estate to Jews.

The prosecutor spoke about Gheith and his colleagues’ role in arresting one of the Palestinians, who was suspected of selling real estate to settlement associations, and torturing him in intelligence prisons in Ramallah.

He said that the Israeli government decided to fight this phenomenon and punish every Palestinian who contributes to it.

In addition to releasing Gheith, the court decided to release Hatem Mahlus, Alaa Abu al-Hawa, Amer Awwad, Khalil Bashir, Mohammad al-Qaq, Ahmad Mustafa, Iyad Hadra, Hadi Mahmoud and Hussam Abu Isnineh.

According to the lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Mohammad Mahmoud, the court decided to release Geith and the rest of the detainees because their arrest turned into a major political scandal.

Notably, these arrests have raised a wave of public protests in Jerusalem and its environs.

Administrative and educational cadres and students of al-Umma Secondary School in Al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, organized Sunday morning a rally to express solidarity with Governor Gheith.

They raised banners calling releasing Gheith and all the other prisoners.

In addition, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education circulated an order in schools throughout the governorates to organize a silent sit-in for three minutes in support for Jerusalem’s governor and his fellow detainees.

It also asked these schools to use the school radio to talk about the detainees and the role of the students in defending Jerusalem and its Arabism.

(Source / 03.12.2018)

Israel Doesn’t Rule Out Simultaneous War on Gaza, Lebanon

Israeli soldiers carry an injured comrade on a stretcher during a drill near near Be’er Sheva

The head of the Israeli army homefront command, Tamir Yadai, said that the next war would be conducted on two fronts at once, in the North (Lebanon) and the South (the Gaza Strip).

In parallel, extensive consultations are held between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and current and former officials, amid reports of continued Iranian arms shipments to Lebanon.

During a meeting with the new head of municipalities in Israel, Yadai said: “The people of Tel Aviv must know that the next war will involve fundamental changes… they will not be able to sit in coffee shops and drink coffee during the fighting; because Israel will go to war on two fronts at the same time… and rockets may fall on Tel Aviv and disrupt the lives of people there.”

He continued: “The next war will be very complex. It will be on two fronts: in the north (with Lebanon and Syria or with both) and in the south (with the Gaza Strip). It will not be limited to rockets, but will include cyber-attacks and attempts to sneak into Israel to kidnap soldiers or citizens or occupy a town.”

“In 2019, Israel will face new challenges. The Middle East is changing a lot. Our enemies are building new forces. In the north, they (Hezbollah) are coordinating with the enemies in the south (Hamas and Islamic Jihad). We may have to evacuate a quarter of a million people from their homes because of the war,” the commander warned.

(Source / 30.11.2018)

Fatah Calls for Electing Legislative Council

Children hold Palestinian flags during celebrations

Fatah movement has urged for holding elections for the paralyzed Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) which has been controlled by Hamas.

Its call came after the failure of reconciliation talks between the two movements.

Member of Fatah’s central committee Hussein al-Sheikh said that the PLC, which was elected in 2006, has been paralyzed by the Hamas coup since 2007.

Hamas turned against the PLC and the legitimacy, transforming it into a partisan council that follows specific agendas, killing the spirit of the Palestinian legislative institution, he explained.

“In light of the ongoing coup and the failure of all calls to end division, it is imperative to return to the ballot box and the choice of the democratic Palestinian people,” Sheikh stressed.

Fatah has been calling for legislative elections regardless of Hamas’ approval, and without clear steps on how they can be carried out in the Gaza Strip or whether it can be held in stages.

Fatah said the elections guarantee “the rotation of power and keeping the institution, responsible for running the people’s affairs, alive.”

“An active PLC provides solutions to the people’s problems and enacts the necessary laws to build the institutions of the Palestinian state.”

Head of Fatah’s Information Department in the Office of Mobilization and Organization Munir al-Jaghoub said that the PLC has fallen victim to the coup.

Jaghoub explained that the Council has been transformed into a mere partisan front of a rebel faction, and has failed to tackle the people’s concerns and enact the laws that meet the demands of a society aspiring for development, democracy, freedom and the end of occupation.

“Experience has proven that the Hamas leadership does not believe in democracy, periodic elections or the transfer of power through the ballot box,” Jaghoub said.

“It continues to deal with the PLC as a source of income for its leaders at the expense of our people’s suffering and deprivation of their right to elect a real council, which is capable of expressing their aspirations,” he added.

(Source / 30.11.2018)

British Support to Palestinian Refugees in Jordan Through UNRWA

Refugee schoolchildren receive their new books on the first day of the new school year at one of the UNRWA schools at a Palestinian refugee camp al Wehdat, in Amman, Jordan, September 1, 2016

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) signed an agreement with the United Kingdom on Monday to support emergency services for Palestinian refugees coming from Syria and residing in Jordan from 2018 to 2021, with a total value of $6.4 million.

This agreement will enable UNRWA to provide emergency relief services to Palestinian refugees driven from Syria over three years, including food, non-food items and accommodation.

“The United Kingdom remains firmly committed to the vital role of UNRWA, which provides daily and necessary support to Palestinian refugees in Jordan and across the region,” British Ambassador to Jordan Edward Oakden said in a speech during the agreement’s launch ceremony held on Tuesday at the Amman New Camp.

“It is most unfortunate for these refugees who have been displaced not once, but twice in their lifetime. We hope this agreement will help ease some of their pain,” he added.

Oakden also noted that the deal would benefit around 18,000 Palestinian refugees in Jordan who were previously residing in Syria before the war.

“As one of UNRWA’s main donors, we have already increased our contribution to support UNRWA several times this year to ensure that vital education and healthcare services are not interrupted,” he said.

UNRWA was established in 1949 and has been mandated to provide basic assistance to Palestine refugees until a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is reached.

(Source / 28.11.2018)

Israel Arrests Palestinian Authority Members in East Jerusalem

Arrested Palestinians are brought to a court in Jerusalem, Monday

Israel escalated its open war against the Palestinian official presence in East Jerusalem, arresting on Monday 32 people belonging to the Palestinian Authority security services and the Fatah movement.

The unprecedented wave of arrests came just a day after the detention of Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith, the highest-ranking Palestinian official and President Mahmoud Abbas’ representative in the city.

Israeli police said it had arrested persons “suspected of” recruiting staff and working for the Palestinian security services.

Israeli forces raided many houses in Jerusalem in the largest-ever campaign against the PA. They arrested young men and published pictures of Palestinian security services membership cards, uniforms and other various equipment.

Israel has threatened that it would deal “firmly with residents and Israeli citizens acting on behalf of the Palestinian Authority” and what it described as “other terrorist organizations.” It added that such acts “violate the law and harm the sovereignty and security of the State of Israel.”

Israeli authorities prevent any official action by the PA in Jerusalem as a unified capital city of Israel. Thus, sovereignty over the city is Israeli, but the Authority regards the city as the capital of the future Palestinian state.

Spokesman of the Palestinian security forces, Maj. Gen. Adnan Al-Dumeiri, said that the wave of arrests would “not prevent the people in general and Jerusalemites in particular from performing their national, moral and humanitarian duties.”

The recent measures by the Israeli security are believed to be linked to recent investigations by Palestinians and the arrest of a resident of East Jerusalem on suspicion that he facilitated the selling of land to Jews. The man was transferred to the Palestinian general intelligence prison.

Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that the detention of Israeli citizen Issam Aqel constituted a danger to the security of the state and that Israeli actions against the PA were aimed at forcing the Palestinians to release him.

(Source / 27.11.2018)

PLO Commander: We Support Russia’s Move to Revive Political Process

The Palestine Liberation Organization office is seen in Washington, U.S., November 19, 2017

The Palestinian leadership supports any Russian move to revive the political process in order to bring an end to the Israeli occupation, said Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Youssef.

Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, Abu Youssef stated that the PLO is confident of any role played by Russia and hopes that there will be a serious approach to starting a path leading to ending the occupation.

“We asked its (Russian) officials to join forces with most of the world’s countries in order to block US decisions against the Palestinian people and their rights,” asserted Abu Yusuf.

He described Russia as a “friendly country” of the Palestinians that has always supported the rights of the Palestinian people.

He explained that “basically we were looking forward to an effective Russian role within the mechanism of an international alternative to the path of the previous settlement, which was exclusively sponsored by the United States.”

“We expect Russia, China, the EU to be a major part of the international mechanism. We want an international role in the face of the deal of the century.”

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia would be ready to host a meeting between Palestinians and Israel and to act as a mediator.

“It is impossible to create stability in the Middle East, including in Libya and Iraq, without a solution to the oldest regional problem, the Palestinian problem,” Lavrov said on his trip to Rome.

“We support the need for a resumption of direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We confirm again our offer from several years ago to host a meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Russia without any preconditions,” asserted the Russian Minister.

It is not clear if Lavrov’s statement meant that Russia would play a role in the political process or merely an attempt to bring the views closer and break the deadlock.

A few weeks ago, Russia’s special envoy to the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, confirmed his country’s support for the initiative proposed by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold an “international peace conference.”

Bogdanov praised “Abbas’ wise stances that support stability in the region on the basis of the international legitimacy resolutions.”

The Russian official reiterated his country’s support for the Palestinian people and their right to determine their fate and to establish an independent state on the 1967 border, with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

Abbas is seeking to launch an international peace conference, which will result in an international mechanism involving the quartet committee, including the United States, and European and Arab states, consisting of five or seven states under the umbrella of the United Nations, which is at the heart of a political process with the Palestinians and Israelis.

Abbas tried to convince France of his initiative, but French President Emmanuel Macron was not convinced, unlike his predecessor, Francois Hollande, who launched a two-phase conference in 2016 and 2017.

The Palestinian President personally worked to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to launch an international peace conference using his influence in the region.

The Palestinian ambassador to Moscow Abed al-Hafeez Nofal said that Russia, and not just the US, now has an effective role in the region due to the great changes that have taken place in the Middle East.

US officials said President Donald Trump wanted to see the plan executed in February, but his advisers would prefer a more cautious approach, given the political crisis that swept through Israel over the past week.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that reaching peace is currently impossible and that Trump should focus his energy elsewhere until the Palestinians are ready to compromise.

“I think, personally, it is a waste of time,” Shaked said.

Abbas has repeatedly declared that he would not even listen to the plan after the US declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the US embassy to the city, and other decisions taken by the US administration against the Palestinian Authority.

Israel says Washington is the only country capable of overseeing negotiations.

(Source / 25.11.2018)

Israeli Minister Threatens Hamas’s Gaza Leader

Hamas chief Ismail Haniya (L) and Gaza’s Hamas chief Yehya al-Sinwar gesture to supporters during a rally in Gaza City December 14, 2017

Israel’s Housing Minister Yoav Gallant declared on Wednesday that the days of Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip were numbered.

“Yehya al-Sinwar’s time is limited,” said Gallant, a former general who once oversaw operations in the Gaza Strip. “He won’t finish his life in a retirement home.”

The official made his remarks days after a controversial truce ended a severe flare-up and triggered a coalition crisis.

Speaking at a conference organized by the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Gallant said Hamas’s leaders must “recalculate their route” and decide whether to fight Israel or retain the relative quiet of recent days.

A ceasefire with Hamas last week ended the worst escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war.

But the deal led hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to resign in disagreement, sparking a coalition crisis that nearly forced early elections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to avoid early polls when other key coalition members agreed to remain in the government.

Speaking at the same conference, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said it was time for Israel to “move from defense to offense” in its battle with Hamas by “going back to targeted killings of the terrorist leaders of Hamas’s military wing.”

Erdan also said Israel should be “willing to capture and hold the Gaza Strip until we dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.”

“Today we are closer than ever to doing this,” he said.

Netanyahu has taken a more cautious approach to Gaza, saying he wants to avoid war if it is unnecessary.

He has allowed Qatar to provide the blockaded enclave with millions in aid and defended last week’s ceasefire.

His backers say he and his security chiefs are in agreement on their approach to Gaza, while many analysts warn against starting another war without a clear strategy for how it will end.

Lieberman had in the past taken an especially aggressive tone toward Gaza, but backed off after becoming defense minister and said he was committed to “reasonable policy”.

Prior to becoming minister, Lieberman had pledged to kill Hamas leader Ismail Haniya within 48 hours if he did not hand over two detained Israeli civilians and the bodies of soldiers killed in a 2014 war. Haniya was not killed.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that US President Donald Trump was wasting his time trying to push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Reaching peace is currently impossible and Trump should focus his energy elsewhere until the Palestinians are ready to compromise, he added.

Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Shaked says “I think personally it is a waste of time.”

The US is preparing to release its long-anticipated Middle East peace plan, which Trump calls the “Deal of the Century.”

Trump’s Mideast team, headed by his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been working on a peace proposal for months but has not said when it will be released. The Palestinians consider the plan a non-starter, accusing Trump of being unfairly biased toward Israel.

(Source / 21.11.2018)