Trump’s Envoy Reveals US Plan to Unite Gaza, West Bank

Jason Greenblatt (C), US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, arrives to visit Kibbutz Nahal Oz, just outside the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel August 30, 2017

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, stressed that the United States plan is to help “all Palestinians, in both the West Bank and Gaza,” and revealed intentions of unification of the West Bank and Gaza.

“Let’s be clear about something: Gaza and the West Bank have been separated for 10 years, not only physically, but politically—between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. It’s absurd to deny that reality,” said Greenblatt.

“In contrast, our peace plan intends to bring them together. Make no mistake; we are in this to help all Palestinians, in both the West Bank and Gaza. The type of disinformation being spread by some parties who have not even seen the plan yet wish to be spoilers does nothing to benefit ordinary Palestinian lives,” he continued.

“Once our plan is released, all parties should read it and judge it by its merits. The PLO should be a positive force to change people’s lives for the better, and not try to sway people before they have even seen our plan,” Greenblatt went on to say.

Commenting on Greenblatt statements, head of Fatah’s Information Department in the Office of Mobilization and Organization Munir al-Jaghoub told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the Palestinians won’t be misled by Greenblatt’s lies and deceit or his claim of keenness on the people’s interests.

The US plan is under preparation for the past 19 months, and a team was formed for this purpose including Greenblatt, Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser, and David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thanked Trump for his courageous decisions, especially regarding recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the decision to transfer the US embassy.

(Source / 17.10.2018)

Lieberman Accuses Eight European Governments of Interfering in Israel’s Sovereign Affairs

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused the governments of eight European countries of “flagrant interference in Israel’s sovereign affairs” following warnings of the grave consequences of the evacuation and demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, southeast of Jerusalem.

“The High Court of Justice in Israel [which decided to evacuate Khan Al-Ahmar] does not need lessons in law from their countries or from the European Union as a whole,” Lieberman said in a letter sent to ambassadors of European countries in Tel Aviv, including France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Poland and Britain. A copy of the letter was received by the respective ambassadors.

The “civil administration” in the Israeli occupation authorities has warned the residents of Khan Al-Ahmar to demolish their homes voluntarily by last Tuesday before the occupation forces evacuate them with force. Palestinians fear that Lieberman’s letter is a prelude to the demolition.

The destruction of Khan Al-Ahmar area is part of an Israeli plan to build a settlement arch that will effectively separate East Jerusalem from the West Bank occupied since 1967.

Since the decision of the Israeli court to demolish the area, 112 days ago, hundreds of Palestinians have been holding a sit-in to face the occupation bulldozers that will be sent to demolish their houses.

(Source / 08.10.2018)

Israel Threatens Gaza with War

Yahya Sinwar said another war in Gaza was not in anyone’s interest

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that his forces are ready to conduct a military operation against Gaza strip and bragged in killing Palestinian protesters at the border fence, posing a direct threat to Hamas.

“We got through the High Holy Days just as we had planned, without a war erupting and while exacting a heavy price from the rioters on the Gaza border,” Lieberman wrote on his Twitter account, Friday. “But the holidays are now behind us, and I tell the heads of Hamas: ‘Take that into account,” he added.

According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas “has interfered in all UN attempts to ease the plight in Gaza.” “If Hamas thinks that as a result of this plight it can attack Israel – it will be making a very major mistake. Our response will be harsh, very harsh,” Netanyahu warned.

In an interview published in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth and the Italian La Repubblica, Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yehya al-Sinwar said that “it would be the fourth war. It can’t end as the third one, which already ended as the second one, which already ended as the first one. They should take over Gaza. I don’t think they want an additional two million Arabs. No. War achieves nothing.”

He added, “I am not the leader of a militia, I’m from Hamas. And that’s it. I am the Gaza leader of Hamas, of something much more complex than a militia—a national liberation movement. And my main duty is to act in the interest of my people: to defend it and its right to freedom and independence.”

Sinwar continued: “If we see Gaza returning to normalcy… if we see not only aid, but investments, development—because we are not beggars, we want to work, study, travel, like all of you, we want to live, and to stand on our own—if we start to see a difference, we can go on. And Hamas will do its best. But there is no security, no stability, neither here nor in the region, without freedom and justice. I don’t want the peace of the graveyard.”

“First of all, I never went to war—war came to me. And my question, in all truth, is the opposite. Why should I trust them? They left Gaza in 2005, and they simply reshaped the occupation. They were inside, now they block borders” he added.

“There is no future without Hamas. There is no possible deal whatsoever, because we are part and parcel of this society, even if we lose the next elections. My responsibility is to work with whoever can help us to end this deadly and unjust siege,” Sinwar continued.

(Source / 06.10.2018)

1 Dead in Gaza Border Marches as Hamas Seeks Larger Rallies

Palestinians hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest, in the southern Gaza Strip September 21, 2018

Gaza’s Health Ministry said a Palestinian was killed and dozens were injured by Israeli fire during weekly border protests aimed at breaking the siege against the coastal enclave.

A ministry spokesman said more than 50 people were wounded by live fire.

Thousands of demonstrators took part on Friday in the march on the Gaza-Israel border, including Hamas leader in Gaza Yehya Sinwar.

“We will work on breaking the siege forever and without having to pay the price with our dignity, whether through humiliation or conceding our principles,” he said in a brief speech.

“We will not stop until our people achieve their goals in liberating their land and ensuring their right of return,” he stressed.

“Our people are ready to continue the march until their goals are achieved,” he declared.

Moreover, Sinwar said that the demonstrations and protests will expand until the Gaza siege is completely broken.

Hamas had agreed with other factions that are taking part in the weekly border marches in expanding the rallies so that they could take place every day of the week, sources said. Currently, the marches are being held on a weekly basis each Friday.

They also said that the protesters may once again resort to launching incendiary kites towards Israeli territory adjacent to Gaza.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hamas plans to hold rallies on a daily basis, with a major one taking place every Friday.

All concerned factions agreed to the proposal and preparations are underway to organize them.

Moreover, they revealed that the marches will not be limited to the five regular border points, but they will include the coast where boats will be launched in an attempt to break the naval siege.

(Source / 22.09.2018)

Hamas Receives Invitation to Visit Cairo

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Hamas has received an invitation from Cairo to meet Egyptian officials, Head of the Hamas International Relations Department Osama Hamdan said.

Hamdan denied that there would be a new round of talks regarding the national reconciliation and the ceasefire agreement with the Israeli Occupation.

“The ceasefire talks, which are brokered by Egypt and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, are making little progress as the Palestinian Authority is trying to hinder such a move,” he explained.

Regarding the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, Hamdan reiterated Hamas’ determination to end the Israeli-imposed siege on the Gaza Strip and reach a ceasefire with the Israeli Occupation within a joint national framework.

He noted that all the Palestinian factions, other than Fatah, are exerting tremendous efforts to achieve the Palestinian people’s demands, adding that no side shall veto such a move.

The Hamas leader confirmed that the movement will not stand still while the humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate and will work with Egypt to end the Palestinians’ suffering in the coastal enclave.

Regarding the efforts made to break the siege on Gaza, Hamdan said, “we have a clear vision for improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, but Fatah is hindering such a move.”

“Since it believes in national partnership, Hamas is determined to allow all Palestinian factions to have a say on any proposal to end the Palestinians’ suffering in Gaza,” Hamdan noted.

Notably, Hamas delegation is scheduled to arrive in Egypt at the end of this week or early next week to hold meetings with Egyptian officials and the Palestinian factions in an attempt to find solutions for the current crises.

Egyptian officials have met with two delegations from the “popular” and “democratic” fronts and will receive a delegations from Jihad Movement and another from Hamas.

Last month, Egypt suspended the truce talks sponsored by the Palestinian factions and Israel after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ threats that he would not allow a truce agreement to take place in Gaza Strip as it contributes to the separation of the Strip from the West Bank and the entrance to force to what is known as the “Deal of the Century.”

Abbas rejected Fatah’s participation in the talks and threatened to carry out measures if Hamas reaches an agreement with Israel, including the cut of funding for the Strip by $96 million per month.

(Source / 16.09.2018)

Hamas Top Official: Ongoing Negotiations Are Not Part of ‘Deal of the Century’

Member of the political bureau of Hamas Husam Badran near the Israel-Gaza border on August 3, 2018

Hamas Politburo member Husam Badran revealed details of the recent talks in Cairo between Palestinian factions and Egyptian intelligence officials regarding the truce, intra-reconciliation and Hamas’ weapons.

Badran, a member of the delegation to Egypt, said that Cairo moved to achieve the implementation of the ceasefire agreement reached on August 27, 2014, in the wake of the 51-day Israeli offensive against Gaza, and that Hamas positively received the Egyptian initiative.

Badran explained that Hamas called for establishing the 2014 agreement and its terms, namely lifting the siege on Gaza. He pointed out that all Palestinian factions had been contacted and several meetings were held to determine a unified stance.

Fatah was the only party that opposed the move and linked establishing the truce with reconciliation, which Badran considered an attempts to fail the truce.

He indicated that this in fact intends to “perpetuate the siege of Gaza Strip and launch a campaign of defamation against the factions by claiming that the negotiations are part of the US ‘deal of the century’, which Hamas rejects.”

The reconciliation is not advancing, according to Badran, who added that Fatah’s position pushed Hamas to pursue the talks within a broad Palestinian consensus.

Asharq Al-Awsat asked Badran about his organization’s request to build an airport in Eilat, which he denied saying it was a “lie and a fabrication”. He asserted that Hamas did not offer any alternative to Gaza Airport. Badran denied that the efforts to achieve the truce had stopped, stressing Egypt’s commitment as a guarantor of the truce agreement.

Discussing the “deal to exchange prisoners”, Badran asserted it runs a different course independent of other issues, adding that they are handling this issue in a “mature way”, hoping to reach a new honorable prisoners’ exchange deal at the nearest opportunity.

Badran accused Fatah movement of trying to use some of the issues in the Strip to achieve gains and not reach a reconciliation, noting that Hamas was hoping to reach “a realistic and logical formula to achieve national consensus.”

Hamas official considered the US-Israeli rejection of reconciliation the biggest obstacle and accused both sides of seeking the disarmament of the resistance, which is rejected by his organization.

Asharq Al-Awsat asked Badran about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s statements on the weapons of Palestinian factions. He indicated the movement is aware of the President and the world’s position on the issue, and that it does not matter much, adding that the President believes that weapons and revolution are both ways of destruction.

“But we know for certain that what is taken by force can only be recovered by force and that the resistance is the only force capable of defending our people,” reiterated Badran. However, he admitted Hamas was ready to reach an understanding on how weapons should be managed, in a way that would keep it a guarantor of Palestinian people’s rights.

Badran concluded that, since its establishment, Hamas has not been part of the authority and that it participated in the elections to prevent another disaster of concessions. He indicated that an authority that coordinates with the occupation is not worth it.

(Source / 14.09.2018)

Oslo’s Bid for Mideast Peace Fades 25 Years on

The Oslo accords inspired hope that Israeli-Palestinian peace could finally be achieved

A handshake on the White House lawn sealing the first of the landmark Oslo accords inspired hope that Israeli-Palestinian peace could finally be achieved, but 25 years later those dreams have faded.

The September 13 anniversary of the 1993 accord, symbolized by the handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, will not be celebrated by most Israelis or Palestinians, many of whom see the process as unfulfilled or flawed from the very start, said an Agence-France Presse report on Monday.

But for those who regard an Israeli and Palestinian state existing side-by-side as the only viable solution, salvaging the peace process and the achievements of the Oslo accords — a second followed in 1995 — is more urgent than ever.

“It was a defining moment for many of us,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a Palestinian student in Jordan at the time and now a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy think-tank.

“There was a lot of hope — maybe naive hope, but certainly a lot of hope.”

Omari, who served as an adviser to Palestinian negotiators in later talks, has no illusions about the current state of the peace process.

“On the long-term, there is no solution except the two-state solution,” he told AFP.

“In the short-term, there is absolutely no chance that it’s going to happen.”

His view is widely shared, with Omari and others pointing to what they see as Israel’s drift to the political right, a weakened Palestinian leadership and US President Donald Trump’s moves.

Trump has pledged to reach the “ultimate deal” — Israeli-Palestinian peace — but has declined to commit to a two-state solution, for years the focus of international diplomacy.

He has also sided with Israel on core issues in the conflict, such as recognizing the disputed city of Jerusalem as its capital, while publicly asking for no concessions in return.

Those moves have delighted Israeli right-wing politicians who oppose a Palestinian state and argue that the Oslo accords only lead to another Palestinian Intifada and more violence.

But the Palestinians, who have cut off contact with Trump’s White House, say Israel failed to abide by the accords — notably by allowing hundreds of thousands more settlers in the West Bank, which it has occupied since 1967.

Their leadership, however, remains deeply divided between 83-year-old President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah party and the Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip and refuses to recognize Israel.

Benny Morris, a renowned Israeli historian whose books include “Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001”, faults Israel’s drift to the right, but believes the Palestinians are not prepared to fully accept a two-state solution.

“I think something has to happen in the leaderships of the two people,” he said, according to AFP.

“Israelis have to get rid of this leadership, which is unable to move towards peace, unable to adopt a two-state formula as a basis for peace.”

But the Palestinians “have to get rid of the Hamas leadership, and the Fatah leadership pretends to want peace, but doesn’t actually want it”.

The Oslo accord of 1993 stated that “it is time to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict” and “strive to live in peaceful coexistence”.

While it did not specifically mention the creation of a Palestinian state, it led to mechanisms for self-governance, including the Palestinian Authority, which has endured.

As part of the agreements, the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized Israel, while Israel recognized the PLO as the Palestinians’ legitimate representative.

That in itself was a major achievement at the time, following decades of enmity, reported AFP.

In 1994, then Israeli prime minister Rabin, PLO chairman Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres shared the Nobel peace prize.

But since, Israelis and Palestinians have been scarred by further tragedy.

Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli right-wing extremist in 1995 and the five-year transitional period under Oslo that was supposed to lead to a permanent settlement expired with no deal in place.

A second Palestinian Intifada erupted in 2000, and since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, it has fought three wars with Israel.

Israeli settlement building has multiplied in the West Bank — on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

Some 600,000 Israeli settlers now live there and in annexed east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also now heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.

Key members of his coalition want to see most of the West Bank become part of Israel despite warnings that it would lead to an “apartheid” arrangement with the Palestinians there, said AFP.

Morris, who has spent much of his life documenting the conflict, still believes the two-state solution is the only way forward, but admits he is pessimistic.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “I used to think it would be achieved. Now I’m not very optimistic about it ever happening.”

(Source / 10.09.2018)

EU Urges Israel to Reconsider Demolition of West Bank Village

A Bedouin man watches as an excavator digs in the Palestinian village of Khan Al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank

The European Union urged Israeli authorities to reconsider their decision to demolish the village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of occupied Jerusalem.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a written statement that the consequences of demolition of the community and the displacement of its residents, including children, against their will, “would be very serious and would severely threaten the viability of the two-state solution and undermine prospects for peace.”

The Israeli High Court of Justice rejected petitions against the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and said a temporary injunction that had put a hold on the move would lapse in a week.

The Court ruled on Wednesday that the army could evacuate the village located near the Kfar Adumim settlement.

Immediately after the ruling, Palestinian officials and activists began an open sit-in in the Bedouin village.

Head of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee Walid Assaf announced the start of an open sit-in to address the Israeli court’s decision to demolish the village and deport its residents.

He called on Palestinian people and factions, the Popular Resistance Committees and all institutions to be head to the village to protect the residents.

The village in inhabited by around 35 families, who live in tents and huts.

The population there is mainly from Arab Jahalin Bedouins, who came to the village after they were displaced by Israel during the Nakba in 1948. The number of Bedouins living east of Jerusalem today is about 7,000 people, and the occupation authorities refuse to recognize their existence and seek to expel them.

In 1977, Israel began harassing the people when the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim was built. In 2000, harassment intensified. In 2010, the first decision was issued by the Civil Administration to demolish all the facilities in Khan al-Ahmar.

In May 2018, the Israeli High Court of Justice approved the demolition order, and on July 4, Israeli authorities besieged the village.

The Palestine Liberation Organization- affiliated “National Bureau for the Defense of Land and Settlement Resistance” has called on the international community to “pressure the occupation government to prevent it from carrying out the crime of ethnic cleansing, which is planned in Khan al-Ahmar.”

It also urged the International Criminal Court to act directly and open an official investigation into Israeli and settler crimes.

(Source / 09.09.2018)

Abbas Intends to Declare a ‘Palestinian State under Occupation’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas intends to declare the establishment of the Palestinian state, in one of the most important decisions he takes within a very short period of time, well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The sources confirmed that Abbas has informed Palestinian officials of the decision, and said he might make it at the next central council meeting, which is scheduled to be held after delivering his speech at the United Nations.

This month, Abbas will deliver a speech at the UN General Assembly where he will asked for full-fledged Palestinian membership and stress that the time has come for transferring the Palestinian Authority to a state.

The central council is set to meet in October at the latest.

The sources said that the president “intends to declare a Palestinian state under the occupation, after declaring that the Oslo Agreement is practically over.”

But Palestinian official Wassel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the issue had not yet matured.

“As the Central Committee has decided, the agreements must now be eliminated, and this will necessarily mean the end of Oslo,” he said. “The end of Oslo means the end of both the transitional period and the role of the PA and turning it into a state… But frankly, this needs additional time… and mechanisms for implementation.”

The Palestinian Central Council set up a plan to confront the United States, beginning with a request for full membership in the United Nations, then suspending recognition of Israel and abandoning all agreements with it.

In order for a country to become a member state in the United Nations, it should be supported by nine of the 15 UN Security Council members, provided that the veto is not used by one or more of the five permanent members.

Palestine received an observer status at the United Nations in 2012, when 138 countries voted in favor of the draft resolution at the time, while nine opposed it and 41 abstained from voting.

(Source / 05.09.2018)

Israelis to File War Crimes Complaint against ‘Hamas’ at The Hague

The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands March 3, 2011

A group of Jewish farmers living in Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip traveled to The Hague in the Netherlands on Monday to file a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the “Hamas” leadership.

They demanded “Hamas” to pay financial compensation over the torching of thousands of acres of farmland in recent months from incendiary kites and balloons.

A delegation of about 20 farmers arrived in The Hague to hand over the drafted complaint to the court.

Members of the delegation confirmed that they were speaking on behalf of about 50,000 farmers, whose products and fields had been damaged by fires over the past five months.

The complaint was drafted by Israeli legal group Shurat HaDin, whose president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said in a statement that the existing security reality in which fields and forests in Israel are being burned every day by activists from “Hamas” is “unacceptable.”

The lawsuit was filed against “Hamas” officials, including its leader Ismail Haniyeh, his deputy Saleh al-Arouri, the movement’s former chief, Khaled Meshaal, its head in the Gaza Strip, Yahya al-Sinwar, and several others.

Along with the complaint, the group protested on Monday outside ICC offices accompanied by a photo exhibit of fields destroyed by the incendiary kites and damage done by mortars and rockets.

This is the first lawsuit of its kind submitted to the ICC from the Israeli side.

According to the plaintiffs, the firing of incendiary kites and balloons towards the settlement areas in the outskirts of the enclave led to burning around 30,000 dunums of cultivated land, causing millions of dollars of damage as well as health and psychological damage.

“What they are trying to do is to burn us, not just our fields. It’s a war crime and a crime against humanity,” farmer Ofer Lieberman said ahead of his arrival at The Hague.

“The lawsuit was prepared in the light of several violations of the Rome Statute, including burning fields by incendiary kites, attacking Israeli borders, using children for combat purposes and civilians as human shields,” Lieberman added.

(Source / 04.09.2018)