Kuwait calls for end to Israeli occupation in Palestine

Kuwaiti prime minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled Al-Sabah in Kuwait City on 22 September 2020 [YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images]
Kuwaiti prime minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled Al-Sabah in Kuwait City on 22 September 2020 

The Kuwaiti Prime Minister reaffirmed his country’s principled and firm position in supporting the choices of the Palestinian people to obtain their legitimate rights, Anadolu Agency reports.

“The Palestinian cause still occupies a central historical and pivotal position in Arab and Islamic worlds,” Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah told the 75th session of the UN General Assembly via video link.

Al-Sabah stressed the importance of continuing efforts to relaunch negotiations to reach a just and comprehensive peace in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative.

He called for an end to the Israeli occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

READ: The UAE’s ‘Hope Probe’ offers no hope to the Palestinians

Al-Sabah also reasserted Kuwait’s position that the political solution is the only solution to the ongoing crisis in Yemen.

He called on all parties to agree to the proposals put forward by Martin Griffiths, the UN’s special envoy for Yemen.

The Kuwaiti prime minister also urged all parties to the Libyan conflict to exercise restraint and allow peaceful solutions based on dialogue.

(Source / 27.09.2020)

Normalisation deals ‘tool’ to undermine Islam: Scholar

The flags of US, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain are projected on the ramparts of Jerusalem's Old City on September 15, 2020 in a show of support for Israeli normalisation deals [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]
The flags of US, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain are projected on the ramparts of Jerusalem’s Old City on September 15, 2020 in a show of support for Israeli normalisation deals

A Muslim scholar has linked recent normalization deals between the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Israel to a campaign aimed at undermining Islam and monopolising the Islamic countries, Anadolu Agency reports.

Ali Al-Qaradaghi, the Secretary-General of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), said there are many tools being used to “uproot Islam and reoccupy Muslims intellectually, socially, economically and politically”.

“One of these tools is through creating a new religion under the beautiful name of ‘Abraham’s faith’,” Al-Qaradaghi said in a Facebook post on Saturday. “[This claim] does not have anything to do with the rightful monotheistic religions; rather it undermines its foundation,” he said.

The UAE and Bahrain signed US-sponsored agreements with Israel earlier this month to normalize their relations. These deals were officially given the name the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement.

READ: Arab, European ministers call on Palestine, Israel to resume peace talks

The Palestinians have denounced the normalization agreements as a “betrayal” of their struggle to end the decades-long Israeli occupation of their lands.

The Palestinian Authority said any deals with Israel should be based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative on the principle of “land for peace” and not “peace for peace” as Israel claims.

(Source / 27.09.2020)

Palestine professor narrates his suffering inside US jails

Abdul Halim Al-Ashqar [Twitter]
Palestinian professor Abdul-Halim Al-Ashqar, 7 June 2019 

Palestinian professor Abdul-Halim Al-Ashqar, originally from the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, narrates his suffering inside US jails during his 15-year detention.

Speaking to Anadolu AgencyAl-Ashqar, who ran for Palestinian presidential elections in 2005, disclosed that he spent a total of about 15 years inside US prisons over “baseless” accusations related to supporting Hamas.

Al-Ashqar started his career at the Islamic University of Gaza in 1985 and became the head of the Public Relations Office, noting that Israel exerted much efforts to close it over allegations that it was run by Hamas.

Al-Ashqar obtained a Fulbright scholarship in 1989 to complete a PhD in the US. “In the beginning, Israel prevented me from travelling, claiming I was an activist in Palestine and I would go to America to bring them more troubles,” according to Al-Ashqar.

“In the end, they allowed me to travel, but did not stop making troubles for me,” he said, noting that the Israeli occupation authorities were in contact with his university in the US in order to put pressure on him. Due to Israeli pressure, the supervisor of his thesis and dean of the faculty where he was studying, issued him with several warnings.

READ: Gulf regimes’ normalisation with Israel will not placate the Palestinian struggle

His professor alleged that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked him to give information about Palestinians he knew before arriving in the US, promising him a US passport and money.

“I refused because I knew no guilty people,” Al-Ashqar explained, “so they filed a complaint against me in 1998 accusing me of supporting Hamas. I refused to stand before a court and therefore they sent me to prison.”

“I went to hunger strike and after 11 days, I was admitted to hospital and force-fed. They promised to help me should I have changed my mind, but I continued my strike which lasted six months. I think it was the longest in US history. However, Hamas was branded by the US as a terrorist group in 1995, but they detained me over claims before that date. I am not Hamas, but an activist who believes in the Palestinian cause and I said this to Americans from the first day.”

In 2000, the professor had a three-year work contract with Howard University, which refused to renew the contract in 2003 over claims of having no valid visa or residence clearance.

Consequently, Al-Ashqar applied for political asylum because, according to him, Israel wanted to punish him, but he faced imprisonment in the US over the same claims. “I stayed in prison for two months and I spent them on hunger strike,” indicating that the US authorities asked him to withdraw his asylum application and leave the country within two months.

READ: Security coordination with Israel and normalisation are two sides of the same coin

As he had no place to go, he remained and a US court sentenced him to 135 months in prison for claims related to perverting the course of justice. However, such charges usually carry between 24 to 40 months, according to US law. He spent around ten years in prison and was released in 2017. Following this, he began to look for a country that would not hand him over to Israel.

“After a short time on my release, the immigration office summoned me. However, I was sick. I was obliged to go. By my arrival, I was immediately sent to prison and spent 18 months there. That was a stark violation of their laws,” Al-Ashqar recounts.

Al-Ashqar claims that the FBI attempted to deport him directly to Israel after he was released in June 2019. “I applied for political asylum. The FBI did not wait, the court deported me in a plane to Israel, but when the plane was in the sky, a senior judge decided to grant me asylum and ordered my return immediately.”

He was then placed under house arrest and had a tracing tag put on his leg. He was obliged not to leave his town of residence without prior permission.

Concluding his interview with Anadolu Agency, he remarked that Turkey would be the best place for him because: “It is the only state where its people and its president still sympathise with the Palestinian people, and its leader is strong enough to defy Israel.”

(Source / 27.09.2020)

Israeli army injures 7 Palestinians in West Bank

Israeli security forces intervene as Palestinian demonstrators staging a protest against planned construction of Jewish settlements, by trying to plant olive trees in their own lands, at Asira al-Qibliya district of Nablus, West Bank on September 25, 2020 [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
Israeli security forces intervene as Palestinian demonstrators staging a protest against planned construction of Jewish settlements, by trying to plant olive trees in their own lands, at Asira al-Qibliya district of Nablus, West Bank on September 25, 2020 

At least seven Palestinians, including a photojournalist working with Anadolu Agency, were injured as Israeli forces use rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the protesters demonstrating against settlements building in the occupied West Bank, Anadolu Agency reports

Palestinians held a demonstration in the town of Kafr Qaddum, north of the West Bank, to protest the illegal Jewish settlements and Israel’s separation barrier, which snakes through the West Bank.

The Israeli army used rubber bullets and tear gas to break up the marches, with protesters pelting stones at Israeli soldiers.

Protesters and freelance photojournalist Nidal Shtayyeh were hit with rubber bullets.

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Shtayyeh, who got his leg injured, said that he was treated by Palestinian medical teams in the area and his health condition was good.

He was injured by Israeli forces for the second time in five months.

In May, Shtayyeh was injured in his foot with a rubber bullet by Israeli forces while he was covering the rally of Kafr Qaddum.

Israel occupied Jerusalem and the whole of the West Bank following the 1967 Six-Day War and began establishing settlements in the area in the following year.

(Source / 26.09.2020)

Israel soldiers expand illegal settlement, open fire on Palestinian youth

Israeli forces fire at Palestinians during a protest against the illegal Israeli settlement in Nablus, West Bank on 11 September 2020 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]
Israeli forces fire at Palestinians during a protest against the illegal Israeli settlement in Nablus, West Bank on 11 September 2020

Israeli bulldozers razed Palestinian land near the village of Jalud, south of occupied Nablus, this morning as part of efforts to expand an illegal Israeli settlement.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of the settlements file in the northern West Bank, told Wafa news agency that settler bulldozers were seen leveling large tracts of land that belong to Jalud villagers to expand the nearby illegal Israeli colonial settlement of Shvut Rachel.

He added that this was carried out a day after Israeli forces and settlers prevented the villagers from reclaiming their land and constructing an agricultural road.

Earlier this year, a project for 204 homes to expand Shvut Rachel was advanced through interim planning stages.

Israeli NGO Peace Now, which follows settler activity in the occupied Palestinian territories, protested that the approvals were carried out by a prime minister without a mandate in the middle of a campaign for a third election within a year.

READ: Thousands of Palestinian homes face demolition as Israel refuses building permits

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, without authority and without accountability, is advancing more and more construction in the West Bank settlements at the cost of making it even more difficult for Israel to ever be able to reach a political agreement with the Palestinians,” the group said.

In recent years, Israel has intensified its demolition policy against Palestinian homes and structures under several pretexts, including that they had been built without the impossible to obtain planning permissions, while it continues to expand illegal Jewish settlements in these areas.

Roughly 650,000 Israeli settlers live in illegal settlements built in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967. All of the settlements are in breach of international law.

Meanwhile, three Palestinian youths were shot last night by Israel soldiers during two separate incidents in the occupied West Bank, reported Wafa.

READ: Israel approves 1,000 settlement units in occupied West Bank

According to eyewitnesses, Israel soldiers fired at the young Palestinians who were angered by the occupation authorities’ conversion of a Palestinian house into a Jewish synagogue near Ain Al-Sultan refugee camp in the city of Jericho. One of the youths was injured in the abdomen.

In another incident, Israeli occupation soldiers opened fire on two Palestinians near the village of Kufr Malik, east of Ramallah. They were arrested and taken by the soldiers to a hospital in Israel.

(Source / 25.09.2020)

Arab, European ministers call on Palestine, Israel to resume peace talks

A group of protesters gather in front of the Representative Office of Germany to stage a protest demanding release of Palestinian Coordinator of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) Mahmoud Nawajaa, detained in Israel, in Ramallah, West Bank on August 11, 2020

The foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt, France and Germany called on Thursday for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and restarting peace negotiations.

This came at a press conference following a meeting held by the foreign ministers and the European Union (EU)’s representative to discuss the Middle East peace process, aired on national television.

The meeting stressed the need to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to resume negotiations between the two sides.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi expressed his country’s concerns over what he called:

“The stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”

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In the same context, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry emphasised the importance of reaching a comprehensive peace agreement, considering that the recent normalisation agreements with Israel: “Will contribute to achieving sustainable peace in the region.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Israel to cancel the annexation plan in the West Bank, while highlighting that stability in the region must be achieved by means of the two-state solution.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who participated in the meeting online, conveyed that the recent normalisation agreements with Israel – referring to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain – showed that achieving peace in the region is still possible.

On 15 September, the UAE and Bahrain signed two normalisation agreements with Israel at the White House under US auspices, ignoring the wave of popular anger and the Palestinian indignation of this move.

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Since April 2014, negotiations between the two sides have stalled due to Tel Aviv’s refusal to stop building settlements and release Palestinian detainees, in addition to disavowing the two-state solution.

The US-sponsored deal of the century, which was issued last January, included a plan to annex around 30 per cent of the land in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley under “full Israeli sovereignty”, instead of its current status as Arab land occupied by Israel since 1967.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was intending to implement the annexation plan in July; however, the plan drew widespread reactions, criticism and warnings about causing instability in the region, forcing him to temporarily postpone it.

(Source / 25.09.2020)

Algeria: Establishing Jerusalem as capital of Palestine is an ‘inalienable’ right

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune Algiers, Algeria on 21 January 2020 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty Images]
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in Algiers, Algeria on 21 January 2020

The right of the Palestinian people to have a state with Jerusalem as its capital cannot be traded away, the Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune,announced yesterday.

His remarks came during the United Nations 75th virtual General Assembly, which was held online.

“Once again, we [Algeria] express our firm support for the Palestinian people and their inalienable and non-negotiable right to establish their independent, sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital,” Tebboune said, stressing that the Palestinian cause remained a “sacred cause for Algeria and its people”.

On Sunday, Tebboune told local media that there was a “scramble towards normalisation with Israel”, stressing that Algiers would not take part in it.

On 15 September, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed US-brokered normalisation agreements with Israel at the White House – a move that was rejected by the Palestinian government and people.

Abu Dhabi said the deal was an effort to stave off Tel Aviv’s planned annexation of the occupied West Bank, however, opponents believe normalisation efforts have been in the offing for many years as Israeli officials have made officialvisits to the UAE and attended conferences in the country which had no diplomatic or other ties with the occupation state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however denied this saying annexation is not off the table, but has simply been delayed.

Algeria president: ‘France must hand over our martyrs’ remains and recognise colonial crimes’

(Source / 25.09.2020)

Hamas, Fatah agree to hold elections in Palestine within 6 months

Chief of Hamas’ Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (R) [File photo]
Chief of Hamas’ Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (R) [File photo]

Hamas and Fatah have agreed to hold the first elections in Palestine in nearly 15 years, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

Following a meeting at the Palestinian Embassy in Istanbul, a press release was issued that confirmed the two biggest Palestinian factions had reached “a unified vision”.

“We agree that the vision has matured and we plan to move ahead with a nationwide dialogue with the participation of all factions under the patronage of President Mahmoud Abbas to take place before the first of October,” the statement said.

Parliamentary and presidential polls will be scheduled within six months under a deal agreed by Fatah, Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh.

The deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, Saleh Al-Arouri, said: “This time we reached a real consensus. Divisions have damaged our national cause and we are working to end that.”

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Wafa news agency quoted Fatah Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub saying that the elections will take place in three stages within six months.

“We will have legislative elections, followed by presidential elections and then elections for the Palestine National Council wherever possible.”

The last Palestinian parliamentary elections were held in 2006 when Hamas won by an unexpected landslide, internal divisions began a year later due to the conflict after Abbas refused to step down from office.

(Source / 25.09.2020)

MPs urge UK to recognise Palestine, boycott settlement products

The British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly on 6 November 2019 [ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images]
The British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly on 6 November 2019 

Speaking during a House of Commons debate on settlements and annexation, UK Members of Parliament called on the government to immediately recognise the State of Palestine on the basis of 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the shared capital.

Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly said in parliament yesterday: “We desire a stable, secure and peaceful two-state solution.”

“A thriving Israel next door to a thriving Palestine based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as a shared capital of both states, with fair, agreed and realistic settlements for refugees and we continue to believe a two-state solution is the only viable long-term solution for the area.”

He added: “There is an opportunity now and we have encouraged the Palestine Authority to engage with Israel and the United States, with its Arab neighbours and friends, with the UK to put an offer, a counteroffer on the table.”

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock said the UK Government should boycott items produced by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.

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He said: “The Government must ban all products that originate from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Profiting from these products is tantamount to profiting from the proceeds of crime and it must stop.

When we trade with these settlements we are essentially telling the world that international law does not matter and such trade legitimises and facilitates the existence and expansion of the settlements

Kinnock added.

He also criticised Israel’s “constant flouting of UN resolutions and the fourth Geneva convention that have undermined the rules-based order for decades and the international community can no longer just look the other way.”

Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot told Wafa news agency he considered parliament’s session a clear message that that public opinion in the UK supports the Palestinian question and advocates the Palestinian people’s rights in line with international law.

Tory minister David Jones said the UK should recognise Palestine as a sovereign entity to progress two-state solution talks.

READ: Labour is suppressing Palestinian voices and free speech on Israel, warns open letter

He told MPs: “This House has already voted in 2014 to recognise Palestine’s statehood and I would suggest that now is the time for the British Government to confirm that recognition.”

“With Israel receiving its own recognition across the Arab world, the two-state talks would enjoy a fairer wind if the parties negotiating were sovereign entities, recognised by leading nations such as the UK with global influence.”

“The position of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has consistently been that British recognition of Palestine statehood will come when it best serves the objective of peace. That time is now.”

(Source / 25.09.2020)

PA: US imposing political, economic and financial siege on Palestine

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah, West Bank on 9 June 2020 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah, West Bank on 9 June 2020

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said yesterday that the US is imposing a political, economic and financial siege on the Palestinian leadership, Anadolu reported.

At the beginning of his weekly cabinet meeting, Shtayyeh said US President Donald Trump had stopped American assistance for the Palestinians and prevented some Arab states from paying funding they had pledged.

He also said that this aimed at “putting pressure on the Palestinian leadership, extorting it and forcing it to barter its rights for money.”

The prime minister stressed: “The people who have right on their side are strong. The one who has will or faith in his homeland, does not bargain it for money.”

Shtayyeh hailed the Arab states and nations “who believe in Palestine, its right, its freedom and its independence.”

Official: Abbas under pressure to talk to US

(Source / 23.09.2020)