Israel to build 220 settlement units in Jerusalem

Image from October 2012, showing the work being done at the time to expand the Israeli settlement of Harmoun Hanatsave in Gilo, south of Jerusalem city [Mahfouz Abu Turk / ApaImages]

Construction work begins after Israel approved new settlement units

Israel approved plans to construct 220 illegal settlement units in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Al-Mukabbir, a settlement activist has revealed yesterday.

Aryeh King, a right-wing candidate running for the Jerusalem Municipality, said the Israeli Civil Administration had approved the plans.

The units would serve as part of the expansion plan for the illegal Israeli settlement of Nof Tzion, adjacent to the area in question.

Sources also said that the construction plan was approved by the Israeli Civil Administration, noting that the plan is still open to objections.

However, if the construction plan is approved without any objections, 220 new settlement units are expected to start construction in the next few months.

READ: Israel plans to annex 64 acres of Palestinian land for illegal settlement

According to settlement watchdog Peace Now, in the year and a half since President Donald Trump took office some 14,454 units in the West Bank has been approved, which is more than three times the amount that was approved in the year and half before his inauguration.

Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.

The estimated 196 government recognised Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are considered illegal under international law.

There has been a 17% increase in illegal settlement construction in the occupied #WestBank in the first year of #US President Donald J. Trump‘s term

Read more: ow.ly/6zhH30k1wGS

MEMO infographic by QUAD Business House

(Source / 18.09.2018)

Israel plans to annex 64 acres of Palestinian land for illegal settlement

Construction workers build illegal settlements in the West Bank

Israeli occupation authorities have announced a plan to expand the illegal settlement of Tina Omarim which is built on private Palestinian land to the south of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, Quds Net News reported yesterday.

According to a statement issued by the Land Research Centre yesterday, the Israeli Subcommittee for Settlement, affiliated to the Israeli Civil Administration, published a detailed plan for the expansion of the illegal settlement.

READ: Israel to build 20,000 new housing units in occupied Jerusalem

The statement noted that the total area of the private land to be expropriated in favour of the illegal settlement is 260 dunams (64.2 acres).

Based on the plan, the Land Research Centre said that the Israeli authorities are planning to initially build 43 settlement units on an area of 22 dunams and 92 settlement units on 34 dunams.

The plan also shows that 35 dunams are suggested for plans to connect the settlement neighbourhoods as part of the new settlement project, which is taking place to the northeast of the illegal settlement.

Israel announced the annexing of 1,400 dunams (345.9 acres) of Palestinian land in  the same area in 2016, in addition to 47 (11.6 acres) dunams in 2017 under the pretext that there were security needs.

#Israel has been escalating its #settlement activities in the #WestBank disregarding the displacement of Palestinians as well as the Arab and international condemnation

MEMO Infographic by The White Canvas

READ: ow.ly/hemh30eaMFN

(Source / 18.09.2018)

Exploiting Gaza tops the UN’s humanitarian agenda

Humanitarian aid materials sent by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are being deployed in Gaza after humanitarian aid sent by “Sefkat” ship has reached Gaza City, Gaza on 16 July, 2017

By Ramona Wadi

What would prompt the UN to assert, without reservations or calculated statements, that Gaza has collapsed in terms of humanitarian necessities? So far, the international organisation has relied on projecting extended timeframes; the result being that Gaza was forced into a currently irreversible situation while the UN saves face, or believes it does, by stepping in at its designated intervals.

On Monday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory announced through a press release that it was releasing $1 million “to prevent the collapse of life-saving services in the Gaza Strip”.

According to OCHA’s Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick, “This allocation is critical to prevent a complete collapse of services and a potential outbreak of disease. Unfortunately, it comes in the absence of action from the relevant authorities, who have responsibility for the wellbeing of Gaza’s citizens, or predictable donor support”. It is expected that the funds will provide life-saving services and access to basic necessities, for a mere one and a half months.

OPINION: The Israel-Palestine mask is off. It may never be reworn with the same naivety

Clearly, Israel has perpetrated a magnitude of violations that no amount of funding will be able to reverse. The oPt Humanitarian Fund supports “humanitarian responses to unexpected emergencies”.  It is undeniable that Gaza’s situation constitutes an emergency. “Unexpected”, however, does not fit the narrative, not even the one concocted by the UN that determined Gaza will become unliveable by 2020. Indeed, the press release states that the enclave has become dependent on emergency fuel delivered by the UN. This is not a situation that deteriorated overnight but a consequence of the international community’s complicity in Israel’s colonial endeavours. Condemnations and non-binding resolutions – the bulwark of UN diplomacy – has failed, and will continue to fail Palestinians. As a result, the least the UN can do is to acknowledge its role in promoting an intentional misrepresentation of Palestinians in Gaza, if only through its observations.

When it comes to the UN, observation does not translate to precision, unless its meaning is reversed to take into account its precision in disseminating intentionally misleading statements that are dissociated from the sequence of colonial violence perpetrated by Israel. The only reason the UN can sustain its regurgitated statements of impending collapse is that, in collaboration with Israel, it is extending the parameters of suffering as a result of humanitarian deprivation.

UNRWA and Palestinian refugees are being treated unfairly - Cartoon [AlArabi21News/Twitter]

It is no secret that financial humanitarian aid cannot reverse, or even halt, the ramifications of human rights violations, given the investment in the latter in terms of finance and complicity. However, the UN is not averse to exploiting the existing funding crisis, which has largely impacted its capacity to prevent “a potentially catastrophic breakdown in essential service delivery”, as articulated by McGoldrick. The funding crisis exacerbates the humanitarian situation because the political intent is to maintain the continuation of violating human rights. In its previous warning of the impending collapse in services, there is no mention of Israel. For the UN’s intent is not to highlight Israel’s culpability, but to disseminate an image that spells an unabashed misattribution of blame.

(Source / 18.09.2018)

PA helped undermining 3,000 attacks against Israel, reports

Israeli forces intervene in a protest against construction of Israeli settlement and separation wall at Kafr Qaddum village in Nablus, West Bank on 28 July, 2018 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli forces attack Palestinians during a protest against the construction of Israeli settlement in Nablus, West Bank on 28 July, 2018

Israeli security sources yesterday claimed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) helped occupation forces undermine 3,000 “lone wolf” attacks planned against Israel this year, Quds Pressreported.

An Israeli television channel reported that the “terror attacks were undermined thanks to technology, intelligence services Shabak, Israeli army and Israeli police.”

Security sources said that the PA helped arrest Palestinians prior to attacks against Israeli targets taking place.

Shabak this year stopped 200 “dangerous” attacks which were being planned, including a suicide attack which included planting bombs, kidnapping and shooting live fire.

READ: PA calls for documenting Israel settler attacks

(Source / 18.09.2018)

Slain Israel settler was well-known far-right activist

Israeli settler and a well-known far-right Israel advocate, Ari Fuld, was killed by a Palestinian youth in the West Bank

The Israeli settler killed by a Palestinian youth in the southern occupied West Bank yesterday was a well-known far-right Israel advocate.

Ari Fuld, who lived in the illegal Efrat settlement, was a central committee member of far-right political party National Union, reported the Jerusalem Post, which ran in the last election as a group within coalition partner Jewish Home.

Ari’s brother, Eytan, is spokesperson for National Union and Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich.

Fuld, who immigrated to Israel from the US, laid out his views in a number of articles over the years, as well as in TV appearances and on his personal YouTube channel.

Read: 39 children killed by Israel in 2018

In August 2017, Fuld uploaded a clip of him harassing and shouting at Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro in Hebron, who he described as a “Muslim provocateur”.

Fuld believed that Palestine was “a fabricated national claim”, and that Palestinians have no claim to any of the occupied West Bank, which he urged Israel to formally annex in its entirety.

In two blog posts in 2016, Fuld advocated that Israel should offer “three choices for our enemies”: “accept Israel as the Jewish country”, “leave”, or “meet the IDF [Israeli military]”.

This is similar to a proposal formally approved by the National Union party in September 2017, based around a “surrender-or-transfer ultimatum” for the Palestinians.

Ari Fuld was eulogised by US Ambassador David Friedman, a long-time support of the West Bank settlement enterprise, who said he “represented the best of both countries [US and Israel]”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, hailed Fuld as “an advocate for Israel who fought to spread the truth about Israel”.

Read: Israeli armed forces kill Palestinian in Gaza

(Source / 17.09.2018)

Lieberman, Netanyahu reject plans to reduce Palestinian prisoners’ sentences

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman [File photo]

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman yesterday rejected an Israeli army discussion of establishing a committee to see whether life sentences issued against Palestinian prisoners should be reduced, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

“As long as I am the defence minister, no terrorist will have his sentence shortened by even one hour,” Lieberman announced on Twitter.

All Palestinians who stand up against the occupation, including children who protests, are referred to as “terrorists” by Israeli officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also voiced out his rejection to the proposal that sentences be reduced.

“Regarding the talk about shortening terrorists’ sentences—I strongly oppose this. I know that this is also the position of the defence minister and, therefore, it will not happen,” he was quoted by the Israeli news website Ynet News as saying.

Read: Israel enacts law to freeze Palestinian funds equal to prisoners’ stipends

The Israeli media has reported that an official order is expected to be issued to establish a committee that will examine parole requests for Palestinian prisoners who are serving life terms imposed by military courts in the occupied West Bank.

Yedioth Ahronoth reported that, if established, the committee would discuss the possibility to equating military life sentences, which are 99 years, with the civil life terms.

(Source / 17.09.2018)

15,000 Jews visit Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque ahead of Yom Kippur

Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, also known as the Cave of Patriarchs [File Photo]

Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron [File Photo]

Fifteen-thousand ultra-Orthodox Jews visited Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque yesterday ahead of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

The thousands of Haredim were accompanied by Israeli occupation forces, with occupation forces saying they “provided increased security for the event, guarded the prayer and allowed it to take place safely, with no irregular incidents,” the Times of Israel reported. The number marked an increase on 2017 figures, with an additional 5,000 Haredim in attendance.

Situated in Hebron, in the south of the occupied West Bank, the Ibrahimi Mosque is believed to be the burial place of the Prophet Abraham. It is known by Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs. In August, Israeli forces closed the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslim worshippers in preparation for the upcoming Jewish holidays, banning the call to prayer for 24 hours. Fatah called the closure a crime against the Palestinian people and their right to access their holy places, as well as a violation of international conventions.

READ: UN: Israel’s demolition of Khan al-Ahmar violation of international law

This was not the first time that Israel restricted Muslim worship at the Ibrahimi Mosque. In July it emerged that Israel prohibited the Muslim call to prayer 298 times in the first half of 2018. Palestinian Religious Endowments Minister, Yousef Adais, said that “the immorality and violations of Jewish settlers have also crossed the line – so much so that they organised parties with music until midnight inside the Ibrahimi Mosque”.

Israel regularly works to increase its Jewish presence in Hebron. In September it emerged that Israel plans to spend 3.5 million shekels ($1 million) of unpaid UNESCO money to develop Jewish heritage sites in the city. The decision was seen as a “direct response to a 2017 UNESCO decision to inscribe Hebron’s Old Town and the Cave of the Patriarchs [the Ibrahimi Mosque] onto the list of endangered World Heritage sites under the State of Palestine”.

In addition to those Haredim visiting Hebron yesterday, thousands of Jews travelled to pray at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, in the north of the occupied West Bank. At least ten Palestinians were injured by Israeli occupation forces who accompanied the worshippers today, according to Wafa. The Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas at Palestinians and three were taken to Nablus’ Rafidya hospital for treatment.

Yom Kippur, otherwise known as the Day of Atonement, is an annual Jewish holiday that follows the Jewish Rosh Hashana (New Year) celebrations. In 1973, the Yom Kippur War broke out between Israel, Syria and Egypt and has since come to be seen as a defeat within Israeli domestic circles. The war led to the 1978 Camp David Accords and the signing of a peace deal between Israel and Egypt, as well as Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula which it had occupied since 1967.

READ: Israeli settler stabbed near illegal settlement: Media reports

(Source / 17.09.2018)

Palestinian official: US will never present Middle East peace plan

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat [Issam Rimawi/Apaimages]

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat

The United States will not present its long-awaited plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace any time soon and is instead trying to unilaterally change the terms of reference for any future proposal, a senior Palestinian official said on Saturday, according to a Reuters report.

Echoing deep scepticism among the Palestinians, Arab countries and analysts, Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, said that the Trump administration was siding with Israel on the core issues of the decades-old conflict, burying all chances for Middle East peace.

“I don’t think they will ever introduce a plan,” Erekat said in an interview with Reuters in Jericho. “The whole world is rejecting their ideas. They are already implementing their plan by changing the terms of reference,” he said.

Doubts have mounted over whether Trump’s administration can secure what he has called the “ultimate deal” since December, when the US President recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and then moved the US Embassy there.

Jerusalem is one of the major issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides claim it as a capital. Trump’s move outraged the Palestinians, who have since boycotted Washington’s peace efforts, led by the US president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The United States has also cut off aid to the Palestinians and to UNRWA – the UN agency for Palestinian refugees — and has ordered the PLO’s office in Washington shut, further angering Palestinian leaders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday welcomed the latest US moves.

Erekat said it appeared that the United States has accepted Israel’s positions on other main issues of the conflict, and not just Jerusalem, including the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees from wars dating to 1948 and Israeli settlements on land Palestinians envisage as part of their future independent state.

But Trump’s Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt told Reuters in that Washington was prepared for Israeli criticism of the plan and that both sides can expect parts they will like and dislike. He provided no further details.

Greenblatt, a chief architect of the initiative, said US negotiators had entered the “pre-launch phase” of the plan, despite the boycott by Palestinian leaders, but declined to specify a time frame.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Israel captured those territories in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally. It regards all of the city as its eternal and indivisible capital.

US officials have so far been non-committal about whether their plan would endorse the creation of a Palestinian state beside the state of Israel – the goal of previous rounds of negotiations, the last of which collapsed in 2014.

“They are telling us ‘peace based on the truth’,” Erekat said.

“The Kushner truth and the Netanyahu truth is that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, no right of return to refugees, settlements are legal, no Palestinian state on 1967 (borders) and Gaza must be separated from the West Bank and this is absolutely unacceptable,” Erekat said.

Palestinians have limited self-rule in the West Bank, but Israel controls most of that territory and has expanded its settlements there. Most countries deem the settlements illegal, though Israel disputes this. It withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement.

“The only thing this administration did since it came to office is just to take Israelis and Palestinians off the path to peace, off the path of the two-state solution,” Erekat said.

(Source / 16.09.2018)

Power outages to stop health services in Gaza hospital

Newborn babies are placed in the incubation department at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City [Apaimages]

Newborn babies are placed in the incubation department at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City

An official at the Palestinian Ministry of Health warned on Sunday that medical services provided by the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip would soon stop due to an ongoing electricity crisis.

Medhat Abbas, director general of the hospital, told a news conference:

Only one week of fuel is available for Al-Shifa Medical Complex, which provides services to half a million patients a year

He added: “This hospital also saved the lives of thousands of Palestinian people injured in the ongoing marches on the security fence.”

He said in a few days “there will be no fuel to run generators used to provide power needed to operate departments and organs of the hospital”.

He warned of the danger of power outages for many departments such as dialysis, intensive care, surgery rooms, outpatient clinics, and sections of radiation.

“The lack of electricity poses a direct threat to the lives of civilians inside the besieged Gaza Strip,” he said.

Abbas added that the donors the Ministry of Health relied on to provide fuel to their hospitals were no longer available.

Home to nearly two million people, the Gaza Strip boasts a total of 13 Ministry-run hospitals and 54 primary healthcare centres that account for roughly 95 percent of all health services in the coastal enclave.

Gaza, which continues to groan under Israeli siege, has struggled with severe electricity shortages since 2006.

(Source / 16.09.2018)

Kushner: Trump’s measures against Palestinians won’t hurt peace

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

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

Punitive measures taken against the Palestinians by the Trump Administration, including the cutting of UN aid and the closure of the Palestinian consulate in Washington, has not hampered peace efforts, the US president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner has said.

Speaking to the New York Times on the 25 anniversary of the Oslo Accords, Kushner argued that the US had taken brave stances against Palestinian demands.

“There were too many false realities that were created — that people worship — that I think needed to be changed,” he said. “All we’re doing is dealing with things as we see them and not being scared out of doing the right thing. I think, as a result, you have a much higher chance of actually achieving a real peace.”

Since the election of President Donald Trump, US aid to Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA has been effectively wiped out, submerging the UN branch into its worst financial crisis. Last week, Washington further slashed $200 million of allocated aid to the Palestinian Authority, as well as $25 million meant to support six hospitals in East Jerusalem.

Kushner posited that the Palestinian leadership deserved the aid cuts for their reaction to the US’ decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.

“No one is entitled to America’s foreign aid,” he said, adding that the funds that went to UNRWA and other causes were being misused.

Read: US denies $5 billion offer in aid to Palestine

On Monday, the State Department said it was closing the Palestinian Liberation Organisation(PLO) mission in Washington. The department said “the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” and pointed to Palestinian calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel as reasons for its decision.

Despite reports that the moves have pushed the PA to consider cutting its last ties with the US government, including security cooperation, Kushner said that Palestinian anger did not negate the chances of a peace deal with Israel.

“In every negotiation I’ve ever been in,” he said, echoing his father-in-law by drawing on his previous experience in the real estate sector, “before somebody gets to ‘yes’, their answer is ‘no’.”

The US has been working on the second edition of its proposed “deal of the century” since last summer, after its initial release was met with criticism. The proposal had ruled out the two-state solution as an answer to the crisis, instead giving Jordan and Egypt control of the West Bank and Gaza respectively. The plan was further undermined a week later when leaked footage revealed Kushner expressing doubt as to whether there was any solution to the conflict.

#DealOfTheCentury

The details have not been released, but preliminary reports indicate that the second peace deal will also not call for a two-state solution and will not urge a “fair and just solution” to the issue of Palestinian refugees looking to return, as previous proposals have done.

Last month, it was revealed that Kushner has been pushing for the refugee status of thousands of Palestinians to be removed in an effort to halt the majority of UNRWA’s operations.

Read: Egypt, Jordan agree to ‘mobilise’ international funding for UNRWA

(Source / 15.09.2018)