Protest tegen Kaddafi bereikt Tripoli

De opstand tegen Muammar Kaddafi heeft de buitenwijken van Tripoli bereikt, de hoofdstad van Libië die tot nu toe vrijwel onbetwist in handen was van het bewind. Dit meldde de oppositiekrant Brnieq maandag op zijn website.

Er is geen onafhankelijke bevestiging voor het bericht. Gedeserteerde leden van de veiligheidsdiensten zouden wapens hebben uitgedeeld aan de rebellen. De betogers zouden zich willen opmaken naar het centrum van de stad te trekken.

(www.parool.nl / 09.04.2011)

Egypt and Israel heading for crisis

Jonathan Cook argues that post-Mubarak Egypt’s reassessment of its policies towards Israel and the Palestinians is plunging the Zionist state into a mood of deep depression and anxiety.

Israeli officials have expressed alarm at a succession of moves by the interim Egyptian government that they fear signal an impending crisis in relations with Cairo.

The widening rift was underscored on 4 May when leaders of the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation pact in the Egyptian capital. Egypt’s secret role in brokering the agreement last week caught both Israel and the United States by surprise.

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, called the deal “a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism”.
Several other developments have added to Israeli concerns about its relations with Egypt, including signs that Cairo hopes to renew ties with Iran and renegotiate a long-standing contract to supply Israel with natural gas.

More worrying still to Israeli officials are reported plans by Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing into Gaza, closed for the past four years as part of a Western-backed blockade of the enclave designed to weaken Hamas, the ruling Islamist group there.

Egypt is working out details to permanently open the border, an Egyptian foreign ministry official told the Reuters news agency on 1 May. The blockade would effectively come to an end as a result.

The same day Egypt’s foreign minister, Nabil Elaraby, called on the United States to recognize a Palestinian state – in reference to a move expected in September by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to seek recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.

Israel and the US have insisted that the Palestinians can achieve statehood only through negotiations with Israel. Talks have been moribund since Israel refused last September to renew a partial freeze on settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

According to analysts, the interim Egyptian government, under popular pressure, is consciously distancing itself from some of the main policies towards Israel and the Palestinians pursued by Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president overthrown by a popular uprising in February.

Mubarak was largely supportive of Israel and Washington’s blockade policy to contain Hamas’s influence. Egypt receives more than 1.3 billion dollars annually in US aid, second only to Israel.

But the popular mood in Egypt appears to be turning against close diplomatic ties with Israel.

A poll published last week by the Pew Research Centre showed that 54 per cent of Egyptians backed the annulment of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, with only 36 per cent wanting it maintained.

Israel’s Yedioth Aharonoth daily reported this week that Egyptian social media sites had called for a mass demonstration outside the Israeli embassy, demanding the expulsion of the ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon.

In comments to several media outlets last weekend, unnamed senior Israeli officials criticized Egypt’s new foreign policy line. One told the Wall Street Journal that Cairo’s latest moves could “affect Israel’s national security on a strategic level”.

Another unnamed official told the Jerusalem Post that “the upgrading of the relationship between Egypt and Hamas” might allow the Islamic movement to develop into a “formidable terrorist military machine”.

Silvan Shalom, Israel’s deputy prime minister, told Israel Radio on 1 May that Israel should brace for significant changes in Egyptian policies that would allow Iran to increase its influence in Gaza.

Egypt’s chief of staff, Sami Hafez Anan, responded dismissively on his Facebook page to such statements, saying, “Israel has no right to interfere. This is an Egyptian-Palestinian matter.”

In a sign of Israeli panic, Netanyahu is reported to be considering sending his special adviser, Isaac Molho, to Cairo for talks with the interim government.

In recent weeks, Netanyahu has repeatedly complained to visiting European ambassadors and US politicians about what he regards as a new, more hostile climate in Egypt.

Late last month Elaraby said Egypt was ready to “turn over a new leaf” in relations with Tehran, which were severed after the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty more than three decades ago.

Egyptian officials have also warned that the supply of natural gas to Israel may be halted. The pipeline has been attacked twice on the Egyptian side, including last week, in acts presumed to be sabotage.

Even if Egypt continues the flow of gas, it is almost certain to insist on a sharp rise in the cost, following reports that Mubarak and other officials are being investigated on corruption charges relating to contracts that underpriced gas to Israel.
Yoram Meital, an expert on Israeli-Egyptian relations at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, said Egypt’s policy change towards Gaza threatened to “provoke a severe crisis in Egyptian-Israeli relations” by undermining Israel’s policy of isolating Hamas.

With the toppling of Mubarak’s authoritarian regime, Meital noted, the Egyptian government is under pressure to be more responsive to local opinion.

“We are at the beginning of this crisis but we are not there yet. However, there is room for a great deal more deterioration in relations over the coming months,” he said.

Analysts said Cairo wanted to restore its traditional leadership role in the Arab world and believed it was hampered by its ties with Israel.

Menha Bahoum, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, told the New York Times last week: “We are opening a new page. Egypt is resuming its role that was once abdicated.”

That assessment is shared by Hamas and Fatah, both of which were looking to Egypt for help, said Menachem Klein, a politics lecturer at Bar Ilan University.

He noted that Abbas had lost his chief Arab sponsor in the form of Mubarak, and that the Hamas leadership’s base in Syria was precarious given the current upheavals there.

With growing demands from the Palestinian public for reconciliation, neither faction could afford to ignore the tide of change sweeping the Arab world, he said.

Meital said: “We are entering a new chapter in the region’s history and Israeli politicians and the public are not yet even close to understanding what is taking place”.

(networkedblogs.com / 09.05.2011)

Your Taxes Fund Anti-Muslim Hatred

May 09, 2011 “Truthdig” — News personalities, politicians, self-appointed experts on the Muslim world, and law enforcement and intelligence officials, as well as the Christian right, have successfully demonized Muslims in the United States since the attacks of 2001. It is acceptable to say things openly about Muslims that could never be said about any other ethnic group. And as the economy continues to unravel, as we face the possibility of revenge attacks by Islamic extremists, perhaps on American soil, the plight of Muslims is beginning to mirror that of targeted ethnic minority groups on the eve of the war in the former Yugoslavia, or Jews in the dying days of the Weimar Republic.

The major candidates for the Republican nomination for the presidency, including Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee, along with television personalities such as Bill Maher, routinely employ hate talk against Muslims as a way to attract votes or viewers. Right-wing radio and cable news, including Christian radio and television, along with websites such as Jihad Watch and FrontPage, spew toxic filth about Muslims over the airwaves and the Internet. But perhaps most ominously—as pointed out in “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace,” a report by Political Research Associates—a cadre of right-wing institutions that peddle themselves as counterterrorism specialists and experts on the Muslim world has been indoctrinating thousands of police, intelligence and military personnel in nationwide seminars. These seminars, run by organizations such as Security Solutions International, The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, and International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association, embrace gross and distorted stereotypes and propagate wild conspiracy theories. And much of this indoctrination within the law enforcement community is funded under two grant programs for training—the State Homeland Security Program and Urban Areas Security Initiative—which made $1.67 billion available to states in 2010. The seminars preach that Islam is a terrorist religion, that an Islamic “fifth column” or “stealth jihad” is subverting the United States from within, that mainstream American Muslims have ties to terrorist groups, that Muslims use litigation, free speech and other legal means (something the trainers have nicknamed “Lawfare”) to advance the subversive Muslim agenda and that the goal of Muslims in the United States is to replace the Constitution with Islamic or Shariah law.

“You would not expect a Democratic administration to fund right-wing groups,” Thom Cincotta, a civil liberties attorney and the author of the Political Research Associates report, told me, “and yet we continue to have hard-right, Islamophobic speakers and companies being paid taxpayer dollars to promote racist doctrines that undermine U.S. national security policy concerning Islam and the Muslim world. Policy expert after policy expert point out that framing our counterterrorism efforts as a war against Islam is a recipe for building increased resentment among Muslims, as well as a potent recruiting tool for those who would like to carry out violent attacks against us. This kind of demonizing breaks down communication between law enforcement agents and Muslim communities, which have proven to be strong allies in the rare instances of domestic extremism. Not only does it threaten to erode basic civil liberties, it threatens freedom of expression and freedom of worship.”

The effects of this campaign of racial hatred are being felt throughout the Muslim community. Those with Muslim names are routinely harassed at airports, and many who wear traditional Muslim dress report mounting cases of verbal and sometimes physical abuse. Muslim children endure taunts in schools. Muslims complain of intrusive surveillance, unconstitutional profiling and frequent mistreatment by law enforcement. The practice of Islam, especially in its traditional forms, is now viewed by many as a sign of criminal intent. And with the rise of the surveillance and security state—we now have 854,000 people working in our domestic security apparatus and 800,000 more employed as police and emergency personnel—national law is being turned into an instrument of overt repression against a religious minority.

Those making war on Islam are ignorant of the practices and beliefs of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims. The Muslim community is not a monolith. It is composed of numerous ethnic, national, cultural and racial groups that often have little in common and in some cases are antagonistic. Of the some 6 million Muslims in the United States, only 5 to 10 percent define themselves as religious. And those groups that express political versions of Islam—the Jamaat al-Islamiyya out of South Asia and the Salafis—are a tiny and marginalized minority.

The poison of this rhetoric was on display a few days ago when a trustee of City University of New York blocked the playwright Tony Kushner, who is Jewish, from receiving an honorary doctorate because of Kushner’s criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The trustee, Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, labeling Kushner “an extremist,” told The New York Times that the Palestinians “who worship death for their children are not human.”

I had dinner in Berkeley recently with my friend Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, an Islamic scholar and the co-founder of Zaytuna College, who has watched the steady deterioration of Muslims’ civil rights since the 2001 attacks. He argues that the stereotypes employed against Muslims mirror, with a different iconography and language, the Cold War Red-baiting that dismantled the militant labor movement and ended all serious challenges to unfettered corporate capitalism. The Red-baiting disempowered a dissident segment of American society and legalized its persecution. Red-baiting turned socialists, anarchists, populists, communists and radicals, who relentlessly challenged the orthodoxies of the permanent war economy and assault on civil liberties, into pariahs and scapegoats. It worked once. It could work again.

The portrayal of Muslims as mortal enemies serves the interests of the expanding security state and the war industry, which consume half of all federal discretionary spending. The “Muslim threat” propagates the culture of fear and ensures our political passivity. Yusuf calls the attacks on American Muslim leadership and Islamic charities “Swiftboating,” in reference to the right-wing smearing of John Kerry’s war record when the senator was running for president in 2004. Create doubt in people’s minds about the allegiances of Muslim leaders and you effectively undermine the entire community. He says these caricatures of Muslims as evil terrorists become effective tools in justifying the ongoing occupations and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the proxy wars in Yemen and Pakistan, and the suspension of basic civil liberties at home. Israel, as well as its supporters in the United States, routinely employs the same racist cant to excuse Israeli war crimes and deny the legitimate rights of Palestinians. 

Nazi portrayals of Jews, Yusuf points out, bear a disturbing resemblance to modern portrayals of Muslims. The goal that some of these demagogues have, he said, especially in a time of economic collapse, is to divert widespread rage toward Muslims, just as the leadership of Serbia diverted rage toward Muslims and Croats when that nation’s economy collapsed. 

“I was completely humiliated by one of these Homeland Security officials at the San Francisco Airport recently,” Yusuf told me. “He knew who I was. He got more and more antagonistic. He searched all my things. It was one question after another. ‘Who were you visiting?’ he asked. ‘Where were you?’ It was done in front of my wife and children. He would not let up. We had somebody else’s bag who was traveling with us and who had just gone through security. He said, looking at the bag, ‘What kind of a name is that, Hussani?’ I said, ‘It is an American name.’ He looked at me and said: ‘Don’t get smart with me. You’re a big-shot guy. You’re not stupid. You know exactly what I mean. What is that? Is it an Arab name?’ I said, ‘Look, it could be many, many nationalities.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I’m asking you about this one.’ He was talking to me like this. After about 30 minutes of this, and I don’t know why I was putting up with this, I guess I was hoping each time would be the last, I finally said, ‘You can arrest me. You can do whatever you want. But I’m not answering another one of these inane questions.’ He tossed my passport at me and said, ‘Have a nice day.’ And I am wondering, did he just go through one of these training seminars?”

Yusuf filed a complaint with his senator and the Homeland Security Department. Homeland Security officials told him they would investigate the matter, and that if he could notify them in advance they would escort him through the airport security line. “But,” he said, “the problem with that approach is it essentially turns us into a Third World country where influential people are treated well, but others suffer the brunt of a regime’s brutality if they are suspect. That’s what happens when I go to counties in the Arab world. They meet me at the airport. I get treated like a VIP. But then Gulam, the little greengrocer from Peshawar, who came here as a refugee 15 years ago from the Afghani war, he gets treated like crap, because he doesn’t have friends or influence. Our creed is supposed to be ‘Liberty and justice for all’ and that’s all I want.”

Yusuf tells Muslims in the United States that they should attempt to understand those who readily embrace these stereotypes. “We can’t demonize those who attend rallies where they demonize us, because in the end the people who attend these rallies are also victims,” he said. “They are victims of these demagogues with bully pulpits. People are scared. They are losing their jobs. Their mortgages have gone into foreclosure. They are angry. Demagogues always arise in these s/www.informationclearinghouse.infoituations to use and direct anger. The Muslim community is just an easy target.”

(www.informationclearinghouse.info / 09.05.2011)

The Punishment of Gaza (Book)

The story behind Israel’s assault on Gaza, by acclaimed Ha’aretz journalist. Israel’s 2009 invasion of Gaza was an act of aggression that killed over a thousand Palestinians and devastated the infrastructure of an already impoverished enclave. The Punishment of Gaza shows how the ground was prepared for the assault and documents its continuing effects.

From 2005—the year of Gaza’s “liberation”—through to 2009, Levy tracks the development of Israel policy, which has abandoned the pretense of diplomacy in favor of raw military power, the ultimate aim of which is to deny Palestinians any chance of forming their own independent state. Punished by Israel and the Quartet of international powers for the democratic election of Hamas, Gaza has been transformed into the world’s largest open-air prison. From Gazan families struggling to cope with the random violence of Israel’s blockade and its “targeted” assassinations, to the machinations of legal experts and the continued connivance of the international community, every aspect of this ongoing tragedy is eloquently recorded and forensically analyzed. Levy’s powerful journalism shows how the brutality at the heart of Israel’s occupation of Palestine has found its most complete expression to date in the collective punishment of Gaza’s residents.

About the Author
Gideon Levy is an Israeli journalist, author and television panel member. Levy writes opinion pieces and a weekly column for the newspaper Haaretz that often focus on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. A notable journalist on the Israeli left, Levy has been called everything from a “propagandist for the Hamas” to a “heroic journalist”.

Reviews
“Gideon Levy’s passionate and revealing account is an eloquent, even desperate, call to bring this shocking tragedy to an end, as can easily be done.” Noam Chomsky

“Levy has a way with words that leads him to some brilliant indictments of Israel.” –Electronic Intifada

“Levy has made it his exclusive mission … to document the grim and brutal facts of the occupation, to tell the stories he knows Israelis do not want to hear … To this shiny nation—democratic, prosperous, confident in its righteousness—Levy holds up Gaza like a mirror.” –Ben Ehrenreich, The Nation

(www.palestineonlinestore.com / 09.05.2011)

Yemen security forces fire on protesters

At least one person reported dead and others injured as crackdown on anti-government protests in Taiz continues.

Yemeni security forces have opened fire on protesters outside a government building in the southern city of Taiz, reportedly killing one man and wounding at least 10 others.

A medical official said the body of a protester shot dead had been received at the local hospital while dozens of injured people had been admitted, among them five with bullet wounds, one in a serious condition, according to the AFP news agency.

He identified the dead protester as Mohammed Abdelhaq, 35.

The attack early on Monday came after two protesters were killed a day earlier when government troops tried to break up the same demonstration, which has blocked the main Jamal Road near the regional education ministry.

Thousands of teachers demanding better pay and the postponement of final exams have been staging a sit-in outside the ministry building for weeks, but they were joined on Sunday night by hundreds of anti-regime protesters who set up tents and stayed the night.

The teachers, joined by some students, had also chanted slogans against Yemen’s longtime president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“A large force of police and army attacked protesters and then chased them in residential areas. They opened fire and used tear gas heavily,” said Bushra al-Maqtari, an activist in Taiz. The security forces also used armoured vehicles, witnesses said.

Many demonstrators across Yemen, who include students, tribesmen and activists, have vowed to stay on the streets until Saleh, who has clung to power despite three months of protests, steps down. Around 150 people have been killed in the unrest.

(networkedblogs.com / 09.05.2011)

Waarom Gaza niet mag worden vergeten

Don’t Forget Gaza vond onlangs voor de eerste keer plaats in Antwerpen (België) en aanstaande zondag is het de beurt aan de Melkweg (Amsterdam). Initiatiefnemers Manu en Zakarija leggen het belang van het benefietconcert uit.

In Gaza deed zich eind 2008 en begin 2009 een 22 dagen durende oorlog voor. Gaza werd aangevallen, en zoals dat vaak met headlines gaat, ook al snel weer vergeten. Oorverdovend stil werd het. Het internationale publiek keek naar de tragedie die zich op het toneel afspeelde en wandelde vervolgens de zaal weer uit. Het duurde niet langer dan een paar dagen of Gaza was alweer vergeten. Alsof er niets was gebeurd.

Het structurele leed van de mensen in Gaza stopte niet bij het eind van die 22 dagen durende militaire en politieke operatie in 2009. Integendeel, dit leed werd een  humanitaire ramp als gevolg van een al jaren durend en dagelijks terugkerend gevecht tegen de bezetting. Op elk vlak van het mens-zijn wordt de Palestijn bedreigd; zowel psychologisch, fysiek, economisch als spiritueel. Dagelijks worden mensen beschoten, vernederd en geconfronteerd met dood, honger en armoede.

In de valse hoop dat de schrijnende situatie in Gaza snel zou verbeteren en dus één benefietconcert genoeg zou zijn, organiseerde ik (Manu) samen met vriend en collega Zakarija Messari in 2009 voor het eerst het benefietconcert Don’t Forget Gaza. Het was een succes: een uitverkocht poppodium WATT in Rotterdam (1200 bezoekers), 5000 euro ingezameld geld en tevreden artiesten.

Helaas is de situatie voor de Gazanen in de afgelopen twee jaar nauwelijks veranderd. Dagelijks worden er mensen beschoten en vermoord door een repressief en tot de tanden toe bewapend leger dat wordt aangestuurd door een regering dat geen enkel middel lijkt te schuwen om de onderdrukkingstactieken voort te zetten. Gaza is een symbolisch stukje grond ter grootte van de gemeente Apeldoorn, waar elke denkbare vorm van onderdrukking tot uiting komt.

Daarom zeggen wij: “Gaza mag niet worden vergeten!” Net als dat wij Haïti, Soedan, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Liberia, Congo en Ivoorkust niet mogen vergeten. De hele wereld zwijgt bij elke overtreding van internationale wetten als het gaat om de Palestijnse kwestie. Elke keer schoffeert Israel het internationaal recht. Door Gaza collectief aan te vallen. Door haar letterlijk en figuurlijk hermetisch af te sluiten van de wereld. Door bombardementen uit te voeren op woonwijken, ziekenhuizen, ambulances en scholen. Daar bovenop komen nog de restricties die ervoor zorgen dat Gaza niet heropgebouwd kan worden.

In aanloop naar het benefietconcert in 2009 werd onze organisatie eenzijdig en onwetend verweten terroristen te steunen. Sindsdien benadruk ik in elk interview dat deze benefietactie zich als doel stelt om aandacht te genereren voor de humanitaire ramp in Gaza, die naar mijn mening veel te vaak en onterecht wordt gepolitiseerd. Als ik in de jaren 60, 70 of  80 de leeftijd zou hebben die ik nu heb, dan had ik er ook alles aan gedaan om me uit te spreken tegen het Apartheidsregime in Zuid-Afrika. Natuurlijk verplicht niemand mij tot verantwoording, maar er lijkt in Nederland een tendens te zijn dat mensen die zich uitspreken over de onderdrukking van het Palestijnse volk automatisch als antisemiet worden bestempeld. Voor alle duidelijkheid: Don’t Forget Gaza is nooit in het leven geroepen om joden te bashen. Ik ben alleen, samen met miljoenen andere mensen, waaronder joden, christenen, moslims en atheïsten, een fel tegenstander van het soms op Zuid-Afrika lijkende zionistische apartheidsregime.

Laatst las ik weer eens één van Nederlands grootste exportproducten: Anne Franks Het Achterhuis. De volgende alinea greep mij erg aan, zeker als je bedenkt dat het net zo goed anno 2011 door een Palestijns meisje had kunnen zijn geschreven: “We zijn er heel sterk aan herinnerd dat wij getekende joden [Palestijnen] zijn, getekend aan een plek, zonder rechten, met duizenden plichten. Wij joden [Palestijnen] mogen ons gevoel niet laten gelden, moeten moedig zijn en sterk, moeten alle ongemakken op ons nemen en niet mopperen, moeten doen wat in onze macht ligt en op God vertrouwen. Eens zal deze verschrikkelijke oorlog toch wel aflopen, eens zullen wij toch weer mensen en niet alleen joden [Palestijnen] zijn!”

Het eerste concert vond op 22 april in de Petrol te Antwerpen plaats, het tweede op 15 mei in de Melkweg te Amsterdam. Met de benefieten steunen we het Nederlandse initiatief om de blokkade te doorbreken, ofwel de Nederlandse boot die mee zal varen in de Freedom Flotilla 2, een konvooi aan schepen dat vanuit Griekenland koers zet op de kust van Gaza. Aan boord van het schip zullen naast opvarenden ook schoolmaterialen en medicijnen worden geladen. Goederen die hard nodig zijn, gezien de regelmatig platgebombardeerde ziekenhuizen en scholen in Gaza. Wij willen jullie bij deze allemaal uitnodigen om naar de benefietconcerten te komen en Gaza nooit meer te vergeten.

(hiphopleeft.nl /09.05.11)

Oemma Vrouwendag 2011

Oproep aan alle ladies: het is weer zover voor onze Oemma Vrouwendag! Dus heb je zin in een dag vol pret en bezinning in volle natuur? Dan is deze oproep gericht aan jou!

De inkom is gratis en jullie zijn allen van harte welkom! Er is genoeg plaats voor de kinderen, breng ze dus gerust mee.

Oemma Vrouwendag 2011

Zaterdag 28 mei
te Buitenblokken 26
2440 Geel

Programma 14u – 18u:

– Anasheed
– Koranrecitatie
– Bezoek aan boerderij
– Fietstocht
– Kinderanimatie
– en nog veel meer….

drank & hapjes verkrijgbaar + BARBECUE

Voor info: www.oemma.be of 0486/410601

Israel closes off Palestinian Territories, imprisons 3 million men, women, and children

The Israeli Authorities placed the occupied Palestinian territories under a full and strict closure as it marks its “Memorial Day”, an official day in Israel dedicated for Israeli soldiers killed due to the Palestinian-Israeli and Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Israeli Radio reported that’s the siege started on Sunday at dawn and will remain in place until Wednesday at dawn.

The Palestinians will not be allowed into Israel unless they have an urgent condition, and after filing an official request to the Israeli District Coordination Office (DCO).

Israel always isolates the occupied territories, and in many cases closes the borders, while it marks its official holidays.

(www.israel-palestinenews.org / 09.05.2011)

European Commission to allocate €85 million for PA salaries

he European Commission Friday announced the approval of a $121.85 million financial package for the Palestinian Authority, said to be for the salaries and pensions of PA civil servants.

The decision comes as Israel continues to withhold tax revenues paid by Palestinians for goods imported into Palestinian areas, which are due under agreement for transfer to the PA. The EU package was in addition to the $143.35 million already approved from European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said ” It is important that access to essential public services remains uninterrupted and the right to social services is respected. I would like to reiterate that we are following closely the political developments, and encourage the strive for dignity, prosperity and stability across the region.”

The EU’s Commissioner ?tefan Füle noted in a statement, “With this decision, the Commission is demonstrating again its indefatigable support to the Palestinian people. The money, which will be provided through the PEGASE mechanism, will be used to pay the salaries and pensions of Palestinian Authority employees,” and called on EU member states to continue their support of the Palestinian government.

Israel announced that it would withhold tax revenues when Palestinian factions prepared to sign a unity agreement in Cairo. Israeli officials announced that they wanted to make sure “not one shekel” of the Palestinian tax money would reach Hamas.

Leaders also called on President Mahmoud Abbas to abort the reconciliation deal, saying it would quash already dead peace negotiations.

(www.maannews.net / 08.05.2011)

Thousands of Moroccans call for reforms

MARRAKECH, Morocco – Thousands of Moroccans have demanded political reforms in this Muslim kingdom during an anti-violence march in Marrakech, where 17 people died in a cafe bombing last month.

Sunday’s march was the latest by the February 20 movement that regularly mounts pro-democracy protests. This time, they also spoke out against terrorism after the April 28 bombing at the Argana cafe.

Marchers walked by the severely damaged cafe. Authorities have arrested three suspects and said Thursday that the leader had loyalties to al-Qaida. There’s been no claim of responsibility.

King Mohamed VI has promised reforms to keep Morocco from succumbing to uprisings that have swept the Arab world.

(news.yahoo.com / 08.05.2011)