Hamas slams court ruling dissolving parliament

Hamas celebrate their 31st anniversary on 17 December 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Hamas celebrate their 31st anniversary in Gaza on 17 December 2018

Palestinian group Hamas has decried a Constitutional Court ruling dissolving parliament, saying the verdict has “no constitutional or legal value”.

The court “was established by [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas to pass and protect his arbitrary decisions of dissolving the legislative council,” Hamas said in a statement on Sunday.

The Gaza-based group described the court ruling as “political” and “will not change the reality a bit”.

“The formation of the constitutional court is invalid and so are its decisions,” it said.

On Saturday, Abbas pledged to implement the court ruling dissolving the Hamas-held parliament and holding new parliamentary elections within six months.

Hamas said Abbas “is carrying out a desperate attempt to pass his policies by liquidating and destroying the Palestinian political system, ending political pluralism and destroying the legitimate institutions.”

The group called on all Palestinian forces and Egypt to stand against “Abbas’ procedures that undermine all efforts to protect the unity of the Palestinian people.”

Since 2007, a rift has prevailed between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah group despite mediation efforts for rapprochement.

(Source / 23.12.2018)

Israel siege, PA sanctions widen gap between Gaza, West Bank

Palestinians, in Gaza City, wait in a queue to withdraw money from cash points after the decision of cutting the salaries by 30% was taken by the government officials on 10 May, 2017 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians, in Gaza City, wait in a queue to withdraw money from cash points on 10 May 2017

Israel’s siege and Palestinian Authority (PA) sanctions on the Gaza Strip have widened the economic gap between it and the occupied West Bank.

“The economic situation in Gaza has been quickly deteriorating without any interference to protect the residents,” Professor Mu’een Rajab told Felesteen on Friday, explaining:

The siege and the PA sanctions, including the cessation of new government recruitment and halting [government] spending in Gaza, led to a wide economic gap between Gaza and the West Bank.

While Rajab did not deny there is an economic crisis in the occupied West Bank, he said the situation there “is better than Gaza because of the continuous government recruitment carrying out development programmes, as well as the opportunities for West Bank residents to work in Israel”.

READ: UN, Palestinians launch humanitarian appeal after funding cuts

Recently, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics revealed that 35 per cent of Palestinian families in Gaza had completely or partially lost their income in the past 12 months, compared to only 6 per cent in the West Bank. The bureau also found that 54 per cent of families in Gaza had no access to running water and 51 per cent were unable to pay for water treatment, compared to 10 per cent in the occupied West Bank.

In addition, 31 per cent of Gaza’s residents were unable to receive healthcare services due to shortages of medicines and medical equipment, compared to only 7 per cent in the West Bank.

Specialist Amin Abu-Aisha said that Israel’s siege and PA sanctions reduced the real growth rates in Gaza to 0.5 per cent in 2017 and -1.5 per cent this year, compared to 3.5 per cent in the West Bank.

READ: Israel minister halts vegetable, fruit imports from Palestine

(Source / 22.12.2018)

Israel’s SodaStream to open factory in Gaza

SodaStream [Mike Mozart/Flickr]

Israeli firm SodaStream is to open a manufacturing plant in the Gaza Strip.

The plan was announced yesterday at Globes’ business conference, which hosted SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum in conversation with Ramon Laguarta, the CEO of Pepsico – which bought SodaStream earlier this year for $3.2 billion. During the conversation, Birnbaum revealed:

We set up our plant in Rahat [north of Beersheba in the Negev desert], and I want to make it bigger and give more people hope, so we’re in the process of also putting a plant in Gaza, which will be operated through a subcontractor.

“We want people in Gaza to have real jobs, because when there is prosperity and plenty, there will also be peace,” Birnbaum added.

Birnbaum did not reveal any further details of the company’s plans or elaborate on who the subcontractor would be.

READ: USAID to cease operations in West Bank, Gaza within months

The announcement will likely raise eyebrows given that SodaStream was forced to close a plant it previously operated in the occupied West Bank due to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. SodaStream’s plant was formerly situated in Mishor Adumim – an illegal Israeli industrial park in the E1 area of the occupied West Bank that has since gained international attention amidst Israeli threats to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar.

In September 2015, SodaStream announced it would close its West Bank operations within two weeks, though Birnbaum sought to downplay the impact of BDS’ pressure, saying it had only a “marginal” effect on the business, labelling the movement anti-Semitic.

However, general coordinator of the Boycott National Committee (BNC, the Palestinian coordinating body for BDS), Mahmoud Nawajaa, said at the time that “SodaStream’s announcement today provides further proof that the BDS movement is increasingly able to hold corporate criminals to account for their role in Israeli apartheid and colonialism”.

Nawajaa was also critical of SodaStream’s decision to move its operations to Rahat, explaining:

Even when [the West Bank] closure goes ahead, SodaStream will remain implicated in the displacement of Palestinians. Its new Lehavim factory is close to Rahat, a planned township in the Naqab (Negev) desert, where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcefully transferred against their will. Sodastream, as a beneficiary of this plan, is complicit [in] this violation of human rights.

SodaStream was thrust into the international spotlight in 2014 after Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson quit her long-term role as an ambassador for UK-based charity Oxfam in order to become the face of the brand. Johansson’s spokesperson said in a statement that she and Oxfam had a “fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] movement”.

Scarlett Johansson, Scarlett Ingrid Johansson is an American actress and singer on 7 December 2016 [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr]

For its part, Oxfam accepted Johansson’s resignation, saying that “while Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors [… it] believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in [illegal Israeli] settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.”

READ: Bernie Sanders, Dianne Feinstein join opposition to anti-BDS bill

(Source / 21.12.2018)

FATHER OF ONE OF THE HARES BOYS IS ON HUNGER-STRIKE

Father of one of the five Hares boys, Mohammed Suleiman, is on a hunger strike demanding that the Jordanian government negotiates with Israel to arrange him to see his son. Israel has not allowed the elder Mohammed Mahdi Suleiman, who is a Jordanian citizen, to see his son who has been a captive of the occupation since March 2013. Mohammed Suleiman was arrested and tortured at age 15 until he ‘confessed’ along with four other boys to ‘stone-throwing’ – that according to Israeli occupation prosecutor would have indirectly led to a traffic accident between illegal Israeli settlers, in which one child suffered serious injuries and died of them two years later. In December 2015 the Hares boys were convicted to 15 years in prison by Israeli occupation military court. PHOTO & INFO: شبكة قدس الإخبارية. To read more about the Hares boys, download a free e-book, visit a dedicated site and read our most recent post about them here at our WordPress blog: Month of Innocent Children: THE HARES BOYS.#FreeHaresBoys #HaresBoys #NoWayToTreatAChild

   (Source / 21.12.2018)

Additional $18.5m to improve Palestine infrastructure services

Entire buildings have been reduced to rubble after the air strikes unleashed by Israel. 14 November 2018, Gaza [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Entire buildings have been reduced to rubble after the air strikes unleashed by Israel. 14 November 2018, Gaza

Norway and Sweden contributed an additional total amount of $18.5 million to the Palestinian Partnership for Infrastructure Development Multi-Donor Trust Fund (PID fund) administered by the World Bank, Ma’an News Agency reports.

The World Bank Group said in a statement that “the funds contributed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) of $10 million, and the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs of $8.5 million, will support the Palestinian Authority implementing sector reforms and improving the quality and sustainability of infrastructure in water, energy and local government services provided to the Palestinian citizens.”

“The PID Fund was established in 2012 with the objective of improving the coverage, quality, and sustainability of infrastructure in the Palestinian territories through financial and technical support in the energy, water and urban development sectors.

“The statement added that with the new contributions, the total amount allocated to the PID fund is about $186.4 million. Currently, donors contributing to the fund include the governments of Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and United Kingdom.

READ: Palestine and its people will pay the price for the PA’s disloyalty

(Source / 20.12.2018)

Hamas: Demolition of homes of Palestinian fighters’ families won’t stop resistance

Palestinian youth watch the demolition of a building in East Jerusalem on 14 March, 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian youth watch the demolition of a building in Jerusalem on 14 March, 2017

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas yesterday condemned an Israeli plan to demolish homes of families of Palestinian fighters, stressing it would not stop resistance, a statement said.

“Israeli violations against the families of Palestinian freedom fighters will never stop the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation,” the statement said.

“The Israeli government’s approval of the bill to displace the families of the freedom fighter highlights the Israeli criminal and offensive policies against the Palestinian people.”

The statement, posted on Hamas’ official website, continued: “The Israeli government is seeking to satisfy the settlers through the policy of home demolition, reflecting the fascist mentality of the Israeli occupation, which is led by the extremist right-wing politicians.”

READ: In UN speech, Britain urges Israel to end demolition of Palestinian homes 

Hamas insisted that “the Israeli offensive policies would motivate the Palestinian people to move forward and escalate their resistance against the occupation.”

The bill, which was approved by the ministerial legislation committee, passed the first reading in the Israeli Knesset yesterday.

Arab MKs, who objected the bill, were dismissed from the Knesset plenum.

Razing the houses of Palestinian fighters is deemed illegal according to international law as it is classified as a form of collective punishment.

(Source / 20.12.2018)

World Food Programme Announces Cuts to Palestine

20 Dec 3:56 AM

The World Food Programme announced, today, cuts in food aid that will affect some 190,000 impoverished Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank – roughly half of all its recipients, there – citing a severe funding shortfall, PNN reports.

The U.N. agency said it would, as of January 1, suspend food assistance to 27,000 people in the West Bank. In addition, food aid to 165,000 people in the territory and in the Gaza Strip would be reduced by 20 percent.

On Monday, Jamie McGoldrick, UN Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East, described the provision of humanitarian assistance in Gaza as “a collapsing system in freefall”. He issued an appeal as part of the Humanitarian Response Plan for next year, for $350 million, to help 1.4 million people in the most need, across the occupied Palestinian territories, chiefly the the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 20.12.2018)

MK Zoabi ‘reprimanded’ for saying Israel soldiers ‘murdered’ civilians

Israeli Arab Knesset member, Haneen Zoabi

Israeli Arab Knesset member, Haneen Zoabi

The Knesset’s Ethics Committee decided yesterday to “severely reprimand” MK Haneen Zoabi, over remarks made by the parliamentarian about Israeli forces’ attacks on the occupied Gaza Strip.

According to the report by right-wing Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva, Zoabi was the subject of a complaint filed by Likud MK Oren Hazan, after the Joint List legislator said that Palestinian civilians in Gaza had been “murdered by [Israeli] soldiers” during a Knesset debate.

“In this case,” the decision read, “most of the members of the committee believed that the use of the expression ‘murdered by the soldiers’ was not worthy of the broad protection that the committee spreads over the freedom of political expression of MKs.”

The committee also rejected a complaint filed by Zoabi herself, alleging that Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Tali Ploskov, who presided over the discussion, “did not defend her while she was speaking”. The committee concluded that “Ploskov’s conduct was not in violation of Knesset rules”.

Zoabi has frequently been targeted for censure by Knesset officials and racist incitement by fellow lawmakers over her outspoken support for Palestinian rights, and criticism of the Israeli army’s violations of international law.

READ: Knesset speaker tells settlers Israel must annex the West Bank

(Source / 19.12.2018)

Australia formally recognizes Al-Quds as capital of ‘Israel’

CCUPIED JERUSALEM, PALESTINOW.COM — Australia formally recognizes occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but will not move its embassy there immediately, Astralian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday.

“Australia now recognizes West Jerusalem, being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said.

“We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical,” he told reporters in Sydney.

Morrison said in October he was open to shifting Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv.

(Source / 15.12.2018)

Erdogan: Israel tries to dim Islam’s traces in Jerusalem

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks at his gift given by Justice and Development (AK) Party's Istanbul Deputy Nureddin Nebati (not seen) during the 2nd Conference of Inter-parliamentary platform on Jerusalem in Istanbul, Turkey on December 14, 2018. ( Murat Kula - Anadolu Agency )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks at his gift given by Justice and Development (AK) Party’s Istanbul Deputy Nureddin Nebati (not seen) during the 2nd Conference of Inter-parliamentary platform on Jerusalem in Istanbul, Turkey on December 14, 2018

Turkish president on Friday accused Israel of trying to deliberately wipe out traces of Islamic heritage in Jerusalem over the last 50 years, Anadolu Agency reports.

“You [Israel] will not be able to wipe out,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at an Inter-parliamentary platform on Jerusalem in Istanbul.

You are deceiving yourself if you think you can destroy Jerusalem’s spiritual identity by moving a few embassies and consulates there, Erdogan said.

Tension has been running high in the occupied Palestinian territories since last year when U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — now occupied by Israel — might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

READ: Why is Israel targeting Turkey’s presence in Jerusalem? 

Erdogan said criticizing the misconducts of Israel never means anti-Semitism, adding: “Some European countries side with the US and do not raise voice against Israeli occupation policies due to shameful scenes from World War II.”

Bombing children playing ball along the coast of Gaza is a crime against humanity as bad as the Holocaust, he said.

The Turkish president said Jerusalem is not merely a cause of a handful of Muslims in Palestine, but it is “our common cause.”

Erdogan thanked “heroes” who uphold the honor of Jerusalem and humanity and protect the dignity of the Muslim Ummah against occupiers.

Palestinians must put an end to discord among themselves in order to see the outcome of their friends’ efforts, the president added.

(Source / 15.12.2018)