Political leaders say Arab aid failure due to political pressure

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian political leaders on Sunday told Ma’an they believe the failure of Arab states to deliver on aid pledges is the result of US pressure.

Arab League members had agreed a $100 million monthly payment to the Palestinian Authority, but the League chief Nabil al-Arabi said on a visit to the West Bank on Saturday that none had been delivered.

Deputy Secretary General of the PFLP Abdul Raheem Mallouh said that there are American pressures on the Arab states to financially blockade the PA.

Secretary General of the Popular Struggle Front Ahmed Majdalani said the failure to transfer funds was “clearly a political decision… (and) collective punishment against the Palestinian people because of the agenda of seeking an independent Palestinian state”

Meanwhile Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf said it was up to Arab states to explain the impasse.

The West Bank’s Palestinian Authority is facing worsening financial straits as donor pledges from the Western and regional nations drop off, and Israel seizes Palestinian tax revenues.

(www.maannews.net / 30.12.2012)

British public wants to ‘keep out of Syria’

ComRes survey reveals resistance to Prime Minister’s plan to aid anti-Assad units

While David Cameron is rallying support among EU leaders to send arms to the rebels opposing the Assad regime in Syria, he also faces a battle to persuade the British public to back the plan. According to a survey for The Independent, people do not believe Britain should provide military supplies to the rebels.

By a margin of 48 per cent to 35 per cent, people do not believe Britain should provide military supplies to the rebels – even if the UK did not send in any armed forces – while 18 per cent replied “don’t know”.

The Prime Minister is trying to rally support among his fellow European Union leaders to relax sanctions on military equipment to Syria so the anti-Assad rebels can be helped. Although he persuaded the EU to consider all options at a Brussels summit this month, several countries expressed reservations about arming the rebels.

According to ComRes, men are more hostile to sending military supplies than women, with 51 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women opposing the idea. Labour voters (40 per cent) are more likely to support arming the rebels than Conservative voters (36 per cent) or Liberal Democrat voters (29 per cent). Mr Cameron told MPs earlier this month: “We must now explore all options to help the opposition and to enable greater support for the protection of civilians… I think it is worth looking at the embargo and asking how we can best work with the parts of the Syrian opposition that want a proper transition to a free and democratic Syria.” He said the arms embargo would remain for the Assad regime.

The Prime Minister argued that there was both a moral and strategic imperative to act. “Syria is attracting and empowering a new cohort of al-Qa’ida-linked extremists, and there is a growing risk of instability spreading to Syria’s neighbours and of drawing regional powers into direct conflict,” he said.

Some MPs are worried about sending arms to a war zone and fear a drift towards military action. Richard Ottoway, Conservative chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said it “has become increasingly concerned that momentum is building toward some form of Western-backed military action, and that the Government is considering becoming involved in such action imminently, without consulting Parliament”.

In a letter to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, Mr Ottoway said the all-party committee shared his desire for an urgent end to the violence in Syria. ComRes interviewed 1,000 adults in Britain by telephone between 14 and 16 December.

(www.independent.co.uk / 30.12.2012)

Rising rightwing in Israel is using violent provocation in West Bank to push annexation

Since Mahmoud Abbas went to the UN for the Palestine Observer State status upgrade a month ago, nearly everything on the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s list of ways to threaten Palestinians has been initiated. Notably: Haaretz reporting that “Israel may initiate a building drive in West Bank” and Defense Minister Ehud Barak saying there would likely be a breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation in the West Bank, and that would “undermine stability there.” Translation: the growth of settler violence, which continues to escalate on a daily basis.

Last week Abbas threatened to disband the Palestinian Authority next year (as Allison Deger reported). Abbas has done that beforeseveral times actually. Now he says he’s throwing in the towel if settlements construction continues after Israel’s election in January. He said he might go to the International Criminal Court if there are not diplomatic negotiations to create a Palestinian state; and we already know he’s coordinating with Turkey to develop a legal strategy. How much of Abbas’s threats are calculated political gamesmanship remains to be seen.

Nonetheless, with unexpected flair, Abbas is now offering to hand over the PA keys to Netanyahu if there’s no progress. From Haaretz,  Abbas: If stalemate continues after elections, Netanyahu can take back the keys to the West Bank :

“If there is no progress even after the election I will take the phone and call [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” Abbas said. “I’ll tell him, ‘my dear friend, Mr. Netanyahu, I am inviting you to the Muqata [the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah]. Sit in the chair here instead of me, take the keys, and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority.”

Avigdor Lieberman is eagerly anticipating Abbas’s resignation. Haaretz:

“We are congratulating Abu Mazen [Abbas] for reaching the correct conclusion, that only after his disappearance from the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, it will be possible to renew the diplomatic process,” Lieberman said in a statement.

MK Lieberman continued: “We are eagerly anticipating a formal announcement issued by Abbas’ office regarding his retirement,” saying that there are many alternatives to the Palestinian president.

“Abbas remaining in power,” Lieberman said, “is precisely what will eventually bring Hamas and other radical Palestinian factions to power, as occurred in Gaza.”

Meanwhile, unprovoked attacks by Israeli military forces continue unabated in the West Bank, the U.N. General Assembly has adopted nine resolutions condemning Israel, and we’re left wondering “When is someone  going to do something about it?” It’s more than ramped up rhetoric that leads me to think Abbas is more serious about his threat this time around. But more is at stake than ever, and somehow I don’t think it will come to his giving Netanyahu the keys to the West Bank, because, as has oft been repeated, he’s the most pliable leader the US and Israel could hope for.

But something else slipped out during Abbas’s interview. Haaretz:

“The Israeli government has taken 50 different steps since the UN move,” Abbas told Gal-On. “The Israeli military has started to raid Palestinian cities without coordinating with our security forces. They don’t ask permission and don’t even let us know in advance.”The secretary-general of the PA presidency, Tayeb Abdul Rahim, who also attended the meeting, intervened and said that during the past three months Israel had arrested 200 members of the PA security forces, though most were released after a brief questioning.”

The arrest of 200 members of the PA security forces — that’s provocation. And it’s a trend I pointed out in this post last week, showing that Israelis were predicting a third intifada after days of provocation: Israeli forces going into supposedly Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, the arrests of PA officials, the raids on Palestinian towns targeting former members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and  released prisoners.

Abbas says he won’t allow a third armed intifada, but what the provocation masks is the strong push for annexation coming from certain political factions in Israel that are only gaining power. That’s nothing new but those factions are mobilizing in the Israeli election campaign. So when Abbas says “If diplomatic stagnation continuesafter the Israeli election,” he’s referring to that rightwing political faction.

The ball is in Netanyahu’s court and with the growth of the annexation rightwing, he’s got a lot more than Abbas to worry about. Hold onto your hats, because this election could reach a tipping point.

(mondoweiss.net / 30.12.2012)

Egypt allows tons of building materials into Gaza

Smoke rises during an explosion from an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on November 17, 2012.

Smoke rises during an explosion from an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on November 17, 2012.
Egypt has allowed building materials into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing for the first time since Israel imposed a blockade on the Palestinian territory more than five years ago.

According to Egyptian and Palestinian officials, thousands of tons of cement, steel and other building materials started crossing into Gaza on Saturday.

A Hamas government official confirmed that a total of 20 trucks carrying materials crossed the Rafah border into Gaza.

Under the authoritarian rule of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, building materials were not allowed to cross into the coastal enclave.

The Egyptians launched a revolution against the pro-Israeli regime in January 2011, which eventually ended the 30-year dictatorship of Mubarak in February 2011.

Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty for Palestinians.

The apartheid regime of Israel denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights such as freedom of movement, jobs that pay proper wages and adequate healthcare and education.

(www.presstv.ir / 30.12.2012)

Syria’s Assad fears sleeping every night in same bedroom: report

A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad burns during clashes between rebels and Syrian troops in near Aleppo. (AFP)

A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad burns during clashes between rebels and Syrian troops in near Aleppo.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seems to be developing a highly cautious nature after reports revealed that he sleeps every night in a different bedroom and has restricted control over food preparation driven by his fear of being assassinated.

The Syrian president who had vowed in his last television appearance to “live and die” in Syria, is now “restricting contacts to a small circle of family members and trusted advisers,” the Washington Post quoted U.S. and Middle Eastern officials as saying on Saturday.

The reports said Assad has been sleeping in different bedrooms every night and has stopped going outdoors during daylight, all seen as indicators that the president is becoming highly alert on security, “out of fear that he will be hit by a sniper’s bullet or other fire,” the newspaper reported.

“His movements suggest a constant state of fear,” a Middle Eastern official told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

Russia acknowledged on Saturday that al-Assad will not be persuaded to quit but insisted there is still a chance of finding a political solution to the 21-month conflict.

International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned Syria was facing a choice between “hell or the political process” after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on his end-of-year bid to accelerate moves to halt a conflict that monitors say has now killed more than 45,000 people.

The talks came amid emerging signs that Russia was beginning to distance itself from Assad’s government and urgent efforts by Brahimi to resurrect a failed peace initiative that world powers agreed to in Geneva in June.

“It is really indispensible that the conflict finishes in 2013 and really the beginning of 2013,” the envoy said.

Lavrov said both he and Brahimi agreed there was hope for a solution as long as world powers put pressure on both sides.

“The confrontation is escalating. But we agree the chance for a political solution remains,” he said.

Moscow has been under intense pressure to urge the leadership of its last Middle East ally to accept a face-saving agreement that would see the rebels assume gradual command as the fighting reaches Damascus itself.

Yet analysts have questioned the actual sway the Kremlin has over Assad, and Lavrov appeared to betray a hint of frustration when revealing that Assad had this week told Brahimi that he does not intend to leave.

“Regarding Bashar al-Assad, he repeatedly said, both publically and in private… that he is not planning to leave, that he will remain in his post,” Lavrov said.

“There is no possibility to change this position.”

(english.alarabiya.net / 30.12.2012)

US pressured Arab FMs not to visit West Bank: PA

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki (C) speaks as Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi (L) and Egypt

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki (C) speaks as Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi (L) and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamal Amr listen on during a press conference in Ramallah on December 29, 2012.

“The Americans prevented the Arab foreign ministers from visiting Ramallah.”

PLO executive member Wasel Abu Yusef

Palestinian Authority (PA) has criticized the US for putting pressure on Arab foreign ministers to cancel a planned visit to the West Bank.

The criticism came after four Arab foreign ministers refused to accompany Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi during his first visit to Ramallah.

“The Americans prevented the Arab foreign ministers from visiting Ramallah,” executive member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Wasel Abu Yusef told reporters on Saturday.

Al-Arabi and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr arrived in Ramallah to hold talks with Acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas.

Some of the ministers claimed that they called off the visit because they did not want to pass through Israeli checkpoints. This is while the Arab delegation arrived in Ramallah aboard a Jordanian helicopter.

Abu Yusef also said that the US and Israel asked the Arab states to put financial sanction on the Palestinians in the West Bank following last month’s UN vote in favor of recognizing Palestine as a non-member state.

“The US and Israel are imposing an economic blockade on the Palestinian state and are preventing the Arab countries and Western donors from providing Palestinians with financial aid,” he added. “Unfortunately, these countries have succumbed to the pressure, further intensifying the financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority.”

Al-Arabi, who was in Ramallah to discuss a Palestinian financial crisis, stopped short of promising the badly-needed funds to PA.

“Palestine is in need of material and political support,” Al-Arabi told a news conference on Saturday.
“Arab countries agreed at their Baghdad summit (in March) for an Arab safety net of $100 million dollars each month, but unfortunately none of this has been achieved yet,” he said.

Palestinians are struggling to get Arab support to make up $100 million in shortfalls left by Israeli sanctions following the UN move.

The Tel Aviv regime withheld Palestinian tax funds following the recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state on November 29.

(www.presstv.ir / 30.12.2012)

Bardawil: We reject the two-state solution

“Settling” constitutes a warcime according to international law and ICC statute. Even under US’ own military legislations’
Law resources below this article

GAZA, (PIC)– Dr. Salah Bardawil, a leader in Hamas movement, renewed the movement’s rejection of the two-state solution if it means giving an inch of Palestinian land, also confirmed that his movement did not prevent Fath movement from the commemoration of its anniversary in Gaza.

Bardawil denied in statement to Quds Press that “Hamas” has committed to a two-state solution, confirming that Hamas movement would never “give up one inch of Palestine.

Regarding agreeing to a state within the 67 borders, the leader said that “it came under a national agreement on the common denominators,” insisting that Hamas would not give up on inch of Palestinian land.

Regardomg Fatah’s celebrations of its anniversary, Bardawil called on the movement to celebrate its anniversary in Gaza and to take into account of the higher national interests.

“We have welcomed the commemoration of Fath movement’s anniversary in Gaza and we have expressed our readiness to participate in the celebrations to be held in Gaza, and we have previously allowed marches in Gaza affiliated to Fath movement”, he said, “but this time there are news about internal problems in the movement between supporters of Dahlan and Abbas’s supporters and supporters of Shaath, and there are fears that some leaders might get attacked on the podium which would result in clashes between the supporters of each leader in Fath movement, but they evade telling the truth and hold “Hamas” responsible for the cancellation of celebrations in Gaza,” he added.

He confirmed that they offered many places in Gaza for the celebration of Fath movement, but they refused, and “we understood that they want to cancel the festival for internal disagreements, but we again emphasize that we will participate in Fath’s celebration,” he explained.

He emphasized that Hamas cannot take responsibility for their internal differences, calling on Fath movement to hold its celebrations to reinforce the internal unity.


“States may not deport or transfer parts of their own civilian population into a territory they occupy.”


State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in international armed conflicts.
International armed conflicts

The prohibition on deporting or transferring parts of a State’s own civilian population into the territory it occupies is set forth in the Fourth Geneva Convention.[1]

It is a grave breach of Additional Protocol I.[2]

Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.[3]

Many military manuals prohibit the deportation or transfer by a party to the conflict of parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies.[4]

This rule is included in the legislation of numerous States.[5]

Official statements and reported practice also support the prohibition on transferring one’s own civilian population into occupied territory.[6]

Attempts to alter the demographic composition of an occupied territory have been condemned by the UN Security Council.[7]

In 1992, it called for the cessation of attempts to change the ethnic composition of the population, anywhere in the former Yugoslavia.[8]

Similarly, the UN General Assembly and UN Commission on Human Rights have condemned settlement practices.[9]

According to the final report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Dimensions of Population Transfer, including the Implantation of Settlers and Settlements, “the implantation of settlers” is unlawful and engages State responsibility and the criminal responsibility of individuals.[10]

In 1981, the 24th International Conference of the Red Cross reaffirmed that “settlements in occupied territory are incompatible with article 27 and 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention”.[11]

In the Case of the Major War Criminals in 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg found two of the accused guilty of attempting the “Germanization” of occupied territories.[12]


[1] Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49, sixth paragraph (cited in Vol. II, Ch. 38, § 334).

[2] Additional Protocol I, Article 85(4)(a) (adopted by consensus) (ibid., § 335).

[3] ICC Statute, Article 8(2)(b)(viii) (ibid., § 336).

[4] See, e.g., the military manuals of Argentina (ibid., §§ 346–347), Australia (ibid., § 348), Canada (ibid., § 349), Croatia (ibid., § 350), Hungary (ibid., § 351), Italy (ibid., § 352), Netherlands (ibid., § 353), New Zealand (ibid., § 354), Spain (ibid., § 355), Sweden (ibid., § 357), Switzerland (ibid., § 357), United Kingdom (ibid., § 358) and United States (ibid., § 359).

[5] See, e.g., the legislation of Armenia (ibid., § 361), Australia (ibid., §§ 362–363), Azerbaijan (ibid., §§ 364–365), Bangladesh (ibid., § 366), Belarus (ibid., § 367), Belgium (ibid., § 368), Bosnia and Herzegovina (ibid., § 369), Canada (ibid., §§ 371–372), Congo (ibid., § 373), Cook Islands (ibid., § 374), Croatia (ibid., § 375), Cyprus (ibid., § 376), Czech Republic (ibid., § 377), Germany (ibid., § 379), Georgia (ibid., § 380), Ireland (ibid., § 381), Mali (ibid., § 384), Republic of Moldova (ibid., § 385), Netherlands (ibid., § 386), New Zealand (ibid., §§ 387–388), Niger (ibid., § 390), Norway (ibid., § 391), Slovakia (ibid., § 392), Slovenia (ibid., § 393), Spain (ibid., § 394), Tajikistan (ibid., § 395), United Kingdom (ibid., §§ 397–398), Yugoslavia (ibid., § 399) and Zimbabwe (ibid., § 400); see also the draft legislation of Argentina (ibid., § 360), Burundi (ibid., § 370), Jordan (ibid., § 382), Lebanon (ibid., § 383) and Trinidad and Tobago (ibid., § 396).

[6] See, e.g., the statements of Kuwait (ibid., § 405) and United States (ibid., §§ 406–407) and the reported practice of Egypt (ibid., § 402) and France (ibid., § 403).

[7] See, e.g., UN Security Council, Res. 446 , 452 and 476 (ibid., § 408), Res. 465 (ibid., § 409) and Res. 677 (ibid., § 410).

[8] UN Security Council, Res. 752 (ibid., § 411).

[9] See, e.g., UN General Assembly, Res. 36/147 C, 37/88 C, 38/79 D, 39/95 D and 40/161 D (ibid., § 412) and Res. 54/78 (ibid., § 405); UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2001/7 (ibid., § 413).

[10] UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights, Final report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Dimensions of Population Transfer, including the Implantation of Settlers and Settlements (ibid., § 415).

[11] 24th International Conference of the Red Cross, Res. III (ibid., § 419).

[12] International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Case of the Major War Criminals, Judgement (ibid., § 421).

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 30.12.2012)

PA employees to strike this week

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Employees of the Palestinian Authority government will strike for two days this week, in a continuation of protests against delays in salary payments.

The public sector union said Sunday it would suspend work on Wednesday and Thursday. They will then decide on the program for the following week.

Government employees in the West Bank received part of their November salaries last week, but the remainder is still outstanding.

The Western-backed PA has struggled with falling international donations and domestic revenues, and has had to delay payments to its 153,000 public sector workers several times this year.

Since early December, Israel has withheld around $100 million in monthly tax revenue it collects on behalf of the PA as punishment for the UN’s acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state.

(www.maannews.net / 30.12.2012)

Fayyad signs deal for refugee camps to pay electricity costs

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority premier Salam Fayyad on Sunday signed a deal with representatives of refugee camps in the West Bank to start paying electricity costs.

Refugees living in the West Bank had been exempted from paying for electricity bills, and Palestinian power companies said the gap in payments was a main reason for their accumulating debts.

Israel in early December seized Palestinian tax revenues and transferred the money to the Israeli Electric Company, which supplies their Palestinian counterparts.

The loss of Israeli-collected revenues, around $100 million each month, put more pressure on the already struggling Palestinian Authority coffers, amid public sector strikes against salary delays.

The agreement signed on Sunday with the executive office for popular committees in the camps mandates electricity meters for all refugee residents.

The first 160 KW will be provided at cost price, and needy families will have their first 150 KW fully subsidized by the ministry of social affairs.

Fayyad lauded the work of the popular committees in reaching the deal, saying it achieved a balance between ending a waste of public money and maintaining social justice.

He also thanked the Palestinian electricity providers, emphasizing that the government is keen to support them in their national role in the face of Israeli threats.

In the summer, Palestinian officials said Israel was threatening to cut off power over the unpaid debts, which total around $100 million after this month’s tax seizure.

(www.maannews.net / 30.12.2012)

Vrees voor honderdduizend doden in Syrië

Vrees voor nog erger bloedbad in Syrië.
Als er niet snel een manier wordt gevonden om de Syrische burgeroorlog te beëindigen zouden er volgend jaar wel honderdduizend doden kunnen vallen. Daar heeft de Syrië-gezant van de Verenigde Naties en de Arabische Liga, Lakhdar Brahimi, zondag voor gewaarschuwd. Als er niets aan de situatie verandert zal Syrië niet, zoals Joegoslavië in de jaren negentig, worden opgedeeld in verschillende landen, aldus Brahimi.

Syrië gaat volgens Brahimi in dat geval de kant van Somalië op, met krijgsheren die de dienst zullen uitmaken en de bevolking zullen vervolgen. Sinds Brahimi in september Kofi Annan opvolgde als Syrië-gezant heeft hij geprobeerd een internationaal vredesplan van de grond te krijgen. Het plan riep op tot een staakt-het-vuren tussen de rebellen en het leger voor onbepaalde tijd.

Ook zou een overgangsregering moeten worden gevormd. De gevechten werden echter niet gestaakt, waardoor het vredesplan al na enkele dagen een mislukking was. Brahimi bracht afgelopen week een bezoek aan Syrië, waar hij sprak met de Syrische president Bashar Assad. Daarna vloog hij door naar Moskou, een van de weinige bondgenoten die Syrië nog heeft, om te praten over een mogelijke oplossing voor het conflict.

“Het gaat slecht in Syrië. Heel erg slecht”, zei Brahimi. “Het wordt alsmaar erger(…).” Elke maand vallen er steeds meer slachtoffers. Zowel de rebellen als het leger gebruiken zwaardere wapens en het leger zet steeds vaker gevechtsvliegtuigen in om de rebellen te bestoken.

Hoewel Brahimi al meerdere keren de noodklok heeft geluid lijkt een oplossing nog altijd ver weg. De Russische minister van buitenlandse zaken Sergej Lavrov zei zaterdag dat Assad absoluut niet van plan is op te stappen, en dat het onmogelijk is om hem op andere gedachten te brengen.

(nieuws.marokko.nl / 30.12.2012)