Opinion: Officials to resume peace process that never was

The political peddlers, think-tank experts and media professionals are all back in full force. They want us to believe that US Secretary of State John Kerry has done what others have failed to do.

On his sixth trip to the Middle East during his post, and following intense shuttle diplomacy likened to that of Henry Kissinger, Kerry managed to create a modest common space between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, thus securing their agreement to resume the so-called peace process.

The media is focusing a great deal on how the ‘breakthrough’ happened, not on why or whether or not it was really a ‘breakthrough’ in the first place. It is typical in these ‘breaking news’ dramas that the media inundates itself with excessive superfluous details, while paying little heed to the underlying logic behind the entire story.

For now, we know this: Kerry announced from Amman on July 19 that Palestinian and Israeli negotiators had put the groundwork in place to resume frozen peace talks. They have been frozen since 2010 because Israel refuses to stop illegal settlement construction in occupied Palestinian land.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to continue slicing up the West Bank, fully control and isolate occupied East Jerusalem, build illegal settlements, erect walls and cut down trees, while wining and dining in some fancy Washington retreat, talking about peace and such.

But why would Kerry even bother poking a stick in Netanyahu’s beehive in the first place?

One must consider the very tumultuous events that are currently shattering the Middle East region – a military coup in Egypt, a civil war in Syria, a return to major violence in Iraq, instability in Lebanon, and a sectarian divide that has turned a wide chasm into a bottomless abyss.

Isn’t it better for the US to place its diplomatic energies elsewhere? Abbas and Netanyahu are struggling with their own problems, so why are they playing along in a game that will surely fail?

The answer is not simple and cannot be readily expressed through catch phrases and sound bites, although, some commentators are doing just that.

Speaking on Israeli public radio, Chico Menashe, said the return to negotiations is like “a half-baked cake Kerry removed from the stove. Kerry convinced the Israelis and Palestinians it was edible, and both sides agreed to eat it.”

Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, was quoted in the Jerusalem Post saying, both parties “basically agreed to disagree, and to talk about that.”

And so the commentary teeters between cautious optimism, high hopes, cynicism and creative metaphors. In the final analysis, few truly understand this latest jump start of the ‘peace process’, the political risks it entails, and why the show is likely to go on for a while longer.

Predictably, it will come to an abrupt ending followed by a protracted blame game. Knowing how mainstream western media operates, Palestinians will likely be the party responsible for the failure of the talks that are yet to start.

But here are some interesting points that must be considered firstly concerning the Americans. The Middle East region is in a constant flux, between revolutions, counter revolutions and war. Neither the US, nor its traditional allies are able to sway the outcomes in their favor.

Neither money, nor arms, nor any political grand scheme is achieving much.

Since the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2010, the US has suffered many blows. Its status as the uncontested superpower is in shambles, and its allies have been caught in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring.

Despite attempts at meddling, enticing some parties with money, and inciting violence against others, there are no tangible outcomes that promise to take the region back to an era of ‘political stability’, as in the same old status quo, that of political stagnation under US stewardship.

To repair its image, the US has to get reengaged in the Middle East. President Barack Obama’s administration, besieged by a dysfunctional Congress at home, is barely relevant in the Middle East anymore, with Russia, France, Britain, Turkey, and even China making headway.

Resuming the ‘peace process’ is necessary to give the US a chance to claim leadership in a leaderless region.

Second, concerning the Israelis, Netanyahu’s right wing-dominated coalition government might have looked as the ideal scenario for a right-wing politician who based his career on his love affair with armed settlers and his unmitigated detestation of the United Nations and international law, which he never thinks should apply to Israel.

However, being firmly positioned in the right-wing circle has proven to be a public relations disaster.

Even his ever-supportive and malleable European allies are now turning against him. Europe can no longer be seen as an unconditional Israeli backer while pacifying its own populations, the majority of whom don’t tolerate Israel’s occupation, sieges and violent behavior.

If Netanyahu has his domestic audiences to appease, EU countries do too. The writing on the wall became even clearer on July 16, when the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on the publication of an EU directive that paves the road for complete boycott of Israel’s illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The directive, which will become effective Jan 1, 2014, is binding. It forbids any EU funding or cooperating with any entity that operates in “the territories occupied by Israel since 1967 (which) comprise the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

Although grossly belated, the EU move is truly unprecedented and deserving of the ‘earthquake’ depiction made by a senior Israeli official.

The EU directive was described by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett with palpable hysteria as an “economic terror attack.”

Israel is in desperate need to remold its scruffy image which has resulted from too many bombs, damming evidence of war crimes, and arrogant speeches made by numerous politicians. Any ‘peace process’ at this time would indeed do Israel’s image some good, although it will make no lasting difference.

Lastly, the Palestinian Authority, an entity that was created with Israeli consent, and funded by US-led donor countries, cannot operate outside the US political sphere.

According to a reading of the just published annual report by the Palestinian Monetary Authority, the West Bank economic indicators for 2012 were terrible, and prospects for the next two years are even worse.

The PA has no political vision, and even if it did, it is too overwhelmed by economic dependency to act as a self-respecting political entity.

The PA has to play the game, fully knowing that the game has been rigged from the very start.

All three parties know this very well, but they are willing to return to the negotiations table. Any table will do while they pause for photos, smile and shake hands over and over.

By doing so, a media circus made of experts will resume, are ready with metaphors, clichés and sound bites, as long as they are crammed into 30 seconds or less.

(Source / 24.07.2013)

Moroccan government turns to AIPAC in effort to defend occupation in Western Sahara

A recent series of events seem to indicate that the Moroccan government has enlisted the services of a prominent foreign policy lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to help defend Morocco’s occupation in Western Sahara.  While both Israel and Morocco have long been engaged in internationally recognized occupations, it now appears that they are working together to undermine the work of the congressional commission responsible for working to uphold the United States’ purported commitment to human rights.

In April of this year, Rep. Frank Wolf and Rep. Jim McGovern, the Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry regarding human rights violations in the Moroccan occupied Western Sahara.  The letter expressed support for an expanded human rights monitoring and reporting mandate for the U.N. Mission of the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).  The letter also called on the ‘U.S. to encourage Morocco to immediately halt the harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary arrest and detention of pro-Independence Sahrawi; to call for the release of Sahrawi prisoners imprisoned for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and associations […].’  Sahrawis, like many Palestinians, live under an internationally recognized occupation and have long been deprived of basic rights.  Although the occupations differ in many ways, both Palestinians and Sahrawis are subject to systematic discrimination, perpetual displacement, and routine human rights abuses.

According to a story in the Moroccan news outlet Lakome, days after Representative Frank Wolf and Representative Jim McGovern sent the letter to Secretary Kerry, a delegation that included high level Moroccan security and intelligence officials came to Washington to meet with AIPAC.  Officials from AIPAC and the Moroccan government would not comment about the content of their meetings, but experts on the issue have little doubt as to the subject of their conversations, especially given the timing.  Stephen Zunes, a widely regarded expert on the issue, told me by e-mail that news of the meeting between AIPAC and Moroccan government officials shortly after the Lantos Human Rights Commission inquiry was, “not at all surprising.  Mainstream and right-wing Zionist groups have been supportive of the Moroccans for quite some time.”

Although there is a history of close ties between the Moroccan government and Israel, their joint effort in Washington to undermine the work of the Lantos Human Right Commission seems to be a new development.  The recent meeting between Moroccan and AIPAC officials appears to be part of this broader lobbying campaign undertaken by the Moroccan government to improve its image and shape a narrative that the Moroccan people chose “reform over revolution” during their version of the Arab Spring.  As Samia Errazouki detailed in an investigative report, the group leading the effort is called the Moroccan American Center for Policy, which spent over $1.4 million lobbying in the first half of 2012 according to Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) disclosures.  In her piece, Errazouki describes the Moroccan government’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill to put a spin on the situation faced by both Moroccans living under a non-democratic government and Sahrawis living under occupation in Western Sahara.

According to FARA records, the Moroccan American Center for Policy also met with Jennifer Rubin, a neo-conservative blogger who often shills for Israel in herWashington Post blog called ‘Right Turn.’  While Rubin continued to toe AIPAC’s line on Israel/Palestine in the Post, Errazouki points out that her writing became notorious for “speaking highly of the regime’s reforms […].”  For example, in July of last year Rubin wrote an unabashed hagiography of Morocco’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Youssef Amrani.  After giving Morocco glowing reviews on everything from constitutional reforms to human rights, she tacitly endorsed the “strategic partnership” proposed by the Ambassador.

The 2012 State Department report on human rights tells a much different story.  Rather than “devolving power to local authorities” as Rubin claimed, the State Department found that the constitutional reforms “clearly safeguarded the essential powers of the king as the supreme arbiter among political forces.”  The State Department’s annual report also cited “torture and other abuses by the security forces, political prisoners and detainees, infringement of freedom of speech and the press, lack of freedom of assembly, restrictions on the right to practice one’s religion, lack of independence of the judiciary, discrimination against women and girls, and trafficking in persons[…].”  Hardly the democratic utopia Rubin describes to readers, and the only criticism she offers in the piece is directed toward the Moroccan government’s enemies.

Despite the well funded effort by the Moroccan government to secure support on Capitol Hill and within the mainstream media, the Lantos Human Rights Commission still issued a letter condemning human rights abuses in Western Sahara and calling for an expanded mandate for MINURSO, a measure strongly opposed by Morocco.  Having already hired some of the best lobby shops in Washington with mixed results, the Moroccan government has apparently turned to AIPAC, widely known as the most effective lobby on foreign policy issues.  Considering AIPAC’s record of successfully defending Israel’s 46 year occupation of Palestinian territories and securing over $30 billion in U.S. military aid regardless of the budgetary pressures, Moroccan officials were likely looking for a dependable strategy to mollify Members of Congress who have been critical of Morocco’s ongoing occupation of Western Sahara.

While attempts by AIPAC to undermine Palestinian human rights on Capitol Hill are routine, relatively uncontroversial, and normally successful, AIPAC’s apparent decision to advise other repressive governments on how to torpedo human rights inquiries arising from the Lantos Human Rights Commission may frustrate some Members of Congress.  In what could be a harbinger of the divergence of U.S. and Israeli interests on everything from human rights to national security, Israel recently acted to protect the Bank of China from a U.S. led terrorism financing case in order to secure a trade visit by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to China.

As some nations look enviously at the impunity Israel enjoys in spite of its own flagrant violations of human rights, they may take Morocco’s lead and bypass traditional lobbying firms in favor of groups like AIPAC.  Given Israel’s own foreign policy prerogatives, one can only hope that the work of the Lantos Human Rights Commission is not perpetually undermined by the most powerful foreign policy lobby in Washington and the so-called U.S. ally it represents.

(Source / 24.07.2013)

Israeli forces storm school near Nablus using military mission as pretext

Gaza, Alray – Palestinian official sources reported that Israeli forces stormed on Tuesday one of the schools near Nablus in the northern West Bank and took over one of the classrooms, on the pretext of having a military mission.

Ministry of Education in Ramallah said in a statement that “the school guard found out as he is patroling the classrooms a group of Israeli soldiers inside a room on the second floor, with several devices on the room’s chairs and windows, while military forces present at the school yards ordered the representatives of the Directorate of Education and the school headmaster to leave”.

“The Israeli officer directed that everyone, after photocopying their identity cards, leave the school at gunpoint,” the ministry explained, adding that “they were threatened that their phone calls are recorded and that any person is subject to arrest if he publishes news or informs any person of what they experienced,”

The school and its mosque, the statement pointed out, had been subjected to several break-ins and arson attacks by Israeli settlers who once sprayed racist graffiti on the mosque’s walls.” it said.

(Source / 24.07.2013)

Goed nieuws!!


vuistVandaag is een mooie dag: er kwam veel goed nieuws binnen.

M.J., die gisteren naar Guinea werd gevlogen, is aan de luchthaven van Conakry geweigerd. Precies wat M.J. al die tijd al zei: hij komt niet uit Guinea en dat kon de Guinese luchthavenpolitie ook wel zien. M. werd dus teruggestuurd naar Nederland. We hebben nog geen contact met hem zelf gehad, maar meer nieuws volgt.

Ook voor M.S. was het een goede dag. Al eerder schreven we dat M.S. naar Guinea zou worden uitgezet, terwijl hij uit Sierra Leone komt. M.S. zou voor de derde keer een deportatiepoging ondergaan, maar ook hij werd niet toegelaten tot Guinea.

Kennelijk gaat de obsessieve deportatiedrang van de IND zelfs de Guinese autoriteiten te ver.

Aan het einde van de middag bleek dat ook het gezin H, dat komende zaterdag uitzetting naar Afghanistan riskeerde, uit de klauwen van de DT&V gehaald is. Het gezin heeft een nieuwe asielprocedure lopen en kon eindelijk uit detentie vertrekken.

(Source / 24.07.2013)

Samenhorigheid in deze tijd!

Ons geloof is een geloof van samenhorigheid. Wanneer we kijken naar de voorschriften en regelgevingen van de Islam, dan valt al gauw op hoe erg deze gericht zijn op het bevorderen van samenhorigheid en goed onderling contact.

De Islam beveelt goed contact met de ouders, familie, buren en de gelovigen in het algemeen.

Allah zegt:

“Voorwaar, de gelovigen zijn elkaars broeders, sticht daarom vrede tussen jouw broeders ..” [49:10]

Een ander vers:

“En houdt jullie allen stevig vast aan het touw (de godsdienst) van Allah en weest niet verdeeld ..” [3:103]

In de volgende twee overleveringen vergelijkt de profeet salla allaho ‘alaihi wa sellam de samenhorigheid die hoort te zijn onder de gelovigen met twee onlosmakelijke gehelen; een gebouw en het lichaam.

1)      “De gelovige is voor de gelovige als een gebouw, het ene verstevigt het ander”. De profeet plaatste vervolgens de vingers van beide handen in elkaar. Om aan te tonen hoe stevig het contact en de relatie onderling hoort te zijn.

In de tweede overlevering:

2)      “De vergelijkenis van de gelovigen in hun wederzijdse liefde, barmhartigheid en medeleven is als de vergelijking van een lichaam. Als een ledemaat ziek is, heeft de rest van het lichaam last van slapeloosheid en koorts.” 

Deze samenhorigheid uit zich onder andere door het goede voor jouw medegelovigen te wensen, net zoals jij dat voor jezelf wenst:

“Niemand van jullie gelooft (volledig) totdat hij datgene wat hij voor zichzelf wenst (aan goeds) ook voor zijn broeder wenst.”

En in zes zaken die onze nobele profeet in één hadieth heeft genoemd:

“De moslim heeft zes rechten op zijn moslimbroeder: Wanneer je hem ontmoet, geef hem selaam. Wanneer hij je uitnodigt, beantwoordt (zijn uitnodiging). Wanneer hij je om advies vraagt, adviseer hem. Wanneer hij niest en alhamdolilah zegt, zeg dan yarhamokalaah. Wanneer hij ziek is, bezoek hem en wanneer hij sterft, volg dan zijn begrafenisstoet.”

Wij moeten ernaar streven om deze samenhorigheid ook te behouden, dit kan op verschillende manieren:

Door te glimlachen wanneer de broeder zijn broeder en de zuster haar zuster ontmoet:

“Het glimlachen in het gezicht van jouw broeder is sadaqah (aalmoes).”

Het geven van cadeau’s aan elkaar:

“Geef elkaar cadeau’s en jullie zullen van elkaar houden” 

Het verspreiden van de selaam:

“Zal ik jullie duiden op iets dat als jullie het in praktijk brengen jullie van elkaar zullen houden? Verspreidt de selaam onder elkaar.”

Elkaar laten weten dat we van elkaar houden omwille van Allah:

“Als iemand van jullie van zijn broeder houdt, laat hem dan weten dat hij van hem houdt.”

Vergeven, makkelijk zijn in de omgang en niet overal een probleem van maken:

Imam Ahmed – moge Allah hem genadig zijn – zei: “9/10 van de goede manieren bestaat uit dingen door de vingers zien.”

Wat de samenhorigheid ook heel sterk maakt is elkaar uitnodigen zo nu en dan. De profeet salla allaho ‘alaihi wa sellam werd gevraagd:

Wat is (een van) de beste (eigenschappen van de) Islam? Hij antwoordde: “Dat je te eten geeft en selaam geeft aan degene die je kent en die je niet kent.”

Verbazingwekkend is het om te zien hoe sommige van onze broeders en zusters al jaren een goede band hebben, maar nooit bij elkaar over de vloer komen.

De Islam motiveert vrijgevigheid en gastvrijheid. We moeten ons best doen om de vrome manieren van de islam te doen herleven.

Zoals de islam aanspoort tot al datgene wat leidt naar goed onderling contact, verbiedt het al datgene wat leidt naar geschillen.

Zoals het roddelen en slecht spreken over elkaar, het stoken tussen broeders en zusters, hebben van kwade (ongegronde) vermoedens, jaloezie en afgunst, spotten, kleineren en soortgelijke slechte eigenschappen.

De profeet salla allaho ‘alaihi wa sellam zegt :

“De (ware) moslim is degene van wie de moslims behoedt zijn van (het slechte van) zijn tong en hand” 

In een andere overlevering:

“Het bloed, bezittingen en eer van iedere moslim zijn verboden voor de andere moslim (om het te schaden).”

De echte samenhorigheid uit zich wanneer één van onze broeders of zusters een moeilijke tijd doormaakt. Dan wordt onze samenhorigheid op de proef gesteld. Zoals een Arabische gezegde luidt:

“Veel zijn jouw vrienden wanneer je ze opsomt, maar wanneer je in moeilijkheden verkeert zijn het er maar weinig.”

We moeten tijd maken voor onze broeders en zusters die hulp nodig hebben en hen bijstaan, gedenkende dat:

“Allah’s steun met de dienaar is zolang de dienaar zijn broeder steunt.”

En dat:

“Degene die verlichting brengt voor iemand die het moeilijk heeft, Allah deze persoon(beloont) met verlichting in dit wereldse leven en in het hiernamaals ..”

Beste broeders en zusters:

We leven in een tijd waarin samenhorigheid zich vaak beperkt tot het woordje ‘broeder’ en ‘zuster’. Niet erbij stilstaand dat deze woorden ook een betekenis hebben en dat onze broeders en zusters grote rechten op ons hebben.

Tekortkomingen hebben we allemaal, dat moge duidelijk zijn. Maar we moeten wel streven naar verbetering door het slechte in ons te overwinnen om vervolgens:

Het goede voor elkaar te wensen, afgunst en jaloezie te onderdrukken, klaar te staan voor elkaar, te glimlachen, elkaar te vergeven, niet slecht te spreken in elkaars afwezigheid, elkaars eer te verdedigen, niet bezig te zijn met geruchten en het verspreiden ervan, bezorgd te zijn om elkaars welzijn, te bemiddelen in conflicten, contact te houden, elkaar te motiveren en stimuleren, elkaar in alle kalmte te adviseren bij een misstap, geen kwade vermoedens te hebben maar uitgaan van het goede, elkaars zondes en tekortkomingen niet openbaar te maken en door Du’a voor elkaar te maken.

Wie zichzelf in deze eigenschappen herkent is zeer zeker begunstigd met een schoon hart.

Moge Allah de meeste Verhevene onze harten reinigen van al het slechte en onze samenhorigheid sterker maken.
Abulfadl, student aan de Universiteit van Medina. Saudi Arabië.

15 Ramadan

The forgotten siege of the Gaza gas assets

Natural gas assets in the Mediterranean Sea have long played a crucial role in politics; it is therefore easy to see why they continue to receive media attention. Yet, surprisingly, few mention Gaza in this context.

Gaza Marine 1

Why would they? Gaza is a small, densely populated costal strip isolated geographically as well as economically from the rest of occupied Palestine. Here, the Israeli siege on the territory creates constant shortages of food and fuel. The population of Gaza suffers from daily power-cuts that sometimes last up to 18 hours. A majority of the gas in Gaza since 2011 has been imported at high cost from Egypt through the Rafa border crossing. This is a huge burden for an already struggling economy that is being kept afloat by foreign support.

Contrasting with the poverty of Gaza’s population is the Palestinian territory’s rich endowment of gas reserves. Thirty-six miles from land stands the oilrig Gaza Marine 1, beneath which lies Gaza’s own treasury: vast gas fields that the company British Gas estimated to be worth around 7 billion US dollars. Yet the gas never leaves the seafloor and the profit remains an illusion. Why?

The fields were discovered in the mid nineteen nineties by one of the world’s leading gas companies, British Gas (BG), which was at the time operating in the Sinai. In 1999, the Gaza-agreement was signed, giving BG the biggest part in the exploration licence. The deal would also profit the Palestinian people through taxes and royals. BG estimated that 800 million dollars invested would generate over four billion, a return of more than four hundred percent.

The project went smoothly in the beginning; between the years 2000 and 2002 BG spent an estimated 100 million dollars on drilling and studies. There was only one obstacle: Israel.

Israeli politicians realised the risk the gas constituted to the future of their occupation of Palestine, because as long as Gaza is kept poor and economically dependent on international support it will remain politically impoverished.

Israel therefore claimed that since PA would be unable to ensure the security of important construction related to gas extraction, a pipeline would be built from the gas field directly to Israeli ports. Palestinian officials immediately rejected this suggestion because it would deprive the people of Gaza the profits created by the extraction of their own gas.

Since Israel would also be the main purchaser of the Gazan gas, it could prevent the exploration by other means. During price negotiations with BG, Israel insisted that it receive a price for the gas that would have been almost three times lower than the normal market price at that time. Since the profits would thus be considerably lower than previously expected, BG eventually decided to leave the negotiations with Israel in 2007.

Instead, BG started to look elsewhere for potential purchasers. By converting the extracted gas into liquid natural gas (LNG), BG could have access to bigger markets in Japan and Korea.

However, the Israeli obstacle remained. This time the Israeli authorities claimed that the extraction activity could only be carried out with their approval. According to international law, however, this is false. Pursuant to the 1993s Oslo-accords, the Palestinian territories were entitled to territorial waters in accordance with international agreements. The UN Convention of the Law of the Sea from 1982 clarifies that sea bound nations have the right to an exclusive economic zone stretching 200 nautical miles (around 370 km) from land. According to the convention, “a coastal nation has control of economic resources within its exclusive economic zone.”

Despite Israel’s unlawful claims, nothing could be done about the situation and BG is not currently working on the project. The untapped gas reserves are yet another lost economic opportunity for Gaza, whose economy has been devastated by the siege Israel imposed following the Hamas takeover in 2006.

Today, the gas still remains trapped 600 m under the sea, hidden away from the Palestinian people, and this is just where Israel wants it.

(Source / 24.07.2013)

Zionist Fox Co. Will Open a Branch in Ramallah

The israeli zionist clothes manufacturing chain “Fox Group” will open a branch in the city of Ramallah for the first time, a move against the will of the majority of Palestinians who are treated by the Palestinian Authority as a herd of goats.

Jawad al-Naji, the “minister” for Economy of the PA and a well Fatah apparatchik, has signed a franchise agreement with the company in this regard Just few days after the EU decided to bar 28 member states from dealings with the jewish zionist settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank, including the occupied east of Jerusalem.

Naji -Banat

Naji was chased on June 8 2013 out of the national boycott conference in Bethlehem University. Participants in the BDS conference were angry with the PA’s politics of trade and normalization with Israel, and many openly criticized the PA, the Palestine Liberation Organization and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas himself. The minister fled the hall with his entourage to angry chants of “get the minister out” and “collaborators!”. Later, one of Naji’s men from the PA intelligence attacked the participants and broke nose of one of the participants who criticized the minister.  

According to the terms of the Paris economic agreement, the Palestinian authority deals with Israeli trade such as “national product” in the so-called area (A), some closed ghettoes which under its control in the occupied West Bank. The PA officials demanded the Europeans to stop the decision or at least not to formalize it.

The jewish newspapers revealed today that Fox will open a branch in Ramallah but did not reveal further information about the identity of the Palestinian franchiser. According to our sources from Palestine, the franchiser is an element of the Palestinian Authority and one of the biggest fat cats of Fatah and the PA.

The Israeli media reported that “Fox” has been known for many years to manufactures of clothing and wholesaler Palestinians in Ramallah, but that this is the first time that the company has signed a franchise agreement to supply the city residents.


The extremist Hebrew edition of Ynetnews wrote:

fox companyRecently, a banner was hung on one of the commercial centers in the Palestinian city, announcing that the clothing and home-design chain will soon open a branch there. While potential Palestinian customers are expressing their support, the decision has also sparked a storm on social networks among Palestinian activists who vehemently oppose any normalization with Israel and the sale of products of Israeli companies in the Palestinian Authority.

One of the activists protesting the move expressed his dissatisfaction about the economic cooperation with Israel. Another attacked the Palestinian Authority, led by the Fatah organization, telling Ynet that “Fatah continues to underestimate the suffering of the residents of the West Bank. It does everything to gain the trust of Israel and tries to cooperate with it at the highest level, even though they are the enemy of the Palestinian people.”

FOX Group operates a total 135 stores in Israel and 245 stores abroad. Among other locations, the company operates in North and South America, Central and Eastern Europe, and South-East Asia.

Ramallah is home to the Palestinian Authority headquarters and has become a thriving metropolitan in recent years. The Swedish home furnishing giant IKEA is expected to open a branch there and the director of Ikea operations in Israel has offered to help the Palestinians set it up.

Fox, which has come under fire for using veiled sexual innuendo in its marketing campaigns, is partly owned by Avraham Fox, a religious Jew. The retailer’s stores are all closed on the Jewish Sabbath, unlike many other major chains which keep some of their stores open.


(Source / 24.07.2013)

Israeli military dangerous terrorist organization: Analyst

“More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the Israeli aggression on Gaza during the winter of 2008-2009. The offensive also inflicted USD 1.6 billion damage on the Gazan economy.”
A political commentator has condemned the recent EU decision to blacklist the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, saying the Israeli military is just a dangerous terrorist outfit.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Wednesday, Jennifer Loewenstein, the Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said influential Israeli lobby groups in Europe pressured the EU to adopt the anti-Hezbollah move.

“It is political expediency…. I think that Israel has had a strike against it by the EU’s recent vote and … Netanyahu’s pressuring EU members to vote that the military wing of Hezbollah be considered terrorist is primarily political,” she commented.

Loewenstein also strongly rejected allegations that Israeli armed forces have caused the least collateral damage in their operations, saying it was “one of the biggest pieces of propaganda and one of the worst lies” she has ever heard.

She pointed to the loss of more than a thousand civilian lives during the three-week Israeli land, sea and air offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip at the turn of 2009 as a clear proof of Israeli army’s brutality.

More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the Israeli aggression on Gaza during the winter of 2008-2009. The offensive also inflicted USD 1.6 billion damage on the Gazan economy.

Loewenstein further noted that she has been to the Gaza Strip on a number of occasions, and that she has witnessed Israeli troops shooting Palestinian children.

She added that in one example she heard an Israeli fighter jet flying over one of the most crowded neighborhoods of Gaza, dropping a bomb on an apartment building, killing 15 civilians in the summer of 2002.

(Source / 24.07.2013)

ICRC condemns Syria aid blockades

A Syrian refugee widow whose husband died in Homs eats with her daughters in the Lebanese city of Tripoli.

GENEVA (AFP) — The International Committee of the Red Cross warned Wednesday that thousands of Syrian civilians besieged by government and rebel forces alike were in desperate need of aid.

“Tens of thousands of civilians in Syria are living in extremely harsh conditions in sealed-off areas, and humanitarian aid is being prevented from reaching them. The consequences could be tragic,” said the Geneva-based humanitarian organization.

“Civilians living in areas encircled by government forces or the various armed opposition groups are not receiving regular supplies of food or other basic necessities. To bring them aid it is necessary to obtain the consent of all sides, which can at times be very difficult,” it added.

A major area of concern is the city of Homs, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting since Syria’s war erupted in 2011.

“We have been trying for close to 20 days now to bring medical supplies and other aid to the old city of Homs,” said Magne Barth, head of the ICRC’s Syria operations.

“Despite lengthy negotiations with both sides, and three trips back and forth between Damascus and Homs, we have still not received the go-ahead from the Syrian authorities,” he said.

“We could help more people in Homs and elsewhere in the country if there were a willingness on all sides to allow us to do so.”

Reaching civilians is the “toughest challenge” the ICRC faces in the Syrian war, the group said, even though the laws of war oblige all parties to a conflict to allow unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief.

There have been some successes, however.

The ICRC pointed to a green light for supplies to prisoners in the conflict-torn city of Aleppo, where there had been reports of an acute food shortage.

“The fact that, over the past two weeks, 5,000 people held at Aleppo’s central prison have been receiving regular deliveries of food shows that constant dialogue with the parties can yield results. Both sides agreed to allow humanitarian work to take place,” said Barth.

So far this month, the ICRC has brought food to 215,000 people in various parts of Syria, working hand in hand with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

(Source / 24.07.2013)

Egypt army calls for rallies, Islamists warn of civil war

A supporter of Mohamed Mursi (center) is attacked by pro-government activists during clashes in Cairo, on July 22.
CAIRO (AFP) — Egypt’s army chief called Wednesday for rallies to back a crackdown on “terrorism and violence”, in comments Islamists denounced as a call to “civil war” ahead of their own protests.

With tensions already running high following the army’s ouster of President Mohamed Mursi on July 3, the call by General Abdel Fattah Sisi for demonstrations raises the prospect of further violence on the streets between the pro- and anti-Mursi camps.

“Next Friday, all honorable Egyptians must take to the street to give me a mandate and command to end terrorism and violence,” said Sisi, wearing dark sunglasses as he took to the podium to address a graduation ceremony of military cadets near Alexandria.

A coalition of Islamists led by Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood said they would press ahead with their own rallies on Friday, warning of “massacres” after Sisi’s speech.

“Sisi’s threats are an announcement of civil war,” the group said.

It warned of the danger of “massacres committed under a false popular cover.”

Nearly 170 people have died in political unrest in Egypt since the end of June, according to an AFP tally, many of them in clashes between Mursi’s supporters and opponents.

Huge crowds of Egyptians protested against Mursi on June 30, after just a single turbulent year of his presidency.

Sisi claimed he had been told by Mursi aides that removing the president would result in violence.

Presidential aides “told me if there is any problem there will be lots of violence because of armed groups, to scare me,” Sisi said in his speech.

After he spoke, security sources said gunmen killed a soldier in a noon attack in the Sinai peninsula, where militants have carried out daily attacks on security forces since Mursi’s overthrow.

Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam al-Erian said Mursi loyalists would not be intimidated by the army chief’s call for mass rallies.

“Your threat will not prevent millions from continuously protesting,” Erian said in a statement on his Facebook page.

He was referring to demonstrations by Mursi’s supporters which have continued non-stop since the Islamist leader was overthrown and placed in custody by the military.

Tamarod, the movement that spearheaded the mass rallies that led up to the coup, called on supporters to take to the streets again on Friday in support of the army.

“We call on the great Egyptian people to rally on Friday across Egypt to demand… Mursi’s trial and to support the military in its upcoming war on terrorism,” it said.

Sisi’s address came just hours after a blast in front of a police station in Mansura in the Nile Delta, which Mohamed Sultan, head of the emergency services, told AFP left “28 wounded and one dead”.

The interior ministry said in a statement that a conscript was killed in the blast.

The Islamist Anti-Coup Alliance, which has been pressing demonstrations calling for Mursi’s reinstatement, said that it “strenuously condemns the criminal bombing that hit Mansura”.

Clashes between supporters and opponents of Mursi, have killed at least 13 people across Egypt since Monday.

Presidential spokesman Ahmed Al-Muslimani denounced the violence, saying “Egypt is not a second Syria and anyone who pushes in that direction is a traitor”.

But Mursi’s detention, and subsequent arrests of senior Brotherhood leaders, have hardened his supporters against dealing with the new regime.

His daughter Shaimaa Mohamed Mursi told reporters on Monday that the family would sue army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and also take legal action outside Egypt.

Senior aides held with the president have asked their families for prison clothes, signalling possible charges, relatives said.

The United States has joined other Western governments in calling for Mursi’s release, although it has declined to characterize his overthrow as a coup, which would force a suspension of US aid.

But the Pentagon said on Wednesday that Washington had decided not to go ahead with plans to supply Egypt with an additional four F-16 fighter jets.

“Given the current situation in Egypt we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s,” spokesman George Little told reporters.

In addition to clashes on the streets between rival protesters, Egypt’s caretaker government is facing a low-level insurgency in the Sinai.

Militant attacks on police and army checkpoints since July 3 have killed 20 security force personnel and 10 civilians.

(Source / 24.07.2013)