Israel only buying time through talks with Palestinian Authority: Analyst

“Israeli settlements are considered illegal by the UN and most countries because they are built on territories which were captured by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, and are hence seen as being subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.”


A prominent political analyst says the latest round of US-brokered talks between Palestine and Israel aims to buy time for Tel Aviv, calling on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to withdraw, Press TV reports.

“They [Israelis] were buying time, spending money, buying off members of the Congress. They now have over 500 members of America’s Congress who have signed a letter totally supporting Israel, opposing the talks,” said Gordon Duff, senior editor of Veterans Today from Ohio, in an interview with Press TV.

He added that the Zionist regime of Israel is killing time in reparation for possible military action on Lebanon.

“Israel only wanted to buy time, and in another sense Israel is hoping to create enough publicity here where we are likely to see a renewal of violence … and we are expecting a military attack against Lebanon fairly soon,” the commentator added.

He strongly recommended the PA authorities to make a wise decision and withdraw from these negotiations, saying, “The Palestinian authority has nothing to gain in entering negotiations now.”

The analyst emphasized that international support for the Israeli regime has fallen to its lowest level.

Duff further stated that Israel never favors the creation of an independent Palestinian state, noting that Tel Aviv approved construction of more settlement units just days before the beginning of the talks.

He said construction of new settlements constitutes a flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions, adding that the US government, which is easily swayed by tens of billions of dollars worth of Israeli financial aid to American politicians, is also involved in Israel’s settlement construction.

“America’s government is hamstrung and is unable to take any viable position whatsoever,” he pointed out.

On Thursday, US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said talks between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli regime will resume on August 14 in al-Quds (Jerusalem).

The representatives of Israel and the PA met last month in Washington. The meeting was the first direct negotiations in three years.

However, al-Quds municipal councilor, Yosef Pepe Alalu, said on Tuesday that the municipality had approved the plan for the construction of another 942 settlement units in Gilo settlement.

Israeli settlements are considered illegal by the UN and most countries because they are built on territories which were captured by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, and are hence seen as being subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip and are demanding Israel to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.

Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.

(Source / 13.08.2013)

Abbas to welcome released prisoners

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas has asked Palestinian leaders to gather at his headquarters in Ramallah on Tuesday night to welcome veteran prisoners expected to be released by Israel.

Abbas and several leaders will receive the freed prisoners at midnight, the Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh told Ma’an.

Israel has agreed to release 104 prisoners detained since before the 1993 Oslo Accords in stages throughout negotiations with the PLO.. The first group of 26 are expected to be released before peace talks resume in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Israeli media reported that the prisoners would be freed between midnight and dawn on Wednesday to reduce scenes of joy among Palestinians welcoming the returning prisoners.

A special ministerial committee announced late Sunday it had approved the 26 prisoners to be released ahead of talks, according to a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The names of the prisoners — most of whom were arrested for killing Israelis and Palestinians suspected of collaboration — were published early Monday morning.

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat underlined the importance of the prisoner release for peace talks to continue.

“We hope to put into effect what we’ve agreed on … we hope for the release of 104 prisoners. Each will return to his house. This is what we’ve agreed on,” he told Israeli Arabic-language radio on Monday.

“There is a clear understanding between us and the Americans and Israelis. Any change (in that) will mean the agreement is off the table.”

The decision to free prisoners has angered the families of those killed in assaults.

“This is a day of celebration for terror organisations,” Meir Indor, head of Almagor, a group representing Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks, told AFP on Monday.

Most prisoners being freed were arrested for “murder”, with five being “accomplices to murder” and one being guilty of “abduction and killing”, Israel says.

Three of the prisoners were jailed by Israel for killing Palestinians, presumably those they had deemed to be collaborators.

All prisoners had been arrested before 1994 except one who was arrested in 2001.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the far-right Jewish Home party also reacted angrily to the impending releases.

“Terrorists belong in prison,” Ariel said in a statement on Monday. “The terrorists who are being released murdered women and children, and it’s not clear to me how releasing murderers can help peace.”

(Source / 13.08.2013)

8 prisoners continue their hunger strike

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Eight Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails still continued their hunger strike protesting their administrative detention (without trial or charge), human rights sources said.

After the Jordanian prisoners suspended their hunger strike, 8 Palestinian prisoners continued the battle including Ayman Hamdan Isa, 106 days on hunger strike, Imad Albatran, 97 days on hunger strike, Adel Harbiyat and Ayman Etbish, 82 days on hunger strike, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said.

PPS pointed out that Hossam Matar declared a hunger strike since early June 2013, demanding his release. While Abdul Majid Khaddarat continued his hunger strike for 43 consecutive days in protest against his re-arrest after his release in Wafa al-Ahrar deal.

Mohammed Etbish has also gone on hunger strike for 61 days in solidarity with his brother the hunger striker Ayman Etabish.

Omar Tlahma joined the hunger strike since 19 days protesting the Israeli torture policy against him.

(Source / 13.08.2013)

What’s Behind Israel’s Failed Operation in South Lebanon

A picture taken from the Lebanese village of Wazzani on 1 August 2013 shows Israeli troops on the border between Lebanon and Israel one day before al-Quds day.

Israel’s recent failed operation in Labbouna, South Lebanon raises a number of questions as to what the commando force was planning to do before it fell into Hezbollah’s ambush.

Informed sources following the details of the Israeli operation in South Lebanon report that the force sent across the border was an elite commando unit made up of a hundred soldiers.

Referred to as Unit 269, this force is often used in highly classified and specialized missions like the 1988 assassination of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s second-in-command Abu Jihad in Tunis, in addition to operating in Syria, following the movement of weapons there, according to the same sources.

The operation left a number of unanswered questions about what the Israelis were after and whether the Resistance may have set their trap, in the form of a series of bombs, in order to capture enemy soldiers.

Despite evidence of live rounds having been fired following the ambush, it appears this was only cover from the Israeli side to evacuate their wounded and retreat from the area.The Labounna area is not ideal terrain for Hezbollah to engage in confrontations with the enemy, but it serves as a strategic point for the Israeli military as it overlooks vast stretches of South Lebanon. Simply depriving Israel of access to this important area is a major achievement for the Resistance.

It remains unclear, however, what was the goal of the Israeli operation: Was it surveillance in nature or did it have a specific target? In either case, the generals in Tel Aviv are trying to figure out just how Hezbollah knew the details of the operation in advance.

Some suggest that the operation was intended to test the readiness and capabilities of Hezbollah in light of the party’s increasing involvement in the Syrian crisis – a test that the Resistance has unequivocally passed, sending a message to all those concerned that despite having to turn its attention to another front, it remains vigilant as ever when it comes to Israel.

(Source / 13.08.2013)

IOF arrests 17 Palestinians across West Bank


AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) waged Monday an arrest campaign across occupied West Bank where 17 Palestinians were arrested.

The Israeli forces raided at dawn Monday many parts of West Bank, arresting 13 Palestinians from Qalqilya, Nablus and Ramallah, as well as three others from the southern West Bank and another detainee in occupied Jerusalem.

In Nablus, two brothers were arrested at Zatara military checkpoint where the Israeli soldiers stopped and searched the Palestinian vehicles heading towards the city of Ramallah.

Local sources said that the IOF stormed the city of Nablus where they fired a barrage of stun grenades and tear gas at the residents’ houses. Violent clashes erupted between IOF troops and Palestinian youths who stoned the soldiers. As a result, Fourteen Palestinians were arrested including the liberated prisoner Khadr Sarkaji.

In the same context, Israeli forces arrested the 13-year-old Hussam Omar Abu Khalifeh after storming his house in Saf Street in Bethlehem city at a late hour.

In Jerusalem, Israeli occupation forces arrested Jihad al-Zogol under the pretext of attacking Israeli soldiers and throwing stones at settlers’ cars during the storming of al-Aqsa mosque.

(Source / 13.08.2013)

Israel begins releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners

A woman holds a framed portrait of her relative, Palestinian prisoner Jamil Nabi Annatsheh, ahead of his release from an Israeli prison, in the West Bank city of Hebron August 13, 2013.

Israel began on Tuesday night releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners ahead of renewed Middle East peace talks.

Al Arabiya live coverage showed buses carrying the prisoners from the Ayalon Prison in central Israel.

The prisoners are headed for Gaza and West Bank where they will be received with celebrations by fellow Palestinians.

Israelis and Palestinians will resume peace negotiations in Jerusalem on Wednesday after a five-year freeze.

The talks broke down three years ago in a dispute over settlement building in territory Palestinians seek for a state.

Israel’s announcement on Sunday of plans to expand settlements drew Palestinian anger but no formal threat to withdraw from negotiations, whose resumption was driven by intensive shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, according to Reuters.

The United States is seeking to broker a “two-state solution “in which Israel would exist peacefully alongside a Palestinian state created in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

The United States, European Union and United Nations on Monday condemned Israel’s announcement of construction plans for about 2,000 new settler homes.

Most world powers regard all the settlements as illegal. During a visit to Colombia, Kerry called on the Palestinians “not to react adversely “to Israel’s latest plans, Reuters reported.

Hamas reaction

Israel dismissed such criticism, saying the settlement plans were intended for West Bank areas it wanted to keep under any peace deal with the Palestinians.

The 26 prisoners due to be released were among a total of104 that Israel has agreed to free in four stages.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has vowed to seek freedom for all Palestinian prisoners, is set to gain by the prisoner releases, a highly charged issue in a society where thousands are held in Israeli custody.

“I think this is an important accomplishment, one that gives hope to the Palestinian people, “ Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqe told Reuters.

Abbas’s Islamist rival, Hamas, had limited praise for the prisoner release, although it also reiterated its objections to negotiating with Israel, whose existence it rejects.

Some 500,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem amid 2.5 million Palestinians. Israel withdrew in 2005from the Gaza Strip, now governed by Hamas Islamists.

Few expect the latest negotiations to resolve issues that have defied solution for decades, such as borders, settlements, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. The United States has said it seeks a peace deal within nine months.

Netanyahu appears to have decided he can ill afford to alienate the United States at the moment given the turmoil in the region, and led his pro-settlement government into talks.

Neighboring Egypt and Syria are in upheaval and Israel remains deeply concerned Iran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb, something Tehran denies. Israel is widely believed to be the only power in the Middle East with nuclear weapons.

(Source / 13.08.2013)

IOF kill a man, wound another in Gaza

IOF kill a man, wound another in Gaza

Al Qassam website- Gaza- A Palestinian young man was killed and another was injured after being shot by Israeli occupation forces in the Gaza strip.
Spokesperson of Ministry of Health Dr Ashraf Qedra said that Hussein Abdul Hadi, 30, was killed Saturday night where he was shot by Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border fence.

The Israeli soldiers stationed at the Israeli military towers on the border fence opened their fire at Palestinian houses and lands in Shijaia neighborhood east of the city. As a result, Mahmoud Samir Jundiya, 25, was injured in his right leg where he was transferred to hospital for treatment, Qedra added.

Israeli violations to the truce agreement signed in November 2012 have escalated where dozens were injured by Israeli fire and 40 fishermen were arrested, in addition to targeting and confiscating number of fishing boats.

(Source / 13.08.2013)

Is Sudan Providing Chinese Missiles to Syrian Rebels?


"Free Syrian Army shoot down Russian helicopter with Chinese FN-6"

From C.J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt, New York Times:  Syrian rebels, frustrated by the West’s reluctance to provide arms, have found a supplier in an unlikely source: Sudan, a country that has been under international arms embargoes and maintains close ties with a stalwart backer of the Syrian government, Iran.

In deals that have not been publicly acknowledged, Western officials and Syrian rebels say, Sudan’s government sold Sudanese- and Chinese-made arms to Qatar, which arranged delivery through Turkey to the rebels. . . .

The battle has evolved into a proxy fight for regional influence between global powers, regional players and religious sects. . . .

Sudan has a history of providing weapons to armed groups while publicly denying its hand in such transfers. Its arms or ammunition has turned up in South Sudan, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Chad, Kenya, Guinea, Mali and Uganda, said Jonah Leff, a Sudan analyst for the Small Arms Survey, a research project. It has provided weapons to Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army; rebels in Libya; and the janjaweed, the pro-government militias that are accused of a campaign of atrocities in Darfur.

“Sudan has positioned itself to be a major global arms supplier whose wares have reached several conflict zones, including the Syrian rebels,” said one American official who is familiar with the shipments to Turkey. . . .

[O]fficials suggested that a simple motive was at work — money. Sudan is struggling with a severe economic crisis.

“Qatar has been paying a pretty penny for weapons, with few questions asked,” said one American official familiar with the transfers. “Once word gets out that other countries have opened their depots and have been well paid, that can be an incentive.”

Analysts suspect Sudan has sold several other classes of weapons to the rebels, including Chinese-made antimateriel sniper rifles and antitank missiles, all of which have made debuts in the war this year but whose immediate sources have been uncertain.

Two American officials said Ukrainian-flagged aircraft had delivered the shipments. Air traffic control data from an aviation official in the region shows that at least three Ukrainian aviation transport companies flew military-style cargo planes this year from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, to a military and civilian airfield in western Turkey. In telephone interviews, officials at two firms denied carrying arms; the third firm did not answer calls on Monday. . . .

Sudan’s suggestion that any of its weapons in Syria had been provided by Libya also would not explain the presence of FN-6 antiaircraft missiles in Syrian rebel units. Neither the Qaddafi loyalists nor the rebels in Libya were known to possess those weapons in 2011, analysts who track missile proliferation said. . . .

After the missiles were shown destroying Syrian military helicopters, the matter took an unusual turn when a state-controlled newspaper in China, apparently acting on a marketing impulse, lauded the missile’s performance. “The kills are proof that the FN-6 is reliable and user-friendly, because rebel fighters are generally not well trained in operating missile systems,” the newspaper, Global Times, quoted a Chinese aviation analyst as saying.

The successful attacks on Syria’s helicopters by Chinese missiles brought “publicity” that “will raise the image of Chinese defense products on the international arms trade market,” the newspaper wrote. . . .

As the missiles were put to wider use, rebels began to complain, saying that more often than not they failed to fire or to lock on targets. One rebel commander, Abu Bashar, who coordinates fighting in Aleppo and Idlib Provinces, called the missiles, which he said had gone to Turkey from Sudan and had been provided to rebels by a Qatari intelligence officer, a disappointment.

“Most of the FN-6s that we got didn’t work,” he said. He said two of them had exploded as they were fired, killing two rebels and wounding four others.

(Source / 13.08.2013)

Egypt police break up pro-Mohammed Morsi march in Cairo


Opposing sides threw stones and bottles at each other, as police fired tear gas, as Mishal Husain reports

Egyptian police have fired tear gas to disperse crowds of supporters of detained ex-leader Mohammed Morsi during a march in central Cairo.

Morsi supporters went to a government compound to protest at the appointment of army officers as local governors.

Local residents then clashed with the pro-Morsi crowds and both sides threw bottles and stones at each other, before security forces moved in.

The army deposed Mr Morsi in July and put in place an interim government.

Supporters of Mr Morsi, an Islamist leader who came from the Muslim Brotherhood movement, refuse to accept the new government and insist he must be reinstated.

They say the military overthrew a democratically elected government and is now attempting to entrench its power.

Six weeks after the army overthrew Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, there is little sign of a solution to the political crisis. Supporters of Mr Morsi, who want him reinstated, are keeping up the pressure. They are standing their ground at their two sit-in camps in Cairo. And they are holding marches in the heart of the capital.

So far the authorities have not moved against the big Muslim Brotherhood protest camps at Cairo’s al-Nahda square and around Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. It is understood that there are divisions in the government about how to tackle the camps. Some hardliners, concerned about losing face to the Muslim Brotherhood, want to move in and disperse the protesters, while others want to avoid bloodshed.

In one scenario, it is thought that security forces might surround both camps to restrict access and cut off supplies of food and water. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyib, the grand imam of al-Azhar – Egypt’s top Islamic institution – has invited major figures to join a meeting of national reconciliation. But there is friction between him and the Muslim Brotherhood because the grand imam supported the military intervention to remove Mr Morsi.

Opponents of Mr Morsi say he used his year in power to dismantle secular, democratic institutions in order to increase the influence of Islam.

Deepening divisions

Tuesday’s trouble began when crowds of Mr Morsi’s supporters marched to an area of Cairo that houses several government buildings, and is also home to many people who oppose the Muslim Brotherhood.

The protesters were angry because at least 15 former military officers have been sworn in as local governors.

The demonstrators tried to get into a government compound, but were forced out and then clashed with local residents and police.

Women and children fled the scene, as both sides threw bottles and stones at each other.

Witnesses said residents pelted the demonstrators from balconies, taunting them by calling them terrorists.

Millions of Egyptians had protested in favour of Mr Morsi’s removal, but correspondents say his ousting appears to be deepening the divisions in Egyptian society.

His supporters have set up two camps in central Cairo, where they have been holding sit-ins.

The authorities threatened to remove the camps earlier this week, but then said they would delay the plan.

Graphic showing the approximate size of the protest camp at Rabaa al-Adawiya
(Source / 13.08.2013)