Abbas: We want to take our chance for peace

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Abbas said Saturday that the Palestinian Authority is hopeful of achieving peace through negotiations.

“To us, when we have a chance of negotiating we will take advantage of it, without looking to our surroundings,” Abbas said in a press conference after meeting with the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

“We are now negotiating with the Israeli side, and we do not mind meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a time when such a meeting is needed.

I assure the Palestinian goodwill in negotiations, and we hope that Israelis share the same goodwill by stopping settlements and releasing prisoners,” he added.

Palestinians must unite to achieve peace despite the turmoil in the region and presidential and legislative elections must take place when the conditions are ready, Abbas said.

The president thanked the EU for its position on settlement products and a ban on funding for Israeli settlements, a move which helped the PA return to the negotiating table.

“In a particularly troubled regional environment, it is even more important that we advance towards peace here,” Fabius said.

“If these negotiations are successful, it will be a thunderbolt for peace…a great stabilizing element.”

Speaking in Amman on Saturday after talks with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said he expected the next round to take place “in a few days from now.”

“On all sides, particularly that of the United States, there are elements which are serious and encouraging regarding the success of the negotiations,” official Jordanian news agency Petra quoted him as saying.

Palestinian sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, say they expect the talks to be held early next week in the West Bank town of Jericho.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators formally resumed direct peace talks earlier this month after a hiatus of nearly three years, thanks to an intense bout of shuttle diplomacy by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

They are expected to last about nine months.

(Source / 24.08.2013)

Israel to turn historic mosque into synagogue

Israeli officials have been trying to Judaize the holy Muslim city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) in the past decades. Earlier this month, the senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Ahmed Qurei, warned that the Israeli regime plans to destroy the Islamic and Arab identity of al-Quds.”
The Israeli army has taken full control of a historic mosque in al-Quds (Jerusalem) to turn it into a synagogue, in what has been considered the latest measures by Tel Aviv to Judaize the Muslim city.

Muslims are banned from entering the mosque, which is located in the village of An-Nabi Samuel in the northwest of al-Quds.

The mosque was built in the 18th century and is an important holy site for Palestinians.

The Israel regime occupied half of the mosque and transformed it into a synagogue in 1994 when the Palestinian Authority lost control of the region.

In August, Tel Aviv announced a similar plan for Nabi Daud Mosque which is located southwest of al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli officials have been trying to Judaize the holy Muslim city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) in the past decades.

Earlier this month, the senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Ahmed Qurei, warned that the Israeli regime plans to destroy the Islamic and Arab identity of al-Quds.

Qurei slammed the Tel Aviv regime’s policies which are aimed at violating and destroying ancient and historical sites in the city.

He also said that Israel is trying to Judaize al-Quds.

Tel Aviv has also increased its illegal settlement expansion following an upgrade of Palestine’s status at the UN to a non-member observer state on November 29, 2012.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

(Source / 24.08.2013)

Tunisia opposition demands end of government

Backers of the Ennahdha have also rallied in support of the party
Tunis – Tunisia’s opposition parties have called for a protest to demand the immediate dissolution of the Islamist-led government.

The protest comes in the midst of the country’s biggest political deadlock since the fall of the former president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in January 2011.

There is a deep distrust on both sides over who will control the state’s institutions, particularly the agency that would oversee the country’s yet-to-be scheduled parliamentary and presidential elections.

The coalition of secularist opposition parties says that the government, led by the Ennahdha party, is failing to deal with the economic and security situation, and that it is time to appoint a government made up of non-politically aligned technocrats.

Ennahdha, meanwhile, is acutely aware of the brutal crackdown on its fellow Islamist movement in Egypt, and says it does not trust the opposition and that having won a majority in the constituent assembly in the 2011 elections, it still has legitimacy.

The Tunisian Union General Labour Union is acting as a negotiating party. Ennahdha provisionally accepted the union’s proposal in a meeting on Thursday.

Opposition leaders, however, found the terms offered by Ennahdha to be unacceptable, and insist on the immediate dissolution of the government

(Source / 24.08.2013)

Palestine top negotiator briefs Jordanian FM on talks with Israelis

AMMAN, Aug 24 (KUNA) — Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat briefed Jordanian foreign minister Nasser Judeh Saturday over the US-brokered peace talks with the Israelis.
Erekat said the Palestinian side was keen on keeping the Jordanian side up to date with regards to the progress of negotiations with the Israelis, a foreign ministry statement said.
“We will not receive any paper from the Israeli side but after presenting it to the Jordanian brothers, and will not declare a position for the Israeli side but after approval of the Jordanian brothers,” Erekat said in a joint statement with Judeh.
He said Jordan was interested in the final status negotiations, citing borders, security, water, refugees and occupied Jerusalem. “Channels of communications between Jordan and the Palestinians will always be open,” he added.
Judeh said there were “encouraging and serious” signs by all parties and particularly the US in order to bring about success to the peace negotiations to ultimately create the Palestinian state.
Judeh said solving the Palestinian cause was through the creation of the independent and viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with relevant UN resolutions and Arab peace initiative.

(Source / 24.08.2013)

Opposition: inaction on Syria makes international leaders responsible

The Syrian opposition has denied Damascus’s accusations that it has used chemical weapons and urged the international community to military intervene to stop the bloodshed during a press conference held on Saturday.

The head of Syria’s main opposition group said on Saturday that U.S. President Barack Obama, Arab leaders and the international community should be held responsible for their inaction over the Syrian conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of people since it began more than two years ago.

“I demand Obama, [French President Francoise] Hollande and [UK Prime Minister David] Cameron and leaders of Arabic countries to be responsible [for] the massacre of the Syrian people,” Ahmed al-Jarba, head of the Syrian National Council, said.

“All those not participating in halting bloodbath in Syria are participating with the Syrian regime.”

Jarba also urged the United Nations to enact Chapter 7, which authorizes the international body’s Security Council to intervene militarily against aggressor states to restore peace, in a joint press conference with the rebel army’s chief on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Salim Idriss, the former Syrian army general who now heads the rebel Free Syrian Army’s military command, said in the press conference that the rebel army does not have any chemical weapons.

Idriss’s statement came after Syrian state television said soldiers, on Saturday, found chemical materials that had been used by rebels stored in tunnels.

The Syrian regime also accused the opposition of being behind the nerve gas attack this week in the rebel-dominated Damascus district of Ghouta that killed hundreds of civilians.

“The Syrian regime is lying,” Idriss said.

Meanwhile, Jarba said that “we are ready to protect U.N. inspectors in case they enter rebel-held regions.”

The army commander said they have detailed information that President Assad has accepted a memorandum from the Syrian army’s artillery head, Tahir Khalil, to use chemical weapons against the rebels as the FSA was advancing in the country especially in “Aleppo and the coastal areas.”

Idriss said “friendly nations,” could provide proof through their satellites that the Syrian regime was behind the chemical attacks.

(Source / 24.08.2013)

Israel TV: Chemical weapons were fired by Assad’s brother’s unit

Maher Assad’s 4th Armored Division of Syrian Army launched nerve gas shells that killed 1,000-plus last Wednesday from base west of Damascus, report says

Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists in Syria, Wednesday, August 21, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Local Committee of Arbeen)

Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after an alleged poisonous gas attack fired by regime forces, according to activists in Syria, Wednesday, August 21, 2013.

The chemical weapons allegedly used to kill an estimated 1,000 or more Syrian civilians by the regime of President Bashar Assad last Wednesday were fired by the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian Army, an Israel TV report said.

This division is under the command of the president’s brother, Maher Assad.

The nerve gas shells were fired from a military base in a mountain range to the west of Damascus, the Channel 2 news report said.

The embattled regime has concentrated its vast stocks of chemical weaponry in just two or three locations, the report said, under the control of Syrian Air Force Intelligence, itself reporting to the president.

Maher Assad (photo credit: Wikipedia Commons / m.nadaff)

The TV report further added that “the assessment in Israel” is that the attack was intended to serve as the possible start of a wider operation.

It said Israel was increasingly concerned about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and their possibility of these weapons falling into still more dangerous hands than those of Assad. Israel was “privately” making clear its concerns to the United States, the report said.

In his first response Thursday to the alleged attack, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Iran was closely watching how the world would deal with the attack.

“Syria has become Iran’s testing ground, and Iran is closely watching whether and how the world responds to the atrocities committed there by its client state Syria and its proxy Hezbollah against innocent civilians in Syria,” he said.

The alleged use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians on Wednesday “proves yet again that we cannot permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to acquire the world’s most dangerous weapons,” Netanyahu added.

On Wednesday, rebel groups in Syria claimed that as many as 1,300 people were killed in a chemical attack in the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus. The reports were accompanied by a string of grisly photos and videos depicting scores of dead civilians, including children.

The reports “raise the possibility that an extremely grievous crime has been committed by the Syrian regime against its citizens,” Netanyahu said.

“This act adds to the roster of crimes committed by the Syrian regime, with the aid of Iran and Hezbollah, against the Syrian people,” he said.

Netanyahu added that it was “absurd that UN investigators, who are in Damascus right now to investigate the possibility that chemical weapons have been used, are being prevented by the Syrian regime from reaching the affected areas.”

(Source / 24.08.2013)

Arab and Islamic organizations to fund Gaza waterway project



GAZA, (PIC)– MP Jamal al-Khudari revealed on Saturday that a number of Arab and Islamic organizations had accepted to fund Gaza waterway project which includes the development of the Gaza seaport.

Khudari, head of the Popular Committee against Siege on Gaza Strip, said that he made contacts with several Arab, Islamic, and international figures and organizations concerning Gaza waterway project that will link the Strip with the outside world through a designated port in another country in a bid to break the siege on the Strip.

He pointed out that the project will serve all the Palestinian people and will link the Gaza Strip with the West Bank.

Khudari expressed satisfaction with the institutions’ approval to fund the project, noting that the Israeli occupation remains the sole obstacle before establishing the project.

The independent MP called for Arab and Islamic pressures on occupation to end the siege on the Strip imposed seven years ago.

(Source / 24.08.2013)

Hundreds of Muslims in western Myanmar displaced by mobs relocated

Rohingya Muslims passing the time in their home at Aung Mingalar quarter in Sittwe on August 13, 2013. Sittwe’s last remaining Muslim-dominated quarter, Aung Mingalar, is locked down by the police and soldiers who patrol all streets leading in and out. Muslims can’t leave without written permission from the local authorities, which Muslims say is almost impossible to secure
YANGON (AP) – Hundreds of Muslims trapped in ghetto-like conditions in western Myanmar after their homes were torched by Buddhist-mobs last year have been moved to a camp for internally displaced people.

Government spokesman Win Myaing said the relocation on Saturday from Aung Mingalar quarter in Sittwe township was voluntary. But a well-known activist Aung Win said many of the families were unhappy about the move.

Mr Win Myaing said 577 people who lost their homes during June 2012 sectarian violence were taken to camps outside of Sittwe, with more relocations planned for Sunday.

He said thousands of people who did not lose their homes would remain in Aung Mingalar.

(Source / 24.08.2013)

Attacks to drag Lebanon into Sunni-Shiah conflict

'Attacks to drag Lebanon into Sunni-Shiah conflict'
Mufti of Lebanon Sheikh Qabbani stated the bomb attacks in Tripoli were done by those who wanted to drag Lebanon into a Sunni-Shiah conflict

Mufti of Lebanon Sheikh Mohamed Qabbani stated the bomb attacks in Tripoli were done by those who wanted to drag Lebanon into a Sunni-Shiah conflict.

Speaking at a television channel in Lebanon, Qabbani said Shiah was behind the bomb attack in Tripoli and that Sunniah was not behind the one in Dahiyah. Defining the attacks as ’terror’, Qabbani stated it was the biggest conspiracy, aiming to cause incitement in the country.

On the other hand, Kuwait, Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE) condemned the bomb attacks in Lebanese Tripoli city, which aimed the mosques there.

UAE’s Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs Anwar Muhammad Gargash condemned the attacks and called on the Lebanese for unity and solidarity in a written statement.

Qatari Foreign Affairs also condemned the attacks and said destabilizing the stability of the country was aimed with the attacks.

Calling on the Lebanese to have a common sense, Kuwait’s Foreign Affairs expressed their worries on the recent incidents in Lebanon.

“Assad regime has marks on the attacks”

Lebanese Muslim Scholars Unity claimed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had a hand in the attacks.

“Baas regime in Syria has hand in the attacks, where the mosques are aimed. These attacks show what a big conspiracy was organized against Lebanon,” unity’s written statement said.

One of Mustaqbal movement leaders in Lebanon Mustafa Allush told AA in an exclusive interview that he holds Assad and Hezbollah responsible for the attacks and called on Hezbollah to withdraw its soldiers from Syria.

After the Friday prayer in Lebanese Tripoli city, twin bomb attacks took place consecutively, where the death toll was 50 and 350 were wounded.

On Thursday, 24 people were reported dead and at least 300 wounded during an armed attack which was held at Hezbollah’s party center in Lebanon’s Tripoli, where Shiah community lives intensively.

(Source / 24.08.2013)

PA, France sign agreements worth 19 million euros


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority on Saturday signed two agreements with France worth a total of 19 million euros ($25 million), a statement said.

Around 9 million euros ($12 million) will go towards paying the salaries of over 180,000 PA employees, while 10 million ($13 million) euros will be used to construct a solid waste treatment plant in the Gaza Strip.

“We asked for France’s assistance to lift in total the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza so that we can develop the Gaza Strip,” caretaker PA prime minister Rami Hamdallah was quoted as saying by Wafa.

Hamdallah told the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius that Israeli settlements obstruct the peace process and urged France to support projects in Area C and occupied East Jerusalem.

The caretaker PA prime minister is due to meet with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Sept. 9 to discuss financial support for the PA’s budget.

(Source / 24.08.2013)