Palestinian power company signs natural gas deal

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestine Power Generation Company has signed a 20-year-deal with Israeli and American natural gas companies, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of energy said.

Omar Kittaneh said that a power plant would be built in the West Bank on land designated by the Palestinian cabinet, and that bids for the project are now open.

Partners in Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field signed a $1.2 billion deal with PPGC, Reuters reported.

According to the Reuters report, PPGC plans to build a $300 million power plant in Jenin that will be operated by the gas from the deal.

The Leviathan natural gas field is located in the Mediterranean Sea west of Haifa.

(Source / 05.01.2014)

Manager sacked after Nile TV airs film on ‘Mursi’s achievements’ by mistake

The station showed an 8 minute clip highlighting the achievements of former Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi who was ousted from power on July 3rd.

Egyptian Radio and Television Federation has named a new head for Nile TV International after the country’s state-owned channel erroneously aired a report on the achievements of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Mursi, Al-Ahram newspaper reported Sunday.

Samih Rajae became the new general manager of Nile Sat after Egypt’s public broadcaster sacked Mirvet Mihsen for airing a documentary entitled “Mursi’s Achievements.”

According to Youm7 website, Nile TV aired the film, which was made while Mursi was in power, for eight minutes last Friday.

Describing the incident as a “disastrous mistake,” Nile TV quickly changed what was on air, Youm7 said.

In his defense, Mirvat al-Qafas, deputy editor of the foreign language news in Nile TV, said there were only a few minutes left for the news bulletins in French to start. Usually, he explained, the segment is filled with national songs and that the Mursi tape made it through “unintentionally.”

Qafas said directors and others working in the morning shift when the incident took place were under investigation.

Mursi was toppled through a popularly-backed coup on July 3.

He was head of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

After the toppling of Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood supporters protested demanding his reinstatement as the legitimate elected leader of Egypt, but were violently quelled by the military establishment.

Soon after the ousting of Mursi, prominent figures of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested and charged with inciting violence.

In late December, Egypt designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist organization.”

(Source / 05.01.2014)

General Assembly Elects New Coalition Head and Discusses Going to Geneva II

`The Syrian Coalition’s General Assembly began today the eleventh session of meetings to elect a new president under the supervision of Haitham al-Maleh, the President of the Legal Committee. Other elections of members of the Political Committee will be held during the meeting. Ahmad Jarba, the current president and Riad Hijab, a member of the Coalition are the presidential candidates, while the candidates for the General Secretariat are the current president Badr Addin Jamous and Mustafa Sabbagh. As for the vice presidency, the candidates are George Sabra, Ahmad Tayfur, Rima Fleihan and Nora Al Amir. Well informed sources within the Coalition said that the decision on going to Geneva will be voted on tomorrow, after the completion of the electoral process. The Coalition has been oscillating between going to Geneva II and rejecting the invitation, in light of the international silence towards the massacres committed by the Assad regime against the Syrian people. Because of the latest attack on Aleppo by the Assad regime and the International silence that have followed, Badr al-Din Jamous, SG of the Syrian Coalition, stated earlier that this “does not encourage the Syrian Coalition’s members to vote on going to Geneva during the next conference of the General Assembly.”  Jamous also stressed that “the Syrian Coalition cannot monopolize the decision on participation in Geneva II, so we sent a delegation of the Syrian Coalition to consult with the revolutionaries to decide upon participation in the conference.” Louay Mekdad, the FSA’s political and media coordinator, said that Russia “seeks to achieve the greatest possible interests for the Assad regime at Geneva II through pressuring the revolutionaries to attend the conference.” Mekdad stresses that sitting with the criminal regime at the negotiating table “will end its political isolation and international ostracism, which came in response to the horrific massacres committed against the Syrian people.” Mekdad went on: “The international community and Russia knew well that Geneva II would not result in a fatal blow to the Assad regime. If they really had sincere intentions, then they would try to find a solution either through Geneva II, or in any other way. George Sabra, former president of the Syrian Coalition, said that “Geneva II wouldn’t result in a peaceful solution without real guarantees.” Sabra also states that Russia and Iran seek to “sow division among Syrian revolutionaries through sorting them into moderates and hardliners, and through insisting that the goal of Geneva II must be fighting terrorism.” Furthermore, Sabra addressed those who are being rushed into going to Geneva II, saying that “the latest statements made by the Assad regime and his allies indicate that Geneva II is not meant to achieve a political solution. Rather, those statements indicate that their real goal is legalize killing of the Syrian people.” Sabra went on: “Without getting real guarantees, the outcome of Geneva II would mean nothing to the Syrian people and this is why going to the conference is met with outright rejection.”
(Source: Syrian Coalition / 05.01.2014)

Egypt bars Canadian Shiites from entering

The Canadians landed in Egypt from Iraq to complete a pilgrimage to Shiite sites in the region, but were kept out on the orders of security authorities.

Egypt stopped 61 Canadian Shiite Muslim pilgrims from entering the country and decided to hold them at Cairo airport until their onward flight, security officials said on Sunday.

The Canadians landed in Egypt from Iraq to complete a pilgrimage to Shiite sites in the region, but were kept out on the orders of security authorities, said airport security officials who gave no further explanation. Canadians are usually allowed into Egypt with a visa bought upon arrival.

A spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said Ottawa would react later on Sunday.

The government of Egypt, an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim nation, has long been criticized for discriminating against the country’s small Shi’ite community. Egypt’s official Islamic establishment has previously warned against the spread of Shi’ite beliefs.

The U.S. State Department’s religious freedom report for 2012 said the government “continued to harass Shiites.”

In June, four Egyptian Shiites were beaten to death by a mob, a lynching blamed partly on sectarian passions whipped up by ultra-orthodox Salafist Muslim allies of President Mohammad Mursi, who was deposed by the army a few weeks later.

The Shiite denomination emerged in the earliest days of Islam from a dispute over who should lead the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet Mohammad. The Shiites believe leadership should have passed to Ali, the prophet’s son-in-law, and his descendants.

(Source / 05.01.2014)

Video: Heavily armed Israeli occupation soldiers arrest Jerusalem girl


How many soldiers does it take to arrest and handcuff this small Palestinian girl? I counted fifteen armed soldiers just now. This is what the Israeli occupation is made of (video to follow) #jerusalem #palestine

How many soldiers does it take to arrest and handcuff this small Palestinian girl? I counted fifteen armed soldiers just now. This is what the Israeli occupation is made of (video to follow) #jerusalem #palestine on Instagram

Instagram user @zalameh (@BDS4Justice on Twitter) captured these dramatic images and videos of heavily armed Israeli forces arresting a Palestinian girl in eastern occupied Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday afternoon.

In an email to The Electronic Intifada, @zalameh, a resident of Jerusalem, gave his eyewitness account of the incident:

This afternoon after work I headed to the Old City, I entered through Damascus Gate. Right at the entrance I saw more commotion than usual so I headed close to where people were congregating. There were about 8 soldiers (as I counted) surrounding this girl and handcuffing her, she was quiet but her eyes showed fear, she seemed bewildered and was offering no resistance.

It all seemed surreal to see all these soldiers armed to the teeth overwhelming this child and the soldiers were behaving as if they had caught a dangerous criminal. The soldiers did not want people around, especially as they had their phone cameras out, and started pushing them away. Despite being handcuffed and completely restrained, two soldiers were holding her arms each.

She was wearing a sweater saying “I <3 Palestine.” I tried asking what was happening and I couldn’t get anything concrete from people there, most were passers-by and they were as surprised as I was by what they were seeing. More soldiers started coming after about 10 minutes until they were 15 in total, all surrounding the girl, they formed a corridor and rushed her out of the Old City to a police car.

Claimed “stabbing” attempt

Moment armed Israeli soldiers take girl child away – often these kids suffer from a lifelong trauma after this experience, which happens all too often. Timely report released this week by the Committee Against Torture shows that Israel cages and tortures

While it is unclear if it is referring to the same incident, The Jerusalem Post also reportedtoday that a “16-year-old Arab girl attempted to stab a border police officer with a knife near Nablus Gate in Jerusalem on Friday. The suspect is a resident of the Jabal al-Mukaber neighborhood in east Jerusalem, police said.”

The newspaper claimed that “Security personnel succeeded in disarming the woman and bringing her under control but in the process, one of them was injured lightly in the leg. The injured man received medical treatment at the scene.”

Doubtful account

BREAKING: Israeli army arrest Palestinian child in #Jerusalem old city just now. It took fifteen armed soldiers to handcuff and take her. Every year Israeli army arrests and tortured hundreds of Palestinian children as well documented by all major human r

However, @zalameh casts doubt on this version of events if indeed it refers to the same incident. He writes:

First, I saw no soldier injured. I am confident I came there just as she was arrested and I saw no one being taken out from Damascus Gate as I entered. That would have been obvious and second, it is common for Israelis to treat any form of reaction from Palestinians as an “attack.” And what Israel often calls stabbing could be with anything, even if the girl had a go at a soldier with a pen, they would have called it a “stabbing attempt.”

“A more credible version would be that she lost her temper after a particular provocation or humiliation, which for those who live in Jerusalem is a daily reality and this triggered the arrest,” @zalameh added.

The human rights groups B’Tselem reported last year that Israeli occupation forces frequently accuse Palestinian youths and children of violent attacks and then subject them to abuse and torture, including solitary confinement and threats of rape in order to get them to confess.

WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, reported, citing “eyewitnesses,” that Israeli occupation forces arrested a 16-year-old Jerusalem girl near the Damascus Gate “after assaulting and beating her” and then took her to a police station on Salah al-Din Street.

Arrests of Palestinian children are common in occupied Jerusalem.

In November, Israeli occupation forces raided the Jerusalem home of Zine al-Majid in order to arrest his four-year-old son.

(Source / 05.01.2014)

Israel denies freed prisoner entry to Jordan for medical treatment

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities told the Palestinian Red Crescent that newly released Palestinian prisoner Naim Shawamrah would not be allowed to enter Jordan for treatment, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said.

Shawamrah, whose health has been deteriorating since before he was released from Israeli jails, was scheduled to head to Jordan for treatment mid-Sunday, Hebron PPS director Amjad al-Najjar said.

“Everybody was surprised by the decision to reject him,” al-Najjar said. “Preparations have been ongoing since Saturday, but the Red Crescent was notified of an Israeli decision to deny him entry to Jordan.”

Shawamrah was hospitalized late Wednesday due to serious deterioration in his health condition.

Doctors said his condition was worsening, and transferred him to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, al-Najjar said at the time.

Minister of Health Jawad Awwad met Saturday with Shawamrah’s doctor, along with members of his family and other Palestinian Authority officials, and planned to send the former prisoner to Jordan for treatment, a statement from the Ministry of Prisoners’ affairs said.

Shawamrah was released Tuesday morning along with 25 other Palestinian prisoners who were detained before the Oslo Accords. He spent 19 years in Israeli jails and in 2013 was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.

Throughout his final days in prison, he was unable to walk.

Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinian veteran prisoners from Israeli jails in conjunction with US-mediated peace talks with the PLO. Tuesday marked the release of the third round of prisoners.

(Source / 05.01.2014)

Israeli Settler Assaults 12-Year-Old Girl In Jerusalem

[Sunday Morning, January 5, 2014] According to media sources, an Israeli settler violently assaulted a 12-year-old Palestinian girl who was on her way to school this morning, in the old city of Jerusalem, reports Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency.

image: Al Ray

“Marah Munther Jalajil lives in Wadi Hilweh neighborhood, in Silwan, and goes every day to her school in the old city, crossing the Mughrabi gate,” her father said.

“While she was heading to school, accompanied by her aunt’s daughter, an Israeli settler passed them. Then, she suddenly felt a kick on her back and fell on the ground. The settler started kicking her by his feet and beating her on head and belly.”

She was bruised all over her body, according to medical sources.

Marah’s father added that her cousin quickly escaped from the scene and told some men about the incident, upon which they immediately headed to the site and helped Marah. The settler then ran away, her father said; he was later arrested by police, through the use of surveillance cameras.

Human rights group B’Tselem has stated that violent attacks on Palestinians in the city are routine, at times involving extreme violence, including the use of guns, stones and clubs. Israeli soldiers often witness the attacks but rarely intervene, and perpetrators are seldom prosecuted.

(Source / 05.01.2014)

Tunisians call for constitution to outlaw normalisation with Israel


Mahmoud Abbas with Moncef MarzoukiMahmoud Abbas with his Tunisian counterpart, President Moncef Marzouki, during a state visit in 2012

A nationwide committee in Tunisia has called for the constitution to outlaw any “normalisation” with Israel. The National Committee for Supporting Arab Resistance and Fighting Normalisation and Zionism has demanded that the Constituent Assembly mandated with drafting Tunisia’s new constitution includes such an article.

The first draft of the constitution does, in fact, include Article 27, which says that “all forms of normalisation with Zionism and the Zionist entity [ie the State of Israel] are a crime punishable by law”.

The committee includes political parties and civil society organisations which support the right to resistance and struggle against Zionism. Among them are the Tunisian League for Tolerance, the El-Ghad Party, the National Commission for Supporting the Arab Resistance and the Arab-Islamic Gathering to Support the Resistance Option.

(Source / 05.01.2014)

Fatah: Hamas will not allow anniversary celebration in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Fatah spokesman on Sunday said that Hamas refused to allow the faction to hold an official celebration for its 49th anniversary in Gaza.

Spokesman Hasan Ahmad said in a statement that Fatah asked to hold a celebration in al-Katiba or al-Saraya square, but that Hamas refused.

On New Year’s Eve, Fatah held an unofficial gathering at Unknown Soldier’s Square in Gaza City, where thousands came for a torch-lighting ceremony that marked the movement’s anniversary.

Ahmad praised the attendees, who “showed their loyalty, support, love, and pride for Fatah.”

Gaza government spokeswoman Isra Almodallal told Ma’an that the Dec. 31 ceremony was “very nice,” but said it was “not the right time” for Fatah to hold an “official” anniversary celebration.

She said people in Gaza should focus on fixing the humanitarian crisis and standing in solidarity with suffering Palestinians in Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp, not on celebrating individual factions.

Though she hadn’t received any statement saying that Hamas disallowed an official Fatah celebration, she said she assumed that was the case.

In contradictory statement on Thursday, Fatah announced that it “decided” not to hold an official anniversary ceremony in the Strip.

The torch-lighting ceremony was “comprehensive and it conveyed Fatah’s message, and so we decided it was enough,” Fatah leader Faysal Abu Shahla said in a statement.

Hamas, the statement said, had agreed Monday to allow its rival Fatah to celebrate its 49th anniversary in Gaza, but that the latter had chosen not to hold a celebration.

The division between the two factions began in 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.

In the following year, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.

(Source / 05.01.2014)

Israelis begin construction on new settlement in central Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers began leveling a large tract of land in central Hebron in preparation for the construction of a new Jewish settlement outpost in the beleaguered southern West Bank city on Sunday.

Israeli settlers escorted a bulldozer which uprooted fifty-year-old trees in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood near the city center, near an existing extremist right wing Israeli settlement.

A Palestinian source told Ma’an that the Israeli liaison department notified the Palestinian side that Israeli authorities would do earthwork in the area for two months.

This notification, added the source, suggests that Israelis plan to establish a new settlement outpost near the old one known as “Ramat Yashi.”

Spokesman for the Hebron activist group Youth Against Settlements Issa Amr highlighted that a mobile home was placed in the area after it was leveled by bulldozers.

This means a new outpost is being built, he added.

The land which was leveled was leased by the Abu Heikal family in 1949 from the Jordanian government’s Custodian of Enemy Property, Abu Heikal told Ma’an in a phone call.

A new lease was signed after Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, with the Israeli government’s Custodian of Absentee Property, added Abu Heikal. In 1981, the Custodian of Absentee Property refused to take the rent fees, but in 2000 the family reached an agreement with the Israelis and paid for the years 1981-2000.

In 2001 and 2002, he added, the Israelis continued to take rent fees and after that they refused them again and announced the land a closed military zone denying the Palestinians access to it, despite his long-standing lease over the area. A fence was also built around the land.

Amr Issa said that the Israeli Civil Administration had rented the plot of land to Israeli settlers in a lease which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

500 Israeli settlers live in the Old City of Hebron, many of whom have illegally occupied Palestinian houses and forcibly removed the original inhabitants. They are protected by thousands of Israeli forces.

Settlers and Israeli forces regularly target locals in the overwhelmingly Palestinian city for harassment, and many have been forced from their homes as a result.

A 1997 agreement split Hebron into areas of Palestinian and Israeli control.

The Israeli military-controlled H2 zone includes the ancient Old City, home of the revered Ibrahimi Mosque — also split into a synagogue referred to as the Tomb of the Patriarchs — and the once thriving Shuhada street, now just shuttered shops fronts and closed homes.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

(Source / 05.01.2014)