Unrest spreads in occupied West Bank

At least 499 Palestinians have been injured since Saturday as protests have spread to the West Bank.

Palestinian protests have grown in areas across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, prompting Israeli forces to respond harshly.

On Monday, a 13-year-old Palestinian from the Aida refugee camp in the Bethlehem area died after being shot by Israeli soldiers.

Munther Amira, a neighbour of the slain teen Abed al-Rahman Shadi Obeidallah, said: “He was coming back from school carrying his backpack. He was killed in cold blood by the most aggressive occupation in the world.”

Fatma from the Aida refugee camp said the teen “didn’t do anything to deserve this. He should still be playing with his friends instead of being buried in the ground.”

At least 1,600 Palestinians have been injured in clashes since Saturday, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. At least 134 of them were shot by live ammunition and hundreds of others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation and wounds from rubber-coated steel bullets.

Four Israelis have also been killed during the latest clashes, including two settlers shot dead on Thursday night October 1 and another two fatally stabbed in Jerusalem on Saturday.

52 settlers storm the Aqsa under tight security measures

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– 52 Jewish settlers Thursday stormed, in groups, the plazas of the Aqsa Mosque under Israeli tight security measures.

One of the Mosque’s guards told Quds Press that settlers broke into the holy site from the Magharebah gate and roamed its plazas provocatively. Meanwhile, Muslim worshipers confronted settlers by chanting “Allah The Greatest”.

Israeli police confiscated IDs of Jerusalemite women at the gates of the Aqsa Mosque. Some of the women were barred from accessing the Mosque permanently.

Israeli Minister of Finance Yair Lapid and opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog and Deputy Tzipi Livni Thursday morning stormed the Old City of Occupied Jerusalem amid intensive presence of Israeli police members and officers as well as units of border guards.
(Source / 08.10.2015)

IOF threatens to demolish ex-detainee’s home

NABLUS, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) issued at dawn Thursday a demolition notice for a local home in Nablus belonging to the ex-detainee Nimer Haj Mohamed who was exiled to Gaza.

Family sources told the PIC reporter that IOF soldiers stormed and violently searched their home early today.

During the raid, the Israeli commanding officer notified the family of the decision to demolish the three-story home within two weeks.

The Israeli officer also informed the family that their father Nimer has been named in the Israeli list of assassination targets.

The ex-detainee Nimer was arrested in 2004 and sentenced to life term sentence before being released during Shalit Swap Deal in 2011 and sent to Gaza.

He spent seven years out of his sentence, in addition to 11 years in previous arrest.

Israeli authorities have tightened restrictions and punitive measures against Palestinians in an attempt to prevent any further deterioration in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Over the past week, there have been increasing clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians over the storming of the al-Aqsa Mosque by settlers, who are being backed by Israel’s right-wing government.

(Source / 08.10.2015)

West Jerusalem mayor tells settlers to ‘come out with their guns’

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The Israeli mayor of West Jerusalem, Nir Barkat on Thursday delivered a message to the settlers to ‘come out with their guns.”

“Come out today with your licensed guns, for those who know how to use it, that’s what needed right now. In a way, this is like reserve duty,” Barkat said on the Israeli GLZRadio.

Barkat also said that the Palestinians groups “harassing” settlers in general have to be prevented from going up to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

He also called on the Israeli government to increase the security in Jerusalem’s schools, past 1:30 PM.

An Israeli settler, around 36 years old, on Wednesday morning shot, seriously injured a Palestinian girl, Shurouq Dwayyat (18). Several eyewitnesses said the settler was harassing her, and when she tried to defend herself, he shot her with four bullets.

Clashes sparked in Bethlehem after the news of the shooting, especially that the student was on her way to Bethlehem University when she was attacked.

The shooting happened outside the Lion’s Gate (Bab Al-Asbat), in the Old City of Jerusalem, after a 48-hour-seige had been lifted following several shootings and deaths.

In the same area, two Israeli settlers were killed on Saturday after stabbed by a Palestinian 19-year-old, Muhannad Halabi, who was immediately shot dead by the Israeli police.

On Sunday dawn, a Palestinian youth, Fadi Alloun (21) was shot dead by Israeli police on settlers’ orders, in the Bab Al-Amoud area (Damascus Gate) of Jerusalem, and on Sunday night another Palestinian youth was shot during clashes in Tulkarm, named Huthaifa Sulaiman (19).

On Monday, 13-year-old schoolboy AbdulRahman Obeidallah was executed by an Israeli sniper on his way home from school in Aida refugee camp, Bethlehem.

On Wednesday, Amjad Jundi (17) was killed by IOF after he allegedly tried to stab an Israeli soldier.

(Source / 08.10.2015)

Israel responds to rising violence by tearing down more Palestinian homes

A Palestinian man shows the rubble of a destroyed house after Israeli security forces demolished the homes of two Palestinians behind attacks in the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber in east Jerusalem, on October 6, 2015. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged an iron fist against mounting unrest

JERUSALEM — After a string of attacks on Israeli civilians in Jerusalem, the government there is increasingly using a controversial measure designed to deter would-be attackers: home demolitions.

On Monday night, on the orders of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, two homes were destroyed. They belonged to Abu Jamil Jasan Ben Muhammad, who attacked a synagogue in November of last year, killing four, and Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis, who drove a bulldozer into a public bus last August, killing one and injuring seven. Both men had been shot dead at their crime scenes. Security forces also sealed off a room in the former home of Muatez Ibrahim Halil Hijazi, who attempted to assassinate the right-wing US-born rabbi Yehuda Glick last October. He was also killed at the scene of the crime.

Demolitions of this kind have long been controversial. Since they take place after the attacker has been killed or imprisoned, it is family members who suffer the consequences, regardless of whether they have committed any crime.

The Israeli government says the method acts as a deterrent against terrorism. In the wake of recent violence — in the last 24 hours, there have been four knife attacksin Jerusalem by Palestinians against Israeli citizens — Netanyahu has called on his government to find a way to legally expedite demolitions.

“This evening, we approved stringent measures against terrorism by using a variety of means,” Netanyahu said following an emergency cabinet session on Monday to address the rising violence. “We will continue to do whatever is necessary. Let us be clear — we will defeat terrorism just as we have done in the past.”

“The destruction of terrorists’ homes sends a sharp, clear message to those who wish to harm Israeli civilians and security forces, that terrorism and causing harm to innocents carries with it a heavy price,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement in 2014, when the IDF returned to the practice for the first time five years.

Israeli Zaka volunteers clean up blood stains at site where a 19-year-old Palestinian man stabbed a 25-year-old Jewish man in Jerusalem on October 8, 2015, in the latest in a spate of knife attacks, defying Israeli attempts to contain escalating violence

But rights groups argue the home demolitions are against the law, and ineffective. “It’s illegal, it’s immoral and it’s also actually not going to achieve the stated goal,” said Sarit Michaeli, spokesperson for the Israel-based rights group Bt’selem. It is done “primarily to address political fallout” among Israelis — essentially to show that the government is doing something to stem violence, Michaeli said.

Rights workers describe the demolitions as collective punishment that violates Israeli and international legal principles.

The demolitions “punish innocent people for actions they did not commit,” said Michaeli. Plus, they disproportionately affect women and children.

The policy is only applied to Palestinians who attack Israelis, not to Israelis who attack Palestinians. But the idea that the practice is an effective deterrent has been refuted by the military itself.

In February of 2005 a military committee determined that the effectiveness of home demolitions as a counterterrorism measure was questionable and “walked the line of legality.”

The practice was halted following the committee’s report, with the exception of one demolition and the sealing of two others in East Jerusalem in 2009.

However, in July 2014, Netanyahu’s government reintroduced the practice after three yeshiva students were abducted and then killed. Since then they have been carried out regularly.

Once a demolition order is issued, families have little hope of stopping it. They can request a repeal of the order — those are almost always rejected — and then they can appeal to the High Court.

In recent years the High Court has supported the government’s decision almost without exception. Sometimes families appeal to the High Court simply as a way to buy time to get their belongings out and relocate.

(Source / 08.10.2015)

Palestinian Student Groups in Gaza Respond to Attacks on BDS by “NYC SJP”

Global BDS Movement

Occupied Gaza, 8 October 2015 — The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) and all the undersigned student groups, representing the entire political spectrum in Gaza, are deeply troubled by a recent article titled, “The BDS Ceiling,” written by the newly formed group New York City Students for Justice in Palestine (NYC SJP).  The most disconcerting aspect of this article is that, despite its veneer of leftist rhetoric, it does a great disservice to those it purports to represent and be in solidarity with.  Not only does the article misrepresent the BDS movement with false premises and ill-informed arguments, it also undermines our BDS efforts.

Clearly, NYC SJP group does not speak on behalf of SJP National, which adopted the 2005 BDS call as their first unifying principle in 2010.  Moreover, this group’s views and misunderstanding of BDS seem to be at odds with the great majority of the over 160 SJP chapters in the United States.  Students in Palestine see the efforts of students leading BDS campaigns across US campuses not only as a clear gesture of solidarity and commitment to our cause, but also as an exceptionally effective form of support for our struggle.  SJP chapters have frequently been in communication and coordination with Palestinian student campaigns in Palestine, like PSCABI, that are part of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)–the largest coalition in Palestinian society that is the reference for the global BDS movement.

Unlike the NYC SJP group, most SJPs that work to enhance and advance BDS efforts seem to take their cues from the largest coalitions representing all Palestinians, in Palestine and in exile, especially those of us living, working, and struggling on the ground in Palestine, under the daily assaults against our lives, land and dignity.  Indeed, one of the main reasons why SJP is widely respected as a partner among many Palestinian groups is because most SJP organizers take the time to engage in meaningful conversations with those of us in Palestine who see BDS as one of our most effective strategies for garnering political leverage by isolating Israel’s regime of oppression.

It is disturbing and ironic that activists claiming to be supportive of the Palestinian struggle would attack BDS, a distinguished form of popular resistance that enjoys a near consensus among Palestinians and that has become one of the most effective solidarity strategies—if not the most effective—in support of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

Regardless of the underlying intentions, this NYC SJP attack on BDS after ten years of its impressive growth, and at a time when the Israeli government, Israel lobby groups and Zionist organizations all over the world are fighting it as a “strategic threat” to Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, can only serve Israel’s well-oiled crusade against the BDS movement.

NYC SJP set out to critique Palestine solidarity activism, and as a general critique this could have been a useful exercise.  However, they digress into an attack on BDS and its broad Palestinian leadership, the BNC.  That sadly regurgitates many of the arguments the movement has had to counter over the years by those opposed to Palestinian rights.

There are three major issues with this article that make it entirely inaccurate, uninformed, poorly researched, and damaging.

First, by suggesting that the BDS movement uncritically accepts the idea of an idealized, monolithic “Palestinian civil society,” NYC SJP seems to be inattentive to the actual politics of the movement.  The entities involved in the BDS call include the largest Palestinian political parties, refugee coalitions, trade unions, women’s unions, writers and professional associations, academic unions, student groups, the largest networks of 1948 Palestinians, among others.  Framing these bodies as “imperialist tools” raises serious questions about the intellectual integrity of NYC SJP and the legitimacy of their argument.

It is clear that the NYC SJP article is also oblivious to the delicate negotiations and difficult political calibrations that were needed to construct points of unity that correspond to our most fundamental rights and that can be endorsed and enforced across such a broad spectrum of Palestinians in order to generate concrete and strategic action.

Criticizing a crucial component of our resistance by indirectly claiming to know the real interests of the Palestinian people more than we do and trying to speak on behalf of an entire people without taking the necessary steps needed to be accountable to it precisely indicate the kind of patronizing colonial mentality that BDS is attempting to work against.

NYC SJP argues that the BDS movement is successful at the expense of other strategies and campaigns, rather than recognizing it as a crucial tool that enhances and augments the Palestinian struggle.  From the ground in Palestine, we consider our diverse, strategic forms of resistance not as mutually-exclusive but rather as mutually-beneficial.  We view internal competition for political authenticity, amongst self-proclaimed progressives or revolutionaries, as antithetical to the Palestinian struggle and toxic to all movements seeking to engender political change.

Second, the statement sets up straw man arguments to undermine BDS work and BDS organizers. One straw man argument suggests that an ominous Palestinian BDS leadership forbids advocacy for a One State agenda.  This argument is misleading, and politically obtuse.  Some in this BDS leadership, in their personal capacity, have been among the most consistent in advocating for a single democratic state solution for decades, but outside the BDS framework.  Some of us in the student movement have also been advocates of the One State solution and actively working on this issue.  Moreover, all members of the Gaza-based One Democratic Sate Group are BDS activists.  However, requiring the BDS movement to put forward a solution before creating the conditions under which the Palestinian people can decide on the ultimate solution is not only undemocratic but also shortsighted.

The BDS movement is consistently and completely neutral on the question of the political solution to this colonial conflict for several reasons:

  1. There is absolutely no consensus among Palestinians in support of a one-state or two-state solution. Opinion polls show ebbs and flows in this regard connected to political developments.  This is a fact that must be taken seriously by any popular consensus-oriented movement like BDS.
  1. The BNC is not, and never claimed to be, the political leadership of the Palestinian people and therefore cannot decide on behalf of the people what the acceptable political outcome of our struggle should look like. Self-determination means that the Palestinian people (including Palestinians in the 1948 territory and the refugees), must democratically determine a solution that is deemed acceptable and just.  An anonymous group of student activists in New York, with all due respect, are not part of the decision making process in determining the future for the Palestinian people.
  1. BDS is based on the three main Palestinian rights (most importantly the right of return for refugees) that, taken together, would contribute significantly to creating conditions that are favorable to Palestinian emancipation and self-determination.
  1. The three rights in the 2005 BDS Call correspond to the three main constituencies of the Palestinian people. No matter what solution the Palestinian people ultimately decide is just, it must address the rights of all Palestinians, in historic Palestine and in exile, we all agree.  These rights, which constitute the highest common denominator among almost all Palestinian parties, unions and networks, cannot and should not be reduced to ending the 1967 occupation alone, as doing so would not just undermine the rights of 62% of the Palestinian people who do not live in the 1967-occupied territory, but also undermine the right of return of the refugees (internally displaced persons) who reside in the 1967 territory.
  1. BDS as a crucial part of the Palestinian popular and civic resistance and as arguably the most impactful form of international solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, is not an intellectual exercise. It seeks to concretely isolate Israel’s regime of oppression in the academic, cultural, economic and eventually military spheres, as was done to apartheid South Africa, in order to achieve the inalienable rights of our people.  To be effective and in harmony with its principles as a human rights movement, BDS is anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law, despite the obvious flaws of the latter.

Third, the article mentions Sodastream as an example of the “liberal limits” of BDS.  It suggests that BDS focuses almost exclusively on the settlements and occupation, and thus, when Sodastream announced that it was leaving the West Bank this exposed the movement’s logic.  This is simply false. Even a cursory look at the BDS movement website would have shown exactly the opposite: the BNC called for continuing the boycott against SodaStream, as explained by BNC spokesperson Dr. Rafeef Ziadah, who wrote that SodaStream will remain actively complicit in the displacement of Palestinians in the Naqab and will remain a focus of boycott campaigning. She said:

“Even if this announced closure goes ahead, SodaStream will remain implicated in the displacement of Palestinians. Its new Lehavim factory is close to Rahat, a planned township in the Naqab (Negev) desert, where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcefully transferred against their will. Sodastream, as a beneficiary of this plan, is complicit with this violation of human rights.”

Moreover, many of the top priority campaigns waged by the BDS movement since 2005 have targeted Israel’s regime of oppression and violations of international law as a whole.  These include the military embargo drive, the mobilization against the Prawer Plan to ethnically cleanse Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab (Negev), the G4S boycott which straddles the company’s complicity in international law violations in the 1967 territory as well as in the 1948 territory, the Elbit boycott and divestment drive, the Mekorot boycott campaign, HP, etc.

NYCSJP draws a number of conclusions based on their flawed argument.  One conclusion is that BDS “as the ceiling of our work has proved to be little more than a revolving door, churning out similar petitions and events each semester with little to no focus on escalation or movement building in general.”  We would agree that strategic escalation and adopting diverse effective tactics are always welcome, but we fail to see how the fact that we could all do more in this area shows that BDS has reached some kind of “ceiling.”

If BDS is not growing exponentially and dramatically intensifying the isolation of Israel’s system of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, why is Israel fighting it as a “strategic threat,” one may justifiably ask?

Israeli industrialists have established a “BDS hotline” to help companies counter international boycotts.

A former Israeli Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit is convinced that BDS has become a “critical” challenge to Israel’s system of injustice, while the former prime minister Ehud Barak admits it is reaching a “tipping point.”  Indeed, BDS has become a hot topic even in the US presidential elections and Congress.

Recent reports and studies about the current and potential impact of BDS, whether direct or indirect, may help to explain why Israel takes the movement so seriously.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), foreign direct investment in Israel has dropped by 46% in 2014 as compared to 2013, partially due to the growing boycott of Israel, as a co-author of the report admits.

A recent Rand study predicted that if BDS continues to grow at its current rate, it will cost Israel in the coming 10 years 1-2% of its GDP (US$44-88 billion).

According to a World Bank study issued at the end of September 2015, Palestinian imports from Israel dropped by 24 percent during the first quarter of 2015.  The study explains that the drop “is the result of reduced economic activity, but also a growing trend among Palestinian consumers to substitute products imported from Israel by those from other countries, as a result of which non-Israeli imports were up 22 percent.”  These local boycott initiatives are coordinated by the BNC.

With some institutional memory of Palestine solidarity activism, many would realize that solidarity has come a long way because of BDS, which played an indisputable role in mainstreaming Palestinian rights.  Attacking it with contrived, misleading and frequently debunked arguments is not a constructive way to push the movement forward, assuming that to be the intention.

Another conclusion this group draws relates to the need to connect struggles.  Again, this is a straw man because the BDS movement in Palestine and internationally has been connecting struggles not just through workshops and statements, but also through cross-movement campaigning and joint organizing.  Intersectionality is a key strategy and principle adopted by BDS partners worldwide, connecting the struggle for Palestinian justice with racial, social, economic, environmental and other justice movements worldwide.

A concluding point the article makes is that BDS alone cannot lead to political transformation.  Precisely.  The BNC has never suggested that BDS alone can possibly defeat the massive, US-sponsored system of Israeli oppression that we are facing.  Indeed, other forms of effective organizing are necessary and welcome.  But BDS is without a doubt widely recognized today, whether among Palestinians and international supporters of Palestinian rights or, ironically, by Israel and its lobby groups as among the most potent strategies ever developed by Palestinians to isolate Israel’s system of injustice internally and globally.

As student groups in Gaza, we are saddened to see attacks on this indispensable part of our struggle from those who claim to be fighting for our liberation.  We reiterate that we stand with the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people calling on people of conscience and progressive forces around the world to endorse BDS and to be involved in effective BDS campaigning.  Achieving our comprehensive and inalienable rights as a people is our only “ceiling.”

Signed:

The Secretariat of Students’ Unions and Blocs – Gaza Strip:
Fatah Youth Movement
Islamic Bloc
Progressive Student Work Front
Islamic League of Palestinian Students
Mubadara Student Bloc
Union of Students’ Struggle Committees
Student Unity Bloc
Progressive Student Union Bloc
Student Bloc of Independence
Student Struggle Bloc
Palestinian Liberation Youth
Palestinian Union of students’ Struggle Committees
Land and Man Bloc

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)

Herak Youth Center

(Source / 08.10.2015)

Russian Video Said to Show Cruise Missile Strikes on Syria

Russia launched a volley of missiles on Wednesday from warships in the Caspian Sea to strike targets in Syria. The use of 26 sea-based cruise missiles was one of the first known uses in combat of Russian missiles with this range. A video published by the Russian Defense Ministry purports to show missile launches from the Caspian Sea. RELATED ARTICLE »

U.S. and Russian Airstrikes Show Divergent Strategies

The pattern of Russian and American airstrikes in Syria leaves little question about the divergent goals of the two countries. Both countries have said they want to defeat terrorist groups like the Islamic State, but in Syria,Russia’s definition of terrorist encompasses some groups that are allies of the United States.

Russia has mostly attacked rebels fighting the government, not ISIS. Targets include some American-backed rebel groups and groups which the United States considers terrorist organizations.

The United States has focused on ISIS and on supporting Kurdish forces. But Americans have also hit some targets that could benefit the Syrian government, like in Palmyra and Deir al-Zour.

“This bombing of the CIA-trained rebels is a serious issue for the U.S., which wants to avoid direct proxy warfare against Russia, like in the 1980s Afghan war, but can’t simply let the Russians target their partners repeatedly,” said Lila Ghosh, an analyst at the Soufan Group, a security consultancy firm. “The Russians are, in effect, forcing the U.S. to consider broadening its narrow anti-Islamic State focus to an anti-Assad focus, which is a significant shift in policy and has massive repercussions.”

Most of the Targets Have Been Far From ISIS Territory

The United States and other nations that have been supporting rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad issued a statement calling on Russia to stop targeting other opposition groups and focus on the Islamic State. Detailed data on who controls which areas of the country, collected by the Carter Center, showed that most of the targets hit by Russia are in Syria’s northwest, where other rebel groups, not the Islamic State, are in control.

How Control of Syria Has Shifted

Rebel groups seized territory from Syrian government forces in June 2011, although their hold was tenuous until 2012. Control of the country has become increasingly fractured: Rebels have gained territory, the Islamic State has established itself firmly and the Syrian government has given control of some northern areas to Kurdish groups in exchange for support.

Rebel groups held areas throughout Syria, while the Islamic State controlled territory mostly in the northwest.

The Islamic State rapidly gained territory in 2014, establishing governance in Raqqa and controlling the Euphrates River to Iraq.

Kurdish groups pushed the Islamic State out of some northern regions. Rebel forces gained control of some areas in Idlib province.

Many of the Initial Airstrikes Were Near the
Boundaries Between Government and Rebel Zones

Who Controls Which Areas in Syria

Four groups have claimed control over a divided Syria. Government forces hold the center of most of Syria’s largest cities, while various rebel forces are stronger in the north and northeast. The Islamic State continues to hold most of the corridor along the Euphrates River. Kurdish forces occupy northern Syria, along the country’s border with Turkey.

Varied Rebel Groups Make Up the Opposition

Some 7,000 armed groups have formed during more than four years of civil war, according to the Carter Center. All groups are fighting against the Assad regime and the Islamic State, but different political ideologies and territorial divides have split the opposition into many factions. Here are some of the groups that make up the rebels.In the province of Aleppo, two groups are fighting government forces and the Islamic State. The more moderate Fatah Halab Operations Roomexcludes hard-line groups, while the Ansar al-Shariah Operations Room, formed as a response to Fatah Halab, works with the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda.In central Syria around Idlib, Latakia and Hama, the largest group is theArmy of Conquest, which has been a target of the Russian airstrikes. The group, also called Jaish al-Fatah, is a loose alliance of mostly Islamist factions, including the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate; Ahrar al-Sham, another large group; and more moderate rebel factions that have received covert arms support from the intelligence services of the United States and its allies.In the Damascus region, the Army of Islam, a group with financial backing from Saudi Arabia, has declared war on Russia. It is one of several armed groups that form the East Gouta Council.In the South, the Southern Front is a coalition of smaller armed groups that has coordinated with the United States. The coalition supports a secular government.

(Source / 08.10.2015)

France says Safe Zone in Syrian is Workable

The Syrian Coalition’s political body met with the French representative to the Syrian opposition Frank Gilet on Thursday at his request. Gilet said that France supports establishing safe zones in Syria, adding that he has reviewed Turkey’s vision on and the mechanisms for implementing it. He described these mechanisms as “adequate” and “workable,” adding that France will discuss this plan with the United States to put the final touches on the project.

The two sides discussed the importance of establishing a safe zone to protect civilians from the indiscriminate bombardment, which will help stem the flow of migrants to Europe and empower Syrian rebels to fight the Assad regime and ISIS.

Members of the political committee stress the need to lay out a common position with the revolutionary and rebel factions to fend off the Russian and Iranian invasions, particularly with regard to international initiatives for a political solution.

In a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, French President Francois Hollande warned of the outbreak of “all-out war” in Syria if Europe does not act.

Holland said that “we have to build political future that provides the Syrian people with an alternative to Bashar al-Assad and ISIS.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 08.10.2015)

2 Palestinian students shot, injured in settler attack

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)–Two Palestinian students  were shot and injured Wednesday morning by Israeli settlers near Bethlehem to the south of occupied West Bank.

One of the injured students was shot in his chest with live rounds, while the second suffered rubber bullet injuries in his right foot, medical sources told the PIC reporter.

Both were taken to hospital for treatment, where medics described their conditions as moderate to serious.

Following the settler armed attack, violent clashes broke out in the area between Palestinian students and Israeli forces who heavily fired tear gas bombs and rubber bullets.

(Source / 08.10.2015)

Sisi calls on Arab countries to expand peace with Israel

President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 28, 2015

CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi recently called for expanding the 40-year-old peace process between Egypt and Israel to include more Arab countries. In a Sept. 26 interview with the Associated Press, Sisi said peace between Egypt and Israel was achieved despite great doubt. He added that solving the Palestinian crisis would change the face of the region.

sraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw Sisi’s call as an opportunity and welcomed it on the same day. Netanyahu called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to return to the negotiating table to resume the peace process and move forward.

Abbas surprised almost everyone when he announced in his Sept. 30 speech to the United Nations that the PA “cannot continue to be bound” by the Oslo Accords, a set of peace agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1993 and 1995 in Washington, D.C., and Taba, Egypt, respectively. Abbas said the statement came in response to Israel’s failure to fulfill its commitments toward ending the Israeli occupation.

Sisi’s call has sparked controversy between two opposing viewpoints.

The first viewpoint sees this as a call for normalization despite repeated infringements by Israel of Al-Aqsa Mosque and its legislation of racist laws directly targeting the resistance, including the act of throwing stones. The Israeli government on Sept. 21 had passed a draft bill prepared by the Israeli police command, and agreed to by Israeli Attorney General Judea Feinstein, allowing police to open live fire against anyone throwing stones and Molotov cocktails in occupied Jerusalem.

The other viewpoint says Sisi’s call will stimulate the stagnant peace process.

Samir Ghattas, an expert in Palestinian affairs and director of the Middle East Studies Forum think tank, told Al-Monitor, “President Sisi’s recent statement is based on the fundamental principle of the establishment of the state of Palestine based on the borders of June 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital. Sisi made such a statement in his speech at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 28; therefore, the two statements cannot be separated. Arab countries that Sisi called upon to join his initiative [won’t] do so if it does not include this principle, which will render his initiative useless.”

The initiative is based on the agreement reached by Arab leaders at the March 2002 Arab summit in Beirut, which called for a comprehensive peace between Arabs and Israel after establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and allowing refugees to return to their homes as soon as possible, in accordance with UN Resolution 194 of 1948.

However, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has set contrary Israeli conditions, saying in 2002 that a withdrawal to the 1967 borders would lead to “Israel’s destruction.”

Later, Abbas developed the idea of retrieving the occupied lands and including all Islamic countries in a comprehensive peace. He then submitted his suggestion to the Islamic Conference in 2003, where it was approved by the Islamic countries, including Iran.

Ghattas sees three political motives behind Sisi’s initiative: support the Palestinian position by unifying Arab ranks, bring back the Palestinian issue to the global table after its lengthy neglect and reintroduce Egypt to the world as the Middle Eastern country most capable of mediating a comprehensive and just peace.

According to Ghattas, Abbas’ speech to the UN was previously agreed upon in Egypt, since Abbas had visited Egypt on Sept. 9 before going on his European tour and then on to the UN headquarters in New York. Ghattas believes it was also agreed that Abbas would announce Palestinian withdrawal from the Oslo Accords, which Israel turned into ink on paper. At this point, Egypt suggested — and Sisi subsequently called for — a collective peace agreement that would present an ultimatum to Israel: Accept peace with all Arab countries or have no peace with any of them.

Ghattas believes Sisi was not trying to normalize relations with Israel. “Sisi is trying to make a cold peace with Israel and the latter is well aware of that, but would take this cold peace over a hot war anytime,” he said.

Hassan Nafaa, head of the department of economics and political science at Cairo University, said Sisi was not aware of the full extent of his statement, since the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel is a bilateral agreement reached after strenuous efforts and cannot include new external parties. Rather, any such agreement with Israel must be reached through new negotiations and a new treaty.

Nafaa added that the idea of a comprehensive peace with Israel isn’t feasible since all of the countries bordering Israel, including Syria, entered negotiations with Israel. But when negotiations focused on establishing a Palestinian state under the June 1967 borders, Israel evaded any treaty in this context.

“Calling upon the Arab states to enter into a peace treaty will give priority to Israel, which soon will shy away from its obligations to return the occupied territories. This has happened with the Oslo Accords and UN Resolution 194 on the right of return of refugees, which was a condition — that Israel has yet to meet — for its admission at the UN,” Nafaa said.

Said al-Lawandi, an expert in international relations at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor, “Israel sees the Islamic sanctities as an obstacle preventing it from ending the Palestinian cause; therefore, it races time to Judaize Jerusalem, and all it has left is to demolish Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

He explained that Sisi is calling for all Arabs to support the Palestinian cause and protect Al-Aqsa Mosque, since Palestinians are not solely responsible for the mosque.

Lawandi added, “Sisi wanted to solve the Palestinian cause in light of difficult security situations experienced by several Arab countries such as Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. War will not be an option in dealing with Israel in order to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque, and this is why Sisi [proposed] the peace option.”

(Source / 08.10.2015)