East Jerusalem resident condemns Israeli plan to connect settlements

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian owner of a home demolished in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shufat condemned Israel on Thursday for tearing down local homes for the purpose of connecting illegal Israeli settlements.Israeli forces demolished the home of Kifaya al-Rashk on Wednesday, displacing 19 Palestinians living in the 150-square-meter house.Al-Rashqa told Ma’an that Israeli forces with police dogs entered and evacuated family members, the majority of whom were children and only able to leave the home with a few possessions.The forces assaulted locals who gathered near the home during the demolition using batons, physical force, and pepper spray, al-Rashq said. Eighteen Palestinians were left with injuries following the incident, including three Red Crescent paramedics.Al-Rashq told Ma’an that the family had been living in the house since 2000, after building on a piece of land they purchased, and that the Jerusalem Municipality has issued several demolition orders on the home since.“We’ve struggled with Israeli courts for 15 years to protect our house from demolition, as it is our only shelter, and we’ve paid thousands of shekels for building violations, lawyers and engineers, but in vain.”Al-Rashq says the demolition of her home and others in the neighborhood as carried out by Israeli authorities “for the benefit of settlements” to make way for a road — Route 21 — which will run through Shufat in order to connect the illegal Israeli settlements of Pisgat Zeev, Ramat Shlom and Neve Yaakov.An activist who monitors settlement activity, Ahmad Sub Laban, told Ma’an that Route 21 was planned in the 1990s and that its construction is expected to be followed by 1,500 new settlement units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement.Sub Laban added that the Israeli municipality had opened two additional entrances for Ramat Shlomo through Route 21.Al-Rasq’s neighbor, Rajeh Huwwarin and his seven-member family told Ma’an he also received a demolition order issued by an Israeli court, expected to be carried out in April.The Shufat neighborhood — surrounded by illegal settlements to its southern and western sides and bordered by the Israeli separation wall to the east — is one of several Palestinian communities in occupied East Jerusalem to face threat of demolitions.Well over 2,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished since Israel occupied the city in 1967, according to documentation by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.Land expropriation, zoning restrictions, house demolitions, expansion of settlements into Palestinian neighborhoods, as well as isolation of East Jerusalem from the West Bank fall in line with an official Israeli policy to “Judaize” Jerusalem, according the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.Several Bedouin communities are currently also at risk of being forcibly transferred in order to connect Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem to a large West Bank settlement, Maale Adumim, a plan that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon earlier this week demanded that Israel halt.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

ICRC: Palestinian prisoner is dying in Israeli jails

On Wednesday, an Israeli court rejected his release

International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday that Palestinian journalist hunger strike in Israeli jails is dying.

The Israeli occupation forces are violating the Fourth Geneva Convention, the ICRC said, regarding its prevention of Al-Qeq from the visit of his family

Days of Palestine, West Bank –International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday that Palestinian journalist hunger strike in Israeli jails is dying.

In a statement, the ICRC said that its doctor visited the hunger striking journalist Mohamed al-Qeq in the Israeli jails and said that he is suffering “very serious conditions.”

The ICRC said that it had been in continuous contact with the Israeli occupation authorities in order to discuss humanitarian issues on behalf of the Palestinians.

“Currently, we stress on the importance to maintain open channel between the patient and the Israeli authorities in order to prevent his death,” ICRC official said in the statement.

The Israeli occupation forces are violating the Fourth Geneva Convention, the ICRC said, regarding its prevention of Al-Qeq from the visit of his family.

Al-Qeq has been on hunger strike since November 24, 2015, protesting against his administrative detention by the Israeli occupation.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

Attacking churches in Palestine: An Israeli policy since 1948

palestinians in a church

File photo of Palestinians praying in a church

Israeli documents have revealed that the Israeli army deliberately adopted a policy based on the destruction, vandalism and harm of the sanctity of churches in Palestine, during and after the 1948 war. An Israeli book, which will be published next month, explains how the Israeli army carried out seizure and destruction operations against churches located in the Palestinian cities, towns and villages the army took control off after expelling their people.

The book, which will be published by the Moshe Sharett Heritage Society, is based on the statements and testimonies of former Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Moshe Sharett, regarding the brutal attacks on Palestinian churches. According to the book, whichHaaretz newspaper published excerpts from, Sharett, in his capacity as foreign minister, strongly criticised the policy of destruction and looting adopted by the Israeli army during the meeting held by the government under the presidency of David Ben-Gurion on 5 July 1949.

The author of the book mentions that Sharett’s description of the actions committed by the Israeli army against the churches was not only limited to his participations in government meetings. Instead, he took advantage of every partisan meeting with the representatives of this political party, Mapai, to describe what he considered “heinous acts” committed against churches.

The book reveals the text of the protocol of the meeting held on 5 July 1949, although the Israel State Archive prohibits the revelation of the full original text due to the fact that it includes Sharett’s testimony regarding the atrocities committed against the churches. According to the protocol, Sharett described the army’s violations of the church saying, “the officers and soldiers deliberately harmed the Christian sanctities; their behaviour is that of beasts, not human beings.” Sharett also said, “The attacks suffered by the churches at the hands of the soldiers and officers are a shameful page in Israel’s history.”

This book also revealed that Sharett compared Israel, which allowed such acts, to “an evil and brutal Caesar that promotes nothing but destruction.” He added: “The soldiers and officers turned the churches to toilets where they would tend to their needs.” The book also goes on to reveal that Sharett told members of the Mapai party, in a meeting in July 1949, that Israel deliberately declared the areas containing churches as military zones in order to justify its refusal to allow foreign visitors and tourists to enter these areas and churches in an attempt to prevent them from witnessing the army’s heinous violations.

Sharett also said that the soldiers stole a very valuable crown made of precious stones from one of the churches. He also noted another incident where the soldiers broke the hand off a sculpture of Jesus in one of the churches in order to steal the gold bracelets that were on it, as an example of the systematic looting and stealing from the churches which lasted for months. He stressed that the Israeli officers and soldiers also intentionally harmed the sanctity of the churches and tore holy books, mentioning that the acts of destruction committed against the churches were not only committed by the officers and soldiers, but also by many settlers, especially those who newly immigrated.

Haaretz newspaper reported that the Israel State Archive revealed the archives from the government meeting on 5 July 1949 after omitting 30 sentences said by Sharett during the meeting in which he described the atrocities committed against the churches. The revelation of the Israeli army’s acts against the churches has gained great attention in light of some Jewish religious figures expressing their support for the burning of churches committed by Jewish terrorist groups. According to these religious figures, Christians should not be allowed to perform their religious rituals, as they consider Christianity “a form of paganism”. Large groups of religious Israeli youths have adopted these convictions, and this is cited by the fact that the Hilltop Youth Jewish terrorist organisation graffitied the walls of a church in occupied Jerusalem early last week with phrases threatening the killing of Christians in the city.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

Want to call Erdogan a dictator? Get ready to hire some lawyers

During a protest in Ankara on Nov. 27, 2015, over the arrest of journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, a woman walks past a banner that makes reference to the arrests of journalists and the censorship of media and calls Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a war criminal

The daily Hurriyet’s magazine supplement posted Nov. 13 a web-only article headlined “13 Reasons for Bad Luck Associated with Friday the 13th.” The piece was not political and was illustrated by a photograph of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous “Last Supper.” Upon closer inspection of the image, however, one saw it had been digitally altered to have President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seated to the right of Jesus. In a public apology to Erdogan, Hurriyet said it had removed the image from its Web page within minutes of its posting and immediately fired the editor, Aynur Karabel, and the director of Web page content, Sermin Terzi. It also said the use of the photo had been an unacceptable oversight.

For the two fired journalists, the ordeal is far from over. News broke Jan. 25 that prosecutors had filed suit against Terzi and Karabel for offending the president. Both assert that they did not realize Erdogan’s image had been placed into the visual. Because the article had nothing to do with politics, they had no intention or reason to use such an image. The prosecutors claim, however, that the image is offensive regardless of purpose or accidental use.

That same day, an investigation was launched against CNN Turk, which had reported on opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu calling Erdogan a “sham dictator.” In reporting this news, the TV network had put quotation marks around the word “dictator” when it used the subheadline “‘Dictator’ Under Investigation.” CNN Turk, which was simply trying to report on the word “dictator,” now finds itself in the crosshairs of the Turkish legal system.

These two cases should come as no surprise to regular readers of Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse, given that several columns have reported on how quick to anger Erdogan and his men can be. The cases have naturally generated commentary on social media and among pundits, with sober analysts arguing that it is counterproductive for a politician not to allow anyone to call him a dictator, and that he should instead give up acting like one.

Indeed, in October, a court in Eskisehir province acquitted four college students for referring to Erdogan as a dictator. The students had hung a banner stating “Dictators Are Toppled in the Streets,” with Erdogan’s image looming in the background. Their acquittal only increased the salience of the “D-word” for Erdogan and his supporters, who relish defending Erdogan in their overwrought anxiety.

Indeed, when Turkish political discourse is examined from a distance, one sees that it has become a vicious circle: The more the Justice and Development Party (AKP) idolizes Erdogan and tries to justify his dominance of the legislative and executive branches, the more suspicious and frustrated they become. Hence, every cartoon, question or social media post becomes a potential source for offending Erdogan. In turn, Erdogan’s supporters relentlessly compete among themselves to punish critics.

Yet, these two latest events go beyond new and creative ways to silence opposition. There is no political opposition inherent in them. The “Last Supper” episode was most likely an oversight by exhausted journalists, and CNN Turk employed a standard method of reporting to explain the Kilicdaroglu court case. The latter marks a turning point in Turkish politics from sufficiently silencing the political opposition. Is the next step to control every detail — the images, the words and any possible signs of discontent?

Pinar Dag, a seasoned journalist and an expert on data journalism, told Al-Monitor, “To consider this subheadline on TV as an offense to the president is intervening in news reporting through the threat of the courts. Maybe it is a naive wish given the times, but the president’s press advisers should have reacted to this case in the name of freedom of the press. The channel [CNN Turk] has been tarnished for a while, causing changes in its policies. But to turn such instances into court cases is almost like mocking the state of law. Everyone knows those were the opposition leader’s words, so why bother with [such petty issues] when Turkey has real deep-rooted problems? This is just muddying the waters, simply an operation aimed at our perceptions.”

Kerem Efe Sozeri, an analyst who researches the media, emphasized the importance of a growing segment of the population that praises such restrictions on freedom of expression. He told Al-Monitor, “We are a society of two parts now: traitors and reasonable citizens. These two images [the CNN Turk subheadline and digitally altered ‘Last Supper’] are signs of our transition to authoritarianism. While the AKP was struggling against the military establishment, it was a political struggle. This one now is a cultural one. Gradually we are all getting accustomed to the state’s language influencing not only what we should say but how we should think.”

Yusuf Salman, an independent analyst and media scholar specializing in minority media and speech policies, told Al-Monitor, “So far, I have counted about 1,300 court cases for offending Erdogan, and most of them have been rather random and arbitrary. The trend has been to prosecute ordinary citizens. In the coming months, we may see a change whereby more academics, lawyers and politicians are prosecuted. Is there a strategic reason for the AKP to hit the brakes on its rage?”

Indeed, that might just be the crux of the matter. The angrier Erdogan gets, the more he is revered in Turkey. The more his supporters are convinced that enemies of the state are targeting Erdogan, the more they rally around him, declaring their unconditional support. Now that most of the opposition has been duly silenced, and one rarely hears the voice of opposition leaders on TV — from which most of the Turks get their news — the focus may now be on eliminating certain words from public usage.

News reporting, not only words but also images, is seen as dangerous. One analyst working for pro-AKP media said in confidence, “So it doesn’t matter whether CNN Turk itself called Erdogan a dictator or [only] reported the news. They had his photo, and underneath it it read ‘dictator’ on the screen. Do you think the average Turk pays attention to the quotation marks?”

When asked whether the court cases will bring additional attention to the D-word being associated with Erdogan, the pundit replied, “Well, that is good. If the Turkish public sees that their leader is being disrespected, they will stand in front of him and protect him. So yes, everyone should see those who are offending the state.” Thus, unsurprisingly, the case was widely reported on pro-AKP outlets.

The anonymous pundit is correct, and thoughts similar to hers are echoed daily on numerous TV channels. As the political opposition is muzzled, and ideas sanctioned, the new frontier for the AKP’s propaganda machine will be certain words and images. If the words and images are scrutinized harshly enough, the Turkish public will get two messages simultaneously. First, Erdogan is under attack by traitors and must be defended, and second, what is politically correct in the Turkish domain is being redefined. The AKP’s public relations experts know well they cannot erase unpleasant words from the dictionary, so for the time being they will shrewdly turn the table for domestic consumption.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

UN chief repeats harsh criticism of Israel

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the United Nations in New York, Jan. 27, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the United Nations in New York, Jan. 27, 2016

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has repeated his harsh criticism of the Israeli regime over its failure to work toward resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.

“After nearly 50 years of occupation – after decades of waiting for the fulfillment of the Oslo promises – Palestinians are losing hope,” Ban told a UN committee on Palestinian rights on Wednesday.

He was referring to the Oslo Accords, a series of agreements signed by the Tel Aviv regime and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the 1990s.

“Young people especially are losing hope. They are angered by the stifling policies of the occupation,” he said.

On Tuesday, the UN chief criticized Tel Aviv for expanding settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, describing it “an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community.”

“Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half-century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process,” he said.

He also expressed concern over plans by Tel Aviv to build over 150 new illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and to confiscate 380 acres (154 hectares) of agricultural land in the Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho.

The remarks prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accuse Ban of giving a “tailwind to terror.” Netanyahu also claimed that the UN had lost its neutrality “a long time ago.”

More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

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

The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.

The Palestinian Authority wants the West Bank as part of its future independent state, with East al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

Emergency Response Plan for #Justice4Rasmea

rasmea

From the Rasmea Defense Committee:

Rasmea Odeh has dedicated her life to the cause of a #FreePalestine and to Arab communities across the world, including the past 12 years in Chicago, so we must continue to organize to win #Justice4Rasmea–while she is appealing her unjust conviction for Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, as well as the cruel sentence of imprisonment AND deportation.

We do not anticipate it this week necessarily, but we are expecting that a decision will be coming down from the appellate court very soon, so prepare your city, organization, and / or campus for our Emergency Response Plan:

Although we are confident that we will win the appeal and have the conviction overturned, there is a chance—as we reported right before the end of 2015—that the appellate court will uphold the conviction, ruling in favor of the government. If that happens, it is very likely that Rasmea will be ordered to turn herself in to federal prison authorities, while we petition to keep her out on bail.

If this worst-case scenario decision comes down BEFORE 12 NOON, and Rasmea is ordered to prison, we are calling for protests the VERY SAME DAY at 5 PM at federal buildings across the country.

If the decision comes down AFTER 12 NOON, we are calling for protests the NEXT DAY at 5 PM. Allies and supporters across the world will also be participating in the emergency response by protesting at U.S. consulates and embassies everywhere.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

Riyad Hijab: Syrian Opposition Delegation Will Not Join Geneva Before Assurances From The International Community

Riyad Hijab: Syrian opposition delegation will not join Geneva before assurances from the international community

Gaziantep (Qasioun) – “Riyad Hijab” The General Coordinator Of The High Negotiations Committee Followed To The Syrian Opposition Forces Have Said On Thursday That The Delegation Will Not Enter The Negotiations’ Room Without Achieving Their Demands, Pointing That “If There Is No Achievement For Fighting Matter, We Will Not Make Any Achievement In Negotiations”

Hijab Added “It Was Better For Di Mestura To Send A Message To Bashar Al-Assad To Stop Killing, Pointing That Some Of Those Who Joins The Negotiations, Were Invited By Di Mistura As Consultants For Him.

Syria Opposition Puts Off Peace Talks Decision Until Friday

Syrian Opposition Members Meeting In Riyadh Have Postponed Until Friday A Decision On Whether To Attend Peace Talks Due To Start In Geneva The Same Day, Delegates Said.

“I Believe Tomorrow We Will Take A Decision” On Whether Or Not To Attend The UN-Brokered Negotiations, Said One Delegate From The Saudi-Backed High Negotiations Committee.

“We Will Not Be In Geneva Tomorrow,” Said Another Opposition Source.

The Committee Was Formed In December When The Main Syrian Political Opposition And Armed Factions Came Together In Riyadh For An Unprecedented Bid At Unity, After Months Of Saudi Effort.

It Insists That It Is The Sole Permitted Representative Of Syria’s Opposition, Despite Objections From Others.

The Committee Has Met For Three Days In The Saudi Capital To Discuss Whether Or Not To Participate In The Geneva Process.

It Had Said It Was Waiting For UN “Clarifications” After The UN Issued Invitations To Other Opposition Figures.

But Delegate Monzer Makhos Told AFP That Members “Would Not Be There” In Geneva For The Planned Start Of Talks “As We Have Yet To Make A Decision”.

The Committee Wants Assurances From The International Community That It Will Move To End Regime Attacks On Civilians And Allow Humanitarian Aid.

The Riyadh Discussions Were To Resume At 0600 GMT On Friday, The Delegate Said.

Khawla Mattar, Spokeswoman For The UN-Mediated Talks Between The Syrian Government And Opposition, Said Thursday There Would Be “No Postponement From Our Side”.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

How Israel failed to silence BDS in Canada

Why is the BDS movement viewed as such a threat that it now constitutes the new battlefront in Israel’s war on Palestinian rights?

On 12 January, I was invited to speak, along with Noura Erakat, at the University of Toronto. We are both Palestinian scholar-activists with a long-standing commitment to non-violent resistance and BDS organising.

BDS is the Palestinian call for global solidarity in the form of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions on Israel until it abides by international law and end its illegal occupation, dismantle the illegal apartheid wall, treats all its citizens equally, and stops violating Palestinian refugees’ internationally recognised legal right of return.

Clearly alarmed at the prospect of having two seasoned speakers discuss ways to help end Israel’s violations of international law, the Jewish Defence League (JDL), which last year shut down a similar event organised by the same students, was hoping to disrupt, and ultimately lead to the cancellation of our panel. The JDL created a Facebook page inviting people to voice their opposition to what they claimed would be “calls for the murder of Jews”.

Why is the Jewish Defence League so afraid of two Palestinian scholars that they try to shut us down or drown us out, rather than listen to what we have to present? Why do Zionists and Israel’s apologists disrupt lectures on BDS, a non-violent strategy, and not “peace talks” or “the peace process?”

As Erakat noted in her own speech, BDS is not even a radical movement, as it seeks only the implementation of international law. Why then is BDS viewed as such a threat that it now constitutes the new battlefront in Israel’s war on Palestinian rights?

Simply put, BDS is about achieving justice. Justice is a threat to injustice. But BDS is also an effective strategy for liberation, while the peace process only secures more gains for Israel and more losses for the Palestinians. After all, peace talks and the “peace process” are what gave us the Oslo Accords, with their devastating consequences, the further erosion of Palestinian sovereignty, the ever-expanding illegal settlements, and the clampdown on civil rights and free speech.

Having learned from last year’s confrontation with the JDL, which the university administration had mismanaged by cancelling the event rather than adequately addressing the disrupters, the student organisers had a solid “Plan B” figured out. It was good foresight. Members of the JDL did show up, including the director of JDL Canada, Meir Weinstein. A standoff was in the making. The lines were drawn quite clearly: if the JDL managed to create such a disruption that campus security decided to close us down again, they would have won.

The event began in a large auditorium almost at capacity. Erakat, who was being Skyped in as she could not join us in person, finished her talk despite hecklers repeatedly screaming “this is anti-Semitic”. The JDL had clearly not received the memo that merely yelling “this is anti-Semitic” without persuasively arguing how a particular statement is anti-Semitic no longer works.

Erakat elaborated on the hardships of daily life for Palestinians in their own homeland, telling of the extra-judicial executions of Palestinians, the home demolitions, the loss of residency rights, and more. We had been told that each speaker would be given 20 minutes; Erakat spoke for close to 45 minutes before signing off.

When I started speaking, I indicated to the Israel apologists in the room that I was aware of their call to disrupt our panel, explaining that if they were in the audience to drown out any “calls to murder Jews” they were wasting their time, but that I welcomed the opportunity to discuss the liberation of Palestine with anyone in the audience.

They yelled vile and often incoherent accusations – “This is Anti-Semitic,” “How many Jews do you want to kill?” and “You love dead Jewish babies”. I was reminded, and reminded the audience of Professor Saree Makdisi’s astute observation: “Having lost the actual arguments, Israel’s defenders have now declared war on argument itself.”

The disrupters hissed as I spoke. I asked them to leave their questions to the end, at which time I’d look forward to engaging in a productive conversation rather than a shouting match. But they would not quiet down.

At that point, campus security should have removed them. They did not. Instead, we had to move the whole event to another building. It was late, yet close to 150 audience members trekked in the bitter cold to another building where two rooms were filled to capacity, necessitating that I be Skyped into the overflow room so everyone could hear me.

What took place at the event paralleled, on a much more sanitised level, the tension in Palestine between illegal occupiers and the indigenous population.

Students are the rightful population at the University of Toronto and campus security is supposed to protect them. The JDL members are outsiders and they were informed of the university policy – three strikes and you’re out, a “strike” being an attempt at disrupting one of the speakers. They refused to respect it and they refused to leave the auditorium upon the request of the moderator after they had received three strikes.

Campus security did not escort them out, declaring instead that the final decision as to whether to remove disrupters or not was at their own discretion and they chose not to avail themselves of this measure. Instead, the students were displaced as our “Plan B” was to relocate the event to another auditorium, if the disrupters would not leave.

At that new location, the hecklers would not be allowed in. Campus security cooperated to ensure that much.

While our event was temporarily disrupted that evening, the inconvenience was nothing compared with the oppression of Palestinians in their own homeland. Many in the audience commented on how the tension, the rudeness and arrogance and refusal to abide by official guidelines reminded them of Zionist encroachment on everyday life in Palestine.

We also looked at Palestinian “Sumoud”, or steadfast perseverance as a model for our own tenacity, and put up with the hostility, the waste of time, the displacement and the illegal “occupation” of a space we had reserved for our event, as we strategised for solidarity with a liberation struggle.

Interestingly, the JDL event page has the JDL claiming that they successfully shut down the event. That claim is clearly delusional:  both speakers spoke at length and we have ample footage to document that.

Moreover, the audience left the rooms with an increased awareness of the irrational behaviour of Israel apologists and their resort to utterly baseless and ultimately futile accusations and attempts at character assassination.

As it presents the situation in Palestine/Israel in terms of settler-colonialism, apartheid, and decolonial struggle, rather than an “age-old conflict,” BDS is shattering the Zionist narrative of Israel as a morally redemptive democracy. The student organisers understand this and they know that the Zionists seek to censor the truth.

The success of this event, then, is dual: the speakers shared their knowledge and analysis; most importantly, the community felt empowered by the realisation that the JDL cannot silence criticism of Israel at the University of Toronto with its proud history of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

Qatar warns of Israel’s persistence in blockading Gaza

NEW YORK, (PIC)– Qatar has warned of Israel’s persistence in blockading the Gaza Strip, expanding its settlements, and Judaizing the holy sites in Jerusalem, and committing many violations against the Palestinians and their land.

Qatar demanded the UN Security Council to compel Israel to respect the international law, to express its rejection clearly of all Israeli illegal practices, and to necessarily take all measures to stop such violations, and provide the Palestinian people with international protection.

This came in a statement read on Wednesday by ambassador Alya Al Thani, Qatar’s permanent representative to the UN, during a session held by the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East and Palestine.

Qatar expressed its deep concern that Israel’s ongoing violations would escalate the tension in Palestine and undermine any chance for a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The statement underlined that Qatar had spared no effort to achieve peace and stability in the region and employed its different capabilities to provide humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians and deal with the impacts of Israel’s aggression and blockade in Gaza.

The statement also highlighted the projects which Qatar had accomplished in Gaza, including the hospital of Sheikh Hamed, hundreds of housing units, and roads.

Qatar urged the Security Council to assume its responsibilities towards achieving a just and sustainable peace in the Middle East and work on ending Israel’s occupation of all Arab lands and restoring the Palestinian people’s rights.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

Saudi prince: Iran war in nobody’s interest

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service and a senior member of the Al Saud dynasty

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service and a senior member of the Al Saud dynasty

A senior member of the ruling family in Saudi Arabia says he hopes it will not take too long for the kingdom and Iran to restore diplomatic ties. 

Riyadh severed relations with Tehran after angry protesters attacked Saudi embassy in Iran following the kingdom’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

In an interview with France 24 news network, Prince Turki al-Faisal accused Iranian police of “sitting back and letting protesters attack” the embassy.

Faisal, the former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service, claimed the assault had been authorized by Iranian officials.

“I think there is no way that we can interpret it in Saudi Arabia other than that,” he said.

Iranian police have arrested dozens of people over the attack which senior officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, have condemned.

Saudi Arabia pounced on the attack to cut relations with Iran as international condemnation grew over the execution.

The incident also helped Riyadh to raise the ante in its escalation of tensions following Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers.

While Saudi rulers have denounced the deal, Faisal said the agreement “may be good,” but “Iran has to change its course.”

He also dismissed the likelihood of a military confrontation between the two regional powers, saying it “is not going to be in anybody’s interest.”

On Wednesday, President Rouhani said Iran has fulfilled all of its duties to reduce tensions.

“We condemned the raid on the embassy, and identified and arrested the assailants… They will be tried. But Saudi measures in continuing tensions are unjustifiable,” he said in Rome.

President Rouhani also ruled out an Iranian apology over the incident, saying it was rather up to Saudi Arabia to apologize over many of its actions.

“Why should we apologize? Because Nimr al-Nimr was executed? We are the ones to apologize because they are killing the people of Yemen? Apologize to them because they are helping terrorists?” he asked.

“We do not want tensions with Saudi Arabia to continue,” he said, but insisted there was “no justification” for Riyadh’s “aggressive” policies in the region.

“They are the ones who should apologize to Muslim people, hundreds of times,” Rouhani said.

Attack on President Assad

In the interview, Faisal called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who is fighting foreign-backed militants in the likes of Daesh and Nusra Front as the “biggest terrorist.”

The Saudi prince said the Syrian government should be excluded from Geneva peace talks planned for Friday.

“As far as Daesh and other terrorists are kept from the (negotiating) table, I think Bashar al-Assad should be kept from the table,” he said.

“If Bashar is going to stay in a responsible position, it means we have given up our principles of not allowing terrorists to participate in these talks,” he added.

The Takfiri ideology followed by Daesh and other terrorists has its roots in Saudi Arabia where it is promoted by clerics and tolerated by rulers in the kingdom. Many of the militants fighting in Syria are also supported by the kingdom and its allies.

Faisal, meanwhile, defended a Saudi military campaign against neighboring Yemen which have killed hundreds of people, including many women and children.

“If Saudi Arabia had not interfered, the situation would have been much worse,” he claimed, calling it “a necessary decision.”

“Yemen is not a quagmire,” Faisal further said, dismissing a view widely held by many observers who criticize the kingdom’s confrontational policies under its new rulers and brand them as rash.

“The kingdom has been very steadfast and very rational and logical pursuing common interests for everybody including Saudi interests in Yemen and Bahrain, or in Iraq or Syria,” he said.

(Source / 28.01.2016)