Gaza: Fateh Committee to Submit Resignation to Abbas

The Fateh High Leadership Committee in the Gaza Strip reportedly plans to submit its resignation to defacto Palestinian President and Fateh leader Mahmoud Abbas, a Fateh official in the besieged enclave said, Friday.

Fateh

The official told Ma’an News Agency that the committee has announced the potential for their collective resignation following their failure to foster a solution to an ongoing salary crisis in Gaza.

The salaries of tens of thousands of Palestinian workers in Gaza have been a major point of dispute between rival factions Fateh and Hamas since the two agreed to back the creation of a unity government, in June of 2014.

After Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, some 70,000 Fateh-dominated Palestinian Authority employees in the blockaded territory stepped down from their posts, but continued receiving salaries from Ramallah.

Hamas, afterwards, struggled to regularly pay salaries to around 50,000 employees it hired to replace PA workers, and has repeatedly said that the PA has abandoned financial responsibilities in the besieged enclave, allegations the PA denies.

Following the establishment of the unity government in 2014, Hamas demanded that the government regulate the salaries of its 50,000 employees.

The unity government said the workers would only be hired “according to need,” while they pledged to return the PA’s former employees to their positions.

Most of the Hamas employees have gone without pay for months, by some estimates receiving only 40 percent of what is owed to them.

There has been little prospect of a solution to the dispute, with a high-profile bid by the unity government to establish itself in Gaza, last summer, ending in complete disarray.

(Source / 12.03.2016)

Palestinians Are Joining the Exodus of Refugees to the EU

Palestinians now heading to EU

Palestinians are joining the Middle East exodus to Europe in greater numbers because of the Syrian war and ongoing Israeli occupation, a senior Palestinian official has said.

Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), told EU Observer, from Ramallah, that “thousands” had already left for Europe.

“What other options have they? We have people dying of starvation in al-Yarmouk refugee camp [in Syria], and thousands of Palestinians leaving Syria and Lebanon trying to reach Europe,” he said, according to the PNN.

Palestinians collect their belongings from under the rubble of a residential tower, which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City August 24, 2014.

“The UN has said that Gaza will be unfit for human habitation by 2020, but Israel’s siege of Gaza continues.”

The Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza are home to some 4.5 million Palestinians.

Two million more live in refugee camps in Jordan in a legacy of wars in 1948 and 1967. Another 500,000 live in camps in Lebanon and a further 500,000 in Syria.

Frontex, the EU border control agency in Warsaw, said that just six Palestinians were intercepted trying to enter the EU via irregular crossings to Greece in January of last year, but that figure rose to 488 in August. It peaked at 1,747 in October, and stayed high (1,142) in January of this year, despite inclement weather.

The real number is likely to be much bigger because most Palestinians travel without ID papers, making them difficult to count.

Easo, the EU asylum agency in Malta, said that up to 19,000 Palestinians applied for asylum in the EU last year, compared with 15,680 in 2014 and 9,590 in 2013.

It said that most of them were “Palestinian ‘refugees’ or persons of Palestinian origin who were previously long term residents of countries now affected by the Syrian conflict.

It additionally stated that these people have a 53 percent to 87 percent chance of success, depending on which EU state handles their claim.

Israel ‘killing hope’

The number of Palestinians on the move is likely to go up if the spate of knife and car-ramming attacks on Israelis that has been going on since last year escalates into a full-scale uprising.

Erekat blames the instability on the Israeli occupation.

“[Israeli] prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist government have done everything possible to kill hope in the minds and hearts of Palestinians. What they see on a daily basis are more settlements, land grabbing, checkpoints, siege, military raids, settler attacks and systematic denial of their rights,” he said.

He said the Arab-Israeli conflict also contributes to instability in Syria, the main source of the EU refugee crisis.

“You can’t defeat Daesh (ISIL) without ending the Israeli occupation,” he said, using an Arabic name for Islamic State, a jihadist group which controls parts of Syria and Iraq.

“Lack of hope could lead people to commit desperate acts like joining Daesh. Though the numbers of Palestinians joining them are minimal, this is not a situation that can be taken for granted.”

Sanctions call

The 60-year old Palestinian diplomat has served as the PLO’s chief negotiator in Arab-Israeli peace talks for most of the past 20 years.

He welcomed a French project to set a deadline for new peace talks after which France would recognise Palestine in its 1967 borders.

“Recognising Palestine is not going to end the occupation, but it’s a strong message to the Palestinian people in terms of support for their rights. European countries will be investing in peace,” he said.

He also welcomed an EU retail label code on settler food, wine, and cosmetics exports that was published last year. But he advocated tougher action.

“Effective actions against Israeli settlements are banning of settlement products, divestment and sanctions on companies profiting from the occupation,” he said.

Apartheid jibe

The UN and the EU advocate a two-state solution to the conflict.

Erekat said: “I sincerely don’t see any other solution but a two-state solution for the welfare of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

But, he added: “I personally think that Israel doesn’t want a two-state solution. The Israeli government believes in … one state with two systems, which means apartheid.”

He said Israel’s impunity in the EU and US is part of the problem.

“Radicals that could not even get close to the Knesset [the Israeli parliament] 20 years ago are now part of the government coalition. But I also believe that this [Israeli policy] has a lot to do with pragmatism: Israel has the feeling that no matter what, they’ll never be held accountable,” he said.

He said the only “morally acceptable” alternative to two states is “one single, democratic state in all of historic Palestine”.

‘Stop making excuses’

“If they don’t like the idea of two sovereign states living side by side, I call upon them to talk to us and let’s set the terms for a one-state solution. But they should not even dream that our people will accept anything short of … the right to self-determination, freedom,” Erekat said.

The one-state model would imperil Israel’s objective to be a “homeland of the Jews” in demographic terms.

Based on Erekat’s comments, EUobserver asked the Israeli mission to the EU if any models other than the two-state solution would be acceptable to Israel.

The mission asked for its statement to be published in full.

“Israel’s declared and unequivocal position is two states for two people,” the statement said.

“In order to achieve this, Mr. Erekat and his colleagues should engage in direct negotiations and stop making excuses as to why they can’t come to the table. Prime minster Netanyahu has repeatedly stated his willingness to restart direct talks – be it in Jerusalem or Ramallah. All other personal beliefs should be challenged in the negotiation room.”

Moroccans Organize March in Rabat to Protest Ban Ki-moon’s Statements

Moroccans Organize March in Rabat to Protest Ban Ki-moon’s Statements 

Rabat – Moroccan political parties and trade unions have decided to organize a march on Sunday in Rabat to protest the statements made by United Nations Secretary General last weekend in the Tindouf camps, in southwestern Algeria. 

The march will start at 1 pm local time and will depart from Bab Chala, one of the most emblematic areas of the Moroccan capital.

During his first trip to the Tindouf camps last Saturday, Ban Ki-moon made statements that have been described by the Moroccan government as “departing from his impartiality and neutrality” as Secretary General of the United Nations.

The UN chief used the term “occupation” when referring to Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara, a Moroccan territory that is claimed by the Polisario, a separatist movement supported by Algeria.

The statement caused an uproar in Morocco, prompting to issue a communiqué on Tuesday in which Morocco denounced Ban Ki-moon of “bias” in favor of the Polisario.

The UN chief’s comments “are politically inappropriate, unprecedented, and contrary to Security Council resolutions,” Rabat said in a statement.

The statement said that Morocco has seen “with amazement that the Secretary General used the term ‘occupation’ to describe the recovery by Morocco of its territorial integrity.”

“This departs from terminology traditionally used by the United Nations in the Moroccan Sahara,” added the statement.

(Source / 12.03.2016)

IOF wages campaign of raids and arrests in WB

WEST BANK, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) waged at dawn Saturday a campaign of raids and incursions in different areas of the West Bank during which they investigated and arrested civilians and searched homes. In Nablus, the IOF stormed the village of Qablan south of the city, then raided and searched houses, and detained and interrogated a number of citizens.  Local sources told Quds Press that the IOF stormed the home of Anas Qasim al-Aqra, 19, who was arrested on Friday in the city of Jerusalem after he had carried out a stabbing attack resulting in the injury of an Israeli settler with moderate injuries. The same sources added that the IOF closed last night some of the entrances to the town with sand barriers, preventing the movement of citizens, and set up  military checkpoints at the crossroads in the vicinity of the town. According to the village citizens, the IOF operations of closure, raids, and arrests in the city fell as part of a collective punishment as the perpetrator of the stabbing attack, Anas Aqra, is from the village. In the same context, the IOF stormed areas in the west and south of the city of Ramallah, launched a raid and search campaign looking for the perpetrator of a shooting attack which took place yesterday evening near Beit Horon settlement. Local sources said that the raids were concentrated in the villages of Beit Ur al-Tahta and Kharbatha al-Misbah, in addition to Betunia town west of Ramallah. The IOF confiscated the recordings of surveillance cameras. Local sources pointed out that the soldiers arrested the young man, Rafat Alyan, from Beit Ur al-Tahta after a raid on his family’s home. Rafat is a cousin of the martyr Ibrahim Alyan, who was killed by IOF after carrying out an attack near the village resulting in killing an Israeli settler and wounding others about two months ago. Two Israeli soldiers were injured Friday night after being shot by a Palestinian young man at a military checkpoint set up near Beit Horon settlement, and was able to withdraw from the scene of the attack. In the same context, the IOF stormed at dawn Beit Jala near Bethlehem, and a village near al-Khalil, and handed over a number of citizens, including ex-prisoners, summonses for interrogation by the Israeli intelligence. Meanwhile, an Israeli army force arrested a young man, Abdullah Saba’neh, at a military checkpoint erected at the entrance of Qabatya last night. The IOF stormed as well Yabad town south of Jenin in the northern West Bank, and roamed the streets and alleys of the village provoking citizens in the process. They fired gas bombs inside a petrol station resulting in a number of suffocation cases, while the bombs almost caused fire in the station. The sources added that clashes erupted in the town after that and the IOF erected a checkpoint near the main entrance to the town.

(Source / 12.03.2016)

Hamas delegation leaves Gaza to Egypt for talks

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A high-profile Hamas delegation left the Gaza Strip to Cairo on Saturday, where they plan to meet with Egyptian officials, Gaza security sources said.

Sources who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons told Ma’an that the delegation included senior Hamas leaders Mahmoud al-Zahar, Imad al-Alami, and Khalil al-Hayyah.They will be joined by exiled Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouq who reportedly arrived in Cairo on Friday night following an invitation from Egyptian general intelligence.The invitation came after Hamas denied Egyptian accusations of involvement in the murder of Egyptian Attorney-General Hisham Barakat.The Hamas officials will submit reports in defense against the Egyptian minister of interior’s accusation concerning the June 2015 car bombing that killed Barakat.Hamas has suffered poor relations with the Egyptian government ever since the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood, with whom they were closely allied, was thrown out of power in Egypt in July 2013.The Egyptian government has in the past accused Hamas of assisting the insurgency that has spread throughout the Sinai Peninsula, although Hamas strongly denies the allegations.

(Source / 12.03.2016)

France takes Palestinian TV down due to Israeli pressure

Israeli PM pledged last week to crack down on Palestinian mass media. French president looked as a ring in the finger of the Israeli Zionsit Netanyahu.

French President Francois Hollande has decided to take down Al-Aqsa TV Channel, the most widely watched Palestinian TV channel inside Palestine and abroad.

Israeli PM pledged last week to crack down on Palestinian mass media. French president looked as a ring in the finger of the Israeli Zionsit Netanyahu

Days of Palestine, Paris -French President Francois Hollande has decided to take down Al-Aqsa TV Channel, the most widely watched Palestinian TV channel inside Palestine and abroad.

Hollande took his decision, the Israeli embassy in Paris said, after a phone call with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who claimed that this TV incites terrorism.

Al-Aqsa TV, the most common private sector Palestinian channel, used the services of the French satellite communications provider Eutelsat.

The Israeli embassy said in a statement issued Saturday that the French company had immediately stopped the broadcasts of the Palestinian channel.

It also said that Netanyahu thanked Hollande for his immediate response to his call to take down the Palestinian TV, calling it a French assistance in the Israeli war against “incitement against Israel and Jews.”

On Saturday night, the Israeli occupation forces stormed the head office of Palestine Today TV in the West Bank city of Al-Bireh, near Ramallah. They confiscated the TV equipment and closed the office.

At the same time, they stormed the house of the TV director Farouk Aliyan, searched the house and arrested Farouk.

In a statement, the Israeli occupation said that it had decided to close Palestine Today TV based on the emergency law introduced by the British Mandate government in 1945.

No reasons were given for the closure, but it is believed to be related to last week’s pledge by Netanyahu to crack down on the Palestinian mass media after claims that it incites terrorism and hatred against the Zionist state.

It is worth mentioning that the Israeli media is inciting hatred against the Palestinians and is used by the Israeli occupation authorities to justify the Israeli murdering of Palestinian innocents, destroying Palestinians homes, confiscating Palestinian lands and desecrating Palestinian holy sites.

(Source / 12.03.2016)

Israeli gov’t has only to fight Palestinians, official says

The official said that the Zionist state is currently in a state of fight with the Palestinians

Senior Israeli official has said that the Israeli government does not seek to talk with Palestinians, but to fight them.

In the wake of killing more than 200 Palestinians in 3 months, the official said the Zionist states in working to strengthen its country’s stance in the world

Days of Palestine, Jerusalem -Senior Israeli official has said that the Israeli government does not seek to talk with Palestinians, but to fight them.

Speaking to the Israeli general radio on Friday, Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that “talks with the Palestinians are not on the government’s agenda.”

In addition, she said: “The Israeli government is currently in fight with the Palestinians and it is working to strengthen its political stance before the whole world.”

Peace talks between the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authorities have stalled in April 2014 as the Israeli occupation had refused to stop its illegal settlement in the occupied Palestinians territories.

Hotovely said told this to the Israeli radio in the light of killing more than 200 Palestinian citizens in the span of three months.

The last Palestinian killed by the Zionist state was a 10-year-old child smashed under the rubble of his house, which was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike tonight.

(Source / 12.03.2016)

Rights groups to Saudis: Don’t execute Shia youths

Ali al-Nimr, the nephew of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr who was executed by the Saudi regime in January 2016.

Ali al-Nimr, the nephew of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr who was executed by the Saudi regime in January 2016

Rights groups have called on the Saudi regime to stop possible executions of three Shia Muslim youths after judges in the monarchy reportedly confirmed death sentences against four men accused of committing “acts of terrorism.”

The calls came after Saudi newspaper Okaz reported that 13 judges considered the cases against the four in three levels of hearings, but did not identify them.

According to international rights groups, the families of the Shia youths are fearful that their sons might be among those facing the death penalty.

The three were arrested for taking part in anti-regime protests while under the age of 18. One of them is Ali al-Nimr,  the nephew of prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr who was executed in January. The young Saudi national was 17 when he was detained in 2012.

Amnesty International said Saudi authorities should “immediately stop the planned executions and establish an official moratorium on executions.”

It also called for an impartial probe into allegations of torture by security officers, and urged the regime to fundamentally reform the judicial system to end such “egregious violations.”

“If these executions go ahead, Saudi Arabia will demonstrate its utter disdain for international law, which prohibits executions of people for crimes committed under the age of 18. Condemning these young men to death despite grave flaws in their trials and credible allegations that their ‘confessions’ were extracted under torture, would be a sickening example of the authorities’ disregard for human life,” said James Lynch, Amnesty’s deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program.

Rights group Reprieve, known for campaigning against the death penalty, also said the reports “raise fears for three juveniles who are awaiting execution after their sentences … were upheld in the SCC (Specialized Criminal Court) last year.”

Back in November 2015, Saudi media reported the regime’s plans to execute more than 50 people over what they claimed to be “terrorist crimes.” On January 2, Riyadh executed 47 people among them Sheikh Nimr in defiance of international calls for the release of the prominent Shia cleric and other jailed political activists in the kingdom.

Iraqis protest the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration in the capital, Baghdad, January 4, 2016

“Saudi Arabia’s use of the death penalty to silence dissent sends a chilling message to anybody who dares to speak out against the authorities,” Lynch said.

Sheikh Nimr’s execution drew angry reactions from Muslim people and bodies worldwide and sparked numerous demonstrations both in Saudi Arabia and around the world.

The Saudi kingdom has long been under fire at the international level for its grim human rights record.

The kingdom reportedly executed 153 individuals, including 71 foreign nationals, in 2015. This number of executions in terms of annual basis in Saudi Arabia has been unseen since 1995.

Amnesty said in a 2015 report that court proceedings in Saudi Arabia “fall far short” of global norms of fairness.

(Source / 12.03.2016)

Abbas declares end of teachers’ crisis after month of silence

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the ongoing teachers’ strikeon Saturday, after nearly a month of silence on the crisis.The president said in a speech that, in consultation with Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, he would carry out a previous agreement signed between the Palestinian Authority and the teachers’ union in 2013, as demanded by teachers.Abbas also said the strikers’ demand for new representation in the teachers’ union would be addressed “by democratic means.”The president called on teachers to resume school on Sunday, and said the parameters of the agreement would be fully implemented by the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.It was not immediately clear if teachers on strike had accepted the president’s offer.Palestinian teachers launched a strike mid-February seeking higher salaries pledged to them by the PA in a 2013 agreement that was never implemented.Support for and participation in the strike snowballed after PA security forces on multiple occasions attempted to stifle demonstrations staged by teachers on strike.Teachers meanwhile lashed out against the teachers’ union for failing to represent them in subsequent negotiations with the PA, and a number of officials in the teachers’ union submitted their resignation following popular demand for new representation.Demonstrations staged during the strike marked the largest public turn out against the PA in years, andexposed a longstanding rift growing between the PA and the public.

(Source / 12.03.2016)

Political Committee Meets With Kurdish National Council

The Syrian Coalition’s political committee earlier today met with a delegation from the Kurdish National Council (KNC) in the Syrian Coalition’s headquarters in Istanbul. The political committee stressed that the Kurdish issue is a purely national Syrian cause, adding that the National Kurdish Council, which is a component of the Syrian Coalition, represents more than 70% of Syria’s Kurds.

The KNC also has representatives in the opposition’s negotiating delegation to Geneva talks.

The KNC has invited the Coalition to participate in a celebration to mark the anniversary of the Kurdish uprising of March 2004 in Syria scheduled to be held in Istanbul on Sunday.

The meeting discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the Coalition and the KNC. It was decided a central workshop between the two sides will be held to examine the dimensions of the Kurdish issue in Syria, to be followed by sub-workshops to further discuss the issue.

The meeting also discussed the latest political and field developments of the Syrian revolution as well as the next round of Geneva talks.

(Source: Coalition Coalition / 12.03.2016)