Settlers uproot olive seedlings in al-Khalil & Bethlehem

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Jewish settlers uprooted on Saturday olive saplings in al-Khalil and Bethlehem agricultural lands. The Coordinator of the Popular Committee against Wall and Settlement in Yatta, Ratib al-Jabour, told the PIC reporter that the Palestinian farmers in Yatta town in al-Khalil were shocked when they discovered that more than 70 olive saplings, which were implanted last week, have been uprooted. Jabour said the uprooting of olive saplings was carried out by the settlers of the nearby Maon settlement under Israeli occupation forces’ protection. In the same context, Jewish settlers under the protection of the IOF uprooted olive seedlings in al-Kheder town to the south of Bethlehem on Saturday. The Coordinator of the Popular Committee against Wall and Settlement in Khader town Ahmad Salahat said, in press statements, that a number of settlers forced a Palestinian farmer to leave his land to the west of the town and uprooted his olive seedlings. The land is located near a Jewish settlement outpost, Ahmad Salahat highlighted.   The IOF along with settlers escalate harassment and aggressive practices against the Palestinians in those areas in order to force them abandon their land in favor of settlement expansion.

(Source / 15.03.2016)

Israel moves to toughen crackdown on Palestinians workers

Israeli border police frisk a young Palestinian man at the Damascus Gate of East al-Quds (Jerusalem)’s Old City, March 13, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli border police frisk a young Palestinian man at the Damascus Gate of East al-Quds (Jerusalem)’s Old City, March 13, 2016

The Israeli parliament has endorsed a tough law to further crack down on Palestinian workers ‘without work permits’ in the occupied Palestinian territories by targeting their employers.

The bill, sponsored by Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, passed its third reading “by a large majority,” the Knesset said on its website on Monday evening.

The new law targets those Israelis who employ Palestinian laborers said to be without permits and those who transport them. The workers themselves are already subject to arrest and imprisonment.

Under the new law, the Israeli employers of the Palestinians who have entered occupied territories without the obligatory—and hard to secure—permit will face up to two years in prison if the worker is employed for a single day.

“Those who employ more than one illegal worker, or hire an illegal worker for more than 24 hours, will face up to four years of incarceration,” according to the Knesset website.

The law also imposes fines of between 40,000 and 452,000 shekels (10,550 and 119,000 dollars) on the companies that regularly employ unlicensed Palestinian staff.

Israeli police have already increased bids against the Palestinian laborers who, they say, do not have work permits, arresting over 400 workers and scores of their Israeli employers last week alone.

The law also aims to quell alleged acts of stabbing, shooting and car-ramming by Palestinians as, according to Israeli officials, as some 44 percent of such alleged attacks are carried out by Palestinians in occupied territories without permits.

Tensions have heightened in the occupied Palestinian territories due to Israel’s imposition in August 2015 of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.

Nearly 200 Palestinians, including children and women, have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of last October. Scores of Israelis have also been killed during the time span.

(Source / 15.03.2016)

Putin to Assad: Do svidaniya

Russian President Vladimir Putin waves to the Federal Assembly after a signing ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 18, 2014

WASHINGTON — In a surprise move that he said he hoped would bolster Syria peace talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would start to withdraw most Russian military forces from Syria starting March 15. The decision to partly withdraw from Syria, which Putin said he discussed during a phone call with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad March 14, is likely to put pressure on the Assad regime to negotiate more seriously at UN-hosted peace talks with the opposition, which resumed in Geneva on March 14. The decision follows remarks from Syria’s foreign minister over the weekend that any talk of Assad’s future was a “red line” at the Geneva talks.

“I hope today’s decision will be a good signal for all conflicting parties” at the Geneva talks, Putin said following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on March 14, Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported. “I hope it will sizably increase trust of all participants in the process.”

Putin and Assad, in a phone call initiated by the Russian leader March 14, “discussed the implementation of the joint statement by Russia and the United States … on [the] cessation of hostilities in Syria,” according to a Kremlin readout of the call. “They share the view that the cease-fire has made possible a dramatic reduction in the bloodshed in the country. … It has also made it possible to put in place conditions for starting a peace process under UN aegis.”

“Mr. Putin said that Russia’s armed forces have fulfilled their main mission in Syria and a timetable for the withdrawal of the aerospace forces’ main air grouping has been agreed,” the readout continued. “Russia will maintain an aviation support center in Syria in order to monitor compliance with the cease-fire.”

Putin’s announcement on a partial Syria withdrawal seemed to take US officials by surprise.

“We have seen reports that President Putin has announced a planned withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria,” a senior US administration official told Al-Monitor March 14. “We expect to learn more about this in the coming hours.”

Putin and Obama subsequently discussed the matter in a phone call Monday, the White House said.

“They discussed President Putin’s announcement today of a partial withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria and next steps required to fully implement the cessation of hostilities with the goal of advancing the political negotiations on resolution of the conflict,” a White House readout of the call said. “President Obama welcomed the much-needed reduction in violence since the beginning of the cessation, but stressed that continuing offensive actions by Syrian regime forces risk undermining both the Cessation of Hostilities and the UN-led political process.”

Samuel Charap, a Russia expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Putin had largely achieved his objectives.

“His objective was to force the US and its allies to the bargaining table on his terms,” Charap told Al-Monitor March 14. “He achieved that objective. Beyond that, an extended, large military presence in Syria doesn’t really do much for him. It’s more of a liability than an asset.”

But Paul Saunders, a Russia expert at the Center for the National Interest and a contributor to Al-Monitor, said it was also notable that Putin was saying mission accomplished when his original declared rationale for intervening in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State (IS).

“It is striking, and many in … and out of the region will take note of the fact that President Putin said that withdrawal is going to take place because the Russian forces have achieved their objective,” Saunders told Al-Monitor March 14. “Because when they went in, it was framed very much in terms of strikes on [IS]. That mission is not really completed.”

“What has actually been accomplished is this rather tentative temporary cessation of hostilities leading to some kind of successful peace process between Assad and the forces of the opposition,” Saunders said.

Putin “is trying to send a message to both sides,” Saunders said. “Certainly for the Assad regime side, it makes very clear to them that they better actually negotiate seriously.”

But the announced partial withdrawal “does not mean Russia is just walking away,” Saunders added. “The pace of the withdrawal … also provides leverage. It can be slowed, it can be accelerated. Moscow has the continuing leverage that it needs.”

A former Russian diplomat said Putin’s announced decision to partly withdraw from Syria is probably due to a combination of reasons.

“First of all about some deal with US (maybe, on a range of issues regarding transition and Geneva talks) and possibly with the [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia],” the former Russian diplomat, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor. “Then about a master stroke on the first day of ‘resumed’ negotiations … in terms of showing good faith and ‘inviting’ others to reciprocate in their ways. If others take it for weakness and start massive attack on Assad, birds can return. Withdrawal is partial, and infrastructure remains.”

The Syrian opposition, for its part, said it welcomed Putin’s announcement and that serious withdrawal would put pressure on the regime and give peace talks a positive impetus.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, speaking at a televised news conference in Damascus March 12, vowed the Assad delegation to Geneva would not discuss future Syrian presidential elections in Geneva.

“We will not talk to anyone who talks about the position of the presidency,” Moallem said. “Bashar [al-Assad] is a red line; the property of the Syrian people. I advise them that if this is [the opposition’s] thinking, they shouldn’t come to the talks. They must abandon these delusions.”

But UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said tough rhetoric was not unexpected heading into such sensitive negotiations and what mattered more is what is happening inside the rooms.

“There is always, in any negotiations, especially as delicate and important and crucial like this one, a lot of strong statements,” de Mistura told reporters March 14, following a meeting with the Syrian government delegation, which is led by Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari. “We should be talking between us about what will be the outcomes of the discussions and the negotiations — that will be the judgement.”

The agenda at this round of talks was focused on governance, a new Syrian Constitution and new Syrian elections, as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 2254, he said.

“I don’t know whether anyone else has a plan B here. I am only aware of a plan A, which is giving a maximum of chances and the maximum of pressure [by] the international community to ensure that the Intra-Syrian Talks … is given the maximum of opportunities,” de Mistura said.

The current round of talks is expected to last until March 24, then break for a week or so and then resume, he said.

(Source / 15.03.2016)

Occupation steals Palestinian land in Jericho

Israeli occupation classify Palestinian land as a state land to justify confiscating it

Israeli occupation decided on Tuesday morning to confiscate 2,342 dunams (579 acres) of the Palestinian land occupied West Bank city of Jericho.

An Israeli rights group counts five Israeli methods used to steal Palestinian land: seizure for military purposes, declaration of state lands, seizure of absentee property, confiscation for public needs and initial registration

Days of Palestine, West Bank -Israeli occupation decided on Tuesday morning to confiscate 2,342 dunams (579 acres) of the Palestinian land occupied West Bank city of Jericho.

The reporter of the Israeli general radio said that the Israeli government issued a map for the land it decided to confiscate and made it public.

He said that the Israeli occupation government classified these area as a state land. This is the Israeli method that the Israeli occupation government use when it decides to confiscate Palestinian land.

The map, which was issued by the Israeli government, showed that the area of the confiscated land is

Israeli organisation Peace Now says that declaring Palestinian land as a state land is one of five methods that the Israeli occupation government use to steal the Palestinian lands.

According to this organisation, the five methods are seizure for military purposes, declaration of state lands, seizure of absentee property, confiscation for public needs and initial registration.

It said that the Israeli occupation has managed to take over about 50 per cent of the lands in the occupied West Bank, barring the local Palestinian public from using them.

“Over the years, Israel confiscated more than 900,000 dunams (222,395 acres) in the West Bank in this manner, and at least 90 settlements are built on lands declared as ‘state lands,’” it said.

(Source / 15.03.2016)

Israeli forces level lands in southeastern Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli bulldozers on Tuesday entered the Palestinian side of the Gaza borderline under military protection near Khuzza village in the southeastern Gaza Strip.Witnesses told Ma’an that five bulldozers stormed an agricultural area east of Khuzza and leveled lands. No gunfire or injuries were reported.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into reports.Israeli military forces routinely enter the Gaza Strip near the “buffer zone” which lies on the borderline between the besieged enclave and Israel.Such activity often interferes with Palestinian farmers whose land lies in the area. Approximately 35 percent of Palestinian agricultural land in Gaza is inaccessible without high personal risk, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported last month at least 42 cases of Israeli forces opening fire on Palestinians in the buffer zone, on both land and sea sides.
(Source / 15.03.2016)

PA, Israeli occupation secretly negotiate sharing out control over West Bank

NAZARETH,(PIC)–  The Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have been secretly negotiating a division of control over West Bank cities, Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported Monday. The proposal stipulates that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) would cease operating in Area A, which includes the larger Palestinian cities and villages, except for cases of extreme urgency referred to as “ticking bomb” situations. The first Palestinian cities proposed for IOF withdrawal are Ramallah and Jericho, with other cities to follow if the plan succeeds. The talks have been initiated by Coordinator of Government Affairs Gen. Yoav Mordechai and leader of the IOF Central Command Ronny Numa.  Also participating in the discussions were PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA intelligence services Majed Faraj, and the PA’s head of preventive security, Ziyad Hab al-Reih. While talks about the proposed plan are currently stalled, they could still resume, officials said. “It will not come to fruition unless we also receive things from the Palestinians,” one Israeli official said. The Haaretz daily said that according to “senior Israeli officials familiar with the contacts”, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been holding secret negotiations over the past month for a partition of security control over West Bank cities.

(Source / 15.03.2016)

Israeli official calls for expelling Palestinians from Jerusalem

Head of the Zionist Israeli Camp and top Israeli opposition leader Issac Herzog called on Monday to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem.

Recently, Herzog announced a disengagement plan in Jerusalem that included the removal of 28 Palestinian towns in the eastern part of the city

Days of Palestine, Jerusalem -Head of the Zionist Israeli Camp and top Israeli opposition leader Issac Herzog called on Monday to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem.

Herzog wanted called for expelling the Palestinians from Jerusalem in order to maintain the city a Jewish capital for the Israeli occupation state.

According to the Israeli general radio, Herzog toured East Jerusalem and during his tour, he said: “Israel would lose its capital, Jerusalem, if Palestinian towns in the outskirts of the city were not removed.”

Recently, Herzog announced a disengagement plan in Jerusalem that included the removal of 28 Palestinian towns in the eastern part of the city.

Herzog said, in order to maintain Jewish Jerusalem, there must not be a big number of Palestinians in the holy city and its outskirts.

Herzog also called, during his visit, for taking Al-Issawiyeh neighbourhood out of the city and Qalqilia out of Tel-Aviv, noting this is the only way the Israeli occupation state is able to keep itself “Jewish and safe.”

(Source / 15.03.2016)

Amnesty International: Israel uses administrative detention as political weapon

Amnesty International has condemned Israel’s use of administrative detention to imprison Palestinians and demanded Tel Aviv release all administrative detainees or give them a fair trial.

The organization expressed concern about the high number of administrative detainees in a statement on Sunday.

The statement read: “As is known, Israel generally uses administrative detention against the Palestinians, where it detains individuals without indictments for unspecified periods of time. The Israeli authorities refuse to reveal the charges against them, claiming that it is a secret which hampers the work of their lawyers.”

Amnesty’s Director of Human Rights Hilal Alloush said: “Administrative detention policy is arbitrary detention and is being used as a political weapon and a means to deter and intimidate Palestinian political activists, parliamentarians and academics.”

According to Israeli prison data, by the end of last year there were nearly 584 Palestinians imprisoned under administrative detention, including six minors.

(Source / 15.03.2016)

Palestine Becomes A Full Member Of “The Court Of Arbitration”

On Monday, Palestine was awarded a full membership in the Permanent Court of Arbitration, after 57 countries votes in favor, 24 abstained and zero voted against.

PCA

The Palestinian application was filed to Holland on January 29, 2015, officially requesting membership with the International Court of Arbitration, but the United States led a strong opposition, and managed to get the court’s leadership to postpone the vote, until a special committee reviewed the application.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it send a strong letter to its Dutch counterpart, demanding that the government of Holland, which houses the court at The Hague, to revoke his decision to suspend the application, and threatened to take the case to specialized international courts.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki also held a meeting with his Dutch counterpart, on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council sessions, and asked him to find a solution to the issue, and the later promised to help in resolving it.

On its part, the Palestinian Mission in Holland also held talks with various countries, members of the court, and managed to come up with a coordinated position, before asking for a date for discussing Palestine’s full membership.

The United States, Canada and Israel strongly opposed the move, and presented a number of proposals that were meant to obstruct the vote under various “justifications,” including the claim that membership with this court requires a full membership with the United Nations.

The majority of world countries rejected those claims, and affirmed the Palestinian right to become a member with the court.

In its statement, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that countries around the world strongly supported a vote on the matter, despite the fact that it is the first time since this court was established, a country is recognized as a member by voting.

The Ministry added that most world countries wanted to overcome the Israeli, American and Canadian opposition by holding a vote on Palestine’s membership.

“The United States knew very well it would be among the tiny minority that stood against Palestine’s membership with the Court; it knew that the vote would not be in its favor,” al-Maliki said, “When the US failed in preventing the vote, it withdrew from the session, while some countries abstained citing procedural justifications.”

He added that Israel, Canada and the United States abstained from the vote, citing the same procedural justifications, yet, neither Canada nor Israel actually withdrew from the session while the United States did.

After the vote, Palestine’s Ambassador in Holland, Nabil Abu Zneid, assumed his position as the official representative of Palestine, and thanked all countries that stood for Palestine and its legitimate right to become a member.

(Source / 15.03.2016)