Abbas Calls on World to Recognize Palestine, Save Two-state Solution

After Israel’s passes law permitting the retroactive confiscation of privately-owned Palestinian land in the West Bank, Palestinian leadership refocuses efforts on recognition.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas gets into a car as he leaves the Elysee Palace after his meeting with France's President Francois Hollande, in Paris, France, Tuesday Feb. 7, 2017.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas gets into a car as he leaves the Elysee Palace after his meeting with France’s President Francois Hollande, in Paris, France, Tuesday Feb. 7, 2017

Dozens of countries recognized Palestinian statehood years ago and recently Palestine was also recognized by the Vatican. Most West European and North American countries never did do, although most of their lawmakers had supported recognizing Palestine within the 1967 borders.

“The step we, and especially President Abu Mazen, are taking now could rescue the two-state solution from the results of Netanyahu’s and his government’s conduct, which is destroying any chance of reaching a solution. Our international effort is intended to bring about a just and viable solution for Israelis in the absence of a real leadership striving for peace,” Dr. Husam Zumlut, a strategic adviser to Abbas, told Haaretz.

President Francois Hollande, right, shakes hands with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas after a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Tuesday Feb. 7, 2017.

President Francois Hollande, right, shakes hands with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas after a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Tuesday Feb. 7, 2017

“For now there is intent to appeal to all countries that have not yet recognized Palestine, to do so as a response to Israel and the Netanyahu government’s conduct and there is no doubt that France is at the focus at this stage due to its position and strength in the European arena,” Zumlut said.
Palestinians began stepping up diplomatic pressure of France on the issue of recognition in wake of Israel’s passing into law legislation that under some circumstances legalizes the presence of West Bank Jewish settlements constructed on privately owned Palestinian land. France hosted an international peace summit last month.
“France is an important and central nation in Europe and thus it is important that it leads such an initiative, like other countries have [done in the past]. Recognizing a Palestinian state is not good just for the Palestinians, but will also save peace,” a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz.
After meeting Abbas on Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande called on Israel to repeal the law. Speaking at the end of their meeting, Abbas said the new law creates an apartheid regime in the occupied territories that the international community should act to reverse.
The legislation along with announced new settlement construction constitute aggression against the Palestinian people, Abbas said.
A strategic adviser to Abbas on Tuesday said the law, called the “Regularization Law”, will require the Palestinians to reconsider its set of relations with Israel and to seek international pressure on Israel, which he said is “disregarding the entire world and international law.”
Abbas said the Palestinians have adopted the concluding statement of last month’s Paris peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which speaks of the need to protect the two-state solution, for a freeze on settlement construction and an end of the occupation.
The international community should act to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israel’s settlement policy as illegal, the Palestinian president said.
He also called for convening an international conference to bring the parties together by the end of the year.
Abbas said the Palestinians are firm in their position that East Jerusalem must become the capital of a Palestinian state and that the transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would wreck the peace process.
The Palestinian Authority, he added, would seek to redress their grievances via the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Ramallah has said that the reports about dismantling the Palestinian Authority or stopping security coordination are not on the agenda, because coordination means the continued operation of the authority and dismantling it would only serve Netanyahu’s interests.

(Source / 08.02.2017)

Israeli forces seal house on Hebron’s Shuhada Street


HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces Wednesday morning sealed a Palestinian home in the Old City of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank.The home, located on Shuhada street, belongs to Izzat Yassin Abu Munshar.

Israeli forces put up a sign on the entrance of the house reading” “house under security,” and barred entry to the residents.
A resident of the street, Mufid al-Sharabati, said that residents were afraid that sealing the house could mark the beginning of a process to hand over the house to Israeli settlers living among Hebron’s Palestinian community in contravention of international law.
He added that the Hebron rehabilitation committee attempted to repair the house two years ago, but settlers objected and prevented them from doing so.
An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.
Mistreatment of Palestinians in the Hebron area has been common since the city was divided in 1997 under the Oslo agreements.
The majority of the city was placed under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, while the Old City and surrounding areas were placed under Israeli military control, known as H2.
The area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces. Hebron residents frequently report attacks and harassment by the settlers, carried out in the presence of the forces.
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.
Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed into law the contested outpost “Regularization bill” in a late night vote Monday, granting official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank established on private Palestinian lands, which was denounced as a “war crime” and an act of colonization.
(Source / 08.02.2017)

Syrian Coalition Renews Calls to Try Assad & Clique as War Criminals

Member of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Muhammed Jojah renewed calls to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court and to hold Assad and his clique accountable for war crimes, especially after further evidence on the scale of torture and murder perpetrated by the regime against civilian detainees has emerged.

“The report, ‘Human Slaughterhouse,’ which was released by Amnesty International on Monday must not go without strong reaction as was the case with previous reports by rights groups,” Jojah stressed. He called on the UN Secretary-General to refer Bashar Al-Assad and his inner circle to the international Criminal Court.

The report received widespread attention in media and political circles. It relied on testimonies from defected regime officers and judges as well as former detainees who recounted harrowing details of secret executions taking place in regime-run detention centers. Amnesty suggested that the executions are still being carried out until today.

According to the report, as many as 13,000 prisoners were secretly hanged in Saydnaya Prison between 2011 and 2015. Amnesty called on the United Nations to intervene immediately to stop these executions.

France said it was “outraged by the facts contained in the report,” and strongly condemned “these appalling acts.”

“The report is damning for the Syrian regime and once again proves that it did not hesitate to commit the worst atrocities against its population in order to remain in power,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The statement added: “The revelations by Amnesty International also underscore the need for the international community to continue its efforts to combat impunity in Syria. The work of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry chaired by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro is more necessary than ever, just like the work – which is complementary – of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation established by the UN General Assembly on December 21, 2016.”

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “Sickened by reports from Amnesty International on executions in Syria. Assad responsible for so many deaths and has no future as leader.”

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), there are an estimated 215,000 detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime. The Network said it has documented the detention of over 117,000 people since March 2011, many of whom are women and children.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 08.02.2017)

Elderly Palestinian dies after being run over by Israeli settler


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An elderly Palestinian died after being run over by an Israeli settler on Wednesday near the illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Daniel in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem.Suleiman Hamad Salah, an 85-year-old resident of the village of al-Khader, was killed after being run over on Route 60, an Israeli bypass road that cuts through the occupied Palestinian territory and connects illegal settlements to Israel.The Israeli settler reportedly left his car in the area, and “escaped” before a Palestinian ambulance reached the scene, according to medical sources.Muhammad Awwad, the head of the ambulance services of the Palestinian Red Crescent, said that Salah sustaining serious injuries from the incident, and succumbed to his wounds after arriving to a hospital.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports.
It was unclear whether the incident was being investigated as a deliberate ramming attack.
(Source / 08.02.2017)

EU criticised for pandering to Morocco

Image of Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs

Image of Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs

The European Union must uphold its decision to recognise the “separate and distinct” character of the Western Sahara and not give in to pressure from Morocco, an Algerian diplomat has said.

The comments come as a joint statement was released yesterday by the High Representative of the EU, Federica Mogherini, and the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, on”the importance of maintaining stable trade relations” and “the necessary arrangements for the continuation” of these relations.

The Algerian diplomat, speaking to Tout sur L’Algerie, warned the EU to respect the decision of the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) on the Western Sahara.

“Beyond the soothing effects of the communiqué, the EU faces a real headache,” the source told TSA. The EU is trying to “be conciliatory with Morocco, more sulky and spoiled than ever, knowing full well that the judgement of the European Court is legally binding and that it imposes itself on the European institutions and member states.”

Algiers fears that “this singular indulgence displayed with regard to Morocco will be the prelude to an accommodation that will undermine the authority of the [Judgement of the CJEU] and above all will ensure respect for the rule of law as enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union.”

Morocco’s threat against the EU

Morocco warned the European Union this week against the non-application of their agricultural and fishing agreement in the Western Sahara and threatened to find new economic partners.

“Morocco and the European Union are bound by an agricultural agreement whose application is effective in the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco,” the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said in a statement on Monday.

The Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries threatened that “such nuisances would jeopardise a co-operative building built over many years, leaving Morocco alone to turn away from it in favour of an acceleration in partnerships initiated by various countries and regions including Russia, China, India, Japan, the Gulf countries and our African neighbours “.

(Source / 08.02.2017)

Right group warns Israel could lead up to ‘wide-scale’ military offensive in Gaza


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — In the wake of multiple airstrikes launched by the Israeli army inside the Gaza Strip on Monday, the Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights expressed concern that Israel could be leading up to a wide-scale military offensive.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, four Israeli bulldozers raided the northern Gaza Strip and leveled Palestinians lands near Israel’s Erez border crossing, according to local sources. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that were looking into the case.
In a statement released Tuesday night, al-Mezan said Monday’s artillery shelling and airstrikes targeted “resistance factions’ training sites, agricultural lands, and open areas, and impacted nearby civilian properties and spread fear and panic among residents, especially children.”
The center said the escalation was reminiscent of the incidents that lead up to Israel’s wide-scale military assaults on Gaza like the so-called Operation Protective Edge in 2014, a devastating 51-day assault that resulted in the death of at least 1,462 Palestinian civilians.
Between 9 a.m. and evening time on Monday, Israeli forces opened fire on fishing boats, carried out at least four rounds of shelling and five rounds of airstrikes, opened fire at shepherds, and opened machine gun fire that damaged a civilian home.
Over the course of the day, at least three people were injured, while one poultry farm was damaged and another poultry farm was completely destroyed, according to the center.
Al-Mezan condemned the military escalation and said it viewed the attacks as a possible prelude to wide-scale aggression on Gaza.
“As witnessed in the last three Israeli military campaigns, women, children, and the elderly bear the brunt of Israel’s lack of respect to the rules of international law, including targeting of the civilian population and civilian properties,” the statement said.
The rights group called on the international community to “act promptly against Israel’s military escalation, to fulfill their obligations to protect civilians, and ensure respect for the rules of international law,” stressing that “acting before a full-scale military bombardment is launched is crucial to ensuring the protection of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.”
Al-Mezan noted the “failure” of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing violations of international law and war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.
(Source / 08.02.2017)

Israeli police arrest 5 Jerusalemites


The Israeli police arrested Wednesday five Palestinians from Um Tuba and Jabal Mukaber towns in occupied Jerusalem.

The lawyer Mohamed Mahmoud identified the detainees as Malek Abu Teir, Mohamed Abu Teir, Mustafa Abu Teir, Mohamed Qanbar, and Abdullah Shqeirat.

On the other hand, an Israeli court extended last night the detention of three Jerusalemite youths till February 21 and March 15.

Two other Jerusalemites, including a guard in al-Aqsa Mosque, were denied entry into the holy shrine for 15 days.

(Source / 08.02.2017)

Khamenei and Iran’s Difficult Days

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei finally broke his silence and dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump’s “threats” on missile tests, saying the president “showed the real face of America.”

Khamenei asked the Iranians to respond to Trump’s threats on Friday during the anniversary of the revolution.

“We are thankful to (Trump) for making our life easy as he showed the real face of America,” he told an audience of military commanders.

Khamenei’s description of an “easy life” contradicts statements made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.

“I believe Trump will push for renegotiation. But Iran and European countries will not accept that,” Zarif told a local daily on Tuesday. “We will have difficult days ahead,” he added.

He added that Iran and other signatories don’t want to reexamine the deal.

So, who should we believe? the Supreme Leader or the Foreign Minister?

We should keep in mind that the Supreme Leader was not friendly in the early stages of the presidency of Barack Obama, who sent letters to Khamenei. But as we all know, things ended with Iran signing the nuclear deal with the U.S. and other western countries.

Today, we are facing a new status quo, after Trump started to issue warnings to Iran.

Probably, the clearest warning came when Trump said that Iranians won’t be receiving the same special treatment they got from Obama. This prompted the Supreme Leader to break his silence by stating that the new president confirmed “what we have been saying for more than 30 years about the political, economic, moral and social corruption in the U.S. ruling system.”

Khamenei’s criticism was directed at the same country which Tehran had signed the nuclear deal with under his blessing.

Therefore, the latest U.S. political statement and those of Khamenei on Washington and Trump suggest the Iranian FM is probably the most accurate on his “difficult days” assessment.

With Trump, things may be easier for the Supreme Leader and the Iranian extremists to continue with their oppression and enforcing more restraints in Iran. But, things definitely won’t be easier politically, economically or militarily for the Iranian regime.

Trump’s stances are not the only hurdle to Tehran, which has to deal with the positions of other countries in the region.

Things are out in the open now, and only few are fooled by Iran as opposed to the situation few years ago, especially before the so-called “Arab Spring.”

There aren’t any real allies for Iran in the region.

Hence, and after the statement of Khamenei, a war of words officially erupted between Tehran and Washington. The countdown for Iran’s tough days began, and who knows! The coming days may reveal Iranian attempts to open backdoor channels with Trump’s administration. Tehran’s loud voice is usually a cover up for a new trick.

(Source / 08.02.2017)

“I have entered prison as a cub and I will leave it as a lion:” Palestinian child prisoner writes to his family

Palestinian child prisoner Mohammed Taha, 16, sent the following letter to his family from Israeli prison, where he is serving an 11-year sentence. A Palestinian refugee from Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp, Mohammed is one of a number of Palestinian children – especially Palestinian Jerusalemites – serving lengthy sentences in Israeli jails.

Mohammed was accused along with Munther Abu Mayala, 15, a fellow Palestinian refugee from Shuafat. Monther and Mohammed were accused of “attempted murder” for allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli settler youth at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on 30 January 2016. The 17-year-old in question was allegedly “lightly wounded.” They were also convicted of “possession of a knife.”

Mohammed’s and Munther’s lengthy sentences come alongside the 12-year sentence for Ahmad Manasrah, the 13-year sentence for Nurhan Awad, and the six-year sentences for Muawiya Alqam and Manar Shweiki, among other long prison terms for Palestinian children.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network calls for the immediate release of Mohammed and all imprisoned Palestinian children. We further call for international action to compel the Israeli state to respect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and end international military aid and assistance that funds the imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children. The imprisonment, oppression, and killing of Palestinian children by the Israeli occupation is part and parcel of the Israeli colonial project in Palestine, and the only true freedom for Palestinian children will be achieved through the freedom of the Palestinian people and Palestinian land.

Mohammed’s letter to his family follows:

{Mother} {Sister}

From Mohammed to his dearest family, Greetings

Good greetings, how are you my dearest ones? I miss you very much. How is Amir’s mother? How are you doing? Please greet on my behalf all of my aunts and my uncles, and the children of my aunts and my uncles, and everybody. Mom, how are you? I miss you a lot and I miss teasing you a lot. How is Mahdi? I miss them. And how is Abu Jana and Um Jana? Say hello to everybody and insh’allah I will soon be amongst you. Say hello to Abu Adib and Abu Amir and my grandmother and grandfather and greet everyone who greets me back, the boys in the neighborhood, the neighbors, Um Adam, Adam, my uncle Bassam and his children. I hope you all are happy. God willing, I will be with you in the near days and our happiness will be complete. Mom, I want you to count on me and please don’t be sad, OK?

I have entered prison as a cub and I will leave it as a lion. Insh’allah I will go back and shine on the neighborhood and our house, and you will be happy and I will get married and we will all be happy. The real judgement is the judgement of God, so don’t be sad that they have given me a sentence of 11 years. It is nothing. Open your eyes, close your eyes, and I will be with you. I swear it will be soon.

{Mom} {Dad}

{I do not regret a thing I did, I do not regret the prison I enter}

(Source / 08.02.2017)

Syria says Amnesty report on mass hangings ‘completely false’

Amnesty International alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed and were likely continuing at the Saydnaya prison near Damascus

Syria’s justice ministry on Wednesday dismissed as “completely false” an Amnesty International report alleging up to 13,000 people were hanged over five years in a Syrian government prison.

The ministry said the Amnesty report was “completely untrue and intended to harm Syria’s reputation in international forums,” the official SANA news agency reported.

The rights group on Tuesday alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed and were likely continuing at the Saydnaya prison near Damascus.

Amnesty interviewed 84 witnesses, including guards, detainees and judges, and alleged a pattern of regular summary executions.

But the justice ministry denied such executions were occurring, saying “death sentences in Syria are not issued until after a trial goes through several stages of litigation.”

More than 310,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

(Source / 08.02.2017)