Hamas denies claims of pressure to recognise Israel

Image of Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman [Mohammed Asad/Apaimages]

Image of Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman

Hamas has denied media reports claiming the movement has been under pressure to recognise Israel.

The movement’s spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, denied the claims and described them as “unfounded lies”.

Read:Hamas and its withdrawal inside the occupied territory

Barhoum added that everyone knows Hamas’ position on the issue of recognising the occupation, calling on the media to be accurate and professional and refrain from spreading such fabricated news intended to discredit the movement.

The Al-Mayadeen news site reported a “Hamas source” as saying that the movement has been under pressure to recognise Israel but has refused.

The source was commenting on remarks by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who said that “Hamas has shown willingness to recognise Israel”. The movement did not respond, after Cavusoglu said that Ankara had put pressure on Hamas to lay down its arms and enter into negotiations with Tel Aviv.

Al-Mayadeen reported the “source” as saying that “Hamas has expressed willingness to recognise Israel and is committed to holding legislative elections”.

(Source / 24.03.2017)

IOA denies Palestinian prisoner right of family visitation

Mohammad al-Arqan

The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has been denying the Palestinian captive Mohammad al-Arqan, 54, his right of family visitation for many years under alleged security pretexts.

The wife of the detainee told the PIC reporter that one of their children has not seen his father for 17 years. The rest of family members are allowed to see him via few and brief irregular visits.

Prisoner Arqan, from al-Khalil, has been held captive since 1995. He serves a life sentence and suffers chronic diseases and is currently held in Raymond jail.

(Source / 24.03.2017)

Tunisian MP Qusentini calls for combating Israel’s racism

Sulaf al-Qusentini

Tunisian lawmaker Sulaf al-Qusentini has called for backing every international effort aimed at combating discrimination against the Palestinian people and curb Israel’s crimes and violations against them.

The lawmaker, who is in charge of the political and diplomatic affairs of the Global Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza, made her remarks on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is observed annually on March 21.

Qusentini said that Israel’s racism against the Palestinians is “one of the worst and most aggressive forms of discrimination,” citing as evidence the separation wall in the West Bank, the daily crimes committed by Jewish settlers and soldiers against the Palestinians, including women and children, and the inhumane blockade on Gaza.

“The International Day for the Elimination of Discrimination represents an opportunity for all, especially the United Nations system with all its institutions, to renew the commitment to establishing the principles of justice, equality and dignity among the nations,” the Tunisian lawmaker stated.

“We, at the global campaign, announce our solidarity with Rima Khalaf, the executive secretary of ESCWA, and appreciate her position towards the pressures she was exposed to in order to make her revoke the report that considered the Israeli occupation an apartheid regime,” she added.

She called on the UN secretary-general to clarify the request he made for the withdrawal of the ESCWA report on Israel, saying his position was seen as subordination to Israeli pressures, and would lead to great disappointment among the believers in the world peace and feed tendencies for revenge and violence.

(Source / 24.03.2017)

Live ammunition fired against Palestinians near Al-Mughayyir

On 24th March 2017 the popular resistance in Al-Mughayyir, north-east of Ramallah, held a demonstration against a new illegal outpost which was established approximately 10 days ago by illegal Israeli settlers who set up caravans on Palestinian land. Basic buildings and infrastructure have already been built along with a new access road, all of which are protected by barbed wire and the constant presence of Israeli soldiers. Live ammunition was fired at Palestinian protesters injuring five, according to a Palestinian news agency.

The protest, which mobilized the people of four nearby towns and other popular struggle committees, was quickly repressed by Israeli forces, who fired teargas, live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets at demonstrators, injuring several Palestinians in the process.

The action started with Palestinian demonstrators – who were joined by international and Israeli activists – gathering at the bottom of the hill where, according to local sources, the new outpost may eventually give way to a new settlement. At around 11:00, shortly after the demonstration had started, the Israeli forces stationed at the illegal settlement began firing teargas canisters in an attempt to disperse the demonstrators.

Israeli forces firing teargas at protesters

The clashes continued with some attempts made by the Palestinians to get closer to the illegal outpost. However, Israeli forces began throwing stun grenades and firing at demonstrators with both rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition. Tear gas was fired by Israeli forces throughout the demonstration and Palestinians responded to the aggressors by throwing stones and returning tear gas canisters towards the soldiers.

Palestinian hurls a teargas canister back at Israeli forces

At around 12:30 the Israeli forces established a new strategic position at the bottom of the hill, intensifying their use of live ammunition. From here, a soldier with a sniper rifle fitted with a silencer fired at protesters with live ammunition. ISM activists witnessed three Palestinians sustaining injuries from live ammunition during the clashes. Though the demonstration began to disperse at around 13:00, Israeli forces continued to fire tear gas whilst the protesters fled the hill and back to their villages. Israeli forces flanked the road back to Al-Mughayyir.

Palestinians carry an injured protester, possibly from live ammunition

This new illegal outpost is being established on Palestinian land shared by the villages of Al-Mughayyir, Abu Falah and Kufr Malik and will possibly serve to replace the recently evacuated Amona settlement. Despite heavy repression by Israeli forces, Palestinian resistance to the illegal annexation of their land continues. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (2013) recently documented settler violence against the residents of Al-Mughayyir.

(Source / 24.03.2017)

Palestinian youngster’s hand fingers amputated

Islam Aliwa

A Palestinian young man was injured Friday afternoon after a suspicious object exploded in his house garden south of Jenin.

Local sources told PIC reporter that Islam Aliwa, 20, lost his hand fingers when a remnant of Israeli occupation exploded.

Aliwa’s health situation is stable after being transferred to hospital, the sources added.

Palestinians charged the Israeli occupation of responsibility over keeping their military remnants of bombs and weapons close to Palestinian houses in the West Bank during their military drills in addition to the widespread minefields in the area.

(Source / 24.03.2017)

Syrian Coalition: Political Transition Key to All “Baskets” in Geneva Talks

Member of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Yasser Farhan said that achieving political transition through negotiations in Geneva is key to all other baskets that will be discussed in the current round of talks.

“We welcome the focus of the UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura on UN Security Council resolution 2254 to be the basis of the talks,” Farhan said. “We want to discuss the substance of the negotiations and prevent the regime from disrupting the whole process.”

Farhan stressed that defeating ISIS in Syria is impossible without first removing Assad and his regime.

A new round of Geneva negotiations began on Thursday in Geneva in parallel with fierce clashes in eastern Damascus. The FSA groups in the area are seeking to break the siege regime forces are imposing on the districts of Qaboun and Barzah.

Farhan pointed out that the FSA and rebel fighters are defending themselves and the Syrian people and are fighting to prevent ethnic cleansing by the Assad regime and to expel terrorist groups, led by ISIS and the Iranian-backed militias, from all Syrian territory. The Assad regime plans to force tens of thousands of people from their homes in eastern Ghouta, a tactic it has employed in Aleppo, Alwaer, and other areas across Syria.

“This is a war crime that amounts to genocide and we cannot expect our people to stand idly by as the regime is trying to force them out of their homes,” Farhan added.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 24.03.2017)

Palestinians in Bilin protest against Israel’s occupation, ‘cold blooded killing’ of teenager

Bilin demo

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinians from the central occupied West Bank Ramallah-area village of Bilin set out on their weekly march Friday, in protest of Israeli settlement expansion and the construction of the Israeli separation wall on the village’s lands. Marchers also protested against the killing of 17-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Hattab, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces Thursday night.

Bilin locals and foreign peace activists held Palestinian flags and marched through the village’s streets, chanting slogans and songs that called for national unity, resistance, releasing Palestinian prisoners, and other issues related to the Palestinian cause.
Media coordinator of the popular committee against wall and settlements Ratib Abu Rahma said that Israeli soldiers took pictures of protesters who threw rocks at the separation wall and Israeli military vehicles in the area.
Abu Rahma highlighted that the march — which Bilin residents have staged every Friday for 12 years — was also held to condemn the “cold blooded killing” of al-Hattab, and the critical injury of three other teens, when Israeli forces opened fire on their vehicle under contested circumstances Thursday night.
A German delegation also visited the village and participated in the march to express solidarity with Palestinian people.
Prior to the march, Abu Rahma gave the delegation a detailed explanation about Bilin’s experience in resisting the Israeli occupation, settlements and wall during the past 12 years.
He also informed the delegation of the accomplishments of the peaceful resistance in Bilin, and called upon all international delegations to participate in similar marches “to support the struggle of Palestinian people against its oppressor.”
(Source / 24.03.2017)

UNHRC adopts four anti-occupation resolutions


The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted, during its 34th session held on Friday in Geneva, four pro-Palestine and anti-occupation resolutions.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry Riyad al-Maliki revealed that the four adopted resolutions are entitled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” The Palestinian people right to self-determination,”  “The situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” and “Violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

The Palestinian draft resolutions were reformulated according to the rules of the international laws in accordance to the Palestinian national demands to hold Israeli leaders accountable for committing war crimes against our people, he said.

Al-Maliki strongly denounced the statements made by Israeli ambassador to the UNHRC, stressing that Israel’s illegal practices on the ground totally violate the international law.

He invited all countries that had voted against the resolutions to review their positions and to stand behind the principles of international law.

He also stressed the urgent need to prosecute Israel for violating international laws and principles, and to provide international protection to the Palestinian people.

(Source / 24.03.2017)

The upcoming Iranian elections you haven’t heard about

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. Posted July 26, 2017

Candidates are gradually beginning to register to run in Iran’s upcoming city council elections, which are to be held concurrently with the May 19 presidential vote.

The contest for the powerful Tehran City Council has always been one of the most controversial in Iran. During the past decade or so, the conservatives have been able to hold the majority, but this year, Reformists and allied moderates are determined to seize power by focusing on the weak spots of the ruling council.

The Tehran City Council elects the Tehran mayor, who oversees the Tehran municipality — the largest, most wealthy and influential municipality in the country. For instance, the Tehran municipality budget in 2015 was $5.73 billion, while the corresponding budget for the country’s second largest city, Tabriz, was a mere $924 million. As such, it should be noted that in the past decade or so, the mayorship has been used as a stepping stone to launch bids for the presidency — by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, and by incumbent Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf in 2013.

The conservative-dominated Tehran City Council has in recent months come under increasing fire over events that are blamed on mismanagement and corruption on the part of the Tehran municipality, which is headed by Ghalibaf.

In August, confidential documents leaked to the media showed Tehran municipality’s “illegal” generosity toward Tehran City Council members. According to a confidential report by Iran’s Inspection Organization, which answers to the judiciary, Tehran municipality had been selling property below market value to a number of conservative Tehran City Council members and other high-ranking municipality officials. At first, Ghalibaf dismissed the report, but then claimed that the underpriced homes were sold to officials who would otherwise not be able to afford them. The statement of the conservative mayor, who has held his position since 2005, may have been true, but the fact of the matter remains that most of those who bought the underpriced homes are close to Ghalibaf and the conservatives. In the end, the judiciary entered the fray and announced that a large number of the contracts to sell the properties had been entered illegally. In this vein, several people were summoned by the judiciary. However, the Reformists couldn’t really pounce on Ghalibaf further as the Tehran City Council was still in the hands of the conservatives.

Moreover, in January, the first modern high-rise in Tehran collapsed, with more than 20 firefighters perishing under the debris. The public backlash over the disaster spiked as media reports said Ghalibaf was in the holy city of Qom, meeting with senior clerics to get their attention ahead of the upcoming presidential elections, when the Plasco building caught fire and then collapsed. In addition, reports surfaced that the Tehran municipality had failed to enforce safety codes that could have prevented the tragedy.

Meanwhile, the presence of athletes on the Tehran City Council has encountered opposition from the media and public, particularly as some of the sportsmen — who once were celebrated national champions — are accused of corruption and of taking sides after receiving financial incentives. Prominent artists and athletes still appear eager to try their luck at entering the Tehran City Council, assuming that they will win, but public reactions to corruption allegations suggest that the incoming Tehran City Council will be void of athletes and artists.

As such, it seems that the competition between conservatives, on the one hand, and Reformists and moderates politicians, on the other hand, will be particularly tense. In this vein, the latter are confident that the outcome of the February 2016 parliament elections, which saw Reformists and moderates take all 30 parliamentary seats in Tehran, will be repeated May 19.

Unlike the parliamentary and presidential elections, in which candidates are vetted by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council, City Council candidates are only vetted by the government, which is now controlled by a Reformist-moderate coalition. In this vein, it can be anticipated that far fewer Reformists will be disqualified from running in the City Council polls.

Given that the Tehran City Council elects the Tehran mayor, the next person tasked with running the capital could end up being a Reformist or a moderate, breaking the conservatives’ hold on the important position.

In this vein, it is noteworthy that Mohsen Hashemi, the oldest son of Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who died in January, is one of the possible candidates to head the Tehran municipality. In 2013, when moderate Hassan Rouhani won the presidential elections, Hashemi narrowly lost an attempt to oust Ghalibaf — the runner-up in the presidential vote — by only three votes.

(Source / 24.03.2017)

Anti-occupation activists, academics arrested by PA forces

PA vs activisten

Palestinian anti-occupation academics and ex-prisoners were arrested by the Palestinian Authority (PA) forces on Friday morning on account of their political activism.

According to a statement by Hamas, the PA Preventive Security apparatus in al-Khalil arrested the Palestinian students Mootassem Nasr and Hamza Abdul Ghani, enrolled at the Polytechnic University, following predawn assaults on their family homes.

Overnight, 17-year-old ex-prisoner Layth al-Akeili was arrested by the PA General Intelligence forces from his family home in al-Khalil.

The PA forces further transferred the university student Mohamed Faris Abu Arkoub, arrested just a few days ago, to Jericho jail, despite his deteriorating health condition.

Meanwhile, Palestinian student Khaled Abu Namous, enrolled at an-Najah University, has been held in the PA detention centers in Nablus for the 17th consecutive day.

The PA forces in Tulkarem have also kept the Palestinian citizens Malek Ja’ari and Hassan Hussein in custody.

(Source / 24.03.2017)