Reports: Kushner secretly visited Saudi Arabia, Israel for peace efforts

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner in Washington, US on 5 April, 2017 [Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency]

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner in Washington, US on 5 April, 2017

US President Donald Trump’s chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner is reported to have secretly visited Saudi Arabia and Israel last week in a bit to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Politico newspaper revealed that this is the third visit by Kushner this year to the Kingdom. He was accompanied by Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.

CNN reported that Kushner, who is also the president’s son-in-law, visited Israel after Riyadh.

While the White House refused to disclose the reasons for Kushner’s secret visit, the newspaper pointed out that American and Saudi parties discussed a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Read: ‘Saudi Arabia’s relation with Israel not based on politics’

The newspaper quoted remarks by American billionaire and close friend of President Trump, Thomas Barrack as saying:

The key to solving the crisis [in the Middle East] is Egypt, while the key to Egypt is Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

Trump has been working to kickstart Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in a bid to reach a peace agreement which would include normalising relations between Israel and the Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, which proposed the Arab peace initiative in 2002.

(Source / 01.11.2017)

Palestinian girl, 11, to UK PM: Balfour celebration ‘a new obstacle to peace’

11-year-old Palestinian girl, Hala Nasrallah, has written a letter to the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, who is planning to attend a celebration to mark he Balfour Declaration

Below is a letter written by an 11-year-old Palestinian student living in Qatar address to British Prime Minister Theresa May who is planning to attend a celebration of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

To Her Excellency Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Ms Theresa May

I hope you are well.

I have recently read about your British and Israel celebration of the one hundred years of the Balfour Declaration for Israel to occupy Palestine (which is not actually Balfour’s property). After that, an ocean of sadness and death flooded Palestine. To be completely honest, I do not understand why you would celebrate that day with pride. Are you proud of causing the Palestinians to be homeless? Are you proud of stealing peace from the Palestinians’ hearts, souls and minds without having the right to do that?

I live in Qatar, and I do have a lot of British friends, and I am in a British school. I am only eleven years old, but diving into the future, I realise that when my friends and I have graduated, they would all move back to their homeland. However, I would have no home to return to.

Although I have never set foot in Palestine due to Israel grabbing it away, my grandfather told me a lot of stories about what life in Palestine was like back then. He talked about the village that he used to live in; a village named Al-Burayj. It was a very pleasant village, but now it is a store full of weapons. It is not only about my grandfather and my village. It is also about the rest of the Palestinians that were kicked out of their own villages, and now many of them live in wretched, gloomy and miserable camps. I’m certain you know the agony that happens in Palestinian camps.

In fact, I feel that it is heavily confusing that you have refused to apologise, as even apologising is not enough. Palestine will not return to how it used to be by just doing that, because bringing it back would need a lot of effort from the international community.

Above all, you have placed a new obstacle in the road of peace because you are planning to celebrate a centenary that led to injustice for many people.

Nevertheless, the hope will always live inside us. Thus as an eleven-year-old, there is not much that I can do, but I will always seek a way to help Palestine. Therefore, that is why I am writing this letter to you. I would like to ask you on behalf of all oppressed Palestinians to cancel this shameful celebration.

I hope you take my request into thought and consideration

Hala Nasrallah
Year 6
Sherborne Qatar School

(Source / 01.11.2017)

Israeli forces detain Palestinian journalist, teenage cousins in predawn raids

Journalist detained

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least 21 Palestinians, including a journalist, from across the occupied West Bank during predawn raids on Wednesday, according to Palestinian sources.

Clashes also erupted during the raids, causing the injury of several Palestinian youth with rubber-coated steel bullets.
Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
According to United Nations documentation, Israeli forces conducted 196 search and arrest operations across the West Bank, including nine children, between October 10 and October 23.
Northern West Bank
The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that five Palestinians were detained from the Qabatiya town in Jenin, and were identified as Bassel Kamil, Humam Adnan Kamil, Hamadeh Naji Sabaaneh, Usama Abu al-Rub and Suhaib Zakarneh.
Adnan Amer Ayesh, 32, was detained from Tulkarem city, Mahmoud Taleb Jueidi, 23, from Qalqiliya, and Wael Hashash and Omar Muhammad Hamu were detained from Nablus. Locals told Ma’an that Hashash was detained during clashes that erupted after hundreds of Israeli settlers raided the Joseph’s Tomb area near the Balata refugee camp in eastern Nablus.

Central West Bank
In the Jerusalem-area town of Beit Duqqu, PPS reported that Israeli forces detained one Palestinian, identified as Shihab Yasir Daoud.
In the Ramallah-area town of al-Bireh, Israeli forces detained journalist Bushra al-Tawil, while two Palestinians identified as Ahmad al-Barghouthi and Wissam Ibrahim Abed were detained from Ramallah.
Southern West Bank
Israeli forces detained five Palestinians from the al-Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem. PPS identified the detainees as Rafat Abu Aker, Imran al-Atrash, Ahmad al-Atrash, Ismail Elayyan and Bassel al-Ayaseh.
Locals told Ma’an that clashes erupted during the raid in al-Duheisha, as Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at youth who threw stones and empty bottles at the armed soldiers.
In the Hebron district, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians, including two minors, according to PPS. The group identified the three as Mumen Hasan al-Tit, 13, Abdullah Bassam al-Tit, 13, and Malek Shaher Hijjeh, 22, from the town of Dura City.
An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports of the detentions.
(Source / 01.11.2017)

Israeli Soldiers Abduct Eight Palestinians In Jenin, Qalqilia, Tulkarem And Jerusalem

01 NOV
10:08 AM

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers invaded, at dawn Wednesday, Qabatia town, south of Jenin, in addition to Qalqilia, Tulkarem and Jerusalem, in the West Bank, and abducted eight Palestinians, including a former political prisoner.

The Jenin office of the PPS said many army jeeps invaded Qabatia town, searched and ransacked several homes, and abducted three young men.

The abducted Palestinians have been identified as Homam Adnan Kamil, Bassel Kamil and Hamada Saba’na, all in their twenties.

In addition, the Qalqilia office of the PPS said the soldiers invaded the city, and abducted Mahmoud Ghaleb Jo’eidi, 26, after breaking into his home and searching it.

In Tulkarem, many soldiers invaded ‘Allar town and Shweika area, north of the city, and abducted a former political prisoner, identified as Fathi Sami ‘Asrawi, 35, from ‘Allar, and Adnan Amer Ayesh, from Shweika area, after the soldiers broke into their homes and searched them.

Also, the soldiers abducted two young men, who remained unidentified until the time of this report, after stopping them at a military roadblock, northwest of occupied Jerusalem.

The army claims that the two young men were trying to place an explosive charge near the gate of the Annexation Wall in that area.

Furthermore, dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the Deheishe refugee camp, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, abducted five young men and injured one.

Also at dawn, the soldiers invaded the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and shot two young Palestinian men, after the army fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs, at local youngsters, who hurled stones at their jeeps.

(Source / 01.11.2017)

Jerusalem Municipality Announces Construction of New Israeli Settlement

01 NOV
6:36 AM

Mayor of the Jerusalem municipality, Nir Barkat, has announced a plan for the construction of a new Israeli settlement, in a neighborhood of occupied Jerusalem.

Barakat explained that the center includes the establishment of a high-tech village, with surprising residential and recreational entertainment in a central location above the highway, in Jerusalem.

He pointed out, according to the PNN, that a huge park will be built on an area of ​​70 hectares, around the entertainment center, walking trails, green spaces, cafes and a communication center between the government complex and the Hebrew University.

He pointed out that another area will be built on, which will see 830 new housing units, including 50% of the small housing units for young families in the city, according to his vision, 25 settler units protected and about 13,390 square meters of retail space and public spaces.

Barkat noted that the plan will be submitted, for the first time, in two weeks, for approval by the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee.

He said, “We are constantly increasing the resources for developing the neighborhoods and advancing the quality of life there. Over the next few years, the residents of the city’s neighborhoods will enjoy new and advanced infrastructure, swimming pools, sports fields, event halls, day-care centers and many other initiatives.”

(Source / 01.11.2017)

Hunger Striking Detainee Moved Into Solitary Confinement

01 NOV
10:40 AM

A lawyer working for the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that the Israeli Prison Authority in Asqalan, has transferred a hunger striking Palestinian detainee from its facility to the solitary confinement section of Ohali Kidar prison.

Lawyer Khaled Mahajna said the detainee, Bilal Thiab, 32, went on hunger strike fifteen days ago, and has been subject to constant violations since then.

He added that Thiab even stopped drinking water several days ago to pressure the Prison Authority into moving him to another prion, especially since he was held in a very small, bug-ridden dirty cell, surrounded by Israeli inmates, held for criminal offensives, and continuously shout insults and slurs at him.

The detainee has also been stripped from basic supplies, and is left with a thin torn mattress and sheet, in addition to having to use his own shoe as a pillow.

He is currently held without running water, and has not been allowed to shower or charge his clothes since he started his strike.

It is worth mentioning that Thiab, from Kafr Ra’ey town, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, was repeatedly abducted and imprisoned, and held a 78-day hunger strike in 20012, protesting being detained under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial, and was released in August of the same year.

The Israeli army abducted him again on July 14th, 2017, and slapped him with a six-month Administrative Detention order.

(Source / 01.11.2017)

Extremist Arrested after Knife Attack Near Tunisia’s Parliament

An AFP file photo shows a policeman in Bardo square in Tunis

A suspected militant was arrested on Wednesday after wounding two policemen in a knife attack near the parliament building in the Tunisian Capital, the interior ministry said.

The assailant was known to authorities and said after the attack that he considered the police to be “tyrants”, according to the statement.

One of the policemen was taken to hospital for treatment after being injured in the neck, while the other was only lightly wounded, it said.

Large numbers of police were deployed to Tunis’ Bardo square in the aftermath of the attack, a witness said. Blood could be seen on the ground in the square.

The square is opposite the parliament building and close to the Bardo museum, the site of a militant attack against foreign tourists that killed 21 people in March 2015.

An official at the police station where the man was taken after being detained said the attacker was in his 20s and appeared “very aware of what he did”.

“He spoke calmly and showed no remorse,” the official said, asking to remain anonymous.

Tunisia suffered two other major attacks that year, one against tourists at the beach resort of Sousse and the other against presidential guards in the capital.

Since then, security has been boosted at strategic sites while Tunisian authorities have cracked down on militants, dismantling dozens of networks.

(Source / 01.11.2017)

US project aims to improve water access for Palestinian farmers

US special envoy Jason Greenblatt (C) shakes hands with Palestinian Water Authority chairman Mazen Ghunaim during the launch of a project to improve access to wastewater treatment and water for Palestinian farmers, Jericho, occupied West Bank, Oct. 15, 2017.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The US Consulate in Jerusalem launched a $10 million project on Oct. 15 to support the water sector in the West Bank governorate of Jericho. In attendance during the announcement of the launch was Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The project will expand the network of pipelines that flow into the wastewater treatment plant in Jericho, connecting 10,000 new residents to the network, which was funded in 2016 by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This means that the new project (network expansion), which should be ready by early 2018, will connect 70% of the residents of Jericho to the water treatment plant, which, in turn, was funded by the Japanese government in the city and launched by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in June 2014.

The project will be of great help to the farmers in the city of Jericho and the Jordan Valley, especially palm farmers, as it will increase their irrigation resources, which is the biggest problem plaguing this sector.

Water scarcity is the main problem faced by palm farmers in Jericho, as Israeli authorities control the water resources in Jericho and the Jordan Valley, which are in Area C, and prevent Palestinians from digging new water wells.

In this vein, Clayton Alderman, the spokesperson and media attache for the US Consulate General in Jerusalem, told Al-Monitor, “This project improves wastewater collection services to Jericho households by connecting them to the city sewage network, which feeds the wastewater treatment plant constructed by the Japanese government. The treated wastewater is then recycled for agriculture irrigation, which contributes to economic growth. The US government invests in water and wastewater infrastructure to improve the daily lives of Palestinians and enhance the prospects for lasting peace.”

“While the project aims to connect 10,000 additional residents to the plant, it also provides a safe way to dispose of wastewater so as not to harm the health of the Jericho residents,” Alderman added.

Asked about the significance of the project for the agricultural sector, Alderman said, “Water is very scarce in the arid Jordan Valley. Also, the high salinity of the soil makes groundwater unsuitable for irrigation in that area. In other words, the project addresses these challenges by providing a sustainable source of irrigation for farmers in Jericho.”

As for the relation between the project and the US administration’s role in the peace process, Alderman said, “The US administration and President Trump are committed to a just and lasting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

He added, “Greenblatt confirmed that a key element in the peace process is a prosperous economy. Also, there is a need for real opportunities for Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza, so this project is a step in that direction.”

The US government project was established in cooperation with the Japanese government, which financed the construction of a sewage treatment plant through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA started constructing the plant in 2011 and inaugurated it in 2014, and the US government has been gradually establishing a network of water pipelines, most recently on Oct. 15.

Abdel Nasser Makki, the head of the sewage and waste disposal department at JICA, told Al-Monitor, “The idea of building a sewage treatment plant started in 2011 in a bid to get rid of the cesspits scattered in the city and ward off the threat they pose to the environment and the health of the Jericho residents — $32 million has been earmarked for the construction of the plant and the network of main water transport lines in the area.”

“In 2012, we launched a new phase of the project worth $6 million to raise the efficiency of the municipality of Jericho when it comes to dealing with the station. We also wanted to teach the human cadres in the municipality how to deal with the station and the main lines, and how to connect them to the houses — especially considering that the municipality lacked a wastewater department that could provide specialized employees,” Makki added.

The maximum capacity of the station is 8,000-9,000 cubic meters per day, and it is now receiving between 700-900 cubic meters of wastewater and sewage. But with the completion of the US project and once 70% of the Jericho houses are connected to the station, this level will jump to 2,500-3,000 cubic meters per day, according to Makki.

The station gets wastewater through a network. It then treats it so it is suitable for irrigation and transfers it to a large basin to be subsequently sent to palm growers in Jericho via a huge electric pump. This takes place under the supervision of the Jericho municipality, being the competent authority.

Head of the Jericho municipality Salem Gharouf told Al-Monitor, “The importance of the project lies in its ability to provide water to encourage the expansion of agricultural lands — especially as farmers have been suffering from water scarcity.”

Gharouf said that 10 palm growers in Jericho were currently benefiting from the station’s treated water, but once the US project is completed, more than 50 farmers will benefit in light of the increasing lands planted with palm trees. These are estimated at 5,000 dunums (5 square kilometers).

Asked about the station’s ability to satisfy the increasing demand for water, Gharouf said, “The plant is currently pumping about 900 cubic meters per day, which is not enough amid the increasing demand for water. But we expect this level to increase once the project is completed so that farmers can take advantage of the station’s water pump, which is only operating at 10% capacity.”

Amid this increasing need for additional water resources to irrigate trees and expand farms, palm growers in Jericho are hoping that the new project will meet some of their needs until they are able to benefit from the Palestinian water resources that are controlled by Israel in the Jordan Valley.

(Source / 01.11.2017)

Israeli army backtracks on initial version of deadly Halamish shooting

Mohamed Mousa dead

The Israeli army on Tuesday evening backtracked on a news story attributing a shooting attack on a Palestinian and his sister near Halamish settlement to a preplanned car-ramming attempt.

The fact that the occupation army has changed its version regarding the shooting attack, which left 26-year-old Mohamed Mousa dead and his sister severely injured, corroborates the version released by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).

According to investigations conducted by PCHR and eyewitnesses, at approximately 09:30 on Tuesday, 31 October 2017, Mohamed Abdullah Ali Mousa (26), from Deir Balout village, west of Salfit, was driving his car with an Israeli registration plate. Mohamed was along with his sister Latifa (33), heading to Ramallah. The car arrived at the iron gate established at the entrance to al-Nabi Saleh village. The Israeli forces stationed there ordered Mohamed to stop as it seems they suspected the car. Mohamed sped up towards the intersection of “Halamish” settlement entrance, which is 200 meters away from the entrance.

PCHR added that when Mohamed drove the car away from the intersection, an Israeli settler fired live bullets, which penetrated the car’s windshield. As a result, Mohamed was hit with a live bullet which entered his chest from the right side and exited the waist. Mohamed was then taken by an Israeli ambulance to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva City in Israel. Few Minutes later, Israeli doctors at the hospital declared his death.

Moreover, Mohamed’s sister, Latifa, was hit with a live bullet to the left shoulder and then taken to Istishari Arab Hospital in al-Rihan suburb, north of Ramallah, to receive medical treatment.

Israeli forces claimed that the car driven by Mousa was speeding up towards the soldiers stationed at the entrance to the abovementioned settlement, so they thought that Mousa was attempting to carry out a run-over attack. Hours later, the occupation army rescinded the latter version.

(Source / 01.11.2017)

Palestinian woman undergoes medical surgery in Israeli custody

Hulwa Hamamrah

The Palestinian female prisoner Hulwa Hamamrah, 26, has undergone a surgery in her hand after suffering fractures after falling from her bed in HaSharon prison.

Palestine center for prisoners’ studies affirmed that Hamamrah had broken a bone in her hand after she fell from an upper bunk bed.

She was transferred to hospital where she underwent a surgery. She is still suffering from an injury she sustained during her detention two years ago.

Hamamrah, from Husan town south of Bethlehem, was jailed to six years plus a fine of 4,000 shekels in total disregard to her difficult health situation.

Hamamrah, a mother of a 3-year-old girl, was denied family visits for long months.

(Source / 01.11.2017)