Israel to establish new settlement city near Qalqilya

New settlement Qalqilya

Hebrew TV channel 7 on Saturday evening reported that the Israeli Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri has given the green light to the planning and building institutions to prepare for the establishment of a new settlement city in Qalqilya.

This project comes months after the Israeli government backtracked on a plan to expand settlements in Qalqilya.

The Hebrew channel said that the city will include in the first phase three settlements to the southwest of Qalqilya city resulting from bringing four settlements together with a population of more than 20,000 settlers.

The settlements in question are Sheari Tikva, Etz Efraim and Elkana. A forth settlement called Oranit to be added in the future.

The Interior Minister will recommend these settlement blocs to be fused before the elections to be held in October 2018.

According to Deri, by 2023 Oranit settlement will be annexed to the new settlement bloc which will be then officially declared as a city in the occupied West Bank.

Channel 7 said that Deri’s initiative is supported by all heads of the settlement blocs included in the project. They believe that the initiative will achieve optimal utilization of the Palestinian lands confiscated for settlement expansion.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Settlers violently beat Palestinian bus driver in al-Khalil

Busdriver attackted

A group of Israeli settlers on Sunday morning assaulted a Palestinian young man who works as a bus driver in al-Khalil.

According to available information, the bus driver, who works for Egged company, was attacked by a group of settlers near Kiryat Arba settlement.

The bus driver Salah Abu Jamal, a resident of Occupied Jerusalem, was transferred to the hospital for treatment after he suffered multiple injuries and bruises.

Settlers’ attacks against Palestinians have been stepped up recently including storming Palestinian towns and performing Talmudic rituals in Islamic shrines, spray painting racist slogans on houses’ walls, uprooting olive trees and others.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Shin Bet arrests Palestinian cell plotting to assassinate Lieberman

Plot Lieberman

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Sunday announced that it has recently arrested an Islamic Jihad cell composed of six Palestinians from Bethlehem and claimed that they were plotting to assassinate the Israeli war minister Avigdor Lieberman.

According to a statement released by the agency, the six Palestinians were planning to place a bomb on a West Bank road near Gush Etzion settlement on which Lieberman’s convoy was to travel.

The statement noted that the cell had planned to carry out other operations without giving details. No response from the Islamic Jihad Movement has been issued yet to the Shin Bet accusation.

The Shin Bet also claimed foiling a plot by another Islamic Jihad armed cell operating in Bethlehem to launch shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Lieberman was the target of a similar plot in 2014 when a Hamas cell planned to hit the vehicle in which he was traveling with an RPG.

The Shin Bet said that the Islamic Jihad cell members were aware of past failed attempts to kill Lieberman and therefore believed that if they planted an explosive device on the Israeli minister’s travel route they would be more successful.

Based on the Shin Bet allegations, the cell’s location had been identified and its plan thwarted at a very early stage of its work.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

3 Palestinians arrested by PA forces, others kept in custody

Palestinians arrested by PA

The Palestinian Authority (PA) forces arrested a number of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and have kept others in custody.

Palestinian young man Youssef Shedid was arrested by the PA forces in a campaign targeting Tulkarem’s town of Allar.

The PA intelligence officers also arrested the Palestinian ex-prisoner Anas Ka’kour in Jenin and the ex-prisoner Mohamed Abu Aliya in Bethlehem, after they broke into his family’s home.

At the same time, two Palestinian university students—Alaa Abu Aram and Abada Mer’i—have been held in PA lock-ups in al-Khalil respectively for five and four days running.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian ex-prisoners Kasem Swei, Maysara Afana, Saleh Daoud, Luay Freij, Ibrahim Zeid, and Saleh Abu Saleh have been on a hunger strike to protest their arbitrary detention by the PA Preventive Forces in Qalqilya for over four months despite a court rule ordering their release.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Palestinian kidnapped by IOF soldiers over alleged knife possession

Youth kidnapped Jenin

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at noontime Sunday kidnapped a Palestinian young man near the Salem military court, west of Jenin, on claims that he had a knife in his possession.

According to local sources, Israeli soldiers cordoned off the Salem military camp and cracked down on Palestinians before they kidnapped a young man at a checkpoint set at the camp’s outer entrance.

Hebrew-speaking radio stations said Israeli forces arrested a young man from Nablus after a Carlo gun was spotted in his bag at the main entrance to Salem court.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Abbas to Ask for a Palestinian State During Security Council Meeting on Feb 20

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will request, in a speech to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, the establishment of a Palestinian State and will reiterate the need to implement the UN Security Council resolution that calls for a two-state solution, sources close to the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The sources added that the Palestinian president would announce his final rejection of Washington’s monopoly of the peace process and would renew his call for an international conference under the umbrella of the United Nations to form a multilateral mechanism that would foster a new political process, similar to the 5+1 group, which negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran.

Meanwhile, Abu Rudeina, spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, said that the Palestinians have begun a new phase of the struggle that would define the region’s features in the near future.

“A new phase of the struggle has begun to preserve the overall goal of our Palestinian people, the Arab nation and the whole world, as well as the issue of Jerusalem in its Islamic and Christian sanctities, its heritage and history, which some are trying to falsify to justify their violation of all international laws,” Abu Rudeina stated.

The Palestinian presidency’s spokesman did not elaborate on Abbas’ speech before the Security Council, stressing that it would focus on Jerusalem and the national constants, and would serve as a “message to the whole world that justice, peace and land are the only way to a secure, stable, and prosperous Middle East, free from all forms of terrorism.”

The sources, for their part, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abbas would emphasize Palestinian’s rejection of President (Donald) Trump’s decision on Jerusalem and any other decision that would undermine the status of the city.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Israel’s Latest Attempts to Alter Geopolitical Realities in Jerusalem

Since 1967, Israel has sought to limit Palestinian power, ownership, and habitation in the Jerusalem area on the one hand, and increase Jewish-Israeli presence and control on the other.

While Jerusalem remains the only Palestinian territory illegally annexed by Israel since 1967, the nationalist right wing in Israel has openly advocated for the full annexation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) for over 50 years. The current Netanyahu government, emboldened by the election of President Trump, has brazenly presented a slew of plans, resolutions, and bills to achieve this end.

Notably, the Greater Jerusalem Bill of 2017 sought to annex the settlements surrounding Jerusalem, including Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Zeev, Beitar Illit, and the Etzion bloc – a settlement cluster between Jerusalem and Hebron. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indefinitely delayed the bill in October 2017 under pressure from the United States, which was concerned that it would hinder efforts to resurrect peace talks. Since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, there have been reports it might resurface.

Simultaneously, and more seriously, Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party announced a new bill at the end of last month that seeks to apply Israeli domestic law directly to the settlements, constituting de facto annexation. Expected to be introduced in mid-February, the bill is a replica of the decision unanimously approved by the Likud Central Committee on December 31, 2017. Additionally, the Knesset has just approved a bill extending Israeli sovereignty to the universities it has illegally erected in the West Bank.

Annexation would rubber stamp Israel’s Judaization of Jerusalem and cripple future Palestinian statehoodCLICK TO TWEETThere are two serious implications of a settlement annexation plan with regard to Jerusalem. First, the annexation of Ma’ale Adumim would have a demographic impact by drastically increasing the number of Jewish-Israeli residents in Jerusalem. Second, annexing the E1 corridor – a strategically significant 12 km2 parcel of land that connects Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem –would ensure that a future contiguous Palestinian state would be impossible. Additionally, it would result in the population transfer of the Bedouins who currently live in the E1 corridor.

The annexation of E1 and Ma’ale Adumim would alter the geopolitical realities in Palestine-Israel. Not only would it rubber stamp Israel’s Judaization of Jerusalem and sever Palestinians from their intended capital and their economic and spiritual center, it would also cripple future Palestinian statehood.

Policy Recommendations

1. Since the Trump Administration will not be a restraining force on the right-wing coalition in the Knesset, other nations, international bodies, and the growing civil society movement in support of Palestinian rights need to apply targeted pressure on the Israeli government to ensure that any annexation attempt is costly for Israel.

2. The European Union should move beyond platitudes of condemnation when Israel confiscates or destroys its humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities, such as the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in E1. Instead, it should actively hold Israel to account with diplomatic pressure – such as via the recognition of Palestinian statehood – and economic sanctions.

3. The Palestinian Authority (PA) should make it clear that the implementation of either the Greater Jerusalem Bill or the latest Likud bill would speed up the termination of all cooperation between the PA and Israel. This would also help the PA regain some legitimacy.

4. Mainstream Western and other media attention should keep a close eye on the annexation attempts moving through the Knesset.


(Source / 18.02.2018)

PA security forces raid West Bank houses

File photo of Palestinian protestors clashing with Palestinian Authority Security Forces in Hebron

File photo of Palestinian protestors clashing with Palestinian Authority Security Forces in Hebron

Palestinian Authority (PA) security services this week raided tens of Palestinian houses, harassed women and arrested men, including relatives of Palestinian MPs, Quds Net reported.

In Hebron, south of the occupied West Bank, the PA security services stormed the home of Nidaa Dweek, daughter of Speaker of Palestinian Parliament Aziz Dweek.

Nidaa wrote on Facebook: “Just now, forces of the Palestinian intelligence agency have left our house. They searched the house and left much havoc behind. They confiscated my daughter’s PC and camera and my son’s mobile and wallet, which includes his ID, University ID and NIS240.”

She also said that they confiscated books, documents, reports and papers related to her PhD.  All the residents in the were beaten, according to Quds Net.

Palestinian sources confirmed Nidaa’s report about the raid and said that the PA forces also raided the homes of Fatemah Seder, Sumayya Sultan, Hayat al-Rajabi and Sonia al-Hamouri. The sources added that the PA forces searched and damaged property inside the houses and confiscated contents.

Elsewhere, the PA security forces raided the house of Abdel-Rahman Bader in Hebron and arrested him. Abdel-Rahman is the son of the Palestinian MP Maher Bader, who is currently being held in Israeli detention.

In Bethlehem, the PA intelligence services raided the house of Zein al-Abideen Awawdeh, a lecturer at the University of Bethlehem. They confiscated computers and mobile phones after searching and damaging the house.

Recently, the PA security agencies have intensified their raids on houses of Palestinian MPs, Hamas leaders and their relatives across the occupied West Bank. No information about the reasons behind this security campaign was disclosed, Quds Net said.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

UN blames funding cuts and blockade for Gaza crisis

Gazan's gather outside the UN offices in Gaza to protest US cuts to UNRWA's funding, on January 28, 2018 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

Gazan’s gather outside the UN offices in Gaza to protest US cuts to UNRWA’s funding, on January 28, 2018

Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric blamed on Thursday UNRWA funding cuts, the closure of Gaza’s crossings, and the delay of internal Palestinian reconciliation for the dire situation in the enclave.

Answering to questions about the situation in Gaza, Dujarric said: “The dire humanitarian situation has obviously been made more stressful with the funding crisis” facing UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East).

He added: “So far, UNRWA has not cut back on any services and is striving not to.”

“We know the humanitarian crisis is also linked to internal issues having to do with the reconciliation between various Palestinian factions and, of course, issues related to closures;” he said.

On his part, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, told the Security Council that: “The United Nations have presented proposals to revitalize Gaza’s economy and discussed the conditions required to ease movement and access, and support Palestinian development.”

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Hamas denies US accusations on Gaza misery

Gazan children seen going about their lives after a day of rain, February 17, 2018 [Mohammed Asad / Middle East Monitor]

Gazan children seen going about their lives after a day of rain, February 17, 2018

Palestinian resistance group Hamas has dismissed US accusations for the group of causing a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this month, Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, blamed Hamas for causing “misery” to Gaza’s people by choosing “to increase violence”.

“We reject the White House allegations that Hamas was responsible for Gaza’s aggravating humanitarian crisis,” Hamas said in a statement on Sunday.

It described the US accusations as a “green light for the Israeli occupation to continue its aggressive approach against the Palestinian people.”

Hamas blamed Israel’s decade-long blockade on the seaside strip for “Gaza’s humanitarian catastrophe”, which, it says, has been imposed with “a public US support”.

It went on to hold “successive US administrations responsible for the tragedies that have plagued the Palestinian people since the beginning of the occupation”.

Home to nearly two million people, Gaza has been reeling under a decade-long siege that has badly affected livelihood in the Palestinian territory.

“The US ignored throughout the history of the [Arab-Israeli] conflict the right of the Palestinian people to live in security and peace on their land,” Hamas said.

The Palestinian group said Trump was seeking to tighten up the blockade with a view to “bringing our people and political forces to their knees for imposing solutions that aim at liquidating their cause”.

Last month, the US Treasury Department placed Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh on its terror list.

The US move came amid intense tension with the Palestinians after Trump’s decision on 6 December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to cut some $65 million in US aid to the Palestinians.

(Source / 18.02.2018)