Additional UNRWA Funding of EUR 3.5 Million Approved by Italy

10 SEP
7:12 PM

Italy, on Monday, approved an additional funding of EUR 3.5 million for UNRWA programs to be carried out in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip, according to a press release by the Italian Consulate in Jerusalem.

“In accordance with the well-established Italian support to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and given the serious financial difficulties that UNRWA is facing, Italy has approved an additional funding of EUR 3.5 million for programs to be carried out in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip,” said the statement.

“The contribution comes on top of the financial effort already set up by Italy for the benefit of the Agency. This effort, considered as a whole $14 million in 2017, allows our country to be the 14th most important donor of the agency.”

The statement said, according to WAFA,  that “UNRWA keeps playing an essential part by providing basic services to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees. Its activities contribute in a concrete manner to the stability of the region.”

The Italian contribution came after the United States, the largest donor with $360 million in annual aid to UNRWA, decided to stop all funding to the humanitarian agency, a step seen to punish and pressure the Palestinians to accept its terms for a settlement with Israel.

(Source / 10.09.2018)

Israeli Police Detains Four Palestinian Workers

10 SEP
10:19 AM

Israeli police officers detained, on Monday at dawn, four Palestinian construction workers from the northern West Bank governorates of Jenin and Nablus, reportedly for entering and working in Israel without permits.

Media sources said the police detained Moath Ali, Kathem Abdul-Afo and Mohammad Ahmad Zyoud, from Silat al-Harithiya village, northwest of Jenin, in addition to Thabet Kamel Thabet, from Nablus, and took them for interrogation.

On Sunday at night, Israeli soldiers detained two children, identified as Abdullah Bassel Abu Bakr, and Zeid Ahmad Ba’jawi, after stopping him at a sudden roadblock near their lands in Ya’bad town, southwest of Jenin.

The two were interrogated for several hours before the soldiers released them.

(Source / 10.09.2018)

Israel committed 26 violations against journalists in August

RAMALLAH, PALESTINOW.COM — The Palestine News and Information Agency, WAFA, has documented 26 violations by Israeli forces against journalists and media institutions in the occupied Palestinian territories during August 2018.

It said in its monthly report on Israeli violations against journalists, released on Sunday, that these Israeli violations included the firing of rubber-coated bullets and teargas canisters against journalists, in addition to physical beating and arrest.

The report said 10 journalists were injured by rubber-coated rounds, suffocated by teargas or beaten by Israeli forces during the month. It said 13 journalists were assaulted by the occupation forces but were not injured.

In addition, soldiers prevented journalists from doing their work either by turning them back under force or holding them for several hours while assaulting them, said the report.

(Source / 10.09.2018)

More than 140 global artists boycott Eurovision in solidarity with Palestinians

There should be no business-as-usual with Israel until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice, equal rights, letter says

More than 100 international artists, including famous singers and musicians singed a statement called for the boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, the Guardian said.

In a letter to the paper published on Friday, the artists said they were responding to an appeal by Palestinian artists calling on them to boycott the European event slated to be held in Israel next year.

“We, the undersigned artists from Europe and beyond, support the heartfelt appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 hosted by Israel,” the statement read.

The artists called for halting all kinds of business with Israel until it recognises the basic rights of the Palestinians. “Until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights.”

About the reason of the boycott, the artists said: “On 14 May, days after Israel’s Eurovision win, the Israeli army killed 62 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including six children, and injured hundreds, most with live ammunition.

Amnesty International has condemned Israel’s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy and Human Rights Watch described the killings as ‘unlawful and calculated’.”

The statement concluded: “Eurovision 2019 should be boycotted if it is hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights.

“We understand that the European Broadcasting Union is demanding that Israel finds a ‘non-divisive’ location for the 2019 Eurovision. It should cancel Israel’s hosting of the contest altogether and move it to another country with a better human rights record. Injustice divides, while the pursuit of dignity and human rights unites.”

(Source / 10.09.2018)

Senior Israel army commander rules out reaching truce with Gaza

Head of the Southern Command of the Israeli Army, Herzi Halevi [Eliezer M Goldstock/Facebook]

Head of the Southern Command of the Israeli Army, Herzi Halev

Head of the Southern Command of the Israeli Army, which is in charge of Gaza Strip, Herzi Halevi yesterday ruled out reaching a truce with Gaza in the coming decade.

In an interview with the local Israeli Radio Darom, he said: “It will be wrong to say that complete quiet in the region is likely to be achieved, not even when looking at the next decade.”

He added: “I think we must not delude ourselves. Gaza bustles with terrorism and is building up capabilities. We are stronger than Hamas by orders of magnitude, but it will continue to test us from time to time.”

The senior Israeli army commander also said: “We will not see complete quiet in the coming decade, or longer, if I can risk a long-term assessment.”

War, he said, could be a possible solution. “A war is also a kind of arrangement. Our interest is very clear: security for the residents of southern Israel.”

Read:  The US-Israeli plot to ‘Save’ Gaza

(Source / 10.09.2018)

Oslo’s Bid for Mideast Peace Fades 25 Years on

The Oslo accords inspired hope that Israeli-Palestinian peace could finally be achieved

A handshake on the White House lawn sealing the first of the landmark Oslo accords inspired hope that Israeli-Palestinian peace could finally be achieved, but 25 years later those dreams have faded.

The September 13 anniversary of the 1993 accord, symbolized by the handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, will not be celebrated by most Israelis or Palestinians, many of whom see the process as unfulfilled or flawed from the very start, said an Agence-France Presse report on Monday.

But for those who regard an Israeli and Palestinian state existing side-by-side as the only viable solution, salvaging the peace process and the achievements of the Oslo accords — a second followed in 1995 — is more urgent than ever.

“It was a defining moment for many of us,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a Palestinian student in Jordan at the time and now a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy think-tank.

“There was a lot of hope — maybe naive hope, but certainly a lot of hope.”

Omari, who served as an adviser to Palestinian negotiators in later talks, has no illusions about the current state of the peace process.

“On the long-term, there is no solution except the two-state solution,” he told AFP.

“In the short-term, there is absolutely no chance that it’s going to happen.”

His view is widely shared, with Omari and others pointing to what they see as Israel’s drift to the political right, a weakened Palestinian leadership and US President Donald Trump’s moves.

Trump has pledged to reach the “ultimate deal” — Israeli-Palestinian peace — but has declined to commit to a two-state solution, for years the focus of international diplomacy.

He has also sided with Israel on core issues in the conflict, such as recognizing the disputed city of Jerusalem as its capital, while publicly asking for no concessions in return.

Those moves have delighted Israeli right-wing politicians who oppose a Palestinian state and argue that the Oslo accords only lead to another Palestinian Intifada and more violence.

But the Palestinians, who have cut off contact with Trump’s White House, say Israel failed to abide by the accords — notably by allowing hundreds of thousands more settlers in the West Bank, which it has occupied since 1967.

Their leadership, however, remains deeply divided between 83-year-old President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah party and the Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip and refuses to recognize Israel.

Benny Morris, a renowned Israeli historian whose books include “Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001”, faults Israel’s drift to the right, but believes the Palestinians are not prepared to fully accept a two-state solution.

“I think something has to happen in the leaderships of the two people,” he said, according to AFP.

“Israelis have to get rid of this leadership, which is unable to move towards peace, unable to adopt a two-state formula as a basis for peace.”

But the Palestinians “have to get rid of the Hamas leadership, and the Fatah leadership pretends to want peace, but doesn’t actually want it”.

The Oslo accord of 1993 stated that “it is time to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict” and “strive to live in peaceful coexistence”.

While it did not specifically mention the creation of a Palestinian state, it led to mechanisms for self-governance, including the Palestinian Authority, which has endured.

As part of the agreements, the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized Israel, while Israel recognized the PLO as the Palestinians’ legitimate representative.

That in itself was a major achievement at the time, following decades of enmity, reported AFP.

In 1994, then Israeli prime minister Rabin, PLO chairman Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres shared the Nobel peace prize.

But since, Israelis and Palestinians have been scarred by further tragedy.

Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli right-wing extremist in 1995 and the five-year transitional period under Oslo that was supposed to lead to a permanent settlement expired with no deal in place.

A second Palestinian Intifada erupted in 2000, and since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, it has fought three wars with Israel.

Israeli settlement building has multiplied in the West Bank — on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

Some 600,000 Israeli settlers now live there and in annexed east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also now heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.

Key members of his coalition want to see most of the West Bank become part of Israel despite warnings that it would lead to an “apartheid” arrangement with the Palestinians there, said AFP.

Morris, who has spent much of his life documenting the conflict, still believes the two-state solution is the only way forward, but admits he is pessimistic.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “I used to think it would be achieved. Now I’m not very optimistic about it ever happening.”

(Source / 10.09.2018)

PA: Trump closing Washington PLO office is “vicious blackmail”

PLO office US

PLO Office in Washington

PNN/ Ramallah/
 The Trump administration on Monday is expected to announce that it will close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, The Wall Street Journal reported today.
Citing unidentified White House officials, the WSJ said the announcement is expected to be made in prepared remarks by National Security Adviser John Bolton, and is part of a widening U.S. pressure campaign on Palestinian officials amid stalled Middle East peace efforts, the paper reported.The U.S. “will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” Bolton plans to say in his prepared remarks, the Journal reported, citing a draft it had reviewed.

He also plans to threaten to impose sanctions against the International Criminal Court if it moves ahead with investigations of the U.S. and Israel, the paper said. Actions the U.S. could take include banning ICC judges and prosecutors from entering America.

“We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system,” the paper reported Bolton was planning to say. “We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”

This comes after a series of measurements against the Palestinian leadership and people, including moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and announcing Jerusalem the capital of Israel in May, in addition to the recent cut of funding to the UNRWA, which is responsible for aiding millions of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

Senior PLO official, Dr. Saeb Erekat described the decision as another affirmation of the Trump Administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education.

Erekat said that the leadership in response will take the necessary measures to protect the rights of Palestinian citizens living in the United States to access their consular services.

“This dangerous escalation shows that the US is willing to disband the international system in order to protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine as well as against peace and security in the rest of our region,” Erekat said in a statement.

“We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to US threats and bullying and that we will continue our legitimate struggle for freedom, justice, and independence, including by all political and legal means possible.  Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes.| he added.

Erekat concluded by saying that the international community has the responsibility to react.

“Lowering the flag of Palestine in Washington DC means much more than a new slap by the Trump Administration against peace and justice; it symbolizes the US attacks against the international system as a whole, including the Paris Convention, UNESCO and the Human Rights Council among others,” he added.

To her part, PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement “It is ironic that the US is punishing the PLO, the national representative of the Palestinian people and the highest political body that made the commitment to reaching a political and legal settlement of the Palestinian question and that has engaged in negotiations with successive US administrations for decades.”

“This form of crude and vicious blackmail, as clearly articulated by officials including US President Trump, United States Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, senior advisor to President Trump Jared Kushner, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, once again seeks to punish the Palestinian people as a whole who are already victims of the ruthless Israeli military occupation,” Ashrawi said.

(Source / 10.09.2018)

IOF attack elementary school, assault teachers

Elementary school

Dozens of students and a schoolteacher on Monday were wounded after Israeli occupation forces stormed an elementary school in Hebron this morning.

Local sources said that the Israeli soldiers assaulted a number of school teachers, injuring teacher Shukri al-Zaru al-Tamimi, before they threw stunt and teargas grenades towards the students in the vicinity of the school and inside its walls.

The attack spread terror among the students where dozens suffered from teargas suffocation.

The school has some 370 students in elementary classes.

 (Source / 10.09.2018)

Israel forces arrest Addameer’s legal unit coordinator

Image of Israeli forces arresting Palestinians in the West Bank [file photo]

Israeli forces can be seen arresting Palestinian in the West Bank [file photo]

A senior staff member of Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer has been detained by Israeli occupation forces, the NGO reported.

Ayman Nasser, 48, the coordinator of Addameer’s legal unit, was seized by soldiers from his home in the occupied West Bank on 9 September, and is being held without charge or trial in Ofer prison.

Nasser has been arrested on three previous occasions, the last of which was in 2014, when he spent more than a year under administrative detention (without charge or trial).

Nasser’s wife told Addameer that soldiers broke into the house at 2:00am, waking up the children and keeping “the entire family in the living room while they were searching the house”. The NGO added that there were some ten soldiers inside the house, and tens of soldiers outside the house.

Read: Addameer report points to bleak future for Palestinian children in Jerusalem

“They took all of our IDs and phones, and then they returned all of them but Ayman’s,” his wife said. “They also took Ayman and our two boys Ameen [20 years old] and Naji [18 years old] outside for interrogation. After half an hour, they allowed Ayman to say goodbye to us and to take his medication and they all left with him.”

Addameer condemned “the Israeli occupation forces for arresting its legal coordinator multiple times over the past few years”, describing his re-arrest as a “clear example of the occupation’s policy of systematically targeting human rights defenders”.

The group also called on “the international community to seriously work towards holding the Israeli occupation accountable for its crimes and to release all Palestinian detainees.”

(Source / 10.09.2018)

Hamas: No justification for PA cuts to detainees’ salaries

Palestinian Authority employees stage a protest after 30% is cut from their salaries.

Palestinian Authority employees stage a protest after 30 per cent was cut from their salaries

Hamas said yesterday that there is no justification for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to cut the salaries of Palestinians detained in or freed from Israeli jails.

“Cutting the salaries constitutes a national crime against those who sacrificed the most expensive thing in their life for the sake of Palestine: their freedom,” member of Hamas’ political bureau Musa Dudeen said.

“There is not justification for this,” Dudeen said, “except undermining the Palestinian principles, including prisoners inside Israeli jails, ahead of liquidating them in line with the American and Israeli demands to stop supporting them as they are described as ‘terrorists’.”

Dudeen also said: “The PA’s sanctions are a stab in the back for them [Palestinian detainees].”

Read: UNRWA denies plans to cut salaries of 22,000 Gaza employees

He called for the PA to stand side by side with the Palestinian people and abolish all the punitive measures imposed on them.

A number of Palestinian detainees who have had their stipends stopped protested outside the PA office yesterday to announce they had launched a hunger strike.

Detainee spokesperson Abdel-Hadi Abu-Khalaf said the PA cut the salaries of 35 detainees freed since 2007, noting that they were told their salaries were cut under the orders of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Prisoners’ NGOs said that the PA has cut the salaries of 160 prisoners and freed prisoners from Gaza since February.

(Source / 10.09.2018)