Arab support for PA budget falls by 82%

Bank of Palestine [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]
Bank of Palestine

Arab support for the Palestinian Authority’s budget has fallen by 82 per cent during the first eight months of this year, Shehab news agency reported on Sunday.

According to data issued by the PA Ministry of Finance, the Arab countries have paid the PA $38.1 million in 2020 so far, compared to $198.33 million during the same period last year.

Over the past few months, US President Donald Trump revealed that he had asked the wealthy Arab states to stop paying money to the Palestinians. In July, the PA’s Minister of Finance Shukri Bsharah reported that a number of Arab states had suspended their financial aid for the authority.

The decline in Arab support coincides with a budget deficit in the normally supportive states due to the sharp decline in oil prices and reduced demand for crude oil.

Saudi assistance, Shehab reported, declined by 77.2 per cent, down from $130m in the same period in 2019 to just $30.8m this year. Algerian support fell to zero whereas it paid $26.1 million during the first eight months of 2019.

The PA said last week that Arab support for its budget has fallen by 55 per cent over the past five years from a high of around $1.1 billion. The authority is in the middle of its worst ever financial crisis since refusing to accept the tax revenues collected by Israel on its behalf since July. That is when PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced the suspension of all agreements with the occupation state.

READ: Dahlan incites Cairo to oppose Fatah-Hamas reconciliation

(Source / 19.10.2020)

Hamas: the US has told Arab states to stop supporting the PA

Deputy Chairman of the Movement's Political Bureau Saleh Al-Arouri signs the reconciliation agreement to build a consensus with Palestinian Fatah movement leader Azzam Al-Ahmad in Cairo, Egypt on 12 October 2017 [Ahmed Gamil/Anadolu Agency]
Deputy Chairman of the Movement’s Political Bureau Saleh Al-Arouri signs the reconciliation agreement to build a consensus with Palestinian Fatah movement leader Azzam Al-Ahmad in Cairo, Egypt on 12 October 2017 

A senior Hamas official has claimed that the US has told a number of Arab states to stop giving financial support to the Palestinian Authority, Al-Aqsa TV reported on Sunday. According to Saleh Al-Arouri, a number of states have been asked to put pressure on Fatah, which controls the PA, in order to pull out of any reconciliation with Hamas.

The Deputy Head of the Hamas Political Bureau added that these countries are those which sponsored the US deal of the century. He stressed, however, that Hamas is committed to the Palestinian understandings reached in Istanbul and would never backtrack on them.

Al-Arouri also revealed that the US had offered to talk with Hamas over the so-called “deal”, but Hamas refused because Washington’s intention was to split the national Palestinian stance and threaten the PLO leadership.

In July, the former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said that the best way to undermine the Israeli annexation plans “is to change the function of the PA” from serving the Israeli occupation to confronting it. He stressed that if such a change was not made, the PA should be dissolved after discussions with the different Palestinian factions and reaching an agreement on a replacement in order not to end up in chaos.

READ: Arab support for PA budget falls by 82% 

(Source / 19.10.2020)

Rights group reports escalation of Israel demolition of EU-funded Palestine projects

Palestinian students sit with their teacher inside a classroom at the Ras al-Tenneen school in eastern Ramallah city which an Israeli court ruled that it was built without the necessary construction permit and rejected an appeal against its imminent demolition, on 8 October 2020. [ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images]
Palestinian students sit with their teacher inside a classroom at the Ras al-Tenneen school in eastern Ramallah city which an Israeli court ruled that it was built without the necessary construction permit and rejected an appeal against its imminent demolition, on 8 October 2020

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor has documented a sharp increase in Israeli demolition of European Union (EU)-funded Palestinian projects built in occupied territories, a report issued over the weekend revealed.

According to the report, which was circulated by world news agencies, in 2019 the Euro-Med monitor documented a record high of 204 Palestinian structures that Israel had demolished in East Jerusalem alone, representing a spike when compared with previous years.

Israel further demolished or seized 127 structures funded by international donors, mainly the EU and its member states, in East Jerusalem and Area C, twice as much as in 2018.

“Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic crisis, Netanyahu’s government has significantly stepped up the demolition of Palestinian structures further,” the report explained.

“For instance, the number of house demolitions in East Jerusalem between January and August 2020 was 89, compared to 104 for all of 2019 and 72 in 2018. This is putting Israel’s government on track for a record year in the number of razings of Palestinian structures in East Jerusalem.”

The report confirmed that Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland and Norway delivered a joint stake-out on the Middle East at the United Nations in late September, in which the European states reaffirmed their deep concerns about Israel’s settlement activities and demolitions of Palestinian structures.

READ: EU countries condemn Israel’s plan to build 5,000 settlement units 

According to the Euro-Med report, the statement of the EU countries noted: “The period from March to August 2020 saw the highest average destruction rate in four years.”

Meanwhile, the report found that the number of EU-funded projects implemented in the occupied territories decreased to 12 in 2019, compared with 75 in 2015.

The report reiterated that the EU countries should stand up against Israel in order to stop its demolitions. Instead, the report divulged, the EU used to hide the size of damage Israel caused the EU-funded projects, calling for MEPs to investigate the Israeli demolition and issue a report on it.

Chairman of the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor Dr Ramy Abdu communicated that the EU adopts a strong rhetoric against Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, but its members are calling for taking a similar stance against the Israeli targeting of the Palestinians in the areas subject to danger.

“It is impossible and it is intolerable to remain silent over this worrying escalation of the Israeli demolition and the retreat of EU funding for projects in the Palestinian territories,” Abdu expressed.

(Source / 19.10.2020)

Israel is turning 36 West Bank nature reserves into settlements

New buildings in the Israeli settlement of Efrat south of the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on 14 October 2020 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]
New buildings in the Israeli settlement of Efrat south of the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on 14 October 2020

The Israeli occupation authorities control 36 areas in Area C of the occupied West Bank and is planning to convert them into settlements and military camps, Jordanian Assabeel newspaper reported on Sunday.

General Director of natural resources at the Palestine Authority (PA)’s Environment Quality Authority Issa Musa indicated that there are 50 nature reserves in the West Bank, including 36 in Area C, which are under full control of the Israeli occupation.

Musa explained that there are 11,000 dunams of fertile farmlands located in Jericho extending to the eastern West Bank city of Tubas, on which the Israeli occupation intends to build Jewish settlements and military camps.

According to Musa, the Environment Quality Authority documents all Israeli occupation aggressions on these areas in order to raise them with the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity who will take the necessary steps.

READ: Rights group reports escalation of Israel demolition of EU-funded Palestine projects 

(Source / 19.10.2020)

Israeli settlers flood Palestinian farmland with sewage

Polluted areas due to the Israeli sewage are seen in Golan Heights on October 25, 2016. [Anadolu Agency/Faruk Al Ahmed]
Polluted areas due to the Israeli sewage are seen in Golan Heights on October 25, 2016

Israeli settlers today flooded Palestinian-owned land with sewage and wastewater in the village of Deir Al-Hatab in Nablus governorate. The flooding has disrupted the local olive harvest.

According to Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of the settlements’ portfolio in the northern West Bank, settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Elon Moreh were responsible for flooding the land and damaging the trees.

He explained that most of this land is planted with olive trees, which means that this year’s crop of olives is threatened.

READ: Israel is turning 36 West Bank nature reserves into settlements

The olive harvest is the main source of income for thousands of Palestinian families in the occupied territories, but they face many obstacles due to the Israeli occupation. These include Israeli-imposed restrictions on access to the farmers’ own land as well as attacks by the settlers.

Since the olive harvest began in late September, Israel soldiers and settlers have attacked farmers in various places across the occupied West Bank.

Hundreds of thousands of settlers live in 250 settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, and make life very difficult for the Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal military occupation. Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in June 1967.

(Source / 19.10.2020)

We have lived to see Arabs enter Al-Aqsa under Israeli protection

Palestinian Muslims await Friday prayers inside the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on 10 July 2020 [Muhammed Qarout Idkaide]
Palestinian Muslims await Friday prayers inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on 10 July 2020 

By Abdullah Al-Majali

We have lived to see Arabs enter Al-Aqsa Mosque under Israeli protection. It is shameful.

Is there any real difference between an Arab delegation visiting Al-Aqsa Mosque under Israeli protection and hordes of extremist Israeli settlers whose incursions and practice of Talmudic rituals there take place under the protection of the same security forces? The crime of these Arabs is arguably greater.

The storming by Israeli extremists under the guns of the Israeli occupation does not whitewash the image of the occupation in the eyes of the world, nor does it give it legitimate sovereignty over the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. The Arabs’ visit does, however, whitewash the image of the military occupation and is “evidence” that all Muslims can go to Al-Aqsa Mosque. It also shows the world the false image of Israel providing protection for religious sites and allowing religious freedom.

Arab normalisation with Israel
Israel attacks Al-Aqsa Mosque with the help of Arab nations – Cartoon

A delegation from normalising Arab countries entered Al-Aqsa last week under the protection of the Israeli police and intelligence agencies, despite the occupation authorities’ closure of the mosque to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. More dangerous than that, the normalisation delegation entered Al-Aqsa without informing the Religious Endowment Department there, and this ignored the authority of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan over the holy sites in Jerusalem. According to Jerusalemite activist and member of the Silwan Defence Committee, Fakhry Abu Diab, this also withdraws any recognition by these Arab countries of Jordan’s guardianship; instead, these states demonstrated their acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over the holy sites, especially Al-Aqsa.

This exploratory delegation was a faithful implementation of the deal of the century, which speaks with admiration of the Zionist occupation’s management of the Noble Sanctuary. This is a deliberate and blatant falsehood belied by the facts on the ground. “The State of Israel has been a good custodian of Jerusalem,” claims the Trump deal. “During Israel’s stewardship, it has kept Jerusalem open and secure.” This is a lie.

OPINION: This is what the Palestinians need to do to confront Arab normalisation

“Unlike many previous powers that had ruled Jerusalem, and had destroyed the holy sites of other faiths, the State of Israel is to be commended for safeguarding the religious sites of all and maintaining a religious status quo,” the text continues. “Given this commendable record for more than half a century, as well as the extreme sensitivity regarding some of Jerusalem’s holy sites, we believe that this practice should remain and that all of Jerusalem’s holy sites should be subject to the same governance regimes that exist today. In particular, the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif should continue uninterrupted.”

Unfortunately, the normalising delegation was loyal to its masters by implementing this deal, which was rejected by all the Arab and Muslim peoples who were able to express their opinion freely. It is a deal that buries the right of the Muslims to the third holiest site in Islam, after the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah, and hands it over to the Israeli occupation on a silver platter. Sadly, it also demonstrated the urgently-issued religious and political opinions urging Muslims to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque with permission from Israeli embassies.

Continuing this naivety and even foolishness, even more Arab delegations are likely to enter Al-Aqsa in collaboration with the Israeli occupation forces and intelligence agencies. They will provide implicit recognition of the occupation’s sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque giving Israel the right to determine who enters the mosque and who is turned away. Everyone already knows the serious restrictions imposed by the Israelis on Jerusalemites and other Palestinians regarding prayers at Al-Aqsa.

READ: Israel exploits normalisation deals to escalate violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque

The new situation places a great responsibility on Jordan, which is the guardian of the holy sites, and its diplomats must act quickly in those Arab countries and explain the threats to the Noble Sanctuary that these delegations pose. If Jordan does not get a response in this regard, then it must tell the Arab and Muslim people explicitly, beginning with the Jordanians and Palestinians, of the dangerous situation that threatens its sovereignty over the sanctities. This is not to absolve itself of responsibility, but to stand together against the danger that is being hatched against Islamic sanctities in Jerusalem in the name of the odious deal of the century.

(Source / 19.10.2020)

Israeli Forces Three Detain Palestinians in Jerusalem, Hebron

The Israeli forces stormed various Palestinian neighborhoods in the occupied West Bank, overnight Saturday to dawn Sunday, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

In the central West Bank city of East Jerusalem, under the full control of the Israeli occupation, police detained Ibrahim al-Nouri from his home in the al-‘Isawiya neighborhood.

In the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli soldiers detained Ashraf Jawabreh at the entrance to the al-Arroub refugee camp.

In Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron, Israeli troops assaulted local Palestinian youths. No injuries were reported.

Another Palestinian civilian was detained by Israeli forces, on Sunday, the PIC further reported.

Former prisoner Muhammad Murshid Al-Zaqeq, 24, from Beit Ummar town, was detained in Al-Zaeem town, east of occupied East Jerusalem.

The Israeli military incursion into the Al-Arroub refugee camp, when Israeli troops fired tear-gas canisters into a residential building, causing a family with three children to suffocate on tear-gas.

Local Palestinians confronted the army invasion, which the soldiers responded to by firing live rounds, concussion grenades, and tear-gas canisters at the protesting civilians.

(Source / 19.10.2020)

PCHR Calls on Egyptian Authorities to Release Fisherman Yaser Al-Za’zou’

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The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) calls upon the Egyptian authorities to release Fisherman Yaser al- Za’zou’, the sole survivor among his siblings who were killed by Egyptian naval forces’ fire against a Palestinian fishing boat that crossed the Palestinian-Egyptian water boundaries and entered the Egyptian regional water on 25 September 2020 that resulted in the killing of fishermen Hasan al- Za’zou’ and his brother Mahmoud. Also, their brother Yaser was injured and arrested in the attack.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, to this date no official statement were issued by the Egyptian authorities on cause of arrest for Al- Za’zou (18), from Deir al-Balah – Central Gaza Strip, despite 24 days passing since his arrest. Additionally, no statements were issued regarding his whereabouts or that any legal measures were taken.

Nawal Mahmoud Rizq al-Za’zou’ (55), the victims’ mother, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the family received the bodies of the fallen victims on 27 September 2020. However, the Egyptian authorities continue to detain Yaser in an unknown destination without giving his family any information about his health condition or whereabouts. The family published several appeals on social media to the Egyptian president, Egyptian authorities and Palestinian leaders to intervene to release their son. Al-Za’zou’ added that she received phone calls from Palestinian officials informing her that her son, Yaser, was injured without information on the circumstances of his injury or the place of detention.

PCHR had paused at the regrettable incident that led to the killing of the two fishermen and the injury of the third, as those three fishermen posed no threat to the Egyptian naval forces. PCHR called for changing the rules of engagement pertaining to Gaza Strip residents, whether citizens or fishermen who cross the land or sea borders, and to refrain from using excessive force against them or shooting with the intent to kill, and to maintain the principle of proportionality of force against them.

PCHR renews its call for the release al- Za’zou’ and calls upon the Egyptian authorities to open a serious investigation in this incident and to release the results to the public.

(Source / 19.10.2020)

‘Israel’ to demolish 13 houses in Jerusalem

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- Local sources stated that the Israeli authorities notified the demolition of 13 houses in the neighborhood of Silwan in occupied Jerusalem.

Fakhri Abu Dhiyab, member of the Committee for the Defence of Silwan’s land, told WAFA that the Israeli authorities notified the demolition of ten houses in Al Bustan area in addition to three others in Karm Ash Sheikh.

The 13 houses are homes of 76 native Palestinians, mostly women and children, who will be made homeless due to the Israeli violation.

The occupation state had started a vicious campaign against Palestinians in the occupied capital city, aiming at emptying it from indigenous Palestinians and replace them with Jewish settlers.

Silwan, as well as other neighborhoods in Jerusalem, suffer from Israeli daily arrests and attacks that have turned the lives of over 900,000 Palestinians into hell.

(Source / 19.10.2020)

Saeb Erekat in ‘critical’ condition, says Hadassah hospital

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- Senior negotiator Saeb Erekat is in a critical condition with Covid-19 and has been placed on a ventilator, Hadassah hospital said.

Erekat, 65, was moved from his home in the occupied West Bank city of Jericho to Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital on Sunday.

“Mr. Erekat had a quiet night but this morning his condition deteriorated, and it is now defined as critical,” a statement from the Israeli hospital’s spokeswoman, Hadar Elboim, said on Monday.

“Due to respiratory distress, he was put on a ventilator and placed in a medically induced coma.”

The statement said Erekat was also being treated for a bacterial infection.

Erekat “arrived in serious condition” and was receiving oxygen, the hospital said on Sunday, adding that his condition was “serious” but “stable”.

Hadassah said it was “in contact with international medical authorities regarding the treatment policy of this complex patient”.

Erekat had undergone a lung transplant three years ago and had a “weakened immune system and bacterial infection, in addition to coronavirus”, said the hospital.

Erekat is the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), he serves as an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas and has been the chief negotiator in talks with the occupation state for two-and-a-half decades.

On 9 October, he announced that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

He tweeted that he was experiencing “difficult symptoms resulting from my lack of immunity as a result of lung transplantation”. But he added that “things are under control, thank God”.

On Sunday, the PLO said he had been transferred to Hadassah Medical Center “due to the chronic health problems he faces in the respiratory system”.

(Source / 19.10.2020)