Israel to close Palestinian territories on election day

A man casts his vote during the Israeli general elections in Tel Aviv on 9 April 2019 [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu Agency]

A man casts his vote during the Israeli general elections in Tel Aviv on 9 April 2019

The Israeli military will impose a total closure on the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip during Tuesday’s parliamentary election, Anadolu Agency reports.

“According to the security situation evaluation and directives of the political level, total closure will be imposed in the areas of the West Bank and the terminals of the Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement.

The closure will be applied Monday midnight for 24 hours.

Israel’s parliamentary election is slated for Tuesday, five months after the last general election, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a majority government.

Israel’s election: A government without Netanyahu?

In what many observers saw as a last-minute ploy for votes, last week Netanyahu pledged to annex the Jordan Valley and other settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins next week’s election. His pledge sparked an international outcry.

Some 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live in more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians see these territories, along with the Gaza Strip, as integral for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.

(Source / 16.09.2019) 

Israel to cut electricity supply in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho

Electricity pylons and power transmission lines [Reuters]

The Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JEDCO) has confirmed today that it has received its third warning from the Israeli Electric Corporation that it will begin cutting electricity to the Palestinian West Bank cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho within the coming week.

The Chairman and CEO of the JEDCO, Hisham Al-Omari said that the Israeli electricity supplier will cut the supply to Ramallah on 22 September from 10am to midday. The power cut will affect the Palestinians living in numerous villages and towns around the main West Bank cities. On 23 September, Ramallah and Jericho and more surrounding areas will have their electricity cut between midday and 2pm.

Al-Omari apologised for the measures which are, he explained, beyond the control of his company. He pointed out that power cuts will have a serious effect on living conditions in the occupied West Bank, covering all aspects of life, including education, healthcare, telecommunications and business.

Israel’s Latest ‘Security Problem’: Who’s to Blame for Gaza’s Environmental Crisis

He urged international human rights organisations to intervene immediately to put pressure on Israel to cancel its proposed measures against the Palestinian territories. At the same time, he appealed to Palestinian customers to pay their bills on time and put to an end to the theft of electricity. Israel’s imposition of power cuts will be just one aspect of its overwhelming control of the Palestinian population.

Another major resource which has faced Israeli supply restrictions is fresh water. The Gaza Strip in particular has suffered from a shortage of clean water and is reliant on supplies coming from Israel. During the many bombardments that Israel has inflicted on Gaza, the enclave’s water system and pipe network has been damaged, and the Palestinians in the territory have been banned from importing the necessary materials to effect repairs, with disastrous results for healthcare provision, in particular.

(Source / 16.09.2019) 

Knesset speaker: Annexing Jordan Valley ‘could bring us closer to peace’

Image of Israeli Knesset Speaker, Yuli Edelstein on 13 September 2013 [Yuri Levin/Wikipedia]

Israeli Knesset Speaker, Yuli Edelstein on 13 September 2013 

Knesset Speaker and senior Likud politician Yuli Edelstein has told CNN that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley would be good for peace.

Asked to justify the plan – described by the presenter as “a wanton transgression of international law”, Edelstein claimed Netanyahu’s remarks were not “a campaign pledge”, and that “the sovereignty wouldn’t apply to the town of Jericho, where the Palestinians live”.

Pressed further, Edelstein claimed there were two main arguments in support of annexation.

“One, our historic rights there in the area,” the Knesset Speaker told CNN, “and the other one, every military expert I know and you know would agree that it’s impossible to defend the state of Israel without the military control in this area.”

“With these two issues combined I think that is quite obvious that under no negotiations we will be able to give up the Jordan Valley,” Edelstein continued, “so this is a very simple justification.”

Questioned by the presenter whether the annexation of the Jordan Valley would be unilateral, outside of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, Edelstein went as far as claiming that such a development would actually be a positive one for everyone.

Netanyahu: If re-elected I will annex settlements in Hebron 

“I think that as far as the Jordan Valley plan is concerned, it could bring us even closer to peace because things will become more clear,” Edelstein said, adding that some people’s “illusion” about “the future of this area” only makes it “harder to negotiate”.

The senior Likud figure also dismissed the idea that annexing the Jordan Valley would seriously damage Israel’s international standing.

“The move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition by the American administration of Israeli sovereignty over the [occupied Syrian] Golan Heights also were met with some condemnations,” Edelstein said, but “right now we see additional countries, some of them moving their embassies, some of them opening all kinds of cultural centres or trade centres in Jerusalem.”

“So I sincerely hope that if we talk and I hope we talk in two, three years from now, it will be quite natural for a country to have an embassy in Jerusalem. By the same token, I would say that probably in a number of years, it would be quite natural that Israel has sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.”

(Source / 16.09.2019) 

PLO will end all agreements with Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds a press conference at the Presidency Building in Ramallah, West Bank on 3 July, 2019

The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) affirmed yesterday the position of its President Mahmoud Abbas that it would end all agreements signed with Israel, the Wafa news agency reported.

“We will not remain the only party committed to these agreements,” the Executive Committee said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statements on the annexation of areas of the occupied Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea reflect his government’s strategy, it said.

It held Netanyahu and any government that partakes in this decision fully responsible for ending the path of peace.

It stressed that the Palestinian leadership will continue taking practical measures to transform into a statehood and the gradual disengagement from all agreements signed with the occupation.

READ: Israel arrested 120,000 Palestinians after Oslo Accords 

(Source / 16.09.2019) 

PA security officers shoot at Birzeit University students

Birzeit University student stage a protest after Israeli forces take 3 students into custody, near Beit Il Israeli military check point in Ramallah, West Bank on March 27, 2019. [Ä°ssam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]

Birzeit University student stage a protest after Israeli forces take 3 students into custody, near Beit Il Israeli military check point in Ramallah, West Bank on March 27, 2019

Four of Birzeit University’s student leaders in the occupied West Bank have disappeared after being chased and shot at by Palestinian Authority security officers. The incident happened in Ramallah.

The Hamas student wing, known as the Islamic Bloc, wrote on Facebook that the four students confirmed in their last phone call that they were being chased by PA security officers who had opened fire at them.

The Islamic Bloc put the responsibility for the students’ well-being on the PA. It called upon Birzeit University administration, as well as rights groups, to take immediate action to discover the student’s whereabouts.

Meanwhile, staff from the PA public intelligence agency broke into the home of one of the Islamic Bloc leaders and confiscated papers, posters and documents related to the election campaign slated to start today.

READ: Palestine literacy rate up to 97.2%, says PCBS 

(Source / 16.09.2019) 

Turkey says Israel becoming ‘racist, apartheid regime’ with annexation plan

Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu (C-L) meets Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (C-R) ahead of Extraordinary Meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 15 September 2019. [Cem Özdel - Anadolu Agency]

Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu (C-L) meets Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (C-R) ahead of Extraordinary Meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 15 September 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement of his intention to annex areas of the West Bank following next week’s elections shows Israel is becoming a “racist, apartheid regime”, Turkey’s foreign minister was quoted as saying on Sunday, Reuters reports.

Netanyahu said on Tuesday he would annex the Jordan Valley, a swathe of the occupied West Bank that Israel captured in 1967 and which Palestinians want as part of a future state. The move alarmed Middle Eastern nations, European powers and Arab foreign ministers.

On Saturday, Turkey’s foreign ministry said the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) would convene in Jeddah on Sunday to discuss Netanyahu’s statement.

Speaking in Jeddah, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Netanyahu’s “embarrassing” plan was a “despicable” attempt to earn votes ahead of Tuesday’s election, and criticised what he called a lack of reaction from other Muslim countries.

READ: Israel hinders renovation of Al-Aqsa Mosque 

“Israel, encouraged by the support of certain countries, is continuing its aggressive policies that are turning it into a racist, apartheid regime,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“If the whole Muslim community had reacted together, the reckless plans, policies and behaviour of the United States and Israel would never have reached this point,” Cavusoglu said.

Around 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israeli settlers live in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says. The main Palestinian city is Jericho, with some 28 villages and smaller Bedouin communities.

Turkey and Israel, former allies, have long been at odds over Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and Jerusalem’s status. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for a summit of the OIC twice last year after U.S. President Donald Trump decided to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Turkey and Israel also expelled each other’s top diplomats last year during a dispute over clashes when dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces on the Gaza border. The two sides continue to trade with one another

(Source / 15.09.2019) 

Jenin governor calls for former PA officials to return stolen money

Akram Al-Rajoub, the governor of the West Bank city of Jenin 

Akram Al-Rajoub, the governor of the West Bank city of Jenin, called on Friday for former Palestinian Authority (PA) ministers and officials to return the money they had stolen while in office, Safa Press Agency reported.

On his Facebook page, Al-Rajoub declared that there had been ordered by President Mahmoud Abbas for the return of the funds, which has since been ignored.

“If you do not return the money,” he warned, “we will prosecute and uncover you… It is better for you to return the money.”

Al-Rajoub stressed that the PA had avoided commenting on this issue in the public sphere, in order not to “expose you”.

READ: PA security confiscate documents from anti-corruption officer in Hebron

On 19 August, President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the former prime minister and members of his 17th government to return the money they had illegally obtained, during their time in office.

It is worth noting that Finance Minister, Shukro Bshara, had returned a sum of $81,600 to the PA treasury.

Prior to Abbas’s order, mass media leaked a decision by the former government to raise the salaries of its members, from $3,000 to $5,000, and the salary of its prime minister from $4,000 to $6,000, in light of the announcement of the current government in an austerity plan.

The former prime minister, Rami Hamadallah, confirmed the reports by explaining that the decision was taken with the awareness of Abbas.

More Palestinians seek Abbas’ resignation.

Read more:


(Source / 14.09.2019) 

Israel hinders renovation of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Muslim women shout slogans as Jews, under Israeli police protection, raid Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on June 02, 2019. ( Faiz Abu Rmeleh - Anadolu Agency )

Muslim women shout slogans as Jews, under Israeli police protection, raid Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on 2 June, 2019 

On Thursday, Israeli occupation authorities attempted to prevent staff of the Al-Aqsa Construction Committee from carrying out renovation of Al-Silsila Gate of Al-Aqsa reported on Friday.

The construction staff planned to repair cracks in the walls of the gate, and add supporting struts to protect the wall, preventing it from collapsing.

Director of Islamic Endowment, Sheikh Abdul-Azim Salhab, stated that the committee insisted on carrying out the renovation, and finally succeeded on Friday.

He warned that the Israeli occupation is working hastily to Judaise Al-Aqsa Mosque, noting that the daily settler and MKs raids are part of the Judaisation plan, in addition to hindering the renovation works.

Judaisation of Jerusalem - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Researcher in Jerusalem’s affairs, Mustafa Abu-Sewwi, affirmed that the Israeli occupation authorities are working hard to reinforce their occupation of the holy site.

READ: Israel arrests head of Al-Aqsa’s construction department

Abu-Sewwi warned that the Israeli right-wing exploits the raids and attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as the Palestinian worshipers inside it, for electoral purposes.

“This is not a new policy” he explained, stating that generally, the Jerusalemites are able to undermine their plans. He noted that there are settlement projects around Al-Aqsa Mosque aiming to Judaise it, and insisted that the Jerusalemites need urgent and significant support from Arab and Muslim states.

(Source / 14.09.2019) 

Netanyahu’s annexation plan is a liberal Zionist dream

Israeli forces demolish a restaurant belongs to Palestinians in the West Bank on 26 August 2019 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli forces demolish a restaurant belongs to Palestinians in the West Bank on 26 August 2019

By Asa Winstanley

The liberal Zionist “two state solution” supporters have been out in force, tweeting about how they “condemn” and are “concerned” about Benjamin Netanyahu and his plan to annex as much as a third of the occupied West Bank. With Israel’s latest General Election coming up next week, on Tuesday Netanyahu detailed his landmark plan to formally declare a huge swathe of the occupied Palestinian territory a part of the present day state of Israel, should voters give him the mandate.

Netanyahu has talked up the possibility of annexing large parts of the West Bank before, but this is his most detailed plan to date. The map he unveiled at a press conference on Tuesday showed the entire Jordan Valley annexed to Israel. The blue swathe is a declaration of intent, killing the prospect of a Palestinian state in less than 22 per cent of historic Palestine that the West Bank already represents.

The Jordan Valley is the West Bank’s nominal border with the state of Jordan. Cutting it off like this means that any “Palestinian state” in the West Bank will be entirely surrounded by Israel. That would not be a state, but a Bantustan, like the puppet Black statelets that the South African apartheid regime held up as a pretence of “democracy” and Black self-rule.

In truth, the situation in the West Bank has for decades already been a Bantustan. The entire purpose of the Oslo Accords was to employ a Palestinian subcontractor for Israel’s occupation; step forward the Palestinian Authority.

READ: Annexation, the two-state illusion and forgetting the Palestinians

The transit crossing points in the Jordan Valley have been entirely controlled by Israel alone since 1967, and remain so until today. This newest annexation plan represents a formal recognition by Israeli law of that reality. It also represents the newest stage in Israel’s decades-long colonisation of Palestinian lands.

In typically racist fashion, Netanyahu boasted that “not a single Palestinian” would be annexed to Israel as part of his plan. The primary colonisation goal of the Zionist movement has always been “maximum amount of Palestinian land, minimum number of Palestinians”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the West Bank town of Hebron, on 4 September 2019 [Kobi Gideon/GPO/Anadolu Agency]

However, any analysis of Netanyahu’s map comparing it with credible population figures in the Palestinian land affected by his plan show that his claim is a complete lie in any case. One conservative Israeli analysis of the map concluded that 6,000 Palestinians in isolated villages in the Jordan Valley will be affected. Their fate is unknown, but the annexation will make them even more vulnerable to Israeli expulsion and displacement than they already are. An analysis by Israeli group Peace Now, though, shows that the plan will leave more than 44,000 Jordan Valley Palestinians living in isolated areas, effectively living inside “Israel”, but permanently deprived of citizenship or voting rights.

The conservative analysis, by The Times of Israel, excludes the large population of Jericho, a historic Palestinian city which was shown on Netanyahu’s map as an orange island surrounded by a sea of Israeli blue annexation. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimates the population of the entire Jericho local authority region (including the city) to be more than 51,000 Palestinians.

READ: Netanyahu’s proposed annexation of the Jordan Valley reveals its strategic importance

Comparing the map to one prepared by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem (page 13) shows that Netanyahu’s proposed Jordan Valley annexation zone passes through regions of the West Bank where as many as 50,000 Palestinians live in Area C (non-urban areas designated under the Oslo Accords). It’s hard to tell exactly how many of these people will be affected by the annexation plan, as the map does not recognise the Palestinian Authority’s local government regions.

Moreover, almost nobody in Israel is talking about the possibility of granting Palestinians any basic human or political rights, especially the right to vote. Netanyahu’s boast about how not a single Palestinian is supposedly annexed by his plan is a declaration of intent to continue denying them the same democratic rights that Jewish settlers already enjoy.

For years, all credible population figures have pointed to the fact that Israeli Jews are no longer a demographic majority in historic Palestine, and may well already be a narrow minority. The Jewish majority was always artificial in any case, violently gerrymandered from 1947 onwards by expelling most of the indigenous people from the country, and denying their internationally recognised right to return to their homes ever since. As such, a true democracy implementing a system of one person, one vote, would mean that a future Palestinian majority would simply vote for the return of Palestine, and the return of their relatives from violently enforced exile.

Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq has called for international sanctions on Israel in response to Netanyahu’s latest annexation threats. It warned “that the international community’s failure to hold Israel to account for previous illegal acts of annexation in Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan, has granted Israel a carte blanche to continue its belligerent occupation and colonialist annexationist expansion, unconstrained.”

READ: Israel unveils illegal ‘Trump’ settlement in Golan Heights

European powers make a big show of expressing toothless “concerns” about such Israeli plans, but they continue to endorse them tacitly nonetheless by taking precisely zero enforcement action. Supposedly left-wing Zionist organisations in Britain are also clutching their pearls at the plan. The Jewish Labour Movement, for example, tweeted that it “unequivocally condemn[ed]” the plan. This is pure sophistry, and a PR move designed to dampen down the increasingly critical reception that the JLM has within the Labour Party grassroots.

The Netanyahu plan is, in fact, if anything a more moderate version of the infamous Allon Plan of 1967, which would have annexed an even larger swathe of land along the Jordan Valley, as well as the entire central region of the West Bank, splitting it in half. This plan was advocated by Yigal Allon, a former general (a leader of the Nakba’s ethnic cleansing operations starting from 1947) and then a minister in the Israeli government led by the party of the “Labor Zionist” movement at the time, the Labor Alignment. That the JLM should be condemning the plan of their own ideological predecessor is a sign that Netanyahu’s move actually has its origins in the dreams and practices of the “Labor Zionist” movement. It is, in short, actually a liberal Zionist dream.

(Source / 13.09.2019) 

Lieberman: Netanyahu stopped me targeting Hamas leaders

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped his then Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman from assassinating Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip, Channel 12 reported.

In an interview with the Israeli channel Lieberman said that an agreement he had signed with Netanyahu’s Likud party included plans to overthrow Hamas in the besieged Gaza Strip. Adding that the prime minister did everything he could to avoid following through with this agreement.

Lieberman said Netanyahu granted Hamas leaders immunity, leaving them “unafraid”.

On Netanyahu’s recent threats to launch a massive military operation against the Gaza Strip to topple Hamas, Lieberman said: “These promises we heard from Netanyahu in early 2009, and since then they have not been implemented.”

The Yisrael Beiteinu leader, who is expected to be the post-election kingmaker next week, has been working to “grab centrist pro-settler votes” from Netanyahu’s Likud, the Jerusalem Post reported.

READ: Parliament bars Netanyahu’s plan for cameras at polling stations 

(Source / 13.09.2019)