Erekat: Israel occupation source of conflict in the region

Image of Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Palestinian Authority chief negotiator [file photo]

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Palestinian Authority chief negotiator 

Secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee Saeb Erekat has stressed that the Israeli occupation is the reason behind the conflicts and bloodshed in the region, Safa news agency reported yesterday.

Israel continues to impose its occupation policies on the ground, mainly through settlement, the Judaisation of Jerusalem, committing war crimes and imposing a siege on Gaza.

“Looking for solutions excluding the two-state solution and solving the final status issues including the refugees based on UN resolution 194 and the release of prisoners is like running behind a mirage.”

READ: Eurovision turns out to be a big hit for Palestine 

Erekat stressed that Palestinian Authority, PLO and Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas offered a plan to the UN Security Council on 2 February 2018, which was based on the terms of international law and international legitimacy.

He said that his initiative was hailed by the international community which rejected US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and attempts to eradicate the issue of refugees, settlements and the borders from the negotiating table, stressing that these moves are a violation of international law.

Regarding the internal Palestinian division, he said that this would be achieved through the implementation of the deal reached on 12 October 2017, which was sponsored by Egypt.

(Source / 20.05.2019) 

Palestinians to shun US-led economic conference, prelude to Trump peace plan

Newly-appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 10 March, 2019 [ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images]

Newly-appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 10 March 2019

Palestinians will stay away from a US-led conference in Bahrain next month that the Trump administration has cast as an overture to its own plan for peace between them and Israel, a Palestinian cabinet minister said on Monday, reports Reuters.

Washington announced the conference on Sunday, describing it as an opportunity to drum up international investment for the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians, who have boycotted the Trump administration since it recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, have shown little interest in discussing a plan on which they had no input and that they anticipate will fall far short of their core demands.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday that his government had not been consulted on the June 25-26 gathering in Manama.

OPINION: The international community makes a mockery of human rights

After the cabinet met, Ahmed Majdalani, the social development minister and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee, said:

There will be no Palestinian participation in the Manama workshop. Any Palestinian who would take part would be nothing but a collaborator for the Americans and Israel.

Shtayyeh reiterated Palestinians’ aspirations for a two-state peace agreement with Israel entailing control of the occupied West Bank and Gaza – currently run by the Islamist group Hamas – as well as East Jerusalem as their future capital. Internationally-mediated talks to that end have been stalemated for years.

Israel calls Jerusalem its indivisible capital and has said it might declare sovereignty in its West Bank settlements, which are deemed illegal by the United Nations and most foreign governments.

US officials have predicted the Manama event will include representatives and business executives from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as some finance ministers.

READ: US ready to approve Israel’s ‘colonial policies’

The economic component discussed will constitute an announcement on the first part of the Trump peace plan, US officials have said.

But Bashar Masri, a Palestinian businessman and the founder of Rawabi, the first Palestinian planned city in the West Bank, said he had turned down an invitation to speak at the conference.

“We will not engage in any event outside the Palestinian national consensus,” Masri wrote on social media. “The idea of an economic peace is an old one now being asked in a different way, and just as our people have rejected it in the past, we reject it now.”

Israel’s finance minister, Moshe Kahlon, said on Sunday he had yet to receive an invitation to the Bahrain meeting.

On Monday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Israel was open to attending.

Hotovely, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, said:

We have no problem sending representatives to Bahrain, but the problem, as always, is that the Palestinian side is not genuinely interested in economic benefits.

The Trump administration has said its still-secret peace plan would require compromise by both sides. Since being boycotted by the Palestinians, it has cut back on US aid for them, contributing to economic hardship in the West Bank and Gaza.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement, shunned in the West for its hostility to Israel and locked in a power struggle with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah party, also condemned the Bahrain conference.

US decision to cut UNRWA funding - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

(Source / 20.05.2019) 

Lieberman wants ‘decisive’ policy against Hamas to join Netanyahu coalition

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman (C) on 23 October 2018 [Twitter]

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman (C) on 23 October 2018 

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday said that he did not succeed in forming a coalition government because some parties are insisting on their positions and refuse to budge, Arab48 reported.

He said he hoped to find a way to return these parties onto the right track in order to form a “strong” and “stable” government.

Netanyahu’s close friends said that Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu, has sets conditions related to dealing with Gaza and enlisting the Haredim in to the army and these are creating obstacles to the formation of a government. The conscription law which Lieberman is calling for doesn’t have the backing of Netanyahu’s other coalition ally; the United Torah Judaism party.

Lieberman said that he would not go for the defence ministry again without a promise from Netanyahu not to interfere in his decisions.

READ: Israel’s Netanyahu could form minority government as coalition talks founder 

“The IDF [Israel army] has detailed plans, Netanyahu is familiar with them, the time has come to implement them,” Haaretz reported Lieberman as saying. “I will not agree to be defense minister again in a situation in which policy is decided but not implemented.”

Monitors reported by Mikor Rishon said that he would not increase his demands so his voters don’t accuse him of undermined a new-right wing government.

“I have no interest in torpedoing anything. I have stated, and I mean it, that we will not support any alternative candidate [for prime minister]. But we will also not forgo any of our demands.”

(Source / 20.05.2019) 

Israel Supreme Court says West Bank archaeological digs can remain secret

Israeli workers conduct an excavation work the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on 28 February 2018 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli workers conduct an excavation work the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on 28 February 2018

Israel’s top court has ruled that details about archaeological digs in the occupied West Bank may remain secret, reported Haaretz, rejecting an appeal by two NGOs.

The Supreme Court’s decision upholds the state’s position, as well as a lower court ruling; the state had argued that “releasing the names of the archaeologists carrying out the digs would make them vulnerable to academic boycotts”, the paper explained.

The state also argued that

releasing the location of the digs could undermine Israel’s position in future diplomatic negotiations.

The two NGOs who took the state to court, Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh, are seeking to make public information about digs carried out under the auspices of the Israeli occupation authorities – the so-called Civil Administration – in the West Bank.

Details being sought include the location of digs, “the names of the archaeologists conducting them and details of any findings loaned to museums, research institutes or exhibits”.

Remapping of Palestine: Why Israel’s erasure of Palestinian culture will not succeed 

As highlighted by Haaretz, “under the 1954 Hague Convention, an occupying power is forbidden to remove archaeological findings from occupied territory”.

In the court’s majority opinion, the justices “accepted the state’s position in full”.

“There’s a clear and genuine fear that publishing the names of the archaeologists…could cause concrete damage to their professional and financial interests, as well as those of the institutions with which they are affiliated,” Yosef Elron wrote.

“Publishing the archaeologists’ names exposes them to academic boycotts in a manner that could genuinely damage their research work and their academic futures.”

Elron additionally “stated that publishing their names could limit their ability to publish their research in international journals, give lectures, participate in academic conferences, cooperate with colleagues and volunteers from other countries, obtain stipends and research grants, and participate in programs at academic institutions overseas.”

Another argument of the state accepted by the court was that revealing the site of the digs would undermine Israel’s foreign relations in various ways, including “undermining its interests in the framework of future negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and could even serve as a tool of attack for parties that seek to harm Israel in the international arena”.

Emek Shaveh said it had wanted the court to order the state “to apply the academic standards accepted in Israel and worldwide to the West Bank as well”.

“Ultimately, this decision says that under current circumstances, even basic academic standards are superfluous, and continued Israeli rule over the West Bank requires maintaining two different legal systems under the same government, even in academia.”

READ: Everything you want to know about Al-Rahma Gate and the construction of a temple in Al-Aqsa 

(Source / 20.05.2019) 

Palestine campaign to highlight racist Israel narratives

EuroPal Forum organised the initiative to visualise and document discriminatory statements made by individuals that hold a prominent position in the contemporary Israeli society

Europal are launching a campaign to highlight the racist attitudes levelled at Palestinians by Israel [EuroPal Forum]
Europal are launching a campaign to highlight the racist attitudes levelled at Palestinians by Israel [EuroPal Forum]
Europal are launching a campaign to highlight the racist attitudes levelled at Palestinians by Israel [EuroPal Forum]
Europal are launching a campaign to highlight the racist attitudes levelled at Palestinians by Israel [EuroPal Forum]

Palestinian activists have launched an online campaign to highlight the discrimination towards Palestinians in Israeli public life.

EuroPal Forum organised the initiative titled “Israeli racism in quotes” to visualise and document discriminatory statements made by individuals that hold a prominent position in the contemporary Israeli society.

Since it began the initiative has seen a daily image circulated with quotes from senior members of Israeli society be they political, religious or human rights activists.

The idea that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East is a “misrepresentation”, EuroPal Forum said in a statement, adding that it’s campaign aims to highlight this by bringing to light Israel’s actions which “structurally and constitutionally” work “towards the subordination of Palestinian rights”.

This became ever more event last year with the passing of the racist Nation-State Law which declared Palestinian citizens of Israel second class citizens.

READ: Settlers spray racist graffiti on Palestinian homes in West Bank

Chairman of EuroPal Forum, Zaher Birawi, said: “This campaign is part of EuroPal Forum’s efforts to delegitimise the occupation and its illegal and racist practices, and to challenge all parties and countries that condone the racism of the Israeli political and religious establishment towards the Palestinians.”

“Silence on these statements is indicative of the acquiescence that many countries and international institutions have shown when it comes to racism towards Palestinians at the hands of the occupation,” he continued.

EuroPal Forum said it is exclusively using trusted Israeli news sites to gather the quotes being circulated as part of the campaign. These are then being distributed on social media platforms TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

(Source / 20.05.2019) 

Arab Emancipation and the Liberation of Palestine

Palestinians take part in a protest within the "Great March of Return" and "Palestinian Land Day" demonstrations in east of Shuja'iyya neighborhood, Gaza City, Gaza on March 30, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians take part in a protest within the “Great March of Return” and “Palestinian Land Day” demonstrations in east of Shuja’iyya neighborhood, Gaza City, Gaza on March 30, 2019 

By Azzam Tamimi

The Palestinian problem finds its roots in the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, one of a series of catastrophic map-changing events associated with the First World War. The vectors in the war treated as booties much of the territories that were once part of the Ottoman Caliphate and that today constitute the Arab world, a world that ended being divided into no less than twenty political entities tailored in the shape of the modern territorial sates of Europe.

All, with the exception of Palestine, are nominally independent and sovereign states, though most of them are neither independent nor sovereign. While eventually delivering those entities to local client elites to govern them, it was the will of the so-called international community in the aftermath of the Great War to spare Palestine so as to transform it into a Jewish entity, a home for the Jewish people to compensate them for the oppression they suffered for centuries at the hands of Christian Europe.

So, since the arrival of the Muslims in 637 CE, Palestine had never been a state on its own but was at best a province within a much bigger entity ruled at different times by different dynasties. Apart from a brief period from 1099 to 1291, when the Crusaders invaded and occupied it, those dynasties were Muslim ones ruling in the name of the Caliphate.

The Western desire to empower the Zionists to establish a homeland for the Jews in Palestine was not at all out of sympathy. In fact, the rulers of some European countries at the time, notably those of Britain, were Anti-Semitic Christian Zionists, who hated the Jews and did not want more of them to escape persecution in Russia and end up landing on their shores. Christian Zionists, like Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour, believed that the transfer of Jews to Palestine was necessary in order to pave the way for the second coming of Christ. But they also believed that such a Jewish state in a sea of Arabs, who are mostly Muslim, would act as a useful functional entity, a colonial outpost, to maintain control and hinder revival following the rock-bottom decline epitomised by the fall of the last Islamic Caliphate.

Ironically, opposition to the Balfour Declaration in 1917 came from the only Jewish member of the cabinet Edwin Montagu, secretary of state for India who, like other anti-Zionists politicians of the time, feared that British-sponsored Zionism would threaten the status of Jews who had settled in various European and American cities and also encourage anti-Semitic violence in the countries battling Britain in the war, especially within the Ottoman Empire.

This is relevant to the other important fact that should be considered here, namely that Jews who advocated the cause of a Jewish homeland in Palestine were at the time a small minority. They were mostly secular Jews of the type that were willing to baptise in order to find a decent job within a highly anti-Jewish European milieu. Jews were opposed to the idea either because they saw it as a means of getting rid of them or because they believed, religiously speaking, that the project was diametrically opposed to the orthodox Jewish doctrine insisting upon the Diaspora Jews to wait for the coming of the Messiah before heading back to the promised land.

The creation of Israel in Palestine in 1948 would not have succeeded without two important factors. The first was the rise of Nazim. Without Hitler and the Holocaust he perpetrated against the Jews in Europe, very few Jews would have succumbed to the Zionist proposition. The Nazis and the Fascists proved the Zionists to be ‘right’ and convinced many Jews that Europe was not a safe place for them anymore. Indeed, Israel could not have been created without a massive and rapid Jewish population. While the Zionists tried and failed miserably for nearly half a century to sell their project to European Jewry, Hitler managed to do it for them in a few years.

The second factor was the role played by the modern Arab states. Although the Arab masses in the region immediately surrounding Palestine were, like the Palestinians themselves, vehemently opposed to the creation of a Jewish state in Arab and Islamic Palestine, the governments ruling those masses through the use of brutal force stood guard while the Zionists massacred and banished the Palestinians from their homes. Those same states continued since then to pacify the masses and disempower the Palestinians. While erecting barriers between Palestine and the Arab masses, Authoritarian regimes across the region either did very little to help the Palestinians or contributed actively to the process of criminalising and frustrating their struggle for freedom from Zionist occupation.

Thanks to Arab despotic regimes, what was initially an issue of concern to the entire Muslim world was reduced to an issue of an Arab affair. Then, those same Arabs decided in an Arab League summit conference in Rabat in 1974 to declare the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) a sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians, further reducing the issue to a mere Palestinian concern and paving the way for the PLO henceforth to officially sign away not only the rights of the Palestinians but also the rights of the Arabs and the Muslims in a territory that is home to their first Qiblah and third holiest mosque. Furthermore, by entering into peace deals with Israel, by Egypt in 1978, by the PLO in 1993 and by Jordan in 1994, the Arabs legitimised the existence in Palestine of a racist political entity whose primary function is to frustrate every Arab attempt at development or progress.

The connection between authoritarianism in the Arab world and the Zionist occupation of Palestine has never escaped the attention of the Arab masses. It was clear that Israel was the greatest beneficiary from a situation in which despotic and corrupt elites rule the Arab people. In other words Israel was the greatest beneficiary from the denial to the Arabs of their basic rights including the right to democracy. Such understanding manifested itself on the streets of Arab cities during the Arab Spring revolutions when the masses spontaneously cried: “The people want to bring down the regime, the people want to liberate Palestine.”

It is no wonder, thus, that Israel felt as threatened by the Arab revolutions as the autocrats who ruled the Arab masses. The Zionists often claim that Israel is the only democracy in an ocean of dictatorship. The truth is that Israel is the ally of dictatorship in the Arab world because dictatorial regimes provide it with protection and with a peace of mind. Had the Arab masses been able to elect their own rulers, Israel would not have dreamed of hoisting a single flag anywhere in the region. Neither its politicians nor its athletes would have enjoyed the freedom to roam and then boast that despite the Palestinians they have now made inroads in the heartlands of Islam. For this reason, Israel joined forces with the horrified ruling families of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates kill the Arab Spring, frustrate the Arab quest for democratisation and restore power to their allies.

Arabs today are asking once more: will the liberation of Palestine come first or the emancipation of the Arab nation? I find it difficult to imagine the accomplishment of progress along any front, including the liberation of Palestine, so long as the Arabs are in shackles.

(Source / 18.05.2019) 

Hamas: ‘No compromise’ on decent daily life for Palestinians

Hamas spokesperson, Mahmoud Al-Zahar [file photo]

Hamas spokesperson, Mahmoud Al-Zahar

Senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, has stressed that there will be “no compromise” on a decent daily life for Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Al-Zahar also noted that Hamas will oblige Israel to commit to the ceasefire understandings, hailing the performance of the Palestinian factions during the last round of Israeli attacks on Gaza earlier this month, Al-Wattan Voice reported yesterday.

“The Palestinian resistance sent a clear message that it does not accept or allow the Palestinians to starve, remain without medical treatment, education, electricity and salaries,” Al-Zahar said, noting that these are the principles of daily life and are not negotiable.

He reiterated that Israel has undermined the principles of the Palestinians, the umma (Muslim community) and the rights of people to their land, holy sites and faith, adding: “Today, no one says he is ready to concede one inch of Palestine and those who believed in [the] Oslo [Accords] and the two-state solution [have] realised that Hamas has been true since the beginning”.

Hamas: Palestinians to fight any plan undermining their cause

(Source / 18.05.2019) 

PA ‘ready to talk’ about confederation with Jordan

Palestinians seen at the anniversary march of the "Great March of Return" and "Palestinian Land Day" protests at Israel-Gaza border on March 30, 2019 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

Palestinians seen at the anniversary march of the “Great March of Return” and “Palestinian Land Day” protests at Israel-Gaza border on March 30, 2019 

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has said that it is ready to talk about the prospect of a confederation with Jordan, drawing fierce condemnation from the Kingdom.

The PA’s Ambassador to Moscow, Abdel-Hafeez Nofal, said that the PA is “ready to talk about a confederal union” with Jordan, Al-Resala newspaper reported yesterday.

Secretary General of the Jordanian Popular Unity Party, Said Thiyab, condemned Nofal’s remarks, saying: “The PA’s remarks about its readiness to talk about a confederation with Jordan undermines Palestinian rights in favour of passing the deal of the century,” referring to the long-awaited US peace plan slated to be released after Ramadan.

Thiyab stressed that Jordan’s stance regarding a confederation is clear, referring to a statement by Jordan’s King Abdullah in which he said: “There is no alternative to the two-state solution and the creation of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

Nofal’s comments come just six months after PA President Mahmoud Abbas said he would conditionally agree to such a US offer. During a meeting with an Israeli delegation from Peace Now in February, Abbas said that “the confederal plan was proposed by Jared Kushner, son-in-law of US President Donald Trump and his adviser, as well as the US envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt”.

Abbas told Peace Now that he would accept such an offer if Israel agreed to be part of the proposed conferral union as well. “They asked me,” Abbas said, “and I said: I believe in a tripartite confederal with Jordan and Israel”.

READ: Palestine FM: ‘Deal of century’ is ‘deal of surrender for Palestinians’

(Source / 18.05.2019) 

Palestinian dies at Israel checkpoint on route to Al-Aqsa

Palestinian worshippers, wait in a queue from early hours to move for passing through the Qalandiya checkpoint from Ramallah into Jerusalem after Israeli authorities let the Palestinians, to cross into Jerusalem to attend the third Friday prayer of Muslim holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem on June 16, 2017 [Issam Rimawi / Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian worshippers, wait in a queue from early hours to move for passing through the Qalandiya checkpoint from Ramallah into Jerusalem after Israeli authorities let the Palestinians, to cross into Jerusalem to attend the third Friday prayer of Muslim holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem on June 16, 2017 

A Palestinian man has died at an Israeli checkpoint while trying to reach Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers.

Sixty-three-year-old Sulieman Jamal Al-Harroub from West Bank city of Hebron died while crossing an Israeli military checkpoint known as 300, located north of Bethlehem, Wafa reported yesterday.

Al-Harroub died while travelling to perform Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. Palestinian medical sources said that he died due to a heart attack which occurred while he was waiting at the crossing.

It is worth noting that, at the start of Ramadan, Israel published videos and media reports claiming it had eased the passage for Palestinians through its crossings across the occupied West Bank so they could travel to Al-Aqsa Mosque for the holy month.

The videos showed Palestinians leaving the checkpoints easily, ignoring the long queues which force travellers to stand out in the sun before entering the checkpoint terminals.

In addition, the Israeli police have repeatedly attacked Palestinian worshippers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque, as have settlers who repeatedly storm the compound.

READ: Palestinians face Israel restrictions to visit Al-Aqsa for Ramadan

(Source / 18.05.2019) 

‘No positive development regarding Palestinian tax revenues withheld by Israel’

Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein Al-Sheikh

Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein Al-Sheikh

The Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs has said that there have been no developments with regards to the tax revenues withheld by Israel. Hussein Al-Sheikh explained that the action by Tel Aviv amounts to deducting the value of the stipends paid by the Palestinian Authority to prisoners held in Israel, as well as the families of those killed in attacks against Israelis.

Speaking to Radio Palestine, Al-Sheikh pointed out that the PA rejected all of the suggestions put forward by Israel to solve the crisis during a recent meeting with Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. The PA, he said, has categorically rejected all proposals to receive the revenues “incomplete”, because Israel has “no right” to withhold the money due to the Palestinians.

“The Israelis have proposed a number of unacceptable ideas to solve the Palestinian tax revenues crisis,” said the PA Minister, “all of which were negative because they are net of these deductions, something which is rejected politically, financially and nationally.”

Al-Sheikh added that the Palestinians have demanded a freeze on the Israeli government’s decision to change the law on withholding tax revenues. Kahlon, he said, has asked for time to review the request, until the formation of the new government following the General Election in Israel last month. The PA official has met with Kahlon twice within a month, at the request of the Israelis.

READ: Israel FM signs order to deduct PA tax revenues

(Source / 17.05.2019)