Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian Authority’

Erdoğan condemns Israel’s attacks on Gaza in call to Abbas — Expressed “Turkey’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people and cause.”

November 16, 2018

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday called Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The phone call, according to WAFA, focused on the “latest Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip.”

Image result for Abbas, Erdogan, photos

FILE photo

The news agency said President Erdoğan condemned — in the strongest possible terms — the recent Israeli aggression.

He also voiced Turkey’s readiness to support the people of Gaza and treat injured Palestinians at Turkish hospitals.

Abbas, for his part, thanked Erdoğan for what he described as “Turkey’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people and cause.”

Beginning Monday evening and carrying on through Tuesday, Israeli artillery pounded at least 160 targets the Gaza Strip, killing at least seven Palestinians, injuring 26 others and decimating dozens of homes. The violence was the worst between Israel and Gaza since a 2014 war.

The bout subsided after a cease-fire was struck late Tuesday. The truce, brokered by Egypt, prompted Israel’s hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to announce his resignation on Wednesday.



Israel, Hamas battle after Qatar sent $15 million in cash to Hamas in Gaza

November 12, 2018

Palestinian media reports at least 7 killed, more injured, during Israeli operation in Khan Younis; IDF confirms ‘exchange of fire broke out’, rockets fired at south

Illustrative. An explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, on October 27, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Illustrative. An explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, on October 27, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Israeli special forces conducted a raid in the Gaza city of Khan Younis on Sunday night, apparently killing several suspected Hamas terrorists, including a senior commander in its military wing, and bringing the region back to the brink of war.

The IDF later confirmed that a special forces officer was killed and another injured in the raid. The military censor prevented news of the IDF officer’s death and the second officer’s injuries from being published until their families could be notified. The names of the soldiers were not immediately released.

The fighting set off a massive round of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and at least a dozen rockets or mortar shells were fired at southern Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late Sunday he would return to Israel immediately and cut a trip to Paris short.

The flareup punctured a brief calm along the restive border, coming two days after Israel allowed Qatar to send $15 million in cash to Hamas in Gaza — one of the first moves in a reported ceasefire agreement between Israel and the terrorist group.

According to Hamas’s military wing, a Qassam Brigades commander, Nour Baraka, was killed along with six other Hamas members by Israeli special forces who drove a “civilian vehicle” three kilometers into Gaza from the border.

Hamas terrorist Nour Baraka (Hadashot TV Screenshot)

Baraka was reportedly closely involved in Hamas’s tunnel program and also served as the commander of a Khan Younis regional battalion.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Tal Russo, a former commander of the IDF Southern Command, indicated that the operation was likely an intelligence-gathering mission gone wrong, rather than an assassination.

“Activities that most civilians aren’t aware of happen all the time, every night and in every region. This action — an operation that was apparently exposed — wasn’t an assassination attempt. We have other ways of assassinating people and we know how to do it much more elegantly,” Russo told Channel 10 news.

The retired general, who until recently was responsible for the IDF’s missions abroad, also told Army Radio that Baraka was likely killed in a rescue effort to extract the special forces soldiers.

Palestinian media outlets reported the Israeli troops had initially tried to capture — not kill — Baraka during the raid, but that the Hamas commander was shot dead after the operation was exposed. This could not be immediately confirmed by the IDF.

Members of the Palestinian security forces gather at a hospital morgue where the bodies of five of the six men killed during an Israeli operation on Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip were transported on November 11, 2018. (Said KHATIB / AFP)

The Qassam Brigades said it engaged the Israeli commandos, setting off an intense firefight with Israeli troops, including reported drone strikes throughout the southern Gaza Strip.

The special forces squad was forced to retreat to the Israeli side of the fence under the cover of the aerial bombardment, Hamas’s military wing said in a statement.

A Hamas spokesperson praised the “brave resistance that repulsed the Israeli aggression.”

The Israeli military confirmed that “an exchange of fire broke out during security activities by the IDF in the Gaza Strip region,” but would not elaborate further. The military initially refused to comment on Israeli casualties and would only confirm that no Israeli soldiers had been kidnapped, in an effort to tamp down on rumors.

Jonathan Conricus@LTCJonathan

Quick recap so far: IDF operated in the Gaza Strip, exchange of gunfire ensued. All IDF soldiers back in Israel. Several alarms have sounded in Southern Israel. More to follow.

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Following the clashes, at least 10 projectiles were fired at southern Israel as of 23:58 p.m. Sunday, two of which were shot down by the Iron Dome air defense system, the army said. After midnight warning sirens continued to wail and several more projectiles were fired into Israel, with no immediate reports of casualties.

Light damage was caused to a number of greenhouses in the Eshkol region, locals said.

Residents of southern Israel were instructed to remain close to their bomb shelters in the event of reprisals Sunday night.

There were no reports of rockets or mortar shells landing inside Israeli communities near the Gaza border. The projectiles not intercepted by the Iron Dome apparently landed in open fields.

The flight paths into and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport were altered in light of the Gaza clashes, a spokesperson for the Aviation Authority said.

Netanyahu was informed of the flareup while in Paris on an official state visit.

“In light of the security-related incidents in the South, the prime minister has decided to shorten his visit to Paris and to return to Israel tonight,” his office said in a statement.

Culture Minister Miri Regev was appointed acting prime minister in Netanyahu’s absence; however, she cannot call a meeting of the powerful security cabinet as she is not a member of it.

A Palestinian hurls stones at Israeli troops during a riot on a beach near the maritime border with Israel, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 29, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has the authority to hold a special session of the security cabinet.

On Sunday evening, he met with top defense officials in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters, including IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot and the head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman.

According to the Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry, in addition to Baraka, six other Hamas members, all in their 20s, were killed in clashes with the IDF.

Seven other Palestinians were reportedly injured in the clashes.

Israelis in the Eshkol region, across from Khan Younis, reported hearing multiple explosions as fighting broke out at around 9:30 p.m.

Roads immediately surrounding the Gaza Strip were closed in light of military activities, the police said.

Hamas’s interior ministry told Palestinian media that the terror group’s military wing and police force were put on high alert throughout Gaza, following the clashes.

The flareup came as the sides were said to be nearing a deal for a ceasefire along the restive border.

On Friday, Israel allowed in $15 million of Qatari cash for Hamas to pay workers amid intensive Egyptian led efforts to reach a calm between the sides.

Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was doing its utmost to prevent “unnecessary wars” in the Gaza Strip, but maintained that diplomacy was futile with the Hamas leaders of the Palestinian enclave.

At a press conference in Paris, where the prime minister had attended the 100th anniversary commemorations of the end of World War I along with other world leaders, Netanyahu said no final diplomatic deal was possible with Hamas — the ruler of the beleaguered enclave.

“There is no diplomatic solution for Gaza, just as there is no diplomatic solution for ISIS,” said Netanyahu.

A Palestinian woman counts her money after receiving her salary in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip November 9, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

“I am doing everything I can to avoid an unnecessary war,” said the prime minister, pointing to the deaths of millions during the First World War as an example of senseless bloody warfare. “I am not afraid of war if it’s necessary, but I want to avoid it if it’s not necessary.”

Weekly Gaza border protests, dubbed the “Great March of Return,” have been going on since March 30 and have mostly involved the burning of tires and rock-throwing along the security fence, but have also seen shooting attacks, bombings and attempted border breaches as well as the launching of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel. Southern Israel has also seen sporadic, but aggressive rocket bombardments from the Gaza Strip.

Egypt, alongside United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov, has recently played a key role in attempts to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and the armed groups in the Strip.

Egyptian mediators have been working intensively to maintain calm, and also hope to bring about national reconciliation between the Hamas terror group, which seized Gaza by force in 2007, and the West Bank-based administration of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

TOI staff and Agencies contributed to this report.


Israeli security forces raid Palestinian Authority offices outside Jerusalem, sparking clashes

November 4, 2018

Israeli security forces attempt to confiscate computer equipment, according to official PA news site

A picture taken from the Mount of Olives shows the Old City of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock shrine in the center, on December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

A picture taken from the Mount of Olives shows the Old City of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock shrine in the center, on December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

Israeli security forces raided the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Governorate headquarters and Jerusalem Affairs Ministry on Sunday, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

Spokespersons for the IDF and Israel Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Pictures shared on Twitter showed Israeli security forces at the entrance to the PA Jerusalem Governorate headquarters and Jerusalem Affairs Ministry, which share a building in al-Ram, a town on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem.

“Occupation forces…raided [the building] in a barbaric manner in an attempt to confiscate its contents,” the Wafa report said.

Other pictures posted on Twitter showed PA Jerusalem Affairs Minister Adnan Husseini standing next to desktop computers which appeared to be missing some parts.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

عاجل – قناة فلسطين اليوم@paltoday_tv

|| قوات الاحتلال تقتحم مقرّ محافظة القدس في ضاحية البرد ببلدة الرام شمال القدس

Wafa also reported that Israeli security forces and PA employees engaged in a fistfight after the troops “attempted to confiscate the building’s contents.”

At least five PA employees were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment, the official PA news site report said.

A PA government spokesman slammed the Israeli forces for raiding the building.

“The raid on the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry and Jerusalem Governorate and the savage assault of the employees in it is a dangerous escalation and barefaced violation of all agreements and international laws,” PA government spokesman Yousif Mahmoud said in a statement published on Wafa. “The occupation government bears full responsibility for the continued assaults on Jerusalem and its citizens, Islamic and Christian holy sites and institutions.”

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Wafa News Agency@WAFA_PS

: آثار الدمار الذي خلفه الاحتلال عقب اقتحامه مقر محافظة القدس.
(تصوير: شروق زيد/وفا)

In late October, Israeli security forces arrested PA Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith and Jerusalem director of the PA General Intelligence Services Jihad Faqih on suspicion they helped abduct a Palestinian-American resident of Jerusalem, their lawyers told Reuters at the time. Both Ghaith and Faqih deny the charges, according to their lawyers.

They were released several days after being arrested.

The Palestinian-American resident of Jerusalem was being sought by the PA over his involvement in the sale of a home in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City to Jews, Hadashot TV news reported in October.

PA courts have previously sentenced Palestinians to death for selling land to Jews. Since 2005, however, the PA has not carried out any executions, according to B’Tselem.

The PA government formed a committee to investigate the sale of the home in the Old City, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah tweeted on October 9.

Last Thursday, Israeli security forces also briefly detained Ghaith after they forcibly broke up an event he attended in East Jerusalem, which Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said was organized by the PA.

Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally, almost entirely does not allow the PA to operate within Jerusalem.


Middle East Peace — Egypt pushing for Abbas to accept ‘graded reconciliation’ with Hamas

November 4, 2018

Sissi wants Palestinian leader to back ceasefire deal as part of agreement that would see PA eventually regain control of beleaguered Gaza Strip

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi meeting in Sharm al-Sheikh on November 3, 2018. (Credit: Wafa)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi meeting in Sharm al-Sheikh on November 3, 2018. (Credit: Wafa)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has reportedly urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept a “graded reconciliation” with Hamas as part of a deal that would see the 82-year old take control of the Gaza Strip.

Meeting on Saturday in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh, Sissi encouraged Abbas to back the terms of an emerging ceasefire-agreement aimed at calming months of violence on the Israel-Gaza border, Hadashot news reported Saturday night.

The deal, first reported by Lebanon’s Al-Akbar newspaper on Friday, will last for three years and see a significant easing of the blockade on the Hamas-controlled territory.

In order to guarantee the success of the deal, Sissis wants Abbas to take responsibility for paying state salaries in the Strip, to back a UN infrastructure plan for the beleaguered territory and to accept a “gradual” plan for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, according to the Hadahsot news.

Firstly, “Sissi is pressuring [Abbas] to back the plan for calm by agreeing to pay salaries and to take the responsibility for Qatar passing funds to Hamas leaders in the Strip,” Hadashot analyst Ehud Yaari said.

Within the framework of the agreement, the Palestinian Authority would pay 80% of the salaries of Hamas officials in Gaza, and would not object to Qatar bankrolling those wages for at least six months, like it has in the past, Al-Akbar reported.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi meeting in Sharm al-Sheikh on November 3, 2018. (Credit: Wafa)

“The next stage,” Yaari said, “is to for him to back [United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nikolay] Mladenov’s plan for developing the infrastructure in the Strip because donor countries won’t be willing to give money directly to Hamas and need the Palestinian Authority as an intermediary.”

Finally, Sissi want’s Abbas to agree to a “graded reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas that will eventually bring Abbas back to Gaza,” Yaari said, stressing that such a deal would not give the PA immediate military control over Gaza but would begin a process aimed at restoring its governing of the territory.

Egypt has recently made efforts to revive the reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah, meeting with leaders from the two rival parties for separate talks in the past several weeks.

In October 2017, Hamas and Fatah signed an Egyptian-brokered deal to advance reconciliation and bring the West Bank and Gaza under one government, but they failed to implement it.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since ousting the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from the territory in 2007.

Arabic media reports have said that if achieved, a ceasefire would include at least a partial lifting of Israel’s restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza.

Israel holds that its restrictions on movement serve security purposes including preventing the entry of weapons into the Strip.

Ramallah-based Palestinian officials have said Fatah-Hamas reconciliation should precede any possible ceasefire. They have also contended that the Palestine Liberation Organization is the sole party with the legitimacy to negotiate a ceasefire with Israel.

Egyptian intelligence officials joined Palestinians protesting in the border region between Israel and Gaza on Friday, Deputy Hamas Chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya told the London-based Al-Ghad TV.

Illustrative: Protesters wave Palestinian flags while riding a truck full with tires near the fence of the Gaza Strip border with Israel during a protest east of Gaza City, Friday, October 26, 2018. (AP/Adel Hana)

Friday’s rally was largely peaceful. Hayya said the protests were scaled down to give the ceasefire efforts a chance, according to the Associated Press.

The protests, which have included many violent acts, have taken place weekly since March 30. Their organizers have said the protests aim to achieve the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to lands which are now part of Israel, and pressure the Jewish state to lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave.

Hayya suggested efforts to achieve a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas had been making progress.

“Their success is becoming visible in the horizon,” he told Al-Ghad TV, referring to the efforts to conclude a ceasefire.

On Saturday, the Egyptian Intelligence officials left Gaza through the Erez crossing, according to the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center.


Emerging Gaza ceasefire to significantly ease blockade — report

November 3, 2018

Lebanese daily says Egypt prepared to slash 70% of its own border restrictions under 3-year truce deal; Israel will be required to grant work permits and expand fishing zone

A Palestinian waves a flag during a demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 22, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

A Palestinian waves a flag during a demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 22, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

An emerging cease-fire agreement aimed at calming months of violence on the Israel-Gaza border will last for three years and see a significant easing of the blockade on the Hamas-controlled territory, Lebanon’s Al-Akbar newspaper reported Saturday.

According to the report, the deal being brokered by Egypt stipulates a gradual stop to the ongoing, Hamas-orchestrated violent border protests and maritime flotillas over the next two months. In addition, Hamas will be obligated to punish Gazans caught engaging in violent demonstrating along the border with Israel.

In return, Egypt will permanently open its Rafah border crossing and lift 70 percent of its blockade on the Hamas-controlled territory, the report said, citing officials familiar with the emerging agreement.

Al-Akbar said the deal would require Israel to grant 5,000 work permits for Gazans, and expand the Strip’s fishing zone from nine to 14 nautical miles.

Israel had no immediate comment on the report.

In addition, the paper reported the Palestinian Authority would pay 80% of the salaries of Hamas officials in Gaza, and would not object to Qatar bankrolling those wages for at least six months, like it has in the past.

Israeli soldiers taking position during clashes with Palestinian protesters across the Gaza border on October 19, 2018, in Nahal Oz (Jack Guez/AFP)

Within the framework of the agreement, the report said various economic projects in Gaza would be advanced to create jobs for some 30,000 jobs and alleviate the humanitarian situation in the Strip.

The truce is slated to last three years and will be under the supervision of the United Nations and Russia. At later stage after the deal is implemented, Al-Akbar said Egypt would work to advance a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.

The report was released after Friday’s weekly protests along the Gaza border saw a significant decrease in violence.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry in the strip, 12 Palestinians were injured from live Israeli fire, and dozens injured from tear gas inhalation. The Associated Press said the figures were the lowest reported since the start of the demonstrations seven months ago.

Adam Rasgon@adamrasgon1

Official Fatah account posts a picture of what it says is a member of the Hamas-run security forces forcibly preventing protesters from approaching the border fence between Gaza and Israel

حركة فتح@fatehorg

حركة حماس تمنع بالقوة المتظاهرين من الاقتراب من السياج الحدودي

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A senior Hamas member said the clashes were scaled down to give diplomatic efforts a chance amid talk of a breakthrough in months of Egyptian-led negotiations.

The official Twitter account of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction even posted a picture of what it claimed to be a member of the Hamas-run security forces forcibly preventing protesters from approaching the Gaza border fence during Friday’s protests.

Khalil al-Hayya said the terror group was “testing” Egyptian-led efforts to broker a ceasefire to ease an 11-year-old blockade on Gaza, but warned the clashes would resume if the blockade was not lifted.

The IDF put turnout Friday at some 7,000 demonstrators with about half of those present approached the border fence, while the rest remained at a distance and did not clash with soldiers. The protest ended earlier than usual.

Palestinians react to tear gas fired by Israeli forces during clashes east of Gaza City near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel on November 2, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

For months, Egypt and UN officials have been engaged in indirect talks between Hamas, the Islamist terror group that runs the Gaza Strip, and Israel.

Israel has accused Hamas, which is sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state, of leading the protests and using them as cover to carry out attacks against troops stationed the border.

Last week, seven Palestinians were reported killed in the weekly border protests. The bloodshed was followed by rockets launched at Israel by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, which were met with and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes, dashing hopes of what was expected to be a calmer week in Gaza.

Since the often violent protests began on March 30, over 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during demonstrations and clashes along the border, including a number of people who broke through the fence into Israel. Dozens of the fatalities were Hamas members. During that time, one Israeli soldier has been killed by a Palestinian sniper.


PLO Says It Will No Longer Recognize The State of Israel

October 30, 2018

Formal adoption of the PLO Central Council’s recommendation would bring the Oslo Accord to an end.

 OCTOBER 30, 2018 00:23

 Palestinians say U.S. closing PLO mission ‘to protect Israeli crimes’

 Trump broadens pressure on PA, closing its DC offices

A man enters the headquarters of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), in Ramallah Septembe

A man enters the headquarters of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), in Ramallah September 10, 2018. (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

The PLO Central Council decided to suspend its recognition of the state of Israel until it recognizes the state of Palestine at the pre-1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital, according to the Palestinian News Agency Wafa.

It also decided to cut security as well as its economic ties with the state of Israel as set out in the 1994 Paris Economic Protocol.

The decision taken on Monday night at the end of the two-day meeting in Ramallah, is non-binding.

A committee will now be created to examine the recommendation, which would also need the approval of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The council essentially wants to cease compliance with the 1993 Oslo Accord, which set out a transitionary phase during which time the Palestinians would move toward statehood. The council has declared that this transitory phase, which was only supposed to last for five to seven years, is over. It insisted that Palestinian statehood must be recognized now.

Formal adoption of the PLO Central Council’s recommendation would bring the Oslo Accord to an end.

It’s unclear if such a move would happen. But the statement speaks the frustration on the part of Fatah and the PLO’s with the swift changes the Trump Administration has wrought in the Middle East with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Image result for Mahmoud Abbas, photos

A council statement posted on WAFA, said, ”In view of Israel’s continued denial of the signed agreements, the PCC (PLO Central Council), in confirmation of its previous decision and considering that the transitional phase no longer exists, decides to end the commitments of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority towards its agreements with the occupying power, suspend recognition of the state of Israel until its recognition of the state of Palestine on the June 4, 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital, end security coordination in all its forms, and disengage economically from Israel on the grounds that the transitional phase, including the Paris Economic Protocols no longer exist.”

The move comes as relations between the United States and the Palestinian Authority are at an all time low, with the Trump Administration closing the PA’s representative office in Washington, DC and its announcement to close its pseudo embassy to the PA, the Consulate General in Jerusalem.

The Trump Administration has also cut its financial assistance to the PA and to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

US President Donald Trump is expected to unveil a peace plan in the coming months. The PA has already publicly rejected the plan, even before it has been presented to it.

The PLO dramatic statement also comes Egypt, the United Nations and Israel has bypassed the PA in hopes of reaching an understanding or even a long term truce with Hamas in Gaza that would put an end to the rocket fire and border violence.

Egypt and the UN have pressured Abbas to halt the severe sanctions he had imposed on the Gaza Strip, including cutting funding for fuel and failure to pay salaries, in hopes of forcing Hamas to end is 11-year rule of the enclave.

In its Monday night statement the PLO said that only its representatives and not Hamas, were authorized to negotiate a deal to end Gaza violence with Israel.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett responded to the PLO’s announcement by stating: “The Palestinians have never been serious about recognizing Israel. They have always been planning to destroy Israel piece by piece and throw the Jews out of our land.”

“The charade has ended. They have shown their true colors – the Palestinians are not interested in peace and never have been.”

Abbas Says Trump Peace Plan for Palestinians, Israelis ‘Will Not Pass’

October 29, 2018

PA president says Palestinians facing ‘most dangerous stage’ in their history; pledges he’ll continue paying families of Palestinian attackers

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks, during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 28, 2018. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks, during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 28, 2018. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday again vowed to oppose any peace proposal by US President Donald Trump as PLO officials met to consider their next moves.

Speaking at the opening of a meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s central council, Abbas said Palestinians were facing perhaps the “most dangerous stage” in their history, highlighting a series of measures taken by Trump including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Abbas has boycotted the White House since that December decision, though the US president’s team is still expected to release a peace plan in the coming months.

Abbas compared the expected Trump proposal to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which saw the British government commit to the creation of a state for Jews in historic Palestine.

“If the Balfour Declaration passed, this deal will not pass,” he pledged.

The US has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Palestinians, with Trump angered by Abbas’s refusal to meet with him or members of his administration.

US President Donald Trump, left, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas pose for a photograph during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

He has called on Abbas to negotiate, but Palestinian leaders say they are being blackmailed to accept Trump’s terms, which they see as blatantly biased in favor of Israel.

“They are still talking about the deal of the era. ‘We will prepare and present you the deal of the era. In a month, the deal of the era. In two months, the deal of the era. In three months, the deal of the era’ You already presented all of the deal of the era. What of the deal of era remains. Jerusalem, you swallowed it and moved your embassy to it. Refugees and the right of refugees, you put an end to that,” Abbas added, saying Trump’s actions amounted to imposing a deal unilaterally.

The Palestinian leader also renewed his support for salaries for families of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were convicted of carrying out deadly terror attacks on Israelis, and of those who died in the attempt to do so.

Israel brands the payments for families as encouraging terrorism, and the United States has also criticized them.

Abbas has called those jailed or killed “heroes.”

“We must pay all of them. If we had one [penny] left, it would be for them,” he said.

The Palestinian leader also accused his Hamas rivals of serving US interests by refusing to relinquish control of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, a terror group seeking to destroy Israel, seized control of the coastal enclave from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007 and attempts since then at reconciliation between the two have failed.

Abbas fears the US is planning a proposal that would offer the Palestinians limited statehood in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and some autonomy in parts of the West Bank. Abbas demands full independence in both territories.

In his speech Monday, Abbas said that Hamas’s refusal to give up control of Gaza is “accepting the thoughts of the enemy, who plans to have a mini state in Gaza and autonomy in West Bank.”

Abbas also contended the entirety of East Jerusalem is the Palestinian capital. 

“East Jerusalem is our capital,” he said. “By the meter, Jerusalem that was occupied in 1967 is our capital…Jerusalem and Palestine are not for sale or bargaining.” 

Abbas has long said he wants East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian. Israel considers both the eastern and western halves of Jerusalem to be its sovereign territory.

The PA president added that settlers should leave the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“From the first to the last stone, settlement building is illegal,” he said. “This is our land. They should depart from it.” 

In 2013, Abbas also said no settlers could remain in a future Palestinian state. 

Adam Rasgon contributed to this article.


Palestinians debate value of Jerusalem vote boycott

October 28, 2018

As Jerusalem voters go to the polls Tuesday for municipal elections, Palestinians are debating not which candidate to back — but whether to cast their ballots at all.

The vast majority of the disputed city’s roughly 300,000 Palestinians are expected to boycott the polls again, despite calls by a minority to use the elections to seize influence in a city under full Israeli control for decades.

Rami Nasrallah, director general of East Jerusalem’s International Peace and Cooperation Center think-tank, sees little to gain from voting.

“I’m not willing to recognise the political rules of the game and to recognise or legitimise the Israeli occupation,” he said.

© AFP/File | Israel captured the city’s east and the surrounding West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War, later annexing East Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community

Israel captured the city’s east and the surrounding West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War, later annexing East Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Palestinians claim it as the capital of their future state.

Palestinian voter turnout was less than one percent in the last local vote in 2013, according to the Palestinian Academic Society for International affairs.

Municipalities and local councils across Israel will hold polls on Tuesday.

In Jerusalem a small number of Palestinian candidates are running for the council, but others have dropped out after criticism, intimidation and legal issues.

One of those who withdrew was Aziz Abu Sarah, who had even announced his intention to run for mayor.

He said it was time for Palestinians to “rethink” their boycott, pointing out that over 50 years Israel had moved around 200,000 settlers into east Jerusalem.

“We are losing Jerusalem every day,” he said during his campaign.

While he received support from both Palestinians and Israelis, he also faced a series of attacks and at one event was egged.

Like most Palestinian Jerusalemites, Abu Sarah has residency — not Israeli citizenship.

He was later told by Israeli authorities that his status as a Jerusalem resident was “being checked” due to his travel and work abroad, meaning he could be stripped of the right to stay in the city, he wrote on Facebook.

“Entrenched political interest groups on both sides hope to maintain the status quo, and will stop at nothing to prevent forward progress,” Abu Sarah said as he dropped out of the race.

– Public services –

Among the few Palestinians still in the race is Ramadan Dabash, who heads a list of six Arab candidates running for seats on the city council.

He has rare Israeli citizenship and is a former member of the right-wing Likud party run by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A lot of his votes could actually come from Jewish voters, rather than fellow Palestinians.

Dabash said he wanted to be on the council in order to protect Palestinians, and denied it amounted to recognising Israel’s control of the city — which Israel considers its undivided capital.

Palestinians who have residency status rather than full Israeli citizenship can’t vote in general elections but can for the municipality, which is responsible for most Jerusalem schools as well as rubbish collection and other services.

“Palestinians pay more than 400 million shekels ($110 million) tax to the municipality,” Dabash told AFP. “They receive less than 10 percent of the services.”

Dabash said his mediation had helped prevent the demolition of dozens of homes in his neighbourhood of Sur Baher in east Jerusalem.

But Palestinian involvement in the elections has been rejected by the Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank.

“Any Palestinian should refuse to be a part of them. We will not accept Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat told AFP.

“What did the PA do for Jerusalemites?” Dabash shot back. “Did they build them hospitals?”

But in the streets of east Jerusalem there has been no sign of any election campaigning.

The four leading mayoral candidates all hold conservative views on issues regarding the area’s Palestinian residents.

Trader Abu Yasser, from Jerusalem’s Old City, summed up the views of many Palestinians, saying he wouldn’t vote as the elections wouldn’t change much.

“If the Palestinians in Jerusalem knew they would achieve something from these elections they would have gone against the PA’s wishes and voted to get municipal services,” he said.


Palestinians use Torture To Fight Dissent, Human Rights Watch Says

October 23, 2018

Palestinian governments, accused of systematic human rights violations, reject HRW report as ‘biased’ and ‘inaccurate’.

.Hani al Masri, a Ramallah-based political analyst, said human rights violations and illegal arrests were common [File: Mohammed Ballas/Reuters]
Hani al Masri, a Ramallah-based political analyst, said human rights violations and illegal arrests were common [File: Mohammed Ballas/Reuters]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned the “systematic arbitrary arrests and torture” carried out by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.

In a report published on Tuesday, the international rights group demanded the Palestinian governments hold those responsible to account and also called on donors to the Palestinian authorities to suspend aid to the agencies implicated in abuses until action is taken.

The findings of the report were rejected by both PA and Hamas as inaccurate and “biased”.

Titled, Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent: Arbitrary Arrest and Torture under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the 149-page document evaluated “patterns of arrest and detention conditions” in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.

The report is the result of a two-year investigation of 86 cases and interviews with 147 people who were mostly ex-detainees, family members, lawyers and NGO officials.

“The PA and Hamas use detention to punish critics and deter them and others from further activism,” the report stated. “In detention, security forces routinely taunt, threaten, beat, and force detainees into painful stress positions for hours at a time.”

The rights group also found that Palestinian authorities often use expansive interpretations of broad laws that criminalise insulting “higher authorities”, or “inciting “sectarian strife”, or “harming the revolutionary unity”, in order to detain critics for days or weeks, “only to release most of them without referring them to trial, but often leaving charges outstanding”.

Both Palestinian authorities arrested individuals for their political activism on university campuses, taking part in demonstrations and for activity on social media, the report said.

The PA in the West Bank operates under an invasive Israeli military occupation while Hamas-controlled Gaza has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian military and economic blockade since 2007.

Hamas vs Fatah: Mutual arrests

The report said the Fatah-controlled PA in Ramallah often arrests activists who are politically affiliated with Hamas in the West Bank, while Hamas arrests Fatah activists in Gaza.

In one case, the PA arrested Osama al-Nabrisi at least 15 times after he finished serving a 12-year prison sentence in an Israeli prison in 2014. On one occasion, he was detained just two days after his release, due his association with Hamas activists while in Israeli prison.

In another case, Hamas-controlled police in Gaza arrested the former PA preventive security officer Abdel Basset Amoom in 2017, for his involvement in a protest about electricity cuts.

The report detailed several cases of independent Palestinian journalists and political activists who were arrested, detained and subjected to abuses without proper arrest warrants for several days.

In some of the cases, the courts acquitted the individuals deeming their arrests “illegal”, while others who were arrested over social media posts were ordered to pay huge fines after making a plea deal with prosecutors.

Palestinian Authority response

Brigadier General Adnan Dameri, the spokesman for the PA security forces in the West Bank, told Al Jazeera that the HRW report is full of erroneous information and highly biased.

The state of Palestine has signed all international laws and conventions that ban human rights abuses and torture and is committed to enforce them


“No one from the HRW ever contacted us to get accurate information from us on the incidents they allegedly said constitute human rights violations,” he said.

“The state of Palestine has signed all international laws and conventions that ban human rights abuses and torture and is committed to enforce them,” he added.

HRW said that it had met the PA intelligence services in Ramallah and that it was unable to meet Hamas representatives in Gaza after Israel denied its official permits.

Dameri acknowledged that incidents of human rights abuses may have taken place in PA facilities, but those cases were not “systematic” nor sanctioned by the government.

“Abuses did take place, but they were committed by individual officers acting on their own, not based on government policy,” he said.

“We are not Switzerland, but we are doing everything we can to uphold our laws and prevent human rights violations should they take place by individual officers,” he said

“People criticise the government here all the time. We don’t arrest people for mere criticism unless a crime is committed such as hate speech and there must be an arrest warrant for that,” he added.

Hamas response

Iyad al-Bozom, the spokesman for the Hamas Palestinian Ministry of Interior and Security Forces in Gaza, told Al Jazeera that he received an inquiry from HRW in March asking for details about alleged human rights abuses committed by Hamas’s police organization.

He told Al Jazeera that he sent HRW a detailed response explaining all the cases they inquired about, but the group never considered them when they issued their report.

All of our law enforcement facilities have been and still are open to inspections by Palestinian and international human rights organizations


He said he also sent HRW a new memorandum recently, demanding an explanation from the organisation over allegations of abuses committed by the police in Gaza.

“We never got a response or any communication from them,” he said.

Al-Bozom stressed that the Gaza police force is committed to upholding Palestinian laws that ban human rights abuses and torture.

“All of our law enforcement facilities have been and still are open to inspection to Palestinian and international human rights organizations,” he said.

Al-Bozom also acknowledged that human rights abuses were committed by individual officers acting on their own, but never on government orders.

He said from 2014 to 2016, the Gaza police received 314 complaints of human rights violations committed by individual police officers, which were investigated fully.

He said 90 cases were proven while 224 were not. The offending officers were either fired or punished according to police regulations, he added.

“People criticise the government or Hamas here all the time, we don’t arrest people for that,” he said

A report issued by the Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), documented a total of 23 cases of human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza during the month of September.

Of those cases, 12 were documented in the West Bank and involved PA security forces, while 11 cases were recorded in Gaza, involving Hamas-controlled police forces.

Hani al-Masri, a Ramallah-based political analyst, said human rights violations and illegal arrests were common.

Al-Masri told Al Jazeera that Hamas and the PA often detain each other’s operatives, as well as independent journalists and citizens.

He said both Palestinian groups govern the areas under their control with an “authoritarian bent”.

Follow Ali Younes on Twitter: @ali_reports


Israel approves 31 settler homes in flashpoint Hebron

October 15, 2018

An Israeli plan to construct 31 settler homes in Hebron has triggered angry reactions from Palestinian officials and rights activists calling on the Palestinian Authority to challenge the move in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Hebron is home to around 200,000 Palestinians, with about 800 settlers living under Israeli army protection in several heavily fortified compounds in the heart of the city.

Bassam Shweiki, a senior PLO official in Hebron, said the city’s Palestinian population has been fighting legal battles in Israeli courts without progress. “They have now set aside $6 million to build 31 settlement units in an area (old bus station) that has been the center of unresolved legal fighting for decades.”

The Hebron units are to be built on Shuhada Street, once a bustling shopping street leading to a holy site where the biblical Abraham is believed to have been buried. (AFP)

Shweiki who heads the PLO’s Refugee Rights Committee said the Israeli army took over the old bus station in the 1980s for “security reasons.” It was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, he said.

Construction permits were agreed in October last year but needed the government’s approval, according to the Peace Now NGO which monitors settlement construction in occupied territory.
“For the first time in more than 20 years, Hebron will have a new Jewish neighborhood where a military camp once stood,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Hussein Sheikh, a lawyer from Hebron, said the issue of settlements has intensified manifold since the Oslo Accords.

“After Oslo Accords, Israel stopped worrying about local resistance and worldwide accountability and the Palestinian Authority has failed to check Israel’s hegemonic designs,” the lawyer lamented.

Hebron is a flashpoint reflecting the deep tensions that run between Palestinians and Israelis.

The Hebron units are to be built on Shuhada Street, once a bustling shopping street leading to a holy site where the Prophet Ibrahim is believed to have been buried.

The street is now largely closed off to Palestinians who have repeatedly demanded that it be reopened to traffic.

Brian Reeves, a spokesman for the Israeli Peace Now movement, said the Israeli government is again stoking conflict by approving construction of settlement units in Hebron. “It is well known that Hebron is one of the centers of the conflict, yet Netanyahu’s coalition chooses to appease a fringe radical settler minority on the taxpayers’ dime rather than act earnestly to disentangle Israel from the West Bank and to strive to end the conflict.”

He believes there is some connection between this decision and the possibility of calling early elections.

Reeves in an email said Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party has reportedly criticized Lieberman’s party for appearing weak on Gaza and on the settlements issue.

He said this appears to be an attempt to compete for right-wing voters.

“Likewise, 14 ministries headed by a handful of parties within the governing coalition have contributed to the $6 million slush fund to restructure the military base to make way for the settlement housing project,” Reeves said.