Dec. 16, 2014
Daily summary- Thursday, January 16, 2014
Injuries in airstrikes on Gaza
Israeli aircraft raided early today morning several areas in the Gaza Strip. Paltimes.net correspondent in Gaza City said that Israeli military aircraft fired at least one missile on “Al-Khayalah” site of Al-Qassam Brigades, west of Gaza City.Medical sources said that a woman and four of her children living near the site were injured as a result of the attack and were rushed to hospital for treatment. The correspondent added that another Israeli attack targeted empty agricultural land in Al-Tufah area east of Gaza city. In the same context, the correspondent reported that Israeli warplanes targeted "Abu Jarad" area near "Netzarim" central of the Gaza Strip fired with two missiles at least.(http://paltimes.net/details/news/56985/%D8%A5%D8%B5%D9%80%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%BA%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A5%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9.html)
Hamas: Egyptian regime fancies it can destroy the resistance
Islamic resistance movement (Hamas) described statements made by four Egyptian security officials and diplomats as dangerous, the Egyptian officials and security officers stressed that Cairo will destroy Hamas in the Gaza Strip in every way, and that it is cooperating with Fatah movement that it will support all events of the chaos in Gaza. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a written press release: "these statements are dangerous and represent the first official recognition of Egyptian involvement in the internal Palestinian file and, and that it seeks to destroy the forces of the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip." Abu Zuhri added that "attempts to overthrow the forces of resistance areonly mere illusions, and that it is better for Arabs first to devote themselves to harness its potential and abilities against the Israeli occupation.” (http://www.qudsn.ps/article/36621)
Israel threatens Europe to approach Russia and China in response to the boycott
Maariv reported yesterday that Israeli former and current diplomats and officials threatened Europe that Israel will approachEastern Europe, Russia and former Soviet countries, in addition to China and India to market its commodities if Europe decides to imposed a boycott on Israeli goods. Maariv added that "At a time when European threats continue for boycotting Israel and settlement’s products in the context of the European effort to pressure the US in case of failure of negotiations with the Palestinians, current and former Israeli diplomats and officials replied in threatening Europe, stressing that Israeli Foreign Ministry is studying options for marketing settlement’s goods in other world markets away from Europe and its markets, warning Europe that it will be the one subjected to Israeli boycott.”(http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=665548)
Fateh demands Hamas leadership to provide a clear answer and one position of reconciliation
Fateh called on Hamas leadership to provide a clear answer, and one position of the national reconciliation and ending the division, and stop what it called maneuvering and deceiving our Palestinian people with contradictory statements. Fateh confirmed in a statement issued by the Office of information and culture, Wednesday, it is waiting for an official answer from the head of Hamas's political Bureau Khaled Meshaal and leader Ismail Haniya, fulfilling their promises to President Mahmoud Abbas. Member of the Central Committee, Azzam Al-Ahmed, said they should provide a clear and explicit position on the formation of a national Government, elections, and effective implementation of what has been agreed on in Cairo and Doha.(http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=665500)
Fateh said that Meshaal and Haniya requested time for consultations within Hamas, and that Fateh informed them that the movement is ready to go to the Gaza Strip immediately to complete the reconciliation once receiving a reply.(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
Commentators: Ya'alon's apology did not end the crisis between Israel and the United States
Israeli commentators warned yesterday that the crisis between Israel and the United States is not over yet, despite Israeli Minister Moshe Ya'alon apologized for his remarks criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry.Kerry said yesterday that he would not allow "a series of comments to dissuade him” from his goal of reaching progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, praising the support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
A demonstration in Ramallah against the Kerry proposals for the peace process
About 200 people protested yesterday in Ramallah against the proposals of Secretary of State John Kerry for the Middle East peace process.The demonstration was organized by national and Islamic forces in the city, where the participants carried signs saying "US proposals violate international laws and human rights."Young Palestinians carried a banner in the demonstration saying "withdraw from negotiations immediately; transfer the file to the United Nations." Issam Baker, Coordinator of the national and Islamic forces in the city, said the demonstration was organized to reject the American proposals, "seeking to maintain the occupation and not to end it, and to pressure the PNA to make political concessions." Baker added that “The American proposals exclude Jerusalem and refugees and keep the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian Jordanian border, and it would undermine any peace process in the region."(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
Erekat sends a protest to Ashton on Czech Ambassador's visit to the settlement of "Ariel"
Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization Saeb Erekat, sent yesterday a protest letter to EU Foreign Affairs coordinator Catherine Ashton, protesting the visit of Czech Ambassador in Tel Aviv to the settlement of "Ariel".Erekat said: "the visit of the Czech Ambassador undermines EU's efforts undertaken recently to support the peace process and the two-State solution based on the 1967 borders." Erekat demanded The European Union to "dissociated itself publicly from the Ambassador's visit to the illegal University of Ariel, and take the appropriate actions to ensure that they do not allow representatives and members of the European Union to fail European Union's efforts to support a two-State solution."(Al-Hayat AL-Jadida)
Netanyahu: recognition of Jewish Israel is essential to the political process
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is a necessary condition in the political process.Netanyahu said during a speech at a conference yesterday nighty in occupied Jerusalem, "that is not enough, we are involved in the political process in order to achieve mutual recognition and security alike." Netanyahu claimed that Israel "will not abandon the peace process because of the difficulties and will continue to insist on the issue of security.(http://safa.ps/details/news/120542/%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%81-%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%87%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%B4%D8%B1%D8%B7-%D8%B6%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A9.html)
Calls to storm Al-Aqsa today coinciding witha Jewish religious occasion
The so-called "Temple organizations" announced it will storm Al-Aqsa Mosque today, coinciding with what it calls "Tu Beshvat", one of the religious events on the beginnings of the Jewish New Year, this event directly linked with some of the teachings of Jewish law. Al-Aqsa foundation said that 47 settlers and intelligence elements stormed Al-Aqsa yesterday from Bab Al-Magharebah, and toured its yards under heavy protection of the occupation police and special units. (Al-Ayyam)
Meets Friday and Saturday in Morocco; Rabat calls on the Jerusalem Committee to send a "strong message" against settlement
Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said yesterday, that the Jerusalem Committee meeting scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Morocco in the presence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should send a "strong message" against Israeli settlements.In addition to Abbas, senior officials from 15 countries will participate in Marrakech (South) in the twentieth session of the Jerusalem Committee, which was established in 1975 under the chairmanship of Moroccan King to ensure the protection of "Jerusalem’s civilizational and cultural identity".(Al-Quds)
PLO Executive Committee: negotiations bump into settlement, Judaization and requirements of Israel
Executive Committee of the PLO stressed today on the need for international intervention to salvage the political process, noting at the same time its determination to move forward with the recent decision to start practical steps to move towards joining international organizations.This came during a press conference, organized by the Committee at its headquarters in Al-Bireh, with its Secretary Yasser Abed Rabbo, as well as its members, Abdul Rahim Mallouh, Tayseer Khaled, Saleh Ra'fat and Dr. Wasel Abu Yousef, to talk about the political process, and Al-Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. Abed Rabbo said, saving the political process requires the involvement of the international community and the United Nations in this process, because without the involvement of a broader international force this process will reach the same fate, like other attempts in the past.(Al-Ayyam)
Occupation bulldozes 60 dunams in Jaloud and hands demolition notifications forhomes and wells near Sair
Israeli bulldozers proceeded yesterday morning in destroying and bulldozing 60 dunams in Jaloud village south of Nablus. Head of Jaloud village Council Abdullah Hajji Mohammad told “Wafa”, that bulldozers belonging to settlers from Esh Kodeshs, supported by the Israeli army bulldozed 60 dunams in the village, owned by the heirs of Rashid Al-Haj Muhammad. Also, occupation authorities handed yesterday, 6 families in Khirbet Jourah, east of Sair village, northeast of Hebron, notices for demolishing their homes, tents and water wells in the region inhabited by shepherds, on the pretext of residing without prior authorization.(Al-Ayyam)
Maariv: Netanyahu might give a positive answer to Kerry’s proposals
Maariv said yesterday that unlike the tension between Israeli and t eh United states following Ya’alon’s statements regarding negotiations, what Netanyahu is saying in front of Likud members of Knesset is not important, and it contradicts with what the Palestinians know, where their estimate that something is evolving. Maariv said that according to the responses, seems like Netanyahu might provide a positive response, while Palestinians seems to be the ones who will provide a negative response. (Al-Quds)
** UNRWA: attempt to enter basic material to Al-Yarmouk failed (Al-Quds)
** Settlers try to burn a mosque in Dir Estya (Al-Quds)
** Al-Quds Brigade deny attempt to shoot down a plane (Al-Quds)
** Postponing the release of Totah and Abu Arafeh (Al-Quds)
** Cairo: after the "brotherhood" it will be "Hamas" turn; no end to terrorism with its ruling in Gaza (al-Ayyam)
** Hamdallah urges agency workers to suspend their strike (Al-Ayyam)
** 75 killed in violence in Iraq, Al-Maliki renews his claim to battle "terrorism" (Al-Ayyam)
** Egypt: referendum on Constitution over and approval is certain (Al-Ayyam)
|Front Page Photos |
Al- Quds:Nablus – two citizens stand near the entrance of the mosque in Dir Estya, after settlers tried to burn it and sprayed racist slogans.
Al-Ayyam:salfit – two citizens stand near the entrance of the mosque in Dir Estya, after settlers tried to burn it and sprayed racist slogans. 2) Cairo – Egyptian soldier protecting a ballot box during counting the votes.
Al Hayat Al Jadida:Citizens checking the mosque entrance in Dir Estya, 2) demonstration in Ramallah against Kerry’s’ proposals.
|Voice of Palestine News |
Jerusalem: AnIsraeli Jerusalem court agreed to the release of PLC member and minister Mohammed Totah and Khaled Abu Arafah on condition that they are banned from Jerusalem, something the two men rejected. The men said they would not accept to be exiled from their homes into the West Bank. Their release is still expected today.
In other news, an organization which calls itself ‘The Temple” has called on its supporters to break into the Aqsa Mosque for a Jewish occasion commemorated today, which coincides with the start of the Hebrew year. Dozens of settlers broke into the Aqsa yesterday under Yehuda Glick, who performed religious rituals inside the grounds.
Yesterday, Israeli municipality and police teams also handed new demolition orders to residents of Silwan and in other neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
Gaza Strip: Right now, there is a cautious calm in Gaza after a series of Israeli air raids this morning; five people were injured – four children and one woman. The first F-16 strike hit an empty area near Gaza City, but which damaged nearby houses, blowing out windows. Another strike hit the Maqusa region near Gaza City, where the five people were injured by glass shards. One airstrike hit a building named ‘the destroyed ship” northwest of Gaza City, causing serious damages to it and neighboring homes. Others hit Beit Layhia and Nusseirat camp. Israeli warships also shot at Palestinian fishermen, forcing them out of the water. Israel says the attacks were in response to rockets fired from Gaza on Israeli areas in the south.
|Voice of Palestine Interviews|
**Baha Froukh, coordinator for the popular resistance committees in Saeer, Hebron, on Israeli evacuation orders for the hamlet of Khirbet Al Nakheel
Q:How many families were given these demolition orders?
Yesterday around nine families were given the orders from Khirbet Al Nakheel, which is a small village on the outskirts of Saeer. They were given until February 12 to evacuate their homes ahead of their demolition and eventually to displace them from their land and area of residence. Israeli authorities also ordered the demolition of water wells and tents for their sheep
Q: What is Israel’s main goal for evicting the villagers?
This is not the first time Israeli authorities have confiscated land and evicted people from this area. In neighboring areas, thousands of dunams of land have been confiscated in order to expand settlements in the area.
Q: What can be done?
Mostly, we need popular resistance to help the people remain steadfast on their land and we need official parties to back these activities and the people.
**Adnan Abu Hasna, UNRWA spokesperson in Gaza, on denying news about Israel calling on its international employees to leave Gaza
Q: So, UNRWA denies that Israel asked your employees to leave the Gaza Strip?
Yes, no one has asked that our international employees leave Gaza, Israel or otherwise. On the contrary, UNRWA commissioner Filiopo Grandi came yesterday to Gaza to hold meetings, and he is the security official for UNRWA’s international staff in Gaza and the West Bank and he has heard nothing of the sort.
Q: During previous escalations in the Gaza Strip, did UNRWA’s international staff leave?
This does not happen at all. On the contrary, during Operation Cast Lead and other operations, UNRWA staff remained, and even came down to Gaza during these times. They have also worked during times of emergency – we are not a charitable organization working out of Switzerland– we work out of crisis and disasters areas. The only time there is an evacuation is when there is grave and impending danger and orders are given from the UN chief, Ban Ki Moon, like what happened in Iraq. But here, this has not happened. It is business as usual.
Q: Does Israel usually tell UNRWA when it is about to wage a military operation in Gaza to warn them?
No, Israel does not inform us of any of its attacks or tells us to prepare ourselves. On the contrary, UNRWA facilities were hit during Cast Lead and around 10 employees and 11 UNRWA students were killed. If we knew, nothing of this would have happened.
Q: What do you think about this recent escalation in Gaza?
In general, there is a tense atmosphere in Gaza, poverty and unemployment – the negative energy in Gaza is tremendous and Gaza cannot ensure more tension. But we are in here to offer our services. People largely depend on us in Gaza and we will continue our jobs.
** Imad Abu Sunbul, spokesperson for the refugee camps in the West Bank, on the UNRWA employee strike and possible solutions
Q: Do you think there is any hope for a breakthrough with the initiative put forth by the Cabinet?
First, let me thank Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for his intervention this last week. he held at least five or six meetings with UNRWA to solve this crisis. Yesterday, the PM offered us a seven-point document – some were accepted and welcomed by the refugees and the initiative as a whole was welcomed as a means of resolving the problem.
Q: Does the letter meet the demands of UNRWA employees?
There are differences in opinions; but mainly heads of committees considered the document as a good one that can be built on. So, now we are waiting for a response from the union so that we can resolve this crisis and end the strike – its continuation will send us into an endless tailspin which we don’t want.
**PLO Executive Committee member Saleh Rafat, on political developments and the leadership’s efforts to help Yarmouk camp
Q: The statements coming from PLO leaders about the negotiations – what do these indicate to?
The negotiations have reached a dead end because of Israel’s policies and measures, and this government that wants to consolidate the occupation, take Jerusalem and control the Jordan Valley and most of the West Bank. They want the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which by the way extends all the way to Bet El according to Netanyahu. This government also refuses to accept the ’67 borders or the right of return of refugees. They even don’t agree with Kerry’s proposals, which cater to Israel’s interests in the first place.
Q: What exactly are in Kerry’s proposals that the Palestinians reject?
The refugee issue for example, which does not allow any right of return. Rather he gives four other options that do not meet the right of return criteria. Jerusalem is another issue – there is no recognition of occupied east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. The Jordan Valley is another point of contention—Kerry proposes that Israel remain there for 10 years after which “Palestinian performance will be evaluated” before any change to this status is made. This means this could go on for another 50 years. Settlements are another issue. So, where exactly will we have this state, without Jerusalem, without the Jordan Valley, etc.
Q: The PLO political committee was called on to prepare for joining UN agencies. Is this an indication that there might be action at another level instead of negotiations?
The political committee is still devising its recommendations, which include Palestine joining international and UN charters and agencies. We also plan to turn to UN bodies to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinians, first and foremost settlements. When the political committee completes its recommendations it will present them to the PLO executive committee for discussion. Then we will decide when to make this move.
Q: What about the efforts to get in aid to Yarmouk camp?
Unfortunately, all sides of the conflict in Syria – both the opposition and the regime and even some Palestinian organizations that work with the regime – all came together in Yarmouk. From the beginning, our position is that we are not part of the conflict and we hoped that the conflict would end quickly. We called on all Palestinian groups to stay out of it. Now we are holding contacts with Syrian parties and opposition forces to evacuate Yarmouk from all armed elements so that the siege would be lifted and international aid can enter. We are closely following up with this issue.
Israel includes Beit El near Ramallah to the larger settlements and keeps it under its control
Israeli army radio reported today that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested to add a fourth settlement block which will remain under Israeli control in a final resolution, the Beit El settlement block West of Ramallah. This request came from Netanyahu in the negotiations under the auspices of the United States Foreign Minister, John Kerry, with this request, the Beit El settlement block will join the blocks of Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel and Gush Etzion, which Israel insists on remaining under Israeli control in the final solution. The radio said that the Palestinian side rejected this request. (http://qudsnet.com/news/View/263000/)
Diplomatic sources: Kerry is waiting for answers from Netanyahu and Abbas on the framework agreement
Diplomatic sources said that US Secretary of State is waiting for clear answers from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, about his proposals to reach an agreement on a political framework conducive to progress in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. According to Israel Hayoum newspaper, the sources said that Kerry is waiting for answers from Netanyahu and Abbas on two major issues, security arrangements on the border of the Jordan Valley and on the Jewish State. (http://mail.pnn.ps/index.php/israel/78626-)
Settlers storm Al-Aqsa; and worshippers arrested
Extremist settlers stormed Al Aqsa Mosque yards today morning from Bab Al-Magharebah, amid tight protection of the special units of Israeli police, which arrested worshippers. The came at the invitation of Jewish groups known as the alleged Temple organizations, to celebrate Tu said that “about 20 settlers stormed the mosque since the morning in two batches, and toured throughout its open space spaces.” (http://safa.ps/details/news/120549/)
Not to budge on Jerusalem
by Daoud Kuttab
How similar is today to yesteryear?
When US president Bill Clinton failed to move Palestine Liberation Organisation chairman Yasser Arafat on the issue of Jerusalem at the 2000 Camp David talks, he decided to turn to America’s Arab allies.
He tried and failed.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, unable to change Mahmoud Abbas’ position, is trying to do the same. He will also fail.
The contentious issues appear to concern Jerusalem and convincing Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
Kerry began his recent Arab trip with quick visits to Amman and Riyadh, on January 5, before the meeting in Paris, on January 12, with the Arab Peace Initiative follow-up committee.
Shortly after Kerry’s visit, on January 8, Amman was host to a quick visit by the Palestinian president.
He made a statement to the effect that Palestinians will not accept any deal short of having East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine. Abbas also reiterated the Palestinian refusal of any recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
This consistent position was interpreted by Israelis as a rejection of the Kerry initiative.
Israeli officials claimed that Abbas’ statements show that Palestinians are not ready to make the tough decisions needed for peace.
Perhaps the clearest sign of Abbas’ thinking regarding Kerry’s ability to change Arab opinion were his subsequent statements in Ramallah.
Speaking to a group of representatives from East Jerusalem, Abbas said, referring to the US diplomat: “He will hear from the Arab ministers that without Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, there will be no agreement.”
Normally the Arab League is the last address the Palestinian leader consults before making difficult decisions.
The follow-up committee consists of foreign ministers from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the secretary of the Arab League. It usually endorses the position of the Ramallah-based leadership, providing Abbas with the necessary Arab umbrella for difficult decisions.
Abbas’ most recent meeting with the committee was last July, prior to agreeing to resume the current nine-month peace talks with Israel.
Pushed into a corner during the Camp David talks in the fall of 2000, Arafat had asked for a chance to speak to Arab leaders. The Palestinian leader posed a simple question to each, one by one: whether they agree to surrender sovereignty over East Jerusalem and, specifically, Al Aqsa Mosque. Arafat knew their answers before he asked the question.
Leaks coming out of the ongoing marathon talks between Kerry and Abbas focus on two obstacles: Israel’s insistence that Palestinians recognise Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and the fact that the current round of talks aimed at reaching a framework does not include any mention of Jerusalem.
The Palestinians’ rejection of both these conditions, as evident in Abbas’ statement, has left some to conclude that Kerry’s mission is futile.
While the April 2014 deadline for the talks to conclude is fast approaching, Kerry will certainly continue pushing for a framework agreement that would allow for an extension of the negotiations.
The Palestinians, however, are determined to go to the International Court of Justice and other international agencies to address the decades old illegal Israeli occupation.
When it comes to the sensitive issue of Jerusalem and recognising Israel as a Jewish state, Arab leaders have proved, over and over, that they will not budge under American pressure, and Abbas knows this well.(http://jordantimes.com/not-to-budge-on-jerusalem)
A question for the Obama administration
By George Hishmeh | Special to Gulf News
This is my $64,000 question to the Barack Obama administration, echoing yesteryear’s popular television programme, where, if you correctly answer the first question, you get your first dollar and then you go up to the second question, which is worth double the preceding prize, and so on and so forth until you earn your $64,000 (Dh235,392).
I wonder why the Obama administration has so far failed to twist Israel’s arms for failing to reach a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians since 1967. In his just-published memoir, Robert Gates, the former secretary of defence in the Obama administration, revealed that he had once a heated discussion with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the $60 billion US arms sale to Saudi Arabia. Netanyahu asked Gates: “How about a counterbalancing investment in our military? How do we compensate on the Israeli side?” Gates replied: “Exasperated, I shot back that no US administration has done more, in concrete ways, for Israel’s strategic defence than Obama’s.” He went on: “I used the line that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Netanyahu, Gates reported, “Replied acidly — ‘In the Middle East, the enemy of my enemy is my frenemy” (a corruption of ‘friend and enemy’).
According to Bloomberg News, Gates also had some criticism for Israel in his book Duty. He wrote: “I believe Israel’s strategic situation is worsening, its own actions contributing to its isolation.”
Well and good. Gates hit the nail on the head. Secretary of State John Kerry will be facing serious problems in his upcoming talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders over the so-called “framework” agreement.
As already indicated publicly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cannot possibly accept the Israeli demand that Israel should be recognised by the Palestinians as a Jewish state. What seems obnoxious about this position is the elementary view that since one-fifth, if not more, of Israel’s population is Arab, Muslims and Christians, such a recognition would be most unlikely. Moreover, some 200,000 Palestinians in neighbouring Arab countries are said to be planning to return and live in their usurped homeland, now Israel — a point that will obviously tip their ratio in the country.
The other serious obstacle is the Israeli demand that its troops have a presence in the Jordan Valley that will be serving as the natural border between the West Bank, that is the state of Palestine, and the Kingdom of Jordan. What is more irrational here is that Israel already has a peace treaty with Jordan, so why should Israel need any protection for cross-border penetration?
Although there was no public mention of the fate of occupied Jerusalem in the “framework” draft, there is no doubt that the Palestinians will not forgo their right to maintain a serious presence in occupied Jerusalem, certainly occupied East Jerusalem, where many Christian and Muslim institutions have lived for centuries and hopefully will serve as the capital of the state of Palestine.
But what has been most unfortunate for the Obama administration is the dispatching, last week, of Vice-President Joe Biden to participate in the funeral of Ariel Sharon — the Israeli military leader and former prime minister, who is scorned worldwide even by some Israelis since his name, to quote the Washington Post, is “more curse than blessing”. Former president Ronald Reagan had described Sharon in his diary as “the bad guy who seemingly looks forward to war”.
Yousuf Munayyer, executive director of the Washington-based Jerusalem Fund, wrote: “Sharon’s wanton disregard for civilian life was most pronounced in 1982 during the massacres at the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla in (Beirut) Lebanon. Israel, which had invaded and occupied southern Lebanon at the time, effectively controlled the area. In the camps, Israeli-allied Lebanese Phalangists entered and committed large-scale killings of Palestinian civilians, while Israeli forces guarded the perimeter. Sharon, who was then the minister of defence, was once again at the centre of a massacre of Palestinians.”
Thereafter, an Israeli commission led by the president of the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Israeli forces were indirectly responsible for the massacre and that Sharon himself bore responsibility. The commission recommended that Sharon should be removed from office and to never again hold a ministerial position. But he did.
Well, the consequential question for the Obama administration is: Why isn’t it time to start twisting Israel’s arms so that it can live peacefully in the region instead of continuing its usurpation of Palestinian land? Or else, gone are the $3 billion in annual US assistance and Palestinians ought to seriously consider seeking help from the United Nations and other international organisations.(http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/a-question-for-the-obama-administration-1.1277946)
The Palestinians’ second Nakba in Yarmouk camp
Al Quds Al Arabi editorial
The repeated and daily calls and pleas, both locally and internationally to lift the siege off of the Yarmouk camp have fallen on deaf ears. Around 20,000 people, mostly civilian Palestinian refugees, continue to suffer from an airtight siege which has deprived them of food, water, electricity, fuel and medical supplies in what seems to be collective punishment meted out by the Syrian regime on unarmed civilians whose only fault is that they did not confront the Syrian revolutionary forces that kicked the regime forces out of the camp.
The horrifying humanitarian situation in the camp has led – according to news coming out – to the death of around 50 Palestinians from starvation. If the siege continues and no food and medical assistance is allowed soon, it is not unlikely that this number will double within the next few days. After 186 days of siege sicknesses and horrifying incidents have begun to surface – such as the case of a Palestinian family which was poisoned after eating cat meat. The tragedy goes even further than that; the lack of basic necessities and the absence of electricity, fuel, medicine and medical staff after the last physician in the camp was killed at the hands of the regime, has become a death threat to many others because of spread sicknesses or even minor injuries.
In spite of the policy of neutrality that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has adopted, in addition to the many statements by Palestinian delegations exonerating the Syrian regime from any responsibility for the siege, shelling and sniper attacks on the camp and its residents, still this was not enough to facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance two days ago. The trucks had to turn back after coming under heavy gunfire coming from areas under the control of government forces and the Iraqi “Abu Fadel Abbas Brigades.”
Still, during a press conference in Damascus, Palestinian labor minister Ahmad Majdalani held responsible, “armed groups that exercise systematic terror and which hijacked the camp in a war crime against humanity.”
Far from these two narratives is the narrative of UN representatives, which is closest to the truth. They put responsibility on the regime, which they said told the convoy to pass through the southern entrance, which is a dangerous and winding road, instead of the other, safer route, thus hindering access for the aid.
The stories are conflicting and accusations and condemnations are rife, all while the civilian suffering escalates and the entire situation heads towards an unthinkable humanitarian catastrophe. Assumedly, the party able to put pressure to life the siege if it wants to is Russia, the Syrian regime’s ally, just as it imposed on the regime the disposal of its chemical weapons.
At the time, Moscow felt that the international community would not leave the crime of using chemical weapons against civilians alone without punishment. Hence, it took action immediately and came to an agreement with the US administration that led to the disposal of chemical weapons and the prevention of any military intervention against the regime. This solution satisfied the United States, Russia and the Syrian regime and most importantly, it was in Israel’s interests, which was rid of weapons that Syria had presumably imported and manufactured to use against it.
But as for the siege on Yarmouk camp, there does not seem to be any real international pressure to take action, as long as Israel has no invested interest in it.
The Palestinians in Yarmouk used to number around 200,000 people. Today, they are not more than 20,000 and are facing a new Nakba and another attempt to uproot them. Both the international community and the Syrian regime must be held responsible. (http://www.alquds.co.uk/?p=123733)
Ya’alon is the epitome of arrogance
Al Quds Editorial
These days, the spotlight is on Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon because of his insulting and unprecedented comments made to US Secretary John Kerry, his scathing attack on President Abu Mazen, and his political positions that run contradictory to the minimum requirements for achieving peace based on international and agreed on understandings.
Kerry is putting all his efforts into fulfilling Israel’s demands and is presenting proposals that coincide with what Israel wants, whether in regards to Jerusalem, settlements, the Jordan Valley or the right of return. And Kerry, who is exerting continuous efforts to achieve security and peace in the Washington and Israel way, still does not meet Ya’alon’s fancy. He waged a harsh and disgraceful personal war on Kerry that is offensive, not only to the Secretary himself, but to his country, the US, which strongly supports Israel politically, economically and militarily and in any other possible way. Nonetheless, Ya’alon chose not to practice self-discipline, ranting about Kerry and his political role, running his mouth without taking anything into consideration.
The White House was quick to criticize his statements, which the State Department described as ‘offensive’, thus prompting this arrogant minister to offer an official apology to Kerry. However, the crisis will not end with an apology because such criticisms are a reflection of a political position.
From the perspective of Abu Mazen, Ya’alon should offer two, not one, apology. The first should be to the President himself because of his attack on him, while the second should be for his insolence in expressing his political stances, which calls for retaining all of the West Bank and claims that any withdrawal would expose Israel to Palestinian rockets.
The negotiations have almost, if they have not already, reached a dead end because of the positions of Ya’alon and the likes in the Israeli government. His statements expressed the epitome of arrogance and insolence, rubbing salt into the crisis of the negotiations and the dark future which the region awaits if Ya’alon’s logic prevails. (http://www.alquds.com/news/article/view/id/483559)
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