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Daily summary- Tuesday, February 18, 2014
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President meets with Kerry tomorrow and Lapid warns: the world is running out of patience, consequences of boycott would be disastrous;
A senior Palestinian official told AFP yesterday that President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry tomorrow in Paris to discuss peace negotiations with Israel.Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned of indicators that the world and the United States began to withdraw support for Israel and his patience is running out, and that boycott will bring disastrous consequences, while Israeli Industry Minister Naftali Bennett renewed his rejection of negotiations with the Palestinians and claimed that Israel is not occupying the West Bank "because you cannot occupy your land?"In details, the official, who preferred not to be named, told AFP that the President will travel to Paris to meet with Kerry tomorrow, adding that the meeting will be "to discuss developments in the negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides", and that it came "at the request of Kerry."The official noted that “the Palestinian positions are well-known and we confirmed these positions during all meetings with Kerry and his aides “, adding that "President Abbas has sent a letter two weeks ago to US President Barack Obama and his Foreign Minister Kerry clarifying all Palestinian positions on solution for all final status issues," but he stressed that "the Palestinian side doesn't know what new ideasKerry might raise during this meeting."In response to a question, the official said: "we don't know if the framework agreement is ready for submission to us but we stress once again that our position is clear, andwhat we accept and what we reject are known,most importantly refusing to recognize the Jewishness of Israel."(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)

Netanyahu links achieving peace with the Jewish state and rejects deployment of NATO forces
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday his rejection of the deployment of NATO force in the territory of a future Palestinian State, which was introduced by President Abbas.Israeli Radio quoted Netanyahu as saying that "Israel would not compromise on its security", in reference to the possible deployment of NATO force in the territory of the Palestinian State.The Prime Minister said before officials leading American Jewish organizations meeting in Jerusalem that if a peace agreement is reached without guaranteeing the security of Israel “the agreement would collapse as well as the Palestinian Authority."Netanyahu said that without a Palestinian recognition of the Jewish State Israel, there will be no real peace, adding: "the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish State of Israel, while they expect from Israel to recognize the State of the Palestinian people."Meanwhile, Netanyahu called to "boycott all those who advocate a boycott of Israel, as a new kind of anti-Semitism," Israeli Army Radio quoted.(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)

Peres affirms seriousness of Abu Mazen in reaching peace
Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomed yesterday statements by President Abbas on the Palestinian refugee issue, saying they show his seriousness in peace. Peres Office quoted him as saying at the beginning of his meeting with Peruvian counterpart Ollanta Humala "I was happy to hear him" in reference to the remarks made by the President during a meeting with 250 students in the presidential headquarters in Ramallah.(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)

US Ambassador: framework agreement should be reached before the end of the nine months
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said a framework agreement should be reached before the end of the period of nine months, adding that there are points in the agreement that may not be agreed to by the parties.Shapiro said in an interview with Yediot Ahrobot that he believed a draft framework agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would be only ink on paper, "as claimed by detractors of the importance of the US-led process.” Shapiro added, "I think that the framework agreement will have realistic and significant content, this does not mean that each party would agree to every word in the document, where there will be many topics to be addressed in the negotiations on a final agreement."(http://qudsnet.com/news/View/266237/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B5%D9%84-%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%82-%D8%A7%D8%B7%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B3%D8%B9%D8%A9/)
Shapiro said that his country rejects any opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian State, adding in a decisive tone "we will resist and oppose any opposition to the plan to create an independent State for the Palestinians,security for Israel, resolve the refugee issue and a mutual recognition between the two countries."(Al-Ayyam)

Knesset postponed discussion on "Al-Aqsa sovereignty"
Hebrew daily Maariv reported yesterday that the Knesset session scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the Israeli sovereignty over Al Aqsa Mosque has been postponed until further notice.According to Maariv website speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein called on the Israeli Government to exercise sovereignty over Jerusalem and the “Temple Mount”, and stop discrimination against people regardless of religion, ethnicity and nationality in accordance with the basic laws of Israel.Israel's voice in Arabic said the Knesset decided to cancel the discussion, on the background of Jordanian Governmentand international bodies’ dissatisfaction of the issue.(http://www.alquds.com/news/article/view/id/489417)

Bennett: Arab States are collapsing, there’s no need for a withdraw from the West Bank
Israeli Industry Minister Naftali Bennett renewed his rejection of negotiations with the Palestinians, saying that under the Arab "State collapse" there is no need for any Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.Bennett said in a speech at a Conference of American Jewish organizations in Jerusalem: " Arab states surrounding Israel are in a state of collapse and there is no need for withdrawal and to experiment what will happen if a Palestinian State is established a 10-minute journey from Jerusalem.”Bennett added that the Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, which he named "Judea and Samaria", would lead to results similar to the results of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.Bennett also said: "Israel does not occupy Judea and Samaria, because you cannot occupy your land, anyone who opens the Torah will find out that Beit El and Hebron belong to us for thousands of years." Bennett stressed that "Jews in the West Bank will not move to any other location, and Arabs also won't move."(Al-Ayyam)

Biggest German bank boycotts "Hapoalim" for its investment in settlement
Largest bank in Germany, "Dechy Bank" published recently a new investment option under entitling it as "certificate of moral basket" for investors who want to invest their money in companies that are not morally problematic, excluding 16 companies around the world, including Israeli Bank “Hapoalim” because of its investment in settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.(Al-Ayyam)
An Israeli official said this is a very serious step for Dechy’s reputation and the impact on Israel in the future.(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
In response to the bank’s boycott decision leader of Meretz Party in Israel "Zahava Galo’n" said that the Israeli Government headed by Netanyahu continue' to bury its head in the sand amid growing boycott actions by banks and European institutions. Galo’n called on Netanyahu to freeze settlement and stay away from extreme right wing positions, and that he should be aware that he is not alone in Israel, and that there is an entire people that will be affected by the boycott. (http://pnn.ps/index.php/israel/81668-%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B7%D8%B9%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%83%D8%A8%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%86%D9%88%D9%83-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%86%D9%83-%D9%87%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%BA%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A4%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%88-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%87-%D9%86%D8%AD%D9%88-%D8%B9%D8%B2%D9%84-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D9%84)

Al-Hamdallah: implementing Kerry’s economic initiative will contribute to the reduction of unemployment
Prime Minister Ramy Al-Hamdallah said that "implementing Kerry's economic initiative, which coincides with the political track, will lead to hiring many graduates with experience, and contribute to reducing unemployment."This came during a meeting of the Prime Minister in Ramallah yesterday with US Senators Tim Kane and Angus King, and their delegation. Al-Hamdallah briefed them on the latest developments of the political process at the levels of negotiations and reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. Al-Hamdallah discussed during the meeting the importance of investing in Area “c”, as it will reduce the Government's budget deficit, as well as supporting the tourism sector, and providing employment opportunities for graduates, in addition to confirming the need to end the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)

Catastrophic in Acre… 5 citizens killed in a building collapse
Five citizens were killed and 16 others wounded, in the collapse of a building in the old city of Acre after two gas canister exploded at the entrance to the building. The blast occurred at 2 a.m. yesterday and led to the collapse of a three floors building owned by Palestinian citizens of Israel families.Mourning in solidarity with the bereaved families was announced in the city of Acre, in addition to a general strike in schools and businesses.(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)

Occupation arrested three boys from Beit Ummar
Israeli forces arrested yesterday evening, three boys near the Karmi Tzur settlement south of Beit Ummar, and transferred them to "Kfar Etzion" detention center.According to Mohammed Ayad Awadspokesman of Popular Committee to resist the wall and settlement in Beit Ummar, the boys are: Nasim Taha Muhammad Abu Maria (16 years old), Muhammad Yusuf Khdair Awad(17 years old) and Muhammad Zuhair Mahmoud Al-Alami (16 years old), and that they were arrested during their work on land adjacent to the Jewish settlement of Karmi Tzur”. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=674353)

Occupation arrest a youth activists in Nablus, PA security forces raid houses of Fateh activists
Israeli occupation forces arrested earlier today a youth activist in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, in parallel with raid carried by Palestinian security forces in homes of Fatah activists.Local sources to “Safa” that the Israeli occupation forces arrested youth activist Ramzi Abu Saada during a raidto his house in Ras Al-Ain neighborhood South of Nablus and took him to an unknown destination.In parallel with an Israeli raid, Palestinian security forces raided a number of houses belonging to activists of Fatah, for possession of weapons and shooting during a reception of released prisoners.(http://safa.ps/details/news/122909/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%84-%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%B7%D8%A7-%D8%B4%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%8B-%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%B3.html)

Occupation releases a Hamas leader and the Pa arrest another
PA security forces arrested Hamas leader Nader Sawafta in Tubas, hours after Israeli occupation authorities release leader of the movement Awadallah Jamil Eshtayyeh from Nablus. Sawafta’s wife said in a press statement: "that her husband was called for "the preventive security”, and he went and was not released tonight, meaning he was arrested."(http://paltimes.net/details/news/59342/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%8A%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%AC-%D8%B9%D9%86-%D9%82%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B3-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%84-%D8%A2%D8%AE%D8%B1.html)

Israeli bulldozers demolish residential and commercial facilities in Al-Ezareyyeh
Israeli bulldozers demolished yesterday five residential facilities and a shop selling vegetables and a carwash place in the town of Al- Ezareyyeh, east of occupied Jerusalem, in preparation for the construction of the wall there. Local sources of youth movements in the town said that the occupation authorities seek to deport “Arab Al-Jahalin” from the area of the wall separating the villages of Abu Dis,Sawahra Al-Sharqeyeh and Al-Ezareyyeh from southern areas. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=674287)

Occupation arrested six citizens in Ramallah
Occupation forces arrested last night, six Palestinians from Nabi Saleh village and Beit Rima, north of Ramallah.According to local sources, the occupation forces stormed the village and arrested popular resistance spokesman Mohammed Attallah Al-Tamimi (25 years old), Rami Hussain Al-Tamimi (36 years old), Jihad Mohammed Rushdi Al-Tamimi (23yearold), Mahmoud Wajih Muhammad Al-Tamimi (19 years old) and Bassel Abdullah Saleh Al-Tamimi (16 years old), after searching their homes. The forces also confiscated a set of murals of the press office "Tamimi Press", used by the office for work exhibits to visitors of the village to show occupation violations in the village.The sources added that the occupation raided Beit Rima and arrested Fares Barghouti in his fifties.

Young Palestinians attack Abbas for meeting Israeli students
A number of Palestinian youth pages harshly attacked President Mahmoud Abbason social networking sites such as Facebook, for meeting Israeli students at the headquarters in Ramallah. The young Palestinians expressed their rejection of this meeting while the Palestinian President does not devote time to meet young Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, amid their suffering of several crises, notably unemployment. Talented young Palestinian, member of the Microsoft compilers team, Rami Abu Galala, blamed Abu Mazen, as he suffered "torture" in PA prisons because opposes the PA policy. (http://qudsnet.com/news/View/266216/%D8%B4%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%B3%D9%88-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%88-%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B2%D9%86-%D9%84%D9%85%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%87-%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A5%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%8A%D9%86/)

Headlines
** Minister of health: 3 centers for medical transfers in districts to fight favoritism (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
** Qaraqe': we provided the President with names of 80 patient prisoners (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
** Hacker entersIsrael’s main site and controls thousands of e-mail addresses (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
** First private security company in Gaza (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
** Ambassador Othman: Egypt is not in a clash with Hamas, conditions are not ripe for national reconciliation (Al-Ayyam)
** Dura: funeral for martyr Muhammad Shahin Al-Darabe’ remains (Al-Quds)

Front Page Photos
Al- Quds:1) Dura – Funeral of Al-Darabe’ remains, 2) Tayeb Abdulrahim
Al-Ayyam: Bedouin citizen sets amid the remains of demolished facilities in Kherbet Yerza east of Tubas yesterday.
Al Hayat Al Jadida:.1) Demolished facilities in Kherbet Yerza yesterday, 2) Rescue men during searches in the collapsed building in Acre.
Voice of Palestine News

Jerusalem: In tandem with the many house demolitions yesterday in Ezzariyeh, Israeli municipality monitoring teams continued to raid neighborhoods in Jerusalem and photograph dozens of homes, apparently ahead of their demolitions. Over the past two weeks, these teams have photographed over 30 homes, half of them in Silwan.
Around 50 extremist Jews also broke into the Aqsa Mosque yesterday along with a number of rabbis. Also the Knesset Speaker was forced to cancel the session called on by Moshe Feglein to discuss full Israeli sovereignty over the Aqsa Mosque and cancel the Jordanian guardianship. According to Waqf sources, Israel came under heavy Jordanian pressure along with international intervention including from the US.
Over 50 homes have been out of water in the Old City after Israeli water authorities removed the water meters from these homes, claiming they have not paid their bills.

Voice of Palestine Interviews
**Abdel Nasser Masar, legal advisor for holy sites in Jerusalem, from Jordan
**What are the Jordanian pressures put on the Israeli government to cancel the Knesset session on sovereignty over the Aqsa Mosque?
Everyone knows that the religious duties in Jerusalem are the responsibility of Jordan, which is the caretaker of the holy sites in the city. This is also part of the guardianship agreement between President Abbas and King Abdullah. Jordan has a religious and historical role in Jerusalem. there is also the Wadi Ara agreement between Israel and Jordan; Article 9 of the agreement stipulates clearly that Jordan has sponsorship over these sites.
Now we hear there is a demand for this Jordanian guardianship to be withdrawn and transferred to Israel. Of course, diplomatic moves were made and contacts with all relevant parties – Arab MKs as well – were contacted to put pressure for the cancellation of this demand and for the session to be cancelled. Obviously we succeeded.
Q: True, this effort was a success, but what about what is happening on the ground in the Aqsa Mosque – the daily raids by extremist Jews, in particular. Don’t you think this is the start of their imposing a new reality in terms of dividing the Aqsa? Are there efforts to foil this?
We follow up these settler break-ins every day and all attempts to Judaize the city. We continue to demand the Israeli government not to allow extremists into the Aqsa grounds. We are also calling on it to halt the ‘military tourism’ that is taking place in the compound. There are also many security cameras inside the grounds and we are demanding that they are removed because they are harmful to the residents who live around the Aqsa. We are also demanding that the assaults are halted on the Muslims worshippers, especially on Fridays because this is not in Israel’s favor or in the favor of peace.
**Majdi Khalidi, presidential diplomatic advisor, on political developments
Q: We are expecting a framework agreement to be proposed by US secretary of state John Kerry soon. When do you think this might be officially put forth?
American efforts are still ongoing and the Palestinians are in constant contact with the Americans. But the process may take some time since the period for negotiations ends on April 30. So this means there is still time during this month and next month for talks to continue. The Palestinians are concerned with preserving international law and resolutions, their national rights and their red lines in any talks that may take place. Meetings will continue as far as I know.
Q: Will there be a meeting between Kerry and President Abbas in Paris?
It is too premature to talk about this. When a meeting is announced, then we can talk about it.
Q: But are there any contacts with the Americans in terms what might be included in a framework agreement or is the leadership waiting for their official proposal?
Like I said, all of these issues are related to the negotiations process and those involved have the details.
Q: Israeli sources said Israeli PM Netanyahu promised that long-serving prisoners from inside the Green Line would not be discussed in the context of the fourth group of prisoners to be released. Do you have any knowledge of this?
We are fully aware of the agreement between ourselves and the Americans, which the Israelis agreed to, when the negotiations process first began. it was based on the release of four groups of prisoners, the last group at the end of March. Hence, the Palestinians are expecting that Israel will abide by this agreement; we did our part of the agreement.
**Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyad al Malki, on the Palestinian request to place Bateer on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites
Q: Have you made an urgent request to UNESCO on this subject?
We presented the application; it had not been presented before actively. Now we are calling for the decision to be put into action because Bateer as a heritage site, is in danger.  There are two ways to put in an application – the regular way, which takes UNESCO two years to discuss and decide on; or this way, which we have chosen, when the site is in danger. the procedures in this case are different and UNESCO committees will look into our request to decide if this site really is in danger and then act accordingly.
Q: So when is the voting going to happen?
When the World Heritage Site Committee meets, which is annually and usually at the end of the summer, they will decide. This will give us enough to time for UNESCO’s procedures to take place and for the committees to check into the application and see if Bateer is in danger.
Q: And if the vote comes in positive, will this protect the village from the construction of Israel’s separation wall there?
If this is the case, UNESCO will be responsible for protecting this site from any danger. No doubt, one of the dangers is the wall, so the agency will have to protect it. All other members in UNESCO also have a responsibility, both morally and legally, to protect it.
Q: Can this move be construed as the Palestinian leadership resorting to UN agencies and becoming members in them?
No, because we are already members of UNESCO and we never stopped being active in the agency, especially in terms of Palestine. this has nothing to do with our commitment not to go to the UN during negotiations.
More Headlines
Muheisen: we will expel any Fateh member who works for Dahlan
Member of Fatah Central Committee Jamal Muheisen said  that anyone who works for dismissed movement leader Mohammad Dahlan would be "expelled" after a detailed investigation. Muheisen said in an interview with “Al-Quds Al-Arabi” newspaper that members of Fatah in the Gaza Strip are working for Dahlan, including members of the Revolutionary Council and the Palestinian Legislative Council, but at the same time stressed that the Fatah bases in the Strip " are sound and that Dahlan did not succeed in penetrate it". (http://www.qudsn.ps/article/38081)
Study: situation of  Palestinians under the occupation is like the black slaves in America
A new unique Israeli study revealed that a modern theory of analysis of Israeli occupation confirms that the situation of the Palestinian population living under occupation is much like the black slaves in America in the 19th century, and that Israelis captured in the theory of settlement expansion are not ready to admit it, said Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz, which prepared the study, published in the supplement Haaretz newspaper. The study also stated that the conflict began with a military character, hiding a very important truth that the conflict turned the occupation into a form of control, control that is very close today to the conditions of slavery.  (http://qudsnet.com/news/View/266268)
Foreign companies withdraw from an Israeli tender to build ports
Haaretz Financial supplement published today  that three major European companies decided to withdraw from participating in a tender to build ports because of the boycott Israel, and fear of negative impact on the work of these companies. The Israeli Government published last year an international tender to build new ports in Haifa and Ashdod, and these companies issued their bids, but they backed down and withdrew their offers.  The newspaper said the major Dutch company "Boskalis" was the first to pull out its bid, followed by Italian and Belgian companies. (http://www.wattan.tv/ar/news/86568.html)
3 martyrs of starvation in Yarmouk and another one of torture
4 Palestinian refugees died yesterday including three who died of starvation in Yarmouk camp and one of torture in Syria. According to the working group for Palestinians in Syria, Mahmoud Mowe’d died as a result of torture in security prisons after his arrest at Al-Mezza area in Damascus 5 months ago. The group also announced the death of  3 refugees in Yarmouk as a result of the continued siege on the camp, despite the implementation of the agreement on the withdrawal of armed militants. The martyr are: Raghda Al-Masri (5 years old), old man Hamid Saleh (85 years old) and Mohamed Zaghmot, who was killed outside the camp where he was receiving treatment due to the deterioration of his health. (http://www.alquds.com/news/article/view/id/489465)
Haniyeh surprise Netanyahu with a confidential message
"Walla" site revealed today that Prime Minister of the Hamas Government in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haneya sent a confidential letter two weeks ago to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him not carry out a military action against the Gaza Strip as a result of tensions followed the firing of rockets on Israel.  The message was conveyed through Israeli Gershon Baskin, who intervened in the Shalit deal, Baskin confirmed to the site that he passed the message to Netanyahu's Office two weeks ago. According to “Wallah, the message included that Hamas does not contradict with Israel, demanding that a military operation against the Gaza Strip will not be carried out. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=674384)
Arab Press
Ideas that could help peace

Jordan Time Editorial

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has gone to great lengths to allay the Israelis’ fears about the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank.

Most recently, Abbas touched upon the controversial Palestine refugee issue and their right of return or compensation while talking to a group of Israeli students who visited his headquarters in Ramallah, assuring them that he has no plan whatsoever to flood Israel with refugees.

“Propaganda says Abu Mazen wants to flood Israel with five million refugees to destroy the state of Israel,” said Abbas to the 250 visiting graduate students.

“This could not be farther from the truth,” the Palestinian leader added.

“All we said is that we should put the refugee file on the table because it is an issue we must solve to end the conflict,” said Abbas, adding that all the Palestinians are asking for in this regard is a “just and agreed-upon solution”.

No one can expect Abbas to go any farther in assuaging Israel’s anxiety about its future relations with the Palestinians in case talks yield some tangible result.

The issue of Palestinian refugee is one of the most divisive for the two sides. If there could be an agreement on it, the prospect of arriving at a breakthrough in the peace talks would probably be enhanced.

Another emotionally charged, important, issue that remains without solution is Jerusalem, which Abbas proposes to keep undivided and open, with the East and West having, each, its own municipality and a greater municipality of Jerusalem coordinating the functions of the two sides.

This is another proposal that may have the potential of breaking the deadlock on the future status of Jerusalem.

The Israeli students who were brought to Ramallah to hear Abbas out by OneVoice organisation, an international grassroots movement trying to promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, received quite a bunch of olive branches from the Palestinian leadership.

Through them, all Israelis will hopefully hear the Palestinian messages of peace louder.(http://jordantimes.com/ideas-that-could-help-peace)

Jihadism rears its head in the West Bank

By Lihi Ben Shitrit, Mahmoud Jaraba

In a series of policy conferences held on Jan. 30, several heads of Israel’s security bodies identified global jihadism on the country’s borders as a new threat that might unseat the Iranian nuclear issue from the top of the country’s security threats.

Aviv Kochavi, head of Israeli military intelligence, said that global jihadism “may be the most disturbing phenomenon” with which Israel will have to grapple in the near future. In January, Israel revealed that it had arrested three Palestinians in December 2013, two of them residents of occupied Jerusalem, who were recruited by a group with ties to an Al-Qaeda branch in the Sinai. This came after Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in the town of Yatta, south of Hebron. Security sources say the three were part of a local Salafist-jihadist group that planned to carry out attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank.

These were not the first instances of independent jihadist militant initiatives in the West Bank. In the past two years, Israel had reported targeting militant cells bearing some connection to Al-Qaeda in the north of the West Bank and even within Israel.

The growing references by Israeli security spokespersons to global jihadism and some Al-Qaeda influence in the West Bank may serve Israel’s interests in its negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Such threats could lend credibility to Israel’s charge that the PA cannot provide security guarantees if Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank. Yet if current political and economic conditions in the West Bank continue, the Salafist-jihadist bogeyman may grow to pose a real challenge. This will happen less through infiltration of militants from Syria or the Sinai to the West Bank, or their establishment of effective and coordinated networks there, than through the spread of localized individual initiatives fueled by growing frustrations. Under the current political stagnation and fragmentation in the West Bank, disgruntled residents may try to vent frustrations through local militant organizing or by linking up with jihadist groups operating in neighboring countries.

The Yatta group attack was the first instance of these links. A Gaza- and Sinai-based jihadist organization called the Mujahedeen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen fi Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdas) claimed responsibility for the attack in the West Bank carried out by the local Yatta group. The statement, issued on Nov. 28, announced a new stage of jihad in the West Bank that would target both Israel and the PA, which it has accused of treason. The Mujahedeen Shura Council was established in June 2012 and is a coalition of several small jihadist organizations that have appeared since Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2007 and have spread to the Sinai. Participating organizations include the Army of Islam, the Army of the Umma, Jamaat al-Tawhid, Islamic Jihad and Ansar Allah.

The council’s public statements and online rhetoric claim that it is linked to Al-Qaeda and that its main goals are the liberation of Palestine and retaliation for Israeli attacks on Palestinians. It is considered to be the second largest jihadist group in the Sinai. The organization’s activities are normally confined to the northern Sinai and Gaza; they include rocket launching and operations along the Egyptian-Israeli border. In August and September 2012, the organization claimed to have launched 36 rockets aimed at Israeli towns in reaction to the cease-fire between Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel facilitated by Egypt in June 2012.

The announcement that the council seeks to expand to the West Bank does not mean it will be able to send operatives or establish extensive networks in that region, given that Israel and the PA largely maintain tight security control. However, as with the Yatta group, local West Bank sympathizers may link up with such organizations to carry out independent and isolated small scale attacks.

Several factors may have fueled individual support for localized jihadist initiatives in the West Bank. Among these factors was Hamas participating in national elections in 2006. With that decision, the movement lost members who objected to political participation and the democratic process as the main avenue for change. Interviews with Hamas leaders in the West Bank in 2008 revealed that significant segments of the movement, particularly within the Ezzeddine al-Qassam Brigades, were frustrated that Hamas participated in the PA institutions. This has led to the freezing of membership and even expulsion of several individuals.

Beyond competing in elections, Hamas also largely ceased military operations inside Israel and agreed in principle to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. This change in strategy angered a significant sector of Hamas’s leadership, which remained committed to violent resistance. Not surprisingly Mohammad Nirukh, one of those killed in the Yatta encounter, was a former member of the Qassam Brigades, suspended due to his objection to Hamas’ new democratic outlook – which he said was in violation of Shariah.

Fatah’s targeting of Hamas in the West Bank has also created an organizational vacuum for Palestinian opposition. After the Fatah- Hamas conflict of 2007 led to the suspension of the democratic process and Hamas’ takeover of Gaza, the PA adopted severe security measures to curtail Hamas’ political and military presence in the West Bank. The PA has outlawed most of the movement’s social, political and military activities within its territory. This absence of Hamas left its members in the West Bank to seek like-minded religious activists through other channels in order to continue their military organizing. After the Yatta episode, the PA arrested 20 Salafists for their alleged involvement in jihadist organizing; most arrested were former Hamas members.

Though the PA was relatively successful in dissolving Hamas’s military infrastructure in the West Bank, it failed to offer a compelling governance model or a political alternative. Social and economic conditions have deteriorated, a factor further contributing to an environment conducive to extremism.

In addition, the peace negotiations that Fatah has hailed as the proper strategic choice have not lent the PA further legitimacy among the Palestinian public. While a majority still supports negotiation, a December 2013 survey showed that 69 percent of Palestinians were pessimistic about its prospects. Moreover, Israel’s unbridled security operations in the West Bank, numerous arrests, land confiscation and its “Judaizing” projects in Jerusalem constitute yet another factor contributing to the rise in jihadist proclivities in the West Bank.

It is difficult to assess the extent to which new forms of violent opposition to the PA and to Israeli occupation in the West Bank, molded along new Salafist-jihadist lines, will become widespread. While the PA has faced governance failures before, its security apparatus, alongside the Israeli occupation, has meant that the kind of fragility and chaos present in places such as Syria and Sinai has not been replicated in the West Bank. However, the absence of viable democratic opposition channels in the West Bank, which could facilitate nonviolent dissent, is fueling a rise in frustrations and a turn to extremism among some individuals and local groups.(http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2014/Feb-18/247646-jihadism-rears-its-head-in-the-west-bank.ashx#axzz2temDX7U9)


Israel and Palestine: Shifting paradigms

By Massoud A Derhally

"I knew that people expected me to harbour anger towards whites," Nelson Mandela wrote in the Long Walk to Freedom, recalling the morning after his release from 27 years in jail. "But I had none. In prison, my anger towards whites decreased, but my hatred for the system grew. I wanted South Africa to see that I loved even my enemies while I hated the system that turned us against one another."

The late South African president chose the path of truth, justice and reconciliation. Just as blacks and whites drafted a new constitution for a united South Africa so too can Israelis and Palestinians if they choose to live as equal citizens of one state. Segregation would end, political prisoners released, Palestinian refugees in exile allowed to return, loss and dispossession addressed through compensation, a truth and reconciliation commission formed, democratic elections held. Talk of existentialism and boycotts will be irrelevant.  

Given these grim realities, and in the face of ethical and legal obligations, it's not by chance that countries and private enterprises are divesting from Israeli companies. PGGM, the largest Dutch pension fund, divested from Israel's five biggest banks last month because of their involvement in financing illegal settlements. Norway's sovereign fund followed suit, blacklisting two Israeli companies because of their involvement in settlement construction.

A transformational point

Israel doesn't like the parallels being drawn between it and the South African apartheid system. But equivalences exist. Israel has in place a formal system that undeniably privileges Israeli Jews while it legalises discrimination against Palestinians (Christian and Muslim) through dozens of checkpoints, segregated roads, arbitrary arrests, house demolitions, land confiscations, collective punishment and forced deportation. Israeli legislation bans Palestinians (and no other ethnic group) from living in Israel after marrying an Israeli citizen.

Just as South Africa was at a transformational point when apartheid ended and Mandela gained his freedom, Israel today in the face of a growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, is also at an important juncture. Nearly 66 years after Palestinians were forced out of their homes and 20 years after the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed, there is little one can point to that shows any measure of success from the so-called peace process.

Since the 1993 Oslo agreement, Israel has paid lip service to the two-state solution, using the cover of "peace talks" to pursue a policy of containment that manages the conflict while in tandem spearheading an expansionary settlement agenda. The settlement enterprise with its segregated roads, security checkpoints, eight-metre wall that is double the size of the Berlin wall (projected to reach 403 miles), contravenes the spirit of peace talks and coexistence. Settlements are an intrinsic and systematic tool of every Israeli government to establish a fait-accompli on the ground that accentuates the marginalisation of Palestinians.

In violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention the number of Israeli settlers across the West Bank has surged from 262,500 in 1993 to more than 520,000, with more than 200,000 in East Jerusalem (the intended capital of a Palestinian state), according to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Earlier this month, Israel announced further settlement construction in occupied Palestinian land, even as US Secretary of State John Kerry presses on with a controversial and flawed peace deal that would, according to the Israeli media, leave 80 percent of Israeli settlers in place and negate the rights of Palestinian refugees.

While Israel's economy has thrived in tandem with the growth of settlements, Palestinian lives have regressed. The Palestinian Authority which loses about $300 million a year in fiscal revenue retained by Israel is constantly cash-strapped, unable to pay the wages of civil servants, dependent on donations from international organisations and pledges from countries that seldom materialise or are partially met.

About 36 percent of the West Bank's 2.9 million Palestinians suffer from clinical depression, higher than rates in the US, the UK, China and Australia, according to Mohammad M. Herzallah, founder of the Palestinian Neuroscience Initiative and a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University.

Meanwhile, nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza remain under siege, in one of the most densely populated strips of land in the world with 50 percent youth unemployment.    

Given these grim realities, and in the face of ethical and legal obligations, it's not by chance that countries and private enterprises are divesting from Israeli companies. PGGM, the largest Dutch pension fund, divested from Israel's five biggest banks last month because of their involvement in financing illegal settlements. Norway's sovereign fund followed suit, blacklisting two Israeli companies because of their involvement in settlement construction. Danske Bank, Denmark's biggest bank, has also divested from Israel's largest lender Bank Hapoalim.

An outcry that forced actress Scarlett Johansson to give up her ambassadorial role with the Oxfam international charity over her involvement with Israel's Sodastream company, which operates in the occupied West Bank, cast light on the moral implications of doing business in illegally annexed land.

As in South Africa, more entities will come to refuse doing business with Israel, trade relations will deteriorate and as the rand was undermined, confidence in the shekel too will erode. Military occupations just aren't palatable.

The BDS movement "is approaching the turning point…in which the civic action from below will meet the official policies of governments and parliaments from above, and sanctions against Israel will become a fait accompli", Avraham Burg, a former speaker of Israel's Knesset assembly, wrote in Haaretz this month. Israel "will remain helpless when confronted by a civil rebellion that moves the discourse from who's stronger/tougher/more resilient to a discourse on rights and values", he added.

The two-state solution still viable?
The clock is ticking. Just as the apartheid regime in South Africa had a choice, so too does Israel. President F. W. de Klerk once thought the solution in South Africa would be separate states for blacks and whites. He realised however that was not tenable and took unilateral moves recognising the African National Congress, releasing Mandela from prison and held elections.

There was a time that a two-state solution may have worked. By virtue of Israel's doing, the realities on the ground make it increasingly unlikely. A secular democratic state, however, for both peoples is not a mirage. It requires sacrifice and compromise, foremost that both people forego their obsession with nationalism and its illusions, in exchange for a stake in one nation as equal citizens. That ultimately will be instrumental to true reconciliation among Israelis and Palestinians. Inherently, it is the fundamental reason why "peace talks" have been unfruitful.

It's time for a real paradigm shift in the way Israelis and Palestinians think about the conflict, their aspirations and a lasting solution. More than being an idealistic aspiration, a one-state solution for two people is the realistic choice.

The alternative won't just mean more violence, but also a far larger and different intifada or uprising than the previous two Israel suppressed militarily. It will extend beyond its geography and cast Israel into isolation, ostracising it as a pariah state so long as apartheid continues. No injustice can last forever.(http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/02/israel-palestine-shifting-parad-201421671916362633.html)
Opinions
New styles of Israeli measures
Al Quds Editorial
The Israeli expansionist aspirations are clear and well known and take on new forms with each day. The most recent has been the exposal of forgery and false purchases of Palestinian land in more than one location both inside settlements or in land around them. We also recently found out that the organization responsible for this, Amana, receives support and assistance from the military governor and other official and unofficial Israeli parties. One example was proof that a land sale was forged in the name of a deceased man; they then claimed they bought the land years ago. Another case was a land purchase in the name of a man who lives in Jordan where the papers were presented without any real evidence.
This is an extremely dangerous issue and must be followed up legally at the various local and international levels.
Other new forms of Israeli measures is the recent Israeli government decision to offer tax exemptions to a number of settlements, particularly in the Jordan Valley, which is raising a political controversy and which US secretary John Kerry’s peace proposals focus on. The goal of these exemptions is to encourage capital investors to invest in these settlements in order to increase and expand them. The fact that this particular move was made at this particular time is a new blow to American peace efforts and Kerry’s attempts at finding compromises between Israel’s demands to control the Jordan Valley in any peace deal and the PA’s complete rejection of this. It is like Israel is giving a big “no” to any new ideas.
Some for the other new forms have been the Israeli government’s legal advisor allowing the government not to label settlement price-tag groups as terrorist and sufficing with defining them as illegal. These groups are known to carry out terrorist activities against houses of worship – they have set fire to more than one mosque in the West Bank – and have also attacked a number of Palestinian homes, ruined crops and uprooted trees. And all of these acts were rudely marked with their signature. These actions alone are enough to call this group a terrorist organization, not to mention that they threaten the Palestinians with killing and expulsion wherever they may be, even inside the Green Line at times. A list of nine Israelis who are known to carry out attacks against the Palestinians and are wanted by the police are well known people with clear addresses. But so far, they have not been arrested.
It goes without saying that they use the term terrorist for any Palestinian who opposes the occupation. They mobilize their forces to arrest any Palestinian even if only on suspicion without proof that they did anything, in contrast to the price-tag organization, which acts brazenly and is still not branded as terrorist. (http://www.alquds.com/news/article/view/id/489440)


Three files on the list
By Maher Abu Tayr
Most likely the next few weeks will be full of developments at the internal level in terms of three files. Consequently, the compass will be clearly pointing in certain directions at more than one level after enduring this not-so-short period of ambiguity.
The files in question are the Palestinian file, the Syrian file and the internal Jordanian file, with all of its complexities and problems. Jordan has been able to manage its presence in these files in various ways in the past, but most likely the shift from “tabulation” to actual “payment” is something we will see in the next two months and the gray area will be overcome and replaced by more definite colors.
The position of Jordan towards the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis will not remain in the realm of generalities. No doubt, many details have become much clearer in terms of the failure of success of these talks and also their repercussions on Jordan.
This file in particular has always been ‘politically tabulated” for years, but now it looks as if things will finally be decided on very soon. We will  be able to read several indicators of both word and deed which will tell us where the compass will be pointing for this country.
After Geneva II stumbles –and it is expected to – means the Syrian file will also be handled differently. This is because several capitals view the failure of the conference as a reason and an excuse to move to the next level of dealing with the problem, both politically and on the ground.
This means that Jordan’s ability to at least partially evade the ramifications of the Syrian file will not remain constant. Most likely a repositioning of this file will be apparent in the coming phase and the price will increase and cannot be overcome.
The third file has to do with Jordan’s internal situation and the level of performance of all its institutions, its economic situation, internal stability, the level of public satisfaction, internal fears, the positions and links with the Palestinian and Syrian files and finally the level of performance its officials.
The overall internal situation cannot be separated from its surroundings and there will be many indications – some clear and others not as much – as to what is awaiting us in the next few months.
All our lives we have lived through ‘periods and phases” even though the overall situation is decisive for the entire region. Perhaps this year we will see an end to this period of ‘phases’ and move more towards decisiveness.
The ability of the internal condition of Jordan to avoid the files taking place among its neighbors, and the price of this on Jordan, is an ability that is decreasing with each passing day. It is not possible to remain in this gray area and resort to the principle of managing crises instead of resolving them. This means we are being faced with a sensitive climate that is shifting at every level.
The next few months into the middle of summer will be months of many surprises and rebirths, both negative and positive. The climate of ambiguity will no longer remain and this is a fate that applies to the neighboring countries as well. The entire region is moving towards a political reshaping after years of postponement and shelving.
We are now at the point of payback and the grace period which the political debtors gave us looks like it is going to end and postponed commitments need to be paid forth. (http://www.addustour.com/17130.html)
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