Palestine Welcomes Interpol’s decision to admit Palestine as a full member

Palestine welcomes Interpol’s decision to admit the State of Palestine as a full member in its organization, and extend its gratitude and appreciation to the seventy-five countries that upheld their principles and voted in favour of Palestine becoming a member of Interpol.

RAMALLAH, September 27, 2017 (WAFA) – Minister of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs, Riyad al-Malki, praised on Wednesday the INTERPOL for admitting the State of Palestine as a member of the organization.

He said the overwhelming vote in support of Palestine’s membership is “a vote of confidence in Palestine’s law enforcement capabilities and commitment to the core values of the organization. Palestine’s admission to INTERPOL is a victory for law enforcement and global cooperation.”

According to al-Malki, the victory was made possible “because of the principled position of the majority of INTERPOL members. Palestine’s membership is the outcome of members defending this organization’s raison d’etre and advancing its core values and a clear rejection of attempts at cynical manipulation and political bullying.”

“Today, facts and merits overcame all other considerations. That is a cause of our collective celebration. On behalf of the Palestinian people, I extend our thanks and sincere gratitude to all members who made this happen,” he added.

On this occasion, the Foreign Minister reiterated the commitment of the State of Palestine to upholding its obligations and contributing to fighting crime and furthering the rule of law. He said, “Palestine will work with all members to advance the standing and role of INTERPOL. We will be a constructive and cooperative partner in this global endeavour that affects the lives and future of all our citizens.”

“The State of Palestine views this membership and the responsibilities it entails as an integral part of its responsibility towards the Palestinian people and its moral obligation towards citizens of the world,” al-Malki remarked.

“Palestine is ready and able to shoulder these obligations and responsibilities as an active partner in the international community that effectively and demonstrably contributes to the advancement of our shared core values as nations”

WAFA

 

Palestine and the United Nations: 70 years on

Palestine’s story at the United Nations began on 29 November 1947, with the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) adoption of Resolution 181. The so-called “Partition Resolution” proposed, for first time in history, to divide a homeland into two states. Seven full decades since the adoption of this resolution, the Palestinian people, whether in exile or under occupation, has continued to suffer the consequences of the lack of international action in order to fulfill their inalienable rights.

Israel’s Membership at the United Nations

Israel became a member of the UNGA on 11 May 1949 through UNGA Resolution 273. Its membership, as established in the resolution, was conditioned:

Noting furthermore the declaration by the State of Israel that it “unreservedly accepts the obligations of the United Nations Charter and undertakes to honor them from the day when it becomes a Member of the United Nations”, Recalling its resolutions of 29 November 1947 [Resolution 181] and 11 December 1948 [Resolution 194] and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representative of the Government of Israel before the ad hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions, The General Assembly … Decides to admit Israel to membership in the United Nations. ”[1]

To this day, Israel violates the conditions it accepted in order to become a full member of the UN, as it has failed to honor UNGA Resolution 181 (on two states) as well as UNGA Resolution 194 (on the right of return of Palestinian refugees).

The PLO enters the United Nations

“Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat: do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.” Yasser Arafat, 13 November 1974[2]

On 12 December 1973, the UNGA approved resolution 3102 (XXVIII)[3], calling for national liberation movements to be invited to participate as observers in the ‘Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts’. This was the entry point for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to participate in various international conferences.

On 14 October 1974, the UNGA adopted resolution 3210 (XXIX)[4] recognizing the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people, inviting them to the meetings held by UNGA on the Question of Palestine. On 13 November 1974, President Yasser Arafat became the first representative of a nation that was not a full member of the organization to address the General Assembly. A few days later, the UNGA adopted Resolution 3237 granting observer status to the PLO.

The PLO Declares the State of Palestine, recognizes UNSC Resolutions

On 15 November 1988, the Palestine National Council (PNC) declared the State of Palestine (under Israeli military occupation) on the territory within the 1967 border (Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem). This declaration is often referred to as ‘Palestine’s historic compromise’, due to the acceptance of Israel over 78% of the land that was Palestine prior to 1948. The PLO also publicly endorsed international law and UN Resolutions. A few weeks later, President Arafat was invited to address the UN General Assembly but the United States refused to grant him an entry visa. In an unprecedented move, the UN overwhelmingly voted to move its session outside of the US,[5] welcoming President Yasser Arafat to address the organization in Geneva.[6]

President Arafat’s address called upon Israeli leaders to accept international mediation: “I have come to you in the name of our people to extend my hand so that we may establish a real, just peace. It is from this premise that I call on the leaders of Israel to come here, to come here, under UN auspices to create this peace. I also tell them that our people want dignity, freedom and peace. They want peace for their state just as they want it for all the countries and parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”[7]

After this meeting, the UNGA took note of the Declaration of Independence of the State of Palestine, through resolution 43/177[8], deciding to use the designation “Palestine” instead of “Palestine Liberation Organization” in the United Nations System.

Palestine is admitted to the UN General Debate

On 7 July 1998, the UNGA adopted resolution 52/250[9] “Participation of Palestine in the Work of the United Nations”. This resolution paved the road for Palestine to become a standing agenda item in the UNGA General Debate every year. Palestine was given the platform to speak during the UNGA General Debate for first time in 1988, during its 53rd plenary session. During his speech, President Arafat reminded the assembly that “the Palestinian people… this great people did not commit a crime; they did not commit aggression against anyone nor did they occupy the land of any other people. However they were the victims of aggression. Their land was occupied and they were dispersed and compelled by military force to a life in diaspora and exile … it is not admissible for Israel to continue dominating the Palestinian people”.

Palestine as a “Non-member State”

During the UNGA General Debate of 2011, the issue of Palestinian statehood and full membership in the organization received important international support. With a wave of international recognitions of the State of Palestine, President Mahmoud Abbas delivered his now famous speech of 23 September 2011: “The time has come for my courageous and proud people, after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering, to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent homeland (…) I would like to inform you that, before delivering this statement, I submitted, in my capacity as the President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, an application for the admission of Palestine on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, as a full member of the United Nations.”[10]

Although the full membership of Palestine still has not been approved, in 2012 Palestine achieved an upgrading of its status in the organization through UNGA Resolution 67/19. This resolution granted Palestine “non-member state” status, as a state on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital. This resolution passed with the vast majority- 138 votes- in favor and only 9 against.[11]  Resolution 67/19:

Decides to accord to Palestine non-member observer State status in the United Nations, without prejudice to the acquired rights, privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the United Nations as the representative of the Palestinian people, in accordance with the relevant resolutions and practice…”

The resolution also emphasized that the Government of the State of Palestine is the PLO:

Taking into consideration that the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in accordance with a decision by the Palestine National Council, is entrusted with the powers and responsibilities of the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine…”[12]

The Holy See has the same status as Palestine in the UN. In 2015, the UN voted in favor of raising the flag of its non-member states[13]. Since then both flags have been raised at the entrance of the UN buildings.

The UN Security Council and Palestine:

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has conducted extensive discussions on the issue of Palestine, without translating discussion into concrete measures to address the ongoing and systematic violations of the UN Charter by Israel. The UNSC has passed several important resolutions, including on the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by the use of force, against the annexation of East Jerusalem and Israeli measures to declare Jerusalem as its capital, calling for the application of International Humanitarian Law in the Occupied Territory, as well as several resolutions on the illegality of Israeli settlements, including the latest UNSC Resolution 2334, passed on 23 December 2016:

“[The UNSC] Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”. [14]

Conclusion: UN must take concrete action in Palestine  

Since the UN General Assembly decided to divide Palestine, 70 years ago, the Palestinian people has suffered one of the greatest injustices seen within the international system. Denied the political right to self-determination and return, the national liberation cause of the Palestinian people was initially treated as a “humanitarian issue” by the international community. Only in 1970s was the collective voice of Palestinians heard at the UN, through the PLO.

Since then, many resolutions have been passed, reaffirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as well as condemning Israeli crimes and violations; yet no action has been taken. Israel is even allowed to continue violating the conditions upon which it was granted its full UN membership. At the same time, Palestinians continue to be denied their right to be protected, have their own independent state, and return to their homeland.

Some action has been taken at the level of the UN – Human Rights Council, including the presence of Item 7 on the situation of Human Rights in the Territories Occupied by Israel since 1967, and the decision taken in March 2016 to issue a list of companies involved in Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestine. The list is expected to be published before the end of the year, despite lobbying efforts from some parties that aim at perpetuating Israel’s impunity and the systematic violation of Palestinian rights.

In order to salvage the prospects of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, as well as protect the credibility and mission of the United Nations, members of the international community must develop specific mechanisms of implementation and accountability concerning systematic violations of International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law and UN resolutions.

 

Worshippers refusing to go through metal detector gates hold prayer outside Al Aqsa compound

JERUSALEM, July 17, 2017 (WAFA) – Dozens of Palestinian worshippers Monday prayed in the alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem leading to Al Aqsa Mosque after they refused to enter the Muslim holy place going through metal detector gates recently placed at the mosque entrances by Israeli police.

Meanwhile, Jewish groups were allowed to roam the compound freely during the regular visit hours.

Islamic Waqf personnel in charge of Al-Aqsa compound refused to accept the new scheme for Al-Aqsa Mosque compound when police set up metal detectors outside the compound gates and forced anyone entering it to go through them first. As a result, dawn prayers were held outside the compound.

Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the Mufti of Jerusalem, told WAFA that Israel opened three gates to the mosque and installed metal detectors, which is an attempt to change the status quo at Al Aqsa Mosque, which recognizes it as a Muslim-only holy site.

He said this created a great discomfort and agitation among the thousands of Muslim worshippers seeking to pray inside the holy compound, many of whom have refused to pass through the metal detectors to enter the mosque.

Extreme Jewish groups used social media to publish photos of their entry to the compound and prayer as Muslims were banned from entering it, which threatens to raise tensions.

Meanwhile, Palestinians called for mass prayer at the gates of Al Aqsa compound especially the Maghreb and Isha prayers to protest the recent alterations, which they say violate freedom of worship and an attempt to control the mosque in a way similar to what happened with Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron.

Al Aqsa was closed for prayer since 7 a.m. on Friday when three Palestinians from Umm al Fahem, an Arab town in Israel, were killed after allegedly attacking and killing two Israeli policemen. It was gradually reopened on Sunday afternoon, making it the first time Friday prayer was not allowed at Al-Aqsa Mosque since 1969.

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered at Lions’ Gate, one of the gates that lead to Al-Aqsa Mosque, to pray the five prayers and express their rejection of the new police measures. Clashes erupted between the Israeli police and worshippers and several youth were arrested after being assaulted with batons and tear gas canisters.

Palestinians say Israel aims to humiliate Al Aqsa goers on entry and exist and send a message to Arabs and Muslims all around the world asserting its dominance.

Sheikh Wasif al-Bakri, a Sharia judge in Jerusalem, said “We support peace and Muslims have the right to enter the mosque freely and without any obstacles.”

He said Israeli police allowed the clergymen to enter without inspection, but when the masses tried to enter, they were demanded to use the metal detectors, which created tension.

The situation though remains tense at Al-Aqsa Mosque and outside the Old City wall as police barricades prevent people from reaching the Old City and shops to reopen their doors for business.

 

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Abbas: Freedom of Palestinians is the key to peace and stability

BETHLEHEM, May 23, 2017 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that freedom and independence of the Palestinian people is the key to peace and stability.

Speaking at a press conference with visiting US President Donald Trump, Abbas said he is committed to a historical peace deal with the Israelis, and to work with Trump as partners in combating terrorism.

“My meeting with you at the White House earlier this month gave us and the Palestinian people a lot of hope and optimism to achieve a long-awaited dream of peace based on justice,” he said.

“The freedom and independence of the Palestinian people is the key to peace and stability in our region and the world, so that the children of Palestine and Israel enjoy a secure, stable and prosperous future,” he said, adding, “We reaffirm our commitment to cooperate for peacemaking and to reach a historic peace deal between us and the Israelis. We also reaffirm our readiness to continue to work with you as partners in the fight against terrorism in our region and the world.”

Abbas also reiterated his commitment to creating an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and which lives in peace with Israel.

“We reaffirm our position on the two-state solution on the 1967 borders – the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, to live side by side with Israel in security and good-neighborly relations, and to resolve the permanent status issues based on international law and international resolutions and to honor the signed agreements in a way that would allow for the implementation of the Arab peace initiative, as reaffirmed at the recent Arab summit in Jordan,” said Abbas.

The President stressed that the conflict is not between religions but that the problem lies in the occupation and the settlements, in addition to Israel’s non-recognition of the State of Palestine.

“As you saw yesterday, during your historic visit to the Holy places in occupied East Jerusalem and today in Bethlehem, the conflict is not between religions. Respecting religions and the prophets is an integral part of our belief,” he said.

“Our real problem is with the occupation and the settlements and Israel’s failure to recognize the state of Palestine, as we recognized it, which undermines the achievement of the two-state solution.”

Speaking about prisoners in Israeli jails who are on hunger strike, said the demands of the prisoners are humane.

“On the issue of our Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike for more than a month, a few meters from here near the Church of the Nativity and everywhere in Palestine, the mothers and families of the prisoners suffer from not being able to visit their children. Their demands are humane and just, and I call on the Israeli government to respond to these legitimate humanitarian demands,” said Abbas.

Abbas said that achieving peace will help growth of the Palestinian economy.

“Achieving peace, Mr. President, will open the horizon for the advancement of our economy and the completion of the building of our national institutions based on the rule of law in the spirit of tolerance and coexistence, the dissemination of a culture of peace, the renunciation of violence and incitement and the building of bridges instead of walls inside our territory,” he said.

Abbas concluded his statement by saying that he hopes history will record that President Trump is the American president who achieved peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, adding that he extends  his hand to be a partner in this task.

 

WAFA

 

US President Trump arrives in Bethlehem

 

 

BETHLEHEM, May 23, 2017 (WAFA) – US President Donald Trump arrived in Bethlehem on Tuesday where he was received by President Mahmoud Abbas.

The two leaders inspected the honor guards before starting their talks.

 

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CLOSER MEDICAL WATCH OF TENS OF HUNGER-STRIKING PALESTINIANS

By MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH
Associated Press

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Several dozen hunger-striking Palestinians have been transferred from their cells to special wings in Israeli prisons for additional medical supervision, a spokesman for the Israel Prison Service said Wednesday.

After 31 days, 843 prisoners are still on a hunger strike, said the spokesman, Assaf Librati.

The prisoners, jailed for offenses linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seek better conditions, including more family visits. Israel refuses to negotiate.

Librati refused to provide details about strike organizer Marwan Barghouti, the best-known prisoner, who is considered a possible future Palestinian leader.

Earlier this week, Barghouti’s lawyer said after a prison visit that his client would soon refuse water. It remains unclear if Barghouti, who has been held in isolation since the April 17 start of the strike, has stopped drinking.

Librati said Barghouti, a leader in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, remains in his cell.

The spokesman said that since last week, several dozen hunger strikers have been transferred to special prison wings with medical staff – a setup he said is a step between a regular cell and an Israeli hospital.

“It means very basic care, and if a doctor feels (a prisoner) should go to the hospital, it’s done immediately, in an ambulance,” said Librati. He said two prisoners have been hospitalized.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in the West Bank staged protests against what they perceive as indifference by the international community toward the hunger strikers.

On Wednesday, dozens of activists and relatives of prisoners blocked the entrance to a U.N. compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah for two hours.

“We came here to deliver a message that the U.N. needs to play its role in protecting our sons who are dying in Israeli jails,” said Majdi Ziadeh, the father of a prisoner.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which visits the hunger strikers, has also been criticized by Palestinians, who feel frustrated by the organization’s refusal to discuss the issue in public.

The Red Cross closed its office in Ramallah on Tuesday evening after an angry crowd forced its way in. “These are unacceptable actions and should stop immediately,” the ICRC said in a statement.

Israel holds about 6,500 so-called security prisoners – Palestinians jailed for offenses ranging from stone-throwing and membership in organizations outlawed by Israel to attacks that killed or wounded Israelis. Several hundred Palestinians are being held without charges or trial, in so-called administrative detention.

Barghouti, 58, is serving five life terms after an Israeli court convicted him of directing attacks that killed five people during a Palestinian uprising. Barghouti, imprisoned since 2002, has refused to recognize the court’s jurisdiction and did not mount a defense.

 

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Newspapers Review: Prisoners’ condition on 32nd day of hunger strike focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, May 18, 2017 (WAFA) – The condition of Palestinian prisoners who have entered their second month of hunger strike demanding their basic rights hit the front page headlines in the local Palestinian dailies on Thursday.

The three dailies reported head of the Prisoners’ Affairs Committee Issa Qaraqe saying Israeli Prisons Service (IPS) transferred all hunger strikers from dozens of Israeli prisons to three prisons that are close to Israeli hospitals.

Al-Quds added Israeli military has recruited doctors and paramedics who would deal with the hunger strikers should their health condition deteriorates further.

It added several Palestinians were shot and injured and others suffocated during clashes with Israeli forces in the Jerusalem district refugee camp of Qalandiya, Jenin refugee camp, and the Nablus district refugee camp of Askar.

Al-Ayyam explained Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians with live rounds during a raid of Jenin refugee camp.

It added Israeli settlers assaulted Palestinian shepherds and Israeli forces raided Bardala village in the northern Jordan Valley.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida said hundreds of Palestinians took part in the funeral of 16-year-old Fatima Hjeiji, who was shot dead by Israeli forces following an alleged stabbing attempt in the Old City of Jerusalem on May 7.

The dailies said President Mahmoud Abbas briefed Arab ambassadors to India and members of India’s Congress Party on the latest developments in relation to prisoners’ hunger strike.

Al-Quds reported deputy Hamas chief Mousa Abu Marzouq saying Hamas does not introduce itself as a substitute for any one, referring to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

It also reported him asserting the armed wing of Hamas, al-Qassam Brigades, is subject to the political decisions taken by various Hamas institutions.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed the importance of launching serious negotiations based on the two-state solution.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki applauding the position of US officials who refused to be accompanied by Israeli officials during a visit to al-Buraq (the Western Wall) in East Jerusalem.

It reported Director of Operations for UNRWA Bo Shack in Gaza warning the situation in the besieged coastal enclave was extremely tragic.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida had a story about a Bethlehem area village council naming a woman as head of council. It said the new council in the village of al-Masara, south of Bethlehem, which won without elections since only one list was submitted, agreed to name Fatima Breijieh, 60, as head of the council. Breijieh is a known activist and has led protests against Israeli settlements and land grab.

Al-Ayyam said the Preventive Security arrested a number of government employees in Nablus on suspicion they gave out forged receipts claiming they were issued by the Minister of Health.

 

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Barghouthi to stop drinking water as Israel fails to respond to hunger strike’s demands

Unavngivet

May 16, 2017 2:22 P.M. (Updated: May 17, 2017 12:02 P.M.)

Some of Palestine’s most high-profile prisoners. From left to right: Fouad Shubaki, Nael Barghouthi, Karim Yunis, Ahmad Saadat, Marwan Barghouthi

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — As the mass “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike in Israeli prisons entered its 30th day on Tuesday, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs announced that leader of the strike Marwan Barghouthi will stop drinking water in response to Israel’s continued refusal to respond to the hunger strikers’ demands.

Participants in the strike, now involving some 1,300 Palestinian prisoners, have been refusing food and vitamins since the strike began on April 17, drinking only a mixture of salt and water as sustenance.

Hunger-striking prisoners are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.

The committee’s statement quoted lawyer Khader Shqeirat as saying that Barghouthi’s decision to escalate measures by refusing water would be “a new turning point in the ongoing open-ended hunger strike.”

The Israeli government, the statement said, is responsible for leading the prisoners’ along a “tragic and disastrous road” and putting hunger strikers in imminent danger, by taking “a criminal stance regarding the just demands of prisoners.”

According to the committee, Barghouthi insists on transparently achieving all of the demands made by the hunger-striking prisoners under his leadership, without bargaining or making compromises.

The committee also called upon the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly to hold an emergency meeting regarding the prisoners’ strike, to oblige the Israeli government to respect prisoners’ rights enshrined under international law, and to call on Israel to end its policy of inflicting a “slow death” on the Palestinian detainees.

On Monday, reports emerged in Israeli media that Palestinian security officials and officials of Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, were attempting to reach an agreement that would end the hunger strike.

As Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has previously said the demands would only be addressed once the strike was ended, Palestinian officials warned their Israeli counterparts that such an approach would spark an escalation of popular protests that have been staged daily since the strike began — many of which have erupted into violent clashes.

Meanwhile, hunger-striking prisoner Karim Yunis, the longest serving Palestinian prisoner, insisted that any legitimate negotiations must include leaders of the strike such as Barghouthi, and rejected reported attempts by Israeli intelligence as “false and futile negotiations aimed at breaking the hunger strike in exchange for empty promises.”

A statement released Tuesday by the media committee established to support the strike warned that striking detainees have “entered a critical health condition,” marked by chronic vomiting, vision impairment, fainting, and an average weight loss of 20 kilograms.

“In spite of this, (hunger strikers) sent many messages confirming that they will continue the strike until their demands are achieved,” the statement affirmed.

The media committee said that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has continued to isolate strike participants from the outside world through the use of solitary confinement and restricting lawyer visits for the majority of detainees — in spite of a recent Israeli Supreme Court decision compelling IPS to lift the ban on lawyer visits, which was imposed since the first day of the strike.

Hunger-striking prisoners have also been prohibited from receiving family visits outright, and face continuous arbitrary prison transfers in an IPS attempt to break up the strike.

On Monday, IPS moved 36 hunger-striking prisoners from Ofer prison to a so-called field hospital at Hadarim prison, according to the media committee.

The committee reiterated concerns about the field clinics — set up by Israel in anticipation of the mass hunger strike to avoid transferring the prisoners civilian hospitals.

“In these clinics, the role of doctors resembles the role of jailers who offer all kinds of food to the sick detainees and bargain them to provide medical treatment in return for ending the strike,” the statement declared, denouncing the field hospitals as unfit and ill-equipped to provide medical care, and merely just another section for holding and pressuring the detainees to break their strikes.

The hunger strike’s media committee also reported that the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has called the group working on the cause of Palestine, during its meeting in Jeddah, to launch campaigns to support the Palestinian striking detainees and put pressure on Israel to respond to their demands.

Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samiduon highlighted that Palestinian circus performer Muhammed Abu Sakha, has been participating in the strike since its first day.

Abu Sakha has been held without trial or charges since December 2015, which has inspired an international campaign demanding his immediate release.

Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer reported on Thursday that following the expiration of Abu Sakha’s detention on June 11, the Israel’s Supreme Court decided to limit the extension of his detention to three months, following a successful petition by his lawyer.

Abu Sakha is among 500 of the 6,300 Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention, according to Addameer.

 

wafa

 

Abbas: Ending Israeli occupation would help combat terrorism, extremism

HYDARABAD, May 16, 2017 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday said that ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine would assist efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.

He said that if Israel ends its occupation started in June 1967, it would pave the way for implementing the Arab Peace Initiative and assist efforts aimed to combat terrorism and extremism in the region and the world in general.

Abbas made these remarks during a press conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Hyderabad.

He reiterated the Palestinian commitment to the two-state solution that would lead to establishing an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 border, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and harmony.

Abbas commended India’s longstanding policy of supporting the Palestinian cause in international forums since the time of Mahatma Gandhi, affirming that India could play an instrumental role in this regard.

On his part, Modi stated Abbas’ visit to India reflects close Palestinian-Indian relationship on the bases of mutual cooperation and understanding.

He extended his country’s support to the establishment of the independent Palestinian state.

“We hope to see the realization of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, co-existing peacefully with Israel,” he said in a press statement.

The two countries signed five agreements on visa exemptions for diplomas, agricultural cooperation, electronic and information technology cooperation, health and sports and youth.

 

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Newspapers Review: Abbas-Trump summit focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, May 4, 2017 (WAFA) – The summit talks between President Mahmoud Abbas and his US counterpart Donald Trump in Washington was the highlight of the Thursday issue of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies.

The three dailies highlighted statements by both leaders, particularly those related to peace making, and printed pictures of Abbas and Trump at the press conference, as appeared in al-Hayat al-Jadida, sitting together as came in al-Ayyam, as well as a picture of the two delegations at the meeting table, as printed in al-Quds.

The hunger strike of more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails was also highlighted on the front page of the dailies, particularly the rally held in Ramallah in support of the prisoners.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Hamas did not allow people in Gaza to participate in a rally organized by Fatah in support of the prisoners. They said the Israeli High Court said lawyers should be allowed to visit striking prisoners.

Al-Quds said the Israeli High Court ordered the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the railway company to return privately-owned land to its original Palestinian owners.

It also quoted the head of Gaza fishermen as saying Israeli talk about expanding the fishing area  to nine nautical miles is nothing more than media stunt.

It said Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem may shut down if the Palestinian Authority does not pay overdue debt owed to the hospitals for patients transferred there for treatment.

 

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President Abbas: Trump enthusiastic for peace and has a political vision

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WASHINGTON, May 4, 2017 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that US President Donald Trump is enthusiastic about peace and that he has a vision for a political solution for the Middle East conflict.

Speaking in an interview with Palestine TV, Abbas said he talked to Trump about Palestinian aspirations and position, such as “our position on terrorism, which was important to clarify to President Trump, and our position and vision on the two-state solution,” said Abbas.

“We also discussed many different issues, mainly how we can quickly start to solve the Palestinian issue,” Abbas remarked, adding: “The US president is interested and enthusiastic and has a vision for a political solution, and we are going along with him to reach this solution.”

Abbas said there will be contacts after this meeting to arrange matters with the US administration, both in terms of bilateral relations and peace relations, explaining that Trump “is going to discuss this with others, and when the picture is complete for him and plan how to start, we will be ready to deal with it and work with him with all our force.”

On inviting Trump to visit the Palestine, Abbas said: “When I congratulated him on his success, I invited him to visit Bethlehem and wished he would visit us on Christmas as an important world figure. We mentioned the invitation again this time and God willing he gets the chance to visit the Holy Land.”

 

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Groups petition Israel’s Supreme Court to allow lawyers’ visits to striking prisoners

HAIFA, April 29, 2017 (WAFA) – Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs filed on Thursday a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court against the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) practice which is preventing Palestinian prisoners who are participating in a hunger strike from meeting with their lawyers.

Some 1,500 Palestinians held by Israel began on April 17 a hunger strike to protest the conditions of their detention in Israeli prisons and to demand improvements. Israel is currently holding some 6,500 Palestinians in prisons and detention centers.

In response to the petition, the Supreme Court scheduled a hearing for May 3, said Adalah in a press release.

In response to the hunger strike, as a punitive measure, the IPS is preventing hunger-striking prisoners from meeting with their lawyers. Attorneys who had scheduled authorized visits with their clients were surprised to discover that the IPS has cancelled their meetings for a variety of illegal pretexts relating to the prisoner’s participation in the hunger strike, it said.

Meetings between lawyers and prisoners not participating in the hunger strike have not been affected.

Adalah Attorney Muna Haddad and attorneys Yamen Zedan and Suleiman Shahin of the Detainees Commission wrote in the joint petition, filed on behalf of 11 attorneys: “It is illegal to prevent meetings between attorneys and prisoners participating in a hunger strike and this act therefore constitutes a forbidden punishment. A lawyer’s job is to defend a prisoner’s rights and preventing them from meeting therefore denies the prisoner the guarantee of defense of these constitutional rights.”

The joint petition stressed the particular importance of lawyer-client meetings “during a hunger strike when prisoners experience deterioration in their physical condition and become more vulnerable and exposed to risks, and to IPS punitive sanctions. It is thus of utmost importance to particularly maintain the rights of hunger striking prisoners and detainees to meet with their lawyers.”

Adalah and attorneys Zedan and Shahin also stressed in the petition that meetings between striking prisoner and lawyers takes on additional importance in light of the prisoners’ absolute cut-off from the outside world: “The prisoners who continue to strike in hopes of improving their living conditions in the prisons are completely cut off from the outside world without the possibility of lawyers seeing or hearing what they are experiencing and to ensure that their rights are not being violated.”

 

wafa

 

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Awards presented to Palestinians at the Arab Radio and TV Festival held in Tunis. (WAFA photo)

 

TUNIS, April 29, 2017 (WAFA) – Palestine radio and TV won seven awards at the Arab State Broadcasting Union’s 18th Arab Radio and TV Festival held in Tunis between April 25 and 28.

Areen Imleh won a prize for her Palestine TV news report on Palestinian children passing through Israeli military checkpoints and revolving doors in Hebron. A program called Secrets about Jerusalem also, aired on Palestine TV, won a prize and the Palestinian TV station Musawa won a second prize for its talk shows.

Ahmad Assaf, General Supervisor of official Palestinian Television and Radio Corporation and WAFA News and Information Agency, congratulated the winners saying it was a victory for Palestinian creativity in the private and public sectors.

He contributed the awards to the prisoners in Israeli jails who have been on hunger strike for 13 consecutive days.

 

wafa

 

 

Newspapers Review: Protests on ‘day of rage’ in support of prisoners highlight of dailies

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RAMALLAH, April 29, 2017 (WAFA) – The protests that raged on Friday throughout the occupied Palestinian territories in support of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails for the thirteenth day in a row were the highlight of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies on Saturday.

All papers published on their front page reports about the protests in a “day of rage” called for by the committee planning daily popular activities in support of the prisoners. They also printed pictures of the protests and confrontations in some areas.

The papers said President Mahmoud Abbas met at his Ramallah headquarters with families of prisoners and told them that the issue of the prisoners is a priority to his administration.

The meeting took place before Abbas left Ramallah heading to Cairo for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday for talks on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict prior to Abbas’ trip to Washington to meet his US counterpart Donald Trump scheduled for May 3.

The dailies highlighted statements by Trump, who apparently is planning to visit Israel on May 22 when the latter marks its occupation of East Jerusalem in what it refers to as “unification,” that he does not want to talk now about moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as he promised he would do in his election campaign, and that there is no reason not to have peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

The dailies also reported on the Israeli plans to build thousands of new housing units in illegal settlements throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, which Palestinian officials warn aim to sabotage Trump’s efforts to revive the deadlocked peace process.

Al-Ayyam said Britons demonstrated at London University against a visit to campus for the Israeli ambassador to the UK.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israel returned the corpse of a Palestinian from East Jerusalem shot dead by Israelis on April 9 at an intersection south of Bethlehem for allegedly attempting to attack Israelis.

Al-Quds said Israel has imposed a closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip starting midnight last night through Tuesday while it celebrates its creation according to the Hebrew calendar.

It also quoted Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal saying that it will not be long before the prisoners are free again.

It said that Israel has seized more than $10 million of the money it collects in taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. It quoted an unnamed Palestinian official as condemning this step without explaining the reason for Israel taking his money off the clearing house bill. The amount actually corresponds to the Palestinian government’s monthly bill for electricity supplied by Israel to the Gaza Strip, which reports said the PA was going to stop.

The three papers also reported to Pope Francis visit to Egypt.

 

wafa

 

Clashes erupt as Israeli forces attack large-scale solidarity demonstrations

NABLUS, April 28, 2017 (WAFA) – Clashes Friday erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters across the West Bank as protesters marched in solidarity with hunger-striking detainees, who entered their 12th day without food.

Palestinians gathered for weekly Friday prayer at many solidarity tents that were set up across various West Bank cities, town and villages before they marched to nearby military checkpoints and clashes with Israelis soldiers.

In a statement issued the last week, the Fatah movement pronounced Friday to be a “day of rage” and urged the Palestinian people to “clash with the occupier everywhere across our homeland” to express solidarity with some 1,800 detainees on hunger strike in Israeli jails.

In the northern West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians performed Friday prayer at Al-Naqoura village junction, northwest of Nablus city.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement construction activities in northern West Bank, said Israeli forces tear gas canisters, stun grenades at protesters, setting fire to some nearby farmlands.

Similar clashes broke out at the western entrance of Beita village, south of Nablus.

Israeli troops firing tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian protesters, who reportedly hurled stones at troops.

Over ten Palestinians, including women and children, suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation.

Similar marches were organized in Jenin city  and the Jenin-district villages of Jaba’, Yaabad and Kafr Ra’i in the northern West Bank.

In Qalqiliya district, Palestinian protesters clashes with Israeli troops near the Israeli checkpoint at the southern entrance to Qalqiliya city and at the entrance of Kafr Qaddum village, east of the city.

Israeli troops showered protesters with tear gas canisters, causing many to suffocate.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces opened fire towards a demonstration in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah, hitting and injuring a protester with a live round in the head.

Elsewhere in Ramallah district, scores of Palestinians suffocated during similar clashes with Israeli soldiers near Ofer military prison, west of Ramallah, and at the western entrance to Silwad town, east of the city.

In Bethlehem, following Friday prayer, protesters marched from a solidarity tent in al-Azzeh refugee camp, north of the city, to the northern entrance of the city.

Expecting their arrival, soldiers fired a barrage of tear gas canisters and stun grenades, causing a number of protestors to suffocate.

Similar confrontations erupted following a solidarity march in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, in the southern West Bank.

Local activist Mohammad Awad said Israeli troops opened fire at protestors, causing a number to suffocate from excessive tear gas inhalation.

Some 1,800 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel have joined a hunger strike led by senior Fatah official Marwan Barghouthi since April 17 to protest the torture, ill-treatment and medical neglect of detainees by Israeli Prison Service (IPS) as well as Israel’s policy of administrative detention, internment without trial or charges.

 

wafa

 

Newspapers review: General strike in solidarity with hunger strikers focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, April 28, 2017 (WAFA) – The general strike held across the occupied Palestinian territories in solidarity with some 1,800 hungers-striking Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails hit the front page headlines in local Palestinian dailies.

The dailies reported Palestinians across the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip held a general strike in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida added scores of Palestinians were injured, some with live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets, during clashes that erupted across the West Bank as the mass  hunger strike entered its 11th day.

Al-Quds said Israeli forces shot and injured a number of Palestinians with live fire in the southern West Bank city of Hebron and the Ramallah-district villages of Deir Abu Mashal and Nabil Saleh.

Besides, al-Quds and al-Ayyam said the Palestinian Authority (PA) notified Israel that it would stop paying for electricity Israel provides to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida reported member of Fatah Central Committee Azzam al-Ahmad stating: “Hamas has either to disband the administrative committee ]in charge of running Gaza affairs[ and hand over Gaza to the government or fully bear the expenses of governing Gaza.”

The dailies said President Mahmoud Abbas and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are scheduled to meet Saturday in Cairo.

Highlighting Israeli media reports, al-Quds and al-Ayyam said US President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Israel on May 22.

During his visit, the newspapers added, Trump would recognize “unified” Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Al-Quds said Trump would make such a recognition in return for supporting the establishment of Palestinian state.

It reported member of Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee Ahmad Majdalani denying news that the PLO ceased the allocations of PLO factions.

It also reported Reporters Without Borders (RSF) saying Israel is placing restrictions on Palestinian and international reporters.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israel scrambles to prevent the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from passing a resolution on Jerusalem.

They added Israeli forces destroyed water pipelines providing services to the village of Bardala, east of Tubas, in the northern Jordan Valley.

 

wafa

 

Fængslet palæstinensisk politiker: Derfor sultestrejker vi i Israels fængsler

debat-fløj

Plakater af afdøde Yassir Arafat og Marwan Barghouti (tv) i Gaza.

 

Fængslet palæstinensisk politiker: Derfor sultestrejker vi i Israels fængsler

Den fængslede politiker Marwan Barghouti har fået smuglet et brev ud af sin isolationscelle i Hadarim-fængslet i Israel og forklarer her baggrunden for, at han og tusindvis af andre palæstinensiske fanger har indledt en sultestrejke.

 

I de 15 år, jeg har siddet i fængsel i Israel, har jeg både været vidne til og offer for Israels ulovlige og vilkårlige massefængsling og mishandling af palæstinensiske fanger. Efter at have udtømt alle muligheder besluttede jeg, at der ikke var noget andet valg end at modsætte mig disse krænkelser ved at indlede en sultestrejke.

Omtrent 1.000 palæstinensiske fanger har besluttet at tage del i sultestrejken, der begyndte søndag. At sultestrejke er den fredeligste modstandsform, vi disponerer over. Det forvolder udelukkende skade på deltagerne og deres nærmeste i håbet om, at deres tomme maver og deres offer vil bidrage til, at deres budskab vækker gehør uden for deres mørke celler. Mange års erfaring er bevis på, at Israels umenneskelige kolonialistiske og militære besættelse har til formål at knække fangernes livsmod og den nation, de hører til, ved at forvolde skade på deres legeme, isolere dem fra deres familier og lokalmiljøet og ydmyge dem med indgreb, der er beregnet til at kue dem. Til trods for denne behandling nægter vi at give fortabt.

Besættelsesmagten Israel har på mange måder forbrudt sig mod folkeretten i næsten 70 år – uden at blive straffet for det. Det palæstinensiske folk har lidt under Israels grove overtrædelser af Genèvekonventionen; fangerne, både mænd, kvinder og børn, er ingen undtagelse.

Jeg var kun 15 år gammel, da jeg blev fængslet første gang. Jeg var knap 18, da en israelsk forhørsleder tvang mig til at sprede benene, mens jeg stod nøgen i et forhørslokale, før han slog mig i skridtet. Smerten fik mig til at besvime, og det efterfølgende fald efterlod et ar, der den dag i dag skæmmer min pande. Forhørslederen hånede mig efterfølgende og sagde, at jeg aldrig burde få børn, eftersom folk som mig kun udklækker terrorister og mordere.

http://politiken.dk/debat/debatindlaeg/art5917700/Derfor-sultestrejker-vi-i-Israels-f%C3%A6ngsler

 

 

Palestinian prisoners in Israel go on hunger strike

 Israeli prison

 

Palestinian prisoners in Israel go on hunger strike

Thousands of prisoners expected to join rights protest led by Marwan Barghouti that has significant political backing.

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem

Monday 17 April 2017 06.39 BST Last modified on Monday 17 April 2017 23.45 BST

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails have gone on hunger strike over conditions of captivity, with more expected to join on Monday, in one of the biggest protests in recent years.

Led by the high-profile Fatah prisoner and leader Marwan Barghouti, seen by some as a potential successor to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, 700 prisoners initially joined the strike, announced on Sunday evening.

The protest includes members of Fatah as well as prisoners from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The strike, long planned, is seen as having widespread political support – not least in the year marking the 50th anniversary of the Israel occupation of the Palestinian territories, captured during the six day war in 1967. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, as well as Hamas leaders in Gaza, have announced their backing.

The Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, also expressed its support for the strike on Sunday.

The number of prisoners going on hunger strike was expected to expand to 2,000 of the Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

The hunger strike was announced to coincide with Palestinian prisoners’ day which is marked on Monday.

Prisoners’ demands include improved visitation rights from family members and easier access to telephones.

The visitation rights are a case of particular concern. While Israeli Prison Service regulations stipulate that all prisoners are entitled to family visits once every two weeks, in reality Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories are required to apply for permits to enter Israel in the first place – permits which are often denied.

The announced strike began at Hadarim prison, where Barghouti is serving a prison sentence handed down by an Israeli court for his conviction for five murders.

Barghouti’s key role is seen by both Israelis and some members of his own Fatah party as significant in the midst of efforts by an ageing Abbas to centralise power around himself and a small circle of close associates.

In a comment piece written from prison for the New York Times on Monday, Barghouti said that the hunger strike was “the most peaceful form of resistance available”.

“Decades of experience have proved that Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation,” he wrote.

A largescale hunger strike – not least in the year marking the 50th anniversary of the occupation and the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which is regarded as highly significant by Palestinians – has the potential to raise tensions again. They have only recently subsided after the 2014 Gaza war and a wave of Palestinian attacks that has declined only in recent months.

 

Human Rights Watch Says Israel Blocking Access to Gaza

human rights

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (FARES AKRAM)

‎April‎ ‎3‎, ‎2017‎ ‎5‎:‎10‎ ‎AM ‎April‎ ‎3‎, ‎2017‎ ‎8‎:‎59‎ ‎AM

Gaza City, Gaza Strip (AP) — An international human rights group on Monday accused Israel of barring foreign researchers from entering the Gaza Strip to document abuses, saying the restrictions call into question Israel’s stated commitment to investigating possible rights violations.

In a 47-page report, Human Rights Watch accused Israel of “systematically” preventing its researchers from visiting Gaza since 2008, only granting them one exceptional permit last year. The group also said that Egypt has prevented it and London-based Amnesty International from entering Gaza from its territory since 2012.

Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza, home to nearly 2 million people, since the militant Hamas group took over the territory in 2007. Israel and Hamas, an Islamic group sworn to Israel’s destruction, have fought three wars since then.

International rights groups have accused both sides of committing war crimes, while the International Criminal Court is conducting a preliminary investigation into possible wrongdoing by both sides.

Israel has long accused Human Rights Watch of being unfairly biased against it. Last month, Israel refused to grant a work permit to the New York group’s regional director, though it later allowed him to visit the country as a tourist.

Human Rights Watch said the Israeli restrictions cast doubt on the government’s claims that it is conducting its own investigations and there is no need for the ICC to get involved.

“If Israel wants the ICC prosecutor to take seriously its argument that its criminal investigations are adequate, a good first step would be to allow human rights researchers to bring relevant information to light,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

The report also criticized Egypt for barring access to Gaza, and for Hamas’ refusal to cooperate with investigators. It said Hamas has failed to protect local human rights workers from retribution and sometimes arrested or harassed its critics.

The absence of foreign rights investigators, who are less susceptible to Hamas pressure, limits the ability of Palestinian rights groups from documenting abuses by Hamas, the report said.

The three parties “should change their policies to protect the vital work of human rights groups seeking to protect Palestinians and Israelis from abuses by the authorities and armed groups,” Bashi said.

Cogat, the Israeli defense body that coordinates access to Gaza, denied barring rights groups from visiting the enclave.

It said in a statement that it allows over 1,000 people to cross through the border each day for a variety of purposes, including business, medical treatment and academic studies, and said all criteria are in line with security needs.

“We coordinate the crossing of many human rights organizations,” it said, naming the group “Doctors Without Borders” as an example. The statement made no mention of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty.

Cogat accused Hamas of trying to exploit Gaza civilians traveling through Israel for military purposes, “causing a constant tension between the will to help the civilian Gaza residents and our duty to protect the citizens of Israel.”

 

 

State of Palestine Ministry of Foreign Affairs 17 March 2017 Press statement

State of Palestine
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
17 March 2017
Press statement
Minister Riad Malki expresses deep regret that the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Dr. Rima Khalaf, was compelled to resign in light of pressures to withdraw the recent ESCWA report examining the discriminatory policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, in Palestine. That report, prepared by international legal experts and renowned academics, Mr. Richard Falk and Ms. Virginia Tilley, presents objective analysis of the facts on the ground, arriving at an accurate conclusion based on the legal definition of the crime of apartheid.
Minister Malki expresses Palestine’s unequivocal objection to report’s withdrawal. We take note of the UN Secretary General’s views on this matter, as expressed by his spokesperson, who stated that disagreement over the report was about process rather than content. Despite the procedural differences and, as the content and veracity of the report’s conclusions are not being debated, Palestine considers the withdrawal to be counterproductive and ill-advised. It sends a dangerous message to countries that commit crimes; that with enough pressure, their actions can be ignored and appeased and that even reporting in this regard will be censored, as opposed to triggering serious consideration of the situation and of potential remedies, including accountability as per international law. This has far-reaching negative consequences for the international system as we know it.
Minister Malki expresses Palestine’s gratitude to Dr. Khalaf for her service and commitment to the principles and values enshrined in the UN Charter and international law. Dr. Khalaf is an outstanding international civil servant, whose expertise and integrity are beyond reproach and admired by all privileged to work with her, and her leadership and contribution to the advancement of societies across the West Asia region and beyond are fully recognised and commended.
Finally, Minister Malki reiterates that despite the unfortunate developments over the report, its conclusions stand and should be duly considered and addressed as we continue to collectively strive for peace and justice in Palestine.  What ought to be addressed is the reality on the ground that cannot be hidden by cynical attempts to prevent their proper characterization – in short, “Trying to scrap the report will not scrap the reality it describes”, Minister Malki declared.
—– End —–
Dr. Ashrawi denounces the decision by the UN to remove the ESCWA report on Israeli apartheid
NEW YORK, NEW YORK (March 18, 2017) — In response to media inquiries, PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said:
“We denounce the decision by the United Nations to remove the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report from its website which concluded that “Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.” Instead of succumbing to political blackmail or allowing itself to be censured or intimidated by external parties, the UN should condemn the acts described in the report and hold Israel responsible.
Such a report constitutes a step in the right direction and highlights the true reality on the ground which is one of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and military occupation.  Therefore, we call on UN Secretary-General António Guterres to do what is right, reinstate the ESCWA report and undertake serious and concrete measures to hold Israel accountable for its persistent violations of international law and human rights.
We also extend our deep appreciation to Dr. Rima Khalaf whose resignation from her post as UN ESCWA Executive Secretary should have never been accepted by UN Secretary-General Guterres.  We will continue to remain grateful to Dr. Khalaf for assuming a principled and courageous stand on behalf of the people of Palestine.”
 

Another Raid and Closure of a Palestinian Institution in Occupied East Jerusalem

Statements

March 14, 2017

Dr. Saeb Erekat strongly condemns the illegitimate closure of the Mapping and Geographic Information Systems Department of the Arab Studies Society and the illegal detention of Mr. Khalil Tufakji this morning in Occupied East Jerusalem.  Mr. Tufakji is a distinguished scholar from Jerusalem and the Director of this academic department within the previously forcibly sealed off Orient House in the heart of Occupied East Jerusalem.

Mr. Tufakji, who has served on several initiatives related to the Middle East Peace Process, was detained by Israeli occupying forces during a raid on their office in Jerusalem this morning.  Israeli occupying forces have also seized the office documents, computers, and equipment.

This provocative act by the Israeli occupying forces is a reminder of Israel’s ongoing campaign to deprive Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Palestine, of any voice, of its national institutions and organisations, in an effort to erase any Palestinian presence in the city.

Israel, the occupying power, continues to violate its obligations under signed agreements, as well as of its commitments vis-à-vis the international community. More than 20 Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, including notably the Orient House and the Chamber of Commerce, remain forcibly closed by Israeli occupying orders and raids since 2001, in violation of international law.

Numerous United Nations resolutions call upon Israel to immediately reopen all Palestinian institutions in Occupied East Jerusalem.  UNSC Resolution 476 states, “All legislative and administrative measures and actions were taken by Israel, the occupying power, which purports to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (…) and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”.

Systematic Israeli policies against a Palestinian presence in Occupied East Jerusalem aim to bury the two-state solution, consolidate Israel’s Apartheid regime in the occupied city, as well as in the rest of occupied Palestine, and aim to create a Palestinian demographic minority. This serious escalation demands the international community to urgently take concrete measures to reopen Palestinian institutions in Occupied East Jerusalem, in line with international law and UN resolutions, is overdue. In particular, we call upon the European Union to fully and immediately implement the recommendations of its Heads of Missions’ report on Jerusalem.

 

Dutch official says recognition of Palestine on government agenda

 

Dutch Official

RAMALLAH, March 7, 2017 (WAFA) – Recognition of Palestine is on the agenda of the Dutch government, Andre Haspels, director general of political affairs at the Dutch foreign ministry, said on Tuesday.

Haspels, who held talks with Palestinian officials in Ramallah, stressed the importance of cooperation between Holland and Palestine in all fields, particularly in the academic sector.

He said he was in Palestine to study the situation and needs of the Palestinian people.

Amal Jadou, assistant minister and head of the European department at the foreign ministry, briefed the Dutch officials on the latest political and economic developments in the occupied Palestinian territories.

She said the economic situation is very difficult in the absence of a clear political horizon at this time.

M.K.

 

Israel’s travel ban law on boycott activists violates basic tenets of democracy, says groups

Israel-airport

 

HAIFA, March 7, 2017 (WAFA) – The Israeli parliament’s new law that bans entry of foreign nationals and of Palestinians from the West Bank if they or the organizations they belong to publicly expressed support for boycott against the State of Israel or against Israeli settlements violates the most basic tenets of democracy, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, approved the law in its final readings on Monday night.

“This law violates the most basic tenets of democracy by making political opinions a consideration that may prevent non-citizens from entering Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Those seeking to enter the country most certainly need not align their political positions with those of the current Israeli government in regards to the occupation,” said the two rights groups.

“This law is also expected to pose a particularly serious blow to countless Palestinian families living in Israel and in East Jerusalem, whose members hold a temporary residency status or a temporary military-issued permit. These individuals will now be vulnerable to a revocation of their status and permits based upon their political opinions.”

The law reads:

“No visa and residency permit of any type will be given to a person who is not an Israeli citizen or does not have a permit for permanent residency in the State of Israel if he, [or] the organization or entity for which he works, has knowingly issued a public call to impose a boycott on the State of Israel, as defined in the Preventing Harm to the State of Israel through Boycott Law, 5771-2011, or has committed to participate in such a boycott.”

The 2011 Boycott Law states that it applies to any boycott against Israel and against the territories under its control, that is, the occupied West Bank.

Adalah and ACRI had sent a letter to Knesset members on January 30 urging them to vote against the bill and stressing that it would infringe upon freedom of expression.

“The Israeli interior ministry is not authorized to stand at the country’s front gate and decide for Israeli citizens and Palestinian residents of the OPT – who are dependent on Israeli border crossings – which opinions and perspectives are worthy of being heard. Freedom of expression is not just the right to express oneself, but also the right to be exposed to different perspectives – even those perspectives considered outrageous and infuriating by the majority of [Jewish] Israelis. Preventing the entry of an individual into the country does not only harm the freedom of expression of those whose entry has been barred, but also the freedom of expression of Israeli citizens and Palestinian residents of the OPT.”

M.K.

 

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi marked International Women’s Day (March 8) and issued the following statement:

 

Palestinian women

 

“On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we honor all women, in particular, Palestinian women for their steadfastness and significant role in the national struggle for self-determination, freedom and dignity in spite of the challenges and difficulties they face; these are the focal principles that govern the struggle of women for their own rights within Palestinian society and beyond.

The Palestinian woman is a basic partner in nation-building and in weaving a just social fabric in Palestine. She is also an authentic partner in safeguarding pluralism, democracy, social justice, and equality in compliance with the Palestinian Declaration of Independence that calls for “equal rights, free of ethnic, religious, racial or sexual discrimination.”

In this context, Dr. Ashrawi singled out the importance of legislating laws and legal systems that do justice to women and contribute to the protection of their rights and the consolidation of a system of oversight and accountability:

“We have to ensure that our Palestinians laws are all consistent with our obligations as per international treaties and conventions, including in the UN Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (2000). It is incumbent upon the Palestinian leadership to ensure the implementation of these laws in all different spheres, to hold to account all those who violate them and to stand up to the abuse of religion and traditions to justify injustice against women or any attempt to marginalise or deprive them of their right to self-determination.”

In that view, Dr. Ashrawi affirmed the importance of establishing and implementing a national plan which focuses on the empowerment of women, ending violence against them and the formation of advocacy groups and organisations to support women in the political and economic spheres. She also called for the revitalization of the political system to support equal participation in decision-making at all levels and to include more women in the local and national government.

In addition, Dr. Ashrawi stressed, “Palestinian women continue to suffer severe psychological, physical and emotional abuse and endure grave acts of oppression, violence and hardship at the hands of Israel and its unbridled violations.  Since Israel began its illegal occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza in 1967, Israel has detained about 15,000 Palestinian women, and currently, 56 Palestinian women, 16 of whom are under the age of 18, are imprisoned in Israeli jails.

It is time for the international community to undertake its legal and moral responsibilities and safeguard the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Palestinian people, including peace and security for women,” concluded Dr. Ashrawi.

 

Ministry Of Foreign Affairs: The Absence of Deterrent International Sanctions Encourages Israel to Unilaterally Resolve the Final Status Issues

وزارة الخارجية

The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs condemns, in the strongest terms, the Israeli government’s decision to annex 250 donums of land belonging to the Sur Baher in Jerusalem, for the Israeli municipality to build over 2,000 new housing units.

The ministry also condemns the occupation forces bulldozing of 12 thousand acres of land in “Wadi Qana” reserve; a natural land in the west of Deir Istiya town, to expand the structural plan of “Yakir” settlement, through adding nearly 2,000 new housing units.

This Israeli policy became exposed, where multiple aspects and methods are practiced on the ground by the occupation by confiscating land to construct huge roads for settlers. Ultimately, all those practices aim at benefiting settlements expansion.

The ministry confirms that Israel’s continuous settlement construction on the expense of the Occupied Palestinian territory, reflects the real intentions and attitudes of the Israeli ruling right-wing coalition, headed by PM Benjamin Netanyahu, which clearly neglect peace based on the two-state solution, and aims at creating new facts on the ground to resolve the negotiated final status issues unilaterally, which also confirms the absence of a real partner of peace in Israel.

The ministry calls on the international community and the United Nations to take immediate action’s and implement international legitimacy laws that requests the immediate stop of settlement activity, first and foremost the Security Council resolution number 2334. The ministry further demands world countries to move from only asserting statements of condemnation and denunciation of the settlements and their effect on the Two-State solution ,  to imposing real  sanctions on the occupation’s State , forcing them to stop rebelling against the international law, international legitimacy resolutions, and signed agreements.

 

 

Newspapers Review: Israeli killer soldier’s light sentence focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, February 22, 2017 (WAFA) – The 18-month sentence a Tel Aviv military court issued against the Israeli soldier who shot and killed an incapacitated Palestinian in Hebron in April of last year was the focus of the front page headlines in the three Palestinian dailies on Wednesday.

Palestinians said the soldier, Elor Azaria, received a light sentence for the execution-style killing of 21-year-old Abdul Fattah al-Sharif.

Al-Quds said Palestinians reacted angrily to the lenient sentence, while al-Ayyam said the cabinet slammed the sentence as a “green light” for cold-blood Israeli killing of Palestinians.

Members of the al-Sharif family were reported in al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida as describing the entire court case as a “show trial” and vowing to take the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Al-Hayat al-Jadida also slammed the Israeli court’s sentence as signaling “racism” and “incitement to murder” Palestinians.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam reported in their main front page story that the Israeli occupation authorities have decided to annex 250 dunums of land from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher in order to build a Jewish settlement.

Al-Quds added Israeli forces prevented Palestinians from reclaiming their farmlands in  Shufa town, southeast of Tulkarem, and delivered eviction notices to three Palestinian families in Aqraba village, south of Nablus.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem cancelled orders to expropriate 1,300 dunums of Palestinian land in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Issawiya and al-Tur.

Al-Ayyam said Israeli bulldozers leveled Palestinian farmland in Deir Istiya, southwest of Nablus. It added Israeli forces detained 24 Palestinians in predawn raids across the West Bank.

It also reported fundamentalist Jewish settlers attacked Palestinians several hours after they set up a settlement outpost in Khallet Hamad locality in the northern Jordan Valley.

Highlighting local municipal elections, al-Ayyam reported the Central Elections Commission (CEC) officially informed the government that it would be impossible to hold elections in the Gaza Strip.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida reported the cabinet called on the Hamas movement to reconsider its position on local elections.

The three dailies reported Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II as reaffirming their continued support for the two-state solution.

Highlighting the 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada in Tehran, al-Quds reported Chairman of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) Salim Zanoun as urging attendees to put pressure on all to protect Jerusalem.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam reported demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem have “dramatically increased” since US President Donald Trump took office on January 20.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida spotlighted a report by the Amman-based Group for the Protection of Nature (APN) and the PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) revealing that Israel “knowingly facilitated” the illegal manufacture, trade and use of hazardous pesticides inside occupied Palestinian territories.

 

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Families removed from their homes to make room for Israeli military drill

NABLUS, February 22, 2017 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Wednesday ordered all Palestinian residents of Khirbit Tana, east of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, to leave their homes to allow for military drill in that area, a local official said.

Aref Hanini, mayor of the nearby town of Beit Furik, told WAFA that Israeli forces evicted 30 Palestinian families from Khirbit Tana and ordered them out of their homes between 5 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon.

Khirbit Tana is located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli military control. More than 300 Palestinians live in caves and other temporary structures.

 

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Israeli soldiers detain four Palestinians near Hebron and seize vehicles

HEBRON, February 22, 2017 (WAFA) – Israeli soldiers detained overnight four Palestinians, including two former prisoners, seized vehicles and raided several homes in the Hebron district, Palestinian security sources said on Wednesday.

Israeli forces raided the town of Dura and detained two former prisoners after storming their family homes, in addition to seizing vehicles.

Sources added that Israeli soldiers detained one person from Arroub refugee camp to the north of Hebron and another at a checkpoint northeast of Bethlehem

 

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Israeli bulldozers demolish Palestinian building in East Jerusalem

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West Jerusalem municipality bulldozer demolishing a Palestinian home in Beit Hanina.

 

JERUSALEM, February 22, 2017 (WAFA) – Bulldozers of the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem Wednesday demolished a Palestinian-owned building in Beit Hanina, an Arab neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, local sources said.

The municipality claimed the building, owned by Lu’ay Abu Romouz, was built without a permit.

Israeli police sealed off the area before and during the demolition to prevent people from reaching it, said the sources.

Home demolitions in East Jerusalem have surged since the beginning of this year with the right wing municipality vowing to demolish all Palestinian buildings built without permit.

Two weeks ago, Israeli bulldozers demolished two Palestinian-owned buildings in Beit Hanina under the same pretext. One of them was still under construction.

While Palestinians in Jerusalem say they are forced to build structures and buildings without a permit as the Israeli municipality doesn’t issue permits for them, Jewish settlers are regularly given the approval of constructing more housing units in Jewish-only settlements.

 

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Sick Palestinian prisoner sees family one time in 15 years

RAMALLAH, February 20, 2017 (WAFA) – A sick Palestinian detainee sentenced for over nine lifetimes in Israeli jail was only allowed one family visit since his arrest in 2002, Monday said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

PPS said that the family of Jamal Abu al-Haija, 57, from Jenin refugee camp, was only permitted to visit him once back in 2002. He was sentenced to 20 years and nine lifetimes in prison.

Abu al-Haija spent eight years and a half in solitary confinement.

The detainee suffers from various health problems as a result of old gunshot wounds inflicted by Israeli soldiers and led to the amputation of his left hand.

Abu al-Haija is a father of five children, most of whom spent time in Israeli jails, along with his wife who was held under administrative detention back in 2002.

According to Addameer, all Palestinian families from the occupied territory who wish to visit a family member detained in Israel – prisons are located inside Israel, in direct contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention – must receive an entry permit into Israel. However, hundreds of families fail to receive permits at all, based on undisclosed security grounds.

Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention forbids the transfer of detainees outside the occupied Palestinian Territory.

“The application process for entry permits is lengthy and can take between one and three months, while the permit itself is valid for only one year. The application is submitted via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and then transferred to the Israeli authorities,” stated the center.

The center maintained that, “For every prisoner, only three adults and two minors are allowed to visit at the same time. Frequently, the suspension of these family visits to a given prison or detention facility is used as a form of collecting punishment.”

According to the center, frequently, families of prisoners and detainees report being turned away from a Green Line checkpoint despite holding a valid permit authorizing them to enter Israel on a prison visit.

In addition, prisoners are often transferred to different detention facilities just before a scheduled family visit. Such transfers are rarely communicated beforehand to the families, who then make the long journey only to find out that their visit had been cancelled.

 

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Israel to demolish several homes in Arab city in Israel

RAMALLAH, February 20, 2017 (WAFA) – Israeli police Tuesday handed a number of demolition orders for their homes and other structures in the Arab city of Qalansuwa, inside Israel, citing unpermitted construction as a permit.

The popular committee in Qalansuwa city called on all residents of Qalansuwa to stand in unity against Israel’s demolition policy which has been significantly increasing recently.

To be noted, the Israeli Netanya Magistrates Court has frozen on Sunday demolition orders against four homes in the said city, awaiting a court session that would issue a final decision regarding the orders.

 

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Israeli navy detains five Palestinian fishermen offshore Gaza

GAZA, February 21, 2017 (WAFA) – Israeli navy Tuesday detained five Palestinian fishermen after opening fire at their fishing boats offshore the Gaza Strip, local sources said.

The fishermen, who were sailing within the authorized nautical zone, belong to the same family.

WAFA correspondent said the Israeli navy attacked several Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing within four nautical miles and opened fire at them, causing damage to the boats.

Five fishermen were detained and one fishing boat was confiscated.

Despite the agreements between the Palestinians and Israel which allow fishermen to go 12 nautical miles inside the Mediterranean Sea, Israeli navy targets Gaza fishermen almost on daily basis, and doesn’t allow them to go further than three nautical miles, which the fishermen say drastically restricts their fishing activities.

 

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Newspapers review: Secret Aqaba summit, funding of settlement outposts focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, February 21, 2017 (WAFA) – The regional peace plan rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the February 2016 secret summit in Aqaba and the Israeli government’s funding of settlement outposts hit the front page headlines in the three Palestinian Arabic dailies.

Al-Quds said as part of the Aqaba peace plan, the US offered to recognize construction within West Bank settlement blocs. In return, Israel had to offer facilities for Palestinians and adopt a positive attitude toward the Arab Peace Initiative.

Al-Ayyam said in this regard Netanyahu offered a regional plan that supported settlement construction and did not recognize the two-state solution.

The three dailies said Israel diverted public treasury funds worth of millions of Shekels in direct support for settlement outposts across the West Bank.

The dailies added that Israel is building and expanding settlement industrial zones to deepen control of the West Bank.

On the other hand, al-Ayyam highlighted the demolition of a water pipeline and detention raids in its main front page news item.

The dailies, including al-Ayyam, said Israeli bulldozers demolished a water pipeline running between the Palestinian Bedouin communities of Atoof and Khirbet al-Hadidiya in the northern Jordan Valley.

They added that Israeli bulldozers demolished water well in the northern West Bank district of Salfit.

Al-Quds said Israeli forces demolished a caravan during a raid into the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, northeast of Jerusalem.

Al-Quds reported on Netanyahu’s first visit to Australia, scheduled on Wednesday, is met with protests.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said former deputy speaker of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, Moshe Feiglin and dozens of Israeli Jewish settlers stormed East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

President Mahmoud Abbas’ meeting with a delegation of Democratic National Community Party of Arabs in Israel was reported in al-Hayat al-Jadida and al-Quds. It said that Abbas emphasized the important role of the Palestinians in Israel in enriching communication and empowering the possibilities of peace.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida also reported on a statement by Azzam al-Ahmad, Fatah Central Committee Member, who said “We [Fatah members] will not become hostage to the Palestinian division and we are waiting for Hamas’ response to the Palestinian National Council.”

 

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A Parliamentary delegation from Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of the Faroe Islands visited Palestine

A Parliamentary delegation from Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of the Faroe Islands visited Palestine

A Parliamentary delegation from Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of the Faroe Islands visited Palestine, in coordination with the Representative Office of the Kingdom Denmark in Ramallah. The delegation had met with Ambassador Amal Jarou, Assistant to the Foreign Minister for European Affairs, at the Foreign Ministry Headquarter in Ramallah.

Ambassador Jadou welcomed the guest delegation and reviewed the political situation in Palestine.  She illustrated the difficulties faced by the Palestinian people in light of the further expansion of settlements and land theft, arresting Palestinian citizens and set up barriers and control over Palestinian natural resources. Ambassador Jadou also warned against statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, noting it strips the conflict of the content of international law and UN resolutions, and constitute a challenge the international consensus on the two-state solution, where Israel still rejects this solution and that the Israeli government conditions and policies had put the two-state solution in the wind. “We still believe in peace, especially since the alternative from the standpoint of Israel is one state that will exercise apartheid and racism towards the Palestinians and this is unacceptable the international community.” Ambassador Jadou added.

Jadou also called on members of Parliament and government of Denmark to recognize the State of Palestine on the lines of Sweden, Iceland and other European countries, stressing that the international recognition of the State of Palestine is the only guarantee to maintain a two-state solution.

 

 

The delegation tour in1 2 3 4 5 6 Palestine included meetings and tours in Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah and Bethlehem.

 

Foreign ministry condemns Israeli bill to muffle call to prayer

Foreign ministry condemns Israeli bill to muffle call to prayer

RAMALLAH, February 13, 2017 (WAFA) – The Foreign Ministry condemned the Muezzin bill approved by the Israeli Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, and accused the Israeli government of seeking to spark a religious conflict.

The ministry, in a press release issued on Monday, condemned in the strongest terms the new draft bill which prohibits mosques from using loudspeakers to call for the dawn prayer and imposes decibel-level s on the remaining four calls to prayer.

It said no one has the right to take such measure; stressing that the call to prayer is one of Islam’s main rituals.

The ministry said such measure would thrust the region into a religious war, and result in disastrous and painful consequences.

“The daily violations of the Israeli police and settlers in al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem; including performing prayers and other rituals, and Israel’s temporal division of Al-Aqsa mosque and its intentions to further impose a spatial division prove Israel’s true intentions to turn the current political conflict into a religious one.”

The ministry said the updated Muezzin bill still awaits the Israeli parliament’s vote in order to be signed into a law, which gives the international community a chance to intervene and stop the bill before it is too late.

It held the Israeli government full responsibility for the consequences and for any Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim response to the bill.





 





 

 

EU foreign policy chief: Israeli settlements law crosses dangerous threshold

BRUSSELS, February 7, 2017 (WAFA) – European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini Tuesday condemned the so-called “Regularization Law” adopted by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on Monday.

“The European Union condemns the recent adoption of the “Regularization Law” by the Israeli Knesset on 6 February,” Mogherini said in a statement. “This law crosses a new and dangerous threshold by legalizing under Israeli law the seizure of Palestinian property rights and effectively authorizing the confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land in occupied territory.”

Mogherini said the law “may provide for ‘legalizing’ numerous settlements and outposts previously considered as illegal even under Israeli law, which would be contrary to previous commitments by Israeli governments and illegal under international law.”

She said that in passing the law, “the Israeli parliament has legislated on the legal status of land within occupied territory, which is an issue that remains beyond its jurisdiction.”

The EU official warned that should the law be implemented, it “would further entrench a one-state reality of unequal rights, perpetual occupation and conflict.”

She said that the EU, also in line with recently adopted UN Security Council resolution 2334, “considers Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal under international law and condemns the recent settlement announcements,” which also “constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten the viability of a two-state solution.”

The EU urged the Israeli leadership “to refrain from implementing the law and to avoid measures that further raise tensions and endanger the prospects for a peaceful solution to the conflict, so as to reaffirm unequivocally through actions and policy its continued commitment to a two-state solution in order to rebuild mutual trust and create conditions for direct and meaningful negotiations.”

 

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German Foreign Office: “Legalization” of settlement outposts a disappointment

BERLIN, February 7, 2017 (WAFA) – The German government Tuesday denounced Israel’s settlement “legalization” law saying it was a disappointment.

A spokesman for the German Foreign Office said in Berlin that the Israeli parliament adoption of the law has “disappointed many in Germany who have deep ties to Israel and who have stood by it.”

“Our confidence in the Israeli government’s commitment to the two-state solution has been severely shaken,” said the spokesman, adding, “Only a negotiated two-state solution can bring peace and be in the interest of Israel. The two-state solution was and remains the basic pillar of Germany’s Middle East policy.”

Germany expressed hope that the Israeli government would renew its commitment to a negotiated two-state solution and to support that with practical steps.

It said that statements by Israeli officials regarding the annexation of parts of the West Bank and who are preparing draft laws for that, “the issue has become a question of credibility.”

 

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Jerusalem’s Israeli municipality demolishes Arab-owned building

JERUSALEM, February 8, 2017 (WAFA) –Bulldozers for the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem Wednesday demolished an uncompleted Palestinian-owned building in the northern neighborhood of Beit Hanina in occupied Jerusalem under the pretext it was built without a permit, according to witnesses.

They said Israeli police raided the area in the morning hours to provide protection to the bulldozers as they proceeded to tear down the building, owned by Ayman Abu Rmeileh, that was built few years ago but left uncompleted at orders from the Israeli municipality.

Israeli bulldozers on Tuesday also demolished a building in Beit Hanina under the same pretext.

Palestinians say they are forced to build without a permit because getting a building permit is virtually impossible as the right-wing mayor attempts to keep the city’s Palestinian population at a bare minimum while multiplying its Jewish residents by approving the construction of thousands of new housing units in Jewish-only settlements.

 

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Rights groups to petition Israel’s High Court against regularization law

HAIFA, February 8, 2017 (WAFA) – Two rights organizations said Wednesday that they are set to file a petition with the Israeli High Court against Israel’s new regularization law, which allows the state to expropriate private Palestinian lands in the West Bank for the purposes of settlement construction.

The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed the regularization law on Monday. Its passage drew strong Palestinian, Arab and international condemnation.

A statement by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) said in a statement that attorneys Suhad Bishara and Myssana Morany will formally file the petition on Wednesday which will include aerial photographs of 16 settlements overlaid with the borders of the West Bank Palestinian local councils within which they are situated.

Adalah and JLAC are representing Palestinian local councils in the West Bank upon whose lands Israeli settlements have been constructed.

Attorney Suhad Bishara, director of the Land and Planning Unit of Adalah, warned against the consequences of the new law:

“This sweeping and dangerous law permits the expropriation of vast tracts of private Palestinian land, giving absolute preference to the political interests of Israel as an occupying power and to Israeli settlers living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). It violates the property rights both of resident and refugee Palestinians.”

Attorney Bishara also emphasized that the regularization or validation law constitutes a violation of international law and the most recent United Nations Security Council resolution against the settlements.

“The primary aim of this law is to ‘validate’ more illegal settlements in the West Bank. These political considerations directly contradict the UN Security Council Resolution passed on 23 December 2016, which re-confirmed the illegality of Israeli settlements,” she said, adding, “Further, the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory is a war crime, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Moreover, the application of this Israeli law on the OPT is a violation of international law.

 

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Newspapers review: Postponing vote on “Legalization bill”, funeral of slain Palestinian

RAMALLAH, February 6, 2017 (WAFA) – The postponement of the final vote on the so-called Legalization bill and the funeral procession of a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces on January 25 hit the front page headlines in Palestinian dailies.

The three dailies said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested that a final vote on the so-called Legalization bill be postponed.

Al-Quds explained Netanyahu requested the vote, initially scheduled for Monday, be postponed in order to make further consultations with US President Donald Trump administration.

The bill, also known as the regularization or formalization bill, would see thousands of dunums of privately owned Palestinian land seized and dozens of illegal settlement outposts across the West Bank retroactively recognized by the Israeli government. The bill would pave the way for Israel’s annexation of the majority of the West Bank.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida and al-Ayyam said that the bill which would ban the use of loudspeakers for the Muslim call to prayer failed to produce a majority of votes in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

While al-Quds covered the vote postponement, al-Hayat al-Jadida opted to highlight the funeral procession of a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces on January 25 in its main news article.

It said Palestinians attended the funeral procession of Hussein Abu Ghush as Israeli occupation forces and settlers’ attacks against Palestinians across the West Bank continued unabated.

Abu Gush, 24, was held to his rest a day after his body was released by Israeli authorities after being withheld for 11 days.

He was killed by Israeli forces after he allegedly attempted a car-ramming attack at a bus-stop near Mikhmas town and the Israeli settlement of Kochav Yaakov, southeast of Ramallah, on January 25. No Israelis were injured in the alleged attack.

On the other hand, al-Ayyam reported in its main front page news item that a US federal appeals court rejected a request ]by the US Department of Justice[ to immediately reinstate Trump’s travel ban.

It described the rejection of the request as a “blow” to Trump.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet his French counterpart François Hollande in Paris in order to discuss the outcomes of the international peace conference.

Both dailies said Israeli settlers leveled Palestinian land belonging to Bruqin village, west of Salfit, in order to expand the nearby settlement of Burchin.

They also reported the Israeli High Court of Justice decided to postpone the demolition of nine settler units in Ofra settlement near Ramallah in the central West Bank.

Al-Quds reported Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as stating an Israeli soldier shot and killed a Palestinian despite that he posed no threat to the Israeli military.

The slain Palestinian was identified as Ahmad Kharubi, 19, who was killed on December 22, 2016.

Al-Ayyam said local municipal elections, scheduled on May 13, are at stake as the Hamas movement won’t allow them.

The dailies said a Palestinian succumbed to wounds he sustained a day earlier in accidental explosion in the northern Gaza Strip.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and another senior Israeli official, reportedly identified as Israel’s acting National Security Advisor Jacob Nagel, made a covertly met with Trump’s national security aides in Washington, DC.

 

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Abbas: 2017 might be last chance for two-state solution

BETHLEHEM, January 18, 2017 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday reiterated his commitment to peace saying this year might be the last chance to achieve the two-state solution.

In a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in Bethlehem, Abbas called on world countries that are yet to recognize the State of Palestine, to take the same path as the 138 countries which already did, the last of which was the Vatican.

He renewed support to regional and international efforts and initiatives to support the resumption of peace talks, namely the French initiative and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to hold a trilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow.

Abbas also called on US president-elect Donald Trump to work to make peace in the region and expressed willingness to join efforts to accomplish this goal.

The two presidents discussed the latest efforts to support peace in the region; in particular the results of the International Peace conference held by France on January 15 in Paris to jump start the peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Abbas said it is necessary to build on its achievements and form an international mechanism to keep up with any political process, a timeframe conforming to international law, the Arab Peace initiative and United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 2334, the Paris statement, the two-state solution on the borders of 1967.

In response to press questions, Abbas said that he heard about Trump’s statements about moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but have not been informed officially.

Abbas said, “If such measure was carried out, it would ruin the two-state solution. It is illegal, because moving the embassy would be the first similar incident in history, because all world countries’ embassies are in Tel Aviv.”

He said the decision will affect the negotiations and resembles the illegal decisions by the Israeli government to annex East Jerusalem, a land occupied in 1967 and is the capital of the State of Palestine.

While Abbas said it is wise to wait until Trump officially begins his duties as president, he called on him not to move the embassy saying Palestinians will have a political and diplomatic response should such move is carried out.

He also expressed optimism concerning Trump’s interest to reach a solution for the Palestinians- Israeli conflict.

 

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Ashrawi, a PLO official, says Paris declaration was watered down

RAMALLAH, January 17, 2017 (WAFA) – Hanan Ashrawi, member of Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said on Tuesday that the declaration issued at the conclusion of the international peace conference held on Sunday in Paris was watered down.

While thanking France for organizing the peace conference of foreign ministers and diplomats from 70 countries and five international organizations that put “the Palestinian issue back on the global agenda;” and also acknowledging the participants “for their commitment to international law and to the two-state solution,” Ashrawi nevertheless said that Israel and its proxies have managed to water down the declaration.

“[I]t is evident that Israel and its proxies managed to water down the Joint Declaration and weaken its effectiveness,” said the PLO official in a statement. “The Declaration omitted any reference to the creation of the Palestinian state on 1967 borders and restricted that ‘to ending the occupation that began in 1967,’ which does not necessarily conflate with the boundaries of the state.”

Ashrawi said: “Such an ambiguity enables Israel to circumvent UN resolutions and to violate the basic requirements for peace,” adding that “[w]e cannot accept such backsliding as it is inconsistent with the Participants’ intentions ‘to reaffirm their support for a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’  The Palestinian acceptance of 1967 borders (22% of historical Palestine) was an extremely painful concession, and it should not be subject to negotiations or modification.”

Ashrawi went to say: “The Declaration further creates a false symmetry between the belligerent occupier and a vulnerable nation under occupation by allocating equal blame to ‘both sides.’  Israel as the powerful party which is responsible for violations of international law and human rights must be held to account, and its violations must be curbed.  By repeatedly blaming the Palestinians for “incitement” and using the label of “all acts of violence and terror,” the Declaration creates a misleading equivalence and a stereotypical smear.

“It is unfortunate that the relevant UN Security Council resolutions are ‘to be recalled’ rather than forming the basis for resolving all permanent status issues. As a coherent body of law, these resolutions must be the essence of the operative portions of the Declaration and the search for a solution. In addition, UNSC resolution 2334 should be a firm foundation on which to base the quest for peace, and must not be equated with the July 1, 2016 recommendations of the Quartet which were not accepted by the Palestinian people nor with the U.S. Secretary of State’s Principles of December 28, 2016 which echo Israeli priorities and diction.

“In addition, the problem does not lie in the lack of incentives for the parties or in normalization between their civil societies; rather the real impediment has been Israel’s impunity and its refusal to comply with international law and with the will of the international community.  All the generous rewards, positive inducements and legal protection it has received from Europe and the U.S. have not brought it to compliance; what is needed is real accountability for Israel.  The Participants would do better to hold Israel to account and to send a real message that there is a price to be paid for its violations rather than dangling further rewards down the line.

“Absent effective follow-up mechanisms with the responsibilities of arbitration, monitoring and evaluation, and concrete engagement, the outcome of the Conference becomes just another verbal exercise.  The one-year framework within which to meet again mainly provides Israel with ample time to continue to create its unilateral facts on the ground and to destroy the declared objectives of this exercise which is the two-state solution.  Again, “negotiations” are not an objective but a means to an end, and it would be wise to draw the proper conclusions from the lessons learned after twenty-six years of bilateral negotiations that have merely entrenched the occupation and placed the two-state solution in serious jeopardy.

“The Palestinian side has repeatedly declared its commitment to a peaceful settlement defined as the two-state solution on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, and all permanent status issues being resolved on the basis of international law and international humanitarian law.  We have cooperated with the international community to bring that about and to fulfill our obligations as per the agreements.  Unfortunately, Israel has willfully reneged on its commitments, violated the agreements and repeatedly breached international law.  Simply stated, these are the real issues, and they must not be circumvented.

“We regret the unfortunate stance of the British and Australian governments, as well as the UK going so far as to prevent the EU Foreign Affairs Council from adopting the Declaration. Instead of rectifying its historical responsibility for the tragedy of Palestine, the UK is compounding its culpability by undermining initiatives, however modest, that try to bring about a two-state solution.  This is further cause for alarm given the rise of populism in the U.S. and in Europe and the strident declarations concerning the annexation of Jerusalem and illegal settlements in Palestine.  Such common language between the new governments in the U.S. and the UK does not bode well for peace at all and undermines the stability and security of an already volatile region.

“If those who claim to be committed to the two-state solution are serious, then their first test is to recognize the State of Palestine on the 1967 boundaries with East Jerusalem as its capital.  These are the attributes of even-handedness and of an active support of a just peace.”

 

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Newspapers Review: Israeli soldiers’ killing of a teenager focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, January 17, 2017 (WAFA) – The news about a Palestinian teenager shot and killed by Israeli forces during clashes in a village near Bethlehem hit the front page of the three main Palestinian Arabic dailies on Tuesday.

The dailies said Israeli forces shot dead Qusai al-Imour, 17, during intense clashes in Taqou, northeast of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida reported that while a Palestinian was killed during the clashes, five others, including a woman, were also injured. It said that Israeli soldiers arrested Imour while injured and left him to bleed to death after banning Red Crescent ambulances from reaching him.

Al-Quds said while clashes were happening in Bethlehem, Israeli forces uprooted on Monday hundreds of olive trees in the city of Qalqilya under the pretext of opening a road for settlers living in the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Al-Ayyam reported that 2,000 olive trees were going to be uprooted and that the area where the uprooting took place was declared a closed military area.

On a different subject, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s statements about the energy crisis in Gaza were also reported in the three dailies.

Al-Ayyam said that Hamdallah, during a press conference held at the Energy and Natural Resources Authority in Ramallah, demanded Hamas to hand over the energy authority in Gaza to the national unity government in order to be able to solve the ongoing energy crises. It also said that Hamas is ready to hand over all of its authorities under conditions.

It also said that electricity in Gaza is back to the 8-hour schedule after fuel was allowed into Gaza.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported Hamdallah also said that Hamas does not allow the government to run the Gaza Strip. He also said that Hamas continues to rule in Gaza while the conciliation government is supposed to be responsible for only civilian needs is unthinkable.

Hamdallah was also reported in al-Quds calling on Hamas to allow the conciliation government to rule over Gaza so it can do its tasks.

Al-Ayyam said residents of Silwad, a town near Ramallah, are opposed to Israeli plans to break down their land in order to allocate an area to move the illegal settlement outpost, Amona, to it.

It also said Russian Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov had met with representatives of Palestinian factions attending a conference in Moscow. This story was also reported in al-Quds on its front page.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida and al-Ayyam reported a statement by the president’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, that the recent Palestinian achievements have proven once again that Israel’s policies have failed and that the next major political battle is over Jerusalem. Al-Ayyam reported  that Abu Rudeineh said that Israel is isolated by the international community.

Al-Quds said US President-elect Donald Trump told Britain that he will not make a position on the Palestinian issue without first coordinating with it.

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Palestinian forced to demolish his own house in Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM, January 17, 2017 (WAFA) – Fearing that he would otherwise has to pay exorbitant amount of money, Firas Mahmoud proceeded on Tuesday to tear down his own house in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya after the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem said it was going to demolish his house for building without a permit, according to local sources.

The municipality informed Mahmoud that it was going to raze his house and make him pay the astronomical costs unless he demolishes it himself.

Palestinians, according to international and Israeli organizations, are forced to build on their property in East Jerusalem without permit because the Israeli municipality does not provide them with building permits in an effort to keep the Palestinian population in the occupied city to a minimum while increasing its Jewish population through building thousands of Israeli-only housing units in dozens of illegal settlements in and around the holy city.

 

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Video shows Israeli soldiers shooting to kill teenager

BETHLEHEM, January 17, 2017 (WAFA) – A video tape of Monday’s shooting incident in the village of Tuqou, near Bethlehem showed Israeli soldiers open fire to kill Qusai al-Imour, 17, and then drag him for 100 meters while seriously injured.

The video was taken by photojournalist Hisham Abu Shaqra, who happened to be in Tuqou filming the confrontations that had erupted that day between village youths and soldiers who apparently provoked the clashes when they entered the village without any reason.

The video shows soldiers aiming their guns at Imour when he was sitting under a tree and then shoot him. Imour, a high school student, was hit.

Fellow youths ran toward him to help him but the soldiers, who also rushed toward him after they hit their prey, prevented the youths from reaching him.

The video then shows the soldiers dragging Imour on the ground for around 100 meters, a scene reminiscent of when the soldiers shot Shaker Hassouneh, 21, in Hebron on January 12, 2001 and dragged him for a distance and many others, including one in Ramallah in late 2015.

Imour, who was still alive when the soldiers grabbed him, died shortly after.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said he was hit by three bullets to the chest.

The soldiers were not satisfied with shooting Imour and killing him in cold blood, they even opened fire at Palestinians who tried to free him from the soldiers’ hands injuring four, one of them an elderly woman.

 

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Newspaper Reviews: Paris peace conference focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, January 16, 2017 (WAFA) – News about the peace conference that was held in Paris on Sunday hit the front pages headlines of the three Palestinian dailies on Monday.

The dailies said that the conference affirmed that the two-state solution is the only possible way to achieve peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Al-Quds said President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian side is ready to resume negotiations within a specific timeline, while al-Ayyam said that Abbas welcomed the outcomes of the conference and said it affirmed international terms of reference and called for applying its terms.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported that Abbas referred to the importance of applying Security Council resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlement in the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

It said that Abbas called on the countries that haven’t recognized the state of Palestine, to recognize it officially. It also said that Abbas will go to France to meet French President Francois Hollande in order to discuss ways to peacemaking.

The three dailies added that the French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, warned against US President-elect Donald Trump’s intention of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. According to al-Ayyam, Ayrault said that moving the embassy would have dangerous consequences.

Similarly, al-Hayat al-Jadida said that Ayrault stated that moving the embassy would be an act of provocation and that it is always beneficial to keep in mind the 1967 borders and the UN resolutions.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam reported that Hollande said that the solution to the Palestinian case should be a priority to the international community and that any settlement should not be imposed on either Palestinians or Israelis.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was reported in al-Quds as stating that he made sure the statement of the Paris conference was fair to Israel.

Kerry also praised France for hosting the conference whose final statement supported the two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, according to al-Ayyam.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam both said that the United Kingdom expressed reservations toward the conference statement and  refused to sign it.

On a totally different subject, the dailies reported as well on the electricity crisis in Gaza quoting Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah criticizing smear campaigns against his government due to this crisis.

Al-Quds quoted Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk saying “we agreed with Fatah on everything and all is left is the implementation.”

The paper also said Palestine and Israel have agreed to revive their joint water committee.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israel said it will demolish 81 homes in the Arab Jabal al-Mukabber neighborhood of East Jerusalem seen as a collective punishment after the truck ramming attack in the city last week by a neighborhood resident that left four Israeli soldiers dead.

The papers also reported on the meetings for the Palestinian factions in Moscow to discuss local issues, including unity.

 

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14-year-old Palestinian sentenced and fined by Israel

RAMALLAH, January 16, 2017 (WAFA) – The Israeli military court at Ofer prison camp Monday sentenced 14-year-old Ayham Adawi, from Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron, to three months in prison and a fine of $800, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS.)

Munther Abu Ahmad, a PPS advocate, said that the military court found Adawi guilty of throwing stones while returning home from school.

He was in the company of Jaber Adawi, 13, when they were both detained on January 11.

 

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Israel detains former hunger-striking prisoner

HEBRON, January 16, 2017 (WAFA) – Israeli forces detained on Sunday Palestinian journalist and former hunger striking prisoner Mohammad al-Qeeq, according to local and security sources.

Security sources told WAFA that Qeeq, 33, a Palestinian journalist from Dora, Hebron, was detained while as he was trying to leave Ramallah through the Beit El military checkpoint, north of Ramallah.

No reason was given for the detention.

Qeeq was detained in November 2015 and held in administrative detention without charge or trial. He spent 94 days on hunger strike to protest his administrative detention before reaching a deal with the Israeli authorities in February that ended his hunger strike. He was released in May.

 

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