Abbas reiterates support for French, Russian peace efforts during visit to Turkmenistan


President Abbas with his host, president of Turkmenistan in Ashgabat. WAFA photo by Thayer Ghanaym.

ASHGABAT, November 14, 2016 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas Monday reiterated his support for France’s peace initiative and welcomed Russia’s proposal for a trilateral meeting in Moscow.

During an official visit to Turkmenistan where Abbas met with his Turkmen counterpart President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, Abbas called for the creation of a new mechanism to hold negotiations within a specified timeframe to implement the outcome of the international conference France had called for earlier this summer.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had proposed a trilateral meeting in Moscow with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to restart direct negotiations and peace talks between them. While Abbas said he had accepted the invitation, Netanyahu wanted to wait.

Abbas briefed Berdimuhamedow on the difficult conditions Palestinians’ continue to suffer from the Israeli occupation and the ongoing settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“We want Jerusalem to be a free worship site for the followers of all three monotheistic religions.” Abbas explained, “Israel has no right to change the city’s identity and violate our Islamic and Christian holy places.”

He said that Palestinians are ready to work for peace on the basis of international resolutions and the Arab peace initiative in order for Palestine and Israel to live side by side in peace and security.

The two presidents also discussed former and new economic agreements and ways to support and encourage cooperation between the businessmen from the two countries.

The two sides also signed five cooperation agreements in the economic, tourism and higher education sectors.

Abbas arrived in Turkmenistan on Sunday evening for a three-day visit.




Egypt opens Rafah border crossing for five days


RAFAH, November 14, 2016 (WAFA) – Egypt opened Rafah border crossing with Gaza for five days on Monday to allow passage for humanitarian cases and others stuck on either side of the border, officials said.

Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi reportedly ordered the border crossing between Egypt and the blockaded Gaza Strip to be open from Monday until Friday.

Hundreds of Gazans gathered at the crossing, which will be open in both directions to allow humanitarian cases, including students studying abroad, patients and visa holders to cross the borders.

The Rafah border is closed most of the year and opens for few days every two or three months. Egypt cites problems in the Sinai with armed groups as the reason for keeping the border with Gaza closed.

Rafah crossing is Gaza’s main gate to the outside world.

Its other crossing is with Israel where only special cases with Israeli-army issued permits are allowed to cross.




Newspapers Review: Israeli bills on settlements, call to prayer focus of dailies



RAMALLAH, November 14, 2016 (WAFA) – An Israeli committee’s approval of bills that would retroactively legalize settlement outposts across the West Bank and the volume of Muslim call to prayer from loudspeakers in mosques hit the front page headlines in Palestinian dailies.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israel’s legislation committee approved the two bills and al-Ayyam said the committee approved the so-called “Formalization Bill” that would allow the seizure of Palestinian land for the purpose of settlement construction. It added Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported the approval of the bill which s the Muslim call to prayer.

Highlighting official Palestinian reaction to these bills, al-Quds said Palestinian presidency would go to the United Nations Security Council and other UN institutions.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida quoted presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh as warning: “The latest Israeli practices would drag the region into disasters.”

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida spotlighted the latest Israeli escalation in demolition of Palestinian property across the West Bank.

They reported Israeli West Jerusalem municipality forced a Palestinian to demolish their own apartments and two stores in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir.

Al-Quds added Israeli forces ordered Palestinian families to evacuate their homes to make room for Israeli military drills in Khirbet Ibzeiq in the northern West Bank district of Tubas.

Al-Ayyam said Israeli bulldozers demolished Palestinian commercial structures for the second time within a week to the west of Tulkarem.

It added Israeli forces seized an 18-dunum plot of land near the Salfit-area villages of Hares and Bruqin for the expansion of the nearby industrial zone of Ariel settlement.

Furthermore, dailies said leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel Sheikh Raed Salah started an open-ended hunger strike to protest his solitary confinement.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said the s representing employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) announced a day-long strike on Monday in UNRWA facilities in Gaza city.

Spotlighting French bid to convene an international conference, al-Quds reported Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki as affirming France’s determination to convene the conference before the end of 2016.

Al-Ayyam said Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians, including six children, during overnight raids across the West Bank.

Furthermore, al-Ayyam highlighted Palestine’s permanent representative to the UN Riyad Mansour’s response to US President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

It reported Mansour as threatening to “make life miserable” for the US in the United Nations should Trump move the embassy.

The dailies said Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi ordered the Rafah border crossing to be open for four days starting from Monday.




Presidential spokesman: We are going to the Security Council to stop Israel


ASHGABAT, TURKMENISTAN, November 14, 2016 (WAFA) – Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, said Sunday night that the Palestinian leadership is going to the United Nations Security Council to stop Israel from implementing its recent legislations.

He described the legislations in a statement from Turkmenistan, where he is accompanying Abbas on an official visit, as “grave.”

Abu Rudeineh was referring to two legislations by an Israeli government committee that called for legalizing settlement outposts built in the occupied territories without government approval, and a decision banning the Muslim call for prayer from mosques’ loudspeakers because they disturb Jewish settlers.

The presidential spokesman warned that such legislation “is going to bring disasters to the region.”

He also said that Palestine is going to the Security Council and other international institutions “to stop this Israeli escalation.”




Newspapers Review: Trump’s victory focus of dailies


RAMALLAH, November 10, 2016 (WAFA) – Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the US presidential elections and the official Palestinian and Israeli reactions to this hit the front page headlines in Palestinian dailies on Thursday.

Al-Quds said Trump has become the 45th president of the United States “against all odds.” Al-Ayyam described it in a headline that went across the front page with a picture of Trump and his opponent Hillary Clinton as “the sudden victory earthquake that shocked the world.”

Highlighting official Palestinian reactions, al-Quds and al-Ayyam said President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Trump on his victory and expressed his hopes for “just and comprehensive peace” in the Middle East during Trump’s term.

Highlighting official Israeli reactions, al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida reported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as calling Trump “true friend of Israel.”

Both dailies also reported Education Minister Naftali Bennett as stating Trump’s victory would mark the end of a push for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. He reportedly said: “The era of a Palestinian state is over.”

While al-Quds and al-Ayyam highlighted Trump’s victory, al-Hayat al-Jadida opted to give prominence to the inauguration of Yasser Arafat Museum in Ramallah.

The dailies said Abbas inaugurated Yasser Arafat Museum ahead of the 12th anniversary of his death.

They noted the ceremony was attended by Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul-Gheit and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov.

Abbas was quoted as pledging that he would remain committed to the fundamental national principles.

Furthermore, the dailies reported Israeli forces shot and critically injured a Palestinian man following an alleged stabbing attack at the entrance of Huwwara village in Nablus. The man was identified as 32-year-old Muhammad Jallad from Tulkarem.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said a Palestinian man from al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central West Bank district of Ramallah died from wounds sustained 26 years ago.

The man, identified as Ahmad Elayyan Zayid, 44, was shot and injured by Israeli forces with a rubber-coated steel bullet in 1992 that partially paralyzed him.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israeli bulldozers demolished a carwash in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.

Highlighting situation at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, they said about 100 Jewish Israeli settlers escorted by police forced their way into the mosque compound.

Al-Quds reported British ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, as stating peace between Israel and the Palestinians is unlikely to happen for decades, even centuries.

Finally, al-Hayat al-Jadida said hundreds demonstrated in the Moroccan capital against the Israeli flag being flown at the UN climate talks in the central city of Marrakesh.




Abbas at Arafat rally: 2017 year to end the occupation


President Mahmoud Abbas addressing the crowds who gathered at the Muqata to commemorate Yasser Arafat death anniversary. WAFA photo by Huthayfa Srour.



RAMALLAH, November 10, 2016 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the year 2017 is going to be the year to end the Israeli occupation.

Addressing thousands of people who gathered at the Muqata, the presidential headquarters in Ramallah, to commemorate the 12th anniversary for the death of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Abbas said that “this is not a wish, but with work, with struggle, with all means available we tell the world, enough, the year 2017 should be the year to end the occupation.”

Abbas said that even though Arafat is dead, he still lives among his people in his soul.

“We have lost a body, but his soul still lives with us,” he said.

Arafat died on November 11, 2004 after a sudden illness following months of being under Israeli military siege in the Muqata. He was flown to France for treatment, where he died in yet unclear circumstances.

International forensic experts who did tests on samples extracted later from Arafat remains said he died of the highly poisonous polonium radioactive material, and Israel is believed responsible for assassinating him.

Abbas said that investigation into Arafat’s death was still ongoing, calling on the special committee set up to determine the causes and people behind his death to continue in its work until it finds the truth about his death.

The Palestinian leader said he will ask the United Nations Security Council for full UN membership for Palestine.

Palestine first applied for full membership in 2011 but it failed to get its application considered. The next year, Palestine was accepted as a non-member observer state, giving it the right to join all UN organizations and act as a full member but without voting rights.

Abbas also said that the Palestine will go to the Security Council to ask for a resolution demanding end to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, which he said “pose a real threat to chances of peace.” He said all settlements built since 1967 are illegal and they all should be removed.

He said that as the Palestinian people mark 99 years for what he described as “the despicable and unjust” Balfour Declaration of November 2, 2017, when then British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour “gave what is not his to those who do not deserve it,” as Abbas said, they will not give up on their claim for justice and apology from Britain.

Balfour promised world Jews a national homeland in Palestine totally ignoring its indigenous Palestinian Arab population who has been living there for centuries.

“This issue was emerged few months ago and it will continue,” he said in his demand for a British remedy of its act.

Abbas stressed that the Palestine Liberation Organization will remain the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, stressing that no one will ever have the right to decide the fate of the Palestinian people, which will be an only-Palestinian right.

Abbas the night before inaugurated the Yasser Arafat Museum, which tells the history of the Palestinian struggle through Arafat’s life span since early last century until Arafat’s death in 2004.

The museum, which was opened for the public after the rally, includes the rooms Arafat had spent the last months in his life while under Israeli siege.






TULKARM, November 9, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli forces on Wednesday tore down dozens of vender stalls outside Taybeh checkpoint that leads from the West Bank city of Tulkarm into Israel, according to witnesses.

Stall owners told WAFA that the removal of the vendors affects their economic status since that it is the only source of livelihood for their families.

They said the military did not notify them about their intention to demolish the stalls and therefore they were unable to evacuate them.

The Israeli military cited construction without permission as the pretext behind the demolition.




Israel issues 50 administrative detention orders against Palestinians


RAMALLAH, November 9, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli authorities issued 50 administrative detention orders against Palestinian detainees in the first nine days of this month, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Wednesday.

PPS lawyer, Mahmoud Halabi, noted that the detention orders, without charge or trial, included 16 new orders.

The term of the administrative orders ranged between three to six months.

Administrative detention is the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial and on the basis of secret evidence for up to six month periods, indefinitely renewable by Israeli military courts.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes as a way to protest their administrative detention and to demand an end to this policy, which violates international law.




Newspapers Review: US presidential elections main focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, November 9, 2016 (WAFA) – The race for the White House between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton attracted lots of attention in Palestinian dailies on Wednesday.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam highlighted ‘fierce competition’ between Trump and Clinton, while al-Hayat al-Jadida wondered who will become the next US president.

Highlighting demolition of Palestinian property, the dailies said Israeli bulldozers demolished three Palestinian buildings in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Wadi al-Joz, Issawiya and al-Tur.

The dailies highlighted Israeli “Civil Administration’s” approval of the construction of three major industrial zones near Mechabim settlement, northwest of Ramallah.

Covering Israeli military West Bank raids,  al-Quds said Israeli settlers stormed Nablus’ Joseph Tomb sparking clashes with local Palestinians.

It added Israeli forces closed down two blacksmith workshops in Jenin and the Hebron-area town of Yatta purportedly for being used for manufacturing weapons.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said forces detained at least 22 Palestinians, including a physically handicapped person, in overnight raids across the West Bank and opened fire at Palestinian fishermen in northern Gaza.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Palestinian cabinet announced a half-day workday on Thursday to allow state employees to participate in events commemorating 12 years since the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The cabinet also reportedly announced an official holiday on Tuesday marking 28 years for the Palestinian declaration of independence Arafat had announced in Algiers on November 15, 1988.

Furthermore, al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israel blocked Palestinian Authority’s efforts  to obtain full membership in international police organization INTERPOL. They added the INTERPOL would refer the PA’s membership request to a legal committee.

Furthermore, al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida highlighted Indian Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar’s visit to the occupied Palestinian territories.

They said President Mahmoud Abbas laid the cornerstone of the India-funded Palestine-India Techno Park in Birzeit University.

The dailies added Abbas would officially inaugurate on Wednesday the Yasser Arafat Museum built in the Ramallah presidential headquarters, the Muqata, next to the Arafat burial site.

Spotlighting European diplomats’ visit to the impoverished Gaza enclave, al-Ayyam reported head of the EU delegation to the West Bank and Gaza Ralph Tarraf as calling for the Israeli blockade to be lifted and international organizations to be allowed free movement.




Presidential spokesman: Palestine will deal with any elected US president


RAMALLAH, November 9, 2016 (WAFA) – Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Wednesday following the election of Donald Trump as the next US president that “we will deal with any president elected by the American people on the principle of achieving permanent peace in the Middle East based on the two-state solution on the June 4, 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

He said in a statement that “the US administration should understand that the achievement of stability and peace in the region comes through a just solution to the Palestinian cause based on international legality, which will eradicate chaos and extremism in the world.”

Meanwhile, PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said both the Republican and Democrat parties as in all previous US administration have said that a two-state solution is a top national interest.

He told WAFA that he hopes the next US administration “will change talk about the two-state solution to achieving this principle on the ground because security, peace and stability in this region will come only after defeating the Israeli occupation that started in 1967, some 50 years ago, and the establishment of the independent state of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital to live in peace and security alongside the state of Israel.”

The US Republican candidate Donald Trump won in surprise move the elections for the next president defeating Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton.




Newspapers review: Palestinian support to French bid focus of dailies


RAMALLAH, November 8, 2016 (WAFA) – Palestinian leadership’s support to the French bid t convene an international peace conference before the end of 2016 hit the front page headlines in Palestinian dailies.

The three dailies highlighted President Mahmoud Abbas’ meeting with France’s Special Envoy Pierre Vimont in Ramallah.

Abbas was reported in al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida as reiterating the Palestinian Authority’s support to the French efforts to convene the conference. In contrast, al-Quds and al-Ayyam  reported Israel’s official opposition to the French efforts.

Secretary-General of PLO’s Executive Committee Saeb Erekat was reported in al-Quds describing Israel’s call for bilateral talks as a “broken record”.

Vimont was reported in al-Hayat al-Jadida as expressing France’s determination to convene the conference in Paris and commitment to the two-state solution.

Presidential Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh was reported in al-Hayat al-Jadida as reiterating Palestinian support to the French bid regardless of whether Israel supports or rejects it.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida also said in their main front page news item that Israeli Jerusalem District couty sentenced 14-year-old Ahmad Manasra to 12 years in prison and Israa Jaabis, 32, to 11 years in prison.

Israeli forces demolition raids and attacks against Palestinian farmers across the West Bank also hit the front page headlines in the dailies.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said Israeli forces knocked down five tents belonging to Palestinian Bedouin communities in the northern Jordan Valley.

Al-Ayyam added the demolition took place while Israeli settlers were allowed to proceed with the construction of a news settlement outpost in the same area.

Al-Quds said settlers from Shavi Shamron settlement stole the harvest of 400 olive trees of Palestinian farmers in the Nablus district village of Deir Sharaf.

It added Israeli troops shut down a wedding hall in the Jerusalem district village of al-Eizariya.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida highlighted that Palestinian landowners submitted an appeal to an Israeli court rejecting demands to postpone the evacuation of the settlement outpost of Amona.

Mayor of Israeli Municipality of West Jerusalem Nir Barakat was reported in both dailies threatening to demolish thousands of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem in response to the prospective demolition of the outpost.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam reported Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Husseini and Israeli lawmaker Jamal Zahalqa as demanding that Israel return Palestinian property it has seized in West Jerusalem.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said several Israeli ministers and Knesset speaker demanded that Israel change the status quo in Jerusalem through allowing Jews to pray inside the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The dailies said a European Union (EU) committee has recommended that member states ask Israel to pay compensation for the demolition of donor-funded buildings in West Bank Area C.




Israeli forces knock down tents in northern Jordan Valley


TUBAS, November 7, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Monday knocked down Palestinian tents in al-Humma area, in the northern Jordan Valley, according to a local official.

Aref Daraghmeh, who monitors settlement activities in the Jordan Valley, told WAFA Israeli forces demolished tents belonging to a local Palestinian resident and his sons in al-Humma area. The local was identified as Mahmoud Awad.

They further seized some material that was found in the area.

The official noted that forces demolished residential structures and tents belonging to Awad almost a month ago.




Shashat to launch its 10th women film festival


RAMALLAH, November 7, 2016 (WAFA) – The Women Film Festival, Shashat, launches November 12 its 10th edition within the cinematic initiative under the theme “What’s Tomorrow,” a press release said Monday.

The festival is scheduled to take place from November 12 until December 11 in 17 cities, two refugee camps and one school, it said. It is held in collaboration with eight universities and 14 organizations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in its 90 screenings of four films by young women filmmakers.

The festival is planned to open on Saturday with the screening of two films to be shown in the Gaza Strip at Rashad Shawwa auditorium and at Ramallah Cultural Palace.

“What’s Tomorrow is a cinematic initiative which builds on Shashat’s mission of supporting the creativity of young Palestinian women filmmakers, especially from peripheral areas, by providing opportunities for them to produce Palestinian culture and express the diverse worlds of Palestinian reality,” said the press release.

“The 10th festival is a continuation of Shashat’s commitment to providing film activities throughout Palestine in the belief that culture is a human right, and building synergy between cultural organizations and community organizations working in villages, towns, cities, refugee camps and universities throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  This can contribute towards a robust and dynamic civil society expressing the full richness of the diversity of Palestinian life,” it added.

Four films made by Palestinian film makers from Gaza, Hebron, the Bedouin Wadi Abu Hindi, and Nablus will be presented during the festival. These are:

A very hot summer, 16:42 minutes, 2016, by Areej Abu Eid, is based on the personal experience of the filmmaker during the Gaza war of 2014.

Graffiti, 16:05 minutes, 2016, by Fidaa Nasr is about an anonymous graffiti she found on a wall in Hebron which tells of love in the time of death.

Salha, 13:09 minutes, 2016, by Lana Hijazi and Yousef Atwa, goes to Wadi Abu Hindi to meet the young Bedouin girl Salha Hamadeen who won in 2012 the “Hans Christian Anderson International Prize” for her children story “Hantoush.”

In Mawtini, 22:46 minutes, 2016, director Nagham Kilani approaches the very complex subject of identities.

“This festival is significant not just for women’s cinema but for all of film culture in Palestine, for this festival is the longest running film festival in Palestine and also the longest running women’s film festival in the Arab World,” said Shashat director general Alia Arasoughly, who supervised the production of the films.

Board vice-president, Abdel-Nasser al-Najjar, commented on the theme of the festival, “What’s Tomorrow,” saying: “It is imperative to provide responsible frameworks for Palestinian youth to express seriously their anxiety, despair, fears, aspirations and hopes for their tomorrow in a safe and constructive setting of their local universities and community organizations.”

Shashat, which received the Palestinian Ministry of Culture Award for Excellence in Cinema in 2010, is a cinema non-governmental organization in Palestine whose focus, since its founding in 2005, is on women’s cinema and the social and cultural implications of women’s representations.

The 10th Women’s Film Festival received funding from the European Endowment for Democracy, EED, National Endowment for Democracy, NED, and CFD, a Swiss feminist peace organization.




UN: Israeli destruction of humanitarian assistance items up by 150 percent


JERUSALEM, November 5, 2016 (WAFA) – Israel’s destruction and confiscation of items provided by international donors as humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people were up by 150 percent since the beginning of this year, a United Nations agency said on Thursday.

It is bi-weekly report on the Protection of Civilians covering the period between 18 and 31 October, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories said the Israeli authorities demolished or confiscated 18 structures in six Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem and Area C, displacing 54 people, including 29 children and affecting the livelihoods of more than 46 others.

It said eight of the targeted structures, including residential shelters, latrines and a water cistern, had been provided as humanitarian assistance in response to previous demolitions.

“This brings the total number of assistance items destroyed or confiscated since the beginning of 2016 to 273, up more than 150 percent compared to all of 2015,” said OCHA.

Palestinians are forced to build without permit in Jerusalem and the Israeli-controlled Area C, which amounts to more than 60 percent of the total area of the West Bank, due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits in these areas.

In addition to the destruction of shelters, OCHA also cited the damage Israeli forces and the Israel Antiquities Authority had done to a Muslim cemetery near the Old City of Jerusalem on grounds of being used to build gravestones without permits.

Israeli forces also conducted 196 search and arrest operations and arrested 234 Palestinians in the West Bank, it said.

The Jerusalem governorate accounted for the highest portion of arrests (97) and operations (56), including the raiding of a secondary boy’s school in East Jerusalem.

Also, in Jerusalem, the Israeli police banned 15 Palestinians from entering the Al Aqsa Mosque for periods ranging between three months and two weeks.




Fatah congress to be held on time, says official


RAMALLAH, November 7, 2016 (WAFA) – The seventh Fatah congress will be hold on time on November 29 and there is no pressure on the movement to cancel that, a senior Fatah leader said on Monday.

Amin Maqbol, secretary general of Fatah Revolutionary Council, denied in an interview with Voice of Palestine reports about pressure on the ruling Palestinian movement to cancel the conference.

“These reports are unfounded,” he said when asked about reports that some Arab countries are pressuring Fatah movement to cancel its upcoming meeting.

Reports said Jordan was threatening to withdraw the nationality from any person who is going to take part in the meeting.

Fatah Central Committee, chaired by President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the movement, has decided in its meeting last week to convene the long-delayed conference on November 29.

At least 1300 members are expected to attend the meeting but Maqbol said the preparatory committee is looking into requests by many more members to attend.

He said the number of those who applied to attend the conference exceeds 1300 but this question has to be dealt with by the Central Committee.




Army closure of Ramallah area checkpoints causes delays, traffic jams


RAMALLAH, November 7, 2016 (WAFA) – Hundreds of cars were held Monday morning at two Israeli military checkpoints north of Ramallah causing long delays and major traffic jam, according to the Palestinian liaison office.

It said the military closed Atara and Ein Senya checkpoints between Ramallah and the north of the West Bank preventing traffic in both directions forcing cars coming from the northern districts to look for long alternative routes to Ramallah.

Israeli forces have been obstructing Palestinian movement at Atara, a permanent checkpoint that is often kept open, following the shooting attack that took place almost a week ago at Beit El checkpoint and left three Israeli soldiers injured. The Palestinian attacker, a policeman, was shot dead at the scene. The Beit El checkpoint, also known as the DCO, a main one for Ramallah, has been closed ever since.

Soldiers manning the checkpoints have been stopping and searching Palestinian vehicles and checking identity cards of passengers causing serious traffic jams and long delays.

The measure is believed part of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s “carrot and stick” strategy against the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.




Japan condemns recent Israeli settlement plan in West Bank


RAMALLAH, November 6, 2016 (WAFA) – The Government of Japan deeply deplored Israel’s approval of plans for settlements in the West Bank.

A statement by Japan’s representative office in Palestine said the plans come despite repeated calls from the international community including Japan for freezing settlement activities.

“Settlement activities are in violation of international law and Japan has repeatedly called upon the Government of Israel to fully freeze settlement activities,” the statement said.

“The Government of Japan once again strongly urges the Government of Israel to desist from implementing its construction plans that are undermining the viability of a two-state solution.”




Palestine Exchange a full member at World Federation of Exchanges


NABLUS, November 6, 2016 (WAFA) – The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) has accepted the full membership application made by the Palestine Exchange (PEX) in 2015.

The federation approval was given during the 56th annual general assembly held this year in Cartagena, Colombia between 2-4 November 2016. Chairman of PEX, Dr. Farouq Zuaiter and CEO, Mr. Ahmad Aweidah attended the meetings.

Dr. Zuaiter thanked the WFE members and board of directors, in his acceptance speech, for their confidence in PEX saying that the upgrade to the full membership was a result of the long journey of developments and achievements witnessed by Palestine securities sector during the past few years in terms of the regulatory environment, market surveillance and PEX’s commitment to the highest levels of transparency, disclosure and investor protection, in spite of Palestine geopolitical conditions, the surrounding regional environment and challenging economic conditions.

Aweidah pointed out that this is a new milestone for PEX and a step towards positioning Palestine on the global investment map. He added that membership within the WFE is an important indicator for many institutional investors and investment funds, reflecting compliance with international standards, in the same context he pointed out that joining the WFE is an international recognition that the PEX applies international trading standards in its operations.

The Palestine Exchange started in the WFE as correspondent member and was upgraded in 2011 to an affiliate member. In August 2015 PEX submitted its application for full membership, a WFE verification committee made an on-site inspection visit to PEX and other stakeholders of Palestine securities sector, and based on that the WFE board of directors recommended the ratification on the decision to the General assembly meeting held in Cartagena, Colombia making PEX the 65th member of the WFE.

The upgrade to the Frontier Market status within the FTSE indices

In another context, the FTSE Russell indices upgraded PEX to Frontier Market status during its annual review conducted by the Group in September with effect from the 21st of Sept., 2016.

Commenting on this, Aweidah pointed that the exchange operates within a solid regulatory environment, uses best of breed technology and complies with financial markets best practice. He expressed his confidence that the new status within FTSE indices will enhance PEX competitive position among regional markets, giving it greater momentum and a wider spread globally.




Abbas praises Palestinian-Italian relations


ROME, November 1, 2016 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas emphasized on Tuesday the historical relations and friendship between Italy and Palestine, as well as praised Italy’s continuing support to the people of Palestine.

Speaking to Italian la Repubblica daily, Abbas said, “We do not want the Italian government to follow suit with our politics. But we demand that [Italy] be on the same distance from us and from Israel.”

He added: “If we fail or stumble, then we want [Italy] to tell us that we are wrong, and we want it to do the same with Israel. We are not asking for too much.”

Abbas reiterated the leadership’s commitment to the two-state solution of Palestine and Israel, based on the borders of 1967.

He also said efforts are underway to achieve the intra-Palestinian reconciliation.




Israeli navy detains six fishermen off Gaza


GAZA, November 1, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli navy on Tuesday detained six Palestinian fishermen and seized their boat while they were sailing offshore Gaza, according to local sources.

WAFA correspondent said that several Israeli naval boats attacked with gunfire a number of fishing boats while sailing offshore the coast of Gaza, before they detained six fishermen who were on board and seized one boat.

The fishermen were taken to southern Israel seaport of Asdoud.

Israeli navy targets Gaza fishermen almost on a daily basis, in a blatant breach of a ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in august 2014, following 51 days of bloody aggression on the Gaza Strip, which claimed the lives of over 2.200 Palestinians, mostly civilians.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), all Israeli attacks on Palestinian fishermen have taken place within the distance of six nautical miles, which it said “proves that Israeli forces’ policies aim to tighten restrictions on the Gaza Strip’s fishermen and their livelihoods.”




Israel Antiquities Authority sabotages Jerusalem cemetery


JERUSALEM, November 1, 2016 (WAFA) – Staff from the Israel Antiquities Authority accompanied by Israeli policemen on Tuesday broke into an Islamic cemetery outside Jerusalem’s Old City area.

Witnesses said staff from the Israel Antiquities Authority escorted by policemen broke into Bab al-Rahma cemetery, before they proceeded to destroy some of the tombstones of the existing graves.

Israeli authorities have in the past few years banned the burial of Palestinians at the Islamic cemetery of Bab al-Rahma.




Newspapers Review: Alleged Ramallah attack focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, November 1, 2016 (WAFA) – The Israeli army killing of a Palestinian policeman after who allegedly opened fire at army checkpoint near Ramallah and injured three Israeli soldiers before he was shot and killed was highlighted on the front page headlines in the three Palestinian Arabic dailies on Tuesday.

The three dailies said the incident took place near the settlement of Beit El, at the northern entrance of Ramallah. The alleged attacker was identified as 25-year-old Muhammad Turkman, from the Jenin area town of Qabatiya.

Highlighting Israeli reprisals, al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israeli military declared Ramallah a closed military zone.

The dailies said Israeli bulldozers demolished residential and agricultural structures and seized tractors belonging to Palestinian farmers and shepherds in the northern Jordan Valley locality of Khirbet al-Deir.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida added Israeli troops raided a middle school in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan reportedly attempting to detain students accused of hurling stones.

Highlighting detentions, al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israeli forces detained a total of 22 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids.

Furthermore, al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida spotlighted Italian President Sergio Mattarella’s visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Quoting statements by Mattarella during a press conference with his Israeli counterpart Reuven Revilin, they papers said he expressed concern that the stalemate in the peace talks would seriously threaten the two-state solution.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet Mattarella in Bethlehem on Tuesday.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida covered an Israeli researcher’s remarks on the drastic situation in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

They reported the Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement’s (Gisha) researcher, Elizabeth Tsurkov, as stating the situation in Gaza is very serious and Israeli decision makers are aware about this.

The three dailies covered senior Israeli officials’ calls for the annexation of the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem.

Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu was reported in al-Hayat al-Jadida and al-Ayyam as bragging that Israel would not withdraw to pre-1967 borders.

Highlighting Palestinian official response to the settlement annexation, al-Ayyam reported Jerusalem governor Adnan Husseini as stating Israel seeks to turn the West Bank into isolated cantons.

On the 99th occasion of Britain’s Balfour Declaration, al-Quds reported Palestinian officials urged Britain to recognize its historical and legal responsibility for inflicting suffering upon the Palestinian people.

Regionally, the dailies said Michel Aoun was elected as Lebanon’s president

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Iyad Madani resigned for “health reasons.”




Army orders 9 families in Jordan Valley to leave homes for military drills


JORDAN VALLEY, October 26, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli forces on Wednesday forced 13 Palestinian Bedouin families in Khirbet Ras al-Ahmar, a small village in northern Jordan Valley, to leave their homes to make way for Israeli military training in the area, according to local sources.

Mutaz Bisharat, who monitors Israeli violations in Jordan Valley, said the so called Israeli Civil Administration notified nine families in the village that they have to leave their homes at 4:00 p.m. on November 1 until 11:00 a.m. the next day.

Israeli army conducts military training in areas inhabited by Palestinian Bedouins on regular bases forcing many to leave their homes for few days each time.

Palestinians believe the military exercises are part of a larger Israeli scheme to empty the land of its Arab inhabitants for further settlement expansion.

In May 2014, a senior Israeli army officer admitted that military live fire training in the West Bank “is used as a way of reducing the number of Palestinians living nearby, and serves as an important part of the campaign against Palestinian illegal construction.”

According to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, Israeli military training in the Jordan Valley “cause unreasonable disruption to the lives of the communities in the area.”




Newspapers Review: Dailies highlight Israeli escalation at Al-Aqsa Mosque


RAMALLAH, October 26, 2016 (WAFA) – The three Palestinian Arabic dailies highlighted on their front page of the Wednesday issue Israeli escalation at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The main top front page headline in al-Ayyam said: “Occupation police recommends allowing Knesset members to ‘storm’ Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said: “The occupation and settlers escalate in Jerusalem; recommendation to allow Knesset members to ‘enter’ Al-Aqsa.”

Al-Quds talked about this subject but at the bottom of its front page while at the same time highlighting in the middle of the page statements by the director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Omar Kiswani saying: “Settlers’ intrusions during the Jewish holiday have become a nightmare.”

The top front page story in al-Quds talked about arrest of members of a cell in Nablus suspected of planning to “assassinate” three Fatah leaders in the northern West Bank city. The paper quoted Nablus governor Akram Rjoub confirming the arrests and saying that they are being interrogated regarding “a difficult, complicated and large security matter.”

Al-Ayyam reported on the same subject and said in a colored headline that the group had planned to carry out assassinations in Nablus with a goal “to disrupt public security and peace.”

Another main front page headline in al-Ayyam said settlers set up tents in an outpost in the Jordan Valley and occupation forces raid and close roads in Husan and Nahalin, villages in the Bethlehem area.

A top front page headline in al-Quds talked about the new Jewish outpost in the Jordan Valley and printed a picture of the settlers setting it up.

It however also said in the same story that Israeli soldiers took measurements for the Abu Sbeih residence in al-Ram neighborhood, just outside the Jerusalem wall, in apparent preparation to demolish it. Misbah Abu Sbeih shot and killed on October 9 two Israelis, including a police officer, in a Jerusalem attack. He was shot and killed.

Al-Ayyam highlighted as well reports that the Israeli army had admitted to shooting dead Palestinians when they could have been arrested without shooting them.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida printed an exclusive story on its front page about arrest of a Palestinian after returning from Jordan with fake clearance invoices that he was planning to sell in the Palestinian areas. Businesses get reimbursed for the value added tax they pay on imported goods.

It also quoted Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, denying statements attributed to him about the situation in Syria.

It also printed a story about the near opening of Yasser Arafat Museum in Ramallah.




Jerusalem building demolished, 30 Palestinians displaced


JERUSALEM, October 26, 2016 (WAFA) – Crews from the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem demolished on Wednesday a four-apartment building in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan under the pretext of construction without permission, according to owners of the building.

Israeli police accompanied by bulldozers broke into the area in the early morning hours and proceeded to demolish the building owned by four brothers from the Ja’afreh family displacing as a result 30 individuals.

Issa Ja’afreh, owner of one of the apartments, said he and his brothers have been fighting the demolition order for nine years hoping to get a building permit but to no avail.

He said that the families were surprised by staff from the Israeli municipality informing them on Tuesday that the building will be demolished and that they will have pay demolition costs estimated at nearly $40,000.

Israel rarely grants construction permits to Palestinians in East Jerusalem forcing people to build without permit.

Only 14 percent of East Jerusalem land is zoned for Palestinian residential construction, while one-third of Palestinian land has been confiscated since 1967 to build illegal Jewish-only settlements, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).






Museum of late President Yasser Arafat to officially open on November 10


Nasser Alkidwa, left, with Nabeel Kassis, announcing the opening of Yasser Arafat Museum in Ramallah. Photo by Tamer Bana


RAMALLAH, October 25, 2016 (WAFA) – The Museum of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat will officially open to the public on November 10, Nasser Alkidwa, who heads Yasser Arafat Foundation, announced on Tuesday.

He said the museum, which is built near Arafat’s mausoleum in Ramallah,  will open on the 12th anniversary for Arafat’s death.

The overall construction of the museum, according to Alkidwa, took a total of six years; four years for the building construction and two years for the completion of interior works. He cited lack of Palestinian expertise and funds as main reasons for the long period of construction.

He estimated the total construction costs at $7 million covered by successive Palestinian governments.

The architecture of the museum was designed by the late prominent Palestinian architect Ja’far Touqan. Situated on 1,350 square meters, the total surface area of the museum is 2,600 square meters and is covered by the same Palestinian stone as the mausoleum, the mosque, minaret and much of the exterior courtyards.

The museum contains an electronic information center, a small specialized library, a hall for variable exhibitions and an auditorium.

The museum, dedicated to the preservation of contemporary Palestinian national memory, is connected to Arafat’s main office and command headquarters and overlooks his temporary mausoleum in the muqata’a.

It is supervised by the Museum Committee, headed by Nabeel Kassis, and operated by a team of professionals headed by the Museum’s Director Ahmad Soboh. The museum was designed and displaced by Egyptian expert Hussein Shaboury.

Highlighting the museum vision in his speech, Kassis said the museum is aimed to present to the world and Palestinian people and document the contemporary narrative of the Palestinian national movement through the life and work of Arafat within an educational and cultural setting.

He added the display area of the museum consists of four ascending ramps. A bridge connects the new building with the office of Arafat, where he withstood 34 months of siege by Israeli military. The innate character of the besieged area has been preserved to provide visitors with an immediate, authentic visualization of the conditions at the time of the siege.

Commenting on the exhibits, Kassis said Yasser Arafat Foundation (YAF) has collected, archived and preserved personal possessions, documents, photographs, videos and other audio materials related to the late President Arafat.

He highlighted the complexity of collection process over time, especially the destruction of some of Arafat’s personal archive in Gaza following Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007.

He noted that Yasser Arafat Foundation managed to retrieve some of Arafat’s possessions and archive, including the Nobel Peace Prize medal from Gaza through cooperation with Hamas.

He pledged that the foundation would continue to exert efforts in order to restore and archive all of Arafat’s possessions and archive.




Newspapers Review: Abbas-Erdogan meeting on front page of dailies


RAMALLAH, October 25, 2016 (WAFA) – The meeting in Ankara between President Mahmoud Abbas and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyib Erdogan was highlighted with photos on the front page of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies on Tuesday.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida made this subject it main front page story and said Abbas and Erdogan discussed the latest in the situation in the Palestinian territories. The meeting was also covered in al-Quds and al-Ayyam.

Israel’s excavations under Al Aqsa Mosque that threaten its collapse as well as Jewish settlers’ intrusions also hit the front page headlines in Palestinian dailies.

Al-Quds reported on a Jewish group called “Returning to the Mount” and said this group that is composed of Jewish terrorists seeks to ignite the region.

It added the movement’s leaders are pushing toward a new catastrophe against the Palestinian people and said the Israeli High Court has warned of real danger against the mosque compound.

Highlighting Israeli Jewish settlers’ intrusions, al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said settlers marched through Jerusalem’s Old City and held religious rituals at the gates of the mosque compound.

Furthermore, al-Quds covered official Arab reactions to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to be personally involved in digs at below the mosque compound.

It reported Arab League as slamming Netanyahu’s announcement about his personal participation in the digs as a “qualitative escalation” against the mosque.

While al-Quds highlighted rising tensions at the mosque compound, al-Ayyam opted to cover Israeli strikes on the blockaded Gaza Strip.

It said Israeli warplanes targeted a Gaza location after a rocket allegedly had been launched from the Gaza Strip on Israel, noting that the rocket did not land in Israel. Al-Ayyam explained that the targeted area is in Beit Hanoun.

The remarks made by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman during a rare interview with the Palestinian newspaper al-Quds also hit the front page headlines in al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported in this regard the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate criticizing the al-Quds for conducting this interview.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida covered Israeli forces and settlers’ assaults against Palestinians across the West Bank.

Both dailies said Israeli forces stormed the family home of a Palestinian who had been killed in January in the Hebron town of Sair.

Al-Quds added settlers seized Palestinian farmland in the Salfit district town of Kufr al-Dik, while al-Hayat al-Jadida said a total of 24 Palestinians were detained in overnight raids across the West Bank.




UNRWA disburses $1.7 million to 242 Gaza families to rebuild war damaged homes


GAZA, October 24, 2016 (WAFA) – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said Monday that it was able to disburse over $1.7 million for reconstruction and repair work of Gaza homes damaged from Israel’s last war on the coastal enclave.

The funds reached a total of 242 refugee families across Gaza, it said in a statement.

Over $951,000 will go for homes that need reconstruction and over $759,000 to severe repair works.

Emergency shelter – including support for home repairs, reconstruction and interim shelter solutions – is a top priority for UNRWA, said the international agency.

“The Agency remains committed to supporting affected families yet requires new funding to continue the shelter cash assistance program,” it said.

UNRWA’s assessment confirmed 142,071 Palestine refugee houses as impacted during the 2014 war; 9,117 of them are considered totally destroyed. 5,417 shelters have suffered severe, 3,700 major and 123,837 minor damages

Since the start of the 2014 emergency shelter response, the Agency has distributed over $215 million (excluding Program Support Costs) to Palestine refugee families whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the war.




Jewish fanatics provoke Palestinian residents of Jerusalem’s Old City


JERUSALEM, October 24, 2016 (WAFA) – Hardline Israelis marched on Monday through Jerusalem’s Old City area provoking the city’s Palestinian residents and in some instances holding religious rituals at the gates to al-Aqsa Mosque, residents said.

The extremists, who held their activities under heavy police protection, were marking the last day of the Jewish Sukkot holiday.

Dozens of extremists also stormed al-Aqsa Mosque compound under police protection also as part of the holiday activity provoking as a result the Muslim worshippers at the mosque.

The site is revered by Muslims as their third holiest place, while Jews claim the mosque is the site of two Jewish temples destroyed in ancient times.




Premier off to Germany for joint steering committee meeting


RAMALLAH, October 24, 2016 (WAFA) – Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is slated to leave to Germany later Monday to participate in the joint Palestinian-German ministerial steering committee meeting, according to a government press statement.

Hamdallah will head a 6-person ministerial and official delegation to the fourth meeting of the joint Palestinian-German steering committee scheduled to start in Berlin on Wednesday.

The prime minister welcomed development in bilateral relations between Palestine and Germany since the formation of the joint committee, according to a statement issued at the conclusion of the weekly cabinet meeting held in Ramallah on Monday.

“We appreciate the German government’s initiative to form the steering committee,” Hamdallah said in the statement. “This encouraged a number of European countries to follow suit, which will contribute to our efforts to build strategic Palestinian-European partnerships,” he said.

He thanked Germany for its continuous support to the Palestinian people in all sectors and its commitment to continue this support that will improve the performance of the Palestinian institutions in preparation for establishing the independent state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.

Hamdallah said he will urge donor countries to meet their financial commitment to the Palestinian Authority to help it deal with its chronic financial crisis and help rebuild the Gaza Strip devastated by Israel’s 2014 war.




Palestinians prepare to mark 100 years for Balfour Declaration


RAMALLAH, October 24, 2016 (WAFA) – Palestinian officials and activists decided Monday to hold year-long activities in Palestine and around the world marking 100 years for the Balfour Declaration.

The campaign will be launched on November 2, the date marking 100 years since then British foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, had promised in a letter to Zionist leaders a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. The letter triggered the century-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict and many wars in the Middle East.

“The Balfour Declaration is in its essence a colonialist project,” Taysir Khalid, member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told the meeting held at the PLO’s Ramallah headquarters.

He said the activities will continue until November 2, 2017 with a goal “to remind the world and particularly Britain that they should face their historic responsibility and to atone for the big crime Britain had committed against the Palestinian people.




South African activist turned back at Tel Aviv airport


RAMALLAH, October 24, 2016 (WAFA) – The Israeli airport authority denied entry to a South African citizen because of her human rights activities, according to a letter WAFA received on Monday.

Sara Robinson said in the letter that she was banned entry because of suspicion she was going to participate in activities in the Palestinian territories.

She said she is a volunteer with the World Council of Churches and that she came to Palestine as a participant in the International Solidary Movement to monitor human rights in Hebron in the south of the West Bank.




Newspapers Review: Dailies highlight settlement construction in Jordan Valley, Hebron

RAMALLAH, October 24, 2016 (WAFA) – The construction of new Israeli settlement outposts in the Jordan Valley district of Tubas and the southern West Bank district of Hebron hit the front page headlines in Palestinian dailies on Monday.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israeli occupation authorities were proceeding with the construction and expansion of a new settlement outpost in the northern West Bank.

Al-Quds explained the new outpost was established with the knowledge of the Israeli authorities and that a total of 33 dunums were recently seized for the construction of the outpost of Givat Salit.

While al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida highlighted the construction of the Jordan Valley district outpost in their main front page news articles, al-Quds opted to report that Israeli settlers were building wooden homes or structures to the east of Hebron in the southern West Bank.

Highlighting tensions at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, al-Ayyam said a total of 346 settlers stormed the compound on the final day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Al-Quds said they totaled several hundreds.

The three dailies also reported Israeli troops stormed the Bab al-Rahmeh cemetery, adjacent to the mosque compound, smashing several tombstones.

Furthermore, al-Quds spotlighted Palestinian reactions to secretary-general of Islamic Jihad Ramadan Sahalah’s initiative for ending thedivision including urging President Mahmoud Abbas to cancel the Oslo accords and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to backtrack its recognition of Israel.

Al-Quds said Palestinian political factions welcomed Salah’s initiative as a way out of the current crisis in the Palestinian political scene.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) upcoming vote on a resolution on Jerusalem also hit the front page headlines in the dailies.

Al-Quds said UNESCO is slated to vote on another resolution on Jerusalem, while al-Ayyam said Israel was exerting diplomatic pressure in an attempt to foil UNESCO’s adoption of this resolution.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said the Israeli government would compel every young Israeli before the beginning of military service to participate in archeological digs below the mosque compound.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida added Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would himself participate in the digs.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida said the Palestinian Health Ministry has announced a series of personnel transfers in Beit Jala hospital and Bethlehem health directorate.

It is worth noting this series of personnel transfers came on the heels of the death of two patients and accusations of medical malpractice at Beit Jala hospital over the past weeks.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida reported President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Turkey for an official visit.




World’s largest floor mosaic opened for public display in Jericho


RAMALLAH, October 20, 2016 (WAFA) – Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Thursday unveiled the world’s largest floor mosaic for public display in the West Bank district of Jericho.

The mosaic covers the floor of the reception hall and the large bath of Hisham’s Palace, an Islamic archaeological site, north of Jericho, and has been described as one of the largest and most beautiful mosaic floors in the world.

It is composed of 38 large tiles and spans a total area of 826 square meters.

The mosaic was found under rubble due to an earthquake that struck Jericho in 947 A.D when it was first discovered in the 1930s.

Jericho Governor Majed Al-Fetyani said the archeological piece depicts a “tree of life,” with a lion preying on a deer on the left side of the tree, and two deer living peacefully on the other side of the tree, which symbolize peace and war.

While the site was discovered in 1873, the first excavations were conducted in the 1930s by the British archaeologist Robert Hamilton.

The ruins of Hisham’s Palace, built during the Umayyad Empire, stand on 60 hectares in Khirbat al-Mafjar, west of the Jordan Valley and 260 meters below sea level.

Funded by Japan, the ministry conducted restoration works for close to a year to remove the rubble, and uncover the mosaic floor.

The palace has several residential floors, a mosque, and a courtyard with a portico, a fountain and a steam room.

The site was believed to have been built by the Umayyad Caliph Hisham bin Abd al-Malik, between 724 and 743 A.D., but experts believe his nephew and successor al-Walid II built the palace.

Al-Walid II lived in the structure but it was never completed and an earthquake destroyed much of it in 749.

The ceremonial opening of the floor was attended by Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rula Ma’ay’a, Jericho Governor Majed al-Fityani, Secretary-General of PLO Executive Committee Saeb Erekat and the Japanese Ambassador to the Palestinian Authority (PA) Takeshi Okubo besides to a host of other officials.

Ma’ay’a said the mosaic floor is expected to boost tourism in Palestine and Jericho.

She said the floor was discovered many years ago but was covered in sand and material to protect it from climate change until a roof was built.




Newspapers review: Killing Palestinian woman at Nablus checkpoint focus of dailies


RAMALLAH, October 20, 2016 (WAFA) – The killing of a Palestinian young woman by Israeli forces following an alleged stabbing attempt at the Nablus district checkpoint of Zaatara hit the front page headlines in Palestinian dailies.

The three dailies reported a young Palestinian woman at the Nablus district checkpoint of Zaatara.

Al-Quds said the slain woman, identified as 23-year-old Rahiq Birawi, came from the Nablus village of Asira al-Shamaliya, while al-Ayyam explained that she was killed purportedly for attempting to stab a soldier.

Al-Quds also highlighted clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the vicinity of the Nablus refugee camp of Balata in the main front page news article.

It said Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian young man during a raid that sparked clashes into the camp. A soldier was also injured during the clashes.

Not only did al-Ayyam spotlighted the killing of the young women, but it also spotlighted West Bank detention raids in its main front page news article.

It reported Israeli occupation forces detained five Palestinian young men following clashes near the Ramallah town of Nilin.

Al-Quds reported Israeli military as announcing the five detainees allegedly formed a “cell” that targeted a military vehicle near the town.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida added a total of 25 Palestinians were detained during raids Tuesday night and dawn Wednesday across the West Bank, mostly from Jerusalem.

Highlighting tensions and tightened restrictions on Palestinian movement across Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, al-Quds said thousands of Israeli Jewish settlers took to the streets and alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Al-Ayyam explained hundreds of settlers forced their way into the mosque compound, (heeding calls by extremist organizations to increase Jewish presence on the  holy site during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot).

Highlighting the imminent forced displacement of Palestinians, al-Quds said the Palestinian Bedouin community of Abu Hindi are caught between the rock of Israeli forced displacement and the hard place of Israeli plan to relocate them.

Al-Ayyam reported the United Nations as announcing 2.3 million Palestinians are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said contaminated Israeli food products are being exported to Palestinian markets.




Israeli forces ransack Jerusalem town printing house


JERUSALEM, October 20, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli forces on Thursday raided, ransacked and shut down a printing house in the town of ar-Ram, north of Jerusalem, according to local sources.

Army also seized some of the content of the printing house before leaving the site.

A statement by the Israeli army claimed the shutdown came under a military order signed by the central area commander under pretences of distributing “inciting” material.




As UNESCO board formally adopts Jerusalem resolution, cabinet welcomes vote


The cabinet in its weekly meeting in Ramallah. Photo courtesy of the Government Media Center.


RAMALLAH, October 18, 2016 (WAFA) – The Palestinian government welcomed on Tuesday a recent UNESCO vote on Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque.

The cabinet welcome came as the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) formally adopted the resolution in its Tuesday meeting.

Omar Awadallah, director of the UN department in the Foreign Ministry, told WAFA that the resolution was adopted without a vote.

The cabinet said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting in Ramallah that the vote, first passed on Thursday by 24 votes in favor to six against and 26 abstentions, was a just one which supports the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

It said the vote is evidence of the international community’s rejection of Israeli policies that try to falsify the history of the holy city.




‘UK Football for Palestine’ ends tour with game in Jenin


‘Football for Palestine’ team posing at the Arab-American University soccer stadium on their last day of week-long tour of the West Bank. photo courtesy of the Arab-American University.


JENIN, October 18, 2016 (WAFA) – The British ‘Football for Palestine’ team, organized by the UK Lions Football Club, conclude a week-long tour of the West Bank with a friendly soccer match at the Arab-American University stadium in Jenin, according to a university press release.

It said the team visited the university and met officials who briefed them on the situation at the university and its academic programs, particularly plans to build the largest sports center in Palestine with a football stadium of international standards, multi-purpose sports arena and various fields.

The university team played a friendly football match against their British counterparts that ended with a 4-4 draw, according to the university’s press release.

The British team arrived in Palestine on October 9, however without five team members – two women and three men – who according to the group’s Facebook page were held at Tel Aviv airport for several hours before they were deported back to England.

While in Palestine, the team toured Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, Bil’in, Jericho and the Jordan Valley, Nablus and Jenin, where they held talks and played games against local teams in most of these cities.

The UK Lions FC said on the Football for Palestine website that the purpose of the tour was to raise funds for ‘MAP’- ‘Medical Aid for Palestinians’ and ‘Working with Villages in Palestine’ (formerly ‘Feed a Village in Palestine’) that help Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

The money raised will help fund grassroots development projects in Palestine, it said.

The group concluded its tour on Sunday.




Newspapers Review: Confrontations at Al-Quds University focus of dailies


RAMALLAH, October 18, 2016 (WAFA) – The confrontations between students and Israeli forces at the campus of Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, just east of Jerusalem, hit the front page of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies on Tuesday.

Al-Ayyam made the confrontations its main front page story and said many students were hurt but none seriously.

In similar stories, the paper said the Israeli “occupation authorities continue to steal land in the West Bank to build cemeteries for the settlers.”

The papers also reported on the Israeli police decision to shut down the media center Qpress,” which is based inside Israel, and banned the owners from even running in on the web and Facebook.

Al-Quds made the military campaign to “liberate al Mosel from ISIS” in Iraq as its main front page story with a picture of Iraqi army tanks on their way to Mosel.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida, on the other hand, made the meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and Christian religious leaders as its main front page story with a headline going across the front page saying: “The President: Our people are steadfast on its land and will never give up on efforts to win liberty and independence.”

Al-Ayyam said President Abbas told the Christian delegation that he is going to contribute toward renovating Christ tomb in the Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem.

It also quoted in a headline the Israeli rights organization, Yesh Din, saying that “state land” is the current Israeli pretext to seize Palestinian land in the West Bank.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida quoted Issa Qaraqi, head of the prisoners commission, saying that 470 detainees in Israel are serving life terms, some of them multiple.

It also had a story from Reuters on the unveiling this coming Thursday at Hisham Palace in Jericho of the largest mosaic platform in the world.

It also said the ruling Greek party, Syriza, voted unanimously to recognize Palestine.

Al-Quds said the Hamas government in Gaza has made major shifts among senior government officials.

The paper also quoted a new Najah University poll saying 57.6 percent of the respondents opposed postponing elections.




PLO official calls for international intervention to protect Palestinians

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli security forces during clashes near Damascus Gate at Jerusalem's old city May 15, 2013. Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and at East Jerusalem on Wednesday during demonstrations to mark 65 years since what they call the Nakba (Catastrophe) when Israel's creation caused many to lose their homes and become refugees. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW ANNIVERSARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTXZNBX

RAMALLAH, October 18, 2016 (WAFA) – Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, called on the international community to intervene to protect the Palestinian people against Israeli aggression, a statement issued by Ashrawi’s office said on Monday.

Addressing a conference sponsored by the Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine, Ashrawi called for immediate international intervention to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people, their land and resources and the urgent need for governments worldwide to recognize Palestine in the immediate future, said the statement.

Ashrawi provided the professionals, scholars and activists at the conference held at Akershus University College in Oslo, Norway, with a critical assessment of the deterioration of conditions on the ground and Israel’s illegal and discriminatory policies and the nature of its present coalition, as well as contemporary developments in the region and beyond and their impact on Palestine.

She stressed the importance of all forms of nonviolent resistance to stand up to Israeli violations, particularly the illegal Jewish-only settlements and settlement outposts on stolen Palestinian land.




Fanatic Jews hold provocative tours of Al-Aqsa Mosque


JERUSALEM, October 18, 2016 (WAFA) – Around 200 Jewish fanatics Tuesday held provocative tours of Al-Aqsa Mosque, a sacred Muslim ground,  in Jerusalem’s Old City heeding calls by extremist organizations to increase Jewish presence on the holy site during the Jewish holidays, according to Muslim officials.

The Muslim Waqf, which runs the al-Haram al-Sharif (holy sanctuary) compound, the location of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, said worshippers kept a close eye at the fanatics to make sure they do not perform illegal religious rituals on the site.

Beefed up police escorts kept a distance between the fanatics and the Muslim worshippers to prevent any confrontations between them.

The Jewish groups claim al-Haram al-Sharif is the location of the Jewish temples destroyed thousands of years ago and call it Temple Mount.

Muslims contest this claim and say that years of Jewish excavations under and around the holy site had never revealed any evidence of a Jewish temple at that location.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Thursday voted in favor of a resolution condemning Israeli interference in the affairs of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which it recognized as a solely Muslim holy site.




EU provides €1.5 million for the Social Protection System in Palestine


JERUSALEM, October 18, 2016 (WAFA) – Marking the United Nations-designated International Day of Eradication of Poverty, the European Union (EU) and the Ministry of Social Development launched a new €1.5 million capacity building program for the improvement of social protection systems in Palestine, an EU statement said on Monday.

The new EU funded program has been designed in support of the upcoming Palestinian Social Protection Sector Strategy and the National Policy Agenda 2017-2022.

The new program focuses, in particular, on the effectiveness and coherence of Palestine’s social protection system through focusing on improving the social services that in turn will contribute to the goal of ending poverty in all its forms in Palestine, in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

”The EU supports the Ministry of Social Development to operate in the highest capacity to better serve vulnerable families through an inclusive and equitable social protection system,” said EU Representative Ralph Tarraf on the occasion.

“Ending poverty means: better education, better health, higher employment rates, and a growing economy. All these components are the building stones of a future Palestinian State,” he said, adding, ”Today, we observe the International Day of Eradication of Poverty while acknowledging the efforts and struggles of people living in poverty. It is a collective obligation for all of us to fulfill the needs and aspirations of everyone for this and future generations.’

The EU-funded program aims to support the Social Ministry to improve and develop the strategic and management capacity of the institution to better serve vulnerable families and groups in Palestine.

It is intended to support the ministry’s regional directorates in delivering services to vulnerable groups. It also aims to enhance the multi-stakeholder partnerships coordination for local social protection planning and service delivery.




FM Malki regrets Ban statement on UNESCO vote


RAMALLAH, October 18, 2016 (WAFA) – Foreign Minister Riyad Malki Monday expressed regret regarding statements United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made criticizing a recent UNESCO vote on Jerusalem.

Ban, said Malki in a statement, “chose to join the chorus appeasing the public relations bullying and media spin orchestrated by Israel, the occupying power, which attempts to shift the focus from Israel’s illegal and colonial actions in occupied East Jerusalem to issues irrelevant to the content and objectives of the resolutions adopted by UNESCO.”

Malki added: “This is especially regrettable since the Secretary General is well aware, including through various UN reports, of the dangerous situation in Jerusalem due to the illegal Israeli practices and policies.”

The resolutions adopted by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization concerning occupied Palestine, said the statement, “aims to put an end to Israel’s dangerous and illegal actions against cultural property, including holy sites in Jerusalem, which undermine coexistence and tolerance.  It addresses illegal Israeli practices in occupied East Jerusalem, including violations of the right of Palestinians – Christian and Muslim – to worship and access their holy sites in the occupied capital and elsewhere in Palestine.”

Furthermore, added the statement, “the text of the resolutions clearly reiterates Jerusalem’s character as a city central to the three monotheistic religions.”

Malki said on Ban statement that “willfully choosing to ignore these facts is regrettable and inexcusable.”

Ban said in a statement issued by his office on the Thursday UNESCO vote that “Al Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram al-Sharif, the sacred shrine of Muslims, is also the Har HaBayit—or Temple Mount—whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism.”

He added: “Any perceived undertaking to repudiate the undeniable common reference for these sites does not serve the interests of peace and will only feed violence and radicalism.”

Malki said in his statement that “Palestine will continue to defend itself through available legal and multilateral fora. We will not be intimidated by PR bullying and efforts to divert attention from Israel’s violations and disregard for international law. Our resolve to protect Palestine’s heritage, as a bastion of tolerance and coexistence, is unwavering and we appreciate the principled support of states, who stand up to these fallacious campaigns and stand tall in defense of international law and the rights enshrined therein.”




UNRWA: Israel delaying Gaza reconstruction; Premier: Donors should do more


GAZA, October 17, 2016 (WAFA) – Israel is delaying reconstruction of the Gaza Strip by not approving names slated for receiving financial aid to rebuild their destroyed homes, director of UNRWA operations in Gaza Bo Schack said on Monday.

Speaking at a press conference in Gaza, Schack said the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is doing all it can to resolve this issue with the Israelis.

He said Israel has not responded since May to the names presented to it for its approval.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said in Ramallah on Monday that his government has urged donor countries to give more in support of Gaza reconstruction.

He said marking two years for the Cairo Conference for the Reconstruction of Gaza that while donors’ support is acceptable, his government is working on getting all countries to meet their financial obligations toward reconstruction.

A report by the National Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip said the 2014 Israel war on Gaza left 11,000 homes totally destroyed and 160,000 were either severely of partially damaged with 6800 units damaged in a way that made them uninhabitable.

It said that until October 2016, financial support was provided for the reconstruction of 6892 totally destroyed housing units leaving 4,018 still in need of financial assistance.

Also, support was found to rehabilitate 6131 of the severely damaged units not suitable to live in while finances were found to rehabilitate 93,258, or 60.9 percent, of the partially damaged housing units.

Qatar has contributed 33.3 percent of the costs to rebuild the destroyed homes, Kuwait provided 26.8 percent and Saudi Arabia 12.69 percent, said the report.

In addition to the reconstruction of the destroyed or damaged homes, Hamdallah said a new water desalination plant is underway in Gaza that will provide 55 million cubic liters of drinking water a year to the Gaza residents.

He said work on this project is expected to be completed by the end of next year.




Fatah congress to convene in November, says official


RAMALLAH, October 17, 2016 (WAFA) – Fatah plans to hold its seventh congress in November, Fahmi Zaarir, deputy secretary of Fatah Revolutionary Council, said on Monday.

Speaking to Voice of Palestine, Zaarir, who is also spokesman for the preparatory committee for the congress, said preparations are underway for convening the seventh congress and most of the preparation should be completed by the end of this week.

He said that a month after holding the Fatah congress, the Palestine Liberation Organization is going to convene a meeting for the Palestinian National Council, the Palestinian parliament in exile.




Official: ISIS sabotages tombstones for Palestinian leaders


RAMALLAH, October 17, 2016 (WAFA) – Members of the Islamic State sabotaged on Sunday tombstones of Palestinian leaders in a cemetery in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, Anwar Abdul-Hadi, director of Palestine Liberation Organization’s political department in Syria, told WAFA on Monday.

He said ISIS sabotaged the headstones for graves that belong to late Fatah leaders, including Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) and Saad Sayel.

He described the destruction of the graves as “an offense to the history of the Palestinian revolution, its nationalist mission as well as a cowardly act that should be condemned.”

Fatah movement also condemned the destruction of the graves.




Newspapers review: Dailies highlight Israeli settlers’ attacks against olive farmers

RAMALLAH, October 17, 2016 (WAFA) – The three Palestinian Arabic dailies highlighted in their Monday issue attacks by Israeli settlers against olive farmers in the West Bank.

The papers said that while settlers were intensifying their attacks against farmers in this year’s olive harvest season, soldiers were busy raiding Palestinian villages and towns and arresting people, some of them were minors.

Al-Quds said Jewish fanatics have stormed Al Aqsa Mosque and called on Jews to intensify their presence in the Muslim holy place during the Jewish holidays.

It said police arrested a mosque guard and 11 other people from Jerusalem’s Old City.

Al-Ayyam said Israel released Eman, the 17-year-old daughter of Misbah Abu Sbeih, after holding her for one week. Abu Sbeih shot and killed two Israelis, including a police officer, in Jerusalem on October 9. Three of his children were detained and his family business was welded shut.

The paper included an interview with Foreign Minister Riyad Malki in which he expressed hope that a United Nations Security Council session on the Middle East on Wednesday would push forward Palestine’s drive to get a Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The paper also highlighted the death of an infant in an uncertified nursery in Kufr Aqab, an East Jerusalem neighborhood, as well as the death of two people when their car fell into a ditch in Wadi Bathan in the north of the West Bank.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida also reported on this story but its main front page story dealt with a conference held in Cairo which was condemned by Fatah as an attempt to undermine the authority of President Mahmoud Abbas as head of the movement.

The paper quoted one Fatah official in Gaza as describing the conference as “the Dahlan conference” in reference to former Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan who was dismissed from the movement.

The same paper also quoted Azzam Ahmad, member of Fatah Central Committee, saying that Hamas did not abide by the national consensus government and continues to rule in Gaza.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam printed photos on their front page of Palestinians at Rafah border point with Egypt in the south of the Gaza Strip waiting to leave the Strip.

Al-Ayyam printed a photo of families of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers in Hebron demanding that Israel release their bodies to be buried at home.




Israeli navy boats open fire at Gaza fishermen


KHAN YUNIS, October 15, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli navy boats opened fire Saturday at fishermen off Khan Yunis coast forcing them to return to shore, according to local officials.

They said the Israeli boats shot several rounds of bullets at the Gaza fishermen but luckily no one was hurt.

Israeli s the fishing area off the Gaza coast to three nautical miles, which is hardly enough to catch fish, a livelihood necessity for Gazans.

Navy boats often chase fishermen in sea, seize their boats and detain them.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since 2006.




FilmLab kicks off third Days of Cinema event


RAMALLAH, October 15, 2016 (WAFA) – FilmLab: Palestine kicks off in Ramallah on Saturday its third annual film festival, Days of Cinema, according to a press release.

More than 80 films from Palestine and the world, including 45 feature films and documentaries, 25 short films and 12 children and animation films, will be shown at different Palestinian cities during October.

The festival will open at 7:00 pm at Ramallah Cultural Palace with the Argentinian film “Our Last Tango,” Directed by: German Kral and in the presence of the film composer Luis Borda.

The film tells the life and love story of Argentina’s two most famous tango dancers María Nieves Rego, 80, and Juan Carlos Copes, 83. They met when they were 14 and 17 and they danced together for nearly 50 years. In all those years they loved and hated each other and went through several painful separations but always got back together.

The festival will feature 21 Palestinian films most of them are short films or documentaries.




British Consulate General launches initiative to support olive harvest


JERUSALEM, October 15, 2016 (WAFA) – British Consul General in Jerusalem Alastair McPhail announced on Friday that for the second year in a row, the British Consulate General will be supporting the Palestinian olive harvest in Area C and East Jerusalem.

McPhail made the announcement during an olive picking event in the village of Yanoun, near Nablus.

“I’m proud to launch our initiative to support Palestinian olive growers in vulnerable areas of the West Bank, for the second year in a row,” he said. “I hope that this exciting partnership with the Palestinian Authority Commission Against the Wall and Settlements will provide Palestinian farmers, in some of the most vulnerable areas, with the confidence and resilience to harvest their olives during these difficult times.”

“The British Consulate General is keen to support Palestinian farmers during the olive harvest, as olive oil is a main source of income for thousands of Palestinian families.  This campaign will help 36 Palestinian communities, therefore increasing their steadfastness in their land,” said the Consul General.

This year, the UK will support 36 Palestinian communities affected by Israeli settlements and settler violence.  The initiative, a joint partnership with the PA Commission Against the Wall and Settlements, will provide £20,000 of olive harvesting equipment – including ladders, olive collection sheets, olive harvesting combs, saws and tree clippers – to support over 300 Palestinian families.

The communities chosen for support are among those most affected by settler violence, located adjacent to settlements, settler outposts and the barrier, where farmers are unable to access their lands at all times.

As part of the initiative, the Consulate General secured permits so that the farmers would be able to harvest their olives.  British Consulate General staff and representatives from the PA Commission will join these farmers to help pick the olives and to provide a supportive presence.

McPhail said that the UK had launched the initiative “to highlight the UK’s policy on Israeli settlements: settlements are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace and take us further away from a two state solution.”