Half Million Hotel Guests in Palestine in 2011

RAMALLAH, April 23, 2012 (WAFA) – The total number of guests in Palestinian hotels was 500,000, spending 1.25 million nights during 2011, Monday said a report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).

It said that 37% of guests were from European Union member states, 11% were Palestinian, and 9% were from US and Canada.

The number of hotel guests grew between 2001 until 2010, but were lower by 12% during 2011 compared with the previous year.

Room occupancy was 26% in 2011; 42% in Jerusalem, 35% in the Middle of the West Bank, 21% in the North of the West Bank, 15% in the South of the West Bank, and 4% in Gaza Strip hotels.

The hotels operating within the Palestinian Territory in 2011 were: 8 hotels with 185 rooms and 508 beds in the northern West Bank; 27 hotels with 1,279 rooms and 2,776 beds in the central West Bank; 28 hotels with 1,478 rooms and 3,079 beds in the Jerusalem Region; 28 hotels with 2,050 rooms and 4,341 beds in the south; and 12 hotels with 536 rooms and 985 beds in the Gaza Strip.

Source: WAFA News


“Israeli military violence happens every day”

In a comment published in Berlingske Tidende Dana Golan, Executive Director of Breaking the Silence share her own experince with violence in the IDF forces. Dana Golan Writes “The president, the Prime Minister and Chief of Staff said that the violent act was an exception to normal behavior in the military. However what the Danish activist experienced happens every day in the occupied, Palestinian territories. Soldiers who served in the occupied territories know that this is not an unusual behavior for an officer – it is just another example of the practical aspects of the occupation”

Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. We endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life.

Read Dana Golans comment in Berlingske Tidende “Israelsk militærvold sker hver dag”

Fayyad met Danish activist injured by soldier

RAMALAH (Ma’an) — Prime minister, Salam Fayyad met with Andreas Ias, the Danish activist who was injured Saturday by an Israeli officer.

Fayyad condemned the attack and all of Israel’s “continuous violations” against foreign activists, including the recent efforts by Israel to prevent over 1,000 visitors from visiting Palestine.

“When we talk about Israeli violations against our people, we won’t forget the attack on Andreas, who arrived in solidarity, nor the Israeli and international campaign to play down the attack,” Fayyad said.

Fayyad thanked the 20-year-old Danish national and all foreign solidarity activists.

Israel’s military, meanwhile, has suspended a senior officer over the incident.

Source: Maan News


Israel frees Khader Adnan

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities released former hunger-striking administrative detainee Khader Adnan late Tuesday, a Ma’an correspondent reported.

Adnan arrived at his home in Araba in the northern West Bank to meet his family before returning to a tent reception where he spoke to well-wishers and officials in the village. Hundreds of Palestinians chanted slogans in solidarity with prisoners as they welcomed the former detainee, whose 66-day hunger strike inspired others to protest administrative detention. Under the provision, Israel can imprison suspects indefinitely, without ever informing them of the charges they face or presenting their lawyers with any evidence. Over 300 Palestinians are held without charge in Israel.

Inspired by Adnan’s protest, a female prisoner, Hana Shalabi, refused food for 43 days before the Israelis decided to deport her to Gaza, barring her from returning to her native West Bank for at least three years.

Source: Maan News

Fayyad backs out of meeting with Netanyahu

By Noah Browning

RAMALLAH (Reuters) — A planned meeting Tuesday between the Israeli and Palestinian Authority prime ministers may be canceled or postponed after Salam Fayyad refused to attend, senior Palestinian officials said.

Fayyad was reluctant to be seen as engaging with Israel on a day when more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike to protest against their conditions in Israeli jails, the officials said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office had released no details of a time or venue for what were to have been the highest-level talks with the Palestinians since peace negotiations broke off in 2010.

But Israeli officials, asking for anonymity because no official announcement on the talks had been made, had said Monday that the meeting was to be held on Tuesday.

Palestinian officials said Fayyad was to have delivered a letter to Netanyahu from President Mahmoud Abbas detailing grievances on the stalled peace talks and reiterating a call to halt settlement building.

Instead, the letter may be handed to a senior Netanyahu aide by PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat later Tuesday or Fayyad might meet the Israeli leader on a less politically charged date, the officials said.

Earlier, an Israeli official said Netanyahu would reiterate his call for talks to resume without any preconditions and for a meeting with Abbas.

Read the rest of the article “Officials: Fayyad backs out of meeting with Netanyahu”.

Cabinet Calls on UN to Pressure Israel to Release Prisoners

RAMALLAH, April 17, 2012 (WAFA) – The Palestinian Cabinet Tuesday called on the United Nations to immediately mobilize to exert serious pressure on Israel to release all Palestinian detainees, according to a cabinet statement.

The Cabinet, following its weekly meeting chaired by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, affirmed that Israel should treat detainees according to international conventions and covenants by granting them their rights stipulated in those agreements.

Marking the Palestinian Prisoner Day, the Cabinet expressed the Palestinian  Authority (PA) and the Palestinian people’s solidarity with the prisoners in their struggle and strike held today to gain their basic rights, including halt of strip-search policy, collective punishment, deprivation of visitations, prohibition of secondary and higher education, denial of newspaper access, and continuous cell attacks and maltreatment.

In addition, the Cabinet severely condemned Israeli violence against international activists, the last of which was the attack of an occupation military officer against a Danish activist during his participation in a cycling tour around the Jordan Valley on Saturday.

The release criticized Israeli ban on an international peaceful solidarity group from heading to Bethlehem to participate in peaceful activities condemning occupation and its violent and oppressive policies against our people.

The Cabinet welcomed the Quartet’s call on Israel to hold responsibility and take active measures to end settlers’ violence and incitement, including holding them accountable to their actions, welcomed the Quartet’s statement that Area-C is viable for the future of a Palestinian state and called to enable PA to conduct economic and social developments in it.

Moreover, it affirmed the importance of having the Quartet actively follow-up and create mechanisms that would guarantee Israel’s compliance to the implementation of its commitments.

The release called on the Quartet to have Israel commit to a total end of settlement activities including East Jerusalem and its surroundings, considering Israel’s continuation of settlement activities in contravention with international law and forms a genuine danger on the two-state solution and the future of peace in the region.

Source: WAFA News

Israeli officer who hit Danish protester with rifle unlikely to be dismissed

Denmark has asked Israel for a report on an incident during which IDF officer Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner was filmed assaulting a young Danish activist with a rifle. The Danish activist Andreas Ias was one of a large group of protesters who were blocking a main road. Andreas Ias told Israel’s Channel 10 that he was only walking slowly towards the soldiers and were chanting Palestinian songs calling for the liberation of Palestine. ” I don’t believe that is a provocation,” he said.

Out of the sudden the IDF soldier struck Andres Ias in the face and he fell to the ground and was carried away by the other activists. The Israeli Defence Force has begun an investigation into the episode and the Lt. Col. concerned has been temporarily suspended. However it is unlikely that the IDF officer will be dismissed. At least not based on how past incidents have been handled. Very few investigations of violence by the IDF forces against Palestinians or protesters in the West Bank have resulted in criminal prosecution or discharge from the army even though the incident was filmed and generated public protests. According to Haaretz Eisner will get off with a reprimand.

Learn more on Haaretz.

Source: Maan News and Haaretz

Head of Mission of Palestine in DK spoke at SF’s annual national congress

“The Socialist People’s Party (SF) is friends of Palestine”, stated Amro Alhourani who is Head of Mission of Palestine in Denmark. He spoke at SF’s annual national congress. During his speech Amro Alhourani thanked SF and their support for Palestine and recognition of the state. “By upgrading the Palestinian representation to “Mission of Palestine “, Denmark takes a great step forward in recognizing Palestine, stresses Amro Alhourani. His speech was met with loud applause from more than 400 SF delegates.

Learn more “Palæstina-repræsentant: SF er palæstinensernes gode venner”

Danish peace activists was hit in the face with gun

JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Israel’s military suspended a senior officer who struck Andreas Ias, a Danish activist in the face with a M-16 rifle by senior IDF officer Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner, said an army spokesman on Monday. In a video published online Lieutenant-Colonel Shalom Eisner holds his M-16 rifle in both hands and shouts at a group of demonstrators taking part in a bicycle rally in the occupied West Bank, before suddenly striking Andreas Ias in the face.

Andreas Ias fell to the ground and was carried away by activists. Israeli military spokesman Yoav Mordechai told Army Radio the incident happened on Saturday. Andreas Ias, was treated in a Palestinian hospital for light injuries and told Israeli media on Monday that he was well.

Source: Maan News

See video of the episode: Palestinians and internationals attacked during biking trip in Jordan Valley 

Prisoners declare hunger strike

1600 prisoners being held in administrative detention in Israeli jails have declared an open hunger strike.

The prisoners strike will begin on 17th April, in protest against their illegal detention without charge or trial, the violent nature of their arrests and the punitive measures taken against them by the Israeli Prison Service. The Palestinian Authority minister for prisoner affairs said ‘“The situation inside Israeli prisons has become very dangerous and serious.” The mass hunger strike will coincide with Palestine Prisoners Day and the day Khader Adnan will be released.

Source: Palestine News Network 

Settlers Plan Takeover of Yatta

RAMALLAH, April 16, 2012 (WAFA) – A group of Israeli settlers Monday set up tents on a Palestinian-owned land east of Yatta, a town south of Hebron, as a prelude to take it over, according to a local activist.

Popular Committee Coordinator in Yatta, Rateb Jabour, told Voice of Palestine radio that settlers set up tents on land located between the Israeli settlements of Carmiel and Ma’on.

He said the settlers most likely will claim the land for themselves and start adding housing units to it to create a new settlement.

Jabour did not say if the land owners, the Abu Subha family, will contest the settlers’ takeover of their land.

Source: WAFA News

Fayyad Welcomes Quartet Statement

RAMALLAH, April 12, 2012 (WAFA) – Prime Minister Salam Fayyad Thursday welcomed the Quartet’s latest statement on the Middle East conflict.

He particularly welcomed in a statement a call by the Quartet on Israel to take effective measures against ongoing settler violence and incitement in the West Bank, including bringing the perpetrators of such acts to justice.

Fayyad also welcomed the Quartet position on Area C, which makes more than 60% of the West Bank and under full Israel control while the Palestinian Authority is not allowed to develop it.

He specifically welcomed the part in which the Quartet said it encourage the parties “to facilitate the social and economic development of Area C, which is of critical importance for the viability of a future Palestinian state as well as for its Palestinian inhabitants to be enabled to lead a normal life.”

Fayyad said he was encouraged by the Quartet’s call to preserve and build on the Palestinian Authority’s institutional gains, and expand economic opportunities for the Palestinian people.

He mentioned the Quartet’s call “on the need for continued international support for the Palestinian Authority’s important institution-building efforts,” and specifically a call on the international community to ensure the contribution of $1.1 billion in assistance to meet the Palestinian Authority’s 2012 recurrent financing requirements.

Fayyad said the Quartet should follow up on its calls, particularly the call on Israel to stop settlement activities including in East Jerusalem.

He said Israel’s settlement construction violates international law and poses a real threat to the two-state solution and future of peace in the region.

The Quartet principals – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton – met in Washington on Wednesday and discussed the latest in the peace process.

They called on the parties to resume direct negotiations, which has stopped since September 2010 due to Israel’s refusal to suspend settlement construction in the occupied territories during negotiations.

Source WAFA News

Quartet seeks to revive peace talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Middle East peace mediators on Wednesday criticized Israeli settlement building and called on donors to meet aid pledges to the Palestinians as they sought to revive moribund peace talks.
The so-called Quartet – the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States – said they stood behind their Sept. 23, 2011 call for the parties to reach a peace deal by the end of 2012, an objective that seems increasingly remote.
While welcoming plans for the prime ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to meet later this month, the group also cited “the increasing fragility of developments on the ground” and chided Israel for “continued settlement activity.”
The Israeli and Palestinian Authority prime ministers plan to meet later this month but the rare talks may only sharpen differences that have brought peace negotiations to a standstill.
Source Maan News

Quartet Stresses Financial Aid to Palestinians

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2012 (WAFA) – The international Quartet on Middle East peace called following its meeting in Washington on Wednesday for continued financial aid to the Palestinian Authority in the amount of $1.1 billion for 2012.

A statement issued following a meeting for the Quartet principals – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton – urged donor countries to help the Palestinians overcome their financial crisis.

The Quartet “underscored the need for continued international support for the Palestinian Authority’s important institution-building efforts,” said the statement.

“The Quartet encouraged the Palestinian Authority to continue working toward this end. In this regard, the Quartet called on the international community to ensure the contribution of $1.1 billion in assistance to meet the Palestinian Authority’s 2012 recurrent financing requirements,” it added.

The Quartet urged the Palestinians and Israelis to resolve as soon as possible outstanding issues related to tax and customs revenue collection.

Israel collects every month around $100 million in taxes and customs on good destined to the Palestinian Territory, which the Palestinian Authority uses mainly to pay salaries and other expenses. Israel often threatens to suspend transfer of these funds to punish the PA for any act it undertakes to the dislike of Israel.

Source WAFA News


3 injured in Nablus settler attack

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Three people were injured by settlers on Thursday in the northern West Bank village of Yanun, a PA official said.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that settlers threw rocks and physically assaulted villagers who were tending their land in Nablus.

Source Maan News

Rights Organization Demands Israel to Release Palestinian Journalists

VIENNA, April 10, 2012 (WAFA) – The human rights organization, Friends of Humanity International, called on the Israeli authority to release Palestinian journalist Mohammad Mona in addition to seven other Journalists, Tuesday said a statement issued by the organization.

Israeli army arrested Mona, a correspondent from Quds Press International News Agency, on April 3rd after raiding his house in Al-Dahiya, a neighborhood east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and transferred him to Majedo Israeli prison north of Israel.

Friends of Humanity International condemned the Israeli arrest of journalists since these “illegal deeds” represent “severe hostilities and aggression on the freedom of journalism,” as well as terrify the journalists’ families and children.

The statement said it falls under the responsibility of all authorities not to oppress, arrest, threat, or carry out actions that would hinder journalists from practicing their profession based on international laws and conventions.

The organization expressed very profound concerns for the life of Mona who is not allowed to see his advocate.

“Friends of Humanity is afraid of a potential and regular torture to the prisoner Mona during investigation executed by Israeli intelligence services (Shabak) in the IDF Jails centers. The Israeli investigators execute a technique of posing prisoners to very severe psychological and physical pressures such as crossing them on chairs or walls and depriving them from sleeping to days,” said the statement.

Source WAFA News

Abbas Approves 2012 Budget

RAMALLAH, April 10, 2012 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday approved the Palestinian Authority 2012 budget, said Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib.

A statement by the Cabinet stated that the 2012 budget is $3.54 billion with a current deficit amounting to $1.3 billion.

The 2012 draft budget downsized the government’s dependency on foreign aid, as well as cut down the budget’s deficit, which formed only 10% of the gross domestic product (GPD) in 2012, compared to 13% in 2011 and 22% in 2008, said the statement.

The budget indicated a decrease in expenditures from 47% in 2008 and 35.1% in 2011 to 32.6% in 2012.

Source WAFA News


Israel Aims to Bring Down PA

CAIRO, April 9, 2012 (WAFA) –The Arab League Monday stressed in a press release that the Israeli government’s practices and measures aim to bring down the Palestinian Authority and reinstate the civic administration in the West Bank.

The Arab League published the statement marking the 64th anniversary of Deir Yassin Massacre on April 9, 1948, when Jewish forces and attacked the village of Deir Yassin near Jerusalem and killed more than 250 Palestinians, including women and children, and injuring 300.

Source WAFA News


Palestine can join ICC

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestine can still pursue an investigation into possible Israeli war crimes during the last offensive on Gaza at the International Criminal Court, PLO observer to the UN Riyad Mansour said Monday.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on April 3 rejected the Palestinian Authority’s request for a tribunal into the December 2008 war because Palestine is not a recognized state.

Mansour told Ma’an the decision did not mark the end of the bid.

“The doors are still open for us if we decide to sign the Rome Statute, or go to the UN General Assembly asking to become a non-member state. This is left for the Palestinian leadership to determine,” the PLO official said.

Moreno-Ocampo told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Palestine could become a party to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, if it becomes a UN non-member state.

“As soon as the General Assembly establishes that Palestine is an observer state, then we can proceed,” the ICC prosecutor added.

Source Maan News

Abbas to Send Letter to Netanyahu Next Week

RAMALLAH, April 3, 2012 (WAFA) – The prime headline in al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper Tuesday quoted President Mahmoud Abbas saying he will deliver the much-anticipated letter to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, next week.

The daily also reported that Abbas, while laying the foundation stone for the new Palestinian embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, announced that Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat will meet Benjamin’s assistance on Tuesday.

Al-Ayyam newspaper also highlighted this item and featured Abbas’ reiteration that the Palestinian leadership will head to the United Nations again if Israel is not willing to resume negotiations.

Source WAFA

Israeli mayor ‘plans new East Jerusalem settlement’

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israel’s Jerusalem Mayor plans to establish a new Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem, according to news reports Tuesday.
Around 200 new homes are planned for the area, which lies between Abu Dis and Jabal al-Mukkabir, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
The settlement, referred to as Kidmat Zion, will be built on land purchased by Irving Moskowitz, a Florida businessman and patron of Jewish settlers.
Source Maan News

UNDP Grants al-Azhar University €175,000 to Build Research Unit

GAZA, April 1, 2012 (WAFA) – President of Al-Azhar University in the Gaza Strip Abdul Khaliq al-Farra signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which will grant the university €175,000 to build a Water and Environmental Research Unit, Sunday said a statement by Al-Azhar.

The agreement is a part of a German-funded project through the German government-owned development bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), added the statement.

Head of Infrastructure development program in UNDP Iman al-Husseini praised the university performance and efficient management of other projects, including the UNDP-funded legal clinic.


Source: Wafa News

Man dies of wounds from Israeli raid on Ramallah village

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A young Palestinian man died on Monday morning from wounds suffered in an Israeli raid on his village near Ramallah last week, his family told Ma’an.
Rashad Theib Shoukha, 28, was critically injured by a gunshot to the chest during a dawn raid on Rammun village on Tuesday. His brothers Anwar and Akram were also injured in the raid.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said at the time that an Israeli soldier “was stabbed during routine activity (…) the soldiers responded to the attackers in self defense, and three were injured.”
Relatives said forces did not permit a Palestinian ambulance to evacuate the men, and they bled for hours before being taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
His brothers suffered gunshot wounds to the neck and thigh, villagers said.

Source: Maan News

Official: PA to cover Israeli gas price rise

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Fuel prices will not rise significantly in the occupied territories after Israel increased the cost of gas, a senior Palestinian official told Ma’an on Sunday.

The head of the energy authority, Omar Katana, said the PA intervened to protect Palestinian consumers from an increase of electricity costs and will cover at least 75 percent of the rise.

As fuel costs rise with sanctions on Iran, Israel raised the cost of gasoline by 5 agorot (0.05 shekel) per liter on Saturday, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. The Israeli government offset the greater actual increase in price by cutting excise tax on gas, the report said.

The West Bank, which purchases gas from Israel, will mostly avoid the price increase as the government covers the extra costs.

Katana said that the decision was taken upon instruction of his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, after discussing it with the private and public sector including the ministry of the national economy.

Consumers can expect to pay some 25 percent of any increase, with the PA taking responsibility for the rest of the increase.

In the Gaza Strip, a fuel crisis has been ongoing for over a month, after Egypt cut supplies via a network of underground tunnels and officials struggled to agree an official alternative route.

Egypt, which is also experiencing fuel shortages, urged Hamas to import fuel across its border with Israel, but the ruling faction in Gaza refused, citing concerns Israel would block supplies.

Last week officials in Gaza and the West Bank said they have reached a deal with Egypt to bring fuel via the Rafah crossing to resolve the crisis.

Worldwide, oil prices have risen sharply since the start of the year, at one point breaking $128 a barrel, largely because of expanded sanctions imposed on major oil exporter Iran aimed at slowing its disputed nuclear program.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Saudi King Abdullah on Friday, amid fears Saudi Arabia may cut oil output if they release emergency reserves, neutralizing their effort to cool world energy markets.

Source: Maan News

Arab nations ‘to pay PA if Israel freezes tax revenues’

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Arab nations meeting at a Baghdad summit last week pledged to compensate the Palestinian Authority if Israel freezes delivery of tax revenues, a senior official told government media.

Fatah official Muhammad Shtayyeh told Voice of Palestine radio on Sunday that nations agreed at the Arab League summit pay the PA $100 million per month, roughly the sum of customs taxes collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf under international agreements.

Israel froze the transfer of tax revenues to the PA twice in 2011, when Hamas and Fatah leaders agreed to end their four-year division.

Last week, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Israeli government ministers support a new freeze after the UN Human Rights Council agreed to investigate Israeli settlements.

Shtayyeh told Voice of Palestine he does not expect Israel to follow through, and if it does, only for a short time, as the government realizes “such a step will create chaos.”

The Fatah official said the PA would not yield to blackmail in return for funds.

He said the treasury lost about $350 million each year due to tax evasion because Israel controls all goods crossings into the Palestinian territory.

In March, officials said that the PA and Israel were holding economic talks, despite frozen peace negotiations, in a bid to revamp revenue collection and help relieve the PA’s deepening debt crisis.

Measures under discussion include developing electronic records of imported goods, enabling officials to directly monitor the flow of goods and follow up on instances of tax evasion, which could in turn generate more revenue, Palestinian officials said.

The Palestinian Authority is reeling from a sharp drop in foreign aid following its campaign for statehood at the United Nations last year.

Source: Maan News

Hana Shalabi arrives in Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Former hunger-striker Hana Shalabi was escorted Sunday through the Erez crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, a Ma’an reporter said.

She was exiled to Gaza temporarily in a deal with Israel to end her hunger strike. Palestinian officials have condemned Israel for displacing her from her native West Bank.

Relatives were allowed to meet with her for an hour, they said. Earlier, the the Palestinian Authority ministry of prisoners affairs said Shalabi’s parents and other relatives would not be allowed to see her.

Shalabi, from Jenin, ended a 43-day hunger strike on Thursday after reaching a deal with Israeli authorities that she will be deported to Gaza for three years before returning home.

Palestinian human rights groups, meanwhile, say they are alarmed by the deal and Israel’s refusal to deny them access to Shalabi in the days leading up to her release.

A joint statement from Addameer and PHR-Israel said they fear that the restriction of access of to Shalabi’s physician and lawyers, in addition to the prevention of family visits, were used as coercion.

“Shalabi deserves utmost respect for her steadfastness in her hunger strike,” they said.

While her release from administrative detention should be welcomed, the groups “are obligated to highlight their concerns with those aspects of the deal that are fundamentally at odds with international law.”

The terms of such expulsions violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons, the rights groups noted.

Unlawful deportation or transfer also constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention “and qualifies as one of the most serious war crimes,” the joint release said.

Source: Maan News

Palestinians in Iraq appeal to Abbas over discrimination

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian refugees in Iraq say they face widespread discrimination and have appealed to President Mahmoud Abbas to intervene.

The Iraqi Palestinian Brothers Association said Tuesday that it sent a letter to Abbas, who is in Baghdad to attend the Arab League summit, detailing their plight.

The association said Palestinians have been refused medical care in Iraqi government hospitals and must use fake ID cards to receive treatment. The Palestinian Red Crescent lacks support from the PLO and cannot provide adequate medical care, it added.

Meanwhile, some 90 percent of Palestinians in Iraq are unemployed, Palestinians are refused government jobs and young male Palestinians face particular discrimination in finding work, the association said.

The group said Palestinians were arbitrarily detained because of their nationality or because they are Sunni Muslims. Palestinian students are treated as terrorists and some have left school over fears they will be kidnapped, it said.

The refugees urged Abbas to discuss the problems with the Iraqi government during his visit.

They said pressuring the government would not be enough to resolve the problems, and that Abbas should ask the Iraqi government to issue passports to Palestinian refugees, most of whom were born in Iraq, so they can travel internationally.

They also urged Abbas to coordinate with the UN and the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government to transfer Palestinians to Kurdistan, which it said had agreed to receive them.

If the matter cannot be resolved during the Arab summit, the refugees said they hoped the Arab League secretary-general would coordinate with the UN to allow them to return to the Palestinian villages they fled in 1948.

UNHCR says in January 2012 there were 8,700 Palestinians refugees in Iraq. Prior to the US-led invasion in 2003, UNHCR estimated there were 34,000 Palestinians in the country.

The Minority Rights Group says Palestinians face discrimination in Iraq due to perceptions they were privileged under Saddam Hussein’s rule.

Under Hussein, they received subsidized or rent-free housing, free utilities and were exempt from military service.

“Old resentments based on perceived favorable treatment by the Baath regime continue to stoke current prejudice,” MRG said in November.

“Since 2003, Iraqi officials from the Ministry of Interior have arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured and, in a few cases, forcibly ‘disappeared’ Palestinian refugees,” it added.

Source Maan News

Israel seals West Bank ahead of protests

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s military has imposed a general closure on the occupied West Bank as it prepares to face protests marking Land Day, officials said Friday.

“In accordance with the directives of the Minister of Defense and as part of the situation assessments in the IDF, a general closure will be implemented in the Judea and Samaria region,” a statement said.

“For the duration of the closure, persons in need of medical attention, humanitarian aid or exceptional cases will be permitted to pass for care, with the authorization of the Civil Administration.”

Land Day is commemorated annually in Israel and the occupied territories. It marks a deadly crackdown on protests on March 30, 1976 in which six Palestinians lost their lives in the Galilee.

This year’s demonstrations coincide with the Global March to Jerusalem.

Source: Maan News

Abbas: ‘Unity is frozen’

BAGHDAD (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the reconciliation deal between his Fatah party and Hamas has broken down.

“Unity is frozen,” said Abbas, who is in Baghdad to attend the Arab League summit.

The president said he had agreed “on many points” with Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal during their meeting in Qatar in February.

“We agreed on the vision and objectives and conditions in full,” Abbas said. “I confirm that Mashaal was honest and we were ready (to proceed).”

But some Hamas leaders rejected the agreements reached in Doha, the president said.

“The ball is now in Hamas’ court,” Abbas said, adding that Qatar “knows all the finer details.”

Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo last May to end years of rivalry which have split the West Bank and Gaza under rival governments.

They agreed to form a unity government to prepare for elections but the deal stalled as the factions argued over who should lead the joint administration.

Abbas and Mashaal agreed in Doha that the president would take the post of prime minister in the new government, but Hamas leaders in Gaza rejected the decision.

Meanwhile, Abbas said he hoped for political support from regional leaders at the Arab League summit, the first in Iraq for more than two decades.

Palestinians hoped the summit would adopt calls for “emotional, political and financial support” for Palestine and particularly Jerusalem, Abbas said.

The president said he would form a committee to address the situation of Palestinians in Iraq. On Wednesday, Palestinian refugees facing discrimination in Iraq said they had appealed to Abbas for help.

The Iraqi Palestinian Brothers Association said it had sent a letter to the president detailing discrimination Palestinians faced in hospitals, schools and in finding employment in Iraq. Palestinian refugees said they faced “arbitrary detentions and daily raids” by Iraqi forces.

“A committee will be formed to follow up on this case with the Iraqi government. We will begin this immediately after the summit,” Abbas said.

Asked to respond to Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s recent remarks that Abbas engages in “diplomatic terror,” Abbas dismissed the accusation.

“Is diplomatic activity according to international law in international forums political terrorism?

“This provokes Israel. They don’t want a political solution, they don’t want negotiations or solutions.”

The president declined to comment on Shaul Mofaz’s election on Wednesday as head of Kadima, Israel’s largest opposition party.

“These are Israeli issues,” he said.

Source: Maan News

Mission of Palestine in Denmark