And other news from Today in Palestine:
Land, property, resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Officials lay cornerstone for new Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhood
Preliminary plans for the Beit Orot neighborhood on Mount Scopus call for the construction of 24 homes; former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee attends ceremony … Speaking at the ceremony, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz said that not only does construction in Jerusalem “not an impediment to peace, it brings it closer,” adding that the more Israel builds “the more peace there will be.”"That is why this neighborhood is only the cornerstone. It will serve as a model for the resurgence of Jerusalem’s construction swing,” Hershkowitz said.
Republican star, US actor back E. Jerusalem settlers
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Influential US Republican Mike Huckabee and Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight on Monday lent their backing to Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, by laying the cornerstone for a new neighbourhood … “The essence of freedom, the very heart of it, is self determination and self direction,” said Huckabee, who has been touted as a possible Republican candidate in 2012 … Voight, the estranged father of , spoke of his “very deep connection to the Jewish people”
Religious group aims for yet another Jewish settlement, in Jaffa / Gili Cohen
According to people in Jaffa, dozens of youngsters gathered in front of the Nuzha Mosque on Jerusalem Boulevard shouting ‘death to the Arabs’ and throwing stones at the mosque.
180 new settlement houses set for construction south of Jerusalem
29 Jan (Silwanic) The Israeli Planning and Construction Committee has granted the construction of 180 new settlement housing units in the villages of Sur Baher and Umm Leeson, south of Jerusalem. The proposed construction plans will cover almost 53 dunums and constitute a vast extension of the settlement outposts already existing in these areas. The units are set for construction on confiscated Palestinian land in Sur Baher. The project, submitted to the Israeli District Committee 5 years ago, encountered several setbacks before being approved this week.
Israel passes plan confiscating part of Haifa mosque
HAIFA, (PIC)– Israel has sights set on confiscating part of a mosque in Haifa and using the land for the interest of Jewish settlers. The Israeli municipality in the 1948-occupied Palestinian city of Haifa approved a plan confiscating two dunums of the Istiqlal Mosque without notifying the mosque’s administration. The mosque’s board has met with political forces to discuss how to address the decision. They considered the step part of a plot to seize control of the remaining Islamic endowments in the occupied city of Haifa.
Israeli forces raid Silwan, attempt arrest of Adnan Ghaith’s son
31 Jan (Silwanic) Israeli special forces police raided Silwan today at dawn, storming several homes, including that of banished al-Bustan Popular Committee member Adnan Ghaith. Special forces raided Ghaith’s family home, attempting to arrest his 11 year old son Oudai Ghaith. The family refused to hand over the child and police left the home on the condition that Oudai present himself at the police station at 10am this morning. Ghaith, Silwan secretary-general of Fatah and al-Bustan Popular Committee member, is currently serving his 4-month exile sentence in Ramallah, banned from entering the Jerusalem region during this time. Israeli authorities invoked a military law dating from the British mandate period to enable the banishment.
Baten al-Hawa activist Zuhair Rajabi summoned for investigation
30 Jan (Silwanic) Baten al-Hawa activist Zuhair Rajabi was summoned by Israeli police today for investigation. Rajabi, 39, was arrested on 8 January on suspicion of assault a police officer during clashes that erupted day in Baten al-Hawa when an Israeli soldier harassed a Palestinian woman. Rajabi’s investigation is regarded by many in Silwan as a continuation of the crackdown on local activists that have characterized the last month.
Urgent action needed [NegevBedouin] 11th total demolition of El-Araqib about to be executed
Dear Friends, I only saw this message now which was sent at 8:15 AM, it being 11:15 now. I just learned that not only is the village [Araqib] being demolished, but also, the ground is being leveled for planting. Not a shred of the Bedouins’ property will remain. Please act as requested below. — Dorothy Naor
Israel levels Negev village for 11th time
THE NEGEV, (PIC)– Hundreds of Palestinians were left homeless after Israel leveled the Negev village of Araqib for the eleventh consecutive time on Monday morning. Israel does not recognize the village, which residents have rebuilt time and time again making it a symbol of resistance. Despite cold and rainy weather, a large force of police and special units forced women and children out of their makeshift homes at gunpoint after the men had gone off to work and bulldozed the structures including contents and a sit-in tent pitched by the supreme follow-up committee for Arab citizens. Villagers found their only resort in the local cemetery.
almost everyone but Palestinians, it seems
Columbus of hidden Jews
He wanders Amazon jungles, travels to Chinese villages, searches Spain for Marranos, and sees India’s Bnei Menashe as his life’s mission. Michael Freund has an obsession: Discovering remote Jews … Later that evening, Freund met with a number of young Chinese Jewish descendants, including Zhao’s granddaughter. “I was deeply impressed by their determination to move to Israel,” said Freund … Now they all live in Jerusalem and some of them study at the Hebrew University,” he said.
Violence / Detention
Medics: Israeli forces ‘open fire at Gaza workers’
Israeli forces on Sunday opened fire on Palestinians working in northern Gaza near the border with Israel, medics said. Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya said a 20-year-old identified as MH sustained a gunshot wound and was transferred to hospital. He was collecting gravel near the border, the official said.
Harsh interrogations of children escalate in Nabi Saleh
14 year old Islam Tamimi was arrested in a night raid on Sunday 23 January 2011 and subjected to psychological torture in order to extract dictated false testimony that will be used to incriminate and prosecute villagers in Nabi Saleh … Since Sunday 23 January 2011, three 15 year old children have been arrested in night raids in Nabi Saleh … The repression of Nabi Saleh in the form of arresting children and subjecting them to psychological torture in order to get false information has been used by the army in other villages such as Bil’in and Ni’ilin.
Israel rearrests Hamas lawmaker in West Bank
HEBRON, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – The Israeli army on Monday rearrested Hamas lawmaker Mohammed Jamal al-Natsh, five months after he was released from prison, Palestinian security officials said. Natsh, 53, was arrested in the West Bank town of Hebron. He spent eight years in detention, Palestinian officials said, during which time he ran elected for office. An said Natsh was rearrested “because he’s a Hamas activist,” but did not elaborate.
5 Palestinians detained overnight
JENIN (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least five young men overnight from Jenin after raiding their houses, officials said. Israeli patrols stationed themselves at the entrance of Zububa village until early morning, witnesses said … An Israeli military spokeswoman said 11 Palestinians were detained from the village.
2 Gaza crossings partially open
Israeli authorities decided to partially open the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings to allow aid into Gaza on Monday. Raed Fattouh, Palestinian liaison official, said approximately 140 to 150 truckloads of goods for the agricultural and commercial sectors will be allowed through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Five truckloads of flowers and strawberries and one truckload of pepper will be exported to Europe while limited quantities of domestic gas and industrial diesel will also be allowed through the same crossing.
Egyptian uprising and Palestine
Palestinians transfixed by Egypt uprising
BIRZEIT, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Clustered around TVs in cafes across the West Bank, Palestinians are transfixed by events in Egypt, wondering when the regime might fall and which Arab leader could be next. Revolt in the biggest nation in the Arab world has especially caught the attention of younger Palestinians, who are also keenly following developments online through blogs, Twitter and Facebook.
Doesn’t the West Bank have Facebook? / Akiva Eldar
Don’t the Al Jazeera on-the-scene reports about the riots in Egypt spark thoughts of uprising among unemployed Palestinians in the West Bank? … Just last week, who among us anticipated the earthquake that has since rocked Egypt? Are the residents of Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah and Shuhada Street, who are living under foreign occupation, in a better situation than the Egyptians suffering under a cruel regime? Don’t the students at Birzeit University have Facebook accounts?
Egypt or not, Palestinians have lost their faith in rising up / Amira Hass
Expecting to see the residents of Gaza and Ramallah rise up in a show of solidarity with the Egyptians and Tunisians? Don’t count on it … Both in Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinian authorities have already proven their excellent ability to suppress demonstrations. Is this what is preventing Palestinians from expressing solidarity with their Arab brethren, who for years were inspired by the scenes of the Palestinian intifada? The fear that the protests will be suppressed is not the central reason, said a friend who is older than the young people who sought to demonstrate in Ramallah and Gaza. “We instigated two intifadas and look what came of them – the situation only got worse,” he told me. “The first brought us the Palestinian Authority and then the expansion of the settlements; the second – destruction, Israeli repression that is worse than before, and the Hamas regime. People are depressed…”
More Palestinians escape Egyptian prisons
Four more Palestinians who were held in an Egyptian prison returned to the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Mu’tasem Al-Quka, jailed than seven years in Abu Za’bal prison, said, “I was detained while I was on my way to Egypt, on the accusations that I am an affiliate in Hamas movement.” … Al-Quka stressed that he was ill-treated in Egyptian prisons especially in Abu Za’bal prison. He said that the prisoners were able to flee the prison as the Egyptians demolished its walls. He said many Palestinians were with him in the prison
PA: Palestinian patients in Egypt are safe
…Ministry spokesman Omar An-Naser said 30 Palestinian patients had completed their treatment but were unable to return due to the closure of the Rafah crossing. The ministry had provided them with apartments, he said. An-Naser added that two patients remained in intensive care in Egyptian hospitals. Medical advisor at the Palestinian embassy in Cairo Hussam Touqan said the Palestinian community in Egypt was safe. He said concerned relatives could contact the embassy at +20-2-333 8476.
Egypt unrest good for Palestine?
…While some Palestinian political analysts believe change in Arab countries will not have any negative impact on the question of Palestine, others think Israel might take advantage of the collapse. They believe Israel will show more inflexibility under the pretext that instability in the Arab world is a threat to Israel. Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi says unrest in Egypt will not harm the question of Palestine even if it ends in toppling the current regime. “The relationship between Egypt and Palestine is basically between peoples of both countries rather than one of mutual interests between regimes,” she says.
As Egypt drama unfolds, Gaza Hamas backers hope for change, easing of blockade
(AP) Residents of Hamas-ruled Gaza are closely watching the drama unfolding in Egypt, believing any change in the government there would be positive because of restrictions imposed by President Hosni Mubarak on their blockaded territory.
Police ban Egypt solidarity rally in Ramallah
Security forces shut down a demonstration Sunday in front of the Egyptian embassy in Ramallah, after calling in one of the organizers for questioning multiple times a day earlier, organizers of the rally said. Forces pushed demonstrators and a man who identified himself as a police commander said the demonstrators were in a “security area” and would have to disperse, they said. Twenty armed police, who quickly tried to confiscate cameras, ordered a journalist to turn off her microphone and recorder, Human Rights Watch said. An Agence France-Presse reporter confirmed the report.
Is the Palestinian Authority cracking down on Egypt solidarity demonstrations? (updated, and yes they are) / Max Blumenthal
Update: Human Rights Watch was there and has confirmed that the PA crushed the demo. I received this message from a friend in Ramallah yesterday. For obvious reasons, he can’t be identified (I hope I’ll have time to follow up; right now I’m working on a number of fronts. The Angry Arab has another report from the suppressed demo:
US rights group slams PA for busting pro-Egypt demo
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – on Monday criticised the Palestinian Authority for breaking up a rally in support of the Egyptian protests and said those who organised it were harassed.
Egyptian uprising and Israel
Israel allows Egyptian troops in Sinai for first time since 1979 peace treaty
(AP) Due to street protests threatening Mubarak’s regime, Israel agrees to let about 800 Egyptian soldiers into Sharm el-Sheikh area in Sinai … Under the 1979 peace treaty, Israel returned the captured Sinai to Egypt. In return, Egypt agreed to leave the area demilitarized … The officials spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has banned the government from discussing the situation in Egypt.
Israel urges world to curb criticism of Egypt’s Mubarak
Jerusalem seeks to convince its allies that it is in the West’s interest to maintain the stability of the Egyptian regime.
Report: Israeli officials phone Mubarak’s new VP
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli officials have telephoned Hosni Mubarak’s newly appointed vice president Omar Suleiman several times urging Egypt to maintain previous security coordination, Israeli media said. The discussions were over Egypt’s role on the Israeli border and Gaza smuggling tunnels, the Israeli daily Maariv reported.
‘IDF not ready for surge of infiltrators from Egypt’
Despite concerns that riots in Egypt will raise number of illegal immigrants crossing border into Israel, IDF appears unprepared to handle surge. ‘We haven’t started to deal with it,’ one officer says
‘Intelligence failure? Mubarak couldn’t predict uprising either’
Former senior IDF officials say Israeli intelligence agencies could not have foreseen extreme developments in Egypt. Lipkin-Shahak: Peace treaty important to Egypt as well. no major change along southern border expected
Tel Aviv stocks slump after weekend of Egypt riots
Foreign investors pull out of their investments in the Mideast and are selling stocks and shekels fast, resulting in climbing dollar rates and oil prices.
Palestine Papers / Politics / Diplomacy
Qurei: “Occupy the crossing”
(DP-News – Aljazeera) The Palestinian Authority (PA) had pleaded with the Israeli government to re-occupy the Philadelphi corridor on the Gaza-Egypt border, in order to tighten the siege on Hamas-run Gaza, The Palestine Papers show.
African Union declares support for Palestine
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Ma’an) — The African Union on Monday called on all countries to recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 borders, at its 16th annual summit in Addis Ababa. A delegation representing the Palestinian Liberation Organization attended the two-day summit,
Al-Ahmad: Abbas considering holding elections
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad said Sunday that President Mahmoud Abbas was looking into holding presidential and legislative elections despite the national division … The PA called off elections in June 2010, just weeks ahead of a planned vote … In December 2010, the Palestinian High Court found the postponement of elections illegal, and said all efforts must be made to ensure that they were held as soon as possible.
Merkel: Israel-Palestinian talks must move forward in light of Egypt riots
German Chancellor said Israel must freeze settlement building in order to move peace process forward, which is even more important now after unrest in Egypt.
Palestinian negotiators must not take key decisions on our behalf / Haneen Zoabi
We Palestinians in Israel will not stand for our rights being given away by so-called representatives … Third, we reject the proposed exchange of populations between Israel and the West Bank, championed, among others, by Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. This proposal has increasingly pervaded Israel’s political culture. According to a recent poll, 53% of the Jewish Israeli public believes that the state is entitled to encourage Palestinian citizens to emigrate.
Other Israel news
Israel to hire European PR firms
Lieberman makes unprecedented move due to Israel’s ‘catastrophic’ status in public opinion
Rightists launch battle to block Facebook pages of left-wing groups
Activists linked to far-right leader Baruch Marzel have successfully blocked profile pages of leftist groups including Machsom Watch, Yesh Gvul, and Anarchists against the Wall.
Gas price hike leads to no-confidence vote
Netanyahu’s government under attack as Knesset plenum reviews no confidence votes from Left, Right
How to promote stability
The growing religious fundamentalism in Israel is actually Jewish, not Muslim. While the Arab population here becomes more secular, the religious Jewish public is getting stronger. Instead of fearing Muslims in power in Egypt and Israel, it is worth setting our sights on Jewish fundamentalism and the latest law that it is promoting.
New start-up Kosher clothing stores
An extreme ultra-Orthodox body has established a kashrut department supervising clothing stores in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim and Geula neighborhoods. Haredi women have begun supervising businesses in the neighborhoods on behalf of the new department, checking whether the clothes sold in the stores meet the requirements of Jewish Law. The department’s findings will be published across the neighborhoods.
Why work migrants can’t tell the truth / Gal Lusky
‘Does the State of Israel know the different between hostile Sudan and Eritrea – its only friend in important strategic area, which insists on treating Israel favorably?’ Gal Lusky, who received honorary award from Clinton for saving human life, warns solution must be found for problem of Eritrean infiltrators … Some 150 Eritreans infiltrate Israel every night, and we continue to avoid making a decision about them.
Israel’s apartheid image / Gadi Taub
Op-ed: As long as occupation persists, democracy within Green Line won’t make a difference
Analysis / Opinion
How long before American media takes these 4 Egyptian lessons to Israel? / Philip Weiss
1. Tear gas. The crawl on CNN screen last night said that the teargas used in Egypt was manufactured in the United States. CNN also published an article to that effect. But look: Israel has been using the same teargas to suppress and kill nonviolent demonstrators for a long time. Not a peep. So far… 2. Sanctions. In his bumbling press briefing two days ago, Robert Gibbs put the U.S. “assistance posture” toward the Egyptians on the table, warning the gov’t not to crack down on the protesters or there goes our money. People are listening.
Can the Palestinian Authority survive? / Jonathan Cook
With the 18-year-long Middle East peace process finally pronounced dead, is the Palestinian Authority finished too? That is the question being asked by Palestinians in the wake of a week of damaging revelations that Palestinian negotiators secretly made major concessions to Israel in talks on Jerusalem, refugees and borders.
Israel’s human rights abuses in the name of security / Janan Abdu
My husband [Ameer Makhoul] and other Palestinian prisoners are being denied basic rights and subjected to harsh treatment in detention … “Israeli security” is the sacred cow of the Israeli street and ruling establishment. Practically all the manifestations of Israeli racism directed at the state’s Palestinian citizens, as well as those living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, fall within this elastic slogan. In the name of this slogan, too, Israeli human rights organisations working to expose the practices of the state and army have recently had restrictions placed upon them.
An Arab revolution fueled by methods of the West / Zvi Bar’el
The Arab street suddenly uses ‘our’ methods: Facebook and Twitter – the tools of democracy we have invented – to present us with a situation of disorder … This is supposedly the new Middle East the West always wanted, but something still isn’t working out. This isn’t the Middle East they dreamed of in the Bush administration, and not what nourished Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wildest dreams. A new, unexpected player has appeared: the public.
Tracking down the Ben Ali and Trabelsi fortune
No-one can say exactly how much Mr Ben Ali, his second wife Leila Trabelsi, and a sprawling network of relatives, had to their names. But it was a financial empire that reached far and wide, and is now the subject of a multi-pronged international investigation. “Our Tunisian lawyer friends tell us that the Ben Ali and Trabelsi families controlled between 30% and 40% of the Tunisian economy,” said Daniel Lebegue, head of the French branch of Transparency International. “So a simple calculation allows us to say we’re looking at about $10bn (£6bn).”
Canada in bid to expel Tunisian Belhassan Trabelsi
The Canadian government is working to arrest and expel Belhassen Trabelsi, the brother-in-law of former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Canada has revoked Mr Trabelsi’s residency permit and has moved to seize the billionaire’s Canadian assets.
Sunday: 5 Iraqis killed, 1 wounded
Since Friday only five Iraqi deaths have been reported. Another person was wounded as well … Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said a controversial ruling that his critics say consolidates his power is “impossible to reverse” as it would call to question all Supreme Court rulings … Suspected Islamic State of Iraq leader captured in Suwayra.
Maliki vows Iraqi bank and election body independence
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pledged on Monday that a supreme to bring autonomous bodies such as the central bank under cabinet authority would not damage their independence.
Baghdad attacks kill engineer, politician
BAGHDAD (AP) – A pair of attacks killed an Iraqi electricity employee and a Shiite politician in Baghdad on Monday, authorities said. Nine others were wounded in a string of strikes across the Iraqi capital that appeared to take aim at government and security officials — a frequent target of militants seeking to undermine U.S.-backed efforts to stabilize the country.
Islamists, state open dialogue in Jordan
AMMAN, Jordan (AFP) — Jordan’s powerful Islamists said Monday they have started a dialogue with the state, saying that unlike the situation in Egypt, the opposition in the kingdom does not seek regime change. “A group of the Islamic Action Front (IAF) met on Sunday with Prime Minister Samir Rifai and gave him our demands in writing,” Zaki Bani Rsheid, member of the IAF’s executive council, told AFP. “These demands include the resignation of the government, the amendment of electoral law and the formation of a national salvation government headed by an elected prime minister.”
Syria Strongman: Time for ‘reform’
DAMASCUS — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited a regime that has held power for four decades, said he will push for more political reforms in his country, in a sign of how Egypt’s violent revolt is forcing leaders across the region to rethink their approaches … Mr. Assad said he will have more time to make changes than Mr. Mubarak did, because his anti-American positions and confrontation with Israel have left him in better shape with the grassroots in his nation.
Oman says busts UAE spy ring, Abu Dhabi denies
MUSCAT, Oman (AFP) – Oman has dismantled an Emirati spy ring that was targeting the government and the military in the Gulf sultanate, a security official said Sunday in a report quickly denied by the United Arab Emirates … The cell “was interested in the issue of the succession of Sultan Qaboos, in the absence of an heir to the throne,” a security official said.
Iran: Mossad enlists through Arad website
Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi claims that the Born to Freedom Foundation, which offers a cash reward for information on Ron Arad, is actually a branch of Mossad working to enlist spies from Iran and other Arab countries. Moslehi adds that his ministry discovered the identities of Iranian citizens who gave the foundation information on the missing navigator and used them to reveal inner workings of the Israeli intelligence agency.
Iran: We arrested Israeli spies linked to Ron Arad foundation
Iran’s Intelligence Minister says Born to Freedom website used to monitor intelligence operations in the guise of seeking for the missing IAF navigator.
UK: Iranian nuclear weapon by 2012
(AP) British defense secretary disagrees with Israeli retired spy chief, says West should be wary of Iran and act ‘in accordance’
Nobel Peace Prize nomination for WikiLeaks founder? Pierre-Henry Deshayes
OSLO (AFP) — The vibrant protest movements across the Arab world, Russian human rights activists and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will all likely be in the running for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, observers say as the deadline for nominating candidates approaches.