and other news from today in Palestine:
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Israeli bulldozers demolish barracks in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 20 Dec – Israeli bulldozers Tuesday demolished barracks in Thawri neighborhood in Silwan in East Jerusalem, according to witnesses. They said a large number of Israeli soldiers and police, accompanied by bulldozers, surrounded these barracks and demolished them in order to establish a parking lot for Jewish settlers in the area.
In a related matter, Israeli forces surrounded Sawwanah neighborhood and razed a playing field of al-Ibrahimiya College, in order to establish the Israeli National Security College on land belonging to Palestinians.
Israel bulldozers raze water wells, agricultural sheds near Salfit
SALFIT (WAFA) 21 Dec – Israeli bulldozers Wednesday razed and demolished a number of water wells, agricultural sheds and land in Dahr Sobh area north of Kafr al-Deek, a town west of Salfit in the northern West Bank, according to local sources. Israeli bulldozers previously razed several wells and agricultural sheds in the same location, where Agricultural Relief conducted land reclamation projects financed by the Dutch government.
In a related matter, Israeli forces confiscated Wednesday morning a bulldozer and a sewage-pumping tank owned by the municipality of Bidya, a town west of Salfit, according to official sources from the municipality. They said Israeli soldiers seized the bulldozer and the tank at Bidya’s solid waste landfill under the pretext that the municipality is prohibited from using the area. Israeli authorities prohibited Palestinian municipalities and village councils from using solid waste landfills under the pretext of protecting the environment, while most of the former landfills were confiscated and trapped behind the Apartheid Wall, added the sources.
Israel demolishes Bedouin village for 33rd time
AL ARAQIB, NAQAB (WAFA) 21 Dec – Israeli bulldozers Wednesday demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Naqab desert in southern Israel for the 33rd time, according to local sources. Israeli bulldozers accompanied by a large force of Israeli police arrived at the village and started the destruction after forcing the Arab residents out, said one of the villagers. Al-Araqib is one of the several Arab villages unrecognized by the Israeli government in Naqab and claimed ‘illegal’.
Israeli forces demolish Bedouin structures in Jordan Valley
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli forces demolished several structures in a Bedouin village in the Jordan Valley on Tuesday. Fathi Khdeirat, coordinator of the Save the Jordan Valley campaign, told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities delivered demolition orders to several residents of Fasayil village on Monday. Israeli bulldozers started demolishing the structures on Tuesday. Steel structures belonging to Omar Ubayyat, Abed Yasin Rashayda and Hussein Rashayda were destroyed, Khdeirat said.
Israel declares al-Auja a ‘nature reserve’
JVS 18 Dec — Israel Civil Administration has declared the area around al-Auja spring a nature reserve. Once again disguising its annexation of Palestinian land with Orwellian double speak – using the term ‘Nature Reserve’ to describe land forcibly taken from Palestinians – but from now on to be used exclusively by Israelis. For centuries al-Auja spring provided fresh water for people who built their communities around Ras al-Auja and al-Auja. The area was famous for its abundance of water, fertile soil and hot climate. Banana and citrus groves were plentiful and people enjoyed a high standard of living. As recently as 15 years ago, Palestinians from various parts of the West Bank recall visiting the area where people could picnic, swim in the spring and enjoy the natural environment. This ‘re-zoning’ of land will most likely have a direct affect on the Bedouin shepherds of Ras al-Auja. Their herds feed from the limited vegetation growing on hills surrounding the spring.
Not a drop: Israel takes a spring and childhood memories with it
AIC 19 Dec — While Nabi Saleh might be one of the most visible struggles around water, there are numerous other places in the West Bank where Israel has taken water resources and diverted them for settlements. A Palestinian man discusses his childhood connection with one such spring… Abdallah stares at the empty channel, his face resigned. On this beautiful sunny day, he hadn’t expected to find the creek of his childhood completely dried up. Beside the waterless channel, there is a huge Israeli pump, protected by electric fences. “Al Auja was a water spring, where the creek started”, Abdallah Awudallah, a 29-year-old from the Bethlehem district’s Ubbedyia village, tells the Alternative Information Center … Not a drop: the Israeli authorities have built a generator in order to draw up water from the once-flowing creek and to send it to the agricultural settlements in the Jordan Valley. The spring, which used to serve Jericho, is now reserved exclusively for Israeli settlements. “In Arabic ‘auja’ means ‘in the opposite direction’” Awudallah explains. “We used to call the creek like that because for long stretches the water ran up and not down. Because of the high pressure and speed, the water received the boost it needed to flow [upstream].”
Israeli army digs trench to isolate farms in the Jordan Valley
MEMO 19 Dec — Israeli occupation forces have started to dig a trench in the Jordan Valley, east of Tammun in the northern West Bank, as part of a strategy to exercise more control over Palestinian agricultural land and prevent farmers from reaching their fields. According to the Mayor of Tammun, Jamal Bani Odeh, this is the second such barrier to be created by the Israelis. “The first trench is 5 metres deep and 5 metres wide,” he said. “The two trenches are about 2 kilometres apart.” The first trench was built after the start of the Second, Al-Aqsa, Intifada in 2000. The Mayor pointed out that the trenches now isolate around 70 per cent of the town’s agricultural land, an area of 98,000 acres. The trenches, he believes, are basically another version of the Apartheid Wall built by Israel as part of its land-grab across the occupied West Bank. Farmers are rarely given permits to access their land and have to make long diversions to get around the barrier.
Restriction of movement
What happens when a Gazan wants to marry a West Bank woman? / Amira Hass
Haaretz 19 Dec — Did you know that Israel allows Gaza residents to enter the West Bank to attend their relatives’ weddings but not to get betrothed themselves?
Who stole Christmas?
Gaza Gateway 19 Dec — In this year’s stocking for Gaza’s Christians is a rollback of their ability to access holy sites on the holidays, relative to past years: Israel has raised the age of those banned from traveling to 46 years old, rather than 35 years old, and has set a quota of just 500 people being allowed to travel, even though about 600 Christians traveled last year. Whether they have been naughty or nice, at least two-thirds of Gaza’s approximately 1,500 Christians, including all those between the ages of 16-46 who are excluded from the gesture, won’t be able to celebrate the holiday with their family members who meet the criteria and do squeeze into the quota. That means a family of six, with mom and dad over the ages of 46 but with children aged 20, 16, 14, and 7 will either have to forfeit the chance to travel or the option of spending Christmas together.
Settlers / Extreme rightists
Settlers attack carol singers near Nablus
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Settlers attacked a Palestinian choir bus returning from a carol concert in Nablus on Saturday evening, choristers told Ma‘an. The singers, from Bethlehem Bible college, said five men attacked them on a quiet road outside of the northern West Bank city. “A rock smashed through the window, and glass shattered everywhere inside,” chorister Saleem Anfous told Ma‘an, adding that none of the 25 carol singers was injured. “We kept driving and starting singing to cheer ourselves up and encourage the choir members,” he said. “Tomorrow we will continue our carol tour of the West Bank in Jenin, using the same road, and we are afraid. But we are trying to convince the families that God will protect us.”
Photos: Choir bus hit by settlers on way back from Nablus / Munther Isaac
I was hoping to write about something more pleasant regarding our Christmas ministry in Nablus. I was hoping to write about the usual; singing and rejoicing with the believers there. As always, Nablus concert was special. The Anglican church where we usually go was full. There was joy. The choir really did well. It was a real blessing! On our way there I remembered the first time the choir went to Nablus in 2007. Back then it was really difficult to enter Nablus as it was under Israeli military siege. We had to change buses and go through many checkpoints. It took us about three hours. This time is was much easier to get into Nablus. The way back was a different story. As we were passing by the illegal settlement of Ofra, we were attacked by a small group of settlers who were standing by the street. One big rock hit the front shield of the bus causing a big hole and cracks and miraculously the shield did not go down. I was in the front seat with Rudaina and we were hit by many small pieces of glass but thankfully we were not hurt – just terrorized! We were all shocked when it happened. We all thanked God for his protection and for the bravery of the driver who simply kept driving in very high speed. God protected us. But what if …
Child in critical condition after being hit by settler bus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — A child was seriously injured on Sunday after being run over by a settler bus on a road south of Nablus. Palestinian official Ghassan Douglas said that a bus belonging to settlers hit Muhammad Munjid, a student at elementary school, while he was crossing the street. Witnesses in Nablus told Ma‘an that Israeli police had shut the road and were investigating whether the incident was accidental or not. The child was taken to hospital and is in a serious condition. Witnesses said that a group of settlers also exited the bus and attacked a man named as Fadi Ahmad Samara, 32, who was at the scene of the incident.
Hate slogans sprayed on mosque near Hebron
Ynet 19 Dec — ‘Price tag’ act? Palestinian sources on Monday afternoon told Ynet that unidentified perpetrators sprayed hate slogans in Hebrew on the walls of a mosque in the West Bank village of Bani Na‘im, east of Hebron. According to the sources, the perpetrators wrote “price tag” on one of the walls surrounding the mosque, as well as “Yitzhar” and other defamatory slogans against Profit Muhammad … on Thursday, a settler sprayed slogans reading “Police = Nazis” and “price tag” on an IDF post at Tapuach Junction. The suspect was later arrested and indicted.
Teens clean up hate graffiti from torched mosque
Ynet 19 Dec — To fight stigma that settlers are ‘violent vandals,’ students from Ma’ale Adumim clean up hate slogans daubed on mosque walls in ‘price tag’ operation … “This is not a political act,” the teens stressed. “There has never been a reality in which Jews defaced prayer houses, and we won’t allow it to happen now either.”
Strict Israeli military measures in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 21 Dec — Israeli forces Wednesday imposed strict security and military measures on Jerusalem, especially the Old City, amid callings by extremist Jewish groups to invade al-Aqsa Mosque compound to celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, later this day, according to WAFA correspondent.
Settlers launch ‘outposts campaign’
Ynet 20 Dec — The “Judea and Samaria joint residents’ council,” an organization that represents the Shomron and Benyamin residents’ councils officially launched a campaign meant to legalize the West Bank outpost of Migron. Launched on Tuesday, the campaign means to promote legislation that would legalize various outposts which are slated to be evicted … As part of its strategy, the campaign will circulate posters depicting MKs and minister who oppose the outposts’ bill. The posters will show the MKs wearing fatigues bearing a Peace Now patch, and will carry a caption reading “Member of the Peace Now Eviction Forces.”
Gov’t brokers deal to prevent outpost demolition
JPost 20 Dec — The Yesha Council and Ramat Gilad residents reached an agreement with the government that will prevent the destruction of the outpost, Army Radio reported on Tuesday morning. The deal allowed for the outpost to be considered part of Karnei Shomron on the condition that five of its ten caravans be relocated from a disputed area. Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, explained on Tuesday morning that attacks carried out last week by right-wing settlers almost led to the cancellation of the plan.
Report: 30 olive trees cut down near Hebron
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Over two dozen olive trees were chopped down near the Palestinian city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, Israeli news media reported Wednesday. Israel’s Ynet news site said two slogans were sprayed near the orchard. The Israeli military says it has launched an investigation.
Settler attack Dec 21 2011 – In Pictures
21 Dec — Member of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and police inspect an olive grove owned by Palestinians that is believed to have been destroyed in a “price tag” attack, which is usually carried out by extreme Jewish right wing settlers in response to steps by the government to dismantle outposts or to carry out measures seen as harmful to the settlement enterprise, in the southern West Bank town of Dahariya, west of Hebron, on December 21, 2011.
‘Bright tag’ candles at ‘price tag’ scenes
JPost 20 Dec — Outraged by the wave of extremist attacks across the country over the past two weeks, more than 30 organizations have banded together during Hanukka to protest price-tag attacks and extremist violence. Hundreds gathered on Tuesday night in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem to light the first candle under the banner “Bright Tag: Light instead of Terror.” “Bright tag,” or tag meir in Hebrew, is a play on the word “price tag” (tag mehir) attacks. For the eight days of Hanukka, the Tag Meir group will light candles at recent scenes of price-tag attacks, including Asira Al Kabaliya next to the settlement of Yitzhar, Kfar Bukara, Tuba Zanghariya, Jaffa and others.
He did not complain because his goods were toppled over, nor about those others who threw it to the ground, smashed it, or about them hitting him. He complained about one thing only, that Rabbi Nachman had insulted him … The next day was Friday. I was at the stand as usual. And people were buying. There was even a busload of people who come to pray at the grave, and after prayers came over and bought my vegetables. Lots of customers. I was glad. And that same person came. Rabbi Nachman. He stood there, staring. Then he said to them, how can you buy from an Arab? Why do you buy from an Arab? Who, whenever there’s a terrorist attack, starts applauding and breaks out in a dance. That’s what he said. People heard him and began to throw my wares to the ground. Whatever they were holding. Two of them who had already paid wanted their money back and I gave it to them. And he kept yelling like that, and cursing too. And I told the people, don’t believe him. I even said to his face, aren’t you ashamed? You wear a skullcap, you have a beard, you pray and you’re lying. You yourself were my customer. How can you explain that? But no one believed me… They, too, began to curse me. I can’t repeat those words. I cannot repeat them to you. Just can’t…
Bill pushes harsh sentence for vandalizing holy sites
Ynet 20 Dec — United Arab List-Ta’al offers legislation suggesting desecration of any synagogue, mosque or church will carry mandatory prison sentence of six years — …The bill, brought before the House on Tuesday, suggests that vandalism of a synagogue, mosque, or church of [or?] helwa (Druze houses of worship) will carry a mandatory six-year prison sentence; and that anyone convicted of inciting such acts will be sentenced to two years in jail.
PA cabinet slams settler ‘terrorism’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — The Palestinian Authority cabinet on Tuesday slammed the Israeli government for failing to prevent settler violence against Palestinian communities. The cabinet called on Israel to stop settler “terrorism” against Palestinians and urged the international community to prevent the “organized crimes” of settlers. In the weekly meeting in Ramallah, officials warned that ongoing settler violence could jeopardize stability in the region, as both Islamic and Christian holy places have been repeatedly attacked by Jewish extremists.
VIDEO: Israeli military drags its boots and guns into Ibrahimi Mosque
ISM 21 Dec — Soldiers from the Israeli military entered the Ibrahimi Mosque located in the Old City of Hebron on December 21 in the afternoon. Male and female soldiers entered the mosque and the men’s place for prayer in what appeared to be a tour of some kind. It is a custom within Islam to take off shoes and for women to cover their hair when entering a mosque. Despite this custom, soldiers did not take off their shoes and female soldiers in the group did not cover their hair. [soldiers are walking in their boots on prayer carpets where worshipers will later put their foreheads…]
Israeli troops stripped blindfolded youth at Huwwara checkpoint – In Pictures
21 Dec — Israeli occupation soldiers stripped, blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinain youth at the Huwwara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus on December 20, 2011. In another Abu Ghraib style act, Israel’s most moral army, armoured til teeth and with great force harass around 2 young Palestinians of who is obvious being handcuffed and dressed in only underwear and socks that they can not be of any danger at all. Yet as usual, the troops decide to humiliate and intimidate them or bypassers they even leave them seated on the concrete for a while.
Who’s afraid of women’s song?
20 Dec — The following is a testimony of one of the women, out of the 23 activists, who were arrested in this week’s Nabi Saleh demonstration (above video). This demonstration was the first after Mustafa Tamimi’s murder. It was extremely brutal, which is a relative term, considering the continuous repression that the demonstrations against the apartheid wall face, and the village of Nabi Saleh in particular … Though Sahar describes what she went through as “sexual harassment”, I contend that because the man who had harassed her was holding a gun, this is in fact “sexual assault.” This is a common occurrence for women facing soldiers in demonstrations and should be called by its name.
IOF soldiers storm office of MP
QALQILIA (PIC) 21 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) broke into the office of Hamas MP Emad Nofal in Qalqilia city and confiscated his computers and official documents. Nofal told the PIC reporter that a number of IOF patrols surrounded his office in a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday before breaking its front door and wreaking havoc inside it. He said that all computers and papers were taken, charging the Israeli occupation authority with attempting to disrupt the Palestinian legislature. The international campaign to release detained Palestinian lawmakers in Israeli jails denounced the step in a statement on Wednesday.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Clashes as Israeli forces raid Tulkarem, nearby camp
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli military vehicles raided Tulkarem and its refugee camp Tuesday afternoon, witnesses said, and clashes erupted between the troops and locals … No detentions or injuries were reported.
Israeli troops impose curfew over Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli forces imposed on Tuesday a curfew on Yatma village south of Nablus, locals said. Forces imposed the curfew via loudspeakers until further notice as Israeli settlers claimed that armed men fired at Israeli settlers near Rechelim settlement on Nablus-Ramallah road, onlookers said. The villagers added that a large force was on the central road and that they are erecting flying checkpoints in addition to searches of cars and combing the area near the settlement. Earlier, the Huwara and Zatara checkpoints in Nablus were closed, a Ma‘an correspondent said.
Egypt denies entry to Gaza buses over licensing issue
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) — Egyptian authorities on Wednesday turned back all buses carrying passengers from Gaza at the Rafah Crossing. Mahir Abu Sabha, director of Gaza’s border department, explained that the Egyptian government will only allow buses from the Gaza Bus Company to carry passengers into Egypt. The company has suspended operations at present, however, due to a licensing issue which is pending approval from Hamas’ ministry of transportation … Only two bus companies are involved in transporting passengers from Gaza to Egypt. The Teiba Bus Company brings passengers to the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing and the Gaza Bus Company carries them across to the Egyptian side.
Israeli forces detain 3 men trying to cross Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli forces detained three men overnight Monday in the central Gaza Strip after they reportedly approached the security fence separating Israel and the coastal enclave. Witnesses said that the men were trying to cross the border illegally to work in Israel. Soldiers fired flares near the border and deployed forces before detaining the men, who were from al-Bureij refugee camp.
Drones in the shower, F-16s on the street: On leaving Gaza / Radhika Sainath
20 Dec — I made the long journey out of Gaza last week. I must say, though I will miss the dozens of people who invited me into their homes, shared their stories, cooked me lunch, put up with my bad Arabic, boiled me countless glasses of rosemary tea and served me thick black coffee in petite rimless cups, I could not get out of there fast enough. Gaza is not a pleasant place to be … I never thought I’d look so forward to coming to Cairo, a congested, polluted city that I had little love for before the revolution. After a long journey though the Rafah crossing, across the Sinai and back to my hotel off Tahrir Square, I jumped in the shower. And then the humming noise started. I froze, soap bar in hand. “The drones are really loud,” I said, to no one in particular. They must be quite close. And then I realized, it was just a malfunctioning bathroom fan. I continued on with my shower, washing my face. The water had a curious scent to it. It also felt gentle and silky. I continue to sniff it, curious. Why, it was the scent of clean water of course! I had grown used to the salty, contaminated water I had been bathing in for two months; water that caused my skin to itch, my hair to smell like an old towel, and to fall out at greater frequency than normal.
Talking Palestine / Mohamad Suliman
London, (Pal Telegraph) 21 Dec – I used to blog every now and then about my life in Gaza before I moved to London. Since then I haven’t written down anything though my life here is absolutely nowhere near normal or commonplace. Moving to London in fact has been the most overwhelming experience for me given the fact that I have never been out of Gaza for the past seven years … Basically, any conversation with classmates about the holidays eventually begs the question, “What are your plans for Christmas?” sometimes followed by a clichéd inquiry, “Are you going home?” I would stammer, I would feel dumb having found out that I have no plans, feeling embarrassed only to recall a friend’s invitation to his birthday party in the north of England only to remember that the question was actually about a holiday plan and that celebrating a friend’s birthday barely counts as one. I would smile foolishly, and struggling to get words out of my mouth, I would respond, “you know what; I don’t think I have any plans, but I’d really love to go home, but I can’t.” “Why?” “I mean it’s going to be really hard for me to go back go Gaza and come back in time for the second term.” “Why?”
Detention / Prisoner swap
Israeli soldiers unleash police dogs at woman, arrest 3 Palestinians
HEBRON (WAFA) 21 Dec – Israeli army Wednesday unleashed police dogs at a Palestinian woman, injuring her, and arrested three youth in the southern West Bank governorate of Hebron, according to a WAFA correspondent. Israeli forces unleashed police dogs at Amira Awad while arresting her son Mohammad, 25, from the family residence in Edna [or Idna], a town west of Hebron. Family members told WAFA that Israeli soldiers raided and ransacked the family house, unleashed the dogs at the mother and ignored her cries for help; she suffered from several bites and was immediately transported to hospital for treatment.
In addition, Mohammed Awad, spokesman of the National Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, a town north of Hebron, said that Israeli forces raided the town and arrested Rafat Sabarneh, 18, and Hussam Abu Mariah, 19.
Press release from the Freedom Theatre in Jenin refugee camp
21 Dec — Jenin refugee camp has recently suffered a higher number of arrests than usual. Over thirty arrests have been made in the past month. Last night alone, at least eight new arrests were made during a major Israeli military invasion of the refugee camp. Among the people arrested were three members of The Freedom Theatre, a cultural centre for children and youth. One of the arrested was Mohammed Saadi, the light and sound technician at The Freedom Theatre: “At around midnight soldiers broke down the door to my house, they didn’t even knock. They blindfolded me and my brother and took us up to the mountain behind Jenin camp. There we were shoved into an army jeep. During the approximately half-hour drive to the army base we were constantly abused, physically and orally. The soldiers hit us with their fists and the butts of their machine guns. In the early morning we were released after having been interrogated throughout the night.” The reason for these arrests remains unclear.
Report: 54 released prisoners between 14-18 years old
GAZA (WAFA) 20 Dec – A total of 54 Palestinian prisoners released in the second stage of the Gilad Shalit swap deal are between the ages of 14 and 18, according to a report published on Tuesday by Abdul Nasser Ferwaneh, a researcher specialized in prisoners’ affairs. The report said that 82.4% of the 550 prisoners released on Sunday are under 31 years of age, with 315 aged between 18 and 25 years and only three prisoners over 50. A total of 130 Palestinian minors remain in Israeli jails after the latest swap, added the report.
Female prisoners on hunger strike over exchange deal
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Five female prisoners at Israel’s Hasharon jail started a hunger strike on Wednesday in protest against not being included in the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas. A report by the Palestinian Authority ministry of prisoners affairs noted that detainees were deeply disappointed after finding out they were not included in phase two of the swap. “They felt betrayed because Hamas did not live up to their promises to release all female prisoners,” prisoners affairs lawyer Shireen Iraqi said.
Arabs underrepresented in public health sector
JPost 21 Dec –Only 9.5 percent of medical personnel working in government institutions are Arabs, with only 0.25% in management positions, even though they constitute 20% of the Israeli population, according to MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List- Ta’al), head of a Knesset investigative committee on the subject. In actual numbers, there are just 2,729 Arabs among 28,724 medical workers. Nearly 970 Arabs work in the northern district and only 60 in the southern district. The rate of Arab psychologists, social workers, paramedics, physiotherapists and occupational therapists is 7.25%, while only 2.58% of psychologists in the public sector are Arabs.
Ein el-Helwe clashes: Sidon’s schools caught in the crossfire
Al-Akhbar 21 Dec by: Khaled Al-Ghorabi — Armed clashes inside Ein al-Hilwe refugee camp are causing panic in many of Sidon’s schools, which are located in the surrounding area. Meanwhile camp residents lament the sorry state of affairs among the feuding political factions inside the camp.
Abbas, Mashaal meet again in Cairo
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — President Mahmoud Abbas met Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Wednesday evening in Cairo to put “final touches” on an agreement to reconcile the leaders’ rival factions.
Hamas: Factions agree on 6 reconciliation steps in Cairo
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Wednesday that Palestinian factions have reached agreement on six steps to be taken as part of ongoing reconciliation talks. In a statement received by Ma‘an, Barhoum said that a committee composed of nine members has been formed to take charge of elections … Factions also agreed that a unity government should be sworn in by the end of January 2012 and that all political prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza Strip should be released before the end of January 2012.
Hamas official cites progress at Cairo talks
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — A member of the Hamas political bureau said Tuesday that attendees at a meeting to discuss reconciliation postponed the decisive issue of PLO membership until later in the week. Izzat al-Risheq said “elections dates were discussed and agreed on forming a central elections committee. The committee is formed from one delegate from each party and they will meet tonight”. Risheq’s comments came after eight factions walked out of a meeting meant to represent all parties after being told they could not participate because they were not part of the PLO.
Erekat: Israel searching for new partner
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israel has sent messages to some countries that President Mahmoud Abbas is not its partner and it is thus looking for alternative security and economy options, a PLO official said Tuesday. Saeb Erekat said Israel hoped to destroy the Palestinian Authority and the peace process. He added that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was working to convert the PA’s purpose into a security function while paying salaries in order to keep the situation calm in the occupied territories. He added that the Israeli government stripped the PA of its political, security, economic, legal and geographical mandate when it issued the military decision 1650 in April 2010.
US blocks Palestinian resolution at Durban climate convention
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 21 Dec – The United States blocked a Palestinian draft resolution at the United Nations Climate Change Convention in Durban, South Africa, that calls for support for environmental projects in the Palestinian Territory, a Palestinian official said Wednesday … The US representative at the convention informed the Palestinian delegation that his country will oppose the draft resolution in spite of the fact it was purely technical in nature and had no political connotations, he said.
14 UN Security Council members criticize US for blocking condemnation of Israel
AP 21 Dec — ‘Israel’s security and the realization of the Palestinians’ right to statehood are not opposing goals,’ says Britain’s UN Ambassador. Fourteen frustrated members of the UN Security Council pointed a finger at the United States Tuesday for blocking any condemnation of Israel’s accelerated settlement construction in Palestinian territory. Churkin, the current council president, said the frustration over the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian talks spilled out in statements from the four European Union council members, the Nonaligned Movement, the Arab group, and the group of emerging powers that includes India, Brazil and South Africa. Clearly referring to the United States, Churkin said dismissively that one delegation believes things will “miraculously” sort themselves out on their own.
European members of Security Council condemn Israeli settlements, settler violence
Haaretz/DPA 20 Dec — Britain, France, Germany and Portugal release a statement saying settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal; Israel’s UN envoy: Palestinian conditions are real obstacles to peace.
Israel attacks European criticism of West Bank settlement activity
Haaretz 21 Dec — Israel denounced European criticism of settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Wednesday, saying the “bickering” of European Union members of the UN Security Council was making them “irrelevant.” Israel’s response came a day after the four European Union members of the UN Security Council strongly criticized Israel’s decision to speed up construction of settlements, which they termed a “wholly negative” development. A statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said that the EU members of the Security Council would be well advised to exert their efforts on resuming direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, instead of “interfering” in Israel’s internal affairs.
EU adopts assistance package of €160.4 million to Palestinian territory
BRUSSELS (WAFA) 20 Dec – The European Commission adopted a new assistance package for the Occupied Palestinian Territory for 2012, amounting to €160.4 million, according to a press released published Monday. It said two thirds of this will go to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to help it cover wages and pensions for essential civilian workers, particularly medical and teaching staff, as well as social allowances for vulnerable Palestinian families. The funding will also cover arrears of bills by the Palestinian Authority to the private sector for medical supplies. The remaining amount of €55.4 million will be allocated to the core budget and general fund of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides basic health, education and social services for a Palestinian refugee population of five million people both in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in neighboring states.
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem calls to establish independent Palestinian state
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 21 Dec — The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, Wednesday called to establish an independent Palestinian state based on the two-state solution and 1967 borders … In his Christmas message of 2011, Twal commented on the Palestinian request for full United Nations membership in the Security Council, stressing the Patriarchy’s adherence to the Vatican’s clear supportive position of the importance of implementing the two-state solution with security and internationally organized borders.
PA signs free trade agreement with Mercosur
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — The Palestinian Authority signed a free trade agreement on Tuesday with South American trading bloc Mercosur … The free trade agreement has been negotiated for the past year and represents the first such deal between Palestine and a bloc of nations outside of the Middle East. Mercosur countries and Venezuela, who has been aiming for full status in the trade bloc for years, all recognized the Palestinian state over the past year.
Abbas accepts credentials of New Zealand ambassador to Palestine
ANKARA (WAFA) 21 Dec – President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday accepted the credentials of the New Zealand non-resident ambassador to Palestine, Tahamoana Macpherson. Abbas accepted the credentials in the Palestinian ambassador to Turkey, Nabil Marouf’s residence in the Turkish capital Ankara as Abbas is conducting a three-day visit to Turkey.
Naples to treat Palestinian institutions as of recognized state
NAPLES, Italy (WAFA) 21 Dec – The municipality of the Italian city of Naples decided Tuesday to deal with Palestinian institutions in Italy as those of a recognized state, according to a WAFA correspondent.
Knesset committee allocates additional NIS 780 million to Israel’s defense budget
21 Dec — Increase in budget comes at expense of other government offices such as welfare, housing, and tourism; opposition MKs demand that purpose of additional funds be disclosed to public officials.
Paltel gets on two international indexes
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 20 Dec – Palestine Telecommunication Company (Paltel) Tuesday said that it got on two international indexes as a sign that its shares are among the best in the region, Paltel chief executive officer Ammar al-Aker said in a press conference in Ramallah.
Despite withdrawal, Israel still controls infrastructure in disputed Lebanon village
21 Dec — A year after the cabinet decided to withdraw from the northern part the village of Ghajar, the state has begun building up the infrastructure in the northern part of the village. The construction is the first of its kind since 2006, and focuses on upgrading the sewer system, after fears arose that the nearby Snir River (Hasbani) had been contaminated by the village’s local waste ..Like the 18,000 Druze in the Golan Heights, Ghajar residents were Syrians when Israel occupied the region….
UN extends force along Israeli-Syrian border
UNITED NATIONS 21 Dec – The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to extend the U.N. peacekeeping force along the Israeli-Syrian border, warning that events in the region could impact its operations. The 15-member council renewed the mandate of the more than 1,000-strong force for six months until June 30. The U.N. Disengagement Observer Force, known as UNDOF, was established in 1974, following the 1973 Yom Kippur war, to monitor the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967, and Syria wants the land returned in exchange for peace.
Opinion / Analysis
Palestinians are heroes / Amira Hass
21 Dec — The Palestinians are heroes, and that’s the only fact that’s relevant after the slight shock of the hilltop thugs. The hands are the hands of thugs, and the head? The head is the head of the hostile regime under which the Palestinians live and which harasses them every moment of every day, week after week for decades. To live this way and remain sane – that’s heroism. “And who says we’re sane?” Palestinians answer me. Well, here’s the proof: self-irony.
The thugs of the hills are only the icing on the cake. Most of the work is being done by thugs wearing kid gloves. Unlike the people who threw the stone at the deputy brigade commander, these are fan favorites in Israel.
Lesson from Israeli activist who preferred jail and solidarity to segregation / Haggai Matar
972mag 20 Dec — For the first time in many years, an Israeli activist chose to put into practice the notion promoted by Henry David Thoreau: “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison…” Truth be told: We all should have acted like ‘A’. Every Friday, across the West Bank, Israelis and Palestinians demonstrate together. They stand together opposite the same soldiers, chant the same slogans, give the same speeches, run away from the same clouds of tear gas and the same spray from the disgusting “skunk” machines, and get arrested for the same reasons and with the same false accusations.
However, it is at that point that the legal mechanisms of racism start kicking in. The Israelis are released from the police station with limited conditions or with similar conditions from court. An Israeli detainee has to be brought in front of a judge within 24 hours. The Palestinians are taken to Ofer Military Prison. From the outset, the military orders that dictate their lives allow the authorities to detain them for eight whole days before they are even required to allow judicial review of the detention. Even then, in most cases, the court will decide to allow an extension and then another extension and then detention till the procedure regarding an indictment has ended. This process can take a number of months and in the end, the arrested Palestinian is released. The arrested Israeli, however, his friend and partner, was free that whole time.
That is how it always is under apartheid law.
The media consensus on Israel is collapsing / Jordan Michael Smith
Salon 21 Dec — Across the political spectrum, once-taboo criticism is now common — With Hamas and Fatah meeting this week in Cairo, reconciliation between the rival Palestinian political parties is likely only a matter of time. Official U.S. policy holds that Hamas is only a terrorist entity, and any agreement between the two factions jeopardizes continued U.S. aid. There is reason to believe, however, that more flexible, productive positions will be expressed in the U.S. media. Slowly but unmistakably, space is opening up among the commentariat for new, critical ideas about Israel and its relationship to the United States.
The nightmare is now Israel’s too / Joharah Baker
Palestine, (Pal Telegraph) 21 Dec — There is a hint of poetic justice in the events of the last week. It may not be politically correct to relish in this justice, but it is only natural. Extremist Israeli settlers have recently turned some of their manic wrath on their own government alongside the ever escalating violence against the Palestinians. The two cannot be compared in terms of magnitude, but the fact that the nightmare Israel had intended solely for the purpose of running the Palestinians off their land has turned on them is an ironic twist nonetheless … If anything good is to come out of this horrible violence, it would be that Israel and those who support it realize that nothing positive can ever come of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. We have been saying it for ages.
Ethnic cleansing of invented people / Miko Peled
20 Dec — Mostafa Tamimi from Nabi Saleh, Bahjat Zaalan and his son Ramdan from Gaza died on my fiftieth birthday and just a few days after Newt Gingrich declared them an invented people. They were murdered by the Israeli terrorist organization, the IDF, an organization that is supported and funded by the US. One Israeli terrorist shot the invented Tamimi in the head with a tear gas canister, and another Israeli terrorist fired a rocket that murdered the invented Zaalan and his boy Ramadan. Both terrorists were educated and trained by Israel, and armed by the US. The Israeli terrorists are not invented but quite real, and they are safe, protected by the apartheid regime that trained and sent them on their missions, and the Israeli court system will make sure that they are never brought to justice. This is how Israel’s well-oiled ethnic cleansing machine operates … Since my father was a general and I served as a soldier in the IDF terrorist organization, people often ask me how is it that Israeli children who are raised in a Western style democracy become such monsters once they are in uniform? The detailed answer can be found in my book, The General’s Son due out in February 2012, but the short answer is this: Education – Racism requires a mindset that is fashioned by education.
Mrs. Peled and the Palestinian homes of West Jerusalem / Helena Cobban
20 Dec — I am delighted that my company, Just World books, is publishing Miko Peled’s intimate and thought-provoking memoir The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. (We’re already taking advance orders though the book won’t be available before the end of February.) Miko has been giving out some great teasers for the book in the writing and lecturing he’s been doing in recent months. Today, on his blog, he has this intriguing story:
Only the IDF can get Israel to recognize Jewish terrorism / Zvi Bar’el
21 Dec — In true democracies, the army isn’t an educational body, and certainly isn’t an organization that defines cultural or political borders; in Israel, the army acquired a unique status, and now it cannot renounce its responsibility ... The army doesn’t really need new legislation in order to act against Jewish terror, nor does it need to redefine the term in order to arrest a citizen, Jew or Arab, in the territories. But the IDF is the only force capable of converting halfhearted condemnations and empty slogans into enforceable action. .
Israel, 2012: Teaching a horse to starve / Bradley Burston
20 Dec — An old Yiddish quip teaches an important lesson: If a country is run like a joke long enough, there’s no telling who will have the last laugh … We all know who the balagulas are. The foreign minister who doesn’t believe in diplomacy, the finance minister who doesn’t believe in economic opportunity, the health minister who doesn’t believe in doctors, the minister for fostering aliyah who extols an Israeli ad campaign for America which directly offends U.S. Jews. Day by day at home, this Israel teaches the horse to starve when it demands more and more of the non-Haredi young and provides less and less: in return for less education, more fees, in return for more inequitable army duty and taxation, less affordable housing.
Palestinian clowns are everywhere / Sam Bahour
20 Dec — Some Palestinians refuse to just sit still and accept their fate as a permanently, militarily occupied people. One would think by now that Palestinians would have received the message loud and clear – the world couldn’t care less about their fate. But no, these Palestinians just refuse to sit still. They continue to defy their reality and can be seen across the Holy Land – jumping, climbing, swinging, falling, tripping, singing, twirling, juggling, cycling, tight roping, and the like. Their nerve! To think they can attempt to live a normal life when the powers that be are spending billions, literally, to cause a collapse of Palestinian society. And who is it exactly I speak of? Palestinian clowns. No, I’m not taking a swing at the political leadership, at least not here. I’m talking about the real thing: circus clowns, like in clowns that make you laugh and make you forget that the boot of occupation is pressing on your neck.
Nablus revitalized / Shadia Yousef Touqan
21 Dec — Palestine, (Pal Telegraph) – The city of Nablus, with its surrounding areas, has been known for thousands of years as a main commercial and cultural centre in Palestine. It was built, destroyed, and rebuilt many times as many conquerors sought to control it for its strategic location and geographic and environmental characteristics. The mountainous nature and rich water resources forced the Romans to develop the city from east to west at the valley between Gerizim and Ebal mountains … Recognising the value of the architectural heritage of the Old City of Nablus, the Welfare Association built on the rich and diverse experience in cultural heritage preservation of its comprehensive Old City of Jerusalem Revitalization Programme (OCJRP), and in 2007, its qualified and experienced conservation staff decided to expand the activities of the OCJRP to the Old City of Nablus.