Israel okays first Gaza-West Bank trade in 5 years
AFP 5 Mar — Israel on Monday allowed the Palestinians to export two truckloads of date bars from Gaza to the West Bank in what was the first such trade between the territories since 2007, the military and an NGO said. The rare move was permitted as part of a World Food Programme (WFP) initiative to feed Palestinian school children, Israeli NGO Gisha said in a statement, which hailed the trade as “an important step.” But the military said it was a “one-off” trade and did not mean its nearly five-year ban on exports between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank was being lifted.
Land theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
In Photos: Economic exploitation in the Jordan Valley
AIC 3 Mar — The Alternative Information Center (AIC) entered the Israeli settlement of Tomer in the Jordan Valley and collected stories about the working conditions of the Palestinian labour force exploited inside. The settlement of Tomer is located about 20 kilometers north of Jericho, and since its creation in 1978 has grown visibly, confiscating land and water resources from the Palestinian communities of the Jordan Valley. Like most settlements of the area, the population of Tomer is very limited. Less than 300 inhabitants live in an area of 366 dunams. This means that every settler owns more than 1000 square meters of land … The day of Palestinian workers in the Jordan Valley settlements starts before sunrise. At 5:30 am you can already see workers on both sides of Road 90, waiting for a means of transport to enter the settlements. They sit silent around a small fire, wearing dark jackets and caps. Others, who live in the northern cities of the West Bank, wake up even before. At 4 am they get on overcrowded buses heading for the Jordan Valley. Every day they face a long journey and endless queues and searches at the checkpoints which isolate the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank.
Foundation: Landslide risk in Silwan amid Israeli digs
[photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — The Al-Aqsa Foundation said on Sunday it had gathered evidence showing that an East Jerusalem neighborhood risked landslides amid Israeli digging in the area. A landslide northeast of the Ein Silwan Mosque has formed a crater next to the building, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said, providing images of the site. Palestinian neighborhood Silwan lies south of the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Compound) housing the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, and is the site of Israeli archaeological work that has drawn sharp criticism from residents for destabilizing their homes … The Al-Aqsa Foundation said the images show a network of tunnels being dug under Silwan in several directions, which intend to connect the area to Jewish facilities around the Haram al-Sharif.
Silwan Centre warns of collapses due to Israeli excavations
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 5 Mar — Fractures were discovered Monday in the Wadi Hilweh playing ground in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, prompting residents to warn of imminent collapses in structures in the area due to Israeli excavations, according to the Wadi Hilweh Information Centre.
Christian Jerusalemites’ challenges following settler attacks
AIC 3 Mar — Recent Israeli settler attacks on Christian holy sites and churches have highlighted the specific struggle faced by Christian Palestinians in Jerusalem … Christians have inhabited Jerusalem since the time of Christ and his followers and have always lived amongst Muslims and Jews. Although the number of Christians in Jerusalem has never been high, primarily due to the conversions occurring during the advent of Islam and the big wave of Christian emigration in the aftermath of the 1947 and 1967 wars, this already restricted number of Christians continues to shrink … “The sharp decline in the number of Christian Jerusalemites is the result of the implementation of Israel as a de facto state on this land,” Yusef Daher, Executive Secretary of the World Council of Churches, says. “The Israeli government policy throughout the whole history has been unilateral: turning Jerusalem both into a Jewish city and into the capital of Israel, while getting rid of all the Christian (and Muslim) Palestinians.”
Buildup of Israeli forces, new surveillance cameras
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 5 Mar — A heavy buildup of Israeli armed forces has been reported in recent days throughout Silwan, particularly at the entrances to its neighborhoods. A number of new surveillance cameras have also been set up near Silwan Club, adjacent to the Israeli settlement in Ras al-Amoud district. The settlement has been attempting to take over the nearby Palestinian family home of Jadallah, in what is viewed by residents as moves to expand the reaches of the settlement apparatus in Ras al-Amoud.
Mixed Israeli city marketing homes to religious Jews only, says rights group
Haaretz 4 Mar — Arab residents of Acre claim the municipality aims to attract new religious Jewish residents in order to alter the mixed Arab-Jewish character of the city … Juhaina Safi, a social and political activist in Acre, told Haaretz that housing preoccupies the city’s populace, particularly Arab residents. “We are talking about a veteran population in Acre, both Jews and Arabs, who do not have housing solutions. In the Old City, they are selling to the wealthy.
Israeli court to consider evacuating Hebron settlers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Israel’s supreme court on Monday will consider whether to evacuate settlers from two properties in Hebron’s old city, the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee said Sunday. “An Israeli court is going to reconsider evacuating settlers from Palestinian stores which they occupied,” HRC said. “The stores were shut down by Israel in 2000 and belonged to Abdul Jawad al-Ewiwi and Abdul Razik al-Ewiwi.” HRC is committed to preserving the cultural identity of Hebron’s old city, as well as reviving its infrastructure.
Violence / Raids
Palestinian youth seriously wounded in clashes with IDF soldiers
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Mar — A Palestinian youth was seriously wounded on Monday during clashes between Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and citizens at the Atara roadblock to the north of Ramallah. Eyewitnesses told Quds Press reporter that Mohammed Awad, 19, was hit with a gas bomb in his head, which was fired directly at him by the soldiers. A medical source in the Ramallah government hospital said that Awad suffered fractures in his skull and his condition was described as serious. The confrontations erupted at Atara after citizens headed to the roadblock to mark the first anniversary of the death of an entire Palestinian family in the same place a year ago. Awad is the brother of Bassam who died in the car crash in that area along with his seven-member family after an Israeli army vehicle collided with his car.
Reporters without Borders shocked at Israeli raid on Ramallah TVs
PARIS (WAFA) 3 Mar — Reporters Without Borders Friday expressed ‘deep shock’ at an Israeli army raid on two Palestinian television stations in Ramallah, seizing their equipment and forcing them to close, according to a statement. “These arbitrary and illegal operations served yet again to intimidate Palestinian media and journalists, the victims of repeated attacks by the Israel Defense Forces,” it said. “We urge the Israeli military to return the confiscated equipment and allow the two stations to resume broadcasting.” The French foreign ministry had also condemned the raids.
WAFA: Israeli forces commit 25 violations against journalists in February
IMEMC 5 Mar — The report stated 11 journalists were injured during the 25 violations. The majority of injuries were a direct result of the military firing tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. 11 other cases of detention and arrests by Israeli troops against journalists were documented by WAFA. WAFA noted in its report that the Israeli military attacked three Palestinian media companies during the month of February.
IOF soldiers occupy building in Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 4 Mar — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed and occupied a building in Jenin city at dawn Sunday and detained all inhabitants in one room until the early morning hours. Local sources said that special forces accompanied the IOF troops, identifying the owner of the building as Nasser Al-Fourman.
Other units of special forces and troops spread in the city and Jenin refugee camp in addition to the nearby village of Qabatiya, the sources said.
IOF soldiers also stormed Khader town near Bethlehem at dawn Sunday and served summonses to two Palestinians, locals said.
They said that the soldiers broke into the home of late Suleiman Salah and severely beat up his liberated daughter Sanaa’.
Press TV video: Gaza flooded after Israel opens dam gates
4 Mar — Dozens of homes were flooded in central Gaza by untreated sewage water after Israel opened a dam located in the eastern side of the impoverished territory which leads to the Gaza Valley off the Mediterranean. With Egypt’s refusal to allow fuel into the blockaded coastal enclave, it was extremely difficult for rescue crews to tackle the problem. Families in the flooded area have been struggling since the early hours of the morning trying to retrieve their belongings .Some area residents described the flooding of as another Israeli aggression demanding international protection.
Dozens of Gaza homes at risk of flooding
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Civil defense crews in the Gaza Strip said Sunday that dozens of homes in the Gaza Valley area are at risk of flooding due to heavy rainfall. Yusuf al-Zahar, director general of the Civil Defense, told Ma‘an that water levels have reached nearly two meters and they have been creating earth-mounds to protect houses from flooding. Extra equipment will be brought in to drain water and protect homes, al-Zahar added. The Gaza Valley is located in the central Gaza Strip and is home to wetlands and a diverse coastal ecosystem.
Hamas: Egypt to deliver fuel to Gaza via Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Gaza’s energy authority on Monday announced an agreement with Egypt to import fuel via the Rafah crossing to ease the power crisis. The Hamas-run authority said Egypt’s General Petroleum Authority would initially deliver diesel meant for cars through the terminal until industrial diesel could be transferred. Pipes, pumps and tanks to receive the fuel will be prepared Tuesday morning, the Gaza authority said in a statement. The announcement follows weeks of critical power shortages in the Gaza Strip. Since Egypt shut off fuel deliveries via underground tunnels in February, Gaza’s power plant has shut down twice and the 1.7 million residents of the coastal strip face up to 18-hour blackouts each day.
Gaza factories threatened with shutdown due to power crisis
GAZA (PIC) 4 Mar — Head of the federation of Palestinian industries Ali Al-Hayek warned of the serious repercussions of the power outages on the local industrial production in the besieged Gaza Strip. Hayek said that dozens of factories, especially those which work in the fields of construction and food, would shut down because of the insufficient fuel supplies used to generate the power needed to operate their industrial machinery.
Zakarneh: Employee salaries available on Monday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Head of the government employees union Bassam Zakarneh told Ma‘an on Sunday that employee salaries will be available on Monday via ATM machines and in banks on Wednesday. Zakarneh confirmed that the finance ministry has sent salary statements to the relevant banks. The Hamas government will distribute salaries on Monday, marking the first time in months that salaries have been paid on time.
Let there be light / Pam Bailey in Gaza
[photos] 4 Mar — There are so many basic things most of us take for granted….like, electricity. But in Gaza — especially these days — it’s a precious commodity … Power (of the electrical kind) has been rationed to some extent ever since I started visiting Gaza in 2009. … However, on this, my sixth, trip to Gaza, power is in particularly short supply. In fact, the average house is now being forced to live with a six hours on-12 hours off schedule, compared to an average of say, 12-12 before. Combine that with an unusually harsh stretch of cold and wind and rain (which turned to ICE yesterday — a phenomenon not seen in Gaza for 10 years) — and you have a recipe for hardship of a more severe kind.
Cancer patient denied access to essential treatment
Al-Haq 1 Mar — On 19 February, Israeli authorities prevented 24-year-old cancer patient, Kamel Hikmat al-Taramsi, from traveling from the Gaza Strip to Jerusalem to receive medical treatment. Despite being in severe discomfort due to his illness, Kamel was detained and questioned for five hours at Erez crossing (north of the Gaza Strip). Background: In 2001, Kamel, a resident of Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, was diagnosed with cancer of the pituitary gland. Kamel has been suffering from severe headaches and has been bedbound for long periods of time. Despite receiving treatment from both international and local doctors, his condition has continuously worsened.
Report: 2 homemade projectiles fired from Gaza
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 3 Mar — Two homemade rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel early Saturday, Israeli media reported. Both rockets exploded in open fields in Eshkol Regional Council, Israel’s Ynet news site reported. No injuries or damage were reported.
Shalabi to continue hunger strike despite sentence reduction
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Hana Shalabi said Sunday that she will continue her hunger strike despite an announcement by Israel’s Ofer military court that her prison time will be reduced by two months. Lawyer Fadi Qawasmi visited Shalabi at Hasharon prison and informed her of the court’s decision on Sunday to reduce her imprisonment time by two months. Shalabi told him that she would continue her hunger strike protest in order to achieve her demands to end administrative detention. She has been on hunger strike for 18 days and her condition is said to have worsened recently. Addameer prisoners society says that Shalabi was issued a 6-month administrative detention order on Feb. 23. Ofer military court refused Qawasmi’s request to call witnesses to speak about the assault of Shalabi during her interrogation, he said. Qawasmi also requested that a Shin Bet representative, the military commander who led the arrest and the soldier who carried out the strip search on Shalabi be called to the stand. The court refused his demands.
Israeli authorities deny appeal by hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner
IMEMC 5 Mar — A day after reducing the sentence of Palestinian political prisoner Hana Shalabi from six months to four months, Israeli authorities denied a request by the Palestinian Prisoner support group Addameer demanding that the arresting officer and two others accused of torturing Shalabi be forced to testify … In the latest legal briefing filed by Addameer, the group demanded that three Israeli officers who allegedly beat, brutalized and interrogated Shalabi during the course of her abduction be forced to testify in court. Israeli authorities have accused Shalabi of being active in the Islamic Jihad resistance movement, a charge which she denies.
Army prevents medical committee from visiting hunger-striking detainee
IMEMC 4 Mar — …In a press release issued Sunday morning, the Palestinian Prisoners Society reported that the prison administration at the Ha-Sharon Prison prevented the medical team from visiting Ash-Shalabi to examine her. The committee consists of Palestinian and International health care professionals. The committee said that it decided to visit Ash-Shalabi after the prison administrations refused to have her examined, or even moved to hospital due to the deterioration in her health condition.
Red flags over Gaza: Palestinian leftists rally for Hana Shalabi / Joe Catron
[photos] Mondo 5 Mar — Hundreds of Palestinians, mainly from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and other leftist factions, rallied for administrative detainee Hana Shalabi, now on her 19th day of an open hunger strike, outside Gaza’s International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) this morning, ahead of International Women’s Day Thursday.
Other political detention / Exile / Court action
14 detained in West Bank, 5 minors arrested in Silwan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israeli forces detained 14 people overnight Sunday across the West Bank, Israel’s army and Palestinian security sources said. Four people were detained in the Ramallah area, two in Qalqiliya, two in Nablus and six in the Hebron area, an Israeli army spokeswoman said. All those detained were taken for security questioning, the spokeswoman said.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that five minors were arrested in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Shadad al-Awar, 12, Sahib al-Awar, 13, Elias al-Awar, 14, Ahmad Salah, 14 and Islam al-Awar, 17, were named as those arrested.
IOF renews administrative detention of PLC secretary MP Ramahi
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Mar — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has renewed the administrative detention of Dr. Mahmoud Al-Ramahi, secretary of the Palestinian legislative council (PLC). Human rights sources told Quds Press that the military court in Ofer passed the renewal ruling on Sunday against Ramahi for the fourth time running.
Erekat calls on UN, EU to intervene to end administrative detention
JERICHO (WAFA) 4 Mar — Fatah Central Committee Member Saeb Erekat Sunday called on the United Nations and the European Union to promptly intervene to end the policy of administrative detention, which was cancelled during the British Mandate in 1948. In two separate meetings with UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry and EU Representative to the Palestinian Territory John Gatt-Rutter, Erekat called to save the life of Palestinian prisoner, Hana’ Shalabi, 30, who has been in an open-ended hunger strike for 19 days, protesting her administrative arrest.
3 people detained while visiting relatives in prison
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — The Palestinian prisoners society said Sunday that three people were detained while visiting relatives in Ramon prison. Diala Matar, 26, and her brother Saad Mustapha, 15, were detained while visiting their brother Muhammad Mustapha Tharra, who is serving a life sentence. Yosra Adel, 30, was also detained while visiting her brother in jail. Witnesses told the prisoners society that prison guards used force against the family members. The reason for their arrest is unclear.
Israeli forces arrest three relatives of prisoners including two women: another prisoner starts hunger strike
RAMALLAH (PIC)– Israeli security guards at the Raymon jail have arrested three relatives of detained Palestinians on Sunday and deprived the remaining relatives of visitation on that day.
In another development a Palestinian detainee started a hunger strike five days ago demanding treating him as a “war prisoner”.
Human rights sources said that Kifah Hattab from Tulkarem was waging the hunger strike to be treated as war prisoner and thus allow him to receive visitors, meet lawyers, and go to the clinic without wearing the prison uniform in addition to not standing for the daily count. The sources affirmed that Hattab would continue in his hunger strike until all his demands are met.
Meanwhile, three other administrative detainees in the Israeli Shatta jail went on hunger strike on Sunday protesting their detention without trial or charge.
Israeli court hearing today against Palestinian mother of three kids
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 5 Mar — A Palestinian woman, Mufika Al-Qawasmi, who was kidnapped recently from her home in Al-Khalil, will stand trial on Monday in the military court of Ofer jail, her family said. The family added that Israeli troops kidnapped her from her home in Ras Al-Jura neighborhood in Al-Khalil city two weeks ago to pressure her husband Ihab Al-Qawasmi, who was jailed several days earlier, into making alleged confessions. Mufika, is a mother of three children, and her husband is the brother of two Palestinian martyrs who carried out seven years ago commando operations in Al-Khalil city.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Israeli military court indicts four Palestinians including three minors
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Mar — An Israeli military court has filed an indictment list against four Palestinians, including three minors, from Balata refugee camp to the east of Nablus, the Hebrew radio said. The radio said that the first trial hearing was held a few weeks ago at Salem military court but not published for security reasons, adding that the four were indicted for planning resistance attacks on Israeli targets.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Video provided by B’Tselem leads to indictment of three settlers for property damage and threats in al-Lubban al-Sharqiyah
B’Tselem 28 Feb — On 15 February 2012, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office indicted a soldier and two young women, charging that on 7 February 2012, they destroyed property and sprayed malicious graffiti against Palestinians in a-Lubban a-Sharqiyah, a village in the Nablus District. The defendants, who reside in settlements in the northern West Bank, are Moriah Goldberg, Oriyan Nazri, and Azariya Tene, a soldier in the Golani Brigade. The indictment also accuses the soldier of using his gun to threaten villagers who tried to stop his car, in which the three had entered the village in the middle of the night.
Aruri: All Palestinian prisoners to go on hunger strike in April
BEIRUT (PIC) 4 Mar — Political bureau member of Hamas and in charge of the prisoners file in the movement said that Palestinian prisoners were preparing for an open ended hunger strike in April. Aruri said in a TV statement on Saturday evening that Hamas has put five conditions for the improvement of prisoners’ conditions including ending solitary confinement, allowing family visits, improving living conditions within the detention cells and wards, and allowing newspapers into the wards … He said that the Israeli occupation authority had pledged to improve prisoners’ conditions as part of the exchange deal.
Mass wedding for 13 prisoners deported to Qatar
DOHA (Ma‘an) 3 Mar — Thirteen Palestinian prisoners who were freed and deported to Doha in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap joined hands in a mass wedding in the Qatari capital Friday evening. Palestinian ambassador to Qatar Muneer Ghannam attended the wedding along with Hamas’ chief in exile Khalid Mashaal, who delivered a speech to mark the occasion … The Emiri Court of Qatar funded the mass wedding. The brides were Palestinians living in Qatar, and others from the West Bank.
Elon Moreh: Stabbing attack foiled; 2 arrested
Ynet 5 Mar — IDF forces arrested two Palestinians near Elon Moreh Monday, after they were found to be in possession of large knives. Security forces believe the two were planning a stabbing attack in the settlement. The two suspects were spotted trying to enter Elon Moreh, a West Bank settlement located northeast of Nablus. During the ensuing pursuit, led by Golani forces, the two fled towards the nearby Palestinian village of Azamut. They were refused shelter by several of the resident and eventually turned over to the IDF by the headmaster of the local school. Both men, who are residents of the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, were turned over to security forces for interrogation.
Rally: Free Arab Israelis who murdered IDF soldier
Ynet 3 Mar — Hundreds in Arara call on Israeli government to release killers of Avi Bromberg. … The demonstration, which was organized by the Palestinian Prisoners movement and the Balad party, was held in an event hall in the northern village of Arara. Arab Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka (Balad) said the Arab-Israeli inmates should have been included in the prisoner exchange deal that secured Gilad Shalit’s release from Hamas captivity. “I think 30 years in jail is enough. On the one hand the government says (the prisoners) are not Palestinian, so they should not be released under any (agreement), but on the other hand (the government) tells them they are not Israeli either.
Activism / Solidarity
New community school in Samra
JVC 3 Mar — See our photos of the new school in Khirbet Samra on flickr here Today, March the 3rd 2012, a group of volunteers from Jordan Valley Solidarity joined the community of Khirbet Samra in the north of the Jordan Valley, they built a new tent school for the children in the community. There are twenty five children who will benefit from this new achievement. These are all children who have not been able to attend school, because the nearest one is 20 km from Samra, and the community have reported regular abuse from settlers and soldiers..
International solidarity: Photos for the liberation of Shuhada Street
ISM 5 Mar – On February 20th, International Solidarity Movement put out a call for the international community to express their solidarity with the people of Al Khalil (Hebron) and the cause to open Shuhada Street. Individuals from all over the world took part in this symbolic campaign, which came just as locals in Al Khalil launched a week of activities and rallies to invoke the resilience of Palestine and its resistance against apartheid in their communities. [Be sure to click on the Mandela Park photo to see pictures from the UK, France, New Zealand, the US, South Africa, Australia, Czech Republic, Réunion, etc.
Video: UCLA students stage walkout at StandWithUs event featuring Israeli soldiers
EI 5 Mar — During Palestine Awareness Week last week, students at UCLA held a memorial for Palestinians killed during Israel’s 2008-09 attacks on the Gaza strip. Days later, Israel lobby organization StandWithUs and the campus group “Bruins for Israel” held an event featuring presentations by two Israeli soldiers. As the soldiers began their presentation, they acknowledged that there was going to be a walkout taking place. As soon as one of the soldiers mentioned Operation Cast Lead (“in 2008, Israel said ‘enough is enough’”), activists stood up, placed tape over their mouths, and held signs with the names of some of the more than 350 children killed in Israel’s attacks. They then silently walked out of the auditorium. The action was organized by UCLA’s Students for Justice in Palestine. This latest walkout comes just about a week after a similar action at a StandWithUs-sponsored event at Michigan State University
Israeli-French film to poke fun at assassination of senior Hamas official
Haaretz 5 Mar — Israeli and French filmmakers are preparing to shoot a comedy based on the 2010 assassination of senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.The killing – in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates – was widely attributed to the Mossad, Israel’s espionage service. The title of the film, “Kidon” (Javelin ), is the film’s purported code name for the assassination hit squad. In real life, the assassination generated widespread media coverage, including closed-circuit camera footage allegedly showing members of the assassination team in tennis garb in Mabhouh’s hotel.
Baraka asks Iraqi ambassador to improve conditions of Palestinian refugees
BEIRUT (PIC) 5 Mar — Representative of Hamas in Lebanon Ali Baraka has conferred with Iraqi ambassador to Lebanon Omar Barazanji on Monday for an overall discussion of conditions in the region. A Hamas statement said that Baraka, who accompanied three Hamas officials with him, conferred with Barazanji on the situation of Palestinian refugees in Iraq. It added that Baraka asked for improving living conditions of those refugees and granting them special passports to facilitate their movement and travel. The ambassador, the statement said, promised to convey the requests to the Iraqi government, adding that he would do whatever he could to help the “Palestinian brothers” living in Iraq and alleviate their suffering. He affirmed that those refugees are guests in Iraq until their return to their homeland.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Abbas says will not be PM if illegal, problematic
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that he is not fixed on taking up the prime ministerial post in the unity cabinet, after the new government was postponed in the face of uproar in Hamas ranks. In an interview with Al-Jazeera satellite channel in Qatar, Abbas said that neither party dictated his candidacy, but he and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal agreed he lead the interim government. The Fatah leader said he agreed on the position on the basis that the government is transitional, technocratic, and has a limited remit of preparing for elections and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. He added that if his appointment raises political or legal problems, he will not insist on keeping the leadership role. The cabinet is currently on hold at the request of Mashaal, who said the time was not right due to a disagreement with Hamas on proceeding, he told the channel.
Fatah, Hamas officials shift blame for delay in unity govt
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Fatah and Hamas officials traded accusations on Monday over the delay in forming a unity government. Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad told Palestine Radio that President Abbas was waiting for Hamas to form a new government, adding that he had not requested any delays … Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan responded that Abbas was responsible for forming the new government because it was agreed that he would be the head.
Islamic Jihad will ‘not oppose’ reconciliation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad movement said Monday that the group will not oppose any aspect of reconciliation agreed upon between Fatah and Hamas. “If both rivals reach agreement, we will not oppose any step related to the government as long as our solid principles are not interfered with,” Ramadan Abdullah Shallah told Ma‘an. The senior Islamic Jihad member said that the groups’ participation in the PLO is still dependent on further internal meetings to discuss the organizations’ restructuring.
PFLP: Syria offices remain open
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 Mar — The head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in exile says the faction has no plans to shutter its offices in Damascus, despite unrest in Syria. Maher al-Taher said Saturday the leftist faction’s offices in the Syrian capital are operating as usual and that he will return to Damascus after Gaza, where he arrived last week marking his first visit to the coastal enclave.
Knesset reprimands Tibi over ‘Shahid Day’ speech
Ynet 5 Mar — Arab lawmaker reportedly said in Ramallah ‘blessed are the martyrs inside the Green Line, those whom the occupier wants to refer to as terrorists’ … Tibi told the committee that the video of his speech was taped over a year ago, adding that it was edited in such a way that distorted the true meaning behind his remarks. According to Tibi, the “shahids” he mentioned in the speech did not kill anyone.
Knesset to consider parliamentary committee to investigate activities of Arab members
MEMO 5 Mar — Israel’s Hebrew-language Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said yesterday that the country’s parliament, the Knesset, is to look into an unprecedented proposal submitted by extreme right-wing parliamentarian Danny Danon. The Likud MK wants the Knesset to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate the activities of its elected members who belong to Arab parties because of what he claims are “extremist activities”. The move is also intended to investigate the overseas trips made by Arab MKs to neighbouring countries, as well as their various comments and the decisions of Israeli courts not to file complaints or indictments against them.
Obama: All options remain on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran
Haaretz 4 Mar by Barak Ravid — U.S. President Barack Obama addresses AIPAC conference in Washington; staunchly defends his administration’s record on Israel, citing strong security and diplomatic assistance.
Erekat: PA disappointed by Obama speech
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — PLO official Saeb Erekat said Monday that the Palestinian Authority was disappointed with US President Barack Obama’s recent speech at an AIPAC conference. “This speech is part of Obama’s election campaign,” Erekat told Ma‘an. “Unfortunately, the speech ignored the requirements for peace as it did not touch on urging Israel to accept the two-state solution, halt settlement activities, and stop imposing facts on the ground.” Erekat said the speech at AIPAC’s policy conference in Washington on Sunday showed “unprecedented support” to Israel, and the PLO official urged Arab nations to give priority to Arab interests just as the US supported their own interests abroad.
Settler MK Uri Ariel calls for one-state
972mag 5 Mar — Knesset member joins other rightwing leaders in call for annexing West Bank, one state solution. One of the well-known figures in the settler movement, Knesset Member Uri Ariel from the radical rightwing National Union Party, is publicly calling for a one-state solution as an alternative to the construction of a Palestinian state, the independent news site Srugim reported. Ariel is calling on Israel to annex the West Bank immediately and give all Palestinians living there the status of residents in Israel, similar to those of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which was annexed to Israel in 1967. According to the plan, Gaza will not be made part of Israel.
Other news, Opinion
Video: Are Israelis boycotting Palestinian goods? / Dahlia Scheindlin
972mag 5 Mar — Although Israelis spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Palestinian goods each year, these products are usually sold under Israelis labels, since Palestinian-marketed goods are a tough sell. A video item on the Media Line today tells of a Tel Aviv trade fair designated to help open doors for Palestinian agricultural products such as olive oil, to break into the Israeli market – in their own name. It turns out that Israelis are happy to buy Palestinian goods, says reporter Arieh O’Sullivan (sales were reported at $300 million last year) as long as they’re not flaunted as Palestinian.
Ahmed Moor in WaPo: Harvard One State conference informed by the uncontroversial view that all people are created equal
Mondo3 Mar — Ahmed Moor writing in the Washington Post: The degree to which the country is a single, indivisible unit is sometimes underscored by the most mundane experiences. A Palestinian friend recently told me about being pulled over for speeding in the West Bank. The person who ticketed him was an Israeli army official. Yes, Palestine has been colonized out of existence, and the Israeli army is busy policing traffic. The army’s nearness to the average Palestinian extends beyond settlements.