Israel’s foreign minister on Saturday dismissed criticism by the European Union of illegal Jewish settlement on occupied land the Palestinians seek for a state, advising the 27-nation bloc to attend to its own problems instead.
This visit was prompted by a recent document issued from the Israeli ‘Ministry of Defence,’ on the 3rd of October, promising to lift restrictions of movement on Palestinians desiring to pass through checkpoints in the Jordan Valley, especially those permitting entrance into the Jordan Valley from areas A and B. Machsom Watch wanted to observe how this document will manifest in Palestinian’s everyday reality. They explained that prior to this ‘change’ in policy, Palestinians were restricted from travelling to and from the Jordan Valley – only those with a vehicle registered to owners who are living in the Jordan Valley were permitted entry through the checkpoints. This has been part of Israel’s greater strategy in isolating the Jordan Valley, pressuring residents to leave their villages and eventually to annex the area, which Israel has always claimed is territory it will never cede.
The unreported tragedy of Palestine’s olive harvest
The olive harvest has always been a time of heart-warming celebration in Palestine. It gives a sense of fulfilment to families and communities alike. In recent years, however, the occasion has been marked by bitter despoliation. Israeli settlers have waged a callous campaign against this economic lifeline of ordinary Palestinian farmers. Between January and October this year, more than 7,500 olive trees were damaged or destroyed by settlers in the occupied West Bank. The right to private property is an inalienable right of all members of the human family. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” (Article 17)
From the moment they arrive at the border with Lebanon, Palestinians are treated worse than Syrians. They have to buy a transit visa for $17, valid for just 15 days. If they want to stay on legally they must apply for a non-renewable one-month visa for another $33. They are generally denied the right to work in Lebanon. Conditions in the camps to which they are confined are bad.
Israeli & Egyptian Siege on Gaza
Israeli navy illegally seizes humanitarian aid ship in international waters
In an act violating international maritime law, Israeli naval forces boarded a humanitarian aid ship, the SV Estelle, that was en route to the Gaza Strip bringing humanitarian aid supplies including musical instruments and building materials. These are among the thousands of items still banned by Israeli forces from entering Gaza.
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Friday that Israel’s 2005 disengagement from Gaza is not yet complete, since Israel continues to supply Gazans with necessities such as water and electricity. “I think that we theoretically disengaged from Gaza but we didn’t really disengage,” he said during a gathering in Tel Aviv. “The world considers us as being responsible for what happens there. We provide them electricity with which they manufacture the rockets they fire at us. We provide them with water and energy and they use that against us. If there’s disengagement, I want to complete that disengagement. Let them desalinate their own water, produce their own energy, let them be connected to Egypt. Then the situation will be clearer.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh called Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani on Saturday to thank him for Qatar’s role in reconstructing the Gaza Strip, a statement from his office said. Haniyeh updated Al Thani about talks with Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi and Egypt’s cooperation with reconstruction projects in Gaza. In early October, the Qatari government invited tenders for four construction projects, in the first stage of a $254 million project to rebuild the war-torn Gaza Strip. Consultants have been invited to submit designs for a city to be named after Sheikh Hamad Ben Khalifa al-Thani. The $30-million development will include 1,000 residential units in five-story apartment blocks, schools, stores, clinics, parks and entertainment facilities, the ambassador said in a statement.
Emir of Qatar in Gaza soon to initiate projects
The Qatari Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani is due to arrive in the Gaza Strip in the next few days for a three-day visit, a Palestinian official source told Palestine newspaper.
Israeli artillery shells north and south Gaza Strip
Israeli navy forces, on Friday morning, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats northwest of Gaza, while Israeli tanks shelled al-Qarara village, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
The Israeli TV reported that a group of extremist Israeli settlers violently assaulted a number of undercover soldiers of the Israeli army thinking they were Palestinians.
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers in the south Hebron hills assaulted Palestinian villagers on Friday evening, residents told Ma’an. Three Israelis from the Karmel settlement entered Um al-Kher village, and one threw rocks at the Palestinians living there, local council chief Abu Hamza Hathalin told Ma’an. Another settler took off all his clothes, and a third insulted the Prophet Muhammad, in order to provoke the villagers, Hathalin said. Israeli troops arrived at the council’s request, but assaulted several villagers, he said. When Hathalin tried to file a complaint against the settlers, forces told him a council member must go to the Kiryat Arba settlement to make the complaint.
Prisoner Riad Amour undergoes open-heart surgery
Palestinian prisoner Riad Amour was transferred to Israeli “Tel Hashomer” hospital to undergo an open-heart surgery after his health has seriously deteriorated.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian prisoner serving 11 life terms in Israel will be the next mayor of Tuqu near Bethlehem, after residents of the village nominated him in solidarity. Riyad al-Amour, 42, was arrested on May 4, 2002 and sentenced to 11 life terms for involvement in the resistance. He is also suffering from serious health conditions, which is why the village residents nominated him for mayor as an act of solidarity. As the head of the only list running in Tuqu, he is running unopposed and will be considered the mayor-elect when votes are counted.
The Palestinian Authority
PA security services raid female students hostel
Palestinian Authority security apparatuses raided a female students hostel for the Najah university in Nablus and interrogated its occupants, local sources said on Saturday.
Public transportation is one of many areas in which those who live in Arab locales often receive inferior service to those in Jewish ones, even though Israeli Arabs pay the same taxes as their Jewish counterparts. In some parts of the North and South, the issue is even worse, making it difficult for many Arabs to get to urban centers offering more sophisticated, higher-paying employment. Along with overcrowded schools and poor public facilities such as playgrounds and community centers, access to transportation is expected to become a bigger issue during the election season.
Nurit Peled of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has studied Israeli textbooks covering history, geography and civics, says that in the books she has looked at Palestinians, when they appear at all, are depicted as refugees, farmers or terrorists—never as doctors or engineers, or any other sort of professional.”
A dangerous position
Despite the onslaught of discriminatory legislation and racist declarations by public leaders, empirical data suggests that the government of Israel is closing the gaps between its Jewish and Arab citizens in many fields. The refusal to recognize those changes is dangerous and counter-productive.
Eritrean asylum seeker details recent hunger strike, fear of indefinite incarceration
Sharon Livne +972 “Don’t tell anyone my name, I’m afraid of what they’ll do to me here if they know I talked.” So began a nighttime telephone call with C., age 23, who has been incarcerated for 11 months in the Saharonim prison in the Negev. According to C., the Eritrean detainees in Saharonim began a hunger strike in protest of their imprisonment for a minimum of three years, in accordance with the new Prevention of Infiltration Law. Around one thousand men, women and children held in sections 8, 4 and 3 refused food for a week, ending the strike on Monday.
The Galilee First!, Sam Bahour
The horrendous reality of the Palestinian communities inside Israel—in places like Akka, Haifa, Nazareth, Yaffa, and the Negev—is not about being regulated to sit in the back of the bus; they could only wish for such blatant racism. Here, the racism is multilayered, ideological, well-camouflaged, state-sponsored, and non-stop. Anyone who thinks that resolving the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would bring peace to the region would be well-advised to peel away the veneer of democratic façade, one that covers an Israeli plan with only one goal in mind: completing the campaign of ethnically cleansing Palestinians that started with the creation of the State of Israel.
Protests / Solidarity / Activism / BDS
Tens of thousands demonstrate in Gaza on the anniversary of “Wafa al-Ahrar”
Tens of thousands of citizens participated in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon in mass rallies on the first anniversary of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange deal.
The second national Students for Justice in Palestine conference will connect, strategize, build and strengthen the student movement in the US.
During visit to Gaza, Noam Chomsky says BDS may strengthen support for Israel, backs Abbas UN bid.
Dead Sea products to be sold in Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Korea, Greece, Denmark and Cambodia. Company CEO expects 10% growth in sales in coming year.
Political Developments / Other News
UN fears US will cut funding over Palestinian upgrade
President of General Assembly says Palestinians’ push for upgraded status likely to succeed, warns US against cutting UN funding over issue.
“… The poll of 812 Egyptians, half of them women, was conducted in a series of in-person interviews by the firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and sponsored by the Israel Project, a pro-Israel advocacy organization with offices in Washington and Jerusalem. According to the poll, Iran is viewed favorably in Egypt, with 65 percent of those surveyed expressing support of the decision to renew Egypt-Iran relations and 61 percent expressing support of the Iranian nuclear project, versus 41 percent in August 2009…”
A spokesman for Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi confirmed on Thursday the authenticity of a controversial letter describing his Israeli counterpart as a “great” friend, saying it followed protocol. The letter, sent for the confirmation of Egypt’s new ambassador to Tel Aviv, was leaked to the Israeli press and sparked criticism at home for the Islamist Mursi, who has so far refused to mention Israel by name in his speeches. The letter reportedly referred to Shimon Peres as a “great and good friend”.
PFLP condemns Morsi letter to Peres
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine expressed its deep disapproval to the letter sent on behalf of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to the president of the occupation state, noting that the attitudes expressed therein do not reflect the position or the enormous sacrifices of the Egyptian and Arab peoples, nor do they reflect Shimon Peres’ long history of aggression, war, and racist oppression against the Palestinian people, their land, their rights, and the Arab and Muslim peoples as a whole. The PFLP said that this letter provoked feelings of shock and frustration in the Palestinian street, which is relying on Egyptian and Arab support for the national cause and for an end to policies that strengthen the occupation state.
Palestinian MPs Ramahi and Attoun meet Egyptian Ambassador in Ramallah
MP Dr. Mahmoud Ramahi, secretary of the Legislative Council, and the Jerusalemite MP deported to Ramallah, Ahmad Attoun, met on Thursday with the Egyptian Ambassador to the PA.
Mizher: End the Paris conventions that strangle the Palestinian economy
Comrade Jamil Mizher, member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, called for a comprehensive review of the economic policies of the Palestinian Authority, including ending the Paris economic Conventions that subject the Palestinian economy to total control by the occupation, in an interview on Al-Quds TV on October 18, 2012.
Hamas condemns murder of Al-Hassan in Beirut
Hamas condemned the killing of head of the information branch in the internal Lebanese security forces Wisam Al-Hassan in an explosion in Beirut on Friday.
Erekat: Israel Doesn’t Want to End Occupation, Rather They’re Imposing Apartheid
“The Levy Report simply reflects the position of a government that has chosen to turn occupation into annexation and to impose an Apartheid reality in Palestine rather than taking steps to make peace possible” said Dr. Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian negotiator on Israeli Government’s Levi Report.
Yesh Atid chairman announces he will present his foreign policy in Ariel because ‘there exists no map in which Ariel isn’t a part of the State of Israel.’
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) — As the United States prepares for a presidential election next month, thorny diplomatic issues like an arms trade treaty, Palestine’s UN aspirations and talks on banning weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East have had to wait. For months, UN officials and diplomats have complained privately that discussions at the United Nations aimed at resolving a range of problems have been delayed until after the Nov. 6 election in which President Barack Obama, a Democrat, faces off against Republican contender Mitt Romney. Some analysts and political pundits suggest US hegemony is waning. But the decision by UN member states to put important negotiations on hold shows the power and influence of the United States at the United Nations. Such deference to a national election is unusual.
Fatah fails to win strong nod in West Bank vote
Palestinians voted for local councils in dozens of West Bank towns Saturday, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement didn’t get the sweeping endorsement they hoped for — even as archrival Hamas boycotted the vote.
Palestinian split looms large in West Bank vote
Palestinians voted for new local councils in dozens of West Bank towns in long delayed elections Saturday, part of an attempt by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement to recapture dwindling political legitimacy.
TULKAREM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority leaders on Saturday celebrated holding local elections in the West Bank for the first time in six years, downplaying the boycott by their Hamas rivals. President and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas lauded the poll as a “democratic celebration for the Palestinian people,” as he voted in the Ramallah-district of al-Bireh. ”We hope we will be regarded by our brothers in Gaza and everywhere in the Arab world as the ones who first embarked upon democracy, and we continue on this path and we hope everyone will follow us,” he told journalists.
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Residents from Hebron and Tulkarem on Saturday morning flocked to polling stations to elect their local council for the first time in 36 years. “I am delighted to have practiced my democratic right to choose my representatives,” said the Palestinian minister of local governance Khalid al-Qawasmi, after casting his vote for the first time in his life. ”This is a historic day, especially in Hebron where municipal elections are held for the first time since 36 years. This is a continuation of a long journey of construction, development and independence.” Tulkarem residents will be able to vote in 14 locations throughout the city, with around 27,000 people expected to turn out.
Analysis / Op-ed / Human Interest
Conservative pro-Israel groups that have spent millions of dollars targeting President Barack Obama’s policies toward the Jewish state are facing a daunting reality: If the president wins anyway, their political influence may never be the same. For groups such as the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Emergency Committee for Israel, as well as a vocal class of Israel-boosting GOP opinion leaders, the 2012 presidential election is an almost existential test of relevance. In a sense, the 2012 race is to conservative Israel hawks what the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall was for organized labor; a campaign that could permanently strike fear into their political enemies or raise embarrassing questions about their viability as a national political force.
Podcast: Alaa Tartir on building a sustainable Palestinian “resistance economy”
On this week’s podcast, Alaa Tartir of al-Shabaka discusses the role of international donors in the de-development of the Palestinian economy, and what is needed to build Palestinian economic self-sustainability.
The existence of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) is an achievement to be proud of. It expressed the Palestinians’ spirit to liberate the land and not see their cause subsumed in the wider Arab political and social milieu. Nevertheless, an objective analysis shows that the PLO that was established in 1964 is not the same organisation now. It is suffering from five main problems, which reduce the PLO’s ability to represent the Palestinian people, and impede its ability to work efficiently and achieve its aims and objectives.
An interview with Luisa Morgantini, former Vice President of the European Parliament, upon her return from a tour of the Jordan Valley and the West Bank in which she led an Italian delegation from Associazione per la Pace.
Olive trees of Jerusalem’s Gethsemane among oldest in world: study
Olive trees in the Jerusalem garden revered by Christians as the place where Jesus Christ prayed before he was crucified have been dated to at least 900 years old, a study released on Friday showed.
The Palestinians: First to Fight Colonialism, Still Colonized, Hasan Afif El-Hasan
Decolonization was a feature of post-World War II era and the surrender of Nazi Germany. The UN Charter was created; the Arab League was formed in 1945 by seven countries; twenty-nine non-aligned countries from Africa and Asia formed the non-aligned Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955. Due to decolonization, Arab League state members today are twenty-three; there are 120 Non-Aligned nations; and United Nations member states jumped from 51 in 1945 to 194.