Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
Israel moves to further seal off Jerusalem from West Bank
CSM 19 Dec — Israeli officials today approved plans for 2,612 new homes to be built on Givat HaMatos, or Airplane Hill, which is set to become the first new Jerusalem neighborhood to be built outside Israel’s internationally recognized borders since 1996. The placement profoundly concerns Palestinians and advocates of a two-state solution. They say that it and other building projects under way would make drawing the borders of a future Palestinian state unworkable by fragmenting Palestinian areas, and thus could deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution. “I believe that Givat HaMatos is a deal-breaker,” says Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli attorney and founder of Terrestrial Jerusalem, which tracks developments that could jeopardize a two-state solution. “How many times can you cut a worm in half and the worm starts wiggling?” Some 549 new homes in Givat HaMatos for Arab residents were also approved yesterday, but went largely unnoticed amid a series of Israeli moves to expand building in East Jerusalem and the highly controversial area of E1.
UN Security Council members blast Israel over settlement construction plans
Haaretz 19 Dec — U.S. blocks attempts to push joint presidential statement and resolution condemning construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; In addition to thousands of new housing units, a new highway is being built that will cut the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa in two — Fourteen members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday condemned Israel for advancing construction plans in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The council’s European Union members issued a statement saying these plans undermine their faith in Israel’s willingness to negotiate … A Foreign Ministry source said the U.S. blocked a joint presidential statement by all members of the Security Council condemning the settlement construction plans. The source said that the U.S. also blocked a vote on an official resolution condemning Israel’s actions.
Diplomats report increasing criticism of Israel
MEMO 19 Dec — Several Israeli diplomats have expressed their concerns about the increasing worldwide criticism of Israel, a local radio station claimed on Wednesday. The report attributed the rising tide of comments against Israel to the government’s proposed settlement expansion programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem … The embassy in Paris has referred to “the negative rift” in the popular dialogue about Israel, even among its supporters. The radio station mentioned similar reports from Israeli diplomats in the USA.
Israeli PM vows to build in Jerusalem despite criticism
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 19 Dec — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday his government would press ahead with expanding Jewish settlements around Jerusalem despite Western criticism of its plan to build 6,000 more homes on Palestinian land. In addition to several thousand housing units approved earlier this month, Israeli media said initial approval was granted on Wednesday for construction of another 3,400 units in Jerusalem and in the West Bank.
Poll reveals that most leftist Israelis oppose reliquishing Jerusalem in negotiations
MEMO 19 Dec — A public opinion poll conducted in Israel has revealed that 67 per cent of Israelis who vote for left of centre parties oppose splitting Jerusalem and reject any Israeli withdrawal from the occupied city. This puts them in the same camp as Israel’s extreme right-wing parties. The survey was conducted during November by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, which is headed by Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold. The poll’s findings are surprising, especially with respect to leftist voters who expressed extreme right positions.
Israeli intelligence agents tour Aqsa plazas
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 19 Dec — Israeli intelligence agents broke into the holy Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem on Wednesday morning under heavy police protection. One of the mosque’s guards said that the intelligence agents toured most of the Aqsa plazas and utilities. He said that a number of small groups of Jewish settlers also stormed the holy site at separate intervals with police escort. Worshippers and Jerusalem schoolchildren were present during the storming, the guard underlined.
Israeli court rejects appeal against destruction of historic Muslim cemetery
MEMO 19 Dec — The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected an appeal filed by Al-Aqsa Foundation for Religious Endowment and Heritage against the destruction of Zarnuka village cemetery. The village, near Ramle, was ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian population in 1948 during the catastrophe (Nakba) of the founding of the state of Israel. The town council of the Jewish town of Rehovot wants to build a road, apartments and a park in place of the old cemetery. In a press statement made available to Quds Press, Al-Aqsa Foundation described the Supreme Court’s decision as “biased”, making it a tool of the desecration of the remains of dead Muslims and the obliteration of their graves. The Foundation also accused the court of riding roughshod over fundamental religious beliefs and feelings … Speaking in court on behalf of Al-Aqsa Foundation, lawyer Mohammed Suleiman pointed out that international conventions cover respect for and the preservation of human remains, regardless of their race or religion.
New Israeli demolition campaign in Negev
BEERSHEBA (PIC) 19 Dec — Israeli police and “Border Guards” raided on Wednesday morning the Palestinian village of Al-Zernouk, and demolished a concrete house, warning to demolish other houses in various Arab areas in the Negev, Palestinian sources in Negev revealed. The owners of the demolished house stated that the demolition process was carried out without prior warning, pointing out that it is not the first that was done in the village, noting to the previous demolition process targeted several houses in the village … the village, inhabited by nearly 2000 people, was established and existed before the invention of the Hebrew state in 1948.
Bedouin tribe leaves southern Israel home after 20-year battle
Haaretz 19 Dec — Almost 20 years of confrontation between Omer regional council head Pini Badash and the Tarabin Bedouin tribe has ended, with the last Bedouin families leaving the regional council area and moving to a new village, named Tarabin, near Rahat. For years, Badash has tried to remove the Bedouin tribe from their longtime home, which lies within the regional council boundaries … “We were required to leave by law,” says Anwar Tarabin, who moved to the new village a month ago. “They issued court orders and left us no choice. We moved from shacks to other shacks. We would like to return because our real home was there.”
Five houses in Silwan threatened with demolition next Thursday (27/12)
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 18 Dec — Israeli police raided the homes of the Ja‘fara family in the Bridge area of Silwan and gave them a warning to evacuate their house before next Thursday (27/12/12) as it will be demolished. The police are claiming it was built without any permits. The houses belong to Silwan resident Ja’afre and her 4 sons. It is a 2-floor building which has been divided into 5 units with 30 people living in it in total, most of whom are children. Fakhri Abu Diyab, a member of a committee to defend the land, has told the Wadi Hilweh Centre that the building was fixed 12 years ago. He explained that the family had been trying to get permits for the house for the last 7 years, but have never received a response from the authorities. They have also previously paid a fine of 100,000NIS for the building. Israeli police have pledged that if the family do not evacuate and empty the property by next Thursday they will demolish the house with its contents inside.
Christmas message from President Abbas
Ma‘an 19 Dec — “If you take a look around Bethlehem, one is bound to be shocked by the choking reality this city has been forced to endure. Surrounded by 22 Israeli settlements and extremist settlers; its land shrunk to a mere 13 percent of its original size because of the encroaching reality of Israeli unilateralism. For first time in 2000 years of Christianity in our homeland, the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem have been completely separated by Israeli settlements and racist walls and checkpoints. Bethlehem’s landscape, heritage and social fabric are besiege and under threat. Yet, Bethlehem shall remain, as it has been for over 2000 years, a city that emanates hope and peace to humanity. Because Bethlehem’s identity as the birthplace of Christ is not just a matter of history and faith; it is an identity and heritage Palestine is proud to have…”
Cut off from their communities, Palestinian families seek mercy from Israeli court
+972blog 19 Dec — The separation barrier has isolated two families living near Bethlehem from their communities. While they are on the Jerusalem side of the barrier, they are also banned from most of the city. The courts and the state have little sympathy … The Zawahreh and Jado family lived in their homes for years, until one morning, the separation fence was erected in their backyards. The fence surrounds Rachel’s Tomb in the depths of the Aida refugee camp just outside Bethlehem. As fate would have it, the Jado family lives on the outskirts of the neighborhood, and their house was left on the Israeli side of the fence. Similarly, to facilitate the expansion of the neighborhood of Har Homa, the separation fence was built next to Beit Sahour – but on the wrong side of the Zawahreh family. So two Palestinian families were severed from their communities and stuck in Jerusalem, forced to travel long distances and pass through checkpoints in order to reach the families, schools, and doctors who the day before were just a few minutes away.
Report: Israel to keep Egyptian monument in place
Ynet 19 Dec — The Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram reported that Israel promised Egypt it will not remove the monument in Beit Lakia for Egyptian soldiers who died at the Six Day War.
Violence / Incursions / Clashes / Arrests
Injuries reported in clashes near ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem
IMEMC 19 Dec — Palestinian medical sources in Bethlehem reported that clashes took place, on Tuesday evening, between local youths of Aida refugee camp, in the city, and Israeli soldiers; several residents were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation while one resident was hit by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the head … The clashes in Aida started six days ago after and Israeli soldier shot and killed Mohammad Salayma, 17, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
Israeli forces detain released prisoners in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli forces detained three Palestinians in the West Bank overnight Tuesday, including two released prisoners. Issa Mohammad Issa Awad, 24, and Waseem Wahadeen, 19, were detained from their homes in Hebron-district town Beit Ummar at dawn, popular committee spokesman Mohammad Ayad Awad said.
The spokesman said forces raided another house in the town, that of Mohammad Safi Ali al-Slaibi, breaking down the door despite his wife giving troops the keys. Limited clashes erupted in the village, but no injuries were reported, he said.
Ten Palestinian workers badly bruised in IOF assault
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 19 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) severely battered Palestinian workers from Yatta town, south of Al-Khalil, after intercepting their vehicles south of Nablus on Tuesday evening. Ratib Al-Jabour, the coordinator of the popular anti-settlement committee in Yatta, said that the soldiers suddenly started beating the workers after stopping their vehicle in Asurin village to the south east of Nablus. He said that the soldiers savagely beat all ten workers with batons and rifle butts for an hour. He said that the workers, all from the Jabour family, were left in a very bad condition with bruises all over their bodies.
IOF soldiers storm Jenin villages, arrest two children
JENIN (PIC) 19 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed a number of villages in the Jenin district at dawn Wednesday after arresting two children near Arbuna village last night. Local sources said that IOF soldiers stormed three villages to the south of Jenin and served summonses to three citizens, including the Imam of the Sanur village’s mosque, for intelligence questioning. The soldiers combed the nearby Maythalun village’s environs and set up ambushes in the third village, Jaba, and a roadblock on the Jaba-Sanur road.
PA security arrest leader and journalist and summon liberated prisoner
WEST BANK (PIC) 19 Dec — The PA security apparatuses arrested a Hamas leader in Tulkarem and a journalist in Ramallah, and summoned a liberated captive from al-Khalil for questioning and interrogation. The preventive security apparatus re-arrested in Tulkarem the leader Sheikh Adnan al-Housari less than 12 hours after his release from its prisons, sources from the city said. It also summoned in al-Khalil the liberated captive and former political prisoner Raed Sharbati for interrogation. The Preventive Security Service arrested the journalist and Al-Aqsa TV cameraman Ahmed al-Khasib, 25, after storming his house in Beitunia in the Ramallah governorate, on Tuesday afternoon.
The life and death of a toy terrorist / Gideon Levy & Alex Levac
Haaretz 19 Dec — What exactly happened before a Hebron teen was shot dead by a border policewoman? — In the early evening on Wednesday of last week, they called him from home. The tea was ready, so what was happening with the birthday cake? That was the last phone call the teenager Mohammed Salaymah would get. He was celebrating his 17th birthday and it was one of his sisters who called him to hurry home with the cake he promised to buy. His 11th-grade classmates had marked the occasion the day before, and his picture with that cake, his last picture, adorned his Facebook page. Mohammed left home around 6 P.M. to attend evening prayers at a nearby Hebron mosque. A short time later, however, an agitated neighbor knocked on the door of Mohammed’s family’s forlorn stone house urging his parents to run to the checkpoint for their son… Up the road at home sits bereaved father Ziad Salaymah, leaning on a crutch. When he had tried to get into the Israeli ambulance transporting his son’s body, Israeli soldiers shoved and hit him, injuring him and resulting in his being taken to the hospital. Ziad Salaymah had been injured in an accident six years ago, and now after Israeli soldiers hit his already disabled leg, he is bedridden.
Mohammed Salaymah’s fists vs. the border police’s guns / Larry Derfner
+972blog 19 Dec — The IDF video makes it appear extremely unlikely that border policewoman ‘N.’ was justified in shooting the Hebron teenager. From the dark, fairly crude IDF video, there are so many things we don’t know about the killing of 17-year-old Mohammed Salaymah by border policewoman ‘N.’ in Hebron a week ago. For one thing, we don’t even know if N. was the only shooter; from the video it looks to me like two police officers might have fired at the boy.
Testimony: Soldier fires directly at Bil‘in demonstrator killed in 2009
+972blog 19 Dec by Haggai Matar — New light is shed on the shooting death of non-violent demonstrator Bassem Abu Rahme in Bil‘in in 2009: A soldier who served in the same brigade as the shooter testifies how the incident was perceived by other soldiers. The testimony strengthens the claim that the shot was fired against army regulations. “The guy who shot him… was kind of pleased with the whole thing, he had an X on his launcher.” On April 17, 2009 Bassem Abu Rahme was killed by an extended-range tear-gas canister that hit him directly in the chest. Abu Rahme, one of the most prominent figures in the popular struggle against the wall in Bil‘in, was demonstrating non-violently and shouting at the commanding officer across the fence to stop firing tear gas, as a foreign national had just been hit in the ear by a gas canister. Another projectile was fired, hitting and killing him almost immediately. The entire incident was caught on tape by artist and photographer David Reeb (the deadly shot is fired at around 3:10) VIDEO
Israel charges Tel Aviv bus bomb suspect
TEL AVIV (Reuters) 19 Dec — Israel charged a Palestinian citizen of Israel on Wednesday over a bomb explosion on a Tel Aviv bus during Israel’s November military offensive in the Gaza Strip, the Justice Ministry said. The bus was driving close to Israel’s defense ministry complex when the bomb went off on Nov. 21, wounding 15 people. Mohammed Mafarja, 18, is accused of planting the bomb on behalf of Hamas, the Islamist group which rules Gaza, to boost their cause during the conflict with Israel. Hamas praised the bombing but did not claim responsibility.
Tens of millions participate in the electronic media campaign
NABLUS (PIC) 19 Dec — The media electronic campaign in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails, launched by a group of Palestinian activists on social networking sites, managed to shed the light on the prisoners’ issue and to re-activate the international support for the Palestinian hunger strikers in the Israeli occupation prisons … The campaign’s directors stated that it was not limited to young activists, but many official and popular Palestinian and Arab segments, including various Palestinian factions’ pages, have participated in the campaign, in addition to the Participation of official governmental pages such as Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh …The campaign managed to break the media ban practiced by the occupation against the issue of the Palestinian prisoners where hundreds of solidarity images were designed in favor of the campaign. International and famous figures have participated in the campaign, including the Brazilian artist Carlos Latuff … The campaign achieved record figures, where hundreds of designs, images, articles and videos were translated to different languages and shared on various social networking sites in solidarity with the prisoners.
Israeli forces ‘confiscate protest tent’ in Isawiya
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli forces confiscated a protest tent in solidarity with Palestinian hunger-striker Samer Issawi in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, a local group said. Forces blocked the entrances to Isawiya, the hometown of Issawi, checking the IDs of all residents, Jerusalem media center director Muhammad Sadeq said. They then seized the protest tent erected to support Issawi, who has refused food in Israeli jails for 141 days.
Sadeq said the clampdown was accompanied by a campaign to collect tax revenues, prompting shop closures and a state of tension with local residents.
Jailed PFLP leader calls for solidarity with hunger strikers
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Jailed Palestinian leader Ahmad Saadat on Wednesday called for a national solidarity campaign with long-term hunger strikers Samer al-Issawi and Ayman al-Sharawneh. In a letter leaked from Hadarim prison, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine praised al-Issawi and al-Sharawneh for their determination. Saadat said they would be victorious despite their critical medical conditions. Sharawneh has been on hunger strike for 172 days and al-Issawi has refused food for 141 days. Both prisoners are protesting their detention. They were arrested after their release in a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas in Oct. 2011. Israeli prosecutors are trying to renew their previous sentences. Prisoner rights group Addameer on Tuesday said the prisoners were in danger of imminent death without immediate independent medical care or release.
Jailed hunger strikers: We are fighting for dignity
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike for over three weeks say their battle is a fight for freedom and dignity, in a message sent from Israel’s Megiddo jail. In a statement dictated to lawyer Samer Samaan, the group said the goal of their open hunger strike “is not just to gain our individual freedom but to end the practice of administrative detention, the pointed sword on the neck of the Palestinians.” … Jafar Azzidine, Tarek Qaadan and Yousef Yassin have been on hunger strike for 22 days, drinking only water and refusing all vitamins and supplements. They were arrested on Nov. 22 and are being held in administrative detention, without charge or trial.
IOA refuses to treat prisoner despite injuries suffered during arrest
NABLUS (PIC) 19 Dec — Detainee Mamun Nassar has affirmed that he was severely beaten during his arrest a couple of days earlier at the hands of Israeli occupation forces and Jewish settlers. Nassar, 40, told the lawyer of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society who visited him in Hawara detention center near Nablus that the soldiers and settlers used their machineguns in beating him. He said that he could not walk alone even to the bathroom unless his roommates helped him. Nassar, from Madma village to the south of Nablus, said that the interrogators accused him of attacking soldiers and settlers, which he vehemently denied,
IDF to reduce time Palestinian minors may be held without seeing a judge / Amira Hass
Haaretz 20 Dec by Amira Hass — The state informed the High Court of Justice of the reduction this week, however the initial incarceration period for Palestinians remains at least twice as long as for Israeli youths… Another change due in April 2013 is the reduction of a long list of offenses defined as security-related. For example, raising a flag, failure to appear at the District Coordination and Liaison offices, and printing material with political significance will be removed from the list.
Teen dies of Gaza war wounds
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — A Palestinian teenager died on Wednesday from wounds sustained during Israel’s recent military assault on the Gaza Strip. Ahmad bin Saed 19, died in an Egyptian hospital where he was being treated for shrapnel wounds from an Israeli airstrike. The strike on al-Masdar town in central Gaza on Nov. 17 killed his father, also called Ahmad.
PCHR reports dozens of Israeli violations against Gaza fishermen since the truce
GAZA (PIC) 19 Dec — A human rights organization confirmed that the Israeli naval forces wounded and arrested, since the truce a month ago, 34 Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea, destroying and confiscating ten fishing boats. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said in a statement that the Israeli marines opened fire on Monday morning towards a Palestinian fishing boat in the waters of the Sea of Gaza, wounding and arresting the two fishermen who were on the boat and confiscated their boat to the port of Ashdod. The occupation forces transferred the injured fisherman to hospital and released the other at a late hour of the same day, after interrogating him.
WHO report assesses health situation in Gaza after Israeli war
JERUSALEM 19 Dec (WAFA) – The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a new report on the health situation in Gaza following Israel’s last month onslaught on the Strip that the eight-day war placed additional strains on the public health system in Gaza which has been severely affected by the Israeli blockade in place since 2007 and by the political divide between West Bank and Gaza. The WHO office of the occupied Palestinian territory said in the health assessment report published Tuesday that the war left severe shortages of essential drugs and medical supplies. It said unstable power supply and lack of fuel for generators, and inadequate maintenance capacity and spare parts for medical equipment, have contributed to deterioration in the quality of health care.
The report said 182 people were killed during the war, including 158 males and 24 females. Of those, 47 (26%) were children, including 16 under 5 years of age, 12 women and 20 over 60 years. Most of the fatalities (87.9%) had multiple injuries. There were also 1399 injuries – 28% female and 37% (516) children, one third of whom were under 5 years old. It said 54% (758) were injured while they were at home, 16% while walking in the street, 1% while at work and 28% unspecified. Some of the more serious injuries were referred to neighboring countries including 42 referred to Egypt, four to Tunisia and three to Turkey for advanced treatment.
Haneyya confers with South African ambassador on Palestinian developments
GAZA (PIC) 19 Dec — Ismail Haneyya, the Palestinian premier in Gaza, conferred on Tuesday with the South African ambassador to Palestine on Israeli practices against the Palestinian people … He asked for South Africa’s intervention to curb such violations. For his part, the ambassador said he was pleased to be in Gaza, stressing his country’s stable stand in support of the Palestine cause … The envoy said that South Africa condemns Israeli practices especially the settlement drive in occupied Palestinian land and affirmed that his country would continue backing the Palestinian people until they regain their rights in full.
Syria’s Palestinian refugees sleep rough in wintry Damascus
BEIRUT (Reuters) 19 Dec — The amber light of the street lamp illuminates the boy, wrapped in a thin blanket, his legs exposed to the December cold as he sleeps by a kerbside in a wealthy district of Damascus. The child – barely in his teens, if that – was said by the opposition activist who posted his photograph on the Internet to be from Yarmouk, a Palestinian district near the city centre which has become the latest battlefield for rebels and a target for President Bashar al-Assad’s artillery … Residents of Damascus speak of hundreds of families stumbling into the wide boulevards of hitherto affluent central Damascus, looking dazed as they sit in parks and on pavements. One woman who lives there told Reuters the Palestinians appeared to be in disbelief at their own fate: “I was trying to get a taxi when I saw a dazed old man on the pavement,” she said, asking not to be named for fear of official retribution. The man, well dressed in a blue jacket, was trying to cover himself in newspapers to protect his body from the cold
Refugees from Yarmouk: We left everything behind
Bekaa (Al-Akhbar) 19 Dec – Umm Mahmoud has not had a good night’s sleep since she left her village al-Safsaf, in Palestinian Galilee, six decades ago. She is now 74 and, all those years, she has carried with her the luggage she inherited from her father, and her grandfather before him. She handed them down to her children and grandchildren, who today wander the earth looking for a place without rockets or planes, nor the poisoned daggers that persist in erasing the camps of Umm Mahmoud, from Nabatiyeh, to Tal al-Zaatar, to Sabra, and now Yarmouk in Damascus. On the escape bus from the Yarmouk “slaughter,” Umm Mahmoud recounted the story of “her Palestine.” She was forced to leave her camp and it pains her. She poured out her anger on the whole of “Arab nation.”
European campaign for the relief of Palestinians displaced from Syria
BRUSSELS (PIC) 19 Dec — A European committee launched an urgent relief campaign to rescue the Palestinian refugees fleeing the refugee camps in Syria, after the regular army planes bombed them. The European al-Wafa campaign, based in Brussels, announced initiating the implementation of an urgent project for the relief of Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria’s camps to the refugee camps in Lebanon.
Abbas in talks to shelter Palestinian refugees fleeing Syrian violence
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — President Mahmoud Abbas has contacted the UN and regional countries to try to find a solution for Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria amid fighting in a Damascus neighborhood, his spokesman said Wednesday. Abbas wants the Palestinians in Syria to be able to return to Palestine to avoid the worsening conflict between President Bashar Assad and rebel forces, Nabil Abu Rudaineh told Ma’an.
PFLP-GC says PNC statement ‘hypocrisy’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command on Tuesday evening accused the Palestinian National Council of hypocrisy over its condemnation of their group leader’s actions in Syria. Earlier, the PNC said will address the case PFLP-GC leader Ahmad Jibril in the first future meeting in order to expel him and all others who contributed to the killing of Palestinians in Syria. Husam Arafat, a member of the PFLP-GC political bureau said that the statement was incorrect, hypocritical and did not represent the entire PNC. Arafat said most of the national factions in the PNC informed the PFLP-GC that they did not know anything about the statement and it did not represent them.
Political and economic developments
Israel bars Haneen Zoabi from reelection
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 19 Dec — Israel’s electoral authority barred a Palestinian lawmaker from re-election on Wednesday, saying she had supported the nation’s enemies by joining a protest ship that tried to break a naval blockade of Gaza. Haneen Zoabi is expected to appeal to Israel’s highest court which has overruled most previous efforts to disqualify Palestinian candidates as violations of free speech. Israel’s Central Elections Committee voted 19 to 9 with one abstention to block Zoabi’s candidacy for the Jan. 22 general election, a committee spokesman said. Separate motions to disqualify two Palestinian political parties were defeated.
Zoabi: Disqualification illegitimate, undemocratic
Ynet 19 Dec – MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) commented on being disqualified from running to the 19th Knesset, saying “This decision is marred by illegitimacy and the trampling of basic democratic rights.” According to Zoabi, the committee members “blatantly dismissed the attorney general’s professional opinion, which stated there were no legal grounds for disqualification.”
Spokeswoman: PA will try to pay partial salaries next week
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — The Palestinian Authority will try and pay half November salaries to government employees next week, a PA spokeswoman said Wednesday. The Ministry of Finance is working with the Palestine Monetary Authority to borrow money from Palestinian banks in order to pay public sector workers between 1,500 and 4,000 shekels ($400-$1,070) early next week, Nour Odeh told Ma‘an. Around 153,000 government employees are waiting to receive November salaries because of Israeli economic sanctions. Israel is withholding some $100 million in monthly customs revenues it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf as punishment for their successful bid at the UN General Assembly last month to gain de-facto statehood recognition. Around 50,000 workers went on strike Wednesday. West Bank security forces, a pillar of security and cooperation with Israel, and staff in the Gaza Strip did not participate.
Banks to lend PA $100 million
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Palestinian banks will lend the Palestinian Authority $100 million to see it through a financial crisis caused by Israeli sanctions, the Palestine Monetary Authority chief said Wednesday. The PMA reached an agreement with bank representatives for the short-term loan that will be repaid when the Arab League delivers its promised financial security net, Jihad al-Wazir said in a statement. The Palestinian Authority has already borrowed over $1.2 million from banks, al-Wizar said.
Government announces welfare payments amid crisis
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — The Palestinian Authority will transfer welfare payments to needy families in Gaza and the West Bank in the coming days despite the economic crisis, a government official said Wednesday. Rami Mahdawi, PR director at the PA finance ministry, said the funds would be paid to families in Gaza on Saturday and in the West Bank on Sunday. The welfare costs are covered by the PA, the World Bank, and the European Union, he said. Welfare benefits around 97,000 families and is paid quarterly.
Israel approves Qatar emir’s visit to West Bank, in nod to Abbas
Haaretz 19 Dec — Israel approved the visit under assumption that the emir will offer financial aid to the struggling Palestinian Authority, and give Palestinian Authority diplomatic strengthening over Hamas rival … Sheikh Hamad will enter the West Bank through Jordan, a path which requires Israel’s approval and must be coordinated in advance.
Racism / Discrimination
Israeli embassy removes Facebook anti-Palestinian Christmas message
DUBLIN 18 Dec (WAFA) – An outcry against an anti-Palestinian Christmas message that appeared on the Israeli embassy’s Facebook page forced the Dublin-based embassy to quickly remove it, Irish media said on Tuesday. “A thought for Christmas,” said the embassy’s official Facebook page, “if Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians”
Israeli celebrity who called on Facebook for Palestinian children to suffer quits UNICEF
EI 20 Dec by Ali Abunimah — Israeli TV personality Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes has quit as Chair of the Israeli Fund for UNICEF after just months, stating that UNICEF officials wanted to vet her Facebook postings which notoriously included expressing a desire for Palestinian children to ‘suffer’. Shalom Nir-Mozes, who is also wife of Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, has claimed that Palestinians “have it as part of their DNA to hate us” and publicly urged against a ceasefire during Israel’s November assault on Gaza which killed more than 170 people including three dozen children.
Haredi parties: Woman have ‘other role’
Ynet 18 Dec — Haredi parties Shas and the United Torah Judaism have responded to a request to bar them from the elections on the basis of excluding women from their party ticket: “The parties function, as demanded by the halacha (Jewish law), with clear segregation between men and women for reasons of modesty. Men have one role and women another role. This segregation does not exclude women, nor discriminate against them nor deem them less worthy than men”. A hearing on the request, filed by women’s organizations, will be held tomorrow.
Tarzan, watch out behind you / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 20 Dec — The premiere of the documentary “Shkufim” (“transparent”), about the hardships of life in south Tel Aviv for both Israelis and Africans, highlights the depressing and frightening face of Israel in 2012 — …Oz created a balanced film, almost too balanced, about life on the margins of the big city – residents of the poor neighborhoods on the one hand, and their uninvited neighbors, migrants from Africa, on the other. Paying close attention to the suffering of the Israelis, perhaps more than to the suffering of the migrants, Oz presented a classic tragedy with neither good guys nor bad guys, but everyone equally a victim. The marginal Israeli figures in the film blame the migrants for everything wrong in their lives … A Sudanese man, Musa, educated and more impressive than any of the Israeli characters in the film, only wanted a roof over his head, work and a place to hide from the terrors of his country … The catcalls heard Tuesday at the Dahl Auditorium would not have been out of place at a racist rally in Europe of bygone days. But here, almost no one cried out against them. The leftist intellectuals were ashamed and silent. And so one winter evening, once again the collective face of Israel 2012 was revealed, and it is a very depressing and frightening one, bereft of hope in the neighborhood whose name, Hatikva, means hope.