Israel approves controversial Jerusalem cable car contract
AFP 28 May — Israel’s government on Sunday approved plans to install a cable car to Jerusalem’s Old City, a project likely to anger Palestinians and much of the international community. The plan would see a former railway station in West Jerusalem linked by cable car to the Old City in East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community. It would stop at the Dung Gate entrance to the Old City near the Western Wall, traversing some 1.4 kilometres (less than a mile). Current estimates say the cable car will begin operating in 2021.
At a special meeting held at the Western Wall, the cabinet approved the first phase of the plan expected to cost some 200 million shekels ($56 million, €50 million), a tourism ministry statement said. The meeting was held at the site — one of the holiest in Judaism — to mark Israel’s capture of the Old City 50 years ago in the Six-Day War … Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Israeli infrastructure projects in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank draw harsh criticism from the Palestinians and many in the international community. The cable car project has been discussed for several years, with Israeli officials saying it is needed to ease access to the heavily visited Western Wall. In 2015, France-based utility giant Suez Environnement said that, because of political sensitivities, it had decided not to take part in the project. Another example of such controversy occurred last week, when Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that European diplomats declined to attend a tour of new Israeli rail tunnels because part of the line crosses the West Bank.
Israel to push 140,000 Palestinians out of Jerusalem boundaries
RAMALLAH (Gulf News) 28 May by Nasouh Nazzal — The Palestinian Shu‘afat Refugee Camp, in Occupied East Jerusalem, and the town of Kofr ‘Aqab, in the north of the city, will no longer be considered as falling within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, Israeli security sources told Jewish Channel 10 on Sunday. The announcement confirms long-held Palestinian suspicions of a systematic Israeli plan to ensure a Jewish majority in the holy city. The move has been finalised by the Israeli National Security Council and will be implemented to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Jewish occupation of the holy city. According to Fakhri Abu Diyab, who heads the local committee in defense of occupied Jerusalem, taking Shu‘afat camp and Kofr ‘Aqab out of the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem will mean the Palestinians’ blue Jerusalem identity cards will be replaced with green West Bank cards. He said Israel planned to set up a local council outside Jerusalem boundaries to run the two areas while reserving sole security control there.A total of 140,000 Palestinians live in the two areas — 75,000 at Shu‘afat and 65,000 in Kofr ‘Aqab….
Israeli govt meeting near Jerusalem site angers Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AP) 28 May — The Palestinians sharply condemned Israel on Sunday for holding a government meeting near a sensitive Jerusalem holy site at the core of their conflict. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet met Sunday in tunnels near the site for a special session marking the 50th anniversary of Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 war, an event it celebrates as the “unification” of its eternal capital. Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called the meeting a “provocation.” He said it sends “a clear message to the Palestinian people that the systematic violations of their inalienable rights are going to continue.” After the 1967 war, Israel annexed east Jerusalem with the Old City home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, and declared all of expanded Jerusalem to be its capital. The international community has never recognized the move.
Video: Triumphalist light show in Jerusalem weaponizes the city walls to celebrate 50th anniversary of Jewish conquest
Mondoweiss 26 May by Philip Weiss — Back in the States, I wondered whether the commemorations of the Six Day War in Israel would be marked by reflection and even expressions of misgivings, after 50 years of occupation, but when I got out here I saw how mistaken I was. They’re triumphalist! Below is a video I took of part of the light show/concert celebrating the conquest of Jerusalem on May 21, near Jaffa Gate outside the Old City. This segment was a dramatization of the history of Jerusalem, and about 30 seconds in, it announces “1967” on the wall, and then– well see for yourself! It seemed to me like they were weaponizing the Old City walls. A lot of smoke and guns and destruction, and rumbling tumbling stones….
Is Jerusalem really united? Our GoPro-wearing correspondent biked the Green Line to find out
[with VIDEOS; not behind a paywall] Haaretz 29 May by Nir Hasson — Everyone in the city realizes there’s a separation between the neglected Arab east and the richer Jewish west. A Haaretz correspondent took a bike ride to seek out that contentious strip of Israel’s old border — Fifty years have passed since the Green Line in Jerusalem, part of the longer Green Line separating Israel from Jordan between 1949 and 1967, was officially annulled. Three weeks after the Six-Day War the Knesset approved, in a deliberately bureaucratic and semi-covert operation, the annexation of East Jerusalem and the unification of the city. Since then Israel has invested enormous efforts – economic, engineering and rhetorical – into effacing the Green Line to prove to the world and itself that the line has disappeared and the city is united for “all eternity,” as the cliché goes.
Baby ‘Aya’ is only 2 months old, and she’s already a victim of home demolition
Mondoweiss 25 May by Nora Lester Murad — Every single home demolition is devastating to a family. Every single family who experiences a demolition tells a unique and surreal story about the day when Israeli bulldozers rolled over their children’s schoolbooks, their grandmother’s prescription medicines, and letters from their uncle overseas. Home demolition is one of Israel’s preferred methods of evicting Palestinians from land they want, usually to provide housing for Jewish settlements, in violation of international law. I want to tell just one story — the unique, surreal and totally intolerable story of Ashraf and Islam Fawaqa and their four daughters — Ritaj, 9; Rimas, 7; Saba, 4; and Aya, a newborn. On May 4, the Fawaqas took baby Aya for a newborn checkup. While at the clinic, they got a call from a neighbor that Israeli authorities had started to demolish their home in the Sur Baher neighborhood of Jerusalem. According to Ashraf, they had paid 25,000 shekels to delay the expected demolition. “Isn’t that a particularly upsetting case?” I asked a friend. “All home demolitions are upsetting.” “I know. But when Ashraf rushed home and showed the demolition crew the Israeli judge’s order to pause the demolition, do you know what they did? They noted the judge’s name, left the site, and returned one hour later with a new demolition order from the same judge. Ashraf says an emergency court session gave them legal cover for their immoral act. Isn’t that evil?” All home demolitions are all evil.” “I know. But shouldn’t we get some more international media coverage of this case? Surely the world will be appalled that four children, including a newborn, are living on a demolition site under a thin awning stretched over the few sofas they salvaged.” “There were twelve demolitions in Jerusalem that day.” “What?” “Nine Palestinian families’ homes were demolished in Jerusalem on that same day plus three stores.”
I had no words. “It’s ethnic cleansing,” my friend said. “And sadly, it’s so common that it’s not considered news.”….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian child rehospitalized a week after being injured by tear gas canister
Bethlehem (Ma‘an) 28 May — A week after a six-year-old Palestinian was seriously injured by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, the boy was rehospitalized after his initial treatment damaged his windpipe, his father told Ma‘an on Sunday. Clashes were taking place on May 21 in the town of al-Khader, with Israeli forces firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas canisters toward children who were heading home from school, when Hassan Ahmad Issa was hit in the back of the head with a tear gas canister and knocked unconscious … After being hit by the tear gas canister, Hassan was first evacuated to al-Yamamah hospital in al-Khader, then to al-Hussein Beit Jala governmental hospital, and finally to the Bethlehem Arab Society hospital in Beit Jala, where he was treated for a fractured skull and underwent surgery for internal bleeding in his head. The injury required 13 stitches, according to the father, Ahmad Issa. A CT scan immediately after the surgery showed that Hassan’s condition was stable, and another CT scan on Friday confirmed that he recovered from the head injury and suffered no damage to his brain. He remained in the hospital until Tuesday.
However, Ahmad Issa said that shortly after Hassan’s return home, the family noticed that the boy was having difficulty breathing, so they took him back to Bethlehem Arab Society hospital on Thursday. Hassan was then referred to Caritas Baby Hospital in northern Bethlehem, where he was again referred to Israel’s Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. Speaking via telephone from Shaare Zedek, Issa told Ma’an that doctors there said that the breathing tube that was inserted in his son’s windpipe at al-Yamamah hospital in al-Khader — his first point of treatment — injured the child’s trachea, causing the breathing problems. Doctors at Shaare Zedek told him that Hassan would need to stay in the ICU until Thursday to undergo surgery to fix the damage caused to his trachea….
Palestinian shepherd suffers head wound in attack by Israelis in West Bank
Haaretz 27 May by Yotam Berger — Some 20 Israelis, apparently from the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, attacked a Palestinian shepherd on Saturday. The attackers threw stones at the man, a resident of the Palestinian village of Madama. Soldiers who arrived on the scene gave him medical assistance and called the police. Human rights activists in the area identified the injured man, who suffered a head wound, as Mamoun Nassar. Photos from the scene showed him bleeding profusely. Security forces said he was later evacuated by the Red Crescent for treatment at a hospital in Nablus. The army confirmed that a group of Israelis had been seen attacking the shepherd. Soldiers who arrived on the scene fired in the air, dispersing the assailants, before calling the police. The police stated that no one had been arrested following the incident. In recent weeks soldiers have been documented standing by while Israelis were throwing stones at Palestinians on at least two occasions. There were no arrests after those incidents either.
Israeli forces injure scores of Palestinians during clashes across West Bank, Gaza
[many photo] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 May — Israeli forces suppressed demonstrations across the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip on Friday held in solidarity with some 1,300 Palestinians entering their 40th day on a mass hunger strike, injuring numerous Palestinians with live bullets, rubber-coated bullets, and tear gas. Israeli forces are often condemned for their use of excessive force against unarmed Palestinian protesters, who are routinely met with live ammunition and “crowd control weapons” during protests and clashes. According to UN documentation, 3,393 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in 2016, while 781 injuries have been reported thus far in 2017 …
In the northern West Bank, a Palestinian was injured with a live bullet in his shoulder, while 11 others suffered from tear gas inhalation during clashes that erupted with Israeli forces at the Beita junction in southern Nablus during a sit-in organized in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners. Head of the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency department Ahmad Jibreel told Ma‘an that 19-year-old Mustafa Salama was injured with a live bullet in his shoulder and was transferred to Rafidia hospital for medical treatment where doctors described his injuries as moderate….
In the Ramallah-area village of Nabi Saleh in the central West Bank, Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians with live bullets, and one with rubber-coated bullets, while an Israeli female soldier was injured after a rock thrown by a Palestinian struck her in the face during clashes, according to witnesses. Clashes erupted at the entrance of the village between Palestinian and Israeli forces during a march in the village. Israeli forces fired live bullets and rubber-coated bullets at Palestinians who responded by throwing rocks, witnesses reported. Israeli forces also detained a foreign activist and closed the gate of the village’s entrance, as Palestinian youths climbed a hill opposite to the gate and began pelting rocks at the soldiers. Meanwhile, the women of the village followed the Israeli soldiers and attempted to block them from opening fire at the youths by positioning their bodies in front of the soldiers, who then “violently beat them,” according to witnesses.
Israeli settlers throw garbage, rocks at Palestinian shops in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 May — A group of Israeli settlers attacked a number of commercial shops owned by Palestinians on Friday in central Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank near Israel’s illegal Kiryat Arba settlement. Local sources told Ma‘an that a group of Israeli settlers threw rocks and garbage at commercial shops under the protection of Israeli army forces … Settler attacks on Palestinians, their homes, and properties are a routine occurrence in Hebron, where the settlers are notoriously aggressive to Palestinian residents. Meanwhile, settlers from Kiryat Arba in eastern Hebron are well-known to be among some of the most extremist settlers residing in the West Bank.
Israel releases body of Palestinian teen killed after allegedly attempting knife attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 May — Israeli authorities released the body of 15-year-old Raed Ahmad Radaida on Friday who was shot dead by Israeli forces after allegedly attempting to stab Israeli border police stationed at the “Container checkpoint” northeast of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank on Monday. Israeli forces released Radaida’s body to the Palestinian liaison. A funeral is expected to be held on Saturday in Radaida’s home village of al-Ubeidiya in Bethlehem, according to locals.
Israeli forces detain 25 Palestinians in West Bank, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 May — Israeli forces detained at least 25 Palestinians, including at least three minors, between Sunday night and Monday morning in multiple areas across the occupied Palestinian territory. Locals in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya said Israeli forces detained 13 young Palestinian men and teenagers … Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank beyond Israel’s illegal separation wall, the Israeli army carried out multiple predawn detention raids in various districts. In the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals said that Israeli forces detained an “injured” young Palestinian man, Abdullah Muheisin, from al-‘Arrub refugee camp, as well as Fahd Abu Sbeih from Hebron city … Locals also told Ma‘an that on Sunday night, a young Palestinian man was detained at the Israeli military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron’s Old City for allegedly attempting to stab Israeli forces there. Locals identified the detainee as Izz al-Din Abu Rabiaa from al-Fawwar refugee camp in the Hebron district … In the southern Bethlehem district, Israeli forces stormed the town of Tuqu‘ east of Bethlehem city and detained two 15-year-old boys, Mumin Ibrahim al-Umour and Salim Samih Misbah. Locals said Israeli forces ransacked several homes before detaining the two children, and that clashes broke out between soldiers and locals after the detention raids. In the central occupied West Bank, an Israeli army spokesperson said an alleged “Hamas operative” was detained in the town of Silwad north of Ramallah, and one Palestinian was detained in ‘Aqabat Jaber refugee camp in the Jordan Valley region south of Jericho city. In ‘Azzun village east of Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank, locals said Israeli forces detained Uday Saqir Salim and Muhammad Imad Salim.
Revealed // How Israel jails Palestinians because they fit the ‘terrorist profile’
Haaretz 28 May by Orr Hirschauge & Hagar Shezaf — Israel has arrested hundreds of Palestinians since the lone-wolf intifada began in September 2015, partly by analyzing social media posts. Authorities say these arrests are legitimate, but others see it as a grave violation of human rights — Su‘ad Zariqat’s husband was run over and killed in an accident in Israel in 2010. Ever since, the 29-year-old Palestinian says she has been regularly posting pictures of him on her Facebook page. But in the early hours of December 2, 2015, Israeli forces arrived at her home near Hebron and arrested her. This occurred at the height of the wave of violence that began two months earlier in the West Bank and Israel. It was the second time she had been arrested, after serving a prison term in 2008 over charges of contacts with organizations hostile to Israel. This time, she says, she was handed a screenshot of a Facebook post featuring a picture of her husband, with the text, “May God unite us in heaven.” Zariqat says the word shahda (cognate to shahid, Arabic for “martyr”) in her Facebook post seemed to worry her investigator. “I told him it’s a word we use regularly. The fact that I wrote it on Facebook doesn’t mean I’ll do anything even when someone dies in a car accident we call him shahid.” Following the interrogation Zariqat was issued with a four-month administrative detention order – detention without trial that is used as preemptive detention by Israel, mostly against Palestinians in the West Bank. Her detention was subsequently prolonged for an additional four months. Most of the material in administrative detentions is confidential, and neither the file nor the indictment is shown to the defendant….
US Jewish activist to undergo surgery on arm broken by Israeli cops
+972 mag 28 May by Natasha Roth — An American-Jewish activist whose arm was broken by Israeli police as they forcefully dispersed a Jerusalem Day protest last week will need to undergo surgery. Sarah Brammer-Shlay, 25, was part of a group of American and Israeli Jews who staged a demonstration at Damascus Gate last Wednesday. The protesters, who sat in a row along the entrance to the Old City in order to try and have the annual March of the Flags rerouted, were physically threatened by right-wing Israelis before being removed by Israeli police. In addition to breaking Brammer-Shlay’s arm, police dragged at least one protester away in a headlock. Brammer-Shlay, a member of American anti-occupation group IfNotNow, told +972 Magazine that the operation would cost $25,000, and is scheduled for Thursday at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center. She expects to be hospitalized for between two to five days. A fundraising campaign has so far brought in $6,500 in donations, but Brammer-Shlay is unsure that her travel insurance will cover the remaining cost of the surgery. Israel Police spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld, responding last Thursday to a request for comment on the incident, did not deny that members of the police had broken Brammer-Shlay’s arm. At the time of writing, the U.S. State Department had not commented on the fact that Israeli cops assaulted an American citizen, to the degree that she will need to be operated on….
Military judge calls on Azaria, prosecution to withdraw appeals
Ynet 28 May by Yoav Zitun — In final appeal hearing, judges pose difficult questions to the defense, including why was Azaria the only one on the scene to open fire, and why he handed his helmet over to his friend before shooting if he was worried the terrorist carried a bomb — A military judge on Sunday questioned why IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was found guilty of manslaughter after shooting dead a neutralized terrorist, was appealing his conviction and 18-month sentence, calling on both Azaria and the military prosecution to withdraw their appeals. Azaria’s lawyer, Yoram Sheftel, was quick to accept the proposal and offered a two-week mediation process instead, but prosecutor Lt. Col. (res.) Nadav Weisman refused and insisted the court rules on the case. Despite this, the judges called on the two sides to consider the request and asked the prosecution to raise the issue with the Military Advocate General. The court gave the two sides a week to reach a decision. The military court at the Kirya IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv held what is supposed to be the final hearing in Azaria’s appeal, during which the judges posed hard questions to Azaria’s lawyer.
Temple Mount custodian willing to open Muslim holy sites to Israelis
Haaretz 28 May by Nir Hasson — The head of the Jerusalem Waqf tells Haaretz that he wants to enter talks with Israel over restoring the Temple Mount’s status quo to its pre-2000 situation – but won’t allow Jewish prayer there — The head of the Muslim religious trust that administers the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has called on Israel to enter negotiations aimed at restoring the status quo on the site to its pre-2000 situation. The head of the Jerusalem Waqf, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib al-Tamimi, said this would allow anyone, including Israeli lawmakers and Jewish activists who support the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple, to visit the compound, which Muslims call Haram al-Sharif. Jews could again visit the mosques and the Dome of the Rock, but “everyone must realize they are visiting a mosque, with no rights for Jews to pray inside,” Tamimi said. “The entire 144 dunams (38 acres) of Haram al-Sharif is a mosque. We believe the Prophet Mohammed prayed there, this hasn’t changed and no one objected to this for centuries. You can’t change the history of the last 1,500 years.”
The status quo that prevailed until September 2000 was established with then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan a few days after the end of the Six-Day War, in June 1967. Under the agreement, the Israel Police secured the gates to the compound. The Waqf operated the site, selling non-Muslims tickets to Dome of the Rock, Al-Aqsa Mosque and other buildings on the site. The status quo fell apart after then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s controversial visit to the site in September 2000, which ignited the second intifada. Tourists and Israeli citizens were barred from the Temple Mount until Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi opened the compound for visits in 2003 … “We’re not against Jews and we don’t hate them, they are the people of the Book. We’re against the extremists whose sole purpose is to destroy the mosques. The Jews who come here don’t come innocently as tourists….”
Analysis: Israel just got a rare offer to defuse Temple Mount tensions. It will most likely reject it / Nir Hasson
Haaretz 28 May — Jerusalem Islamic authority’s offer to renew coordination could benefit all sides, but experts say Israel, which currently has the upper hand, is unlikely to take it — Renewed coordination between Israel and the Islamic custodian of the Temple Mount – the Jerusalem Waqf – entails benefits for both sides. However, it is unlikely Israel will respond positively to the offer laid down by the head of the Waqf, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib al-Tamimi, who called on the Israeli government to hold negotiations to restore the status quo that was in place until 2000. For Israel, coordinating with the Waqf can help calm tensions on the Temple Mount and even prevent violence at the flashpoint site, as well as renewing talks on conservation work and archeological digs there. Thus it would be possible to prevent archeological disasters, like the one that took place in 1999 when the Waqf dug a new entrance to the underground Marwani Prayer Hall (Solomon’s Stables). Coordination between the Waqf and Israel’s antiquities authority had ceased in 1996, some four years before coordination on security matters was halted, in the wake of the riots at the Western Wall Tunnels following Israel’s decision to open them to tourists … “Al-Aqsa is the fuel that flames violence on the Palestinian side. It is in Israel’s interest to prevent these altercations from erupting by renewing coordination with the Waqf,” said Dr. Yitzhak Reiter, a researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies who wrote a book about the status quo on the Temple Mount. Coordination on visitations by groups to the site can be done to prevent visitors from breaking local custom while also making sure such groups are not harassed, he said. According to Dr. Reiter, just the proposal by the Waqf is significant.…
Israeli forces injure scores of Palestinians during clashes across West Bank, Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 May [scroll down to bottom for Gaza] — In Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip clashes erupted along the eastern border with Israel during demonstrations in support of the hunger strikers. Three Palestinians were injured with live bullets in their feet during clashes with Israeli forces, according to locals, while Palestinians pelted rocks at Israeli forces stationed at the border. Meanwhile, in the northern Gaza Strip a Palestinian was also injured with a live bullet in his foot, while 15 others suffered from tear gas inhalation, including six medics, during clashes with Israeli forces, according to witnesses. A Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance was also damaged by an Israeli tear gas canister.
Gaza power authority says it has received no reply from PA over electricity crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 May — The Gaza Strip’s power authority said on Sunday that it had met all of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) stipulations to end the electricity crisis in the besieged coastal enclave, but that the governing body in the occupied West Bank had yet to respond. The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) — the agency responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip — said on Thursday that Israel was planning on reducing its electricity supply to Gaza at the request of the Fatah-led PA. The PA, which foots Gaza’s 40 million shekel ($11.19) monthly bill from Israel, allegedly requested that the Israeli government reduce the supply to between 25 and 30 million shekels ($7 to $8.4 million) per month. The deputy chairman of the Gaza power authority, Fathi Sheikh Khalil, said in a press conference in Gaza City on Sunday that written replies had been sent to the PA through different avenues, including countries donating to the PA and rights organizations monitoring the humanitarian situation in Gaza — but that no responses had been received thus far. Khalil said that the Ramallah-based electricity authority had requested that Gaza’s electricity company more rigorously collect bills in the impoverished coastal territory, as well as appoint a nonpartisan committee to monitor its performance and work in conjunction with the PA power authority to operate the electricity sector in Gaza. The Gaza official said that the power authority had accepted all the aforementioned conditions, in exchange for the PA exempting the fuel used to run Gaza’s only power plant from taxes….
UN envoy says electricity cuts endanger lives in Gaza
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 26 May – The U.N.’s Mideast envoy warned on Friday that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will face a “humanitarian crisis” if their already meager electricity supply is cut further as a result of political infighting. Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas movement that governs Gaza “all have obligations for the welfare of Gaza’s residents,” Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special coordinator for the region, told the U.N. Security Council. He spoke from Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority has been saying for weeks that it would slash its payments to Israel for Gaza’s electricity, and Israel announced Thursday that it would reduce the power supply, which already is down to about four hours a day. No date was set. “The U.N. has warned that without addressing the structural problems of Gaza’s electricity supply we would face a humanitarian crisis,” Mladenov said. “How long do you think they can survive if this is further reduced to two hours of electricity per day?” he added. “Who will pay the price of the ensuing violence and escalation?” Electricity-driven drinking water is available for a few hours every two to four days, the envoy said. Hospitals are barely functioning without power, postponing surgeries and reducing cleaning and sterilization. And for lack of irrigation, food prices are soaring….
Video: Iranian Red Crescent provides food aid in Gaza during Ramadan
GAZA (PressTV) –The Iranian Red Crescent has provided food aid in Gaza, giving the Palestinians warm Iftar meals during the Holy Month of Ramadan … Ashraf Shannon brings us more details in the following story from Gaza.
Turkish aid agency opens new mosque in Gaza
ISTANBUL (Daily Sabah) 26 May — Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) opened Friday a new mosque in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza. The construction of the ‘Onbaşı Hasan’ Mosque (Corporal Hasan), named after an Ottoman soldier who stayed behind to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the British occupation of Jerusalem, lasted nearly six months starting last November. “The IHH has provided a large number of services and humanitarian assistance to Gaza since the 2008 assault and to this very moment. However, I think the biggest help we have provided is building this mosque,” the IHH Gaza Representative Muhammed Kaya said. Kaya went on to say that he was proud that despite Israel’s restrictions on the Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, would still be heard in Gaza. “The main goal of the construction of the mosque is to create a new generation which is able to bring unity to Islam and free Palestine,” Kaya added. The IHH is a Turkish non-governmental organization established in 1992, which is involved in humanitarian activities in 135 countries and territories.
Hamas executes three Palestinians over killing says ordered by Israel
GAZA (Reuters) 25 May by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement executed three Palestinians on Thursday convicted of killing a commander in the Islamist group’s armed wing while acting on Israel’s orders. Hamas’ military prosecutor said the three men admitted to receiving orders from Israeli intelligence officers to track and kill Mazen Fuqaha on March 24 in Gaza City. A military court convicted one of carrying out the shooting and the two others of providing Israel with information about Fuqaha’s whereabouts. Two of the men, aged 44 and 38, were hanged while the third, 38, a former security officer, was shot by firing squad, the Hamas-run interior ministry said. The executions took place in an open yard of Gaza’s main police headquarters, witnessed by leaders from Hamas and other Palestinian factions, as well as heads of Gaza clans. Israel has established a network of contacts in the Palestinian territories, using a combination of pressure and sweeteners to entice Palestinians to divulge intelligence. The Shin Bet security service, which carries out covert operations against Palestinian militants, did not respond to a request by Reuters for comment….
Gazans demand death penalty for a teen rapist
RAMALLAH (Gulf News) 26 May by Nasouh Nazzal — Gazans are demanding the death sentence for a teenager who raped an eight-year-old girl from Al Shajaeyah neighbourhood in Gaza City. The call for capital punishment comes amid a wave of outrage across social media about the girl’s ordeal. The victim, a third-grader identified only as T.A., was on her way home from school when the 16-year-old boy attacked her in an isolated area as the sobbing child pleaded with him to return the school bag he had snatched from her. According to Gaza Police, the teenage rapist tried to kill the girl after repeatedly raping her, but her screams eventually alerted passers-by, who came to her aid and took her to a hospital. The boy was arrested within 24 hours. The victim has been in the intensive care unit of Gaza Hospital for the past week, suffering from serious bleeding. The assault on the little girl has sparked fury on the streets of Gaza and shocked the entire community … Gazan psychiatrist Dr Fadl Abu Hain said that although a minor, the young rapist could not be pardoned. His crime was not just against the little girl — who would suffer psychologically all her life — but against the entire Gazan society.
Canadian forced to give birth in Gaza still fighting to get home
MONTREAL, Canada (MEE) 26 May by Jillian D’Amours — The family of a Canadian woman who was forced to give birth in the Gaza Strip earlier this month is calling on Ottawa to intervene to bring her and her newborn daughter home. Bissan Eid, 24, gave birth to her first child, Sarah, on May 11 in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, several months after she first attempted to leave the besieged coastal Palestinian territory … A Canadian citizen whose family is Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, Bissan first went to Gaza in June 2016 to get married and visit relatives. But when she tried to leave, Israel did not grant her a permit to exit Gaza through the Erez border crossing it controls. From there, Bissan had planned to travel to Jordan and fly to Canada. After it became clear she would not be allowed to leave, Bissan was forced to give birth in Gaza. While Bissan had an assisted delivery, her daughter was born healthy, Eid said. But her protracted struggle to get back to Canada has left her feeling frustrated and alone, her father said … The situation also caused Bissan to miss the entire second year in a master’s degree she was pursuing in civil engineering at Concordia University in Montreal.
Eid said the Canadian representative office in Ramallah, which provides consular services in the occupied Palestinian territories, had pledged to help Bissan leave Gaza after her baby was born. But Eid said the office recently told Bissan that she needed to secure permits for herself and her daughter to enter Jordan, before she would be able to leave Gaza. “This complicated the situation because to get permission [for] the baby, she needed to make a Palestinian passport,” he said, adding that Bissan also applied for a Canadian passport for her daughter. He said the situation raises a question as to why Bissan and her daughter, who are Canadian citizens, need visas in advance to enter Jordan, while that is not a requirement for all Canadians. “Canadians don’t need permission to go to Jordan. They get the visa at the airport… If any Canadian can go to Jordan without a visa, why [do] Bissan and her baby need a visa?” Eid asked. The Canadian government, he concluded, has shown in his daughter’s case that it “approves [of] the discrimination against Palestinians” exhibited by both the Jordanian and Israeli authorities.
Israeli military to start using unmanned vehicle to patrol border with Gaza Strip
Algemainer 28 May by Barney Breen-Portnoy — In the coming years, the Israeli military will begin using unmanned vehicles to secure the Jewish state’s border with the Gaza Strip, the IDF’s Hebrew website reported on Sunday. “The vehicle patrols the area, collects information and identifies irregularities while a female soldier drives it from a war room,” Captain Avidav Goldstein said. “This vehicle can replace the foot patrols carried out by soldiers next to the fence.” According to Goldstein, the IDF was the first army in the world to use such vehicles and they represented a “technological breakthrough on an international level. The vehicles will soon be installed with weapons that can be operated from afar, the IDF report noted. They already are equipped with camera and loudspeaker systems, which are used to locate and warn suspicious individuals.” … Watch a video on one of the vehicles in action below (via nrg):
Palestinian prisoners’ committee: 80% of hunger strikers’ demands met by Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 May — A day after hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons suspended a 40-day mass hunger strike, more details emerged on Sunday regarding the outcome of negotiations between hunger strikers and the Israel Prison Service (IPS), with a Palestinian Committee of Prisoners Affairs official saying that 80 percent of the strike’s demands were met, though an IPS spokesperson denied the claim.
After the strike ended in the early hours on Saturday following 20 hours of negotiations, Palestinian officials did not immediately reveal details regarding the achievements of the hunger strike. An IPS spokesperson only confirmed that family visitation sessions were restored to two times a month, adding that IPS was not considering the talks “negotiations,” as they only reinstated a previous policy and did not provide any new concessions to the prisoners.
On Sunday, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said in a statement that 80 percent of the hunger strikers’ demands were met according to the agreement reached after negotiations between IPS and representatives of hunger strikers led by imprisoned Fatah official Marwan Barghouthi. Qaraqe described the outcome of the hunger strike as “a fundamental transformation in the terms of the prisoners’ living conditions.” However, IPS spokesperson Hana Herbst told Ma‘an that “contrary to the reports delivered by Issa Qaraqe, no benefits were given to national security prisoners in return to quitting the hunger strike and there were no negotiations on this matter.”
Herbst reiterated IPS’s stance that the suspension of the hunger strike “was made possible due to the National Palestinian Authority agreeing to fund the second visit instead of the Red Cross who up to a few months ago was the funding organization,” and not due negotiations between hunger-striking prisoners and IPS.
The spokesperson did not comment on reports from Qaraqe that said a mechanism was also established for further negotiations, to continue discussions on agreements that were so far made only “in principle,” and regarding the original demands of the strike that were not met at all. A committee consisting of prisoners Karim Yunis, Nasser Abu Hmeid, Hafith Sharayaa, Nasser Uweis, Ammar Mardi, and Ahmad Barghouthi will continue such talks with IPS, according to Qaraqe.
Qaraqe also highlighted in his statement that the Fatah movement appointed Karim Yunis, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner, as a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, describing that appointment as “a major political achievement of the hunger strike,” for defying Israel’s designation of Palestinian prisoners as terrorists rather than political detainees….
New details released on agreement to suspend Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike
Samidoun 28 May — New details have been released regarding the agreement under which Palestinian prisoners suspended the 40-day Strike for Dignity and Freedom on Saturday morning, 27 May, providing more elaboration on the specific issues addressed in the prisoners’ negotiations with the Israeli occupation prison administration. Issa Qaraqe, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Commission spoke in a press conference on Sunday, 28 May in which he declared that “80 percent of the demands” of the prisoners were achieved in the strike, calling it “an important achievement to build on in the future on the basis of the protection of the prisoners’ rights and dignity.” Qaraqe reported on the major items agreed upon by the strikers with the Israeli prison administration, as noted by Palestinian lawyer Karim Ajwa, who met on Sunday morning with one of the strike leaders, Palestinian prisoner Nasser Abu Hmeid [19 points]:
1. Expanding access to public telephones in order to communicate with family members, in accordance with agreed-upon mechanisms, with continuation of dialogue on this issue as a priority for prisoners in all prisons.
2. Agreement was reached on a range of issues relating to family visits; first, lifting the security ban on hundreds of family members of Palestinian prisoners, ending the practice of returning visitors holding permits and refusing their visits at checkpoints, and lifting an unjustified ban imposed on more than 140 children who had been banned by the prison administration from visiting their parents….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Report: Israeli authorities move forward plan for new illegal West Bank settlement
[with map] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 May — Israeli authorities have greenlit the construction of a new illegal settlement on occupied Palestinian lands, Israeli media reported on Sunday, advancing plans for the first settlement to officially be created by the Israeli government in decades as compensation for residents of the illegal settlement outpost of Amona. According to news outlet Ynet, the Israeli Civil Administration approved jurisdiction for an area designated for the construction of a new settlement promised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Amona settlers, after their outpost was evacuated by Israeli authorities in February due to it being built illegally on private Palestinian lands. However, the settlement, which will be located in the central occupied West Bank and has been referred to as both Amichai and Emek Shilo, still requires the approval of Israel’s military central command before construction can proceed, Ynet reported, adding that the next step would then be the establishment of a full construction plan….
Israeli students told to attend West Bank event or ‘lose scholarships’
Haaretz 26 May by Yarden Skop — Students at a Tel Aviv college say it threatened to revoke their scholarships when they objected to attending a conference in the West Bank on Thursday. A number of students at the Kibbutzim College of Education asked the college’s management not to attend the program’s annual conference, which was held at the Herzog College in the settlement of Alon Shvut. The students said they felt uncomfortable attending a conference there, but were told that if they failed to attend they would lose their scholarships and living grants. An email sent to the students by the college stated: “The scholarship is conditional on attendance at the conference and this is an instruction (which isn’t negotiable) from the Education Ministry, which funds the scholarships. There is no flexibility in this matter.” … A student from another college who asked not to attend the conference because it was held in the West Bank received permission not to attend from his college’s program coordinator. He said he was never told his scholarship would be denied or that he would be harmed in any way by not attending the conference. The conferences held by the Education Ministry’s Regev program for outstanding students are held in a different college every year. This isn’t the first time the venue has caused problems for students. Last year, the conference was held at Sakhnin College in northern Israel. Numerous religious female students said they had a halakhic problem going to an event in an Arab college, referring to Jewish religious law.
How Israel prevents Palestinian farmers from working their lands
Haaretz 28 May by Amira Hass — A months-long strike ended this week when the Civil Administration agreed to reexamine procedures concerning access to farmland beyond the West Bank separation barrier. Have the reasons for the strike really disappeared? Time will tell — The strike has ended. No, this isn’t a reference to the famous one by Palestinian prisoners in Israel, but another strike that affects tens of thousands of Palestinian families whose lands are trapped between the West Bank separation barrier and the Green Line – the area known in military jargon as the seam area. In late February, the Palestinian liaison committees in Qalqilyah, Tul Karm, Salfit and Jenin stopped submitting requests to Israel’s liaison office from Palestinian farmers seeking permits to enter their lands (they continued submitting other permit requests). Quite a bit of land is involved – about 137,000 dunams (nearly 34,000 acres), 94,000 of them privately owned, according to Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank. But new regulations, and new interpretations of existing ones, have reduced the land Palestinians are allowed to work. And since late 2016, reports have multiplied about the new difficulties farmers are facing in obtaining permits to work their land. “We can’t cooperate with, and thereby give a seal of approval to, regulations that will make it easier for Israel to take over many thousands of additional dunams, on the pretext that the land was neglected,” the liaison committees said, explaining their unusual move. After almost three months in which farmers were unable to renew their permits and increasingly feared for the fate of their neglected crops, the issue was discussed last Tuesday by Civil Administration head Brig. Gen. Ahvat Ben Hur and the Palestinian Authority’s deputy minister for civil affairs, Ayman Qandil. Various other people from both sides were present, and one of the Palestinians understood that in exchange for the immediate renewal of the committees’ work, the regulations would be frozen until June 15. During that time, Ben-Hur will reconsider them, and “we’ll hope for the best.”….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (18-24 May 2017)
PCHR-GAZA 25 May — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child while a girl succumbed to her wounds in Bethlehem. A Palestinian civilian was killed and a photojournalist was wounded by a settler in Howarah village, south of Nablus. 46 Palestinian civilians, including 12 children and 2 women, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces conducted 48 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 11 limited ones in Jerusalem. 94 civilians, including 32 children and a wounded young woman, were arrested. Forty-one of them, including 18 children, were arrested in Jerusalem, while 19 others, including 9 children, were arrested during peaceful protests. Israeli forces continued settlement activities in the West Bank. The settlers set fire to a tractor in Burin village, south of Nablus. Hundreds of settlers stormed al-Qsa Mosque yards while the Israeli soldiers attacked the Mosque’s guards. Israeli forces continued to target the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th year Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 8 civilians, including 6 children, were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank. [Details follow]
Palestinians ban divorce during Ramadan
AFP 28 May — The head of Palestinian Islamic courts on Sunday told judges not to grant divorces over Ramadan, fearing the month-long fast could spark rash words that would be regretted later. Judge Mahmud Habash said he based his ruling on “the experience of previous years” when he found that the dawn-to-dusk fast and ban on cigarettes, which began on Saturday, tended to lead to frayed tempers and sharp tongues. “Some, because they have not eaten and not smoked, create problems” in their marriages, he said in a statement, and they can make “quick and ill-considered decisions”. According to the Palestinian Authority, 50,000 weddings were celebrated in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 2015, but more than 8,000 divorces were also registered. Endemic unemployment and poverty are said to be major contributing factors. There is no civil marriage or divorce in the Palestinian territories, where only religious courts have those powers.
450 Palestinians denied Israeli residency despite Interior Minister’s promise
Haaretz 28 May by Jonathan Lis — Israel’s Interior Minister Arye Dery announced that nearly 450 Palestinians who were expected to receive residency status as part of the so-called “family unification” arrangement failed to meet the required criteria for naturalization. These Palestinians will not receive permanent residency or temporary residency status. The move follows a government commitment, made in response to an April 2016 High Court petition, to grant some 2,000 temporary visas for Palestinians living in Israel, while not granting them official status or social benefits. Israel allows Palestinian spouses of Israeli Arabs to apply for citizenship through a process called family unification. A similar process allows for the naturalization of spouses of Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel – but permanent residents, though this process takes longer. Most family unification applications in Israel are submitted on behalf of a Palestinian spouse living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. Israeli-Arab lawmaker Aida Touma-Suleiman (Joint Arab List), attempting to follow up on the court ruling, lodged a formal request with Dery to follow up on the matter. Dery informed her last week that hundreds of the Palestinians who were on the list given to the court and slated for residency would not be granted temporary status after all. “From 2,020 potential cases… 1,533 were found to be suited… 449 other requests were found to be no longer applicable by the minister,” the document said. Some 106 of the nearly 500 of the requests were rejected on criminal or security grounds. According to Dery, there are other reasons an application can be denied, but no data about these requests were given besides a number of requests where applicants have since died. Some 38 requests are still pending. MK Touma-Suleiman, enraged by the data, said “the Interior Ministry’s promise from last year is the bare minimum [of what Israel can do], and even that it can’t make good on.”….
Canada supports vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza
RAMALLAH (WFP) 25 May — The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a US$3.6 million (CAD$4.8 million) contribution from the Government of Canada to support nearly 200,000 of the most vulnerable non-refugee Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank. The Canadian contribution will enable WFP to provide assistance through electronic vouchers, or cash-based transfers, to nearly 130,000 vulnerable people in Gaza and the West Bank for up to two months. Families receiving assistance, many of them headed by women, will be able to use their vouchers to buy nutritious and fresh foods at local retailers. An additional 68,000 Palestinians in the West Bank will receive a three month supply of food packages consisting of fortified wheat, pulses, vegetable oil and salt. Canada’s funding will also help WFP to continue to provide family nutrition awareness trainings for women, men and elementary school children in Gaza. “Canada aims to help meet the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable, especially women and children. Through this contribution to World Food Programme, Canada is supporting food assistance that responds to the immediate needs for some of the poorest families in the West Bank and Gaza,” said Douglas Scott Proudfoot, Representative of Canada to the Palestinian Authority. Over the past ten years, Canada has contributed nearly US$100 million to WFP programmes that benefit Palestinians, making Canada the second largest donor to Palestinians as well as one of the largest donors to WFP globally. The significant contributions from Canada have allowed WFP to maintain assistance to the poorest non-refugee Palestinians, as well as to make investments in the local economy.
Returning from Gaza war in despair, army vet created Israeli-Palestinian incubator
Haaretz 26 May by Eliran Rubin — The order to report for reserves during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 caught Ohad Elhelo at a very inconvenient time. Just six months before, he had received a dream scholarship: a million shekels (about $280,000) to study for a bachelor’s degree in economics at Brandeis University in Boston. The scholarship is awarded once a year by the Abraham Fund to two students, a Jew and an Arab, with leadership potential and the ability to possibly influence the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Elhelo’s plan to promote coexistence was forced to wait for the fighting to end. “I returned from Operation Protective Edge in despair,” Elhelo says, speaking by phone from his home in Boston. A Palestinian child doesn’t care whose missile hit his house, just that he has no house any more, he pointed out. But mainly he realized that salvation wasn’t going to come from politicians, because there is no leadership on either side. So he thought to create a meeting of minds that didn’t involve politicians. Elhelo began to lecture about the conflict and his insights from the battlefield, stressing the need for immediate change. Some of his lectures went viral, and in 2015 he took his idea to the next stage, setting up OGS: Our Generation Speaks, a startups incubator for Israelis and Palestinians. While some organizations try to bring different communities together, his concept was to build something together that would serve the communities afterwards, Elhelo explains. In no time Elhelo had built a team and pulled in investors, including Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots football team, and Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos. To date he’s raised $4 million for the project, which is also supported by Brandeis University and the international accelerator MassChallenge … They have roughly equal numbers of Israelis and Palestinians, men and women; recently they decided that the team, board of directors, mentors and investors will be composed equally of Palestinians and Israelis….
Israelis rally for Palestinian state, end of occupation
AFP 27 May — Thousands of Israelis rallied Saturday in Tel Aviv in support of a Palestinian state ahead of the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Banners bearing the slogan “Two states, One Hope” featured in the demonstration organised by supporters of a Palestinian state, including the Israeli NGO Peace Now. NGO head Avi Buskila said the rally was a protest against “the lack of hope being offered by a government perpetuating occupation, violence and racism”. “The time has come to prove to the Israelis, the Palestinians and the entire world that an important segment of the Israeli population is opposed to occupation and wants a two-state solution,” he added. A message of support from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was read out at the rally. “It is time to live together in harmony, security and stability,” Abbas was quoted as saying. “Our duty towards future generations is to conclude a peace of the brave.” Israeli opposition Labour party leader Isaac Herzog attended the rally and threw his support behind a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Gitai film warns of Israel’s ‘suicide’ at Cannes
CANNES, Frances (AFP) 24 May by Fiachra Gibbons — A new documentary warns of Israel’s slow “suicide” if it pushes ahead and annexes large swathes of the West Bank. “West of the Jordan River”, by acclaimed Israeli director Amos Gitai, claims the country’s government — the most right-wing in its history — is “sleepwalking” the Jewish state towards a precipice. Gitai — who premiered the film at the Cannes film festival Wednesday — said the “maximalist thinking” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that has led to more settlement building in occupied territories “could have disastrous consequences” for Israel. They are leading “us towards self-destruction”, he warned. He said everything that was wrong with Israel right now is symbolised by the country’s controversial Culture Minister Miri Regev, who caused a storm when she appeared on the Cannes red carpet last week in a dress adorned with a panorama of Jerusalem to celebrate “50 years since the liberation and reunification” of the city. The Palestinians and the international community regard the city’s east as under Israeli occupation….
European ambassadors boycott tour of new Israeli rail route because it traverses West Bank
Haaretz 26 May by Barak Ravid — The Transportation Ministry canceled a tour for foreign diplomats of tunnels for the fast Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway line under construction. Senior Israeli officials and European diplomats said the tour was scrapped after European Union ambassadors decided not to attend, on the grounds that one of the tunnels traverses the West Bank, considered occupied territory by the international community. Senior Israeli officials who were speaking on condition of anonymity said the Transportation Ministry decided a few weeks ago to show foreign diplomats one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects, with the involvement of major international firms. At the Transportation Ministry’s request, the Foreign Ministry issued invitations to all ambassadors serving in Israel. The tour was scheduled for a date in early June. The ministries did not anticipate problems, but as it turned out, the tour had become controversial … In November 2010, Israel’s Civil Administration expropriated 50 dunam (around 13 acres) from the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa for the new railway. A railway tunnel, a few dozen meters underground, was to be built on a 20-dunam swath of this area, with the remaining 30 dunam to serve as a staging area for construction of the tunnel. The latter portion of land was to be rehabilitated after construction was completed and returned to its owners. In May 2011, Germany’s national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, announced that it was pulling out of the railway project because part of the line was to pass through the West Bank….
Britain’s Labour Party will ‘immediately’ recognize Palestine if elected in June
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 May — Britain’s Labour Party announced in its 2017 elections manifesto that if elected in June, the party would immediately recognize the state of Palestine. The manifesto stated that the party was committed to a two-state solution to solve the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, adding that “there can be no military solution to this conflict.” Both Israel and Palestine must “avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve,” the manifesto continued, referencing the need to end the decade-long Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, the half-century Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and Israel’s continued settlement expansions. It added that Hamas, the de facto leaders in the besieged Gaza Strip, must also end rocket and “terror attacks,” in order for leaders to enter “meaningful negotiations” and develop a “diplomatic resolution.” “A Labour government will immediately recognize the state of Palestine,” the manifesto added. Earlier this month, the United Kingdom’s House of Lords released a statement that strongly criticized the British government’s “very degrading, dismissive attitude” towards international efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and suggested that it take a stronger stance to advance a two-state solution, including recognizing a state of Palestine….
Palestinian-American debut novel drives home the trauma of exile
Haaretz 17 May by David B. Green — “Salt Houses,” by Hala Alyan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 320 pp., $26 — The reader who approaches “Salt Houses,” debut novelist Hala Alyan’s multi-generational portrait of a Palestinian family in exile, with expectations of grand pronouncements about right and wrong, or victim and perpetrator, will be disappointed. Nor is there much action here: The book’s most dramatic moments take place in exchanges between parent and child, or even within the thoughts of a single character’s mind. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, of course, is key to the book: It is the backdrop against which the non-stop wanderings of an extended family’s branches take place, wanderings that are dictated by the movements of armies and militias, and the ambitions and aspirations of politicians. But “Salt Houses” is not a history text, and if you didn’t already know the intricacies of the 70-year dispute before picking up the book, you are unlikely to be on firmer ground when you reach its end. “Salt Houses” is a family saga, although even the word “saga” may be overly grand, since none of its characters are the makers of history: They are history’s victims. And Halyan’s book offers the reader countless opportunities to love and identify with the protagonists — even, say, the Jewish reader who believes the Palestinians are his enemy, and he theirs. There is, in fact, much in this diaspora tale that will seem familiar to Jewish readers….
Trump’s visit to Israel: How Palestine disappeared from US media coverage / Ramzy Baroud
Ma‘an 29 May — …“Liberal” US media, which has stooped to many lows in its attacks on Trump — including his family, his mannerisms, his choice of words, even mere body language — became much more sober and quite respectful in the way they attempted to analyze his short trip to Israel, and the very brief detour to Bethlehem, where he met with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. “Mr. Trump’s speech at the Israeli Museum was so friendly and considerate of Israeli emotions,” The New York Times reported, “that one right-wing Israeli legislator described it as deeply expressive of the ‘Zionist narrative.’” Palestinian emotions, however, were of no consequence, neither to the Trump entourage, nor, of course, to The New York Times or others in mainstream media. The Washington Post, on the other hand, still found faults, but certainly not because of Trump’s lack of balance and his failure to deride the Israeli occupation and Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians … For Palestinians, it must not be easy to find the humor in these tough times. Hundreds of their prisoners, including their most popular leader, Marwan Barghouti, were enduring a prolonged and life-threatening hunger strike in which they were making the most basic demands for better treatment, longer visitation hours with their families, and an end to arbitrary detentions. More telling, on the day Trump, along with right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, lectured Palestinians on peace, 17-year-old Tuqua Hammad was shot for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli military vehicles at the entrance of her village of Silwad, near Ramallah.