US, Israel quit UN heritage agency citing bias
PARIS (Reuters) 12 Oct by John Irish — The United States and Israel announced on Thursday they were quitting the U.N.’s cultural agency UNESCO, after Washington accused it of anti-Israeli bias. The withdrawal of the United States, which is meant to provide a fifth of UNESCO’s funding, is a major blow for the Paris-based organization, founded after World War Two to help protect cultural and natural heritage around the world. UNESCO is best known for designating World Heritage Sites such as the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and the Grand Canyon National Park. “This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. Hours later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would quit too, calling the U.S. decision “brave and moral” … Washington has already withheld its funding for UNESCO since 2011, when the body admitted Palestine as a full member. The United States and Israel were among just 14 of 194 members that voted against admitting the Palestinians. Washington’s arrears on its $80 million annual dues since then are now over $500 million … In recent years, Israel has repeatedly complained about what it says is the body taking sides in disputes over cultural heritage sites in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Clashes erupt as Israeli forces escort hundreds of settlers to pray at Joseph’s Tomb
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Oct — At least three Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, while several others suffered from severe tear-gas inhalation during clashes that erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday in the northern occupied West bank city of Nablus. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that hundreds of Israeli settlers, escorted by armed Israeli forces, took to Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus to perform religious rituals in the area. According to the sources, more than 30 Israeli buses carried settlers into Joseph’s Tomb under strict security by Israeli forces late Tuesday night until the early morning hours of Wednesday. Clashes soon erupted in the area between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces, with at least three Palestinians injured with rubber-coated steel bullets. Some were taken to hospitals for treatment, while others were treated on the scene. Locals said that during the raid, Israeli soldiers entered several homes in the area and took over the roofs of buildings.
Hundreds of Jewish teens run riot in Muslim parts of Jerusalem’s Old City
Haaretz 12 Oct by Nir Hasson — A Palestinian shop owner was hospitalized after hundreds of Jewish teenagers reportedly rioted in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday night. According to Palestinian eyewitnesses, approximately 400 youths marched through the Old City from the Western Wall towards the Muslim Quarter’s Damascus Gate, allegedly shouting, beating the doors of houses and shops, throwing rocks and smashing car windows. As they approached Damascus Gate, the youths stormed an open shop and attacked the shop’s Palestinian owner [Times of Israel: Ibrahim Hashelmon, 39] … The owner was taken to Hadassah University Hospital to be treated for his wounds and was released in the morning, his injuries described as “light.” A police force of about 20 officers later arrived at the scene and escorted the rioters out of the Old City however no arrests were made. Police issued a statement on Thursday morning saying that there had been a fight between two groups of youths. “During the night, a confrontation broke out between young people on Hagai Street in the Old City, during which stones were thrown,” the police said. Police confirmed that an investigation had been opened into the incident and that damage had been caused to a shop and a number of motor vehicles…
NGO Ir Amim said: “This is not the first time that the police have not done their job to protect the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.” The NGO claimed the police had attempted to hide the nature of the incident when in described the incident in its statement as a fight between groups of youths, and not as an attack on Palestinians and their property.
Israeli soldiers abduct a child in Jerusalem
IMEMC 12 Oct — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday at night, a Palestinian child in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, in the West Bank, after several colonists attacked homes and stores – the child was released and after his family was forced to pay a fine, and was placed under house arrest. Eyewitnesses said that a group of Israeli colonists attacked many homes and stones in Jerusalem’s Old City, before the soldiers invaded the area and abducted a child, identified as Ya’coub Dabagh, 15, and took him to an unknown destination. The child remained under interrogation for several hours, without legal representation, before the army released him after ordering him under house arrest for five days, and forcing his family to pay a 500 Shekels fine….
In related news, the soldiers invaded Zeita town, north of Tulkarem, in the northern part of the West Bank, and abducted a child, identified as Ehab Nafeth Masarwa, 12, while walking in front of his school.
Israeli settlers take to Al-Aqsa, damage Palestinian property along the way
JERUSALEM (Ma‘’an) 12 Oct — Dozens of Israeli settlers attacked properties of Palestinians in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday as they made their way to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the protection of Israeli forces. Locals told Ma‘an that around dawn, Israeli settler threw rocks and chairs at Palestinian shopfronts inside the Old City, and damaged Palestinian cars in the Aqabat al-Khaldiyeh and Council Gate areas outside the walls of the Old City. Sources added that Palestinian youths “attempted to stop the settlers,” but they were unsuccessful, as Israeli forces maintained a heavy security presence around the settlers. Meanwhile, Israeli forces closed main roads and streets in the Silwan neighborhood south of the Old City, in order to allow Israeli settlers living in the area to head to the Al-Aqsa Mosque Old for ongoing Jewish holidays.
Olive harvesters attacked by settlers near Nablus
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Oct — Israeli settlers, on Wednesday, attacked Palestinian farmers while they were harvesting olives in the village of Kufr Qalil, to the south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in Nablus area, told WAFA that Israeli settlers from the illegal Brakha settlement attacked farmers while they were picking olives near the village. He said that attacks by settlers witnessed an increase since the beginning of the harvest season, this month.
Army invades homes in Bethlehem
IMEMC 11 Oct –Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, many homes in the West Bank governorate of Bethlehem, photographed homes and threatened further collective punishment. The soldiers invaded al-‘Obeydiyya town, east of Bethlehem, before breaking into and searching two homes, belonging to ‘Ayed Rabay‘a and Eid Rabay‘a. In addition, the soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, and searched the homes of two political prisoners, identified as Eyad Mahmoud Taqatqa and Wajdi Ali Thawabta. The soldiers also invaded the al-‘Azza refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, and photographed many homes and cars. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, and broke into the home of Rezeq Hameeda, the father of a political prisoner, identified as Salah Hameeda, before handing him a leaflet, threatening al-Khader residents of constant invasions should “local youngsters continue to throw stones at the army and settlers’ cars.”
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian commuters near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 11 Oct – Israeli settlers attacked on Tuesday night Palestinian commuters near the Hawwara checkpoint, south to the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, said local sources, causing damage to several cars. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, said that a group of settlers threw rocks at Palestinian vehicles near Hawwara checkpoint damaging windows. There were no reports of anyone hurt.
Settlers’ violence against Palestinians and their property is regular in the West Bank. Nearly three weeks ago, settlers torched olive trees near the village of Kufr Qalil, to the south of Nablus city, as the olive harvest season begins. According to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem, “As the occupying force, Israel must protect the Palestinians in the West Bank. However, the Israeli authorities neglect to fulfill this responsibility and do not do enough to prevent Israeli civilians from attacking Palestinians, their property and their lands.”“The undeclared policy of the Israeli authorities in response to these attacks is lenient and conciliatory,” stressed the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem. Palestinians, on the other hand, who throw rocks at Israeli vehicles are usually pursued, arrested during night raids at their family homes, and sentenced to several years in prison on charges of attempted murder.
Israeli police detain 4 Palestinians over graffiti, posters praising slain Palestinian
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Oct — Israeli police detained four Palestinian youth from occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday for hanging posters praising Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was killed by Israeli forces last years after carrying out a shooting attack that left two Israelis dead. The Israeli police said in a statement that forces arrested four “youths” from the Old City, Wadi al-Joz, and Ras al-Amud neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. The statement added that the youths had sprayed graffiti and hung posters praising Abu Sbeih on the anniversary of his death. Two of the detainees were arrested as they were spraying graffiti, while the other two were detained shortly after, according to the statement. Israeli police forces confiscated the spray paint and posters from the youths, who remained unidentified.
Israeli authorities have claimed that attacks such as the one carried out by Abu Sbeih have been caused largely by “incitement” among Palestinians, notably through social media or expressions of support — through posters and graffiti – towards groups or individuals opposing the Israeli occupation.
Army to withhold part of Elor Azaria’s discharge grant
Times of Israel 11 Oct by Sue Surkes — The Israeli army has decided to withhold from convicted former soldier Elor Azaria around half of the money usually paid to discharged soldiers at the end of their compulsory service, it was reported Wednesday. He will receive around NIS 24,000 ($6,860) instead of NIS 48,000 ($13,720) to cover the period of service that he actually completed … In August, Azaria began serving an 18-month jail sentence for manslaughter after shooting dead in March 2016 a Palestinian stabber — Abdel Fattah al-Sharif — in the West Bank city of Hebron. The assailant had already been incapacitated and was lying on the ground when Azaria shot him … In a statement given to Israel Hayom about Azaria’s discharge pay, the army said the decision was made in accordance with the law and military orders, according to which the “revocation of benefits from a soldier who was convicted of a serious offense or was sentenced to at least six months in prison should be considered.” “The decision was made after Azaria was offered a hearing on the matter and taking into account all the circumstances of the incident,” the statement noted.
Israeli airlines sued for intrusive body search
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 9 Oct by Ibrahim Husseini — Three young Palestinian women are suing two Israeli airlines, El Al and Arkia, for an “intrusive body search”, alleging racial profiling by Israeli security personnel in Belgrade Airport before a Tel Aviv-bound flight. The three women, who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, told Al Jazeera that the body search – which took place last October – went well beyond a pat-down and amounted to sexual assault. The incident exceeded two hours, during which the women say they were threatened with being denied permission to board the plane if they did not agree to a strip search. The defence has until October 20 to answer to the charges, after which the court will appoint a trial date in Tel Aviv. “I overheard the chief security officer tell [a female officer] that if I did not take off my bra I will not get on the plane,” one of the plaintiffs, who asked that her name not be published, told Al Jazeera. “I couldn’t speak. It was a shock. I completely undressed the upper part of my body. It was painful.” Awni Bana, the lawyer representing the three women, told Al Jazeera that his clients were subjected to a strip search simply because they were Arab. “The search was unwarranted,” Bana said. “The women were not acting in a suspicious manner and there was no intelligence suggesting that the women posed a security threat.” Illegal under international law, racial and ethnic profiling is defined by the United Nations as “reliance by law enforcement, security and border control personnel on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin as a basis for subjecting persons to detailed searches, identity checks and investigations”. The trip to Belgrade was meant to be a short break for the three young women before they resumed their Masters’ studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem … The women say they were the only passengers pinpointed for extra screening. One of the women fainted during the strip search….
Restriction of movement
Israeli soldiers close roadblock near Jerusalem, detain passengers of three buses
IMEMC 12 Oct — Israeli soldiers closed, on Thursday evening, Beit Iksa military roadblock, northwest of occupied East Jerusalem, … The soldiers, stationed at the permanent military roadblock, on the main entrance of Beit Iksa village, decided to close the roadblock, without providing any reason for this act, and started searching cars and interrogating passengers, while inspecting their ID cards. The soldiers also stopped and searched three buses, loaded with dozens of Palestinians, mainly women and children, and refused to allow them through for several hours. Mohammad Abdul-Aziz Awad, a member of Beit Iksa Local Council, said dozens of Palestinians headed to the roadblock demanding the soldiers to allow the buses through, and to stop the provocative searches, and measures.
Gaza’s electricity crisis will be eased once the government takes over rule – official
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 11 Oct by Jafa Sadaqa – The Palestinian Energy Authority has completed a plan to ease Gaza’s electricity crisis once the National Consensus Government takes charge of the Gaza Strip, acting director of the Energy Authority Thafer Milhem said on Wednesday. While Gaza needs between 400 and 450 megawatts of power, it currently has only 147 megawatts of supply, which means a deficit of 70 percent. The plan looks at reducing the deficit to 50 percent in the short term by increasing supply to between 200 to 230 megawatts, he told WAFA. Milhem said that the issue of electricity was discussed from financial, administrative and technical points during the presence of the government in Gaza last week and it is being now discussed by the Fatah and Hamas delegations meeting in Cairo … The energy official stressed that if the reconciliation talks go as planned and the government becomes fully in charge in Gaza, the deficit in electricity supply will be reduced from 70 percent to 50 percent within a short time. But this requires rehabilitating the power grid, talking to all parties to increase the supply and to reform the bill collection and payment system to make it similar to the way it is done in the West Bank, in addition to finding the financial resources that will be generated from collecting bills and other sources….
Israel to close Gaza commercial crossing for Israeli holidays
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 Oct — Israeli authorities have decided to close the only commercial crossing between Israel and the besieged Gaza Strip on the occasion of ongoing Jewish holidays in Israel, Palestinian sources said on Wednesday. Director General of the Public Administration of the Crossing Points and Borders Committee in Gaza Nathmi Muhanna said that Israel would be closing the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing over the weekend. While Israel would “exceptionally open the crossing” on Wednesday to allow fuel into the Gaza Strip, the crossing would be closed for three days beginning Thursday, Muhanna said. According to Muhanna, the crossing will be reopened on Sunday. The Karam Abu Salem crossing has been opened intermittently since the beginning of the year, affecting the small Palestinian territory’s access to fuel to power the enclave’s sole electricity plant.
Israeli bulldozers level land in northern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Oct — Several Israeli military bulldozers entered the northeastern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning where they leveled lands inside the border fence. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli military bulldozers entered dozens of meters inside the border fence in eastern Jabaliya, located in northern Gaza, coming from a military site in the area. The bulldozers razed and leveled lands in the area as Israeli drones hovered overhead.
Palestinian families prevented from leaving Gaza to visit imprisoned relatives in Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Oct — Palestinian families from the besieged Gaza Strip were prevented by Israeli authorities on Monday from visiting their imprisoned relatives inside Israel. Families of prisoners in Gaza told Ma‘an that they were denied entry to Israel on Monday due to border closures for ongoing Jewish holidays in Israel. The International Committee of the Red Cross organizes weekly visits on Mondays for Gazan families to their imprisoned relatives. Earlier this month Israel announced an unprecedented 11-day general closure for both the occupied West Bank and Gaza — during which only humanitarian, medical, and exceptional cases were to be allowed to exit or enter — between Oct. 4 and Oct. 14.
Gazan cancer patients protest Israel’s travel ban
ISTANBUL (Daily Sabah) 11 Oct — Dozens of female cancer patients in the Gaza Strip have launched a protest against Israel’s travel ban, demanding medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip. During protests, the women carried posters demanding that they be allowed to leave for medical treatment in the West Bank and Israel. They called on the Palestinian government, international and local organizations and the World Health Organization to act without delay. “Israel rejected 62 percent of the women who wanted to be treated outside Gaza,” said Feryal Sabit, director of the Women’s Health Center. Since the enclave’s closure was enacted in 2006, the first organized public protest of Gazan patients against Israel’s ban was held on January this year, as reported by the Israeli newspaper Hareetz. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 1,500 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in the Israeli blockade of Gaza. As the number of cancer patients significantly rises, Gazans are not allowed to cross into the country to seek medical treatment.
Gaza Instagram stars want world to get the picture
GAZA (AFP) 12 Oct — They may not be able to leave Gaza without Israeli or Egyptian permission, but their photos can. The two women are among a small number of Instagram stars in the blockaded Palestinian enclave, showing followers a different side of their homeland from what much of the world may be used to hearing or seeing. “I see Instagram as a window,” says Kholoud Nassar, 26, wearing a pink hijab and fiddling with a toy car that features in many of her pictures. Fatma Mosabah, 21, agrees, saying that “when I open the internet I can talk to people across the world.” Both have more than 100,000 followers on the social platform and say they get recognised multiple times a day in the tiny territory that is home to two million people. In the enclave sealed off by Israel to the east and north, Egypt to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, it is impossible for Gazans to leave without permission. Neither of the women has left Gaza in more than a decade.
Israel also refuses to give permits for tourists to visit the strip, leaving most people outside to imagine life there. And after three brutal Israeli assaults, many people’s ideas of Gaza centre on devastation, poverty and suffering. The women use Instagram, with its focus on pictures over text and political arguments, to show another side. War is a part of Gaza, but it is not all Gaza. I wanted to show there was more to Gaza — as in any country,” Nassar tells AFP in a cafe near the coast in Gaza City. “Take America: there is poverty, there are destroyed homes, but at the same time there are beautiful places. Gaza is the same.”“Through these pictures I want people to see Gaza, how people live, eat and work.”
Through WFP, Japan supports vulnerable Palestinians in Gaza
RAMALLAH (ReliefWeb) 10 Oct – The Government of Japan has announced a JPY 350 million (approximately US$3.2 million) contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) that will provide six months of food assistance for to 52,000 of the most vulnerable non-refugee Palestinians living in Gaza. Japan’s contribution will allow WFP to provide families with monthly food assistance that includes wheat flour and vegetable oil enriched with minerals and micronutrients in addition to pulses and iodized salt. Recipient families, comprised mostly of women and children, are among the poorest in Gaza and depend on the Ministry of Social Development Social Safety Nets assistance programme, which includes food provided by WFP. WFP will also use the contribution to buy Japanese-produced, high-quality canned tuna, which is an excellent source of protein and micronutrients such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron. WFP will store part of the purchase of canned tuna as a contingency stock in case of an emergency….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Silwan demolitions: ‘They’re destroying Jerusalem’
SILWAN, Occupied East Jerusalem 9 Oct by Mersiha Gadzo — – For four hours, Abdul Karim Abu Sneina watched as a pair of bulldozers razed the two homes that he had built, leaving a dozen of his family members – including seven children – homeless. “Where can I live? There’s no place for us to live,” Abu Sneina said after the August demolition, standing in front of a mound of broken bricks and iron scraps. Residents of al-Bustan neighbourhood in the valley of Silwan had expected the bulldozers, fearing retaliation for their participation in summer protests that pressured Israeli authorities to remove newly installed metal detectors at al-Aqsa Mosque compound. “Whenever Palestinians start to get more comfortable, the [Israeli] government looks to seize an opportunity for retaliation afterwards,” Abu Sneina told Al Jazeera, noting that he quickly rebuilt a temporary shelter for his family, but bulldozers returned days later to demolish it as well…
More than 1,000 al-Bustan residents have been protesting against home demolitions for more than a decade, but they have exhausted all legal options to save their homes. According to lawyer Ziad Kawar, who represents al-Bustan’s residents, all 100 residential structures in al-Bustan have been slated for demolition to make way for “King’s David’s Garden” archaeological tourism park, comprising restaurants, artists’ studios and local art shops, among other attractions. Some Israelis claim this location was the site of the biblical garden of King David, but this claim is disputed…. Al-Bustan residents have spread awareness of their plight over the years, including a 2010 protest that drew such high-profile attendees as former US President Jimmy Carter and former Irish President Mary Robinson. Residents of al-Bustan believe the international attention helped to stave off many of the demolition orders for years, but they are worried their luck is running out.
36 dunams of Jordan Valley farmland to be seized
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Oct — The Israeli army, today, announced a decision to put hands on 36 dunams of agricultural land in the Ras Al-Ahmar area, in the northern Jordan Valley. Local sources said, according to the PNN, that the Israeli commander handed residents of the area notices in Arabic and Hebrew, with a map of the area showing the lands that will be seized. The final piece of land that will be taken has the width of 36 dunams, and the Israeli army claimed, in the notice, that it is for “security needs.”
Netanyahu pledged 3,800 new settlement homes, but only 600 will actually be built
Haaretz 11 Oct by Barak Ravid & Chaim Levinson — Under pressure from the settler lobby, the Prime Minister’s Office has over the past few days invested a great deal in creating the impression that a new wave of settlement construction is in the offing. But a close examination of the list of construction plans expected to be approved next week shows that despite declarations that plans for some 3,800 new homes are being advanced, the government is expected to approve only around 600 new units … On Tuesday, when the High Planning Council’s agenda was published, it emerged that there is a substantial gap between the declarations and reality. The 3,800 units presented to the public is an inflated, recycled number, with the government expected to give immediate building permits to only 600 units. Of these, 300 homes will be in Beit El, promised to the settlement after the demolition of the homes in Ulpana Hill over five years ago. The plan has gotten all the required approvals and bids will now be solicited from contractors. There are also 86 units slated for Kochav Yaakov for those evacuated from the illegal outpost at Migron, the fulfillment of a promise made in 2012. There will also be a significant expansion of the settlement of Nokdim, which is where Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman lives and where 146 new homes will be built. Also to be approved are nine homes in Psagot and 30 in the Jewish area of Hebron. So what happened to the other 3,200 promised homes? All will be advanced a stage in the lengthy bureaucratic process, but building will not begin soon and these plans could easily be halted at any time by either Netanyahu or Lieberman….
Further restrictions on Palestinian movement in the Israeli-controlled H2 area of Hebron city
[with maps] UN OCHA 11 Oct — A new fence installed [in August] by the Israeli authorities around two Palestinian neighbourhoods in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2), As Salaymeh and Gheith, further separates up to 1,800 Palestinians from the rest of the city. This is in addition to the recent reinforcement (including the installment of turnstiles) of two pre-existing checkpoints controlling access to the area where the new fence was installed. These developments disrupt the livelihoods and family life of Palestinians living in the two neighbourhoods and limit access to basic services like health and education … Currently, there are over 100 physical obstacles, including 20 permanently staffed checkpoints and 14 partial checkpoints that separate the settlement area from the rest of the city. Several streets within this area are designated for the exclusive use of settlers and are restricted for Palestinian traffic. In some streets, Palestinian pedestrians are banned. The coercive environment generated by access restrictions, along with systematic harassment by Israeli settlers, has resulted in the forcible transfer of thousands of Palestinians and a deterioration in living conditions of those who remain. A recent survey indicates that a third of Palestinian homes in the restricted area (1,105 housing units) are currently abandoned. Over 500 commercial establishments have been shut down by military order, and at least 1,100 others have been closed by their owners because of closures and restricted access for customers and suppliers….
Israel reportedly bans Muslim call to prayer in occupied West Bank village
ISTANBUL (Daily Sabah) 12 Oct — Israel has reportedly banned the use of loudspeakers for adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, in a village south of the occupied West Bank on grounds that it “made Jewish settlers uncomfortable.” According to Anadolu Agency, Israeli forces raided the village of At-Tuwani located south of the city of al-Khalil and banned the use of loudspeakers. The village had earlier been subjected to provocations by Israeli citizens and troops due to its proximity to the Jewish settlement of Ma’on.
ACLU sues over Kansas law that targets Israeli boycotts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) 11 Oct — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of a teacher challenging Kansas‘ new law barring state contractors from participating in boycotts against Israel, saying it’s a clear violation of her free speech rights. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Esther Koontz, a math and science curriculum coach at a Wichita public school, seeks to overturn a law that took effect July 1 and prohibits the state from entering into contracts with individuals or companies participating in a boycott of Israel. Twenty-one states have such policies, from liberal California to conservative strongholds such as Alabama and Texas; in Kansas, the measure had strong bipartisan support. States have enacted their laws in recent years amid an increasingly visible movement protesting Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. Backers of boycotting Israeli companies argue that they’re defending Palestinians’ human rights, while boycott critics contend the goal is to destroy the Jewish state. “The government does not get to use its leverage to silence one side of the debate,” Brian Hauss, an ACLU attorney, told The Associated Press. The ACLU is asking to have enforcement of the law blocked while the case proceeds….
Meet Israel’s anti-BDS dream team of Arab minorities
Ynet 11 Oct by Israel Moskowitz — An unlikely delegation of Arab, Muslim and Christian Israelis and Palestinians head for US and Europe to show ‘the beautiful face of Israel’ and urge BDS groups to stop their activities — …Hailing from different locations across the country, the participants are vocal in their common belief that Israel affords them equal opportunity. Expressing their love for and faith in the state, they are determined to disseminate their message and counter the smear campaigns against Israel that have permeated college campuses, often spearheaded by the Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Dima Tiya, 25, is an Arab Muslim, originally from Qalandiya and today is a resident of Kafr Manda in the lower Galilee. With a fluent command of the English language, Tiya explains why her own ideals dictate that she shares her experiences of Israel. “The State of Israel is important to me on a personal level and is important for all minorities who live there,” Dima says. “I am happy to represent the state. My father is a liberal and taught me the meaning of co-existence.” Qassem Halila, 24, an Arab Muslim originally from Iksal in northern Israel explained that he had agreed to take part in the initiative despite the resulting ostracization he has faced from family and friends … Bassem A’yid, a 59-year-old Palestinian from Beit Hanina in east Jerusalem, who is also embarking on his new journey as an Israeli ambassador, emphasized the damaging impact that boycott movements are having on the Palestinians themselves….
EU contributes an additional €9.5 million in support of Palestinian refugees
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 10 Oct – The European Union (EU) has signed on Tuesday an additional contribution of EUR 9.5 million to the 2017 Program Budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to a call to donors to help close a shortfall that could impact its key services such as education and health-care, according to an UNRWA-EU press release. The announcement was made during a meeting on 20 September between UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl and EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This contribution comes in addition to the disbursement earlier this year of EUR 82 million to the UNRWA Program Budget. The new contribution will help preserve access to education for 500,000 children, provide primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients and assistance to over 250,000 acutely vulnerable Palestine refugees.
Hamas and Fatah sign reconciliation deal, leaving many questions unanswered
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 12 Oct — The Hamas and Fatah movements signed a long-awaited reconciliation deal on Thursday in the Egyptian capital of Cairo after weeks of anticipation, though the exact details of the agreement have remained elusive. The announcement came after the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA), which controls the occupied West Bank, and Hamas, which up until earlier this month served as the de facto authority in the besieged Gaza Strip, convened in Cairo on Tuesday for the talks. Head of the PA delegation Azzam al-Ahmad and head of the Hamas delegation Saleh al-Arouri signed the agreement, which focused on fully implementing the PA’s authority over Gaza, and joint management of the enclave’s border crossings. According to al-Ahmad, Hamas and Fatah agreed that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza would be operated by PA presidential guards by November 1.
Several key issues, however, such as the status of Hamas’ military wing, and the future of between 40,000 and 50,000 civil servants that have been hired by Hamas since the faction took over Gaza in 2007.
During a press conference, al-Ahmad said the most important thing moving forward “is to implement the particulars of the agreement so that the government will fully function.” On behalf of Hamas, Al-Arouri said “we promise to implement the reconciliation agreement, and we will do everything to continue the reconciliation,” adding that the agreement will be implemented in stages. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas released a statement shortly after the agreement was signed, welcoming the deal as an “achievement” that “speeds up the process of ending division and regaining unity of Palestinian people, land and institutions.”….
Palestinian joy, doubt at reconciliation deal
GAZA CITY (AFP) 12 Oct — Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza on Thursday to celebrate as the leaders of rival political factions signed a deal to end a decade-long split. Leaders of the secular Fatah and Islamist movement Hamas signed the deal more than 200 miles away in the Egyptian capital Cairo, but thousands of Palestinians poured out onto the streets of the impoverished enclave. In a square in Gaza City, they chanted songs about national unity, while people distributed celebratory sweets. Large signs bearing the faces of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya were held aloft by the crowd. Jihad Seaam, 23, said the announcement had brought new hope. “Young people today are filled with unemployment, poverty and frustration,” he told AFP in Gaza … In the West Bank, too, people welcomed the agreement, though there were no major celebrations in Ramallah, the base of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority. “We hope that it will be a real agreement and that (officials from the two movements) will eliminate the obstacles that are hindering it,” said Siam Nouwwara, a social worker. “Gaza residents are tired, like the residents of the West Bank. There was a feeling of two separate peoples. People weren’t saying ‘Palestine’ any more, but rather ‘Gaza and the West Bank.'”
Hamas and Fatah: How are the two different?
Al Jazeera 12 Oct by Zena Tahhan — … What are their ideologies? Fatah is a reverse acronym for Harakat al-Tahrir al-Filistiniya or Palestinian National Liberation Movement in Arabic. The word Fatah means to conquer. The secular movement was founded in Kuwait in the late 1950s by diaspora Palestinians after the 1948 Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the Zionist movement aiming to create a Jewish modern state in historic Palestine. Fatah was founded by several people, most notably the late president of the Palestinian Authority – Yasser Arafat, aides Khalil al-Wazir and Salah Khalaf, and Mahmoud Abbas, who is the current president of the Palestinian Authority. The movement was premised on the armed struggle against Israel to liberate historic Palestine …. The group’s armed struggle against Israeli occupation began in 1965. Most of its armed operations were carried out from Jordan and Lebanon. Under Yasser Arafat, and after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Fatah became the dominant party in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which comprises numerous Palestinian political parties. The PLO was created in 1964 with the goal to liberate Palestine, and today acts as the representative of the Palestinian people at the United Nations. After being pushed out of Jordan and Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s, the movement underwent a fundamental change, choosing to negotiate with Israel …
Hamas is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya, or Islamic Resistance Movement. The word Hamas means zeal. The Hamas movement was founded in Gaza in 1987 by imam Sheikh Ahmed Yasin and aide Abdul Aziz al-Rantissi shortly after the start of the first Intifada, or Palestinian uprising against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. The movement started as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and created a military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to pursue an armed struggle against Israel with the aim of liberating historic Palestine. It also provided social welfare programmes to Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation. Hamas defines itself as a “Palestinian Islamic national liberation and resistance movement”, using Islam as its frame of reference….
Israel says Hamas must disarm under Palestinian unity deal
JERUSALEM (AFP) 12 Oct — Hamas must disarm and recognise Israel under a Palestinian unity deal announced on Thursday with its rival Fatah aimed at ending their decade-long split, an Israeli government official said. “Any reconciliation between the (Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority) and Hamas must include a commitment to international agreements and to the conditions of the Quartet, first of which is recognising Israel and demilitarising Hamas,” the official said in the Israeli government’s first reaction to the deal signed in Cairo. The official was referring to the diplomatic Quartet on Middle East peace, which includes the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia. The reaction was Israel’s first after the two major Palestinian factions agreed a unity deal in the Egyptian capital on Thursday afternoon, which is supposed to see the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority retake control of Gaza from Islamists Hamas by December 1….
Top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat undergoes lung transplant in Virginia
Haaretz/Jack Khoury 13 Oct — Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the PLO Executive Committee and a former chief Palestinian negotiator, underwent a lung transplant in Virginia on Thursday, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Erekat “is in good condition and all tests were reassuring in terms of his readiness and the readiness of the specialized medical team to conduct the operation,” PLO’s chief representative in Washington, Husam Zomlot, said. Awaiting the surgery, Erekat had flown to a hospital in Washington in the private plane of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. Erekat has used oxygen from a tank for a number of months. In an interview with a Palestinian television station in September, he disclosed, in a weak and shaky voice, that he has had pulmonary fibrosis for five years and that his condition had deteriorated in the past five months. “I need oxygen and I can’t walk, and I’m waiting every day now for a transplant. I have given my fate over to God. I can’t say that I’m not afraid, but I believe in God and I hope that God will help me, and if God decides differently and he wants to take my soul than I’m ready,” Erekat said. Erekat, 62, lives in Jericho. A member of the Fatah Central Committee, he was a senior member of the Palestinian delegation to the 1991 Madrid peace conference and has been in charge of negotiations with Israel since the 1993 Oslo Accords … Erekat is considered an international expert on negotiations and holds a Ph.D. in peace studies from the University of Bradford in Britain.
Palestine qualifies for AFC Asian Cup 2019
HEBRON (WAFA) 11 Oct – Palestine qualified on Tuesday evening for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Final, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates, after beating Bhutan 10-0 in Group D soccer match played in the West Bank city of Hebron. Palestine occupied the top position in the group with 12 points that qualified it for the finals. Bhutan ended at the bottom with zero points. With Oman beating the Maldives 3-1 in the group’s other match on Tuesday, it also sealed a seat to the finals with nine points. This the second time the Palestinian national team, al-Fidaee, makes it to the Asian Cup Final.
Ancient pools near Jerusalem set for renovation
AFP 10 Oct — Ancient pools that provided water to Jerusalem around the time of Jesus are to be restored under a $750,000 renovation funded by the United States, officials said Tuesday. The three Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank were built around the time of Jesus’s birth and were key sources of water for the city, according to research from the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS). The first aqueduct which fed the pools from the south was probably built by Herod the Great between 37 and 4 BC, the study showed. In the 2,000 years since, they have fallen into disrepair and only two of the three are full with water, with the oldest one in poor condition. At least six people have drowned in the unmonitored pools since 1993, according to the IPS. The US Consulate in Jerusalem has provided $750,000 for renovations and hopes to see the pools become part of a major tourism site in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967. “This project is about more than just protecting history. It is about protecting the lives and livelihoods of the people living here today,” US Consul General Donald Blome said. The grant comes at a time when US President Donald Trump is trying to convince Palestinian and Israeli leaders to restart stalled peace negotiations and economic support to the Palestinians has been a key pillar of such attempts….
Belgium suspends aid for Palestinian schools over name row
BRUSSELS (AFP) 10 Oct — Belgium said Tuesday it has suspended education aid projects with the Palestinian Authority after discovering a school it paid for had been named after a woman who led a deadly attack on a bus in 1978. The Belgian foreign ministry said they had recently learned that a school in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron whose construction they financed in 2012 and 2013 had subsequently been renamed the Dalal Mughrabi Elementary School. The name was changed without Belgian knowledge, the ministry said in a statement, adding that the government considered the new name to be “unacceptable”. “Dalal Mughrabi was a Palestinian terrorist who led a terrorist attack against Israel in 1978. This attack caused the death of 38 civilians, including 13 children,” the statement said. “The Belgian government unequivocally condemns the glorification of terrorist attacks. Belgium will not allow itself to be associated with the names of terrorists in any way.” While waiting for an explanation from the Palestinian Authority, the statement said, Belgium has put two school-building projects worth a total of 3.3 million euros ($3.8 million) on hold. The Palestinian mission in Brussels declined to comment on the matter when contacted by AFP.
US justices question Arab Bank liability in militant attacks
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 11 Oct – Conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday signaled concern about allowing companies to be sued under American law for human rights abuses abroad in a case involving allegations that Arab Bank Plc helped finance militant attacks in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both conservatives, indicated that U.S. foreign policy tensions that could arise from such cases would be a reason to curb corporate liability. Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the deciding vote in big cases, also appeared sympathetic to the bank’s arguments. Their remarks during an hour of arguments in the case raised the possibility that the court, with a 5-4 conservative majority, could rule in favor of the Jordan-based bank in the lawsuit seeking to hold it financially liable for the Islamist attacks. The court’s four liberals indicated that corporations should not be immune. Even if the court ruled in favor of the roughly 6,000 plaintiffs suing the bank, the lawsuit could still be dismissed on other grounds once it returns to lower courts. The plaintiffs, appealing a lower court’s ruling blocking the suit, have accused the bank of being the “paymaster” behind attacks including suicide bombings because of its role in processing certain financial transactions. The plaintiffs include relatives of non-U.S. citizens killed in attacks and survivors of the incidents. The plaintiffs said Arab Bank used its New York branch to transfer money that helped Hamas and other groups fund attacks and reward families of the perpetrators between 1995 and 2005….
Al Jazeera admits to planting undercover reporter in US pro-Israel organizations
Haaretz 11 Oct by Amir Tibon — Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned international news network, publicly admitted on Monday that it had installed an undercover reporter inside pro-Israel organizations last year in Washington, D.C., and that it is planning to air a documentary film based on the reporter’s work. The announcement came shortly after a British government regulation agency said Monday it is rejecting complaints against an earlier documentary broadcast by Al Jazeera, in which an undercover reporter joined pro-Israel organizations in the United Kingdom. The British government regulator, Ofcom, said that the network’s reporting, which led to the resignation of an Israeli diplomat who was filmed plotting to “take down” British officials critical of Israel’s policies, was not anti-Semitic … In his interview with The Intercept on Monday, Al Jazeera’s director of investigative reporting did not comment on the identity of the undercover reporter hired by the network to report in the United States. He did state that “I hear the U.S. is having problems with foreign interference these days, so I see no reason why the U.S. establishment won’t take our findings in America as seriously as the British did, unless of course Israel is somehow off limits from that debate.”
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