US threatens to close Palestinians’ DC office amid renewed peace push
AP & Saphora Smith, Abigail Williams of NBC News 18 Nov — The State Department threatened Friday to close the Palestinians’ Washington office unless they enter into direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel. The move could potentially give President Donald Trump more leverage as he seeks an elusive Mideast peace deal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that the Palestinians have run afoul of a U.S. law that allows their mission to the U.S. to function, a State Department official confirmed to NBC News. A condition in the law which allows support funds to be granted to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, or PLO, and for their Washington office to operate is that they do not request the International Criminal Court, or ICC, prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians. Tillerson has judged that the Palestinians violated this provision due to “certain statements made by Palestinian leaders about the ICC,” the official said. A State Department official told The Associated Press that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas crossed the line in September by calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Abbas called for the ICC to “open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people.” However, the same law leaves space for the U.S. president to maneuver — meaning the office wouldn’t have to close. If after 90 days, Trump determines that the Palestinians have entered into “direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel,” then they can keep their office and all restrictions placed on the PLO in the U.S. will be waived, the State Department official told NBC News.”We are hopeful that this closure will be short-lived,” the official said.
Palestinians vow to suspend talks if US closes PLO mission
WASHINGTON (AP) 18 Nov by Josh Lederman & Matthew Lee — The Palestinians threatened on Saturday to suspend all communication with the United States if the Trump administration follows through with plans to close their diplomatic office in Washington. The potential rupture in relations threatens to undermine President Donald Trump’s bid for Mideast peace — a mission he has handed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the U.S. decision was “very unfortunate and unacceptable,” and accused Washington of bowing to pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “at a time when we are trying to cooperate to achieve the ultimate deal.” In a video statement on social media, Erekat said: “We will put on hold all our communications with this American administration.” There was no immediate reaction from the Trump administration. Netanyahu’s office said the closure was “a matter of U.S. law.” U.S. officials had insisted before Erekat’s statement that the move wasn’t aimed at increasing leverage over the Palestinians, but merely the unavoidable consequence of U.S. law. Cutting off ties would carry great risks for the Palestinians. It could antagonize an administration they already suspect is biased toward Israel and put millions of dollars of critical U.S. aid in jeopardy. However, unresponsive Palestinians would deal an embarrassing blow to the Trump administration ahead of an expected peace initiative and potentially prevent it from getting off the ground. Their stance could also complicate U.S. efforts to promote a region-wide approach by bringing together Israel with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab allies in a joint effort against Iran. Arab countries might be reluctant to get too close to Israel in the absence of serious progress on the Palestinian issue….
Dr. Ashrawi: US disqualifying itself as regional peace broker
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Nov — In response to media inquiries concerning the U.S. administration’s refusal to extend the waiver of statutory restrictions on the General Delegation of the PLO to the United States, in Washington D.C., PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi condemned such a move and said, according to the PNN: “Instead of holding Israel liable for its persistent violations of international law and conventions, the U.S. administration and Congress are threatening to punish the Palestinian people because of statements made by President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations and other leaders pertaining to ICC accountability for Israel and for its war crimes in Palestine. It is ironic that the U.S. is taking steps to punish the victim (the occupied) and not the perpetrator of the crime (the occupier). Conditioning the renewal of the waiver on the Palestinians’ sticking to ‘direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel’ is actually superfluous since negotiations are nonexistent, and the current U.S. administration has yet to present any kind of peace initiative. After decades of negotiations, contacts and cooperation, it is unfathomable why American relations with the PLO have not been legally normalized and why the PLO, which is the highest political body in Palestine representing all Palestinians, continues to be subject to that statute, hence to blackmail and coercion …
If President Donald Trump decides not to renew the waiver after ninety days, the U.S. will embolden Israel even further and provide it with greater cover for its lack of compliance and unilateral actions. Such a measure will also disqualify the U.S. from taking any part in peacemaking and undermine its standing in the region and beyond…..”
Arab League approaches US over PLO’s Washington office closure
CAIRO (WAFA) 19 Nov – The Arab League Sunday announced that its Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has approached the US administration after the latter announced it will close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in Washington. The league said in a press statement that Aboul Gheit and Minister of foreign affairs Riyad al-Malki met and discussed the latest developments on the ground and possible means to resume the peace process between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. Al-Malki briefed Aboul Gheit on the official position of the Palestinian Authority regarding the closure of the PLO’s Washington office, saying it will harm the peace process and the role of the US as peace broker. Aboul Gheit’s spokesman said the league is working to maintain official communication channels between the Palestinian Authority and the US administration, especially during these times where the world is anticipating a US peace initiative. Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee, said on Saturday that “the US State Department notified us with an official letter that they cannot certify the continuance opening of the PLO office in Washington D.C. due to the fact that we are pursuing and encouraging the ICC (International Criminal Court).”
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli colonists burn Palestinian lands near Nablus, attack villagers and firefighters
IMEMC 18 Nov — A group of extremist Israeli colonists burnt, Friday, Palestinian agricultural lands in Burin village, southwest of Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, and attacked many villagers and firefighters. The Israeli assailants came from Yitzhar illegal colony and nearby outposts, built on illegally confiscated Palestinian lands, and set fire to olive orchards in the area. The attackers also assaulted many villagers and firefighters, while trying to extinguish fires set in Palestinian lands close to Givat Ronin illegal colonialist outpost. The Palestinians eventually managed to remove the colonists and extinguish the fires.
Peaceful weekly protest suppressed east of Qalqilia
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Nov — Israeli forces, Friday, quelled the weekly and peaceful anti-settlement demonstration in the village of Kufr Qaddoum, to the east of Qalqilia, according to a local activist. Coordinator of the popular resistance committee in the village of Kufr Qaddoum, Murab Shtawi, said Israeli forces used force to suppress demonstrators, who also rallied to protest Israel’s closure of the main road that connects the village of Kufr Qaddoum with the city of Nablus since 2003. Forces used rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters against demonstrators, who responded by burning tires and throwing rocks at the soldiers. No injuries or arrests were reported by WAFA. “Before 2003, the residents of Kufr Qaddoum would use a shorter road to the east in order to come and go to nearby cities and villages. However, as the settlements expanded so that they overwhelmed the road, it became closed for Palestinian use, said Addameer Human rights Association. The only alternative road is roughly six times longer than the previous route, disrupting the villagers’ ability to attend university, their jobs, and other vital aspects of their economic and social wellbeing, noted Addameer. “Three Palestinian deaths relating to the road’s closure occurred between 2004 and 2005,” it said. Although Kufr Qaddoum’s Popular Resistance Committee took their case to the Israeli High Court in 2003, the legal status of the road remains unchanged, stressed Addameer.
Israeli soldiers injure two Palestinians near Qalqilia
IMEMC 18 Nov — Israeli soldiers injured, on Friday evening, two young men, and caused many Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, after the army invaded ‘Azzoun town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia. Media sources said the soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets at many young men who hurled stones at the invading army jeeps. The soldiers also fired gas bombs at homes in the town. Medical sources said the soldiers shot two young men with rubber-coated steel bullets, and caused many Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Furthermore, the soldiers closed the main entrance of the town, and prevented the Palestinians from entering or leaving it.
Israel detains Bil‘in non-violence activist
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 20 Nov – Israeli forces detained early Monday the internationally recognized non-violence peace activist and human rights defender Abdallah Abu Rahmeh following a raid at his home in the village of Bil‘in to the west of Ramallah, according to local sources. The said an army unit raided the village and detained Abu Rahmeh and two others from the same family, identified as Mohammad Adib Abu Rahmeh and Ahmad Mohammad Abu Rahmeh. Abdullah Abu Rahmeh is an internationally recognized peace activist and coordinator of the Bil‘in popular committee against the wall and settlements. He was detained several times in the past for his non-violence activities in his village against Israel’s seizure of Bil‘in land for the construction and expansion of its illegal settlements and the construction of the apartheid barrier that has separated the village from most of its agricultural land.
Israeli soldiers abduct a Palestinian in Halhoul
IMEMC 18 Nov — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Saturday at dawn, one Palestinian from his home in Halhoul town, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The soldiers invaded and searched several homes in the town, especially homes owned by members of the Karja family, and abducted Mohammad Nadi ‘Aqel. The soldiers also tightened the siege on the town, and installed roadblocks on the Hebron’s northern entrance, in addition to the main road leading to Sa‘ir town, northeast of Hebron, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. On Friday evening, the Israeli military completely surrounded and isolated Halhoul, as a collective punishment measure against the entire town, after a Palestinian boy attacked and injured two colonist settlers [one seriously], earlier in the day. The Palestinian has been identified as Ezzeddin Ibrahim Karja, 17, from Halhoul; the soldiers shot him with several live rounds, causing serious wounds.
3 detained for attacking police, Palestinians at protest over car-ramming attack
Times of Israel 19 Nov — Three youths were detained by police Saturday night outside Kiryat Arba during a protest over a Friday car-ramming terror attack in which a resident of the West Bank town was seriously injured. Dozens of members of the close-knit community were holding a demonstration at the entrance to Kiryat Arba when several youths attempted to block traffic on the main road passing the settlement, according to police. Officers clashed with the protesters as they tried to clear them from the road. One was detained for disobeying police orders and another for attacking an officer, police said. Both were released after questioning. A third protester was arrested for allegedly attacking Palestinians in a car stopped on the road. Honenu, a right-wing legal aid organization defending the suspects, said in a statement that police has used “heavy violence” against the protesters.
Even Ezer Holaring, 35, from the Bnei Menashe community in Kiryat Arba, continued Saturday night to be treated in the intensive care ward and was sedated and not yet breathing on his own, the Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem said. Holaring was seriously wounded when he was hit by a car driven by a Palestinian terrorist early in the morning as he stood at the Gush Etzion Junction south of Jerusalem in the West Bank….
Israeli forces detain Palestinian high school students, 14-year-old during raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — Israeli forces detained eight Palestinians, including minors, during predawn raids on Sunday in several areas across the occupied West Bank, according to official Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency. In the northern West Bank, Wafa reported that Israeli soldiers detained a Palestinian “youth” from the Tulkarem district. Three high school students were detained from the Ramallah-area village of Nabi Saleh in the central West Bank, according to Wafa. Meanwhile, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, Wafa reported that Israeli forces detained four Palestinians, including a 14-year-old, after raiding and searching several homes in the town of Beit Ummar.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that six Palestinians were detained overnight. According to United Nations documentation, Israeli forces conducted 166 search and arrest operations across the West Bank between October 24 and November 26.Meanwhile, prisoners’ rights group Addameer recorded 6,198 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of October. The group has estimated that some 40 percent of Palestinian men will be detained by Israel at some point in their lives.
Army abducts five Palestinians, including three children, in Jerusalem
IMEMC 20 Nov — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, five Palestinians, including three children, from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem. The soldiers invaded al-‘Issawiya town, in the center of Jerusalem, searched homes and abducted two children, identified as Nader Mazen Moheisin and Zaki Sultan Obeid. The soldiers also abducted a child from his home in Shu‘fat refugee camp, in Jerusalem, and took him to an interrogation facility. Also, two young men were abducted by the soldiers near the military roadblock close to the main entrance of Shu‘fat refugee camp. In addition, the soldiers invaded Hizma town, northeast of Jerusalem, and searched many homes while interrogating the families. The soldiers also invaded the al-Matar neighborhood, near Qalandia terminal north of Jerusalem. The invasion terrified many families who feared that the soldiers were coming to demolish a local mosque and six residential towers, containing more than 140 apartments, as Israel has recently decided to demolish them due to “their proximity” to the Annexation Wall. The families are still appealing against the Israeli decision to demolish their residences and displace them. It is worth mentioning that thousands of Jerusalemite Palestinians have rented or purchased apartments in areas north of Jerusalem, such as Kafr Aqab, Qalandia, Samiramis and al-Matar, in addition to Shu’fat refugee camp, Ras Khamis, Salam neighborhood, and Ras Shehada, to prevent Israel from revoking their Jerusalem ID cards and residencies.
Also at dawn, the soldiers abducted twenty-one Palestinians in several parts of the occupied West Bank, after the soldiers invaded and ransacked their homes, in addition to breaking into a jewelry store, causing serious damage, and illegally confiscating its belongings.
The Jerusalemite Yazan Husseini – deportation to Akko and detention inside an internal institution
Silwanic 18 Nov — “I miss my parents, brothers and my house in Jerusalem”. Those were the words of 13-year old Yazan Mohammad Husseini who is deported to the city of Akko in northern Palestine and where he is being detained inside an internal institution following an order from the occupation authorities. Since last April, Yazan has been detained, deported and under house-arrest on charges of “making weapons and throwing Molotov Cocktails towards a settlement outpost in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem; his case is still in court. Mohammad Husseini, Yazan’s father, explained to Wadi Hilweh Information Center that his son is deported to the city of Akko and detained inside an internal institution…An institution that is like a prison with high walls, guards on its gates, restrictions on visitation, movement and reports that are handed over to the court by its officials. Leaving the institution is prohibited and only allowed by a court order. Husseini explained that his son was arrested in late April after breaking into his house in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. He was interrogated and released several hours later on condition of house-arrest until completing the legal proceedings against him. He was not allowed to leave the house for any reason and was not allowed to attend his school which only had two months before the end of the school year; he was in 8th grade. His father added that he was transferred to an internal institution in Akko after about two months of confinement in his home….
A game of highway roulette stands between Palestinian schoolchildren and their homes
Haaretz 17 Nov by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Residents of the West Bank village of Qalqas are forced to traverse the busy Highway 60 on a daily basis, without a crosswalk or a traffic light to help them. Six residents have been killed here in two years — Midday in the West Bank village of Qalqas. Hundreds of children spill out of the two primary schools – one for girls, one for boys. The teachers are also done for the day. The swarm of children disperses slowly. Some are swallowed up between houses, others head toward the expressway that separates Qalqas from the suburbs of Hebron, where they live. They follow a makeshift dirt trail that’s been pounded out between the huge stone cubes that the army placed here as a permanent, impassable barrier to cars. Then, positioned at the edge of the busy thoroughfare, the youngsters wait for an opportunity to cross. Vehicles – belonging to settlers and Palestinians alike – hurtle along the highway from both directions … The chance to cross looms every few minutes, when no vehicles are visible either to the east or the west, and the highway can be traversed in relative safety. Some of the children, more experienced in the mission, cross slowly; others dart across in a panic, their large schoolbags flopping on their small backs. Horns blare. Every minute here is a potential disaster. Some of the children are just 5, 6 or 7 years old, but there’s no adult to help them get across. At this spot, where thousands cross the highway every day, there’s no crosswalk, no traffic lights, no overpass or tunnel. After all, these are Palestinians. Even the fact that Qalqas has been effectively imprisoned since 2000, with the road to Hebron blocked so that only a long and winding route leads from the village to that nearby city – this seems totally natural in the occupied land….
Report: ‘Israeli soldiers killed 14 Palestinian children this year’
IMEMC 19 Nov — Marking the World Children’s Day (November 20th) the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have killed 14 Palestinian children since the beginning of this year, while 300 children are still imprisoned by Israel. It said that, according to statements and official data by the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee, Israeli soldiers have abducted 15000 Palestinians, including 4000 children, since the al-Quds Intifada started in late October 2015. The PCBS added that Israel was still holding 300 children captive, facing bad treatment, torture and constant violations, spending their childhoods in prisons, without even the right to education. It quoted detailed data and statistics by Defense for Children International (DCI) confirming that Israeli soldiers have killed 14 Palestinian children, since the beginning of this year, until October 31, compared to 35 children killed by Israeli fire in 2016. It added that three of the slain children, killed in 2017, were 13-15 years of age, and eleven were 16-17 years of age.
Prisoners / Court actions
Court orders Palestinian Authority, terrorists to pay $17 million for deadly 2001 attack
Haaretz 19 Nov by Nir Hasson — The Palestinian Authority and the terrorists who carried out a deadly attack on an Israeli highway in 2001 must pay 62 million shekels ($17.6 million) in damages to the families of the victims, an Israeli court ruled on Sunday. Three Israelis were killed and two young children wounded in the August 2001 attack, which occurred on Route 443 between Jerusalem and Modi’in. Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Yair Drori ruled in October 2014 that the PA was civilly liable for the attack, and on Sunday he handed down his ruling on the amount of damages to be awarded. Drori ordered the PA to pay 40 percent of the total sum, with the rest to be paid by the terrorists themselves. One of the terrorists convicted of the three murders was Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving five life terms in an Israeli prison for these and two other murders, along with other crimes …
Drori ruled in 2014 that the PA was responsible for the attack because it gave the perpetrators money and weapons that were used to carry out the attack. He said the PA had a duty of care regarding those who are liable to be harmed by weapons that are transferred or funded by it, and it must pay compensation to those who were harmed when this duty of care was violated. In its decision, the court said evidence entered by the plaintiffs proved that Barghouti – a senior figure in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement and named as a defendant in the suit – knew about the attack and was briefed about it afterward.
Israel president rejects pardon appeal of soldier who killed prone Palestinian assailant
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 19 Nov — Israel’s president on Sunday turned down a pardon request by an ex-conscript who is serving an serving a 14-month jail term for killing an incapacitated Palestinian assailant. In September, Israel’s military reduced by four months the 18-month jail term of Elor Azaria who was caught on videotape shooting dead a Palestinian who was lying wounded after taking part in a stabbing attack on other Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron in March 2015. A statement issued by President Reuven Rivlin’s office said that he had reviewed the plea and after Azaria had already received reductions to his sentence, it would not be right to grant a pardon. “The president believes … that an additional reduction in punishment would undermine the strength of the military, its values, and of the state of Israel,” part of the statement read. It added that the president understood that Azaria was due to face a parole board shortly and could be released in three months’ time. Azaria became a right-wing cause celebre in Israel, where most Jewish men and women are drafted at 18 for military service. One poll found that nearly half of Israeli Jews believe any Palestinian attacker should be killed on the spot….
Restriction of movement / Residency
The colour-coded Israeli ID system for Palestinians
Al Jazeera 18 Nov by Linah Alsaafin — As Israel expanded its control and occupation over four territories in the aftermath of the Six Day War, it devised a system of population control that remains in place five decades later. After the 1967 war, the Israeli military declared the occupied territories to be closed areas, making it mandatory for Palestinian residents to obtain permits to enter or leave. Palestinians who were abroad during that time missed out on the subsequent population census and were not granted identification papers. The clear delineator that has separated and dictated the lives of these Palestinians is the colour-coded identification system issued by the Israeli military and reinforced in 1981 through its Civil Administration branch. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip have green IDs – generally issued once they turn 16 – while Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Israel have blue IDs. The cards affect everything from freedom of movement to family unity.
Tool of control — IDs are still issued by the Israeli military, despite the 1993 arrival of the Palestinian Authority government, noted Tahseen Elayyan, head of monitoring and documentation for the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq. “When it comes to the West Bank and Gaza Strip IDs, the role that the PA plays is more of a secretarial role, such as printing them out,” he told Al Jazeera. “Ultimately, it is the Civil Administration in the Bet Il settlement who decides to issue them, based on whether the Palestinian is included in the population census.” Miriam Marmur, international communications coordinator for the Gisha human rights organisation, said that Israel’s control of the Palestinian population registry has been central to its efforts to control movement and demographics in the occupied Palestinian territories. “Power over Palestinians’ residency status is used as a tool of control,” she said. “Palestinians must be included in the Palestinian population registry to obtain ID cards and passports.” In the occupied West Bank, Marmur added, Palestinians must have their IDs for internal travel, due to the checkpoints interspersed within the territory. This system has drawn comparisons to laws in apartheid South Africa designed by whites to control the movement of blacks and mixed-race people and to keep them in inferior positions….
Egypt opens Gaza border for first time since unity deal
AFP 18 Nov — Egypt opened its largely sealed border with Gaza on Saturday after a reconciliation agreement with Hamas gave the Palestinian Authority control over the crossing for the first time since 2007. A Palestinian official at the Rafah crossing said it had opened at 0700 GMT and was expected to stay open for three days. “Egypt will open the crossing for humanitarian cases registered with the interior ministry,” the official said, adding that civilian and security personnel on the Palestinian side were all employees of the reconciliation government headed by prime minister Rami Hamdallah. Up to 20,000 people from Gaza have applied to enter Egypt. Ten buses had crossed over in the first four hours. Iyad Abu al-Kheer, 46, who was travelling to Romania through Egypt, said that Gazans were “suffering from a blockade for 11 years.” “All our (medical) treatments and such things have to go through this crossing,” he said. Kheer expressed hope the border crossing would remain open for good. “Things are going well and everyone can travel and start their business and their lives,” he said. Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip had been totally sealed since August, and was largely closed for years before that. So far this year the border has been open on 14 days, according to the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza….
Family of assassinated Tunisian Hamas member demands justice
AFP 18 Nov — The family of a murdered Tunisian described by Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas as a long-time member called on the authorities Friday to release details of the investigation into his killing. Unknown gunmen shot dead engineer Mohamed Zouari with a hail of bullets outside his house in central Tunisia in December 2016. Hamas, which said the 49-year-old engineer and drone expert had worked with it for a decade, at the time blamed Israel for the killing. On Thursday, it said Israeli spies had used Bosnian passports to enter Tunisia and assassinate Zouari, who also held Belgian citizenship. His widow Majda Saleh on Friday slammed the authorities for their “big silence” over his death. “I want justice to be done for Mohamed Zouari,” she told Mosaique FM radio station. “We are aware that Israel is behind his assassination, but specific parties are also involved,” she said. “Who are they?” “I hope that the Tunisian government will not close (Zouari’s) file and that it will resume the investigation,” said Saleh, who is Syrian but has applied for Tunisian nationality….
Palestinian fishing boats attacked off Beit Lahia coast
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Nov — The Israeli navy opened fire on Thursday towards Palestinian fishermen’s boats off Beit Lahia coast, in the northern Gaza Strip. Local sources pointed out, according to Al Ray, that the Israeli navy targeted Palestinian fishing boats with heavy fire in order to prevent them from fishing, even within the allowed fishing distance of 6 nautical miles.
Family of Israeli held captive in Gaza Strip meets Trump envoy at White House
i24NEWS 16 Nov — The family of Avera Mengistu, an Israeli civilian held captive by the Hamas Islamist group in the Gaza Strip, met with the US special envoy to the Middle East at the White House on Wednesday to discuss efforts for releasing their son. “Today I welcomed the family of Avera Mengistu to the White House,” Greenblatt tweeted along with a picture of a young Avera. “Avera has been held by Hamas in Gaza for over 1,000 days since he disappeared in September, 2014. It is outrageous that Hamas will not let him return home or communicate with his family,” Greenblatt continued. The special envoy, who has been appointed by Trump with the task of reviving moribund peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, also tweeted a prayer in both Hebrew and English in the hope of giving strength to Mengistu and return him safely to his family. Hamas is believed to be holding captive at least two Israelis, Avraham (Avera) Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayeed, who entered Hamas-controlled Gaza during periods of poor mental health in 2014 and 2015 respectively. A third Israeli, Jumma Abu Ghanima, has not been heard from since he was spotted entering the blockaded enclave in July 2016 … Ilan Mengistu told the Times of Israel that the difficulty in pushing it up the political agenda is down to an apathetic stance taken by Israel, possibly pertaining to their Ethiopian heritage and low socioeconomic status.
Strategy to ‘suffocate’ Gaza Strip revealed in Israeli govt documents from Six Day War
RT 19 Nov — Israel has released declassified documents from after the Six Day War which reveal the government’s plans to starve Gaza and its controversial plans to deal with the Palestinians. The declassified documents were released on the Israel State Archives on Thursday and include hundreds of pages of minutes from cabinet meetings between August and December 1967, soon after the Six Day War ended the previous June … The documents provide insight into the Israeli government’s strategy for dealing with the Palestinian people and show it was unprepared for the aftermath of its victory. Some of the revelations are jarring in light of the current standoff in Israeli-Palestinian relations, from the continued stalling on a two-state solution to ongoing settlement expansion and the almost “unlivable” situation in Gaza, the documents provide numerous premonitions for what was to come … Gaza’s ‘suffocation and imprisonment’ — A UN envoy and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron are among those who have compared Gaza to an open-air prison, but it appears that the Israeli government has long intended for that to be the case. “Precisely because of the suffocation and imprisonment there, maybe the Arabs will move from the Gaza Strip,” Eshkol said, Mondoweiss reports. “Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither,” he added, in a suggestion that appears to fit the UN definition of genocide, which includes “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
Israel to demolish Palestinian structures in Hebron Hills
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — Israeli authorities reportedly notified Palestinians on Sunday of a decision to demolition residential and agricultural structures in the south Hebron Hills, or Masafer Yatta area, of the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. [According to the] official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency, Israeli forces handed a written demolition notice to locals in the area against a number of residential structures and a livestock barns in the village of Khirbet Shaab al-Butum. According to Wafa, the barns were built with funding from the European Union.
Khirbet Shaab al-Butum is among dozens of small communities located in the Masafer Yatta area which fall within Israel’s “Firing Zone 918,” and inside the occupied West Bank’s Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and security control. Palestinians are prohibited from entering firing zones without rarely granted permission from Israeli authorities, which has had “a serious humanitarian impact on Palestinian civilians and dramatically reduced the land available to them for residential and livelihood uses,” according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Masafer Yatta residents were expelled at the time of the establishment of the firing zone in the 1970s and were eventually allowed back following a long court battle, but are under the constant threat of being expelled or seeing their homes demolished. In 2016, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Palestine warned of a heightened risk of the forcible transfer of Bedouins in the occupied West Bank, amid an unprecedented surge in demolitions and land confiscations across the occupied territory this year….
Israeli forces deliver evacuation notices to 300 Palestinians in Bedouin village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Nov — Israeli authorities on Friday reportedly distributed evacuation notices to all 300 Palestinian residents of the Bedouin village of Jabal al-Baba in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. Wafa reported that staff from Israel’s civil administration, backed by Israeli army, reportedly stormed the village and ordered its residents to leave their homes. Jabal Al-Baba, according to Wafa, consists of 100 buildings, 58 of which are houses, while the rest are structures used for agriculture. “Because the community is unrecognized, the people in Jabal al-Baba live without electricity and get water only from tanks filled by trucks,” Wafa said. Israeli forces have demolished dozens of homes in Jabal al-Baba area, many of them built with assistance from the EU and humanitarian organizations, over the past few years. In August, Israeli forces demolished a kindergarten school in the village … Jabal al-Baba, like other Bedouin communities in the region, is under threat of forcible transfer by Israel for being located in the contentious “E1 corridor” set up by the Israeli government to link annexed East Jerusalem with the mega settlement of Maale Adumim. Israeli authorities plan to build thousands of homes for Jewish-only settlements in E1, which would effectively divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state — as envisaged by the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — almost impossible….
Entire Bedouin village faced with forced displacement
Al Jazeera 18 Nov by Jaclynn Ashly — An entire village consisting of dozens of Palestinian Bedouin families is threatened with imminent forced displacement, after Israel issued a rare evacuation order for the whole community. Jabal al-Baba, which lies to the east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, is home to more than 300 people …
Israel’s new strategy — Jabal al-Baba is situated in the heart of Israel’s contentious E1 plan, which aims to connect the illegal mega-settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem – settlements are considered illegal under international law. The plan would further isolate occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and sever the Palestinian territory from north to south … But the latest Israeli order is a break from the routine in Jabal al-Baba. The evacuation order issued on the community is one typically used to evict unauthorised Israeli settler outposts constructed in the occupied West Bank. Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, a researcher for Israeli NGO Bimkom, told Al Jazeera the recent use of the order on Palestinian communities is aimed at speeding up the expulsion of Palestinian residents … The evacuation order necessitates fewer legal proceedings than previous demolition orders placed on the community, and allows for Israel to target the entire village, rather than specific homes and structures, Cohen-Lifshitz explained. Last week, Israel used a similar order as in Jabal al-Baba on two Palestinian villages in the Jordan Valley, prompting Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher for Israeli NGO Ir Amim, to conclude that “this is not a one-time thing or a targeting of a specific area”. “It’s a new method Israel has decided to use against Palestinians.” … Tatarsky said that regardless of the evacuation being linked to Israel’s plans to expand Maale Adumim, Israel’s “bottom line” in Area C is to “push Palestinians towards the Area A and B enclaves”, which comprise the remaining 40 percent of the West Bank.”… “Israel wants to make the number of Palestinians in Area C as small as it can,” said Tatarsky….
Seven years after Israeli forces destroy mosque, Muslim worshipers ordered to pay $37,000
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Nov — Israeli occupation authorities have ordered Muslim worshipers to pay NIS130,000 ($37,000), seven years after destroying their mosque in Rahat, southern Israel. Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court ruled, according to Days of Palestine, that the founders and operators of the mosque would pay the fine as a compensation to the state of Israel. The lawsuit was filed by the Southern District Public Prosecutor’s Office against eight residents of Rahat who were members of the mosque committee, and demanded compensation of NIS459,500 ($130,000). Muslim worshipers, who are original Palestinian residents, [who] remained at home when Zionists occupied Palestine in 1948, built it to fulfill their needs. They apparently applied for the needed licenses to build the mosque, but were refused. Occupation authorities claim that the mosque was illegally built in 2010, by the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, on public property. Six months after it was built, the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court and District Court marked the 400-square meter structure for demolition. According to the state, the defendants initiated and conducted false procedures to delay and obstruct the evacuation, and even called on the public to oppose the demolition. The defendants said that they had exhausted the legal procedures for preventing the mosque’s destruction and gave up, after the mosque was set to be demolished.
UN official calls on Israel to stop destroying Palestinian property, respect international law
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Nov — A senior UN official called, on Friday, for the Israeli occupation to stop destroying Palestinian property and respect international law — The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper, today condemned the demolition and confiscation of donor-funded humanitarian assistance by the Israeli authorities in the Palestinian community of Jabal al-Baba. On 16 May, Israeli authorities demolished seven homes and confiscated materials for three other ones. Nine Palestine refugee families, comprising 49 members were left without shelter as a result, 22 of them children. According to Days of Palestine, the materials were part of a humanitarian aid package for vulnerable Palestinian Bedouin families, provided by the UN’s Humanitarian Pooled Fund, earlier this year. “Despite the obligation on Israel under international law to facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of relief to those who need it, humanitarian relief to vulnerable communities like Jabal al-Baba is increasingly under attack,” said Piper … The destruction of homes and of livelihoods creates pressures on households to move, exacerbating the risk of forcible transfer which would be considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Israeli settler group crowdfunds to build new outpost in Hebron
MEE 17 Nov — Israeli settlers have launched a crowdfunding campaign to build a new settlement in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. The campaign aimed to raise one million shekels ($284,490) in 24 hours, but failed to do so. By Friday afternoon, a day after it was launched, 695,612 shekels had been donated. On its web page, the campaign said that it had received an official Israeli permit to build the new settlement. It thanked a group called “Hebron Friends Fund” who said it would double the final sum donated. “You donate, and Jewish communities abroad will duplicate your donation,” said the campaign. A video under the title “Together we build our fathers’ city,” ran on the campaign’s web page. It encouraged donors in Israel and abroad to give money to build settlement units in Hebron … A donor who gave 800 shekels ($227) wrote: “Thank you for saving the nation of Israel and the land of Israel. God bless you. A million Jews will settle in Hebron in the upcoming years.” The webpage did not give details of when and where this new settlement will be built….
Israeli Jews hold rare prayers at West Bank holy site
HALHUL (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 19 Nov — Hundreds of Israeli Jews held a rare prayers session by a mosque in a Palestinian village on the occupied West Bank early Sunday, an AFP photographer said. The Israeli army accompanied busses carrying over 300 ultra-Orthodox men, mostly from the Breslov Hassidic sect, to Younis mosque in Halhul, north of Hebron, where according to Jewish tradition biblical prophets Gad and Nathan are buried. One worshipper told AFP it was the first time in 18 years that Jews were allowed to pray at the site, deep in a Palestinian-controlled area. A military spokeswoman said the army and police forces accompanying the worshippers were attacked by Palestinians hurling “rocks and firebombs”, with the forces responding with riot dispersal means to “prevent further escalation”. No injuries were reported, the spokeswoman said. According to tradition, the graves are located inside the mosque, but the Jewish worshippers did not enter the holy site, rather held an hour of pre-dawn prayers on the road outside before leaving, the photographer said. There are a number of sites holy to Jews in Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank that are the site of pilgrimages. Most popular are Rachel’s tomb near Bethlehem and the tomb of Joseph in Nablus. On Friday, a Palestinian from Halhul rammed his car into Israeli civilians nearby, wounding two before trying to stab soldiers and being shot. The army arrested a number of his family members and imposed a partial closure on the village, which by Sunday had been lifted, the army said..
Nick Cave plays Israel to ‘take stand’ against boycotters
JERUSALEM (AP) 19 Nov by Ian Deitch — Nick Cave, the dark poet of rock, on Sunday accused the anti-Israel boycott movement of trying to bully musicians and said he was taking a “principled stand” by performing in the country. The Australian artist, known for music that can be both melancholic and uplifting, is popular in Israel and is set to perform a pair of nearly sold-out shows. At a news conference, Cave spoke about the pressure on artists by the international movement that seeks to ostracize Israel by lobbying corporations, performers and academic institutions to sever ties with the Jewish state. He said record producer Brian Eno had asked him three years ago to sign a boycott list. “On a very intuitive level I did not want to sign that list, there was something that stunk to me about that list,” Cave said. He said it felt “cowardly” not to play in Israel and after much thought and consideration, he decided to play Israel on his tour this year. “So at the end of the day there are two reasons why I am here. One is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people and two is to make a principled stand against anyone who wants to censor and silence musicians,” Cave said. “So really you could say in a way that the BDS made me play Israel,” he said….
Opinion: Nick Cave is wrong to perform in Israel / Rima Nasir
Al Jazeera 16 Nov — As a Palestinian musician living under Israeli military rule, the news that Nick Cave plans to perform in Israel on November 19 and 20 has hit me hard. Nick Cave is a musician who is known for his progressive politics and who has expressed support for Palestinian rights. He has raised money for Palestinian refugee children, called for a military embargo to be imposed on Israel and written in support of activists who shut down an Israeli arms factory in the UK. This makes it all the harder to accept that he is scheduled to violate the boycott call made by Palestinian civil society and that he is not responding to renowned figures from around the world, including Roger Waters, Mike Leigh, Thurston Moore and Angela Davis, who have urged him to refrain from performing in Tel Aviv. Regardless of his politics and his best intentions, his performance there would help Israel present itself as an open and vibrant society and cover up its decades-old oppression that us Palestinians have been suffering under. His performance would also allow Israel to think that the world will continue with business as usual while it subjugates millions of us and denies our basic human rights. It’s no secret that Israel systematically uses performances by artists to normalise its racist, discriminatory system that oppresses me, my loved ones and every Palestinian….
The bogus anti-BDS hysteria / MJ Rosenberg
HuffPost 17 Nov — The absurdity of the Israeli lobby’s war against the BDS movement (i.e. the effort to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel as a means of protesting the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza) becomes more obvious every day. That is unless you recognize the anti-BDS hysteria as not really about BDS at all, but about organizing college students into a force that will ultimately take over from their parents as members of the Israel lobby, more precisely AIPAC and its satellite organizations. That is the lobby that is the foreign policy equivalent of the National Rifle Association. Both lobbies have a stranglehold on Congress and both exist to ensure that no one challenges it. Few do. Even fewer succeed. As the leader of the lobby’s effort to kill dissent on Israel himself has said (see this clip from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency) AIPAC’s job is to do to the campus what it has succeeded in doing in Washington: shut down all dissent on Israel, by any means necessary. Hence the hysteria about this week’s vote by the student government of the University of Michigan in favor of a resolution calling on the university to divest itself of stocks in three companies which sell Israel some of the tools it uses to maintain the occupation (specifically to control the Palestinian population in the West Bank and maintain the Gaza blockade). The three companies are Boeing, Hewlett-Packard and United Technologies, all three members in good standing of what President Dwight Eisenhower labelled the “military industrial complex,….
Jordan, PA unite forces with Israel to fight natural disasters
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 17 Nov by Ahmad Melhem — A joint training on Oct. 24 in Israel between the Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli civil defense units has been stirring accusations in Palestine of normalization. This training was held amid frozen security coordination between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel, which was halted in July following security measures at the Temple Mount. Coordination fully resumed between the two sides on Oct. 27. More than 400 people from Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Spain, Italy and France participated on Oct. 24-25 in a two-day, wide-scale exercise dubbed “Middle East Forest Fires” between Hebron in the West Bank and Beersheba within the green line. The event was held under the auspices of the EU and aimed at beefing up mechanisms to address natural disasters … The ultimate goal is to save lives and preserve nature, without allowing national affiliations to get in the way. Palestinian political parties, bodies and committees have always criticized cooperation between the PA and Israeli institutions. This joint training received its share of criticism, as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) condemned the Palestinian and Jordanian cooperation in the training as an act of normalization….
Israel trip raises conflict of interest concerns
BOSTON (Eagle-Tribune) 17 Nov — A group of [Massachusetts] lawmakers are visiting Israel next month on a trip financed by groups trying to block a growing movement to boycott that country, raising questions about a potential conflict of interest. The eight-day trip, paid for by the Jewish Community Relations Council, will include visits to Israeli communities and Palestinian territories, as well as an itinerary filled with meetings with government officials, academics, journalists, security officials and others. But pro-Palestinian groups and others say the visit will offer a one-sided view of the Middle East conflict and represents a conflict for lawmakers who are now debating a proposal to ban the investment of state pension funds in companies that boycott Israel. That proposal is being driven by the same Jewish Community Relations Council that is sponsoring the trip. “This is a clear conflict of interest,” said Susan Nicholson, a retired Gloucester attorney and member of the nonprofit group Massachusetts Peace Action. “This group wrote that bill, and now it’s taking lawmakers who will vote on this highly controversial proposal on an expensive junket. We hope they will reconsider going.”….
PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (9-15 November)
PCHR-Gaza 16 Nov — Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory — Israeli forces continued to apply the collective punishment policy A house belonging to the family of Nemer al-Jamal was blown up in Beit Sorik village, northwest of occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces conducted 89 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 7 similar incursions in Jerusalem. 82 civilians, including 20 children and 2 women, were arrested. 34 of them, including 19 children and the 2 women, were arrested in Jerusalem and its suburbs. Israeli forces continue to target the border areas in the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported. Israeli authorities continue to make a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. A shop and part of a house were self-demolished in Silwan village. Israeli forces demolished an under-construction building and agricultural facility in al-‘Issawiyah village. A storehouse was demolished, and a container was confiscated in al-Joz Valley neighbourhood. Israeli forces continue settlement activities in the West Bank A waterline supplying 250 dumums planted with onion was levelled in al-Baqi’ah area in the Northern Jordan Valley. A road was built for military purposes, and 300 meters of the road between ‘Atouf and al-Ras al-Ahmar were destroyed. Israeli forces continued to target the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. 4 shooting incidents targeting the Palestinian fishing boats occurred in the Northern Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported. 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. 14 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, were arrested at the checkpoints in the West Bank. [details follow]
Palestinians speak out on anniversary of Resolution 242
Al Jazeera 19 Nov by Mersiha Gadzo — The Six-Day War in June 1967 culminated in Israel’s capture of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Apart from the Sinai Peninsula, the territories remain occupied to this day. The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 242 on November 22, 1967, calling for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”. It emphasised “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security”. While all parties ultimately accepted the resolution, it took two decades for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to do so. The PLO criticised the resolution for viewing Palestinians only as refugees, and not as a people with national rights. Al Jazeera spoke with Palestinians to find out how they view Resolution 242 a half-century since its adoption.
Mariam Bargouthi, Ramallah-based writer and activist: “UN Resolution 242 lays the cornerstone for Israeli policy to call for its legitimacy without actually moving forward towards a just peace. It epitomises all UN resolution efforts, to lay in the dustbin of history as Israeli violations continue…
Diana Buttu, Haifa-based analyst and former legal adviser to Palestinian negotiators: “It’s a resolution that ended up very sadly and most unfortunately legitimating Israel’s illegal takeover of Palestinian land. Between the period of before 1948 and in the period between 1948 and 1967, the Israelis ended up taking more land than had even been allotted to them under the partition plan. Resolution 242 begins the process of legitimating this takeover of land….
US approves financial siege on Hamas
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Nov — The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the US House of Representatives yesterday approved a law against the Hamas movement practicing what it called “terrorist activities,” and claimed that it used Gaza civilians as human shields. Members of the committee stressed that there must be a financial siege on Hamas, and that sanctions must be imposed on whoever supports it, adding that its international financial transactions must be monitored. Republican Representative Ed Royce said that, from the moment the law was put into debate, Qatar, which has been hosting [Hamas leader] Saleh al-Arori since he was ousted from Turkey in 2016, has arranged for him and another group of leaders to leave the country. Royce claimed that Hamas blatantly ignores the lives of Palestinians it is supposed to represent by using them as human shields in times of conflict. The resolution was drafted with the assistance of the American-Israel Public Relations Committee (AIPAC). The committee also approved the law of cutting financial aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if it continues to pay the prisoners’ allowances. Members of the Committee unanimously voted on the bill, paving the way for a vote by all members of the Council. To become law, the bill must pass the full House and Senate, and be signed into law by President Donald Trump … The copy of yesterday’s version includes an exception to the support for East Jerusalem hospitals and water projects in the West Bank, one of the issues promoted by US President Donald Trump to resume the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, as well as financing child vaccination.
Will this Palestinian organization weather funding storm?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 19 Nov by Rasha Abou Jalal — The Women’s Technical Affairs Committee (WATC) issued a press statement Oct. 29 saying that the European Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (HR/IHL Secretariat) decided to entirely defund the organization on the grounds of incitement to violence against Israel. The HR/IHL Secretariat is a joint donor program sponsored by four European governments, namely Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, and is dedicated to supporting Palestinian and Israeli nongovernmental organizations in bringing about real and sustainable societal change while applying human rights based approaches. Al-Monitor attempted to contact the HR-IHL Secretariat representatives in the Palestinian territories to no avail. No official statements have been issued regarding the decision to defund the WATC organization. Samia Bamya, the chairperson of WATC, told Al-Monitor that the secretariat recently decided to defund her organization because of the organization’s participation in the May 15 establishment of a women’s center named after Palestinian Dalal Mughrabi. The center for culture and community was established to serve the people of the town of Burqa in Nablus, north of the West Bank. At 20 years old, Mughrabi led a 1978 attack to hijack an Israeli bus. The attack killed more than 30 Israelis, while Mughrabi, among other fighters, were also killed. The operation came as a shock for Israel, which is still withholding Mughrabi’s body to date. Bamya said, “The HR/IHL Secretariat asked the WATC organization to take a stance against the name, and when we decided to respect the choice of the people of the Burqa town to name their center after [Mughrabi], the secretariat used our position as a pretext to defund our organization.”….
New Zealand’s lifesaving aid to Palestine dries up
Newshub 18 Nov by Tova O’Brian — New Zealand has contributed millions of dollars towards clearing mine fields in Palestine, but the money has just dried up. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the scars of war are everywhere. It’s been three-and-a-half years since the last war in Gaza in 2014, but the situation is still highly volatile. The part of the strip closest to Israel isn’t considered worth reconstructing because of the threat of further destruction, and even in homes that have been rebuilt families live with the expectation their houses will come down again. “Because we are living in Gaza and we expect it any time… this house will be destroyed, the war will come back,” says Mohammed Al Sirsik. He was in his bedroom with his five sons when a bomb came through the ceiling in the last war. Remarkably, they survived, but had to live and sleep with a 130kg explosive rocket embedded in the floor. “Even if the guns have stopped shooting, and the bombs have stopped dropping you still have a very real physical memory of the conflict. It’s very difficult for communities to move on from that,” says Sasha Logie of the UN Mine Action Service. It’s cleared 149 large aerial bombs from Gaza since 2014. New Zealand’s contributed money to Mine Action, but none went to Gaza – it all went to the West Bank. The problems there are different, but just as deadly. Jordanian mine fields from before the 1967 Six-Day War still remain … New Zealand contributed more than $3 million to HALO in the West Bank. Of the total mines found at a-Nabi Elyus, 23 anti-tank and 107 antipersonnel mines were found on New Zealand’s dime … But as of February, New Zealand’s money – and diplomacy – dried up. HALO Trust programme manager Ronen Shimoni says any donors would be welcome and is hopeful New Zealand can contribute again, to help create normality and safety for people stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of violence and war.
Israel expolits abused woman as propaganda
EI 17 Nov by Maureen Clare Murphy — Israeli propaganda would have you believe that its rule over the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not a belligerent military occupation, but a mechanism by which it is improving Palestinian lives. And so would, apparently, the European ambassadors frequently seen smiling and shaking hands with the bureaucrats of Israel’s military occupation on social media. On Thursday, COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation, posted a photo on Facebook said to show a Palestinian woman and her young children, their faces blurred out. Accompanying the photo were a few paragraphs of text explaining that the woman had asked Israeli police at the Qalandiya military checkpoint (euphemistically called a “crossing” in the COGAT post) for relief from her abusive husband. COGAT claims in the post that officers pooled money to buy new shoes for the children and gave the family food and a place to rest. “We felt a duty to help a mother and her children in their distress. This is part of our work,” the post quotes an unnamed policeman as saying. COGAT claims that the woman “was moved by the help of the Israeli policemen,” and quotes her as telling them: “Thank you very much, I knew that here we would be helped and feel safe.”
Shameless propaganda — It is not the only example of shameless propaganda on COGAT’s social media platforms. COGAT has produced upbeat videos about the Palestinian olive harvest purporting to show how the body provides coordination so that farmers can access their land – never mind that it is Israel which hinders access in the first place. COGAT publishes photos of ill Palestinian children, boasting about how it has facilitated their medical treatment in Israeli hospitals or abroad – omitting mention that children in Gaza have died awaiting permission from Israel to access treatment outside the territory….
Israeli minister: We have secret ties with ‘many’ Arab states
JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 Nov — An Israeli cabinet minister said on Sunday that Israel had covert ties with “many” Arab and Muslim states but was obliged not to name them at the other sides’ request. A rare interview given by the head of Israel’s armed forces to a Saudi-owned news site was published on Thursday, further fuelling talk of close links. It followed previous broad hints by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and accusations by Hezbollah that Saudi Arabia was pushing Israel to attack the Lebanese Shiite group.”We have ties, some of them secret, with many Arab and Muslim states,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israeli army radio on on Sunday. “Usually the one who wants those ties to be discreet is the other side,” he said in response to a question about ties with Riyadh. “We respect the wishes of the other side when contacts are developing, whether it is with Saudi Arabia or other Arab or Muslim countries.” Although Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official diplomatic relations, they share a common enemy in Iran, with both seeking to limit the Islamic republic’s expanding influence in the Middle East. Netanyahu has also spoken repeatedly and with pride about growing rapprochement with “moderate Arab states” without naming them, although he is assumed to be referring to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies….
Opinion: Why Saudi-Israeli normalization could be dangerous / Ibrahim Fraihat
Al Jazeera 19 Nov — Driven by succession plans and a strategy to confront Iran’s influence in the Arab region, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) has engaged in several taboo-breaking steps. These include the arrest of dozens of princes and ministers and a process of normalising relations, at least partially, with Israel. But taking concrete measures to end the Arab boycott of Israel, without reaching a just solution to the Palestinian issue first, will be detrimental to both Palestine and Saudi Arabia … To “legitimise” steps taken to normalise relations with Israel, Saudi Arabia summoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh last week, to convince him to accept a peace plan put forward by US President Donald Trump’s special adviser, Jared Kushner. Saudi-Israeli collaboration is an integral part of that plan …Abbas’ cooperation is essential for Saudi-Israeli normalisation to proceed; without it, the Saudi move would be seen as a betrayal to the Arab and Muslim position on Palestine. Although not much has been revealed about what really happened during Abbas’ visit to Riyadh, some reports talk about the Saudi leadership pressuring Abbas to accept whatever plan Kushner puts forward, or to resign … Pushing through with the Kushner deal would mean acting against the consensus of Arab and Muslim countries, which reject normalisation with Israel without a fair and just solution to the Palestinian cause … If MBS proceeds with the plan, he risks Saudi Arabia’s leading position in the Islamic world being delegitimised. His father, King Salman, the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, will appear to be conceding on the third holiest site for Muslims – al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. If he normalises relations with Israel, MBS will be giving Tehran the strongest hand to play against Riyadh, in Iran’s efforts to delegitimise Saudi Arabia in the Muslim world.
IFC to develop key facilities at King Hussein Bridge crossing
AMMAN (Jordan Times) 16 Nov — The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, on Thursday signed an agreement with Jordan to help improve trade and passenger flow between the West Bank and Jordan by expanding and refurbishing facilities at a key crossing point through a public-private partnership (PPP). IFC will provide advisory services to Ministry of Public Works and Housing to develop the new King Hussein Bridge crossing terminal, it said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times on Thursday. The aim is to engage the private sector in constructing and operating new facilities at the terminal, currently the only crossing point for West Bank residents to travel abroad. Existing facilities at the crossing terminal are straining to cope with increased traffic and cargo, with 97,000 cargo trucks and 2.2 million people travelling through the crossing in 2016, the statement said. The IFC team will conduct a legal, technical, commercial, environmental and social review of the project to help develop a robust PPP transaction structure and appropriate risk allocation for the public and private sectors, the statement said….