2013 was record year in new settlement construction, and 2014 rate is already higher

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Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Figures show: Peace talks and settlement construction go hand in hand
972mag 7 Mar by Noam Sheizaf — Successive Israeli governments have argued for years that settlements are not an obstacle to peace. The data tells a different story. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics revealed earlier this week that 2013 was a record year in settlement construction, while 2014 has seen the beginning of construction of 2,534 housing projects – a rise of 123 percent from 2013 … The only other years in which the number of building projects surpassed 2,000 structures were 2003, 2005 and 2008. The interesting thing is that aside from 2003, these were all years in which there was so-called “progress” made between Israel and the Palestinian Authority vis-a-vis peace negotiations. For example, 2005 was the year of the disengagement, while 2008 saw direct negotiations between Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert (the Annapolis summit, which began the process, took place in November 2007). And while there is no earlier data on construction in the occupied territories, it is worth noting that during the Oslo process (from the signing of the first agreement in 1993 to the Taba summit in 2001) the number of settlers almost doubled – from 116,300 to 208,300, not including the Jewish neighborhoods in annexed East Jerusalem.

In the West Bank, rise in settlement housing starts and demolition orders of Palestinian homes
LUBBAN AL-SHARKIYEH, West Bank (AP) 5 Mar by Karin Laub — Ahmed Awais is desperate to get out of his parents’ cramped home where he, his wife and three preschool children share one room, sleeping on mattresses on the floor. Six months ago, the Palestinian laborer began building a small house on land owned by his family. But last week his dream of a more comfortable life came to a halt. An Israeli army jeep pulled up at his construction site on the outskirts of Lubban al-Sharkiyeh and officials handed him a stop-work order with a date for a demolition hearing. Awais, 30, like others in his village, hadn’t bothered to ask for a building permit since Israel rarely grants them to Palestinians. On a nearby hilltop, on the other side of a main West Bank highway, the Israeli settlement of Eli continues to grow, with about 20 apartments currently under construction … “The settlers are building homes. Each of their boys and girls has a room and even the dog has a room,” Awais said. But if the hearing goes against him, the modest structure on his own small plot will likely be bulldozed. “This is my land and I am not allowed to build in it,” he said, taking a break from mixing concrete.

Israeli forces level private Palestinian land in Jordan Valley
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 6 Mar – Israeli forces started a far-reaching campaign leveling private Palestinian lands in the northern Jordan Valley, local residents told Ma‘an. A member of a local tribal committee Abdul-Latif Ishtayya said that more than 40 military vehicles escorted dozens of settlers who brought bulldozers and started to level private Palestinian lands in Beit Hassan neighborhood. The assaulted area, he added, includes more than 700 acres of private land belonging to the al-Masri family.  Ishtayya said settlers are likely to occupy the area and establish a new settlement.

Israeli forces demolish Bedouin homes in Negev
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Bulldozers escorted by a large contingent of Israeli forces demolished homes belonging to Bedouin citizens of Israel in al-Zaarura village in the Negev on Wednesday morning. Eyewitness Muhammad Abu Judah told Ma‘an that Israeli forces and police officers accompanied bulldozers as they approached al-Zaarura village from the west. Locals told Ma‘an that bulldozers demolished houses belonging to the al-Farawnah family. Al-Zaarura is one of dozens of Bedouin villages in Negev which are unrecognized by Israeli authorities.

Gentrification leaves one Jaffa family caged in their own home
972blog 5 mar by Yudit Ilany — Ismail Shawa never expected that a new luxury apartment building would have such an immediate and dramatic effect on his family’s life — that was until contractors sealed off the entrance to their home with a concrete wall, effectively trapping them inside — To exit or enter his Jaffa home, Ismail Shawa, 62, has to remove the bars from his bedroom window and climb out and over the neighbor’s water pipes. He still has to cross a yard that doesn’t belong to him but for the time being, no has told him not to. The other option is to exit over another neighbor’s flimsy and crumbling asbestos roof.hen his wife, Itidal Shawa, 67, fell ill a week and a half ago, paramedics had to call in the fire brigade to extract her because there is no longer any other way out but to climb through the small window — or over the neighbor’s roof. A judge from the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court described the arrangement as “not easy,” but asserted that the family “can still enter and exit their home.” Perhaps the judge wouldn’t mind entering his courtroom through a small, high-placed window.

Israeli forces hand out stop-work orders in Hebron village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces on Friday handed stop-work orders to two families for homes in Ithna village west of Hebron. The orders to stop work on construction were received for a house owned by Wisam Jibril Hittawi, which was built four years ago and is home to six people, as well as a house under construction owned by Sayel Mahfouth Islemiyya. The notices follow a number of stop-work orders handed out in late February in the village by Israeli forces. The head of Ithna municipality Hashim al-Tumeizi said that more than 100 buildings, some of them over 10 years old, have received similar notices as part of a larger Israeli strategy to displace village inhabitants.

Nablus farmers capture tree-chopping Israeli settler
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Palestinian farmers on Wednesday detained an Israeli settler after they caught him chopping down olive trees in their fields in the northern West Bank, an official said. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that the settler was caught destroying olive trees near the Nablus-district village of Talfit. The farmers notified the Palestinian liaison department, who contacted their Israeli counterparts to arrange for the settler’s release, Daghlas said.

Israeli forces arrest [Palestinian] man for planting trees outside Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces on Friday afternoon detained a young man while he was planting an olive sapling east of Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank, locals said. Alaa Issa al-Dweiri, 20, was detained and taken to an unknown destination while he was participating in a campaign to plant olive saplings on Palestinian lands in Izbet at-Tabib under threat of confiscation by Israeli authorities. Head of the village’s local council Bayan al-Tabib demanded the release of al-Dweiri and called upon international organization to help secure his release … At the time of his detention, al-Dweiri was participating in an olive sapling planting campaign alongside activists from the Palestinian People party and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Campaigns to plant olive trees and saplings come as a response to frequent attacks by Israeli settlers on trees in the region as well as the threat of land confiscation by authorities to expand nearby Israeli settlements.

Israel cuts off water supply to 45,000 Palestinians
Middle East Monitor 6 Mar — Some 45,000 Palestinians living in the Shu‘afat refugee camp and the suburbs of Ras Shehadeh, Ras Khamis, As-Salam and Anata in Jerusalem have had their water cut off for nearly three days. The residents said Israel’s water company Gihon started by gradually reducing the water supply nearly two weeks ago until it stopped entirely. A member of Shu‘afat’s popular committee; Khaled Al-Khalidi said on Wednesday that 23,000 refugees had no access to water for three days while the residents of Ras Shehadeh; Ras Khamis, As-Salam and ‘Anata have been without water for 20 days. Al-Khalidi demanded “UNRWA, the camp’s service provider, to fulfil its obligations towards the refugees and prosecute the Jerusalem municipality and Gihon to oblige them to return the water supply.” Al-Khalidi pointed out that “UNRWA and Jordan signed an agreement in 1956 to provide water service to the Palestinian refugees without charge and in 1967 the Israeli Civil administration joined the Convention…”

Israeli Apartheid Week

10th annual Israel Apartheid Week kicks off globally
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar by Alex Shams — Palestine solidarity activists launched the 10th annual Israeli Apartheid Week in North America and the UK last week, as their counterparts around the world prepared to mobilize throughout the month of March. Israeli Apartheid Week is a global campaign that seeks to raise awareness about the discrimination faced by Palestinians and to rally support in favor of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel. Activists are organizing IAW events in more than 150 cities around the world this year, including 36 locations in North America, according to organizers….

‘Apartheid on the Hill’: Students transform Tufts campus to highlight Israeli occupation
Mondoweiss (Tufts University Students for Justice in Palestine) 6 Mar — As the central action during Tufts SJP’s Israeli Apartheid Week 2014, the campus awoke to a mock “Uphill” settlement constructed on the patio of the campus center situated “Downhill” between dorms and classrooms. Uphill versus Downhill: this meaningless geographic distinction and rivalry on Tufts University’s campus was transformed into a metaphor for the violent asymmetry of occupation and colonization in Israel/Palestine. Traditionally ‘uphill’ has been the seat of the administration’s power, as well as home to the majority of the academic buildings on campus. However most students actually live downhill, as the vast majority of dormitories and the campus center are located in the downhill portion of campus.  We erected a border wall, covered with graffiti slogans — “This Wall Will Fall!” — and evicted  downhill residents from the lower patio, blindfolding and detaining them on the steps. The previous night, mock demolition notices were slipped under each downhill dorm door informing students that their dorm was scheduled for demolition. Unlike downhill residents, uphill residents awoke to flyers advertising a free trip to Uphill for those eligible (“Uphill with Uphill residents”) that promised rides on Jumbo the elephant (the popular Tufts mascot) and a connection to this “Uphill homeland”. [Tufts is a university in Medford, Massachusetts]

‘Israeli apartheid week’ events held at over 200 universities, including Hebrew University
IMEMC 7 Mar by Celine Hagbard — A week of events organized to bring attention to Israel’s practices and policies which resemble the South African race-based system known as apartheid were held at hundreds of universities from March 2nd to 7th 2014. Among the universities that held events this year was the Israeli Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where a photo exhibit documented some of the issues faced by Palestinians living under occupation. The week of film screenings, cultural events, discussions and lectures was meant to draw attention to the parallels between the Israeli policies, including the more than fifty Israeli laws that explicitly discriminate against Palestinians; and the South African system of apartheid, which blatantly discriminated against black South Africans until it was abolished in 1994. 2014 marks the tenth year that students and activists have organized the week of action known as ‘Israel Apartheid Week’, and one of the biggest participants is South Africa, where the week of events will take place from March 10th to 16th….

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests

Six injured as Israeli forces disperse protests across West Bank
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Fri 7 Mar — Six Palestinians were injured and two Israeli peace activists were detained as protests against the Israeli occupation broke out in at least four villages across the West Bank on Friday. Dozens of Palestinians also suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during the clashes, which took place in al-Ram, Kafr Qaddum, Bil‘in, and Beit Ummar Bil‘in: Two were injured after Israeli forces opened fire on dozens of protesters demonstrating against the Israeli separation wall and authorities’ confiscation of village lands in Bil‘in. One protester was shot with a rubber bullet in the leg and the other was shot in the neck by a tear gas canister during the demonstration, organizers said. During the protest, several activists climbed the wall and planted Palestinian flags atop it, and they also tried damage motion detector cables on the top of the wall   Kafr Qaddum: Israeli forces on Friday detained two Israeli peace activists following the weekly protest against the Israeli occupation in Kafr Qaddum.  Dozens were injured from excessive tear gas inhalation after clashes broke out with Israeli protesters following the protest. An Israeli activist said that a photographer named Hagar and an activist named Gilad were detained at a flying checkpoint as they left the village in a car with an Israeli license.

Israel officers assault man at Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) thu 6 Mar — Israeli police officers assaulted a Palestinian man from Jerusalem on Thursday morning after he tried to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, witnesses said. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli police officers stationed at the Cotton Merchants’ Gate engaged in a heated argument with 42-year-old Khalil Suwwa as he was trying to enter the compound, where he studies Islamic law. They added that the police officers “brutally attacked” Suwwa during the argument, and the man fainted after sustaining bruises all over his body. The witnesses added that Israeli police officers did not allow medics to offer first aid to Suwwan, and after he was evacuated to a clinic inside the Al-Aqsa compound Israeli officers stormed the compound and attempted to detain him.  Suwwan was eventually evacuated to a hospital but only after the Israeli officers seized his identity card, the witnesses added.

Settlers assault Palestinians near Ramallah village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 6 Mar – A group of extremist Israeli settlers on Thursday assaulted three young Palestinian men while they were picking plants south of al-Mughayyir village north of Ramallah. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that the assailants were settlers from Kokhav Hashahar. The young Palestinian men, he said, sustained moderate to serious bruises and were evacuated to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. Daghlas highlighted that the young Palestinians were picking gundelia from a hill near Kokhav Hashahar settlement when a group of settlers surprised them and attacked them. Daghlas identified the young men as Asaad Sami Naasan, Diab Naasan and Haitham Hajj Muhammad.

Israeli settlers stone AFP photographer’s car in West Bank
RAMALLAH (AFP) 7 Mar – Israeli settlers in the West Bank stoned the car of a Palestinian photographer working for AFP, slightly injuring him, as he was on his way to cover a story Friday. The photographer said several of around 100 settlers who were gathered at the side of the road threw stones at his car, cracking the windscreen and lightly injuring him in the face and hands. Israeli soldiers on the scene did not intervene, he added. In photographs of the incident, four settlers are seen running, three of them with pistols. Another shows the settlers stoning the car while the soldiers watched. He and other journalists in a separate vehicle were on their way to cover Palestinian demonstrations in the nearby Jalazoun refugee camp, north of the West Bank administrative centre of Ramallah. The AFP photographer, Abbas Momani, said he planned to file a complaint with Israeli police, while the Foreign Press Association said its lawyer would also look into the case.

Israeli forces detain PFLP activist near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israeli forces detained an activist with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on the Ramallah-Nablus road on Wednesday.  A security source told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained Hussam al-Razza, 55, at a checkpoint near the Israeli settlement of Beit El. Al-Razza was reportedly taken to Huwarra military base and was sentenced to six months of administrative detention, the source added. Israeli forces had reportedly raided al-Razza’s house in Nablus on Tuesday and damaged his property. The detention comes less than a week after Israeli forces killed a PFLP activist after surrounding his house in Birzeit. Muatazz Washaha, 24, died after Israeli forces fired a shell and opened fire inside his home during an arrest raid.

Report: Petah Tikva stabbing was revenge for Birzeit killing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Wed 5 Mar — A Palestinian man was detained earlier this week on suspicion that he stabbed a man in central Israel, Israeli media reported Wednesday. The Hebrew language newspaper Maariv reported that 28-year-old Fadi Walid Ibrahim from Birzeit was arrested after being suspected of stabbing a man in Israel’s Petah Tikvah. According to the report, Ibrahim told his interrogators that he was affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and that he stabbed the man in retaliation to the Israeli army’s Thursday killing of a PFLP activist in the West Bank city of Birzeit. Ibrahim admitted to sneaking into Israel through the al-Zaayem checkpoint in East Jerusalem, the Maariv report said. The Israeli news site Ynet reported Sunday that a 33-year-old ultra-Orthodox man in Petah Tikvah was stabbed and brought to the hospital with moderate injuries. On Thursday, Israeli forces killed 24-year-old Muatazz Washaha on after opening fire on a property in Birzeit.  The PFLP vowed that it would respond to attack.

3 detained after firebombs thrown near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Wed 5 Mar — Three Palestinian man were detained in villages south of Nablus on Wednesday, hours after four Molotov cocktails were thrown at a bus carrying Israeli settlers in the area. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli soldiers raided the village of Madama and carried out searches in the area. Locals told Ma‘an that Mohammad Fawwaz Shareef Salih was detained near the village by Israeli forces. Israeli forces also detained two Palestinians in the ‘Asira Al-Qibliya village nearby on Wednesday evening. Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces arrested Majd Ahmad Saleh, 25, a Palestinian security forces officer, as well as Mohammad Fawaz Salih, 22, near Burin bridge near the main road. The two were reportedly taken to Huwwara military base south of Nablus…
The area around the villages south of Nablus is a frequent site of settler violence and Palestinian clashes with Israeli forces as it is located beside the notoriously violent Israeli settlement of Yitzhar. In mid-February, local settlers threw rocks at Palestinian schoolchildren and attacked a local high school in two separate incidents that led to clashes.

Israeli forces impose curfew on 2 Nablus villages
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Wed  5 Mar — Israeli forces imposed a curfew on two northern West Bank villages after Palestinian youths hurled Molotov cocktails at an Israeli settler vehicle earlier in the day, witnesses said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the Israeli army imposed a curfew on the villages of Huwwara and Beita south of Nablus, forcing all shopkeepers on the main road connecting the two villages to shut down their stores.

Israeli forces detain 9 in overnight arrest raids
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Thu 6 Mar — Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians overnight Wednesday, locals and Israel’s army said. In Nablus, witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers stopped and detained Majd Ahmad Salih, 25, and Muhammad Fawwaz Salih, 22, in the village of ‘Asira al-Qibliya. They were taken to Huwwara military base, locals said. Salih is a member of the Palestinian security services, witnesses added. Dozens of Israeli military jeeps entered Jenin refugee camp and soldiers detained Ahmad Shafiq Abu Zeinah, Khalid Salih Abu Zeinah, Tawfiq Salih Jarboa, and Mahmoud Jihad Hafnawi after ransacking several homes.

Israeli troops detain 4 Palestinians during raid on youth center, including prominent lawyer
IMEMC Fri 7 Mar by Saed Bannoura — Late Thursday, Israeli forces raided the town of al-Issawiya, in east Jerusalem, and abducted several members of the family of former political prisoner and 266-day hunger striker Samer al-Issawi, including his sister, the prominent Palestinian human rights lawyer Shireen al-Issawi. Local sources report that armed Israeli soldiers in military vehicles arrived at the Elia Association for Youth in East Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon and rushed into the center pointing their guns at students and forcing out of their classrooms. The soldiers demanded that the students hand over their identity cards. They then damaged equipment in the center and confiscated four computers before detaining Shadi al-Issawi, a family member of the former political prisoner Samer al-Issawi. The troops then went to the homes of Samer al-Issawi’s father, Abu Rafat, and his brother Medhat. They abducted Samer’s sister and lawyer Shireen al-Issawi, and also damaged property and confiscated computers from the family’s residences. The two family members (Shadi and Shireen) were later released with orders to return to the Israeli military base for an interrogation by the Israeli intelligence forces known as the ‘Shabak’….

Israeli court extends detention of Issawi siblings
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Fri 7 Mar — An Israeli court on Friday extended the detentions of Shireen Issawi and her brother Shadi Issawi without charge until March 13, a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said. The extensions come a day after they were detained during Israeli police raids in East Jerusalem, which provoked clashes in the neighborhood of al-Issawiya and led to two youths being detained as well. Mufeed al-Hajj said that the detentions were extended in order to continue their interrogations, but that the court refused to make any details regarding the reasons for their detention public.

Israeli forces detain Jerusalem lawyer
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) Fri 7 Mar —  The head of the committee of Jerusalem prisoners’ families Amjad Abu Asab said that Israeli forces detained Amjad al-Safadi as he was visiting Hadarim prison on Thursday. He added that Israeli forces also raided Amjad al-Safadi’s house on Thursday evening and confiscated a computer and several documents.

Israeli forces detain 8 at Al-Aqsa following Friday prayers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least eight young Palestinian men as they left the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon … Witnesses said that two people were also arrested from al-Wad street in the Old City near the Al-Aqsa compound. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that “masked suspects threw stones at police” at the Moroccan Gate following Friday prayers. Following the incident, he said that police detained seven people but did not enter the Al-Aqsa compound. Israeli authorities banned Palestinians under the age of 50 from attending Friday prayers in the compound last week, leading to large protests across East Jerusalem as thousands prayed in the streets at police checkpoints.

Israeli forces block entrance to Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) Fri 7 Mar — Israeli forces blocked the entrance to the village of Beit Ummar near Hebron with piles of dirt and cement blocks on Friday. Spokesman for the popular resistance committee in Beit Ummar Mohammad Ayyad Awad said that Israeli bulldozers closed the entrance to the village, which is adjacent to the main road connecting Jerusalem and Hebron.  Awad added that Israeli forces arrested Ikhdeir Yousef Ikhdeir Muheisen, 18, from the village after raiding and ransacking his house on Thursday evening. Awad said that a Molotov cocktail was also thrown at a an Israeli military jeep, but no injuries were reported. An Israeli military spokeswoman said that she knew of no detentions in Beit Ummar, but that Israeli forces were carrying out “construction work” on the main road into the village.

late but too important to leave out
The eldest casualty: The story of Said Ali, 89, killed by the IDF
Haaretz 9 Jan by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — As far as is known, he was the oldest Palestinian to be killed by the Israel Defense Forces. Born in 1925, almost 89 years old, he was from the generation of people like Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon, a native son from the village of Kafr Qaddum, near Nablus. Said Ali, who lived through British, Jordanian and Israeli rule over this land, died on a mattress on the floor of his home in the heart of the village. Cause of death: asphyxiation from tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers … Here, then, are examples of the impressively broad range of the army’s innocent victims – from 2 years until 89 years old, from the very young to the advanced in years – during this period of relative quiet of the last few years. Ali suffocated on the second anniversary of the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma, a young woman from Bil‘in who also died of tear-gas asphyxiation; the IDF refused to investigate the circumstances of her death … One has to see for oneself what it’s like in these villages when the IDF unleashes its tear gas. A suffocating, stinging cloud covers everything; the gas insinuates itself into every house. There is nowhere to escape.


Lieberman denies EU request to visit Palestinian detainees
IMEMC Sat 8 Mar by Saed Bannoura — A request by a European Union official to visit Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel, was denied by Israeli Prime Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, of the extreme right-wing “Israel Our Home” party. Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth has reported that the Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee of the EU, Elmar Brok, contacted the Israel’s EU Ambassador asking him to set up a visit for an EU delegation to visit Palestinian detainees. The request was denied by Lieberman, who said that Israel would only allow the visit to take place “if the EU would allow Israel to visit prisons in Europe”.

‘I can’t give you information about your health, it’s a security matter’
GAZA (Corporate Watch) 7 Mar by Tom Anderson and Therezia Cooper — International action has been called for in solidarity with prisoners held in Israeli jails. Corporate Watch has been investigating the companies involved in the Israeli prison system and interviewing ex-prisoners. This interview is part of a series of articles which will be released over the coming months focusing on companies providing equipment and services to the Israeli Prison ‘Service’ (IPS). We met ‘Salah’* at his home in Beit Hanoun in the Northern Gaza Strip a few weeks after his release from seven years prison in Israel. A celebration tent had been set up in his house since his release. We wanted to speak to Salah about the conditions for sick patients in Israeli jails, the particular problems for prisoners from Gaza and the complicity of international companies like G4Sand Hewlett Packard in the Israeli prison system. The Ketziot prison where Salah spent some of his period of imprisonment has been receiving servicesfrom British/Danish company G4S since 2007.

The rights and wrongs of an incarcerated Hamas man
Haaretz 6 Mar by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Jamal Abu al-Haija has been denied visitors for 12 years, from all but one daughter. Now his sick wife wants to visit him. It’s been more than 10 years since my last visit to this house on the slopes of the Jenin refugee camp. The children have grown up; some have become prisoners. Their mother, who was also in prison for a time, is still suffering from a brain tumor. The house, wrecked by a missile fired at it by an Israeli Apache helicopter in 2002, has been rebuilt. The birds in the cage are chirping once more. And the father of the family, Sheikh Jamal Abu al-Haija, formerly the head of Hamas in the camp, is still, of course, incarcerated in an Israeli prison. Having served 12 years of a sentence of nine life terms, he has some way to go along the path to freedom. In June 2003, when I first visited this house, five of the family’s six children were facing their fate alone. Their father had been convicted of involvement in a 2002 terror attack in which nine people were killed. The eldest son, Abed, had been sentenced to 87 months in prison for his military activity in Hamas. And the mother, Asmaa, was placed in administrative detention (arrest without trial). She spent nine months in prison, all the while suffering from a brain tumor; she was not given the right even to phone her children, who remained alone at home. “Children of Hamas, but still children,” I wrote at the time… Isn’t even a Hamas man who was involved in a suicide attack entitled to the basic right of family visits? Isn’t his sick wife entitled to visit him? And his children? Abu al-Haija is not the only Palestinian prisoner who has been deprived of visiting rights for years. This is how Israel treats all security prisoners from the Gaza Strip and a large number of those from the West Bank, too.

Arms ship headed for Gaza?

Israel says it seized Gaza-bound rocket shipment from Iran
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 6 Mar by Dan Williams — The Israeli navy seized a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday that was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied rockets made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip, the military said. The announcement came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in the United States to press his case for tougher international action against Iran over its disputed nuclear programme and support for Islamist guerrilla groups.  The Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Klos C was boarded in international waters without resistance from its 17-strong crew in a “complex, covert operation”, military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters. Lerner said dozens of M302 rockets were found aboard the Klos C, a weapon that could have struck deep into Israel from Gaza and would have significantly enhanced the firepower of the Palestinian enclave’s Hamas rulers and other armed factions. “The M302 in its most advanced model can strike over 100 miles, and if they would have reached Gaza, ultimately that would have meant millions of Israelis under threat,” he said…  U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States had helped Israel by providing information on the ship….

Eritrean opposition: Arms ship was heading for Yemen, not Gaza
Middle East Monitor Fri 7 Mar — The shipment of weapons seized by the Israeli occupation army on Wednesday was intercepted near the Eritrean coast near Hasmat port, a source from the Eritrean opposition said. The source, who refused to be named, told Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that the ship “was not heading towards Gaza, but towards the weapons storages in Eritrea and then to the Houthis in Yemen”. The source said that, “despite the fact that relations between Iran and the Eritrean government are excellent, the relations between Eritrea and Israel do not allow them to risk the interception of an Iranian ship carrying arms sent to Gaza”, adding, “the strained relations between Iran and Hamas in light of their positions regarding the Syrian regime does not make it seem likely for Iran to send weapons to Gaza.” The source also said, “The Israeli announcement of the ship’s directions aims to pressure Iran in terms of the nuclear issue.”

Iran rejects Israeli ‘lies’ on Gaza weapons ship
TEHRAN (AFP) 6 Mar — Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Thursday rejected as “lies” an Israeli claim that it intercepted a ship carrying advanced rockets sent by Tehran to the Gaza Strip. An Iranian ship carrying arms for Gaza. Captured just in time for annual [pro-Israel lobby] Aipac anti Iran campaign. Amazing Coincidence! Or same failed lies,” Zarif wrote on Twitter, referring to a pro-Israel lobby group. Sudan also rejected connection with the ship intercepted, Khartoum’s foreign ministry said on Thursday. “We have nothing to do with this,” foreign ministry spokesman Abu Bakr Al Siddiq said, adding that the vessel was in international waters.

Gaza groups deny Israel claims of Iran weapons shipment
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israel claimed that it intercepted a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday carrying Iranian “advanced weaponry” bound for Palestinian militants in Gaza, the military said. Representatives of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, however, denied the accusations, with Hamas officials pointing out that Gaza is under a complete naval blockade by Israel that would make any shipment of arms into the besieged coastal enclave impossible. Gaza Ministry of Interior spokesman Islam Shahwan said in a statement that Israeli claims were a “dangerous move” to justify Israel’s seven-year long blockade.  Shahwan urged journalists to avoid “being tricked by the Israeli narrative about capturing a ship carrying weapons to Gaza,” adding that “the sea is completely besieged and closed by the Israeli navy, and any ship which sails will be obstructed.”

How Israel avoided another Marmara-style media debacle
Haaretz 7 Mar by Gili Cohen — IDF Spokesperson’s team worked with naval forces to document the takeover of Gaza-bound ship carrying Iranian missiles — It took only a few minutes for Israeli naval commandos to seize the freighter Klos C, the Israel Navy’s missile ships intelligence officer, Major Ran Steigman, told Haaretz Thursday. The crew did not resist and was very surprised, Steigman said. Before the commandos boarded the vessel, the Israeli missile ship hailed the captain of the freighter, informing him that his ship was suspected of carrying arms. “He seemed surprised and apparently did not understand the extent of the incident, until we let him into a shipping container so he could see the contents,” Steigman said about the captain, who is Turkish. The army believes that the ship’s crew is completely uninvolved in the large shipment of arms the Klos C is carrying, and according to a senior navy officer, they realize that they were misled by forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Gaza under blockade / Gaza and Egypt

Egypt bars Gaza-bound Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Maguire
CAIRO (AFP) 5 Mar by Samer al-Atrush — Egypt detained and deported Northern Irish Nobel Laureate and peace activist Mairead Maguire on Wednesday and held up others who had been planning to go to neighbouring Gaza, the activists and officials said. Maguire had intended to join a delegation of women activists going to the blockaded Palestinian enclave on Thursday. The group could embarrass the military-installed government, which is at odds with Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, yet does not want to be seen as party to a siege of Palestinians, blockaded by Israel. On Tuesday, airport police had already detained and deported American anti-war activist Medea Benjamin, also part of the delegation, who told AFP police broke her arm. Maguire said she arrived at Cairo airport on Tuesday night with fellow activist Ann Patterson. “We were taken to the detention centre and questioned and held for eight hours, and were told we would not be allowed entry into Cairo and would be put on a plane,” she told AFP by telephone from Britain after her expulsion. Maguire, born in 1944, won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize with Betty Williams for founding a peace group to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland. She has become a vocal supporter of the Palestinians and was expelled from Israel in 2010, after trying to enter the blockaded Gaza Strip aboard a ship with other activists. The delegation of activists that will try to enter Gaza through the Egyptian Rafah border crossing was meant to be led by Djamila Bouhired, an icon of the Algerian war of independence from France. Bouhired had been expected to arrive at 1800 GMT on a flight from Paris, but did not do so. Meanwhile, about 15 other activists were barred from leaving the airport, their comrades said, and it was not immediately clear if they too would be deported.

Egypt to ‘revoke citizenship’ of thousands of Hamas members
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Thu 6 Mar — Egyptian security services have started to collect information about thousands of Hamas members who were granted Egyptian citizenship during the rule of ousted president Mohamed Mursi, according to Egyptian media. Egypt’s Day Seven news website reported that Egyptian authorities plan to revoke the citizenship of 13,757 Hamas members for being “affiliated to an offshoot of the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood.” Egyptian authorities are investigating whether Hamas members have been involved in what they describe as “terrorist attacks,” adding that the prime minister has the right to revoke the citizenship of Hamas members without a court ruling if it is deemed that they endanger public security. The Egyptian news site blamed Mursi for facilitating the entry of Hamas supporters into Egypt and granting them citizenship.

Egypt ban on Hamas could lead to ‘Israeli attack on Gaza’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Egypt’s decision last week to ban the Hamas movement could lead to a new attack on Gaza by Israel’s military, a Hamas official said Friday. “We want calm, peace, and stability for Egypt, we want its people to achieve the values of justice, freedom and equality and relinquish injustice. We don’t want it to get involved in besieging Palestinians,” Khalil al-Hayya said during a protest in front of the Egyptian embassy in Gaza. Al-Hayya called on politicians and officials in Egypt to stop targeting Hamas and reiterated that the movement does not intervene in the internal affairs of any Arab nation. “We are not ashamed of belonging to the (Muslim) Brotherhood school, but we are a Palestinian resistance movement and we did not interfere in any state. “The profound relationship with Egypt cannot end by an unjust decision by a momentary court that did not take into account the depth of the relationship between the two peoples.” On Tuesday, an Egyptian court banned the activities of Hamas and ordered its assets seized.

Hamas denies death of Muslim Brotherhood leader in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) Wed 5 Mar — A spokesman for the Gaza Strip Ministry of Interior spokesman denied reports of the death of a Muslim Brotherhood leader in Gaza in recent days. Islam Shahwan said in a statement that the claims were untrue and “not worth answering,” stressing that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Deputy Supreme Guide Mahmoud Ezzat was never in Gaza. Shahwan’s statements follow claims by the “Brotherhood Without Violence” group on its Facebook page earlier on Wednesday that Ezzat was killed by militants in a hotel in Gaza recently. Brotherhood Without Violence is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that seeks to reform the movement from the inside, but which has voiced opposition to the groups close links to Hamas.

Hamas accuses Egypt ambassador to PA of criticizing group
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) Thu 6 Mar — Hamas has accused the Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority of criticizing the movement and intervening in Palestinian internal affairs, a spokesman said Thursday. Sami Abu Zuhri said that Hamas “denounces attempts by Egypt’s ambassador to Ramallah, Wael Atiyeh, to exert pressure on some Palestinian factions to criticize Hamas.” “The movement calls upon Egypt’s ambassador to stop such practices, show respect to his diplomatic position and avoid negative intervention in internal Palestinian affairs.” The Hamas spokesman expressed appreciation to Palestinian factions “for refusing to yield to pressures.” On Wednesday, Marwan Abu Ras, a Palestinian lawmaker affiliated to Hamas, told Ma‘an that Egypt is no longer a neutral party in resolving the political split between Hamas and Fatah. Earlier this week, an Egyptian court banned the activities of Hamas and ordered its assets seized.

11-year-old left to die after Israeli soldiers open fire
RAMALLAH (Defence for Children International/Palestine Section) 4 Mar —  An unarmed Palestinian child was gravely wounded and left without medical attention for three hours after Israeli soldiers opened fire on him at the Gaza border. On February 21, 11-year-old Fadel Abu Odwan was on his way to help his brother bring in the sheep from their grazing area near the Gaza border fence. Israeli soldiers approached and opened fire on him, leaving him to lie bleeding and unable to move, in full view of the soldiers, for three hours before medical attention was sought. Speaking to DCI-Palestine from hospital, Fadel recalls lying on the ground after he was shot in the leg and the groin while running away from the soldiers. “I would lift my hand and look up and see the sky, and realise I was not dead yet, so I would close my eyes again and wait for death.” He remembers his thoughts vividly. “I was thinking I am going to die, I am going to be a martyr.” … After three hours, Fadel was rescued by his brother and cousins and taken to hospital. His medical report shows that he underwent surgery to remove his testicles and was subsequently placed in intensive care. Fadel’s doctor said, “This injury will cause Fadel lifelong physical and psychological damage, and will certainly affect his ability to marry and have children.”

Gaza access and movement; 2013 summary
Gisha 5 Mar — Israel’s closure of Gaza reached the six year mark. Corresponding with the changes on the Egyptian border, more goods entered Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing and more exits were recorded at Erez Crossing, connecting Gaza to Israel and the West Bank. Nonetheless, sweeping and indiscriminate restrictions on travel and on movement of goods between Gaza and the West Bank and Israel remained nearly unchanged in 2013. Criteria for travel of people remained stringent and appear to have been enforced with greater severity, a punishing restriction on entrance of construction materials was introduced late in the year and Israel continued to enforce a ban on the exit of goods from Gaza to its traditional markets in Israel and the West Bank, despite the installment of a new and powerful scanner donated by the Dutch government at the cargo crossing, Kerem Shalom.

‘Code Red’ siren heard twice in Sderot; rocket falls inside Gaza
Ynet Wed 5 Mar — A “Code Red” siren was heard twice on Wednesday night in the city of Sderot.The first time the siren was sounded, a rocket fell inside Palestinian territory near the Gaza border fence in the north of the Strip. (Matan Tzuri),7340,L-4495777,00.html

Israeli naval boats open fire at Gaza fishermen
GAZA (WAFA) 5 Mar – The Israeli naval boats opened fire early Wednesday at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza city, according to local sources. Sources said that Israeli naval boats fired three artillery shells and opened fire at fishermen off the coast of As-Sudaniya, located to the northwest of Gaza city, causing damage to fishing boats. Fishermen fled the scene with no injuries or arrests reported.

Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon

PFLP-GC: ISIL re-enters Yarmouk camp
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) Fri 7 Mar — The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant re-entered the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp on Thursday, two days after al-Nusra Front did the same, a PFLP-GC spokesman said. PFLP-GC spokesman Anwar Rajaa said in a statement that ISIL militants had returned to the Damascus camp on Thursday, adding that they detained and “abused” several Palestinians upon arrival. Aid distribution in Yarmouk camp has been suspended intermittently for the last month due to fighting, while residents suffer from widespread malnutrition amid the effects of a crippling siege by Syrian regime forces that has been in place in last summer … Although both ISIL and al-Nusra front subscribe to a Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic that is ideologically affiliated with Saudi Arabia and counts many Saudi fighters among its ranks, the kingdom has not admitted direct ties to the group.
The PFLP-GC, a militant organization that has been operating in Syria for decades, has been an active force on the side of the Assad regime since 2012.

Official: Israel refused to let Palestinian refugees in Syria return
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Thu 6 Mar — Fatah central committee member Mohammad Ishtayyeh said on Thursday that the Palestinian Authority had attempted to negotiate the return of Palestinian refugees from Syria, but Israel had refused. Ishtayyeh said in a meeting with diplomats organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Ramallah that the PA had tried with all its might to “end the suffering” of Palestinians in Syria through international mediation. Israeli officials, however, had refused to allow them to come to the Palestinian territories. At least 1,500 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing Syria conflict, and around 250,000 Palestinian refugees have been forced to leave their homes in Syria due to violence in the country.

Visualizing the discrimination faced by Palestinians in Lebanon
Electronic Intifada 6 Mar by Moe Ali Nayel — After more than six decades of forced displacement, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon find themselves largely excluded from the formal labor market. As a result of discriminatory laws and biased attitudes, most Palestinians face precarious working conditions and economic hardship. In Lebanon nowadays, when asked why they are paid less, many refugees can only reply “because I’m Palestinian.” Why are you banned from practicing more than 70 professions? Why can’t you travel? Why can’t you own property? Why were you arrested at every security checkpoint? Why won’t Lebanese hospitals treat you? The answer is always the same: “because I am Palestinian.” … Creative organizers have recently gotten together with the Visualizing Palestine initiative to publish facts and statistics via infographics to shed much-needed light on the socioeconomic situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. This series of four infographics — based on the latest International Labor Organization research — offers an overview of the key issues facing the Palestinian refugee labor force in Lebanon, including their exclusion from high status professions and social security health benefits.

Activism / BDS

PHOTOS: Israeli women who have stood up to the occupation for 26 years
Activestills 7 Mar Project by: Keren Manor & Shiraz Grinbaum — In honor of International Women’s Day, Activestills pays tribute to more than a quarter century of anti-occupation activism by the ‘Women in Black’ group in Israel. Every Friday since 1988, the women have stood in the main squares of cities or at highway junctions with signs calling to end the Israeli occupation. Often spat at, cursed or violently harassed by passersby, they have become, for us, a symbol of persistence.

International week against Mekorot
BDS Movement 5 Mar — Mekorot is Israel’s state-owned water company responsible for implementing ‘water apartheid’ on Palestinians, including the international crime of pillage of natural resources in occupied territory, discrimination against the Palestinian people as an ethnic group and vital support for the illegal settlement enterprise. In 2005, Mekorot established a business arm to begin a process of international expansion. Several lucrative contracts have been signed in countries like the US, Cyprus, Argentina, India and Uganda … Campaigns have been established to kick Mekorot out in Argentina, Italy, Greece and Portugal. In Argentina, activists recently announced they succeeded in suspending the construction of a US$170 million water regeneration plant – a project which would have financed not only water apartheid in Palestine but exported it transforming access to water in Buenos Aires from a human right to a luxury item for the rich. Vitens, the largest water supplier in the Netherlands, ended a contract with Mekorot just days after it was signed due to the company’s involvement in violations of international law … Join the First International Week Against Mekorot between 22 March 2014, World Water Day, and 30 March 2014, when Palestinians mark Land Day.

BDS costs Israel 100 million shekels in losses
Middle East Monitor Fri 7 Mar — According to Israel’s Maariv newspaper, Israeli sources believe that the international boycott of Israeli settlement products has already caused Israel’s economy financial losses amounting to about 100 million shekels ($30 million), with the agricultural sector in the Jordan Valley suffering the most. One source described the boycott as a “constant war”, while others added that they expect Israel will face an increase in the number of boycott calls, especially if the peace talks with the Palestinians fail and the construction of settlements continues, noting that the European Union will also renew its decision to label settlement products if the negotiations fail, which would cause even more damages to the Israeli economy.

Other news

Abbas aide: Extension of Mideast talks unlikely
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 6 Mar by Karin Laub — Gaps between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators only have widened in seven months and an extension of talks appears unlikely after what is bound to be a missed April 29 deadline for a framework deal, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday … For the Palestinians, the biggest obstacle is a new demand — introduced only in this round of negotiations — that they accept Israel as a Jewish state, Ishtayeh said. The PLO recognized the state of Israel when peace efforts began two decades ago and Abbas has argued this is sufficient. Abbas cannot “under any circumstances” recognize Israel as a Jewish state because this would restrict the return options of Palestinian refugees and potentially pave the way for a gradual expulsion of Israel’s large Arab minority, Ishtayeh said.

Abbas cuts salaries of Fatah rival’s security men
GAZA (Reuters) 6 Mar by Nidal Al-Mughrabi — President Mahmoud Abbas has halted salary payments to scores of security men loyal to a rival Palestinian politician, deepening disarray within their U.S.-backed Fatah faction, officials said on Thursday.  They said Abbas’s move appeared aimed at weakening Mohammed Dahlan, a former Gaza Strip strongman who lives in Dubai but is widely expected to return to the Palestinian territories to challenge the president and Fatah chairman. That could spell a bitter and uncertain confrontation given Fatah’s statutory limbo since Islamist Hamas, once its partner in the Palestinian government, turned into a foe in 2007 and seized control of Gaza during a brief civil war.

Pope Francis cancels visit to Israel
Middle East Monitor Fri 7 Mar — Pope Francis has had to cancel his visit to Israel in May because Israel’s foreign ministry workers are currently on strike and thus unable to make the necessary security arrangements for his visit, a foreign ministry source confirmed on Thursday to the Times of Israel newspaper. Pope Francis had announced in January his intention to visit the Palestinian territories and Israel from 24-26 May, his first visit to the Holy Land since taking office in April 2013 … The source noted that the cancellation will likely cause “large, measurable economic damage, with all the lost tourist revenue that would have accompanied the visit.”  The newspaper added that the foreign ministry has stated that, “according to the Vatican, the pope’s visit won’t be able to be rescheduled, only cancelled.” Earlier this week, British Prime Minister David Cameron was also forced to cancel his planned visit to Israel later this month, due to the on-going labour dispute.

Hostels are springing up in the West Bank, showing a side of Palestine few Americans see
PolicyMic 5 Mar by Beth Parry — From the windows of Area D, on the top floor of a central Ramallah high-rise, the view is astonishing. Past the fruit market and emerald-studded minarets is hilly, urban sprawl; beyond that, West Jerusalem. Psagot, a settlement, is closer. It is perched on the outskirts of the Palestinian city. The West Bank is hardly a backpacking hotspot. But despite profound obstacles, Area D is the second hostel to have opened in Ramallah in recent months. The first, Hostel in Ramallah, opened in June, and is thriving. The walls are covered in messages from travellers, and in the cosy kitchen visitors — a European youth delegation, backpackers, volunteers, students — drink tea, chat and make friends with the hostel dog. All year, the hostel features a packed schedule including films, Palestinian cooking nights and tours … Projects like this are unusual in the West Bank, where independent travel has been seriously limited. Both hostels had to fight hard against suspicion and conservatism in the local governments, and Palestinian tourism is restricted by occupation and fear. “Even when tourists do come,” explains Wajdy Hussein, a representative at Ramallah’s tourist office, “Israel often gets the benefits, not Palestinians.”

Israel’s prime minister visits Hollywood for premiere of tourism film
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) 4 Mar — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Hollywood on Tuesday for the premiere of a film to promote tourism to the Holy Land, shifting the spotlight away from his frequent focus on dangers facing his country. Netanyahu attended the premiere at Paramount Studios of “Israel: The Royal Tour,” a one-hour U.S. public television special that is being broadcast this week.

First all-female Palestinian presidential guard unit graduates
AMMAN (Ma‘an) Thu 6 Mar — The first all-female unit of the Palestinian presidential guard graduated in a ceremony held on Thursday in Amman, Jordan. The 23-member unit will specialize in protecting officials, special operations, and anti-terrorism activities. The group received tactical and technical training for the last three months in Jordan.

Analysis / Opinion

Palestinian evangelicals lead shift away from Christian Zionism / Charlie Hoyle
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Thu 6 Mar — BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hundreds of peace activists, church leaders, evangelical Christians and academics will meet in Bethlehem on Monday for five days of dialogue and discussion about the role of Christian Zionism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. First held in 2010, the Christ at the Checkpoint conference has grown in size and stature over the past three years and will welcome over 700 participants from March 10-14 at the Bethlehem Bible College, located a mere 100 meters from Israel’s separation wall. Conference director Munther Isaac says the number and diversity of participants this year, together with opposition to the event from elements of the evangelical right, reflect the growing impact of a forum designed to challenge evangelical theological beliefs which have long legitimized Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. “Just the fact that evangelicals are talking about Palestine and Israel is a success,” Isaac told Ma‘an on Wednesday … Once an automatic support base for pro-Israel US policies, evangelicals in the United States are slowly beginning to join the debate about the practical implications of their theological beliefs, Isaac says, and Christ at the Checkpoint has provided a platform that had previously never existed.

What ‘painful concessions’ are left for Palestinians to make? / Willem Aldershoff & Jaap Hamburger
972blog 6 Mar — Despite the U.S.’s optimism, recent comments and statements coming from Israel and Palestine indicate that the U.S.-led Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are not progressing well. This is not only due to the relative complexity of the subject matter at hand, but first and foremost, due to the fact that the Palestinians and Israel differ greatly in power and position: one being the occupied, the other the occupier that maintains an “unbreakable bond” with the world’s only military superpower. Americans and Europeans do not tire of insisting that only “painful concessions” by both sides can make a just and lasting agreement possible. The central question is; what additional concessions can, or should the Palestinians still make without undermining the very idea of a two-state solution? The territory of Israel already covers 78 percent of the former Palestine Mandate: this is almost 50 percent more than what the 1947 UN partition resolution recommended, which allocated 55 percent of the land to the Jews. Even under the most optimistic scenarios nowadays, a Palestinian state will never comprise more than 22 percent of Mandate Palestine. Accepting this unequal distribution is by far the greatest Palestinian concession, made by late PLO-leader Yasser Arafat when he formally agreed to a two-state solution in 1988.  As a condition for admission to the UN in 1949, Israel accepted UN Resolution 194, which stipulates that Palestinians who fled or were expelled during the Jewish-Arab hostilities of 1947-49, have the right of return. Israel has not respected this obligation….

Jordan Valley essential for a viable Palestinian state / Ibrahim Sharquieh & Ghassan Shabaneh
Al-Monitor 6 Mar — Over the past 20 years, US and international peace efforts have not yielded tangible outcomes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As some observers put it, the peace process has only produced a “process without peace.” Yet, international intervention has caused new terms to be added to the discourse, such as the creation of a “viable Palestinian state.” Of course, the parties could spend years determining what really constitutes “viability.” No matter how confusing the terminology of the conflict, one thing that should never confuse anyone is the centrality of the Jordan Valley to the envisioned Palestinian state. Full control of the Jordan Valley is essential not only to the survival of a Palestinian state but also to relieving the United States and other donor countries from financially supporting the “viable state” forever. The Jordan Valley, in simple words, is the mechanism that would ensure the economic independence of the future viable Palestinian state. Controlled by Israel since the 1967 war, the Jordan Valley accounts for more than a quarter of the total area of the West Bank — nearly 1,500 square miles. (listserv) (archive)

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There has been NO mainstream media coverage of yesterday’s historic conference at the National Press Club. As someone who has organized such conferences (on other topics) before, I find this striking, and so I would like to ask:

Anyone who was present at the National Press Club event yesterday, what if any media representatives were present and is anyone following up with them?

How can Mondoweiss reporters obtain credentials to attend White House and State Department media briefings?

JFP– great questions. I am completely stunned that even a google search gives me zip. It’s like the Press Club/DC has a blackout/brain injury/deliberate amnesia. Thank goodness for CSPAN. Kate– your compilation of articles wrt to the seizure of ‘weapons’ (cement) by IOF thugs in international waters pretty much confirms that Israel is lying, as usual. And what does this really mean?: “The farmers notified the Palestinian liaison department, who contacted their Israeli counterparts to… Read more »

And the fools in the US Congress encourage the insane growth of the illegal colonies of Jews in occupied Palestine.

“”A member of a local tribal committee Abdul-Latif Ishtayya said that more than 40 military vehicles escorted dozens of settlers who brought bulldozers and started to level private Palestinian lands in Beit Hassan neighborhood. The assaulted area, he added, includes more than 700 acres of private land belonging to the al-Masri family. Ishtayya said settlers are likely to occupy the area and establish a new settlement.”” Can anyone please tell me, is all this illegal… Read more »