Land, property theft & destruction / Judaization / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
New yeshiva to open in East Jerusalem
Reuters 4 May — Palestinian business hub site of new seminary, funded by Ateret Cohanim – Jewish NGO working to settle Jews in East Jerusalem — A new yeshiva will be opened in East Jerusalem later this month, raising concerns over confrontation between the street’s Palestinians residents and their new Jewish neighbors. Otzmat Yerushalayim, which includes sleeping quarters and could house as many as 300 young Jews, is the first Jewish housing venture on Saladin Street, a main shopping thoroughfare across from the walled Old City. Palestinians and Israeli critics worry the placement of the yeshiva in such a central location is asking for trouble in East Jerusalem, which has stayed largely trouble-free in recent years compared to the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and which Palestinians hope will be the capital of a future state. “Tensions are sure to spike here. It isn’t going to be easy,” a Palestinian pharmacist, who gave her name only as Maral, said in a drugstore across the street. “They will just close us up the second a confrontation arises and all work will grind to a halt,” she said … Ateret Cohanim, the private organization behind the yeshiva project, has been moving hundreds of Jewish families into predominantly Palestinian-inhabited East Jerusalem for years, either by acquiring property or laying claim to land Jews bought before Israel’s founding in 1948. It expects a formal opening ceremony to take place at the seminary later this month as part of Israeli celebrations of the 47th anniversary of its capture of East Jerusalem.
35 residents of Wadi al-Qatif west of Jericho face imminent expulsion
ReliefWeb 5 May — The Bedouin community of Wadi al-Qatif, located west of the city of Jericho, is home to 10 families comprising 68 people, including 32 minors. The community’s roots are in Tel Arad in the Negev, southern Israel. After becoming refugees, they moved in the 1950s to the Hebron region and then, in 1982, to the area near Jericho, in search of pastureland that would enable them to maintain their traditional lifestyle. There are 16 school-age children in Wadi al-Qatif and they study either in Jericho or in ‘Aqbat Jaber Refugee Camp. The community has 18 residential huts, largely donated by the European Union, as well as a large hospitality tent and six sheep-pens that house their approximately 500 head of sheep. The residents of the community have no alternative housing or place to live. As they earn their living tending sheep, in springtime, some of the residents lead the flocks to pasture in the Ramallah area, while the rest of the population stays behind. Eight years ago, Israeli security forces began restricting the movement of the community’s shepherds, prohibiting them to come any nearer than one kilometer to the settlement of Mitzpe Yeriho. Ever since 2008, when Route 1 was laid out between the settlement and Wadi al-Qatif, Israel security forces have not allowed the shepherds to cross from their side of the road to the other.
Bedouin village wins major ruling as court blocks state’s demolition plans
972blog 6 May by Amjad Iraqi — The court’s ruling that the rights of Alsira’s villagers’ take precedence over the state’s agenda for their land, inadvertently implies what should have already been an established fact: the deliberate hostility toward the unrecognized village is simply wrong — May 1 was a good day for the families of the Arab Bedouin village of Alsira. After eight years of legal proceedings, the Be’er Sheva District Court dismissed the state’s appeal aiming overturn a lower court’s 2011 decision to cancel 51 demolition orders against the village, which is home to 350 Bedouin citizens of Israel. This means that the demolition orders remain officially cancelled, and the residents will remain in their homes and ancestral lands in the Naqab/Negev. The court’s decision, which is a major legal precedent, represents an important historical lesson on the reality of human rights in the Negev. Since 1948, Israeli law and policy has been unjust in its treatment of “unrecognized” Bedouin villages. In refusing to recognize the Bedouins’ historical rights, the state was able to disregard the Bedouins’ land claims, squeeze Bedouin townships through discriminatory planning, forcibly remove entire communities from their homes, and deny basic services such as water, electricity and other infrastructure … attention now turns towards the twin villages of Atir and Umm al-Hiran, whose cases have been pending before the courts for over ten years. The villages, home to 1,000 Bedouin residents, starkly illustrate the state’s priorities for the Negev. The residents of Atir are to be evicted and their lands used to grow trees for the JNF-sponsored ‘Yatir’ Forest; and Umm al-Hiran is to be destroyed in order to build a new town for Jewish citizens called ‘Hiran’ over its ruins … The two villages offer the next test to demonstrate whether the lessons of Alsira will be heeded by the Israeli courts and the Israeli government.
Israel’s creative dispossession tactics
Al Jazeera 3 May by Nora Lester Murad — Even Palestinians can’t help but be impressed by Israeli ingenuity in circumventing the law in their colonial quest — At first, the visit by the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) to Jabal al-Baba on April 9 seemed routine. A Bedouin community in the E1 area, Jabal al-Baba has had 18 demolition orders pending since February. Residents were not surprised, then, when officials delivered stop-work orders on three more insulated residential structures. Under Israeli law, these structures can be demolished – but only after a 21-day delay, during which residents have the right to appeal to the Israeli courts. But the Israeli authorities didn’t wait for the legal process to run its course; they returned to Jabal al-Baba and retrieved the stop-work orders they had distributed just hours before. “We were happy,” said Suleiman Kayyed Jahalin, a member of the community. “We thought the Israelis had changed their minds and weren’t going to demolish our homes after all. We were wrong.” A representative of an international NGO that delivers aid to the community described how the Israeli Civil Administration returned several hours later with soldiers and dismantled the three homes. Once dismantled, the ICA didn’t have to wait for their demolition orders to survive a legal challenge; they simply confiscated the parts of the houses under an Israeli law that entitles them to confiscate building materials, equipment or cars without any advance notice. Although Israel dismantled and confiscated the homes rather than demolishing them, the result is the same: Human beings that lived in shelters are now homeless. A total of 111 additional members of the Ras al-Baba community live under impending threat of having their homes demolished.
Local EU statement on eviction orders and demolitions
JERUSALEM 5 May — The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah are seriously concerned by the decision of the Israeli authorities to issue eviction orders for a number of Palestinian families in Sateh al-Bahr in the Jericho Governorate as well as the carrying out of demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures close to Nablus. On 28 April eviction orders were issued in Sateh al-Bahr against the homes of five Jahalin families, totaling 38 people. The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah call on the Government of Israel not to implement these orders. On 29 April a mosque and three houses were demolished in Khirbet al-Tawil, near the town of Aqraba close to Nablus, affecting 29 individuals of which 21 are minors. The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah recall the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of 16 December 2013 and 14 May 2012, in which the EU expressed grave concern at house demolitions and called upon Israel to meet its obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C, including by halting the forced transfer of population and demolitions of Palestinian housing and infrastructure. In addition, they note the need for the Government of Israel to develop improved mechanisms for zoning, planning and permitting in Area C for the benefit of the Palestinian population, including by facilitating local Palestinian participation in such processes.
[ Palestinian ordered to demolish his well ]
IMEMC 6 May by Saed Bannoura — …On Monday evening, soldiers ordered resident Hasan Mohammad Salah, 67, to demolish his well, in his own land south of al-Khader. The well is close to the Eliezer illegal Israeli settlement; Salah has 35 days to appeal the decision or demolish his well.
Settlers uproot dozens of olive saplings near Ramallah
IMEMC/Agencies Monday 5 May by Saed Bannoura — A number of Israeli settlers invaded a Palestinian olive orchard, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and uprooted more than 51 olive saplings. The attack is the second against the same orchard in two weeks. Head of the Ras Karkar Village Council, Bahjat Suleiman, stated that the attack targeted an orchard belonging to resident Azmi Samhan. Suleiman said that Samhan went to his orchard to find 51 of his newly planted saplings uprooted. He added that the settlers attacked the same orchard nearly two weeks ago, and uprooted more than 45 saplings and trees. Ras Karkar village is subject to frequent attacks carried out by fanatic settlers of the Mireya nearby illegal settlement, built on Palestinian lands northwest of Ramallah.
Thousands gather on ruins of village to commemorate Nakba Day
Haaretz 6 May by Jack Khoury — Palestinians stage symbolic return to village of Lubya, now the Lower Galilee in northern Israel, with large procession and Palestinian flags — Thousands of people commemorated the Palestinian Nakba on Tuesday by participating in a procession on the ruins of the village of Lubya in the Lower Galilee in northern Israel. Nakba Day is held in conjunction with Israeli Independence Day to commemorate the hundreds of Palestinian villages that were uprooted during the 1948 War of Independence. Tuesday was the fourteenth year in succession that Nakba Day had been held. Elsewhere in the Lower Galilee, communities celebrated Independence Day in celebrations organized by the local regional council. There was a large police presence in the area throughout the day. Participants in the Nakba Day procession carried Palestinian flags and placards bearing the names of villages that were uprooted and destroyed in 1948. They also shouted slogans calling on the Palestinian leadership and the international community to continue demanding the return of Palestinian refugees to their land. Wakim Wakim, secretary of the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced, said that the purpose of the procession was to “say that we are opposed to racism, aggression and all attempts to wipe out our memories and uproot our villages.” The land of the destroyed village of Lubya is now occupied by the Israeli town of Lavi and two national parks, the Lavi Pine Forest and the South African Park. On Monday, a group of young Palestinians erected an encampment on the site of the village with symbolic recreations of the village well and mosque. Rasoul Sa’ada, one of the organizers, said the encampment represented the symbolic return of Palestinians to their land.
The Arab villages that were: a new Israeli guidebook
Haaretz 7 Dec 2012 by Moshe Gilad — A new volume in Hebrew and Arabic retraces a past that many prefer to forget — A round white dome stands in the middle of the vacation village at Dor Beach, near Caesarea. I’ve visited this place dozens of times but never noticed the sheikh’s tomb on the well-tended lawn. Nor did I remember the large stone building right on the shoreline, a few dozen meters from the water, opposite the bobbing fishing boats. This made me wonder. After all, this beach – also known as Tantura – was among my parents’ favorites and as a child we would go there every summer. Still, when I pressed the intercom at the entrance to the village and explained why I’d come, the woman declared: “There are no antique buildings here. You are mistaken.” I tried to persuade her that the guidebook I was carrying – an intriguing new volume, in Hebrew and Arabic, called “Omrim Yeshna Eretz” (“Once Upon a Land – a Tour Guide” ) – contradicted what she had said. Maybe she doesn’t see the sheikh’s tomb either, although she walks past it every day. The guidebook offers 18 tours in various locales, including Palestinian villages that were evacuated in the late 1940s, most of which were destroyed. On the back of the book it says, “The tours lead to places that once existed, the remains of which we often encounter even if we do not know their meaning.” The book was published by Pardes Publications and Zochrot
Over half of Israeli Jews against gov’t support of Nakba Day
Ynetnews 6 May — 58% of Israeli Jews support legislation that would authorize finance minister to reduce government funding to institutions which mark Nakba Day — Over half of Israeli Jews are against government support to institutions that commemorate Nakba Day, according to a poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute published on Sunday. Nakba Day (“Day of Catastrophe”) is commemorated on May 15 in the Palestinian territories and other countries, a day after the end of British mandate over Palestine and Israel’s Declaration of Independence … The poll found that 58 percent of Israeli Jews will support a law that would authorize Finance Minister Yair Lapid to reduce the government’s financial support to institutions marking Nakba Day, while 33 percent of Israeli Jews do not support such a law … The survey also checked how many Israelis consider Independence Day to be a holiday. Among the Israeli Jews, a majority of 87 percent considered it a holiday. Among the Israelis Arabs, only 24 percent consider it a holiday while 68 percent do not.
Al-Qassam Brigades makes new anthem for Israel on occasion of its national day
GAZA (PIC) 6 May — The information office of Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has released a song in Hebrew that satirically simulates Israel’s national anthem “The Hope” and contains a message to the Zionist Jews. “The End of the Hope” is Israel’s new anthem and a gift for its Jewish settlers on the occasion of their so-called independence day (the occupation of Palestine), according to Al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas. One of the makers of this video clip told Al-Qassam Brigades website that the song contained a message to the Jewish masses in occupied Palestine that the Palestinian people will never forget their land or be terrorized by the Israeli army. [Video of song نهاية الأمل here ]
3,000 attend Israeli-Palestinian alternative Remembrance Day ceremony
Jerusalem Post 5 May by Tamara Zieve — Some 3,000 people attended an annual joint Israeli-Palestinian Remembrance Day ceremony in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening, in an alternative event that seeks to demonstrate empathy and mutual respect between the two peoples. Jewish and Arab Israelis attended the event, along with Palestinians from the West Bank. This is the ninth year that the Israeli-Palestinian organization Combatants for Peace has held this ceremony, which has drawn increasing participation and attention each year, this year so much so that there was not enough space to seat everyone who attended, in the designated hall at the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center. Speakers comprised bereaved Palestinians and Israelis who have lost family-members in the conflict. Among these were: writer and author Rubik Rozental, who lost his brother Gidon in the Yom Kippur War; Ahmed Al-Halu, an ex-Hamas member turned peace activist who has lost a total of 27 relatives in Gaza; sister of the late Ron Pundak, Michal, who lost her brother Uri in the Yom Kippur War; Bushra Abu-Ayash, whose son was killed in 2008; and Niv Sarig whose brother fell in Tul Karem in 1996. Music performances in Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic were also put on.
Some 20-30 Israelis protested outside the event shouting “shame on you” and “there is no place for you in the land of Israel”, among other slogans.
Restriction of movement
Worshipers under 50 denied entry to Al-Aqsa for 2nd day
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 May — Israeli police in Jerusalem’s Old City kept the Al-Aqsa mosque closed to worshipers under the age of 50 on Tuesday, an official said. Azzam al-Khatib, the director of the Al-Aqsa mosque, told Ma‘an Tuesday that Palestinians under 50 had been denied entry to the holy site since Monday evening. Dozens performed prayers near the main gates of the Al-Aqsa compound on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, al-Khatib said. He said an exception was made for students who study in the compound, who were allowed to enter at 8:00 a.m. At the same time, police allowed a Jewish group to tour the compound. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said he was not familiar with any closures.
Silence aids Israeli aggression
Electronic Intifada 6 May by Tristan Thomas — Censoring my criticism of Israel didn’t prevent me from being denied entry — When I was pulled aside for questioning at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago, I was relatively unconcerned. It had happened on a previous trip, and this time I was more prepared. Before I traveled, I had heard many stories of people being denied entry because of their online activities, so I had “unfollowed” influential activists on Twitter. I searched through my photos on Facebook, even deleting my cover photo of me with two Arab friends, knowing that it would just lead to questions. I always censored what I wrote and shared online in an effort to ensure I could enter Israel to visit friends. I have tweeted about US drone killings of civilians in Yemen, police shooting protesters on the streets of Cairo and death sentences in China. Yet, when it came to Israel and its constant violations of dignity and rights, I was silent. Nearly unique in its ability to foster self-censorship, both domestically and abroad, Israel made me feel like I had to keep my criticism private in an attempt to ensure I could enter the country. Invisible force This invisible force is felt by everyone who might question the status quo. Inside Israel, teachers have been threatened with dismissal for their “left-wing” views and journalists detained for doing their jobs, while foreign passport holders are regularly denied entry and banned because of their work or activism. These stories and the warnings they brought with them filtered down and eventually resulted in stopping me from posting 140 characters on a website just so that I could still enter the country … Thought Police Israel has been extremely successful in making people all over the world feel they cannot express their discomfort, let alone their outrage, at the actions being perpetrated in Palestine. Reminiscent of the Thought Police in George Orwell’s 1984, the reach of Israel’s censorship by proxy has spread globally and affects everyone, ensuring people are silent and so allowing Israel to continue oppressing with impunity.
On Memorial Day, Israelis must reflect on Palestinians’ collective punishment
972mag 5 May by Mairav Zonszein — This year’s Memorial Day and Independence Day come at a time of increasing incidents of terror against the Palestinian population in both Israel and the West Bank. And yet, Palestinians are the ones being put under total closure — The Israeli military imposed a closure on Palestinians in the West Bank as of 6 p.m. local time Sunday that will continue throughout Memorial Day and end following Independence Day Tuesday night at 23:59 p.m. This means that in addition to their routine lack of freedom of movement, Palestinians will be under curfew and only emergency humanitarian cases will be considered for passage into Israel. General closures in the West Bank happen on almost all major holidays. The logic goes as follows: when Jews are observing a national holiday, whether mourning or celebration, the Palestinian population under occupation who are both prohibited from commemorating their own memorial day and lack an independence day of their own must be on extra lockdown. This is so that the Israeli security establishment can more easily preempt any possible disturbances to Jewish Israeli citizens’ freedom of movement; it is also the state’s way of reminding Palestinians who’s the boss of this land and to whom it really belongs.
Video: Authors confront Israel’s ‘Kafkaesque’ restrictions in Jerusalem
Electronic Intifada 5 May by Ali Abunimah — “You understand that these things exist before you come to Palestine. But before you’ve experienced it, you don’t really quite understand the apparatus and the kind of mechanism in place,” says UK poet Tom Warner. “One gets the impression that there’s nothing accidental about the way these checkpoints work on you, work on your spirit. These are well thought out. They’re intended to humiliate, they’re intended to dehumanize.” Warner is one of several writers who appear in this video released by the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest). It records the reactions of several authors including China Miéville, Gillian Slovo and Omar El-Khairy as they witness Israel’s oppressive system of walls, checkpoints and bureaucratic restrictions designed to make life in occupied Jerusalem impossible for its indigenous Palestinian residents.
Double standards for citizens of Israel
Sabbah Report 6 May by Jonathan Cook — The arrest of a journalist and several political activists in Israel over the past few weeks has provoked a troubling debate: are laws applied differently depending on whether a citizen is Jewish or not? It is a question more often raised in connection with the occupied territories, where Israel operates two legal systems for much of the population – a civilian one for Jewish settlers, and a much harsher, military one for Palestinians. But recent, well-publicised arrests in Israel suggest that Palestinian Arab citizens, who comprise a fifth of Israel’s population, also face what Amal Jamal, a politics professor at Tel Aviv University, calls a form of “legal apartheid”, despite their citizenship and the fact that they are living under the same set of laws. Particularly controversial was the arrest last month of Majd Kayyal, a journalist from Israel’s Palestinian minority who was seized at a border crossing on his return from a visit to Lebanon. He had traveled using special travel documents from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah … Zvi Bar’el, a Middle East analyst for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, said Israel had two standards, one for Israeli Jews and another for the Palestinian Arab population: “Arab journalists are suspected in advance of having one purpose for visiting an enemy state – espionage, giving information or ‘contact with a foreign agent’. An Israeli Arab journalist is seen first, and last, as an Arab.”
Hate crimes / Price tag
Israel police arrest seven minors over hate attacks
JERUSALEM (AFP) 5 May – Israeli police have arrested seven Jewish minors on suspicion of involvement in racist acts and vandalism, police said on Monday. Four of them between the ages of 13 and 15 are suspected of spraying racist graffiti at a building site by an Arab village west of Jerusalem on Sunday, spokeswoman Luba Samri said. Another three were arrested near Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday for spitting at a priest. In their bags, police found Israeli flags with Hebrew slogans on them, including the words “revenge” and “price tag,” she said, without giving their ages. “Price tag” is the euphemism for nationally-motivated hate crimes by Jewish extremists which predominantly target Palestinian and Arab property, but have also included attacks on other non-Jews as well as leftwing Israelis or the security forces. Such attacks tend to involve vandalism and trademark racist graffiti in Hebrew. All seven suspects are to be brought before a judge on Monday to extend their remand in custody, Samri said. On Sunday, a Jerusalem court extended by three days the detention of a man from the extremist settlement of Yitzhar who was arrested last week with his wife over an arson attack on an Israeli mosque last month, public radio said. Such racist attacks began sporadically several years ago with West Bank settlers seeking to exact a “price” for state moves against illegal settlement outposts. But since then, they have spread into Israel, with acts of nationally inspired vandalism now an almost daily occurrence, heaping pressure on the authorities to act. Despite hundreds of arrests, hardly anyone has been prosecuted. Last week, the US State Department for the first time included mention of “price tag” attacks in its global report on terror, saying such incidents were “largely unprosecuted”. On Sunday, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said she would back the idea of defining such acts as “terrorism.”
Ya’alon calls for ‘iron fist’ against anti-Arab hate crime
AFP 5 May — Israel must tackle anti-Arab hate crime with an “iron fist,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Monday at a memorial day ceremony for fallen soldiers and those killed in terror attacks. Earlier, police confirmed arresting seven minors over racist graffiti and spitting at a priest. The Israeli authorities are facing mounting pressure to rein in a spiraling wave of so-called “price tag” hate crimes by Jewish extremists targeting Arab Israelis and Palestinians, with new racist vandalism attacks being reported on an almost daily basis. And commentators have warned that a continued failure to tackle the phenomenon could end up triggering a violent backlash. “We must strive to be a state… that fights to the end against racism, against violence and against xenophobia,” Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said
Are the Israeli authorities really against hate crimes?
Haaretz 4 May by Amira Hass — Go to court and listen to the police and army’s excuses for not quashing the Maon Farm settlers’ harassment of Palestinians — Is there a connection between the regular harassment of schoolchildren by settlers from outpost X and the vandalism of Palestinian trees near outpost X? According to the IDF, the answer is no. So we learn from an April 28 deposition by Gilad Lev, who last year was a battalion commander in the southern Hebron Hills area. And do the police know what the ‘hilltop youth’ are? No. So we learn from a March 25 deposition by Shmuel Jerbi, a commander in the Judea and Samaria District Police Nationalist Crime Department. The statements were submitted for a preliminary hearing in a lawsuit that was heard Sunday before Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Einat Avman-Muller. The plaintiffs are the Amour family from the town of Yatta in the southern West Bank. In May 2013, half the trees in their orchard near the village of At-Tawani were destroyed by unidentified vandals. This was preceded by two similar incidents in 2006 and 2011 … The state prosecutor, via attorney Moshe Willinger, argued that the plaintiffs themselves were to blame for the vandalism of their orchard since they had not installed lighting on their own (this in Area C, where just pitching a stake in the ground, not to mention connecting to the electricity grid, entails endless amounts of red tape for Palestinians). The police closed the investigation into the vandalism ‘for lack of evidence,’ even though army trackers found footprints leading directly from the orchard to the home of a settler named Yissachar Mann in the nearby Maon Farm outpost.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Two children injured after soldiers attack them in Hebron
IMEMC Tuesday 6 May by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources have reported that two children were injured in two separate attacks carried out by Israeli soldiers in Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The sources said that several soldiers assaulted Khaled Zahda, 12, in the Bab az-Zaweya area, causing various cuts and bruises. Palestinian medics arrived at the scene, and moved to the wounded child to the Hebron Governmental Hospital in the city. The attack took place after Israeli soldiers invaded the area, and clashed with local youth who hurled stones at them. In addition, one child was injured in the head after a soldier topping [standing on top of?] a building near the Ibrahim Mosque dropped a stone at him. The child was also moved to the Hebron Hospital, suffering moderate injuries, medical sources said.
15 injured, 3 detained in Jerusalem clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 May — Fifteen Palestinians were injured, and three were detained in the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday, medics said. Medic Iyad Abu Sneineh said 15 people were injured in the clashes, including five who were taken to hospital for treatment. Among the injured was a man shot in the chest with a rubber-coated steel bullet, and an elderly woman hit in the foot with a stun grenade. Israeli forces also beat and arrested three people in the same area. The arrested were identified as the imam of al-Bahr mosque in Jaffa Mohammad Ayesh, Salih Sweiti, 22, and Hussam Seder. A Ma‘an reporter said that clashes started when Israeli forces suddenly attacked worshipers who were prevented from entering the al-Aqsa compound with stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. Female worshipers threw empty water bottles and shoes at the deployed forces. Islamic endowments director in Jerusalem Azzam al-Khatib told Ma‘an that “the closure of the al-Aqsa mosque is rejected. It is a clear violation of the religious rights of Muslims, and a violation of freedom of worship.”
Israeli forces arrest Palestinian journalist, child
IMEMC 5 May by Chris Carlson — Israeli forces arrested Palestinian journalist Majdoleen Hassouna, age 26, at al-Karama crossing, between the West Bank and Jordan, upon her return from Lebanon Monday afternoon. Majdoleen Hassouna, from Beit Umareen village, near Nablus, works as a project officer at the Euromid Observer for Human Rights-West Bank, reports Al Ray. She was on leave to take part in a Beirut workshop entitled “the Arab International Forum to Support the Organization of Prisoners of Freedom”. Local media said that Israeli forces seized Hassouna’s travel luggage and proceeded to interrogate her. The Euromid Observer expressed its concern about the detention of Hassoun, demanding her immediate release.
Daily harassment in the Qeitun area
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM Khalil Team) 6 May — Residents of the Qeitun area of Al-Khalil [Hebron], near Shuhada St. are presented with a very different kind of daily routine than other areas of the occupied West Bank. Israel occupation forces not only raid houses and harass people on a daily basis, but also use the local population as part of their military training. On Tuesday, the 29th of April, the Israeli army was training for the erecting and working of a flying checkpoint, pulling over cars on the main road of the area which leads to the military base, also called Qeitun. During this training the commander was instructing the soldiers how to stop and search drivers and their cars. Two days later, on Thursday 1st of May at 11:30pm, ISM activists were called out to witness the Israeli army performing a massive operation of night raids, with approximately 100 soldiers. When the activist got to the area, the army had detained an 18-year old. The youth was released 30 minutes after the arrival of the activists. Many of the local people, still in their nightdresses, were out in the streets while the soldiers were inside their houses. At around 1:00am the soldiers left the area and had what seemed like a quick evaluation of the whole operation, making it difficult to know whether it was an actual military operation or just some sort of training, similar to the flying checkpoint training that took place two days earlier. For the people of Qeitun there’s no actual difference between “training” and a live military operation of the occupation forces. In an ISM visit with a family of the Qeitun area, they report that the soldiers have been starting the raids as early as 9pm and had raided a total of 50 houses. They also reported that during one of the raids the soldiers had broken into a house with such violence that an elderly woman with a heart condition had gone into coma and had to be rushed to the hospital.
Army arrests four in West Bank, including minor
NABLUS (WAFA) 5 May – Israeli forces Monday arrested four people, including a minor, in the West Bank districts of Nablus, Tulkarm, Bethlehem and Qalqiliya, according to local and security sources. In Nablus district, army forces stormed the village of ‘Asira al-Qibliya and arrested a 22-year-old after raiding and searching his home and beating up his uncle, who was then transferred to hospital for medical treatment as he sustained several bruises throughout his body, reported witnesses. Meanwhile in Tulkarm, forces arrested a youth, 25, in the nearby Tulkarm refugee camp after raiding his home and searching it. In the meantime, Israeli army broke through the city of Bethlehem and arrested a youngster, 20, after storming and searching his home. Israeli army further arrested 10-year-old Osama Saleem after storming his home in the village of ‘Azzun near Qalqilya, according to witnesses.
Clashes, attacks, and abductions in Bethlehem and Jerusalem
IMEMC 6 May by Chris Carlson — With the protection of the army, hundreds of Israeli settlers stormed an agricultural area in the village of Nahhaleen, to the west of Bethlehem, on Tuesday, according to Ahmad Sukkar of the nearby Wadi Fukin village council. Around 300 settlers, accompanied by armed soldiers, stormed the area and sabotaged agricultural property owned by local residents, in addition to performing religious rituals and preventing farmers from reaching their own land, he said, according to WAFA. Settlers also previously attacked a courtyard for children, where they performed religious rituals, upon doing so. It is of note that settlers have recently intensified their attacks against Wadi Fukin, where they pump waste water from the illegal settlement of Beitar Illit, nearby, onto the village’s land.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Israeli police injured almost a dozen Palestinians and abducted three others during clashes which broke out in the vicinity of Old City Jerusalem. Police fired a barrage of stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets, injuring about dozen people who gathered near Bab Hatta (Hatta Gate), leading to al-Aqsa mosque, after being denied entry. Three people were taken to a hospital, while others were treated on site. Police also took three Palestinian-Israelis, including one of the mosque guards.
Army invades various Palestinian communities in West Bank
IMEMC Tuesday 6 May by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded several Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, installed roadblocks, and searched several homes after violently breaking into them. Local sources in Ya‘bad village, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, have reported that dozens of soldiers invaded the village and searched at least one home, before invading the area of the Homesh former Israeli settlement, and searching it. The sources said the soldiers invaded the vacant home of a resident identified as Mo’ab Hasan Qneiry, causing property damage. Soldiers also invaded Taqroumia town, west of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and searched a home belonging to resident Yasser Hasan Fatafta, 30, also causing property damage, in addition to interrogating several Palestinians. Several military vehicles invaded various neighborhoods in Hebron city, as well, along with several other nearby villages and towns south of the city, searching a number of homes; no arrests were reported. Dozens of soldiers also invaded various communities in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, mainly the Obeyyat area and Khalayel al-Louz. The army also installed a roadblock in the Sharaf area, between al-Khader and Batteer towns, west of Bethlehem, stopping dozens of cars causing traffic jams and extended delays … Also on Monday evening, soldiers stationed at the Za’tara military roadblock, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, kidnapped one Palestinian as he was trying to cross. Eyewitnesses said the army kidnapped Ata Sheikh Ibrahim, 26, from Kafr Ra‘i village, near Jenin, and took him to an unknown destination.
Gaza under double blockade
Egyptian navy detains 3 Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 May — The Egyptian navy detained three Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip early Tuesday, a union official said. Nizar Ayyash, spokesperson for the Gaza fishermen’s union, told Ma‘an that Egyptian naval squadrons obstructed a fishing boat off the coast of Rafah. The navy then took Amir Jamal al-Aqraa and his two brothers Muhammad and Fahd into custody, Ayyash said, without providing further details. Gaza fishermen face severe restrictions imposed by both Israel and Egypt, whose navies often fire on fishing boats that stray outside small “designated fishing zones.”
Rafah crossing closed again
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 May — Egyptian authorities on Tuesday evening closed the Rafah crossing after it was exceptionally opened for three days for pilgrims and people stranded in Egypt. The Egyptian ministry of interior said there were no set dates for the re-opening of the crossing. Some 840 Muslim pilgrims and a few others stranded in Egypt returned to Gaza through the crossing. The Palestinian crossings department said the Egyptian authorities still closed the crossing to departing humanitarian, medical cases and students.
Israel to close Erez crossing for national holiday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) — Israeli authorities will close the Erez, or Beit Hanoun, crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday and Tuesday, a Palestinian official told Ma‘an. The crossing is expected to be partially closed on Monday, except for those traveling from the Israeli side, and completely closed on Tuesday as Israel marks its independence day on May 6, crossings official Raed Fattouh said.
Arınç: Erdoğan has no immediate plans to visit Gaza
Cihan 6 May — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has no plans to visit the Gaza Strip in the near future, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has said. Arınç, speaking after a Cabinet meeting late on Monday, also said there has been no new developments in ongoing talks with Israel about compensation for families of the victims in an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship in 2010, even though the talks have achieved some progress. “Yes, the compensation talks were positive, and we have reached a certain point. But we are not at place [where we can] sign [a deal],” Arınç told reporters. “I hope that we will manage to reach such a point soon.” Erdoğan planned to visit Gaza last year but had to put his plans on hold amid disputes with Israel, which has been imposing a blockade on the coastal strip since 2007, and with Egypt’s new administration, which came to power after the toppling of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in the summer of last year. “No visit to Gaza in the near future is being planned. I will share details if this idea [for a visit becomes reality],” Arınç said on Monday. Media reports in Turkey and Israel recently said that the two countries are close to concluding a deal on compensation for the Turkish families.
Ferwana: ‘5,100 Palestinians currently detained by Israel’
IMEMC Sun 4 May by Saed Bannoura — Former political prisoner and head of the Census Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, stated that, by the end of last month, April 2014, the number of detainees held by Israel had arrived to 5,100. Ferwana stated that 84.5% of the detainees are from the West Bank, while the rest are from Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and historic Palestine. The detainees are held in 17 prisons and detention centers, mainly in Nafha, Ramon, Asqalan, Glaboa’, Shatta, ar-Ramla, ad-Damoun, HaSharon, Hadarim, the Negev Detention camp, Ofer and Majeddo. He added that 477 detainees are serving a minimum of one life term, 439 serving terms of at least 20 years, and 1,047 detainees have been sentenced to 10-20 years. Ferwana further stated that Israel is also holding captive 18 female detainees, 207 children, 192 Administrative Detainees (without charge or trial), 11 legislators and one former minister. “The Palestinians are still awaiting the release of the 30 remaining veteran detainees held since before the first Oslo agreement, including the oldest serving detainee Karim Younis, who was taken prisoner by Israel more than 31 years ago,” Ferwana added.
Ferwana: ‘Toxic waste could be leading cause of cancer among the detainees’
IMEMC Tues 6 May — Head of the Census Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, stated that high rates of cancer among Palestinian political prisons, held by Israel, could be attributed to nuclear toxic waste Israel buries near several prisons in the Negev Desert, south of the country. Ferwana said that 53.7% of the detainees are held in Be’er As-Sabe (Beersheba) Prison, Ramon, Nafha and the Negev detention camp, all located close to the area where Israel buries toxic waste, in the Negev Desert, close to the Dimona Israeli Nuclear Plant. The former political prisoner also stated that many Israeli Environment Ministers warned Tel Aviv of the dangers resulting from Israel’s toxic waste, its nuclear experiments and research in Dimona, the Oyon Masr (Egypt’s Eyes) Egyptian Paper has reported….
Palestinian refugees in/from Syria
Lebanon deports Palestinian refugees to Syria
Electronic Intifada 6 May by Maureen Clare Murphy — The Lebanese government deported approximately three dozen Palestinian refugees fleeing the violence in Syria back to the war-torn country on Sunday, “putting them at grave risk,” Human Rights Watch reported today. The group added that Palestinians attempting to cross over the land border from Syria into Lebanon were arbitrarily denied entry by the Lebanese government. The United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, stated today that it was “given assurances by the Lebanese authorities that these restrictions are temporary. We hope that they will be lifted within the next few days.” Human Rights Watch called on Lebanon to immediately lift its ban on Palestinian refugees from Syria. Regarding the group who were deported over the weekend, Human Rights Watch reported: Human Rights Watch spoke by phone on May 5 to two men who were part of a group of about three dozen people deported by Lebanese General Security on May 4. They and a third person had remained in the strip of territory between the Lebanese and Syrian border checkpoints at the Masnaa crossing for fear of what would happen to them if they reentered Syria. The rest of the group reentered Syria, where their fate is unknown … Meanwhile, the government of Jordan has denied entry to Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria since mid-2012, eventually adopting and enforcing a policy of non-entry to all Palestinians, as Hanine Hassan reported for The Electronic Intifada earlier this year.
Activism / BDS
Druze draft refuser on the mend after hospitalization
Haaretz 7 May by Amira Hass & Jack Khoury — Lawyer of jailed conscientious objector claims prison authorities repeatedly ignored her client’s requests for medical attention — Omar Saad, a Druze jailed for refusing to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, is out of danger after having been hospitalized in life-threatening condition on Friday, but it’s still not clear whether he suffered irreversible damage or when he will be released from the hospital. He was hospitalized three days after he began complaining to prison authorities of severe pain, and his family and lawyer say they suspect the authorities of deliberately ignoring his complaints. Saad has been jailed seven times since December 2013 for refusing to serve in what he terms “the army of occupation and oppression.” The last time, on April 13, he was sentenced to 40 days. At about noon on Tuesday of last week, he told the staff of the IDF’s Prison 6 that he was suffering severe pain throughout his body, along with dizziness and chills … In a letter sent to IDF legal officials earlier this week, attorney Smadar Ben-Natan quoted the attending doctor as saying that Saad suffered life-threatening liver failure due to a severe infection.
Wesleyan student fund bars investment in Israeli-occupation profiteers
Electronic Intifada 5 May by Ali Abunimah — Student representatives at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut voted on Sunday to support divestment from companies profiting from Israeli military occupation in Palestine. “While the resolutions passed by student governments at other universities have had largely symbolic implications, the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) holds a separate endowment that will soon be divested from companies implicated in the Israeli occupation,” Wesleyan University students involved in the initiative said in a statement sent to The Electronic Intifada. The Wesleyan Student Assembly endowment, worth several hundred thousand dollars, is the first in the US to be funded and managed by a student government. The endowment supports the activities of student organizations on campus. The resolution also calls on the university to divest its own holdings from such companies.
#SDSUdivest: Divestment leads the social justice agenda at San Diego State University
Mondoweiss 6 May by Nadir Bouhmouch — The spring of 2014 semester at San Diego State University was a turning point in student organizing on the campus. The proposal of a divestment bill in January that demanded the university cease its investments in corporations that are complicit in Israeli human rights violations along with a series of other events throughout the semester indicates the galvanization of a new campus left. The divestment results at San Diego State University’s University Council (16 against, 3 in favor, 3 abstentions) should not come as a surprise. We understood that we were introducing a bill that focused on social justice to a student government that focuses on business, applauding itself as a “corporation.” It is exactly for this reason that we introduced the resolution. The primary objective of the divestment initiative was to challenge the corporate model of student governance, to educate students on the human rights violations faced by the Palestinian people, and to stimulate the formation of inter-community solidarity amongst students at San Diego State University. In this respect, divestment was a spectacular victory.
Pink Floyd members strike nerve with call on Rolling Stones to boycott Israel
Electronic Intifada 1 May by Ali Abunimah — Yesterday, Roger Waters and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd urged the Rolling Stones not to go ahead with a planned concert in Tel Aviv this summer. “With the recent news that the Rolling Stones will be playing their first-ever concert in Israel, and at what is a critical time in the global struggle for Palestinian freedom and equal rights, we, the two surviving founders of Pink Floyd, have united in support of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), a growing, nonviolent global human rights movement initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005 to end Israel’s occupation, racial discrimination and denial of basic Palestinian rights,” the pair write in their message, published in Salon. “Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid; regardless of your intentions, crossing the picket line provides propaganda that the Israeli government will use in its attempts to whitewash the policies of its unjust and racist regime.” “If you wouldn’t play Sun City, back in the day, as you, the Rolling Stones did not, then don’t play Tel Aviv until such time as freedom reigns for all and equal rights is the law of the land,” the pair conclude. The message has been reported widely in mainstream media, including in The Washington Post and the New York Daily News. Abuse It has also been shared via social media thousands of times, and has garnered significant attention on Roger Waters’ Facebook page with almost 10,000 “likes” and 800 comments. Yet a large number of the comments, apparently from users in Israel, are extremely abusive against Waters and Palestinians, and many are Islamophobic. If anything, however, the backlash indicates how sensitive many Israelis are to calls that their state should suffer consequences over its systematic violations of the rights of millions of Palestinians.
Reconciliation / Unity
Abbas, Hamas chief hold first talks since unity deal
AFP 5 May — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas held “positive” talks with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Doha Monday in the first meeting since their rival movements signed a surprise unity deal last month. The meeting began at 0900 GMT shortly after Abbas held talks with Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, a senior Palestinian official told AFP in Ramallah. “Abbas and Meshaal held a long meeting this afternoon in Doha to discuss the latest Palestinian developments, including the reconciliation agreement and creating a positive atmosphere in which to achieve it,” a Hamas statement said. “The meeting was positive, with both leaders expressing a serious willingness to turn over a new leaf, based on national partnership,” it added. The exiled Hamas chief has been based in Doha for more than two years after leaving his previous base in Damascus because of the Syrian civil war. The last time the two leaders met face-to-face was in Cairo in January 2013.
Hamas to allow redistribution of banned newspaper
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 May — Hamas will allow the redistribution of a West Bank based newspaper in the Gaza Strip on Monday, seven years after it was banned, a Hamas official said. Gaza government spokesman Ihab al-Ghussein confirmed to Ma‘an that the daily Al-Quds newspaper will be available again in the Gaza Strip. The redistribution of factional media was demanded by the public freedoms committee, one of several subcommittees tasked with monitoring the implementation of a recent unity deal between Palestinian political factions. Since 2007, the Hamas government has banned the distribution of the Al-Quds newspaper, the most widely read Palestinian daily broadsheet, Al-Ayyam, which is generally pro-Fatah, and Al-Hayat al-Jadida, which is an official paper of the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority has banned the distribution of the Hamas-affiliated Gaza newspapers Al-Risalah, Palestine and al-Istiqlal.
Gaza govt releases 6 Fatah members in unity gesture
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 May — The Hamas-run Gaza government released six prisoners affiliated to the Fatah movement on Monday, an official said. Iyad al-Bazim, spokesman for the Gaza ministry of the interior, told Ma‘an that the prisoners had received a pardon from Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh as part of the April 23 PLO-Hamas unity deal. The six were convicted of various felonies, al-Bazim said, without elaborating.
Palestinian diaspora need unity deal
Al-Monitor 5 May by Daoud Kuttab — The PLO-Hamas reconciliation agreement signed in the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on April 23 is forcing Palestinians everywhere to revisit their own divisions and start working together for the common Palestinian good. For years, Palestinians living outside the occupied territories have been divided over many fronts. Not only was the PLO-Hamas split reflected in almost every diaspora community, but there has also been a generational split and a more intense ideological one. Palestinians and their supporters might agree on their opposition to the Israeli occupation, but they have been unable to agree as to what they are aiming for, and how they want to get there. While the PLO-Hamas split is often reflected in radical versus moderate terms, and violent versus nonviolent resistance, a different and more intense ideological battle has been brewing. Within the largely secular, liberal diaspora, a huge split has evolved not on how to achieve independence, but what kind of Palestinian state it should be. Supporters of the two-state solution are dismissed as “appeasers” and as “traitors to the cause of the right of return,” while supporters of the one-state solution are accused of preaching an ideology without providing any details on how they plan to convince Israeli Jews to come around and accept it.
PCBS: Unemployment rate among Palestinian labor force reaches 26.2%
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 6 May – The unemployment rate among the Palestinian labor force reached 26.2%, statistics issued Tuesday by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics revealed. The number of participants in the labor force in Palestine was about 1,253,600 in the 1st quarter 2014, with a labor force participation of 812,200 and 441,400 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively, according the results of the January-March round of the labor force survey conducted by the bureau. The labor force participation rate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was 47.2% and 44.8% respectively and the labor force participation rate of persons aged 15 years and above was 46.3%. The number of unemployed increased from 301,200 in the 4th quarter 2013 to 328,000 in the 1st quarter 2014; the number increased from 159,600 to 180,200 and from 141,600 to 147,800 in the Gaza Strip and West Bank respectively in the same period. In regard to unemployment rate, it increased from 38.5% in the 4th quarter 2013 to 40.8% in the 1st quarter 2014 while it remained steady in the West Bank at 18.2% in the same period. The unemployment rate for females remained higher than that of males; It reached 36.5% compared to 23.3% in the 1st quarter 2014. The survey designated Jerusalem as the governorate with highest unemployment rate in the West Bank governorates with 21.4%, while Khan Younis was designated as such in the Gaza Strip with 46.4%…
The survey revealed that average daily wage for wage employees in the West Bank was 90.2 NIS [about $26] compared with 61.7 NIS [about $18] in the Gaza Strip. In regard to Palestinians employed in Israel and Israeli settlements, the survey revealed that the number of Palestinian employees from the West Bank employed in Israel and Israeli settlements increased from 104,700 in the 4th quarter 2013 to 110,300 in the 1st quarter 2014, noting that only 55,500 had permits, 38,600 worked without permits while 16,200 employees had Israeli IDs or foreign passports. The number of Palestinian employees in Israeli settlements in particular increased from 18,900 in the 4th quarter 2013 to 23,200 in 1st quarter 2014.
Israel transfers PA funds as threat of sanctions wanes
Reuters 6 May — After threat to freeze PA funds, Palestinians claim Israel begins to transfer money to PA in bid to keep its large public sector functioning and maintaining stability in West Bank — Palestinian public sector workers received their salaries on Tuesday, Palestinian officials said, in a sign that Israel had backed down from a threat to impose sanctions as peace talks began to collapse last month. Israel had said on April 10 it would withhold funds after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a series of international human rights conventions he hoped would allow Palestinians to eventually challenge Israel at the United Nations, which recognized Palestine as a non-member state in 2012 … Palestinian officials said the payment reflected Israel’s decision to transfer more than $100 million in customs duties it collects on goods headed to Palestinian-run areas through border crossings it controls. The money accounts for about two-thirds of the Palestinian budget and is key to keeping its large public sector functioning and maintaining stability in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
EU countries make €16.4 contribution to the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 6 May — Today the European Union has contributed approximately €16.4 million to the payment of the April salaries and pensions of approximately 70,000 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The contribution, made through the PEGASE mechanism, is funded by the European Union (€7.05 million) and the governments of Denmark (DKK 40 million or c.€5.36 million), Ireland(€1.0 million), Italy (€1.0 million), Luxembourg (€1.0 million) and The Netherlands (c.€0.98 million earmarked specifically for salaries in the Justice sector)
Premier ties resumption of negotiations to prisoners release
TULKARM (WAFA) 6 May — Palestinian Premier Rami Hamdallah stated Tuesday that the resumption of negotiations is tied to releasing veteran Palestinian prisoners. Hamdallah noted if Palestinian prisoners are not released, neither President Mahmoud Abbas will return to negotiations table nor comprehensive peace will be achieved. On intra-Palestinian reconciliation, Hamdallah expressed his hopes that prompt steps would be taken to achieve it and noted Abbas’ tireless efforts in this regard. Hamdallah made these statements while taking part in a sit-in staged in front of the Red Cross headquarters in Tulkarm demanding the release of all prisoners.
Hamas won’t recognize Israel, accept Quartet terms
GAZA CITY (AFP) 4 May — Hamas will never recognise Israel and will not accept the conditions laid out by the Middle East peacemaking Quartet, according to the Islamist movement’s deputy leader. Speaking late on Saturday, Mussa Abu Marzuq said Hamas, which recently signed a reconciliation deal with the Western-backed Palestinian leadership in the occupied West Bank, would never agree to recognise Israel. “We will not recognise the Zionist entity,” he said at a press conference in Gaza City … Recognising Israel is one of the key conditions laid out in the 2003 peacemaking roadmap of the Middle East Quartet, which brings together the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia. The other two key demands are a renunciation of violence and acceptance of all prior agreements with Israel. Abbas, who is to head the new government, to consist of political independents, has insisted it will abide by all three principles. But Abu Marzuq said Hamas would never accept the Quartet’s conditions. “Hamas rejects the Quartet’s conditions because it denies some of our people’s rights,” he told reporters.
Israel PM defends plans for law on Jewish state
JERUSALEM (AFP) 4 May — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday moved to defend his plans to enshrine Israel’s status as the national homeland for the Jewish people in law. Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the aim was to “anchor” in law Israel’s status and ensure it would remain a Jewish state following any peace deal with the Palestinians. “There are those who do not want Israel to be defined as the national homeland for the Jewish people,” he said in remarks broadcast on public radio. “They want a Palestinian national homeland to be established here next to us, and that Israel be gradually turned into a bi-national Jewish-Arab state within our reduced borders,” he told ministers in a reference to Israel’s Arab minority who number just over 20 percent of the population. Netanyahu and others in the rightwing camp have long expressed fears that following the establishment of a Palestinian state, Israel’s Arab citizens would seek to press their own claims for territory in the northern Galilee and southern Negev regions.
Israel to US and EU: Palestinians deceived Kerry
Haaretz 7 May by Barak Ravid — The Palestinians intentionally deceived United States Secretary of State John Kerry about their willingness to conduct serious negotiations, and should therefore be blamed for the failure of the peace talks, National Security Advisor Joseph Cohen charged in a letter sent to numerous Western capitals over the last two weeks. Read Cohen’s full letter here.
Top US officials to visit Israel this week
WASHINGTON (AFP) 6 May — US National Security Advisor Susan Rice will visit Israel this week for high-level talks only days after the collapse of a US-led peace bid, the White House said Tuesday. Rice will “lead the US delegation to the US-Israel Consultative Group meetings” on Wednesday and Thursday, said Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council. It will be Rice’s first trip to Israel since becoming the top security advisor to President Barack Obama in July and also comes just ahead of resumed negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program … Rice will also meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hayden said in a statement. The trip comes as the White House is evaluating whether to continue with its hard-fought negotiations to strike a peace deal after Netanyahu last month announced Israel was pulling out of the process.
Israel spies on US more than any other ally
Mondoweiss 6 May by Philip Weiss — Ah the unending gifts of the special relationship! Jeff Stein reports at Newsweek that Israel spies on the U.S. more than any other ally. “Alarming” and “terrifying” are the words used by a congressional aide who has seen the evidence of Israeli theft of US secrets. “Key components for Israel’s nuclear bombs were clandestinely obtained here,” Paul Pillar tells Stein, echoing Grant Smith. Notice how this story has emerged in the context of the visa exemption that Israel seeks from the U.S. for its citizens. If they’re coming over here without needing a visa, what’s going to stop them from even more spying, asks that congressional aide.
Maronite Patriarch: ‘I am not visiting Holy Land in recognition of occupation’
BEIRUT (WAFA) 6 May – Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara al-Raʻi reiterated Tuesday that his upcoming visit to the Holy Land is intended to support the Palestinian cause. Al-Raʻi announced his intention to visit the Holy Land, primarily Jerusalem, as part of the delegation accompanying Pope Francis the first in his first visit to the Holy land during this month. While it has been the habit of a newly elected pontiff to visit the Holy Land, it is the first time that a Lebanese patriarch accompanies him and steps foot on it. Though his intention sparked a lot of criticism among those who perceive it as normalization with Israel, al-Raʻi underscored his support for the Palestinian cause. “I intend to visit the Holy Land not in recognition of the [Israeli] occupation but to declare that this is our land. I am going there to emphasize that this land does not belong to the Jews. I intend to tell the Palestinians that we stand by them and support them,” al-Raʻi was quoted Tuesday by the Lebanese Al-Nahar daily.
Protesters accuse Red Cross of bias toward Israel
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 6 May – During the inauguration of a water network funded by the International Committee of the Red Cross, protestors stuck a poster on an ICRC vehicle accusing the international body of siding with Israel. The head of the ICRC mission in the West Bank was attending a ceremony to inaugurate the network in Jayyus village. The network brings water from artisan wells in the village’s outskirts which has been separated from the village by Israel’s separation wall. When the ceremony came to an end, a sticker was found on the ICRC vehicle reading “long-term overwhelming structural bias for Israel.”
Iran’s Zarif says new diplomacy has isolated Israel
AFP 6 May — Iran‘s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fought back against increasingly scathing criticism from hardliners, saying Tuesday that his pragmatic approach to diplomacy had stolen Israel‘s thunder. After years of bellicose rhetoric from ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Zarif said the new government had managed to put an end to Israel’s portrayal of Iran “as a danger” over its nuclear ambitions. Ultra-conservatives have upped the ante in recent weeks by chastising an interim nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers in November, under Zarif’s brief as the top negotiator. Comprised of religious figures, former lawmakers and officials as well as some incumbent MPs, the critics are also unhappy about Zarif’s more moderate foreign policy, including what they call his “reactionary stance towards the bastard (Israeli) Zionist regime and the Holocaust.”
The Month in Pictures: April 2014
Electronic Intifada 6 May
Assured debut film portrays Palestinian artist’s triumph over Israel jailer
Electronic Intifada 1 May by Maureen Clare Murphy — The power dynamic between an imprisoned Palestinian artist and his Israeli interrogator is the subject of Jessica Habie’s surreal debut feature film Mars at Sunrise (watch the trailer above). The very bold, very stylized film is inspired by the life of painter Hani Zurob who, like Khaled, Mars at Sunrise’s protagonist, was arrested, interrogated and held in solitary confinement in an attempt to recruit him as an informant for the Israeli military. There isn’t much of a plot to Mars at Sunrise beyond Khaled meeting a young Iranian-American woman whose taxi has broken down at a military checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, where waiting seems like the “national sport,” according to the woman’s narration. As the two drive to Ramallah, they are delayed at another checkpoint; the soldier on duty has decided to take a nap, so everyone must wait. When Khaled catches a glimpse of the soldier, he has a flashback to his arrest and experience in prolonged solitary confinement — during which his only human interaction was with his interrogator, who happens to be the same soldier sleeping at the checkpoint. Two years earlier, the flashback shows, Khaled’s home in Jerusalem was annexed to Israel. Because Khaled doesn’t hold a blue Jerusalem ID card and therefore “permission” to live in the city, he lost his job teaching art to schoolchildren and is forced to move to Ramallah. Colors But even complying with Israel’s unjust laws doesn’t afford Khaled protection. His Ramallah home is raided and his artwork vandalized, and Khaled is arrested and taken to a detention center. Here, Khaled’s interrogator tries to tempt him into becoming an informant by promising him a blue Jerusalem ID card — a cruel position into which countless Palestinians have been put. Colors — like that of Israel’s movement restriction regime which mandates ID cards of different colors for Palestinians living in different areas — are a running theme.