Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
The Prawer plan, special West Bank edition
Haaretz1 June by Amira Hass — Quietly, without demonstrations or consulting the stakeholders, the Civil Administration is cooking up a plan to relocate West Bank Bedouin into crowded new townships — What does this remind you of? Thousands of people are forced, at gunpoint, to leave their homes. They are herded together and the people with the guns force them to live together, at a level of crowding that conflicts with their way of life and of earning a living. It doesn’t really matter what this reminds us of. The Civil Administration in the West Bank, part of the executive branch of the Israeli government, is diligently working on wreaking another calamity on thousands of people. For us that’s small change, right? A slight shudder of the printer as it ejects the pages with the orders. An appointed body, not one that is elected by those whose fates are in its hands, composed of civil employees, settlers and active or retired military personnel, is preparing another draconian version of the so-called Prawer plan. The original plan was for the forcible relocation of Bedouin in the Negev, while the new one targets Bedouin in the West Bank. The Civil Administration doesn’t ask them what they want, listen to them or consider their history or future. The areas that will be cleared will be used to build thousands of apartments for Jews and also, presumably, parks as well as single-family farms (the latter, known as “lone farms,” for Jews only). How simple. How easy. The target this time is Bedouin communities between Jerusalem and Jericho and north of Jericho, comprising 15,000 to 20,000 people all together. We are used to seeing Bedouin in tents and tin shacks along the new highways, or searching for grass to pasture their flocks, on bits of land between expanding settlements and military bases. Many think their way of life is primitive, hard and pointless. That attitude is used to justify the mass expulsion-concentration now being drafted by the Civil Administration, that messenger of modernity and progress.
Israeli Supreme Court offers a conciliation process to achieve a fair solution on Bedouin lands case; state must answer in two weeks whether it agrees to conciliation on Araqib lands
Gush Shalom press release 4 June — At the end of long deliberation at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, the court suggested the holding of a conciliation process in order to reach a fair solution on the question of Bedouin land ownership at Al Araqib, northwest of Beersheba. The judges expressed their displeasure with the extremely long delay in dealing with claims filed by the Bedouins over fifty years ago, and suggested that negotiations be conducted for six months between the al-Ukbi tribespeople and the state authorities, in order to achieve “a fair solution.” Attorney Michael Sfard, representing the al-Ukbis, proposed to establish a process of conciliation. The judges were favorably inclined to this proposal, but state representatives sought a month`s extension before answering. Ultimately, the court ruled that the state must present its position regarding conciliation within two weeks … The Judges’ tendency to promote negotiations, as well as their support for the conciliation idea proposed by the Ukbis’ counsel, suggest that the judges regard the issue as complex, many-faceted, not to be considered by purely judicial criteria; such consideration might justify rethinking what is due to the Bedouins, and move away from the tight-fisted policies hitherto implemented by the Israel Lands Administration. It should be noted that in previous cases where negotiations were conducted between the state authorities and Bedouin residents of the Negev , the proposals offered by the state consisted of no more than monetary compensations (usually low) and in rare cases a small piece of land (but not the original land from which the Bedouin had been dispossessed , but land in another location determined arbitrarily by the state) . It would be difficult to define any such proposals as a “Fair Solution.” Members of the al-Ukbi Tribe had been expelled in 1951 from their homes and lands at Al Araqib, by the military government at the time ruling over the Arab citizens of Israel . Simultaneously with the expulsion, the then Government of Israel unilaterally expropriated the land and declared it to be state property, without even bothering to inform the previous owners of having taken that course.
Serious neglect of neighborhoods cut off by Separation Barrier: 3 months without regular running water
[with VIDEO] B’Tselem 27 May — In early March 2014 Hagihon, Jerusalem’s water utility company, stopped the regular supply of running water to several neighborhoods in north-east Jerusalem, namely: Shu‘fat Refugee Camp, Ras Khamis, Ras Shehadeh and Dahiyat as-Salaam (literally: Neighborhood of Peace), which have all been isolated from the rest of Jerusalem by the Separation Barrier. Some homes in these neighborhoods have been completely cut off from the water supply; others receive water intermittently; and as for the rest, the water pressure in the pipes is so low that the water does not reach the faucets. As a result, an estimated 60,000-80,000 Palestinians – mostly permanent residents of Israel – have been left without a regular water supply. The residents spent three weeks in making repeated applications to Hagihon and to the Jerusalem Municipality, seeking to have running water restored. When their requests went unheeded, on 25 March 2013, ACRI petitioned the High Court of Justice seeking to have the water supply renewed without delay … The fact that tens of thousands of people have been cut off from the water system is but another outcome of the severe and ongoing neglect of the residents of Jerusalem neighborhoods separated by the Separation Barrier from the rest of East Jerusalem. The construction of the barrier and the isolation of these neighborhoods have led to a state of neglect even more severe than that endured by east Jerusalem neighborhoods for decades.
Emek Shaveh: Archaeological narratives and control of Jerusalem
Palestine Monitor 19 May by Beth Staton — It was a find, literally, of biblical proportions. Last week, Israeli archaeologist Eli Shukron boldly claimed that he’d discovered the legendary citadel captured by King David in his conquest of 3,000 years ago – a site that has long evaded discovery, but which is regarded as pivotal to Jewish biblical history. Unsurprisingly, the claim is not uncontroversial. Many Israeli archaeologists, Haaretz reports, are deeply critical of colleagues who “hold a spade in one hand and a bible in the other” as they scramble to verify biblical events throughout the holy land. In Jerusalem, archaeology is rarely a neutral practice – and its use has a profound impact on people’s perception of the past and their experience of the present. The organisation behind the latest discovery – and where Eli Shukron served, until recently, as Chief Head of Excavations – has a lot invested in the battle for Jerusalem’s history. The Ir David Foundation, popularly known as Elad, was founded in 1986. It is an NGO “dedicated to the preservation and development of the biblical City of David and its environs.” But as well as uncovering the Jewish heritage of the area, it’s also committed to establishing ideological Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem neighborhoods – creating “facts on the ground” that remain among the biggest obstacles to peace in the city. One of the groups scrutinizing this situation is Emek Shaveh, an NGO devoted to interrogating political archaeology in Jerusalem.
Israeli forces demolish East Jerusalem structures
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 June — Israeli forces on Monday demolished two Palestinian structures in the East Jerusalem towns of Hizma and Silwan, locals said. Israeli forces escorted bulldozers to the town of Hizma, where they destroyed a car wash owned by Faris Salah Addin. Israeli forces also confiscated refrigerators from a store in the town, as well as sealing a number of commercial properties. In Silwan, Israeli forces demolished a number of barns used to keep horses in the al-Ein al-Fuqa area.
Israeli forces demolish farmers’ roadside stands near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 2 June – Israeli forces Monday demolished Palestinian-owned roadside stands used by farmers to sell their agricultural harvest in the village of Beit Ummar, to the north of Hebron, according to activist Mohammad Awad. He said army forces and a staff from Etzion illegal settlement municipality demolished the roadside stands, damaging the vegetables and fruits. To be noted, these sheds are a source of income for dozens of Palestinian families in the village.
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian house near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 June – Israeli forces demolished on Monday a small Palestinian house in the village of Wadi Rahhal to the southeast of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank. The owner of the house told Ma‘an that it consisted of one room in addition to a kitchen and a bathroom. Majid Abu Srour added that the Israeli troops said the house was demolished because it was built without a license. He highlighted that he received a warrant from the Israeli forces a month ago notifying him that his house has been built without a license. Abu Srour is the director of liaison office at the Palestinian side of the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.
Tensions around Al-Aqsa as Israelis celebrate Shavuot
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 3 June — Israeli forces imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshipers in Jerusalem on Tuesday for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed the main entrances to Al-Aqsa Mosque and only allowed men over 50 to enter. Students were also denied entry. Employees of the Palestinian Ministry of Endowment were eventually allowed in after being made to wait. Restrictions began on Monday when Palestinian worshipers were denied entry for noon prayers. Since the, hundreds of Palestinians have been denied access.Ministry of Endowment officials said that over 150 right-wing Jews have visited the compound, including far-right MK Yehuda Glick.
Israeli police prevent women from entering al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 June – Israeli police prevented dozens of women from entering the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday.
Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli police at the entrances of al-Aqsa prevented some 200 women from entering the mosque. The officers insisted that each woman deposit her identity card before she went inside, though they knew the IDs had been seized by police since Sunday evening. One of the worshippers said that the police would not let them enter al-Aqsa until they get their Identification cards from al-Qashla police station near Jaffa gate. The women pointed out that the police station had refused to give them back their cards on Sunday. “We tried to enter by showing the card that was given to us a day before by the police, but they refused and insisted that we go to al-Qashla and get our identification cards,” one worshiper said. Women gathered at gates surrounding the mosque chanting “Allahu Akbar” while the Israeli police cursed them and pushed some of them away.
Palestinian families torn between the territories
Middle East Monitor 3 June by Jessica Purkiss — Eight years ago, Mostafa Easariaj set off on a summer vacation to visit his father. His father, Hachem, still lives in the tiny, impoverished Gaza Strip, where Mostafa was born and resided in until he was 16 when his mother seized a rare chance to relocate to West Bank, which while under military occupation, is free from airstrikes and total blockades. Now 26, Mostafa still remains in Gaza, with Israeli policies ensuring that his summer vacation is likely to last a lifetime. “Many times he tried to come back, but the Israeli policies and procedures do not allow it,” said his mother, Hekmat Bsaiso, from a coffee shop in Ramallah. “He was never meant to stay in Gaza forever. He went as a teenager- he was 18, and now he is 26,” she said. Gaza and the West Bank are Palestinian territories, and both are supposed to constitute a single territorial entity, according to international accords signed by Israel – freedom of movement was to be permitted, notably through a safe passage. However, Israel’s policy of separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank is creating an almost impenetrable barrier between the two areas.After divorcing and moving to the West Bank, Hekmat remarried and gave birth to her second son, Yazam. While she holds a Gaza ID, her husband has West Bank ID, as does her youngest son. Her older son has Gaza ID. As Hekmat is registered as a Gazan resident, Israel views her as illegally residing in the West Bank- since 2000 the Israeli authorities, which controls the Palestinian population registry, have refused to allow those registered as Gaza to change their registered address, even if they have lived in the West Bank for many years. As a result these people face the constant threat of deportation back to Gaza without warning. This means, if Hekmat was to try and visit her son in Gaza, she would have to ask for special permission from the Israeli authorities and face the prospect of not being able to return to the West Bank. In this case, her son, with the West Bank ID, would be unable to join her.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Illegal arrests
Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 3 June – Israeli forces, at dawn Tuesday, shot and killed a Palestinian at Zaʻtara military checkpoint, located to the south of Nablus in northern West Bank, according to witnesses. Israeli forces stationed at Zaʻtara checkpoint shot and killed ‘Alaa Mohamad ‘Audah, 30, as he approached the checkpoint before they sealed and declared the checkpoint a closed military zone. Witnesses said that ‘Audah is a resident of Huwwarah, a town located to the south of Nablus, married with two children. He owns a cell phone store in Huwwara.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PHCR) reported that Israeli military claimed that ‘Audah approached the checkpoint and opened fire, slightly injuring a soldier, when soldiers returned fire, killing him instantly. However, PHCR reported that a taxi driver, who dropped ‘Audeh off near the checkpoint, denied that ‘Audeh was carrying a weapon on him. PCHR said that there were no witnesses at the scene at that late-night hour to back up the Israeli claims. PHCR said that ‘Audah arrived at the checkpoint in order to receive a shipment of cell phones for a store he owned, according to the taxi driver, who said he also dropped ‘Audeh off on Monday night at the same checkpoint for the same reason and drove him back home. Following the shooting of ‘Audah to death, Israeli military vehicles stormed Huwwara and broke into his cell phone store and confiscated his laptop. Meanwhile, clashes erupted between Israeli troops and Palestinians along Huwwara road following the killing of ‘Audeh, where troops opened heavy gunfire and shot tear gas canisters at them, causing traffic congestion at the area, according to Spokesperson of Fatah Movement in Huwwara ‘Awwad Najm. No injuries were reported among Palestinians while Israeli forces continue to withhold ‘Audah’s body.
Family of man killed by Israeli forces denies he shot at police
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 3 June — The family of a man killed by Israeli soldiers near Nablus late Monday have denied Israeli claims that he opened fire at forces. They identified the man as ‘Alaa Muhammad ‘Awad ‘Audah, 30, from the town of Huwwara south of Nablus. According to the Israeli army, ‘Audah approached the Zaatara checkpoint late Monday and opened fire at an Israeli policeman, lightly wounding him in the leg. Soldiers responded by shooting and killing ‘Audah.
But his family told Ma‘an Tuesday that the 30-year-old arrived at the checkpoint in order to receive a shipment of cell phones for a store he owned. In order to avoid traffic, Audah decided to cross the checkpoint and retrieve his package on foot while his taxi driver waited nearby, family member Jumaah Omran said. Soldiers shot and killed him as he approached the checkpoint, Omran added. Locals told Ma‘an that the shooting occurred as Israel army chief of staff Benny Gantz was visiting Joseph’s Tomb nearby. ‘Audah left behind a wife and two children. His village, Huwwara, has announced three days of mourning. His body has yet to be delivered to his family.
Soldiers invade Huwwara, clashes reported
IMEMC 3 June by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday morning [June 3, 2014], Huwwara town, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and clashed with dozens of local youth who threw stones and empty bottles at them. Awwad Najm, spokesperson of the Fateh Movement in Huwwara, stated the clashes took place along the main road in the town, and that the army fired dozens of gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets. Najm added that the main road is still jammed, as more soldiers were deployed in the area. He stated that the army is still withholding the body of ‘Ala Odeh, 30, a resident of Huwwara who, on Monday night, was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers stationed at the Za’tara Israeli roadblock, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Army closes village entrance near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 2 June — The Israeli army on Tuesday closed the northern entrance leading to the village of Taqu‘ to the southeast of Bethlehem, according to local sources. Head of Taqou‘ village council Taysir Abu Mifreh told WAFA that the northern entrance was unexpectedly closed by Israeli forces, which caused a traffic jam. He said the village has been under repeated attacks by Israeli soldiers, including the firing of stun grenades and tear gas canisters in the vicinity of the village’s schools, the continuous raids and arrest of local residents.
Settler runs over sheep, kills ten near Jenin
JENIN (WAFA) 2 June – An Israeli settler Monday ran over a Palestinian private-owned herd of sheep in the village of Batraa [Barta‘a?] to the southwest of Jenin, according to witnesses. They said a settler ran over the flock, killing ten sheep. [Photo here ]
Israeli forces arrest 2 in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 June — Undercover Israeli soldiers on Monday evening arrested two Palestinians from the center of the city of Bethlehem. Local security sources told Ma‘an that the Israeli forces were in a commercial truck before raiding the Cinema area and arresting two people. One of the detainees was identified as Bassam Abdul Rahman Hassanat from Duheisha camp, and the other is yet to be identified. They were both taken to undisclosed location.
Israeli soldiers seize tractor, detain man in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 3 June — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man on Monday after confiscating his father’s agricultural tractor in the Hebron town of Beit Ummar, local officials said. Popular committee spokesman Muhammad Ayad Awad told Ma‘an that soldiers stopped farmer Ali Daoud al-Alami while he was working his land in the Wadi al-Sheikh area. Al-Alami presented his license and registration to the soldiers, but they insisted on seizing the vehicle and took it to the nearby Karmi Tsur settlement. They also detained his son, Imad al-Alami.
Israeli forces arrest 15 Palestinians in West Bank and Jerusalem
HEBRON (WAFA) 2 June – Israeli forces arrested on Monday 14 Palestinians from across the West Bank areas, in addition to a youth from the Jerusalem area, according to local sources. In Hebron district, forces stormed the city of Hebron, al-Fawwar refugee camp and al-Burj, located to the south and southwest of Hebron respectively, where they arrested seven Palestinians aged between 16 and 36 years. Meanwhile, forces stormed ‘Aida refugee camp, located to the north of Bethlehem, where they arrested four Palestinians aged between 25 and 37 after breaking into and searching their families’ houses. Meanwhile, forces, backed with seven military vehicles, broke into the eastern neighborhood of Jenin and al-Basatin neighborhood, where they arrested three Palestinians, including an 18-year-old, after breaking into, searching and wrecking havoc on their families’ houses. Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Israeli police stormed Al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan, located to the south of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and arrested a Palestinian youth.
Israeli forces arrest six Palestinians in West Bank, including minor
HEBRON (WAFA) 3 June — Israeli forces on Tuesday arrested six Palestinians, including a minor, in the West Bank districts of Hebron, Salfit and Jenin, according to local and security sources. In Hebron, army forces stormed al-Fawwar refugee camp and arrested a 16-year-old. They also stormed the nearby village of ad-Dhahiriya and arrested a 45-year-old local resident. Two other people from the nearby city of Dora were also arrested while on their way to the city of Qalqilya in the northern West Bank.
Meanwhile in Jenin, Israeli army stormed the village of Burqin and arrested a youth, 33, after raiding and searching his home. Forces also stormed the nearby village of al-Yamun, raided several homes and interrogated their residents. In Salfit, in the central West Bank, forces stormed the village of Qarawat-Bani-Hassan and arrested a17-year-old high school student.
Gaza under dual blockades
Israeli naval boats open fire at Gaza fishermen
GAZA (WAFA) 3 June – Israeli naval boats Tuesday opened fire at Palestinian fishermen and fishing boats off the coast of Gaza city, according to WAFA correspondent. A fisherman reportedly said that Israeli naval boats fired rounds of live ammunition at fishermen off the coast of al-Sudaniya, located to the northwest of Gaza city, although fishermen were fishing within the allowed six nautical miles fishing zone unilaterally imposed by Israel. Several fishing boats were reportedly damaged and no injuries were reported among fishermen who fled the scene fearing further Israeli attacks
Detainees / Hunger strikers
Israel extends detention of 41 prisoners in May
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 June – A prisoners’ rights group said Tuesday that the Israeli authorities extended the administrative detention of 41 administrative prisoners in May, most of them for the second or third time in a row. The Prisoner’s Society declared that 26 prisoners’ detentions were extended for six months, one prisoner for five months, 11 prisoners for four months, and three prisoners for three months. Qaddura Faris, director of the Prisoner’s Society, said that “all of these signs show that Israel is throwing away all rules and international laws which … is a message to the world more than it is a message to us.”
60 hunger strikers in Eshel prison ‘in solitary confinement’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 June — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said in a statement that the number of prisoners hunger striking in the Beersheba prison of Eshel had reached 60 and that each of the strikers was being held in solitary confinement … The prisoners are among hundreds refusing meals in solidarity with administrative detainees who have been on hunger strike for 41 days. PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement Sunday that the strikers “represent the most selfless struggle for justice and freedom in Palestine.” The ongoing hunger strike exposes “the cruelty and illegality of the ongoing illegal occupation, particularly in relation to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails,” Ashrawi said. She called on the international community to pressure Israel to meet the hunger strikers’ demands. “The deafening silence from the international media and some official circles regarding the hundreds of Palestinian prisoner hunger strikers is inexcusable,” she said….
Approximately 100 striking prisoners launched their campaign on April 24 in protest against Israel’s continued use of detention without trial against Palestinians despite a 2012 promise to limit the use of administrative detention to exceptional cases. That promise came as a result of a hunger strike involving more than 2,000 Palestinians that brought many to the brink of death. Since the beginning of this year’s strike, hundreds of other prisoners have joined the original 100, while thousands have held one-day solidarity strikes.
Netanyahu: Force-feed hunger-striking prisoners
Alternative News 3 June — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called during Mondays’ meeting of the security cabinet to move forward the discussion on a law to force-feed hunger-striking prisoners. The proposed law was voted in the first instance by the Israeli parliament, although two more votes are needed for it to become law. 70 Palestinian administrative prisoners on hunger strike were transferred to Israeli hospitals as the strike reaches its 40th day. Netanyahu met on Monday with top advisers and members of the security cabinet – including public security minister Yitzchak Aharonovich, and the heads of the prison system – to discuss the matter. However, the heads of Israel’s doctors’ associations had ordered physicians not to cooperate on passing the law or in carrying it out if passed. In response, Netanyahu said that he was sure he could find doctors who would be interested in helping out.
PLO says Israel responsible for prisoners’ lives
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 June – The PLO executive committee said Tuesday that it held Israel completely responsible for the lives of prisoners on hunger strike. The committee condemned Israel’s approach to the lives of the prisoners and their demands. It warned that dozens are being moved to hospitals and are at the risk of dying at any time. The PLO called on the secretary general of the UN and the head of the UN human rights commission to intervene to save the lives of the prisoners.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Palestinian refugee from Yarmouk dies under torture
DAMASCUS (PIC) 2 June — … According to the action group for the Palestinians in Syria, a young man named Mohamed Farhoud from Al-Yarmouk camp was killed under torture in a Syrian jail. The action group added that many families in Al-Yarmouk released a statement on Sunday to announce their hunger strike and refusal to receive food aid in protest at the kidnapping of some women during their receipt of food parcels in an area on the road to Beit Sahem checkpoint. The families accused armed men from the Syrian regime army and the popular front for the liberation of Palestine-general command (PFLP-GC) of kidnapping the women. They appealed in their statement to the Palestinian leaders and human rights groups to urgently intervene to have these women released and protect Al-Yarmouk refugees against starvation, kidnapping, and humiliation. The action group said that Al-Yarmouk residents suffer from water crisis after its water supply have been cut to all areas of the camp for several days. In Khan Dannun camp, the escalating armed actions there prompted a large number of Palestinian refugee families to leave their homes. In another context, the action group for the Palestinians in Syria released on Monday a statistical report on the Palestinian death toll in Syria.
According to its report, 2,290 Palestinian refugees have been killed as a result of the armed conflict raging in Syria for more than three years. 2,256 of these refugee were killed inside Syria, while 34 others died as they were trying to flee the war and go to Europe through Arab countries, the report stated. 140 of the reported victims died from hunger and malnutrition, or because they did not receive medical care in the besieged Yarmouk camp.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Ads against Apartheid launches campaign questioning Israel’s commitment to peace
BOSTON (WAFA) 2 June – Ads Against Apartheid, with approval from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), launched Monday subway advertisements highlighting Israeli abuses of Palestinians’ human rights. The two [three] advertisements question Israel’s commitment to peace with a banner that reads, “Does Israel want peace or land?” The first ad explains that Israel has demolished over 25,000 Palestinian homes since 1967, leaving thousands of families homeless. The second ad highlights the 150 Jewish-only cities that Israel has built on Palestinian land over which it maintains military occupation. A third poster displays statistics about the level of violence perpetrated by the Israeli military (On average, the Israeli military has killed 1 Palestinian child every 4 days since 2000), and calls on Americans to end support for Israeli apartheid. President of Ads Against Apartheid Chadi Salamoun applauded the MBTA’s approval, stating: “the ads simply state the facts and are backed up with citations from credible human rights and international organizations, including the United Nations.” Salamoun understood that some may find the information in the advertisements upsetting, but he explained that “if the ads are shocking, that’s because the reality on the ground is shocking.” Richard Colbath-Hess, co-founder of Ads Against Apartheid and a Jewish-American faculty member at the University ofMassachusetts, stated “American tax dollars help the Israeli government maintain an incredibly brutal military occupation, which has denied the Palestinian people their basic rights for decades. [See posters here ]
G4S probed by UK watchdog over West Bank security contracts
The Telegraph 2 June by Andrew Trotman — G4S is being investigated by a UK Government-funded watchdog over the supply of security equipment to the West Bank and Israel. The National Contact Point (NCP), a part of the Department for Business, said it had “accepted issues for further examination” into the British company’s actions in the area. G4S supplies and services security and screening equipment to military checkpoints, prisons and detention centres in occupied Palestinian territories. Following a complaint by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR), the NCP will look at whether the human rights of Palestinians have been breached by G4S. G4S, which employs 6,000 people in Israel, denies the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.
New Palestinian unit government sworn in
RAMALLAH (AFP) 2 June by Nasser Abu Bakr — A long-awaited Palestinian unity government was sworn in before president Mahmud Abbas on Monday after a landmark reconciliation deal with the Islamist Hamas that has infuriated Israel. Following a ceremony at the Muqata‘a presidential compound in Ramallah, Abbas hailed “the end” of a bitter and sometimes bloody divide between his Fatah movement and the rival Hamas which rules Gaza. Hamas also applauded the new government as representing “all Palestinians,” saying it was a “turning point” in its formerly bitter relations with Fatah. Standing on a red carpet lined with Palestinian flags, the new ministers filed past, each laying their hand on either a Koran or a Bible to take the oath of office as Abbas stood by. It is the first Palestinian unity government to take office in seven years, and the first fruits of a landmark reconciliation deal signed in April. “Today, with the formation of a national consensus government, we announce the end of a Palestinian division that has greatly damaged our national case,” said Abbas.”This black page in history has been turned forever,” he pledged in remarks echoed by the outgoing Hamas government in Gaza.
UN, EU welcome Palestinian unity government
Reuters 3 June — The United Nations and the European Union on Tuesday welcomed the formation of a new Palestinian unity government that came about thanks to a reconciliation deal between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah and Hamas Islamists. “The secretary-general welcomes, on the basis of assurances provided both publicly and to the United Nations, the announcement on 2 June by President Mahmoud Abbas of the formation of a government of national consensus headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. “The secretary-general (Ban Ki-moon) takes note of the renewed assurances yesterday by President Abbas that the government will continue to abide by those commitments of recognition of Israel, non-violence and adherence to previous agreements,” he said. Washington’s announcement that it would work with the new Palestinian government has set the United States on a new collision course with Israel, which has shunned the new cabinet in the Palestinian territories.
Israel caught off guard by US support of Palestinian unity
Ynet 3 June by Attila Somfalvi — Sources in Jerusalem were surprised by Washington’s quick and firm Monday night announcement recognizing the new Palestinian unity government. Within hours of the security cabinet’s decision to reject contact with the Fatah-Hamas administration and to hold Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for terror emanating from the Gaza Strip, the US shocked its close ally by confirming it will support the new cabinet formed in Ramallah. A senior diplomatic source admitted that the cabinet minister did not discuss the possibility that the US would act this quickly. The source said they expected a separate dialogue to continue between Washington and Abbas, while there would be a separation in the peace process between Fatah and Hamas. “The fact that the US recognized the new government so quickly is a surprise. It’s a blow to Israel and it is bad for Israel’s image,” he stressed.
Israel ‘deeply disappointed’ US will work with new Palestinian government
Haaretz 3 June by Barak Ravid — Senior Israeli officials said Monday that Israel is deeply disappointed with the State Department’s announcement that the U.S. will continue to work with the new Palestinian unity government … State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier Monday that the U.S. intends to work with the new Fatah-Hamas government but will be watching it closely to ensure that it upholds the principles of the Quartet – recognize Israel, reject terror, and honor previously signed agreements. The Israeli officials went as far as to blame the U.S. for setting back the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians … Earlier Monday, Israel’s security cabinet decided that it will not hold negotiations with the new Palestinian unity government and will oppose Hamas participation in the Palestinian elections if and when they take place.
US: “Palestinian gov’t has no Hamas members’
WASHINGTON 4 June— State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf spoke in defense of the US decision to maintain relations with the Palestinian unity government, stressing that the new cabinet does not include “ministers affiliated with Hamas.” Harf also noted PA President Abbas’ clarification that the “new technocratic government was committed to the principles of nonviolence, negotiations, (and) recognition of the state of Israel.” … In fact, most of the key cabinet positions, including the prime minister, the two deputy prime ministers and the finance minister, are the same as in the prior government. They are all technocrats unaffiliated with any political party and are responsible for facilitating new elections,” the US spokeswoman said.
PLO official: Israel starts sanctions against PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 June – Israel officially notified the Palestinian Authority Monday that it put into effect sanctions against the Palestinians in response to the swearing in of a unity government including Hamas, a PLO official said. Hanna Amirah, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told Ma‘an on Tuesday that sanctions included the invalidation of VIP cards of PA officials, reduction of tax revenues which Israel collects and delivers to the PA and prevention of visits between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Gaza ministers await Israeli approval to visit Ramallah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 June — The new Palestinian government’s Gaza ministers may be forced to be sworn in through a video conference if Israel insists on refusing to allow them to travel the West Bank. Minister of Women’s Affairs Haifa al-Agha said that the Gaza ministers are yet to start in their position because they haven’t been sworn in in front of President Mahmoud Abbas. They still await Israel’s approval to allow them into Ramallah, and if they do not receive it they will be sworn in via a video conference, she said. Al-Agha, Minister of Public Works Mufeed al-Hasayneh, Minister of Economy Mamoun Abu Shahla, and Minister of Justice Salim al-Saqqa are the four ministers from Gaza. They all met Tuesday for the first time, and they joined in a video conference call with the cabinet in Ramallah.
Israel to disallow free movement for Palestinian ministers
Haaretz 3 June by Gili Cohen — Israel will bar members of the new Palestinian unity government from moving freely between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. An official in the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories office confirmed that its head, Gen. Yoav Mordechai, told Palestinian Authority officials that Israel will only approve travel between the two areas after examining individual requests submitted to the Civil Administration. Likewise, the coordinator informed PA officials that VIP certificates given to previous Palestinian ministers who are no longer serving would be rescinded. In contrast, Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat reported Tuesday that a senior Palestinian official said that Israel would cancel all VIP certificates of top PA officials, save for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamdallah: Prisoner ministry replaced by committee
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 June — Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah confirmed Monday that the Ministry of Prisoner Affairs will be replaced by a committee to be headed by Shawqi al-Ayasa. The dissolution of the ministry had been a considerable point of contention in the run-up to announcing a unity government, with Hamas officials calling it a “stab in the back” for Palestinian prisoners and hunger strikers. Al-Ayasa, who is also the minister of agriculture and social affairs, will head the committee. Hamdallah stressed that the issue of prisoners is a national issue important to all parties. Palestinian officials said this week that the US could withdraw funding from the PA if the ministry was not dissolved.
Abbas: Elections in 6 months
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 June — President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that new elections would be held within six months, after a Palestinian unity government was announced in Ramallah. Abbas said during the first meeting with the newly sworn-in cabinet that one of the objectives of this cabinet was to facilitate the elections process. He added that directives would be issued to cabinet members and to the central elections commission in days to start preparing for the election, adding that a date will be agreed upon with the commission.
Fatah leader detained at Rafah crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 June — Fatah leader Arafat Abu Shabab was detained by Gaza security forces at Rafah crossing as he returned to Gaza strip. Fatah spokesman Fayiz Abu Aita said that Abu Shabab was detained after entering the Gaza Strip for the first time since the division in 2007. Abu Aita called for the release of Abu Shabab, adding that such actions against Fatah leaders in Gaza are “unjustifiable,” and “unacceptable, especially in light of the positive environment after the formation of the unity government.”
Analysis / Opinion / Arts
Double standard? Netanyahu’s coalition would fail Bibi’s test for Hamas / Peter Beinart
Haaretz 3 June — More than a whiff of hypocrisy: Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi party and most of the Likud don’t recognize Palestinian statehood and don’t honor past agreements — On the Israeli and American Jewish right, it’s common to hear Mahmoud Abbas dismissed as illegitimate: Both because he remains president of the Palestinian Authority even though his term long ago expired, and because he doesn’t oversee the Gaza Strip, which since 2007 has been under the control of Hamas. Well, hawks, fret no more. The Palestinians have just formed a unity cabinet designed to lay the groundwork for elections in both the West Bank and Gaza. The effort may fail, but it offers the best chance in years to create what the Jewish right says it wants: A Palestinian leader with the legitimacy to make a deal. So how are Benjamin Netanyahu and his conservative American allies reacting? Not well. The Israeli government is threatening to end all contact with the Palestinian Authority and some Republicans in Congress are pushing to cut off U.S. aid. The reason: The new government has the blessing of Hamas. And here’s where things get interesting … Although Hamas as a party still doesn’t accept the Quartet conditions, Abbas — who will remain President — insists that the unity government does. His aides point to Lebanon, whose government includes Hezbollah, which like Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by the United States. The U.S. shuns Lebanon’s Hezbollah ministers, but accepts the Lebanese government as a whole. Abbas wants his new government to get the same treatment. For Bibi, this is unacceptable. His position, which the American Jewish establishment will doubtless endorse, is that it doesn’t matter if Abbas says his government adheres to the Quartet conditions. Any Palestinian government “supported by and dependent on” a political party that violates those conditions must be shunned by the world. Which raises an intriguing question. Could Bibi’s own government pass the test he’s applying to Abbas’? Not likely.
Hamas and Abbas driven together by desperation / Abdel Bari Atwan
Electronic Intifada 2 June — The government of national consensus that took the oath of office before Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas today may save Hamas from its suffocating financial crisis and the heavy burden of administering Gaza, but at the same time will weaken the movement and lead to internal crises in the foreseeable future. There is no question that the siege the movement has experienced over the past year, since a military coup removed elected Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, had put Hamas in a deep hole due to the near permanent closure of the Rafah crossing, the destruction of more than one thousand tunnels that were a lifeline for Gaza’s economy, and due to the vicious Egyptian media campaign against it. Hamas has put all its eggs in the basket of Abbas, giving him all the concessions he wanted. But Abbas’ basket is full of holes and he too is facing severe crises of his own after the failure of his negotiating strategy with Israel. Like Hamas, he is merely jumping from the frying pan into the fire. When I say that Hamas waved the white flag and gave in to all of Abbas’ conditions and demands, I am referring to its relinquishing of three major ministerial portfolios: first, the foreign ministry — Hamas had rejected Riyad al-Maliki remaining in that role but agreed after Abbas insisted. Second, there was the ministry of religious affairs — Hamas tried to put forward a different candidate than the one selected, and finally the ministry of prisoner affairs, which Abbas abolished under Israeli and American pressure. One cannot therefore describe this as a “government of national consensus” by any stretch of the imagination — despite Hamas welcoming its installation at the last minute. Rather it is the government of Abbas and his authority. The four Gaza ministers, all of them independents, were not permitted to travel to Ramallah for the swearing-in ceremony, except for Ziad Abu Amra, the minister of culture who was already in Ramallah.
What’s mine is mine; what’s yours is negotiable / Alain Gresh
Le Monde Diplomatique June 2014 — The US, chief guarantor for the Israeli-Palestinian talks for decades, is so habitually and instinctually pro-Israel that it can’t understand that the Palestinians even have a viewpoint, let alone what it is — “The negotiations had to start with a decision to freeze settlement construction. We thought that we couldn’t achieve that because of the current makeup of the Israeli government, so we gave up,” a senior official in the Obama administration told Nahum Barnea of the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot (1) about the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. (He asked to remain anonymous.) “We didn’t realise Netanyahu was using the announcements of tenders for settlement construction as a way to ensure the survival of his own government. We didn’t realise continuing construction allowed ministers in his government to very effectively sabotage the success of the talks. … Only now, after talks blew up, did we learn that this [the building of 14,000 dwellings] is also about expropriating land on a large scale.” When asked if he was surprised to discover the Israelis didn’t really care what happened in the negotiations, he replied: “It surprised us all along the way. When [Moshe] Yaalon, your defence minister, said that the only thing [US Secretary of State John] Kerry wants is to win a Nobel Prize, the insult was great. We were doing this for you and for the Palestinians.” Though all Barnea’s sources are anonymous, he had access to all US officials, and especially to Martin Indyk, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The main argument can be summed up as “we [the US] did not know”. They didn’t know what settlement meant; they didn’t know that the Israeli government was not interested in negotiating. Is that credible? How, after being involved in the “peace process” for four decades, could the US, Israel’s main ally, not know? Is it possible that Kerry can have devoted so much energy to resolving this conflict — flying to the Middle East so many times, holding hundreds of hours of talks, telephone conversations and video conferences, and meeting most of the region’s leaders one-to-one — and have discovered only at this stage that the Israelis were not interested in the negotiations?… The reality is that Kerry and Obama, and all their predecessors, have espoused Israel’s views so closely they are unable to see the truth, and cannot understand the Palestinians’ point of view. Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator, told the Israelis: “You just don’t see us; we are like ghosts to you”. His remark applies equally well to the Americans.
Israel learns the Palestinian narrative / Akiva Eldar
Al-Monitor 2 June — A Ben-Gurion University study has found that learning the Palestinian narrative developed a genuine dialogue among the parties, without destabilizing the Israeli narrative among the students — On May 28, the annual flag march was held on the streets of Jerusalem on the occasion of Jerusalem Day. Tens of thousands of young Israelis affiliated with religious Zionism celebrated the political union of the city that was “liberated” 47 years ago. At the same time, several hundred power-drunk youths paraded through the alleys of the Old City, strutting their domination in front of shuttered windows, calling out racist epithets such as “Mohammed is dead,” “Death to Arabs” and “May your village burn down.” These chants were intended for the ears of thousands of Jerusalemites for whom Jerusalem Day signals humiliation, discrimination and alienation. Most Israelis were raised on the notion that Jerusalem is “the capital of the Jewish people for eternity” and were taught that Jerusalem is “the city of King David.” According to the Israeli narrative, the Palestinian neighbors, who have lived in the city for generation upon generation, are “Arabs” who have infiltrated the land promised to the Israelites. The growing separation between Israelis and Palestinians over the past two decades has bred a generation that does not know at all “the other” who lives beside him on the same piece of land.
A literature festival for Palestine – on both sides of the Green Line / Ilene Prusher
Haaretz 4 June — Palfest isn’t just about celebrating the written word. It comes with an agenda — Beneath a starry night sky, a crowd gathered on a spacious plaza in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, waiting for the next installment of this year’s Palestine Festival of Literature – Palfest for short. Braving unseasonably low temperatures and strong winds, the small but smart-looking audience listened with great interest as celebrated Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif, the festival’s founder and chair, welcomed them simply to what may be one of the most complicated literature festivals on earth. Complicated that is, because in most big festivals around the globe, organizers generally try to keep the focus on literature, pushing politics to the back burner wherever possible. If writers let politics rule the day, says the American novelist Marilynne Robinson, who was in town just two weeks ago for the International Writers Festival in Jerusalem, “we’ve talked ourselves down.” But from the point of view of the organizers of Palfest, talking up the Palestinian cause is part of their raison d’être, and to avoid that would be to deny the realities on the ground. The festival was founded in May 2008 not just as a celebration of Palestinian, Arab and international literature, but to bring attention to the myriad ways that Palestinian freedom is stymied by the Israeli occupation … Soueif says that while it is no picnic getting her bevy of international writers into the country – they came from Jordan over the Allenby Bridge and were made to wait there from about 11 A.M until 4 P.M. on Saturday before finally being allowed to cross – Israeli authorities have not put up any noticeable roadblocks to holding the Palestine Festival of Literature in Jerusalem and Haifa. That is, unless you count the usual checkpoints.