Obama says to ‘re-assess’ options after Netanyahu win
WASHINGTON (AFP)19 Mar by Jo Biddle and Andrew Beatty, with Hazel Ward in Jerusalem — President Barack Obama on Thursday warned Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington will “re-assess” its policies after the prime minister’s election win called into question crucial US diplomatic cover for Israel at the UN … Obama warned that the veteran Israeli leader’s last-minute campaign pledge to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state and comments about Israeli Arabs voting in “droves” would force a rethink in Washington. The US president called to congratulate Netanyahu “on his party’s success in winning a plurality of Knesset seats,” the White House said. “The president told the prime minister that we will need to re-assess our options following the prime minister’s new positions and comments regarding the two state solution,” an administration official said on condition of anonymity. “They also discussed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments about Israeli Arabs.” Even as Netanyahu scrambled to deny he had ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state — long the starting point for Middle East peace efforts and a cornerstone of US policy — the White House indicated it could withdraw its unwavering support for Israel at the United Nations. The United States — a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council — has opposed moves at the UN to recognize a Palestinian state, saying that must be part of a negotiated peace deal. It has also shielded Israel from often Arab-led UN votes castigating the Jewish state for various actions, including alleged human rights abuses … Asked whether Washington would remove its diplomatic cover at the UN, a senior US official said that, while no decision has yet been made, “we haven’t taken the option off the table.” … It is now more than 30 years since then president Ronald Reagan allowed anti-Israel resolutions to pass at the UN after Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear facilities.
Violence / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem
2 children shot during clashes with PA security forces
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Two Palestinian children were injured, one seriously, in clashes with Palestinian security forces near Balata refugee camp in eastern Nablus on Friday. Locals told Ma‘an that Mohammad Rakiz Abu Assab, 10, was shot in the stomach and taken to Rafidia hospital in a serious condition, while Mohammad Raed al-Hajj, 11, was shot in the foot and taken to al-Ittihad hospital. Security sources told Ma‘an that clashes broke out between security forces and dozens of youths on al-Quds street near the refugee camp after the young Palestinians closed the road and began throwing rocks on the street. Palestinian Legislative Council Member Jamal al-Tirawi told Ma‘an that responsibility lay with President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to prevent the situation in Balata from deteriorating further. Balata has been the site of growing tension since Palestinian security forces began a security campaign in February with the stated aim of capturing 18 wanted criminals inside the refugee camp….
9 injured as Israeli forces open fire on Jalazun camp protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Nine Palestinians were injured Wednesday afternoon after Israeli forces opened fire on protesters at al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah. Israeli soldiers shot 20-year-old Palestinian named Ali Mahmoud Safi in the chest with a 0.22 caliber bullet during the protest. The bullet exited his body through the back, and the youth was in serious condition as of Wednesday evening. Locals said three other protesters were struck by live bullets, and five by rubber-coated steel bullets. The protest reportedly began after locals gathered in opposition to the construction of a wall between the refugee camp and the nearby Jewish-only settlement of Beit El. Beit El is strategically located on a hill at the northern edge of Ramallah, blocking free movement for local Palestinians to and from the city through a checkpoint. The most direct road north, meanwhile, is off-limits to Palestinians.
Child injured in Bethlehem after being attacked by Israeli soldiers
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Mar — Palestinian medical sources have reported, Friday, that a child was injured after a number of soldiers assaulted him, in the al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem.The sources said the child, Ahmad Yousef ‘Atwan, 11 years of age, suffered various cuts and bruises to different parts of his body. He was attacked near the al-Khader Stadium, in the Old City of al-Khader. The soldiers repeatedly kicked and punched him, especially in the face. ‘Atwan was moved to a local hospital suffered moderate injuries.
Settlers attack Palestinian on Jenin-Nablus road
JENIN (PIC) 18 Mar — A gang of fanatic Jewish settlers on Tuesday evening attacked a Palestinian vehicle on the Jenin-Nablus road and tried to physically assault its driver. Local sources said that the settlers ambushed the car of Firas Obeid, from Silat Addaher town south of Jenin city, and embarked on smashing its body and windows. The car sustained material damage, while its owner managed to escape the area before the setters assaulted him. In a separate incident, Jewish settlers from the same area attacked two Palestinian farmers on the same day during their presence on their own agricultural lands. The victims, Anis Khalila and Amjad Kanan, suffered bruises and injuries, and received medical treatment in a hospital near Jenin. Locals had already reported settlers’ attacks on their property in Silat Addaher on Monday night and Tuesday morning.
The bitter anniversary of Yusuf Shawamreh’s death
Mondoweiss 19 Mar by Stanley Heller — I really thought there might be some sliver of punishment for this murder. On March 19 of last year Yusuf Shawamreh went to pick Akub, an edible wild-growing plant, on part of his family’s land. He was shot to death by Israeli soldiers. That’s essence of the story. It was a contemptible killing. The youth was just 14 years old. There was no doubt about what happened. It took place in daytime. Shawamreh wasn’t carrying a gun or even throwing a rock. Soldiers sat in ambush and shot him from several dozen meters away. Despite some considerable publicity about this war crime, the Israeli state ruled the soldiers had followed orders and there would be no punishment. I underestimated how fascist Israel had become. It would become clearer in the summer with lynch mobs running freely in Jerusalem streets and then the rampage in Gaza. No one was going to punish a soldier for shooting a Palestinian. The “crime” for which Shawamreh was executed was walking through a hole in a fence. The Separation Barrier (Apartheid Wall) goes through the family property in Deir al-‘Asal al-Foqa, a little town near the former Green Line in the southern part of the West Bank … The wire fence had a hole in it. The Israeli human rights group B’tselem says the hole was there for two years. The army certainly knew about it. The point of the security road is to make it easy to inspect the fence. In fact just two days earlier they arrested some youths for going through the fence. They really didn’t give a damn about the hole. On March 19 for some reason something changed. Maybe someone needed to show off the capability of the unit to a higher up or maybe someone was bored. Someone ordered an ambush. Shawamreh and two friends went through the wire fence and crossed road. Then Yusuf was shot. There were no yelled warnings, no shots in the dirt, just three or four shots into Yusuf.
Clashes in Silwan as Palestinians protest settler takeover
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Mar – Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli forces in East Jerusalem late Wednesday following the takeover of a building by Jewish settlers, locals said. Director of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, Jawad Siyam, said locals in the Silwan neighborhood protested in front of a building belonging to the al-Malhi family, which settlers moved into earlier in the day. [See more about this under ‘Land, property theft…’] The clashes began after Israeli security guards prevented members of the al-Malhi family from entering the building to access their apartment. Settlers had taken over three of four apartments in the building earlier in the day. Israeli forces fired stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at crowds that had gathered to protest the takeover of the building.
IOF burns down poultry farm in Tulkarem
TULKAREM (PIC) 19 Mar — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) fired at dawn Wednesday a flare bomb at a poultry farm belonging to a local family living near the separation wall in Tulkarem starting a huge fire in it. The Palestinian-owned poultry farm was completely burned down during the attack, family sources said. Speaking to the PIC reporter, the poultry farm’s owner Yousef Abu al-Ezz said that the Israeli forces deliberately fired the flare bomb near the farm. “The Israeli soldiers were watching the fire spread towards the farm when we came to the scene and tried to put down the fire.” More than 1,500 birds were burned to death during the attack, in addition to the financial and material loss, Abu al-Ezz added. The farm is the only source of earnings for 11 members of Abu al-Ezz family. Eyewitnesses affirmed that the farm was deliberately burned as it is located near the apartheid wall that separates Zeta town from the 48 occupied territories. The attack fell as part of Israeli daily unjustified assaults against the people of the town, the sources added. A number of agricultural properties were either confiscated or destroyed in the town at the hands of the Israeli forces in an attempt to prevent local farmers from reaching their agricultural lands located near the separation wall.
Clashes after settler trailer set ablaze near Nablus
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — A trailer home belonging to an Israeli settler was set ablaze Thursday in the Barkha settlement south of Nablus. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces and settlers raided the nearby village of ‘Iraq Burin in response to the trailer being burnt, apparently due to suspicions that a local Palestinian from the village was involved in the arson. Israeli forces subsequently imposed a curfew in the village, which sparked clashes in the area … Earlier this week settlers set up mobile homes on private land belonging to Palestinian farmers in the nearby village of Jalud.
Army kidnaps 15 Palestinians, including 7 teens
IMEMC 18 Mar by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Wednesday morning, ten Palestinians, including a woman and five children, in different parts of occupied East Jerusalem, and one in Ramallah. Two children and three teenagers were also kidnapped in Jerusalem, on Tuesday evening. Head of the Jerusalem Detainees Committee, Amjad Abu ‘Asab, said the soldiers stormed and violently searched a number of homes, and kidnapped five Palestinian teenagers … Abu ‘Asab added that the kidnapped Palestinians were moved to an interrogation center in the city, and will be sent to court as the prosecution is demanding remand for further interrogation. Also on Wednesday, soldiers kidnapped a woman in the Al-Aqsa Mosque Quarters allegedly “after attacking police officers,” and also kidnapped three young men. The woman was moved to the al-Qashla Police station in the city, and was released on a 5000 New Israeli Shekels bail, in addition to being denied access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for 15 days. The Police also ordered three recently kidnapped Palestinians from the city under further interrogation. They have been identified as Mohammad ad-Deeb, Mustafa Mawasi, and Shadi Sha’abna.
In addition, several Israeli military vehicles invaded a number of neighborhoods in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, and kidnapped a university student. Local sources said the soldiers kidnapped Islam Foqaha, 20, a student of the Modern University College, and took him to the ‘Ofer military base, near Ramallah.
On Tuesday evening, soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian child, identified as Mahdi Hatem Abu ‘Asab, 11 years of age, in the al-Qarmi neighborhood in Jerusalem’s Old City, and took him to an interrogation facility. The soldiers released the child after interrogating him for several hours. In addition, army kidnapped three Palestinian teens, identified as Mustafa Abu Hadwan, 17, Mohammad Qerrish, 18, and Nour Castero, 17, in Beit Hanina neighborhood, in Jerusalem.
2 Palestinians detained near Qalqiliya
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Israeli forces detained two young men at entrances to the town of ‘Azzun east of Qalqilya on Friday, witnesses said. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces present at ‘Azzun’s eastern entrance detained Asad Abdul Salam, 18, taking him to an unknown destination. At the northern entrance, Marcel Monther Abdallah, 20, was detained as well. Officials of the ‘Azzun Municipality demanded the need for the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international institutions to work for the release of Palestinian detainees, particularly youth that are frequently targeted by Israeli forces. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an she did not have any information on the incident. ‘Azzun is surrounded on all sides by areas under Israeli military control and a settlement bloc sits directly to the south. It has one of the highest rates of detainees per capita of all villages in the occupied West Bank, including many children.
Israeli forces prevent PA police from arresting drug dealers in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Israeli forces prevented Palestinian security forces from arresting drug dealers in the Salim village in eastern Nablus early Wednesday, despite security coordination between the two sides. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that several Palestinian police and security vehicles headed to the Salim village after coordinating with Israeli forces to arrest several drug dealers as security forces received information on them. Sources added that two Israeli army vehicles prevented the Palestinian police and security forces from reaching the village despite that the Israeli side was informed that Palestinian forces were heading to the village by previous coordination. The Palestinian forces left the area by an order from the district’s police chief. Sources said that the Israeli side informed the PA that, after initial investigations, the police and security forces were in the eastern area of the village near the road leading to the Elon Moreh settlement in area C and that the Israeli commander in the area had ordered to stop coordination in all the district’s areas for the night.
Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 Palestinians near Gaza border
GAZA (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians in the town of Absan east of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip on Friday. A spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, said Israeli forces shot the two young men in the lower extremities, moderately injuring them near the southern Gaza border.
Israeli forces open fire on farmers in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Israeli forces on Wednesday opened fire on farmers east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, witnesses said. The farmers were forced to leave their fields in order to to avoid being hit by the heavy fire coming from Israeli watchtowers spread along the border, locals said. Israeli military vehicles stationed opposite to the town of Khuza‘a in the southern Gaza Strip also fired gunshots at farmers. Separately, a number of Israeli military vehicles crossed the border fence into a no-go zone on the Palestinian side in the northern Gaza Strip. Witnesses said the vehicles entered through a gate on the border fence known as al-Taqa east of Gaza City.
IOF incursion reported in southern Gaza
RAFAH (PIC) 19 Mar — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) advanced to a limited extent into southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning and bulldozed lands. Quds Press said four army bulldozers escorted by a military vehicle advanced into eastern Rafah and leveled land. Leveling of lands took place amid intense firing at Palestinians’ houses and shooting of smoke bombs. The inhabitants had to leave their farms, the agency said.
Egypt navy detains 9 Palestinian fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Egyptian naval forces detained nine Palestinian fishermen off the coast of southern Gaza on Friday, a local union official said. Nizar Ayash, head of Gaza’s fisherman’s union, told Ma‘an that Egyptian naval forces stopped a motorboat carrying nine Palestinian fishermen and took them away to an unknown location. Ayash said the men were fishing near the border with Egypt. An Egyptian military source confirmed that nine Palestinians had been detained, but said their arrest came after they crossed into Egyptian territorial waters. The source said that Egyptian naval forces spotted the boat as it crossed into Egyptian waters, heading from Gaza in the direction of the Egyptian Rafah city. When Egyptian forces approached, the Palestinian boat attempted to return to Gazan waters, but the naval boats forced it to stop by opening fire, afterwards arresting the nine Palestinian fishermen on board, the military source said. The source added that the fishermen had been transferred for interrogation, and investigations into the reasons they entered Egyptian territorial water are ongoing. In January, Egyptian forces shot a Palestinian fisherman in the stomach after he entered territorial waters near Sinai… As part of last summer’s ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, Israel agreed to expand the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore and to continue to expand the area gradually. However, since September, Israeli forces have killed three fishermen, detained more than 49, injured 17, confiscated 12 fishing boats, and damaged fishing tools in nine other incidents, according to the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights.
Israeli naval forces target fisherman, damage two boats offshore Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 19 Mar – Israeli army Thursday opened fire towards Palestinian fishermen sailing in their boats offshore Gaza city who were sailing four miles into the sea and damaged two boats at the least, according to WAFA correspondent. Reports from Gaza showed that the fishermen in the damaged boats had to sail back to escape from the Israeli naval forces, which did not hesitate to open fire at the fragile boats.
Egypt rations electricity to Gaza’s Rafah
Middle East Monitor 19 Mar — The Egyptian Electricity Company has started to ration the amount of electricity feeding the Palestinian city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, a source in the Palestinian electricity distribution company told Al-Resalah reported. A source who spoke to Al-Resalah on condition of anonymity said that one of the three electricity lines feeding Rafah has been completely suspended since Friday, while the electricity supplied through the two other lines has now been rationed. According to the source, only 14 megawatts enter Rafah currently in comparison to 30 megawatts that were supplied previously. This has disrupted the electricity schedule, so the electricity is now available for 12 hours and cut for six hours only.
Israeli military exercises to take place along Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Israeli forces will conduct military exercises along the border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Palestinian liaison officials said. Israeli officials informed the Palestinian liaison office of the exercises, which will take place from the Erez crossing in the north until Rafah, in southern Gaza. The exercises will include planes, tanks, jeeps and ground forces.
Israel allows 1,000 tonnes of cement for Gaza reconstruction
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 19 Mar — Israeli authorities allowed 1,000 tonnes of cement paid for by Qatar to enter the devastated Gaza Strip on Thursday, officials said, in the first serious step towards rebuilding the territory … “Today 1,000 tonnes of cement paid for by Qatar entered the Gaza Strip for a project included in the scope of the reconstruction mechanism,” Israel’s coordinating body for government policy in the Palestinian territories (COGAT) said in a statement. “There are no fixed quantities (going in) on a daily basis. The quantities (delivered) are at the request of the Palestinian Authority in accordance with the needs of suppliers who are purchasing in Gaza,” it said. Palestinian officials confirmed the entry of cement, which they said 175 trucks brought in through the Kerem Shalom goods crossing in southern Gaza. It was the biggest quantity of building material to come into Gaza in one go since fighting ended in August.Palestinian officials say the same quantity will need to enter Gaza each day in order to repair damage within three years. Qatar last week launched a project to built 1,000 homes to house displaced Gazans.
Israel denies MEPs access into blockaded Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 19 Mar — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) on Wednesday blocked the access of four European parliamentarians into the Gaza Strip via the Beit Hanoun (Erez) border crossing. The French MP Edward Martin said in press statements the IOA banned the European delegation from entering Gaza without justifying the grounds for the ban. He said Israel considered the MEPs as “enemies” despite the fact that the projected visit was scheduled a long time ago in coordination with the IOA. The European delegation updated the Chairman of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and the French leadership on the ban, the MP added, wondering: “What is Israel trying to hide?” The European MPs were expected to enter Gaza to assess the aftermaths of the latest Israeli offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Criminal probes ordered for IDF attack on UNRA school in Gaza war
Ynet 20 Mar by Yoav Zitun –The Judge Advocate General’s Office, headed by General Danny Efroni, said Thursday that is has decided to open a criminal investigation into six unusual events that took place during Operation Protective Edge – the most prominent is an IDF attack on an UNRA school in the Gazan city of Jabalia which led to the death of 20 Palestinians. The six events were part of 65 events that were referred to the Judge Advocate General’s Office for review. The IDF relayed in a message that, “Findings were presented before the JAG and set reasonable grounds to suspect that the attack was not in accordance with the principles that apply to the IDF and therefore the JAG decided to initiate a police investigation into the case.” In addition, the IDF also announced it would open a criminal investigation into three incidents where Gazan detainees were reportedly beaten and two incidents of looting.
Banned Israeli weapons lead to rise of cancer in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Mar — The Palestinian Ministry of Health has revealed a sharp increase in the number of registered cases of cancer, of various types, where the infection rate in the last three years amounted to 73.1 new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, the director of the information center at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Atef Mosa’d, showed these results from a report introduced during a workshop held by the ministry about health services for diseases and tumors. Khaled Thabet, director of the tumors department at al-Shifa hospital, stressed that the increasing number of cancer patients is due to pollution caused by the prohibited weapons used by Israel against the Gaza Strip. The participants in workshop recommended the establishment of a cancer treatment center, in which the patient receives a comprehensive therapeutic service instead of having medical treatment in different places. Most of cancer patients are forces to leave the Gaza Strip to receive medical treatment since the Gaza Strip lack proper medical equipment due the Israeli blockade. See also: Doctor in Gaza Reports Injuries Indicating Israeli Use of Banned Weapons
PCHR denounces ban on travel of Amal Hamad. member of Fatah Central Committee, via Beit Hanoun crossing
PCHR-Gaza 17 Mar — The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) denounces preventing Amal Hamad, member of Fatah Central Committee, by that security services in Gaza denied from traveling to the West Bank via Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, north of the Gaza Strip. PCHR calls upon the Attorney-General’s office and concerned authorities to stop such measures and respect the individuals’ right to freedom of movement that is guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, on Sunday morning, 15 March 2015, the Palestinian security services stationed at Customs’ Checkpoint (44), south of Beit Hanoun crossing, informed Ms. Amal Hamad (52), member of Fatah Central Committee, from Beit Hanoun town, that she was banned from crossing the checkpoint in order to travel to Ramallah to attend a meeting on Fatah’s affairs and ordered her to return to Gaza. Ms. Hamad stated to a PCHR fieldworker that she approached the checkpoint on 08:30, but the security officers denied her access. She added that she stayed in the car until 11:00, when the security officers told her that she was banned from traveling upon a political decision and she had to return to Gaza. It should be noted that security services in Gaza have prevented [other] members of Fatah movement from traveling to Ramallah via Beit Hanoun crossing this year. On 03 February 2015, they prevented Ma’moun Sweidan (43), Fatah movement Public Relations Officer in Gaza, and ‘Atef Talal Abu Saif, a Fatah leader, from traveling to Ramallah to participate in a workshop on the future of Palestine’s accession to the International Criminal Court.
Will Gaza gas serve as Israel’s Trojan horse? / Tareq Baconi
Huffington Post blog 16 Mar — In a perplexing about-face, there has been a revival of efforts to permit the exploration of Gaza Marine, the gas reserves located off the coast of Gaza. The development of this gas field is inarguably advantageous, as it could allow Palestinians to create an independent and competitive energy sector. Yet this push for exploration must be seen within its wider context, as part of a quid pro quo arrangement which reinforces Israel’s continuing colonization of Palestinian resources. Over the past few years, Israel has entered into Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with both Palestinian and Jordanian counterparts to export gas from its reserves located in the Eastern Mediterranean basin. Pushed forward surreptitiously, these negotiations were initially met with little public protest. But as news of the deals broke out, Palestinians and Jordanians began mobilizing against normalization with Israel through these gas deals, given the persistence of the occupation. Potentially in response to such public pressure, reports recently emerged which cast doubt about the future of Israel’s first gas deal with the Palestinian Power Generation Company (PPGC). This uncertainty spotlights the mounting popular challenge to the regional gas deals that the Quartet and the State Department have been trying to assemble as part of a wider geopolitical puzzle. It is also why the Palestinian gas fields off the coast of Gaza have suddenly re-entered the picture.
Gaza’s unhappy sister wives
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 18 Mar by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Polygamy is on the rise in Gaza despite the dire economic straits of the Strip’s residents — They entered the hairdresser’s shop together. One looked serious, covered in traditional Islamic dress; while the other seemed more lively, wearing pants and lots of makeup. The first woman had an authoritarian air that she tried to impose on the second, who ignored her as best she could. They looked like sisters, except for the hatred that filled their eyes. The hairdresser got close and whispered into my ear, “They are sister-wives.” The hostile air between them dissuaded me from asking about the particulars of sharing the same man. Similar examples are easy to find in all of Gaza’s social strata, be they rich, poor or even middle class. “Assaad al-Ghazi,” a pseudonym, has been married to two women for the past 10 years. Ghazi, 40, told Al-Monitor that men are driven into polygamist relationships for a variety of reasons, such as dissatisfaction with the first wife, emotional needs or love for another woman. He explained that being married to two women is a source of trouble in his life, “I am constantly worried that one of them will be treated unfairly, particularly considering that I have children from both.” He indicated that he cannot always be equitable, and sometimes has to lie to one of the two.
Lion cubs turn into stars of Gaza family
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 20 Mar — Two lion cubs have become star members of a family living in a Gaza refugee camp as a result of the weak economy in the war-battered Palestinian territory. A cash-starved zoo in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, sold the cubs to Saadi Jamal, a Palestinian Authority security employee who has taken them home — to the delight of his four children and their neighbours. For the past 10 weeks, “they’ve been living in the house like members of the family”, he told AFP. The children in the three-room apartment and their local friends “play all day long with the cubs”. But this extended family comes at a price. They gobble up half a kilo (one pound) of meat a day, a tall order in Israeli-blockaded Gaza where prices have soared since a devastating war last July-August against the Jewish state. “Once they turn five months,” Jamal plans to make some money by leasing the cubs out to lunar parks, seaside resorts and restaurants.Jamal has even received a $9000 (8,400 euros) offer to buy them, but he won’t say how much he paid the zoo.
Gaza football boy dreams to become famous world player
Xinhua 20 Mar — For Bilal Abbas, the 12-year-old boy from Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip, football is like food, water and air. He spends all his weekdays training and playing football either at school or at the training center which belongs to al-Hilal Sports Club in Gaza city. Everyday in his humble house in the refugee camp, Bilal puts on his football T-shirt and shorts, ties the lace of his football boots, picks up his ball and goes on foot to the football school. When Abbas touches the ball, even in the streets, it looks like the ball is glued on both of his feet. When he plays and trains, he feels himself a real football player, like Real Madrid captain Christiano Ronaldo. He even keeps Ronaldo’s T-shirt and the logo of Real Madrid on his bed. For him, football is running into his blood. “I like to play football because I love it so much. I dream of becoming an international football star and play with the famous Spanish football team of Real Madrid,” said the brilliant boy, who began to play football since he was seven years old. His father Mohamed Abbas, who teaches history at al-Quds Opened University in Gaza city, said he discovered the talent of his son when he was seven years old, adding “I was amazed how brilliant the boy is. I immediately took him to the school of football and introduced him to his coach.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Nablus family says Israeli soldiers stole money during home raid
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — A Palestinian family has accused Israeli forces of stealing money and jewelry from their family home near Nablus during a military raid Sunday. Family members of Wisdam Nassar from the village of Madama south of Nablus told Ma’an they realized Tuesday that 5,000 shekels ($1,200) and jewelry worth 12,000 shekels ($3,000) were gone after Israeli forces raided the home. Israeli forces raided the village at 2 a.m. early Sunday and ransacked several homes for inspection, according to the family. The family said they had notified the Palestinian security services of the robbery … Israeli forces confiscated an estimated $2.9 million worth of cash and property from Palestinian homes, charities, and businesses during Operation Brother’s Keeper in the summer of 2014, according to a report by Geneva-based human rights organization Euro-Mid Observer. The operation involved a three-week campaign of mass arrests throughout the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces, allegedly searching for those responsible for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers killed while hitchhiking in a Jewish settlement near Bethlehem. Spokespople for the Israeli government justified confiscations during this time by claiming their planned use to fund or support terrorism. The Euro-Mid Observer reported, however, that Israeli authorities neither provided evidence nor judicial permission for the confiscations.
Israel demolishes homes, barns in Negev area
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Israeli bulldozers escorted by police demolished homes and animal barns in Bedouin villages across the Negev late Thursday. Several homes and animal barns were demolished in Rahat, al-Laqiya town and Bir Hamam, while Israeli forces also surrounded a house in Bir Hadaj belonging to the al-Abraq family in preparation to demolish it. Activists in the Negev called on Arab Knesset members to prevent demolitions in the area by all means. Demolitions, in addition to denial of basic services and access to infrastructure, are part of an ongoing campaign by Israeli planning and construction committees against the Bedouin villages in the Negev desert, where roughly 70-90,000 people live.
His future is dark
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign 15 Mar — Abu Imad is a Bedouin. His community and family have been moved twice by the Israeli authority. Now they want to move him again. “They don’t even treat us like animals: it’s way worse”. When asked about what he sees in his future, Abu Imad is very straight-forward: “It’s very dark”. His family, together with other 2500 members of the twenty-two Bedouin clans that make up the Al Jahaleen tribe, is under imminent threat of being expelled from their land by Israel for the third time … They are still suffering from the economic, social and political effects of this second forced displacement. The lack of space completely dismantled the economic basis of the Bedouin lifestyle: “When I was in the mountains, I used to have one hundred fifty sheep and goats, and all of my family worked on this, we were with our sheep in the mountains there, going back home every day, and this is the style of our life. Since they forced us, and they brought us here by force, I don’t have any space where I can put the animals, so this was the first thing that I lost. When I sold the sheep, I was left without any source of income”. Abu Imad now has to provide alone for the fifteen people on his family, most of whom are unemployed and cannot enter Israel to find work, for alleged “security reasons” -The women are suffering- The social impact of the multiple expulsions is also palpable.The women, suffering as everywhere in the world restrictions of patriarchal structures, are the ones to take the brunt of the devastating effects of Israeli policies. Bedouin communities do not have the habit of sending them out to find work in other places. In fact, they can be so conservative that strangers are forbidden to lay eyes on them, and the villages are built in a specific way so that the women can move freely within, and be an active part of the social and economic life, without being seen by people from the outside who come to visit. Now, with their communities crammed in tight spaces between settlements, military areas and walls, the women remain essentially locked inside their houses….
Army demolishes a home, four residential sheds, in Tubas
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Mar — The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that several military vehicles, and armored bulldozers, surrounded two villages in Tubas, before invading them. WAFA added that the soldiers demolished four residential structures in the Khirbit al-Mathoun village, after violently forcing the families out. The soldiers also invaded Khirbit al-Hadeediyya area, in the Northern Plains east of Tubas, and demolished a home. The latest attacks are part of numerous repeated violations targeting Palestinian communities, especially Bedouin communities in Tubas, in an attempt to force them to leave for the benefit of illegal construction and expansion of settlements, and for military purposes, including live fire training.
Israel bulldozes scores of olive trees south of Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 19 Mar — Israeli bulldozers on Wednesday evening uprooted hundreds of Palestinian-owned olive trees and destroyed thousands of meters of stone fencing in Majdal Bani Fadel town, south of Nablus city. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli bulldozers under military protection entered the town in the evening and removed about 300 fruitful olive trees in fields in Kafr Ataya area to the west as well as completely destroying a 5,000-meter stone barrier. These olive fields and its fence belong to Maher Khatib and Bashar Ahmed, from Majdal Bani Fadel town. These fields were planted with olive trees and walled as part of a project funded by donor countries to reclaim Palestinian-owned lands in the area. [Ma‘an: Israeli authorities have apparently objected to the project and Daghlas said the matter was currently in court. Israel’s Civil Administration told Ma‘an that there was no “uprooting,” but “rather a demolition was carried out against terraces which were built illegally without the necessary permits on state lands.”]
IOF uproots 150 olive trees in al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 19 Mar –The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) uprooted Wednesday more than 150 olive trees in Mualla area to the south of al-Khalil. Local sources said that Israeli bulldozers uprooted more than 150 olive trees belonging to a local family under the pretext of being located in an area that falls under Israeli control. The uprooted trees are located near Tina settlement built illegally at the expense of Palestinian lands in Dahriya area, the sources added. Meanwhile, IOF demolished also on Wednesday more than 20 housing units during a large-scale military operation in the northern Jordan Valley to the north of the West Bank. Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli soldiers stormed Hodeidah and Makhoul areas in the Jordan Valley accompanied with military bulldozers and demolished a number of housing units and livestock barns. Approximately ten vehicles of Israeli Civil Administration crews have stormed on Tuesday the area and filmed a number of facilities.
Settlers uproot 60 olive trees in central West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 19 Mar – Settlers uprooted over 60 olive trees in the central West Bank on Thursday, a Palestinian official said. Settlers from the Adei Ad outpost south of Nablus uprooted the trees on land belonging to Hajj Mahmoud al-Araj in the village of Turmusaya. Attacks on olive trees are a key way that Palestinians are forced out of their homes and their lands confiscated for settlement construction, as the loss of a year’s crop can signal destitution for many. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank. Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem.
Settlers take over Palestinian building, land in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Jewish settlers on Wednesday forcibly took over a Palestinian building and two plots of land in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, a local group said. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Israeli forces, settlers and private security guards raided a building belonging to the al-Malhi family and took over three apartments, before changing the locks and removing all furniture. Israeli forces cordoned off the property ahead of the move, with the settlers also taking over tens of dunams of land belonging to the al-Abbasi and Shaban families. Muhammad al-Malhi, 13, was briefly detained following an argument with Israeli police while director of the Wadi Hilweh center Jawad Siyam was arrested for filming the incident. The takeover was reportedly facilitated by the Elad settler organization after a member of the al-Malhi family helped forge the ownership documents, the Wadi Hilweh center said. The settler group first tried to take over the property in 2007. In September, settlers occupied 23 houses in Silwan and forcibly evicted the residents of an apartment. In October, two more buildings were taken.
same location, another version
Settlers enter Palestinian apartment building in Silwan
Haaretz 20 Mar by Nir Hasson — Building in East Jerusalem neighborhood adjoining Old City occupied by settlers from Elad organization while resident was at police station after being summoned for questioning — Settlers from the right-wing organization Elad-City of David Foundation on Wednesday entered a four-apartment residential building in the mainly Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, just south of the Old City. The resident of the apartment was at the local police station at the time, after receiving a summons the previous evening to report for questioning on Wednesday. She said later that she was not in fact questioned, but that while she was at the station the settlers removed her belongings from her home and took possession of the building. The location of the building is thought to be of particular importance to Elad, due to its close proximity to the City of David national archaeological park that the organization administers and to other homes that the group owns. Over the past two decades, Elad has changed Silwan nearly beyond recognition, transforming it into a mixed neighborhood with at least 100 Jewish families. The apartment building was sold by a relative of the owner’s to a nonprofit organization called of Yad Yafah that is associated with Elad. Despite the sale, the seller’s wife, siblings and children had refused to vacate the premises. After protracted legal proceedings, on Wednesday the seller came to the building, accompanied by security guards, police officers and representatives of Elad. After the woman and her children left the building in order to be questioned by police, the settlers moved in. A confrontation then erupted between Palestinian residents and the police.
Twilight Zone: 700 Israelis whose homes don’t exist
Haaretz 20 Mar by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — No authority wants anything to do with the unrecognized village of Dahamesh, whose residents hoped for good news at the High Court this week. But discussion on their future was deferred again — Hall No. 4 of the Supreme Court building in Jerusalem was packed this week: Residents of the village of Dahamesh, near Ramle, were there for a hearing about their petition. Row upon row they sat, in Israel’s highest temple of justice, the day before the general election, in the only democracy in the region. Women in head coverings, men with grim looks and lawyers in black ties bearing the logo of the Israel Bar Association. Some of residents carried rolled-up maps and aerial photographs as irrefutable evidence of their plight, living in what has been deemed an illegal village, but no one asked to see them. It was hard to know, after so many years of waging a legal and public battle, how much trust and hope they still had in the three honorable justices sitting as the High Court of Justice before them: Esther Hayut, Anat Baron and Zvi Zylbertal. The latter were whispering among themselves, as though there were no audience, before finally deciding to defer discussion of the villagers’ fate. A village goes to the capital city to request recognition. The village wants the court to compel the government to recognize its existence. Only in Israel, surely. Yet another of the many wounds from 1948 that continue to fester and refuse to heal. Another “unrecognized” village, but this one’s in the center of the country, between depressed Ramle and Lod and the prosperous moshav (cooperative village) of Nir Zvi. The forebears of Dahamesh’s residents arrived there in 1951, after being removed by the state from their fields and homes on the coastal plain, and being offered alternative land. And indeed they built new homes on the land they received, which was earmarked for farming – and, horror of horrors, the village even expanded over time, as villages are wont to do. The state never recognized it. There is no village. Until 2004, however, Dahamesh was allowed to exist. That year, the authorities suddenly remembered there was a village, albeit an unrecognized one. They began issuing – and implementing – demolition orders. In 2010, Human Rights Watch called on the Israeli government to grant Dahamesh legal status. Here’s what Menashe Moshe, head of the Emek Lod Regional Council, to which the village belongs and to which it pays taxes, wrote in 2010, in response to a question put to him by a local newspaper: “The notion implicit in your query, that this is a ‘village’ and that it has a name, ‘Dahamesh,’ and that [its residents] are being harassed because they are ‘Arabs,’ is incorrect. There is no village, there is no name and there are no Arabs …” It’s hard to believe the conditions in which these 700 people live, in 2015, half an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv. A scarred and battered gravel road, studded with potholes and lined with garbage, is the high road, the only road, into the “non-village.” Its nonexistent Arabs dwell in 73 houses….
Palestinian refugees — Syria
Life for Palestinian refugees in Syria ‘untenable’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency on Thursday said life for Palestinian refugees in Syria is becoming increasingly unsustainable, as reports suggest nine refugees drowned in March trying to reach Europe by boat. UNRWA said that the nine believed killed were part of a group of over 59 Palestinians, the majority fleeing conflict in Syria. Some of the refugees were also from Gaza and Lebanon, the statement added. “The conflict has overwhelmed Palestine refugee communities in Syria, with a widespread disrespect for international law and the protection of civilians,” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said. “In Gaza, the effects of the occupation, blockade and recurring military campaigns have devastated not only Palestine refugee homes, lives and income, but also hope for a secure and dignified future. In Lebanon, where Palestine refugees are already socially and economically marginalized, the strain of Lebanon’s refugee load has pushed Palestine refugees into destitution and desperation.” The latest tragedies stem from a fundamental failure to resolve the Palestinian refugee issue, in addition to armed conflict and occupation, Gunness added.
Other news / Analysis
Jerusalem at boiling point of polarisation and violence — EU report
The Guardian 20 Mar by Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem — A hard-hitting EU report on Jerusalem warns that the city has reached a dangerous boiling point of “polarisation and violence” not seen since the end of the second intifada in 2005. Calling for tougher European sanctions against Israel over its continued settlement construction in the city – which it blames for exacerbating recent conflict – the leaked document paints a devastating picture of a city more divided than at any time since 1967, when Israeli forces occupied the east of the city. The report has emerged amid strong indications that the Obama administration is also rethinking its approach to Israel and the Middle East peace process following the re-election of Binyamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister. According to reports in several US papers, this may include allowing the passage of a UN security council resolution restating the principle of a two-state solution. The leaked report describes the emergence of a “vicious cycle of violence … increasingly threatening the viability of the two-state solution”, which it says has been stoked by the continuation of “systematic” settlement building by Israel in “sensitive areas” of Jerusalem. In addition, the report blames tension over the status of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount complex as well as heavy-handed policing and punitive measures – including evictions and home demolitions by Israeli forces – for the escalating confrontation. The document is prepared jointly every year by the heads of mission of the European countries represented in Jerusalem. The group advises EU foreign policymakers on the situation in the city while making recommendations for action … According to well-informed European sources, the report – now being discussed in Brussels – reflects a strong desire from European governments for additional measures against Israel over its continued settlement-building, and comes at a time when Europe is confronting “the new reality” of a new and potentially more rightwing Netanyahu government. The report also follows a period of growing frustration within the EU over the moribund state of the peace process, which collapsed last year, and pressure to adopt a harder line over issues such as settlement-building.
Israel chooses the path to apartheid / James Besser
Haaretz 20 Mar — In my quarter century as Washington correspondent for Jewish newspapers, I frequently defended Israel against charges that it had created an apartheid system in the West Bank. But this week’s election, with Benjamin Netanyahu poised to serve another term with an even more hardline coalition, means that apartheid is the path Israeli voters have chosen. The inevitable results will include even greater international isolation for the Jewish state, a boost to efforts to apply boycotts and sanctions, diminished support from American Jews and endlessly intensifying cycles of violence … It was possible to accept journalist Gershom Gorenberg’s thesis that the occupation was an “accidental empire,” its endurance shaped less by determined policies than by inertia and political cowardice. It was awful to watch even progressive governments cringe before an aggressive settlers movement, but it was understandable, especially for Americans accustomed to the timidity of our own leaders in the face of aggressive extremists. The idea of apartheid suggests the intent to make separation and unequal treatment permanent, and in the past it was possible to argue that for all the expansion of settlements, Israel was still looking for ways to end the occupation. No more … In the absence of any willingness to work toward a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the future is clear: continuing occupation with no effort to find a way to end it, accelerating settlement construction and a hardening of policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank. In other words, apartheid. Mainstream Jewish groups go ballistic when they hear the term because of what it implies: an official policy of unfairness so profound that a fractious world unites against it with sanctions, boycotts and a pariah label for the perpetrators … American Jewish groups, key players in the coalition against South African apartheid, will resort to verbal gymnastics to argue that it’s not the same. Or they will simply use the convenient ploy of pointing out all the bad decisions made by Palestinian leaders over the years. When the inevitable violence erupts and when the Palestinians, left with no other options, renew their push to condemn Israel in international bodies, they will circle the wagons to defend a Jewish state they claim is unfairly treated by a hostile world … Or they will say the no-statehood pledge was just politics as usual in Israel’s fractious democracy, as meaningless as most other campaign promises. And nobody outside an increasingly narrow pro-Israel tent will buy it. Because apartheid is apartheid, and that’s exactly what Israeli voters chose this week as a course for their nation.
Joint List knows it now must live up to voters’ expectations
Haaretz 20 Mar by Jack Khoury — Next Knesset’s third largest party prepares to wage battle for equality from opposition benches, while voters wonder whether Arab alliance will remain intact — The head of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, spent the first day after the election visiting rural Bedouin villages in the Negev, which the government doesn’t recognize as legal. “The people in these villages are not land robbers but Israeli citizens. It is our duty to change the intolerable reality in which they live,” he said. The expectations in these and other Arab communities that supported the Joint List are sky high. But the new party – an alliance of four Arab-dominated parties in Israel – Hadash, Balad, United Arab List and Ta’al – must first prove it can remain intact now that the election is over … The unrecognized villages’ council had great expectations from the Joint List in the election. Like the rest of the Arab community, it had hoped the party would become part of the new coalition or at least form part of a blocking majority. “In view of the right–wing government, the villagers are now worried about whether the party can help them stop the plans for their evacuation,” Azbarka said, referring to a government plan to forcibly relocate up to 30,000 Negev Bedouin.
Analysis: Surviving without the Palestinian Authority / Alaa Tartir
Ma‘an 20 Mar — In the wake of the Israeli elections and the financial crisis of the Palestinian Authority, observers wonder about the dangers of a new Palestinian Intifada and the detrimental consequences for Israeli security and regional stability of dismantling the PA. Furthermore, observers struggle to understand and imagine how a termination or suspension of security collaboration between the PA and Israel, or a potential collapse or dismantling of the PA would have any benefit for the Palestinian people. Presented below are several explanations that address this confusion, and it is argued here that such developments would alter the imbalance of power, expose the international community and the aid industry, force Israel to deal with the costs of its occupation, and allow the Palestinians to re-set their priorities and agenda, while possibly reinventing their political system. Discontinuing security collaboration and reinventing the duties of the PA as a self-governing body of the Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza are crucial to addressing the power imbalances between the occupied and the occupier. Unless a fundamental shift occurs in the power relations amongst the various actors, there is little hope for genuine peace or security. To change the power dynamics, Palestinians have multiple strategies and tools at their disposal to realize their self-determination, including different forms of resistance, the civil-society led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, and resort to the International Criminal Court to hold war criminals accountable. It is a rational decision to use international law to address oppression and injustice. Re-inventing the PA’s security doctrine and stopping security collaboration with Israel will provide better security to the Palestinian people and respond to their demands. According to a recent poll, 80 percent of Palestinians opposed continued security coordination with Israel. This will also ease the alarming Palestinian authoritarian transformation and the formation of a police state.
Palestinian court upholds decree stripping Abbas rival of immunity
RAMALLAH (Reuters) 18 Mar — The Palestinian High Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Mohammed Dahlan, a potential rival to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, against a presidential decree stripping him of parliamentary immunity. The decision means Dahlan could be brought to trial on graft charges made against him by the Palestinian anti-corruption authority, which was set up by Abbas. The court’s ruling, which cannot be appealed, makes it more likely that Dahlan, who lives in exile in the Gulf, will not return to the Palestinian territories anytime soon, making him less of a political threat to Abbas. Dahlan, a former senior official in Fatah, the Western-backed party headed by Abbas, fell out of favor in 2011. He is now seen as a strong potential candidate for the presidency if Abbas ever steps down or Palestinian elections are held.
PLO balks at claim it owes over $1 billion to Israel victims
NEW YORK (AP) 17 Mar by Larry Neumeister — Victims of terror attacks in Israel more than a decade ago are not entitled to boost a $654 million lawsuit award to more than a billion dollars by tacking on interest, lawyers for Palestinian authorities said. Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority attorneys filed papers in Manhattan federal court late Monday challenging the $1.15 billion claim made by lawyers for victims of the bombings and shootings. A federal jury last month awarded $218 million to victims after concluding the Palestinian groups were behind attacks in the early 2000s that killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more, including some Americans. The award is automatically tripled under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, raising the total to $654 million. The lawyers said well-established accounting and economic principles were violated when an expert for the plaintiffs tacked on prejudgment interest as if daily interest was calculated since the 2002 to 2004 period of the attacks. They said the trial record makes clear that the jury measured its verdict awards in current dollars.
Palestinian students design vest to help the blind navigate
Reuters 18 Mar — Palestinian students from the Polytechnic University in Hebron have created a vest that uses vibration and voice commands to allow the blind and seriously visually impaired to walk unaided. Their Smart Assist System for Blind People (SASB) is designed to be used in place of the traditional white cane used by the sightless. Graduate student of engineering Abdel Rahman al-Barmeel, who helped design SASB, said the system is simple and convenient to use. “The project offered many solutions that differed to other previous projects, for example the idea of the ground sensor is very effective and new in this field. The system works on directing the people by voice commands and vibration commands,” said al-Barmeel. The system also provides the user with a sound alert signaling its battery capacity, before switching immediately to energy saving mode before it runs out. The project was developed under the supervision of the Dean of Engineering Department and Project Supervisor, Dr. Ramzi al-Qawasmi.
Inside the West Bank’s homemade cigarette industry
JENIN (Al-Monitor) 19 Mar by Ahmad Melhem — Palestinians increasingly smoke locally produced tobacco at cheap rates, causing a challenging situation for cigarette companies, tobacco growers and the Palestinian government — Along with his family, Abu Ahmed, who hails from Jenin governorate in the northern West Bank, has been stuffing cigarettes for three years. He fills on average 3,200 cigarette tubes — locally known as “al-‘Arabi” — with 4 kilograms (roughly 9 pounds) of tobacco for $20 per day. Abu Ahmed, who runs an olive grove at his farm, relies on this job to provide for his family.
Israeli Arabs say they feel more excluded after election
RAMLA, Israel (AP) 20 Mar by Karin Laub — Israeli Arabs emerged from this week’s parliament election with more political clout but also a greater sense of exclusion, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rallied his supporters by suggesting a high turnout of Arab voters would put his rule in danger. Arabs voted in larger numbers than before and turned the main party representing them, the Joint List, into the third-largest in parliament, signaling they are more willing to work within the political system to seek equality. But some also said the campaign, which has polarized Israeli society, reflected an increasingly hostile atmosphere toward Arabs. “I felt like someone stuck a knife in my heart because I am always pushing for equality between Arabs and Jews,” Zuhair Bahloul, a veteran Arab sportscaster known for his pitch-perfect game commentary in Hebrew, said of Netanyahu’s election day remarks. “There is a bit of a feeling of despair because the prime minister is not the prime minister of all citizens, and the right is trying to push the Arabs aside,” said Baloul, 64, who will enter parliament for the center-left Zionist Union, which failed to unseat Netanyahu.
The Joint Arab List: Seven new MKs, two women and a lot of hope
Ynet 19 Mar by Hassan Shaalan — Newly formed Joint Arab List becomes third largest party in the Knesset after elections; party members promise to take care of important issues in Arab sector and strengthen Palestinian identity — While the Joint Arab List hoped to gain 15 Knesset seats in the recent elections, it still garnered a big achievement with the 14 seats it received in Israel’s 20th Knesset … The party has seven new MKs, among them the head of the Joint Arab List Aiman Uda, a resident of Haifa. The other new members include Aida Touma-Sliman (Akko), engineer Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya (Tayibe), Dr. Yosef Jabareen (Umm al-Fahem), lawyer Osama Sa’adi (Arraba), and Dr. Abdullah Abu Maaruf (Yarka).[see photos]
Dear Mr Netanyahu: Sorry we dared to dream. Yours, Israel’s Arab population / Sayed Kashua
The Guardian 19 Mar — Palestinian citizens of Israel once had hope that one day, as citizens, we would be partners, able to live where we want and access resources. No longer — For a moment I was optimistic. For one moment this week the hope I had utterly lost last summer – a summer suffused with racism, hatred, blood and devastation – came back. For one moment, after I left Jerusalem with my family for life in Illinois, I thought that maybe there’s still a chance, maybe there are still enough people in Israel who refuse to rule and oppress another nation. The last pre-election polls in the Israeli media predicted a loss for the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and the head of the Arab parties’ Joint List, the young lawyer Ayman Odeh, gave me hope that it was not too late to stop the fascism. Odeh took part in a television debate with Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who as usual called Odeh and the rest of the country’s Arab citizens – people like me – a fifth column, the spearhead of the terrorist organisations in the Knesset. Odeh smiled tranquilly, and spoke about unity, cooperation, terminating the occupation in the Palestinian territories and forging a future of equality in Israel….
UN commission blames Israel for plight of Palestinian women
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 20 Mar — The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women approved a resolution Friday blaming Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian territory for “the grave situation of Palestinian women.” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor denounced the resolution saying it was further proof of the U.N.’s bias against Israel, as it was the only country singled out by the 45-member commission. The resolution, sponsored by the Palestinians and South Africa, was adopted by a vote of 27-2 with 13 abstentions. The United States and Israel voted against it and European Union members abstained. The vote took place on the final day of the commission’s two-week meeting which reviewed the 150-page platform for action to achieve equality for women adopted at the U.N. women’s conference in Beijing in 1995. The commission set a new goal of 2030 to achieve gender equality. The resolution stressed the quest for equality and reaffirmed “that the Israeli occupation remains the major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development of their society.” It called on the international community to continue providing urgently needed assistance and services “to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian women and their families.”
Is the UN providing Israel with cover for killing Gaza’s children?
Electronic Intifada 19 Mar by Ali Abunimah — Palestinian civil society activists have called for the resignation of UN officials implicated in sabotaging moves to have Israel’s army included on a UN list of serious violators of children’s rights. Meanwhile, senior UN officials have insisted to The Electronic Intifada that no decision has been taken and Israel could still be included on the list. The final decision will be taken in the coming weeks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. One official admitted that Ban’s office is already in contact with Israel over the matter, an indication of its political sensitivity.
Palestinians must hold ‘genuine’ peace talks: Netanyahu
WASHINGTON (AFP) 19 Mar – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that the Palestinian Authority should cut its ties to Hamas militants running the Gaza Strip and engage in “genuine” peace talks with Israel. Speaking with NBC television, Netanyahu also insisted he was “proud to be the prime minister of all Israeli citizens, Arabs and Jews alike” after triggering outrage for urging supporters to vote for him, warning Israeli Arabs were “turning out in droves.” The veteran Israeli leader had raised global alarm when he vowed in the final days of the election campaign that he would never agree to a Palestinian state on his watch — flying in the face of decades of US policy to achieve a two-state solution. In his first interview with a US television network since winning an unprecedented fourth term on Tuesday, Netanyahu did not completely walk back those comments. But he suggested he remained open to the possibility of new peace talks, saying Israel would “need the recognition of (a) Jewish state and real security in order to have a realistic two-state solution.” “I was talking about what is achievable and what is not achievable,” Netanyahu said.
For Palestinians, a silver lining in Netanyahu’s remarks on statehood
Christian Science Monitor 19 Mar by Christa Case Bryant — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resounding victory, just a day after he vowed that a Palestinian state would not be established on his watch, may have sounded like a death knell for Palestinian statehood. Indeed, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that achieving a two-state solution now appears impossible. But some Palestinians see a silver lining to Mr. Netanyahu’s election victory on such promises, arguing that it lays bare his – and Israel’s – lack of commitment to the two-state solution. That plays directly into the hands of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which since December has been accelerating efforts to secure Palestinian rights through the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other international bodies rather than through negotiations. “What Netanyahu said wasn’t electioneering – that’s him,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters in East Jerusalem Thursday afternoon. “Today the international community, and Israelis who believe in two states, must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in order to preserve the two-state solution.”