Media Analysis

During Israeli manhunt in Nablus, 110 Palestinians are injured, one killed

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Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

1 Palestinian killed, dozens more injured with live ammunition during Israeli raid in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — A young Palestinian man died on Tuesday night after succumbing to wounds he sustained earlier in the afternoon during clashes with Israeli forces in the al-Jabal a-Shamali area of Nablus City in the northern occupied West Bank. Head of the Al-Najah Governmental Hospital in Nablus told Ma‘an that Khaled Walid Tayeh, 22, from ‘Iraq al-Tayeh village near Nablus, died of a critical gunshot wound to the chest. Israeli forces had raided the al-Jabal al-Shamali as part of their manhunt for the Palestinian teen suspected of stabbing and killing an Israeli settler on Monday.
Locals told Ma‘an that forces surrounded a building in search of the suspect, 19-year-old Abd al-Karim Adel Assi, a Palestinian citizen of Israel. Israeli forces surrounded two houses in the area, one of the suspect’s family and another home allegedly belonging to Assi’s friends. During the raid, clashes erupted between Palestinian youth in the area and Israeli forces, who heavily fired live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at youth. The Palestinian Red Crescent said that 110 injuries were reported during the raid: 32 of them with live bullets, 26 with rubber-coated steel bullets, 51 with severe tear gas inhalation, and one youth who was run over by an Israeli military jeep. Medical sources told Ma‘an that one youth identified as Anwar Abu Aisha was critically injured with a live bullet in the thigh.
Meanwhile, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained six Palestinian “youths,” who were identified as Hani Ashraf Khalaf, Nayif al-Tubasi, Tamer Qandil, Iyad Abu Salha, Musaab al-Kawni — and another one identified only as being from the al-Bastami family. Meanwhile, the Israeli army said in a statement that Assi, the alleged Ariel attack suspect, was not detained during the raid.

Hundreds of Palestinians march in funeral of 22-year-old Khalid al-Tayeh
[with photos] NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Thousands of Palestinians marched in the funeral of Khalid Walid al-Tayeh, 22, in the ‘Iraq al-Tayeh village, east of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Al-Tayeh died on Tuesday evening after succumbing to a live bullet wound to the chest, which he sustained during clashes with Israeli forces in Nablus city earlier in the afternoon. During the funeral procession, mourners chanted slogans condemning the Israeli occupation, as people carried pictures of al-Tayeh and Palestinian national and factional flags. The march set off from the al-Jamia Hospital towards al-Tayeh’s family house where final farewells were said before carrying his body to the village’s mosque for prayers, and then to the village’s cemetery for burial.

Israeli soldiers kill one Palestinian, injure dozens near Hebron
[with two videos] IMEMC 7 Feb — Israeli soldiers killed, on Wednesday morning, a young Palestinian man near Karmei Tzur illegal Israeli colony, which was built on Palestinian lands in Hebron, after he reportedly stabbed and lightly injured a guard. The soldiers later conducted invasions of nearby villages and violent searches and injured 29 Palestinians.
The Palestinian District Coordination Office (DCO) has confirmed to the Health Ministry that the slain Palestinian has been identified as Hamza Yousef No‘man Zama‘ra, 19, from Halhoul town, north of Hebron. Israeli sources claimed that the Palestinian “very lightly wounded the guard in a stabbing attack in Karmie Tzur.” The wounded Israeli guard was identified as Boris Balbrava, 36, from Karmei Tzur colony. They said that Zama’ra “arrived by car at the security post leading to the settlement, and attacked a guard directly after exiting the car,” and added that he stabbed a guard in his hand, causing very minor wounds, before another guard shot him dead. Following the incident, dozens of soldiers arrived at the scene, and initiated an extensive search campaign, reportedly to locate “possible accomplices.”
The soldiers later invaded Hamza’s home, and violently searched it, before interrogating his family and abducting his father. They released the father later, and summoned two of his sons for interrogation in the Etzion military base, north of Hebron. Following Hamza’s death, dozens of Palestinian protested in Halhoul, before the soldiers attacked them, and fired dozens of live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. Medical sources in Hebron said the soldiers shot at least 29 Palestinians with live rounds and rubber-coated steel bullets and caused many to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation, in addition to assaulting three with clubs and batons.
It is worth mentioning that Hamza is a former political prisoner and has two brothers who are imprisoned by Israel.
He is the third Palestinian to be killed by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank within 24 hours, after the soldiers killed Ahmad Jarrar, near Jenin, and Khaled Waleed Tayeh, in Nablus. [see Israel-Palestine Timeline, 2018 deaths]

Israeli soldiers seriously injure a child in Jerusalem
IMEMC 8 Feb — Israeli soldiers shot, Wednesday, a Palestinian child with three live rounds in the face, chest and thigh, after the army invaded Kafr ‘Aqab neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem, and attacked dozens of protesters with live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. Medical sources said the child, identified as Nizar Ra’ed al-Lowzi, 16, was shot with three live rounds in his face, chest and thigh, before he was rushed to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, where he received the urgently needed treatment. The child was then rushed to Hadassah Israeli Medical Center, in occupied Jerusalem, due to the seriousness of his condition.
Eyewitnesses said the soldiers fired dozens of live rounds at the Palestinians, while many locals hurled stones at the invading forces. They added that the child was near the Annexation Wall, when the soldiers fired a barrage of bullets, wounding him, in addition to firing many live rounds at Palestinians who rushed to his aid.

Israeli forces shower Palestinian school with tear gas, sending several students to the hospital
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Dozens of Palestinian school students in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron were exposed to high levels of tear gas on Thursday morning as Israeli forces showered their school with tear gas canisters. Several students were transferred to the Muhammad Ali al-Muhtaseb Hospital for treatment. The principal of the al-Hajiryeh school Ammar Bin Jaber told Ma‘an “we were shocked by the amount of tear-gas bombs fired by Israeli soldiers at the school and nearby school.” He added that many students and teachers suffered from severe tear-gas inhalation.

Israeli forces injure 30 Palestinians during clashes in Jericho
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — Thirty Palestinians were reportedly injured by Israeli forces during clashes at the entrance of the city of Jericho in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. Wafa cited the Palestinian Red Crescent as saying that 30 Palestinians were injured during the clashes. According to the report, of the 30 injuries, 21 were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets and nine suffocated due to severe tear-gas inhalation.

Like a safari, IDF troops hunt a Palestinian and shoot him in the head
Haaretz 9 Feb by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A boy who threw stones at IDF jeeps suffered the punishment of execution by a soldier; it was the third time in recent weeks that soldiers aimed at stone-throwers’ heads — The killing field of young Laith Abu Naim is an empty lot in the remote village of Al-Mughayyir, north of Ramallah. Someone once planned to build a house here, but got no further than iron rods and a retaining wall. The boy ran for his life between the rods, pursued by two armored Israel Defense Forces jeeps. The chase ended when the door of one of the vehicles opened and a soldier aimed his rifle straight at Laith’s forehead from a range of 20 meters. He fired one bullet, killing the teen – the same way an animal is hunted down and bagged on a safari. A 16-year-old boy who dreamed of becoming a soccer goalie threw stones at a jeep and suffered the punishment of execution at the hands of a soldier, perhaps to teach him a lesson, perhaps as revenge. The rubber-coated steel bullet struck the exact spot it was aimed at – the boy’s forehead, above his left eye – and had the anticipated result: Laith fell to the ground and died shortly afterward. The outstanding IDF sniper could have aimed at his legs, used tear gas, or tried to stop him in other ways. But he chose, in what seems to be an almost standard pattern in recent weeks in this area, to fire a round directly at the head. That’s how soldiers shot two young men named Mohammed Tamimi, one from Nabi Saleh, the other from ‘Aboud, wounding both youngsters seriously. The latter is still hospitalized in grave condition in a Ramallah hospital; the former, part of his skull missing, is recovering at home. Laith Abu Naim now lies in the ground in his village’s cemetery …
The earth is still bloodstained where Abu Naim fell, and littered with shreds of a memorial poster with his picture on it. According to the grocer, the soldier who fired the shot walked over to the dying teen and turned over his body with his foot, apparently to check his condition. The soldiers ordered the grocer to get back into his store and close it. They left without offering the victim any medical assistance….

Israeli settlers attempt to abduct Palestinian boys in West Bank
MEMO 8 Feb — Israeli settlers have attempted to abduct two Palestinian children in the village of Madma to the south of the West Bank city of Nablus, Quds Press has reported. A member of the village council Talaat Ziyadeh said that a group of settlers descended from the illegal settlement of Yitzhar, raided the village and chased two Palestinian children yesterday [Wednesday]. He said that these children are shepherds and they were feeding their goats on the outskirts of the village when the settlers attempted to abduct them. Speaking to Quds Press, Ziyadeh said that a number of the villagers saw the chase and immediately intervened. In the wake of the failed abduction attempt clashes broke out between Palestinian villagers and the Israeli settlers. The Israeli army arrived, fired tear gas and sound bombs to disperse the Palestinian villagers and allow the settlers to safely withdraw.

Israelis filmed throwing rocks at West Bank Palestinian village
Haaretz 9 Feb by Yotam Berger — Israelis were filmed throwing stones at the houses of the Palestinian village of Burin in the West Bank Friday. In the footage, which was taken by members of the Yesh Din human rights organization, the Israelis are seen descending from the Giv’at Ronen outpost toward Burin and throwing rocks at the village, which is located south of the city of Nablus.  In one video, a group of 20 Israelis divided into two smaller groups is seen approaching Burin. Some of them are masked. One unmasked man is seen hurling rocks at the village’s houses. The video does not show the rocks hitting the houses, which were a few meters away from the stone-thrower. In the second video, a group of ten Israelis, some of whom are masked, is seen approaching the village. One of them is carrying a pistol and aims it toward the person shooting the video, but does not fire. Afterwards, he and the rest of the group leave the area and camera frame. One of the masked Israelis uses a slingshot to hurl rocks at the village. He does not seem to hit anything….

Israel detains 52-year-old Palestinian mother of prisoners following interrogation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — The Israeli army detained a 52-year-old Palestinian mother on Wednesday from the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqilya, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. Wafa reported that Nuha Shawahne, whose two sons Orwa and Sharhabeel are prisoners in Israel, was detained after she, along with her husband and son, answered a summons to appear before Israeli police in the illegal Ariel settlement in the central West Bank district of Salfit. Nuha’s son Omar Shawahne, who is an attorney, reportedly told Wafa that Israeli police in Ariel summoned his father, Taher, mother Nuha, and brother Abdul Karim for questioning at the police station on Tuesday.  After interrogating them until late into the night, his father and brother were sent home while his mother was detained in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Wafa reported that the Israeli military set Thursday as the date for Nuha to appear in a military court near Jenin, without explaining the reason for her detention.

one night’s detentions:
Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians in Wesr Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least 19 Palestinians during pre-dawn raids on Thursday across the occupied West Bank, according to local sources and a report from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). In the northern West Bank district of Jenin, Israeli forces detained five Palestinians. They were identified as Suhaib Jarir Jarrar, Ahmad al-Kastuni, Muhammad Nasri Shalabi, Mahmoud Nasri Shalabi and Salah Shalabi. In Nablus, Israeli forces detained four Palestinians, according to PPS. Locals identified three of the detainees as Sarhan Rifaat Daraghmeh, Muhammad Harbi Daraghmeh and Abed al-Salam Dawabsheh. Three Palestinians were detained from Tulkarem. They were identified as Majd Zeidan, Murad Makhluf and Yazan Mallah. In the Ramallah district, Yaqoub Hani Ladawdeh was detained from al-Mazraa al-Gharbiyeh while Younis Khairi Bierat was detained from Kafr Malik.
In the Ramallah-area village of Deir Nitham, the home of 16-year-old Musaab al-Tamimi who was killed by Israeli forces in January, Israeli forces detained child Mustafa Saleh al-Tamimi. This is the second time that al-Tamimi has been detained by Israeli forces in less than two months; he was previously held under house arrest for an unspecified period of time. In Jericho, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians identified as Khalid Muhammad Jahhalin and Usama Khalid Jahhalin. In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces detained Youssif al-Titi from the al-Fawwar refugee camp, while Nasser Othman Amr was detained from Deir Razeh village.

Israel demands payment for jeep that killed Palestinian
RAMALLAH (Al Jazeera) 9 Feb by Rania Zabaneh —  Abdulla has never met his older brother and namesake, but the one-year-old doesn’t fail to point at the many pictures of his sibling that adorn the family’s living room and often blow it a kiss. “I didn’t want to name him Abdulla,” the boy’s mother, Zeinat Ghneimat, said. “For weeks, I didn’t call the little one by his name,” she told Al Jazeera while choking back tears. “I told his father, I won’t be able to call his name, knowing Abdulla is no longer with us.” Less than three years ago, an Israeli military jeep flipped over and killed 21-year-old Abdulla, the family’s eldest son.
On January 3, 2018, the Ghneimat family got a bill from Israel, demanding $28,000 in compensation for the jeep damage. Abdulla was crushed to death by the Israeli army jeep during a raid in his village of Kufr Malek, northeast of Ramallah, before dawn on June 14, 2015. According to a lawsuit filed by the family against Israel in June 2017, Abdulla was trapped under the jeep and bled to death after Israeli forces denied him medical aid…..

Israeli forces search for Palestinian teen suspected of killing settler in stabbing attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Israeli forces on Tuesday continued in their search for a Palestinian teenager accused of killing an Israeli settler on Monday in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel in the central occupied West Bank. Israeli news website Ynet reported that 19-year-old Abd al-Karim Adel Assi, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, stabbed Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, 29, who lived with his family in the Har Brakha settlement near Nablus in the northern West Bank, in violation of international law. Assi reportedly stabbed Ben Gal in the chest on Monday afternoon. Ben Gal was treated on the scene by Israeli paramedics but later succumbed to his wounds. According to Ynet, Assi fled the scene after being hit by an Israeli army officer’s vehicle. Ynet added that Assi was a troubled youth who was abandoned by his parents at a young age and has spent the last few years in and out of shelters inside Israel for at-risk youth.

IDF beefs up West Bank presence following slaying of 2 Jews, riots
JTA 10 Feb — Israel Defense Forces beefed up their presence in the West Bank following the slaying of two Jews and three Palestinians there in recent weeks. Three additional IDF battalions were deployed in the area starting Wednesday amid concerns that the spate of deadly attacks in the area signals a new wave of terrorism, the Israel Hayom daily reported. Itamar Ben-Gal of the Har Bracha settlement was gunned down of Feb. 5. Rabbi Raziel Shevach of the Havat Gilad settlement was killed on Jan. 9 … The redeployment of troops in the West Bank was accompanied by rioting, in which a 16-year-old Palestinian was critically injured from gunshots in the town of Kafr ‘Aqab, north of Jerusalem, according to official Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency. Another three Palestinians were killed in three separate incidents this week, the Ma‘an news agency reported, and dozens of others were injured in clashes with IDF troops. Notwithstanding, the number of terrorist attacks against Israelis dropped sharply from 249 incidents recorded in December to 118 attacks recorded last month, the Israel Security Agency wrote in its monthly report earlier this week … The tally for December was a two-year record and constituted the sharpest monthly rise in attacks since 2014 at least — a 296-percent rise over the 84 recorded in November. The leap in the number of attacks corresponded with an uptick in terrorist activity following President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 declaration that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Rights group says Israel currently holding 19 bodies of slain Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — The Israeli government is currently holding the bodies of 19 slain Palestinians killed in the past two years, along with 260 bodies of those killed since 1967, according to a Palestinian human rights group. Director of the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) Issam Arouri told the Voice of Palestine radio station that Israeli forces continue to withhold the remains of 260 slain Palestinians buried in the so-called “cemetery of numbers” in Israel, in addition to holding the bodies of 19 Palestinians, who were killed by Israeli forces since 2016, in morgues. The latest bodies to have been taken by Israeli forces were the bodies of 19-year-old Hamzeh Zamaareh and Ahmad Nasser Jarrar, 22, who were killed earlier this week. Israel dramatically increased its policy of withholding bodies since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015, although it has scaled back on the policy in recent months. Israel has long had “cemeteries for the enemy dead,” also referred to as “cemeteries of numbers,” where Palestinians who died during attacks on Israelis are held in nameless graves marked by numbers….

Court actions

Court rejects Abu Khdeir murderer’s appeal
Ynet 8 Feb by Yael Freidson, Telem Yahav — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal filed by Yosef Haim Ben David, who was sentenced two years ago to a life term plus 20 years in prison after being convicted in the 2014 abduction and murder of Palestinian teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir. The decision was made by a panel of three judges, who also rejected an appeal filed by the minors convicted in the affair. “The murder can be defined as a strategic terror attack which ignited Jerusalem in general, and east Jerusalem in particular,” Justice Isaac Amit read from the ruling. “The murder calls for a profound self-examination in the Israeli society on how to deal with the racism phenomenon.”
Hussein Abu Khdeir, Muhammed’s father, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. “I’m happy with the ruling,” he said. “They burned not only Muhammed but an entire family. I went crazy when they appealed to have their sentence reduced. Had the sentence been mitigated, there would have been more criminals like them. I want Muhammed to be the last victim of such a crime. The murderers are like the Nazis who burned people.” Abu Khdeir’s murder sparked a wave of terrorism in Jerusalem. Ben-David and two minors, who were both convicted for their role in the murder, abducted the 16-year-old teenager and killed him after the funeral of the three Jewish teens Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach, who were kidnapped and murdered on June 12, 2014. A day earlier, the three defendants tried to kidnap seven-year-old Moussa Zaloum while he was walking down the street in Beit Hanina with his mother and two brothers. The Jerusalem District Court also ordered Ben-David to pay NIS 150,000 in compensation to the Abu Khdeir family, and NIS 20,000 to Moussa Zaloum…..,7340,L-5099004,00.html


Army shoots 27 Palestinians, two with serious head and abdominal wounds, in Gaza
IMEMC 10 Feb — Updated: The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has reported, Friday, that Israeli soldiers shot 27 Palestinians, including one who suffered a very serious gunshot injury to his head and one in his abdomen, in several parts of the coastal region. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said one Palestinian was shot with a live round in his head, east of Jabalia, in northern Gaza, and was rushed to the Shifa Medical center in Gaza city. He added that the Palestinian was rushed to surgery and remains in a very serious condition at the Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Al-Qedra stated that the soldiers also shot six other Palestinians with live fire, after the army attacked protesters near the border fence, in northern Gaza. Furthermore, the soldiers shot four other Palestinians with live fire, including one who suffered a serious injury in his abdomen, and three who were shot in the pelvis and legs, east of al-Boreij, in central Gaza. The army also attacked protesters In Jabalia, in northern Gaza, and shot nine Palestinians.
It is worth mentioning that hundreds of residents marched in several parts of the coastal region, especially on Palestinian lands in border areas, east of Khan Younis and Gaza city, and near Beit Hanoun Terminal (Erez Crossing) in northern Gaza. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers, stationed on military towers across the border fence, and many who barricaded themselves behind sand hills, fired dozens of live rounds, including shots fired by army sharpshooters.

Thousands of Palestinians jam Gaza border temporarily opened by Egypt
GAZA (Reuters) 8 Feb by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Thousands of Palestinian travelers gathered at Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt on Thursday hoping for a brief chance to leave after Cairo temporarily opened a frontier it largely keeps closed as it battles an Islamist insurgency on the other side. Israel also maintains tight restrictions on its border with the Gaza Strip, meaning the 2 million Palestinians who live there are rarely able to leave the densely-populated enclave in which the Hamas Islamist movement is the dominant armed force. In a wheelchair and helped by his wife and daughter, 74-year-old Awni An-Najar said at Rafah crossing that he sought to enter Egypt for treatment of his broken hip. “Patients must be allowed to travel freely. I want to be able to walk again,” he said. Egypt tends to open the frontier temporarily a few times a year, usually with short notice and little explanation. The latest opening began on Wednesday with no advanced announcement at all. The Palestinian embassy in Cairo “extended gratitude to President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi for his care to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people,” it said in a statement. The Egyptian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was only the second time in more than a decade that the border was opened while unarmed security officers of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), rather than Hamas, guarded the Palestinian side…
Because of the lack of prior notice, only several dozen travelers arrived in time to cross on Wednesday. A far bigger crowd turned up on Thursday. Rafah will close again after nightfall on Friday.

Egypt closes Gaza border early due to anti-jihadist operation
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 9 Feb — Egypt on Friday closed its border with the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said, after Cairo launched a major operation against jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula. The head of Hamas, the Islamist group which runs Gaza, was however permitted to travel to Cairo for talks before the border was closed a day earlier than planned. Friday was supposed to be the final day of a three-day border opening for humanitarian cases from Gaza, the first time the Rafah border crossing with Egypt had been open in 2018. “The Rafah border was closed today due to the security situation in Sinai, we were informed by the Egyptian authorities,” said Saleh al-Zaq, head of the civil affairs committee which controls the borders. The Egyptian army announced Friday morning the launch of a major operation against jihadists across swathes of territory, including the Sinai Peninsula bordering Gaza. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya crossed the border to Cairo for talks with Egyptian leaders before Rafah was closed, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said. He said the talks would include an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal between Hamas and rival Palestinian movement Fatah that has faltered, with multiple deadlines missed. It was believed to be Haniya’s first trip outside Gaza since the United States included him on its terror blacklist last month.

Israeli bulldozers raze lands in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Several Israeli bulldozers entered into the “buffer zone” along the Gaza border on Thursday morning where they razed lands under heavy military protection.Locals told Ma‘an that four Israeli military bulldozers raided into eastern al-Qarara, in the southern Gaza Strip district of Khan Younis, adding that forces opened fire during the incursion. As the bulldozers razed and leveled lands, military drones flew overhead.

Gaza hospitals, clinics to reopen after Emirati grant: WHO
GAZA, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 8 Feb — Nearly 20 medical centres in Gaza will fully reopen in the coming days after the United Arab Emirates provided financing to end a fuel shortage, the World Health Organization said Thursday. Three hospitals and 16 medical centres had stopped offering key services in recent weeks as crippling fuel shortages meant they were unable to keep generators going, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said. Gaza receives only a few hours of mains electricity a day, so hospitals and other vital services rely on private generators run with fuel provided by the United Nations. After an emergency UN appeal, the UAE has pledged $2 million for fuel for the coming year, said Mahmoud Dahar, head of the WHO in Gaza.

UAE, Qatar donate funds to stave off Gaza health crisis
GAZA (Reuters) 9 Feb by Nidal al-Mughrabi — The United Arab Emirates has donated $2 million and Qatar has pledged another $9 million to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, staving off a threatened shut-down of emergency hospital generators in the impoverished Palestinian enclave, officials said on Friday. The United Nations had appealed for funds on Tuesday, saying fuel for generators that keep Gaza’s hospitals and sanitation services operating would run out within 10 days as Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) feud. The World Health organization announced the UAE donation in a statement, saying it would “provide enough fuel to keep facilities running for several months”. Qatar’s pledge was announced on its Foreign Ministry website. So far generators have stopped at three of Gaza’s 13 hospitals and 14 of its 54 medical centers, according to the enclave’s health ministry.

AP interview: Qatari official urges world to aid Gaza
JERUSALEM (AP) 8 Feb by Josef Federman — A Qatari envoy on Thursday called on the international community to send aid to the people of the Gaza Strip, saying the dire conditions in the territory could potentially spill over into renewed violence. In an interview, Mohammed Al-Emadi, the head of Qatar’s Gaza reconstruction committee, said he hopes that his country’s support for the territory, highlighted by a $9 million pledge on Thursday, will encourage other nations to join the effort. He also shined rare light on his working relationship with Israel, which does not have formal diplomatic relations with the energy-rich Gulf state. “When you want to do work in Gaza, you have to go through the Israelis,” he said. “Without the help of Israel, nothing happens.” Since a 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, Qatar has been a leading player in internationally backed reconstruction efforts. Under Al-Emadi’s supervision, Qatar has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into large-scale projects, including a new highway, state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital and high-rise housing. Al-Emadi, an architect, has been a frequent visitor to personally oversee some of the work. He is expected to return later this month….

Gaza suffering makes Israeli headlines at last
Al-Monitor 6 Feb by Mazal Mualem — Ever since Feb. 2, the Israeli public has been receiving a heavy dose of harsh images depicting the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Photos show Palestinian children lying helpless in hospitals without medication, a severe shortage of water, sewage flowing in filthy streets and long stretches of darkness because of lengthy power cuts. All these images have been flooding the press, news sites and current events programming. While the situation in Gaza worsened in 2017 — it is now on the verge of becoming a humanitarian crisis — no one in Israel showed any interest: not the local media, not the political echelon and apparently not the Cabinet. The truth is that Gaza should have featured prominently in any coverage of the Israeli political and security situation. Nevertheless, it is all but invisible, despite the direct connection between a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and the chance of another violent conflict. And we haven’t even touched on the issue of basic moral values when confronted with such a disastrous human tragedy. The overall sense of apathy was replaced on Feb. 2 with growing interest, as initial reports from top defense officials began to show up in the media. These reports described the situation as a humanitarian crisis and warned of another war against Hamas. In many cases, the reports were accompanied by assessments that Israel itself would have to provide food and medicine to the Gaza Strip in order to avert a catastrophe, as the Channel 10 Friday night news show discussed….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Military training leaves devastation and destruction in Palestinian lands
IMEMC 7 Feb — On Wednesday morning, Israeli tanks withdrew from Palestinian agricultural lands, in the al-Farisiyya area, in the Northern Plains of the occupied West Bank, after invading them and using them for live fire training, causing excessive damage, and devastating the farmers. The head of the Agricultural Department in the West Bank, Engineer Majdi Odah, said the tanks invaded eight dunams, planted with hummus [chickpeas], and conducted live fire training, causing nearly 100% damage to the lands, and their produce. “This time of the year, the losses of the Palestinian farmers are at least 1500 Israeli Shekel per dunam,” he said, “Two years ago, the army carried out one of the largest military drills in the same area, causing very serious losses to the farmers.” The al-Farisiyya area is one of the dozens of Palestinian communities, in the West Bank’s northern plains, where Israel is denying the Palestinians basic infrastructure. The Palestinians fear that the army would continue to use their lands for training, especially since the soldiers conduct frequent drills on their lands, and repeatedly displace the residents. Ziad Sawafta, the owner of the lands targeted in this invasion, said that he planted his 22 dunams with hummus, but the soldiers chose to conduct their training in eight dunams in the center of his lands, therefore destroying them all. “The soldiers also destroyed 150 meters of irrigation pipes,” he said, “Without the water, we have nothing; we have been planning the lands for so many years.” It is worth mentioning that the soldiers used artillery and tank shells, in addition to live fire, close to many tents and dwellings for local shepherds and farmers….

EU officials ask Israel to rebuild demolished schoolrooms
JERUSALEM (AP) 6 Feb — European Union officials are calling on Israel to rebuild two classrooms demolished at an EU-funded school in the West Bank. The EU’s representative offices in Jerusalem and the West Bank issued a statement Tuesday expressing “strong concern” about the demolition of the classrooms, built at a Palestinian school near Jerusalem. The school served 26 elementary school students who were moved to a nearby guesthouse and barbershop to continue classes. “Every child has the right to access to education and states have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfill this right, by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children,” the statement said. Israel says the structure was built without a permit. But EU officials say such permits are nearly impossible to get. Tuesday’s statement urged Israel to halt such demolitions.

Army demolishes a home in Jerusalem
IMEMC 7 Feb — Israeli soldiers demolished, Wednesday, a Palestinian home in Wadi Yasoul neighborhood, in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the demolished home was owned by members of an-Na‘imi family. The army said the property was built without a construction permit, while the family has been filing appeals with courts in an attempt to save their property. In related news, the soldiers removed an Residential Vehicle (RV) owned by Mazen Shweiki and his family, after the soldiers previously demolished his home in Beit Hanina, north of Jerusalem.

Israeli census of Jerusalem a political game ahead of elections
Al-Monitor 8 Feb by Daoud Kuttab — The population of the city of Jerusalem has increased tenfold since 1948, according to an Israeli census report. Palestinians in Jerusalem constitute 37% of the population but could reach 50% if their current birthrate continues, according to the report, which was highlighted by various Israeli newspapers and translated into Arabic by the Egyptian daily Youm 7. The issue has gained importance as the municipal elections in Jerusalem are set to take place in October of this year. According to the report, at the beginning of 2016, the population of the entire city of Jerusalem stood at 870,000, with Jews numbering 548,000 and Arabs 322,000 — a 63% to 37% ratio. The report said Arab and Jewish children and young people account for 50% of the population, and said that as a result of the higher birthrate of Arabs and the exit of many Israeli Jews from the city, Palestinians could wind up constituting half the city in the coming decade. Bernard Sabella, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council representing Jerusalem, told Al-Monitor that the population equation in Jerusalem is clearly in favor of Palestinians in the mid and long term, and that is precisely why Israel is trying to gerrymander the city’s borders. Sabella said, “By taking out of Jerusalem municipal boundaries areas such as Kufr Aqab, the Shuafat refugee camp, Beit Hanina and other areas with relatively high population density, the Israelis are hoping to redress the population equation so that it would be in their favor.” Israel has been considering cutting those areas from the municipality of Jerusalem to reduce their impact on the overall situation. Sabella, however, doubts that the Israel efforts will work in the long run….


Kansas teacher scores big win for Israel boycott and free speech
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Feb — A federal judge has ruled that Esther Koontz’s constitutional rights were violated when she was denied a Kansas teaching job over her refusal to renounce the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel. Rahul Saksena is a staff attorney with Palestine Legal. His work focuses on legislative issues and legal advocacy for Palestine rights activists. Rahul is based in New York City.
TRNN video & transcript: AARON MATÉ: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Maté. In what is being called a major victory for freedom of speech, a federal court has ruled that a Kansas law that punishes people who adhere to the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions Movement against Israel is unconstitutional. The State of Kansas had used the law to refuse to sign a contract with schoolteacher Esther Koontz over her support for BDS, but the court found that Koontz’s right to boycott is constitutionally protected. Rahul Saksena is a Staff Attorney with Palestine Legal and he joins me now. Welcome, Rahul. Tell us about the case of Esther Koontz. RAHUL SAKSENA: Sure, thank you for having me. So, Esther Koontz is a veteran math teacher in the State of Kansas. She’s a member of the Mennonite Church USA, and she supports boycotts for Palestinian rights, boycotts to protest the Israeli government’s abuses of Palestinian rights….

Palestinian refugees

UN agency for Palestinian refugees fundraises after US cuts
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 9 Feb by Edith M. Lederer — The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Friday it has embarked on a fundraising campaign that will likely include a ministerial-level donors conference next month to fill the gap left by the Trump administration’s sudden cut of tens of millions of dollars in funding. Scott Anderson, the agency’s West Bank operations director who just visited Washington, said the U.S. hasn’t yet spelled out what reforms it wants to see implemented in order to restore the $65 million it is withholding now — and possibly millions more it may hold back in the future. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, known as UNRWA, was notified on Jan. 16 that the U.S. was withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million installment and demanding a “fundamental re-examination” of the agency in addition to changes to its programs, which have been heavily criticized by Israel. UNRWA, which serves some 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants, had a budget of over $1 billion last year. The U.S. gave $350 million of that amount and was the agency’s largest donor …
Anderson, a former U.S. Army major, stressed that UNRWA has no political role and is a U.N. humanitarian organization that helps the impoverished civilians and youngsters needing education. He responded to a questioner alleging that Palestinian students in UNRWA schools are taught that Israel doesn’t exist and isn’t on the map and that “Jews are hateful people” saying: “We certainly do not teach hatred for anyone and we do not teach that Israel does not exist.” Anderson added that he speaks to the Israeli army almost every day and a general tweeted last year “praising UNRWA for the work they’re trying to do around the curriculum.” ….

EU lawmakers urge US to respect Palestinian funding pledge
BRUSSELS (AP) 9 Feb — European Union lawmakers are urging the U.S. to honor its financial pledge to the U.N. refugee agency working with the Palestinians as the agency faces a funding crisis that could affect millions. In a resolution Thursday, the European Parliament “urges the United States to reconsider its decision and to honor the payment of its entire scheduled contribution to the agency.” The U.S. has been UNRWA’s largest donor, contributing one-third of the agency’s total budget. But Washington withheld half of the first installment of payments this year, demanding reforms in return for future aid. The lawmakers welcomed a commitment from Arab League countries to contribute, but called on them to boost their contributions.  UNRWA is seeking $800 million for its emergency operations this year.

EU contributes EUR 3 million for Palestine refugees in Syria
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 9 Feb — The European Union (EU) declared on Thursday its contribution of EUR 3 million (about $3.7 million) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in support of the agency’s 2017 Syria Regional Appeal. The UNRWA said the donation will help fund emergency cash assistance for more than 16,000 female-headed households, allowing them to cover their most basic needs. “As the conflict in Syria approaches its eighth year, it is important that we do not forget Palestine refugees, who have been disproportionally affected and the large majority of whom rely on UNRWA to meet their daily needs. Female-headed households, in particular, are struggling,” said Michael Ebye-Amanya, Deputy Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria.  “We thank to the EU for their continued support of this vulnerable group.”….

Other news / Opinion

Palestinian council seeks to revive Jerusalem Secretariat
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 9 Feb by Aziza Nofal — The Palestinian Central Council (PCC) in Ramallah convened Jan. 14-15 and decided to reactivate the Jerusalem Secretariat. The secretariat was the first municipal council elected in Jerusalem after the Jordanian government (the official custodian of Jerusalem’s holy sites) turned the city into a secretariat in 1955. The council continued to operate until the beginning of June 1967, when Israel occupied the eastern part of Jerusalem, dissolved the body and expelled its members to Jordan, where the secretariat is currently based. The council is headed by Zaki al-Ghul, who took over the presidency after the council’s secretary-general, Ruhi al-Khatib, died in exile. Jihad Abu Zneid, a PCC member who pushed for reactivation, said in a press statement Jan. 16 the action comes in light of Jerusalemites’ urgent need for a Palestinian body to fill their daily needs and provide them with necessary services. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is not allowed to hold municipal elections in East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied since 1967. This means that no Palestinian council is covering the services that fall within the responsibility of the municipal council, hence the need to activate the Jerusalem Secretariat. Abu Zneid added that the PCC unanimously voted to reactivate and restructure the Amman-based secretariat. Abu Zneid said in the same press statement that the PCC suggested calling on 2,000 Jerusalemite figures, including members of the PCC and the Palestinian Legislative Council, to elect a new Jerusalem Secretariat that can operate as a shadow municipality and carry out municipal functions that can serve the population….

Will the Palestinian Authority dump the shekel?
Al-Monitor 7 Feb by Shlomi Eldar — In April 2017, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he was severing ties between the West Bank territory under his control and the Gaza Strip, which Hamas controlled. Now, senior Palestinian Authority (PA) officials have told Al-Monitor that Abbas is preparing to disengage from Israel. The first indication of his intentions became evident in a Feb. 6 PA announcement that it has tasked a committee with formulating operational plans for severing ties with Israel in various spheres, including replacing the Israeli shekel with another currency. The economic sphere is, indeed, crucial to the continued rule of the PA and even more so to the lives of the Palestinians in the West Bank. Under the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords and the 1995 Cairo Agreement, the Palestinian economy is inexorably linked with the Israeli economy in virtually every respect: currency, infrastructure, land and air passage, employment of Palestinian laborers in Israel and more. Israel also imposes value added tax and customs tariffs on goods for the PA arriving through Israeli ports and transfers the funds to the Palestinians. These taxes come to hundreds of millions of dollars annually, and Israel uses their transfer on occasion to exert pressure on the PA or to punish it. The Feb. 6 announcement said that an option is being examined to issue an independent Palestinian currency or to use some other currency in place of the shekel. In the past, trade on the West Bank was primarily conducted using the Jordanian dinar, which was considered a strong and stable currency. The economic crisis in the neighboring Hashemite kingdom in recent years has led, however, to a decline of the dinar and the widespread use of the shekel, including for paying PA employees’ salaries in the West Bank and Gaza….

Palestinian leader says US cannot impose peace deal
RAMALLAH (AP) 7 Feb — President Mahmoud Abbas says the US cannot impose a peace deal on the Palestinians. Raising his pen at a rally on Tuesday, he said “this is our pen and we are the only ones to sign.” Abbas said talks can only resume on the condition that a future Palestinian state comprises the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem, all territories captured and occupied by Israel in the 1967 war. Palestinians were outraged by President Donald Trump’s recognition of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December. Abbas has said the move disqualifies the US as peace mediator. Abbas will address the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 20 during the body’s monthly meeting on the Middle East amid tensions over the United States decision to recognise Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Since Trump broke from decades of United States policy with his Dec. 6 announcement on Occupied Jerusalem, Abbas has said he will ask the council to grant full UN membership to the Palestinians and will only accept an internationally-backed panel to broker any peace talks with Israel….

Several options to kick-start Mideast peace talks: Palestinian UN envoy
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 8 Feb by Michelle Nichols —  A collective Middle East peace process could be led by the U.N. Security Council, a “Quartet” expanded to include China and Arab states or an international conference, the Palestinian U.N. envoy said on Thursday, all options involving the United States. Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour laid out the possibilities after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month said he would only accept a broad, internationally backed panel to broker peace talks with Israel. “We’re saying a collective approach involving several players at minimum would have a better chance of succeeding than the approach of only one country that is so close to Israel,” Mansour told reporters….

Indian PM Narendra Modi visits Palestinians after Israel to show that they are ‘mutually independent and exclusive’ partners
NEW DELHI (Reuters) 9 Feb by Sanjeev Miglani — After a public embrace of Israel as a strategic partner, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading to the Palestinian territories and the Gulf on Friday to bolster long-standing political and economic ties. India was one of the earliest champions of the Palestinian cause but in recent years turned to Israel for high-tech military equipment and anti-terrorism cooperation. Under Mr Modi, whose nationalist party sees Israel as a natural ally against Islamist extremism, ties have flourished. Mr Modi made the first trip to Israel by an Indian prime minister last year followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India last month. But Indian officials said India continued to support the Palestinian cause and that Mr Modi’s visit is aimed at helping build up the Palestinians’ capacity in the health, information technology and education areas. “We have de-hyphenated our relations with Palestine and Israel and now we see them both as mutually independent and exclusive and as part of this policy the Prime Minister is undertaking this visit,” B Bala Bhaskar, a joint secretary in the Indian foreign ministry, said.  The two sides are building an India-Palestinian technology park in Ramallah, the Palestinian seat of government, which will develop IT expertise and generate employment.

Trump tells Israel peace means compromise; US envoy under fire
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 9 Feb — U.S. President Donald Trump told Israel on Friday that it too would need to make “significant compromises” for peace with the Palestinians, even as they accused one of his Middle East envoys of bogging down diplomacy with what they see as pro-Israel bias. The Palestinians were outraged by Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a move overturning decades of U.S. reticence on the city’s status, and say they are looking at additional world powers as potential mediators. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper that was excerpted ahead of its full publication on Sunday, Trump described his Jerusalem move as a “high point” of his first year in office. The language of Trump’s announcement did not rule out a presence in Jerusalem for the Palestinians, who want the eastern part of the city – captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally – as their own capital. “I wanted to make clear that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Regarding specific borders, I will grant my support to what the two sides agree between themselves,” he told the conservative Israel Hayom daily, in remarks published in Hebrew.  “I think that both sides will have to make significant compromises in order for achieving a peace deal to be possible,” Trump added, without elaborating.
The interview coincided with fresh strains between the Palestinians and the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, following the killing by a Palestinian of a Jewish settler. After the settler was stabbed to death on Monday, Friedman tweeted that he had previously donated an ambulance to the slain man’s community and that he was praying for the next-of-kin, adding: “Palestinian ‘leaders’ have praised the killer.” That drew a rebuke from the Palestinian administration. “The American ambassador’s statements make us wonder about his relationship with the occupation,” Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement. “Is he representing America or Israel?” ….

US ambassador attacks leftwing Israeli newspaper
JERUSALEM (AFP) 9 Feb — The American ambassador to Israel attacked an Israeli leftwing newspaper Friday, questioning whether it had any “dignity” after a vitriolic column. The quarrel erupted after the Haaretz newspaper criticised US Ambassador David Friedman, personally selected by President Donald Trump, for his support of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. It followed the murder of an Israeli rabbi and father of four from the Har Bracha settlement on Monday. After that Friedman tweeted that he had provided an ambulance for the community 20 years ago and criticised Palestinian “leaders” for praising the killing, although Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said nothing about it. In response Haaretz, which opposes settlement building in the Palestinian territories, ran a column by commentator Gideon Levy saying that “with Friedman’s ambulance or without it, Har Bracha (literally, ‘Mountain of Blessing’) is a mountain of curses.” It accused Friedman of “encouraging and funding war crimes and violations of international law”… Friedman, who was Trump’s personal lawyer before being confirmed as ambassador in May 2017, has previously angered the Palestinians by referring to the “alleged occupation” of the West Bank and claiming that Israel occupies only two percent of the West Bank.

Arab Bank terrorism case ends as US court voids jury verdict
NEW YORK (Reuters) 9 Feb by Jonathan Stempel — A U.S. appeals court has thrown out a 2014 jury verdict finding Arab Bank Plc liable for knowingly supporting militant attacks in Israel linked to Hamas, a decision that triggers a settlement agreement with hundreds of plaintiffs. Friday’s decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ends 13 1/2 years of litigation over Arab Bank’s liability, which the Jordanian lender has disputed, for 24 attacks in and around Israel in the early 2000s. The appeals court said jurors in Brooklyn were instructed incorrectly by the trial judge that under federal law, Arab Bank committed an “act of international terrorism” by knowingly providing material support to Hamas, which the Department of State designated in 1997 as a foreign terrorist organization. In August 2015, 11 months after the verdict, Arab Bank had reached a confidential settlement with 597 victims or relatives of victims of 22 of the attacks, pending the bank’s appeal of the verdict, court papers show. Both sides agreed to forgo a retrial if the verdict were thrown out. “The plaintiffs will receive meaningful and very substantial compensation for their injuries,” their lawyer, Gary Osen, said in an email. “Today’s decision doesn’t diminish the fact a jury found Arab Bank liable for knowingly supporting Hamas.” … In a statement, Arab Bank said “the district court’s errors at trial all but dictated an adverse outcome. The bank is pleased to put this case behind it.” Arab Bank’s settlement averted a trial to determine damages for 16 “bellwether” plaintiffs, concerning three of the attacks. Had the verdict been affirmed, they would have been entitled to at least $100 million, Friday’s decision said. The verdict had been the first in the United States holding a bank civilly liable for violating the Anti-Terrorism Act (“ATA”), which lets U.S. citizens seek damages from international terrorism….

90% of rotten goods in West Bank made in Israel
MEMO 6 Feb — At least 90 per cent of goods being sold in the occupied West Bank which are not suitable for consumption were made in Israel, the Palestinian Union of Consumer Protection Association said yesterday. The association said the goods were produced in Israeli factories either in Israel or in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Head of the association Azmi Al-Shoyoukhi said that “smuggling and entering goods which are not suitable for consumption into West Bank markets aims to destroy the national Palestinian economy, as well as to undermine people’s health and the Palestinian economy.” Speaking to Quds Press, Al-Shoyoukhi said that the Israeli occupation “uses smugglers and corrupt traders” to saturate the Palestinian market with Israeli products which are not suitable for consumption. He revealed that there are production lines in Israeli factories that produce products which fall below the safe production standards; these are aimed specifically for the Palestinian market. To counter this, he said, Palestinians must boycott Israeli goods.

Solar-powered mosque answers prayers in West Bank
GAZA CITY 6 Feb by Entsar Abu Jahal — Palestine is investing in renewable energy in a bid to end its economic dependency on Israel and achieve energy self-sufficiency. On Jan. 22, the West Bank city of Qalqilya marked a milestone, opening its first solar-powered mosque, Al-Rahmah. The Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) and the Ministry of Education signed an agreement Jan. 16 for the development and installation of solar panels on the roofs of 500 public schools over a period of four years. The project will generate a total capacity of 35 megawatts of electricity after an investment of $35 million. Adnan Saeed, the director general of the Awqaf Department in Qalqilya governorate, told Al-Monitor, “The idea for a solar-powered mosque came at the individual initiative of a citizen who collected the necessary funds from his relatives and acquaintances. The idea was approved by the department as economically viable and in line with the national strategy aimed at achieving economic self-sufficiency and supporting investment in renewable and alternative energy.” Fawaz Fahmi, the citizen behind the initiative, told Al-Monitor that he wanted to finance a solar system to keep the mosque open at all times and not see it closed after every prayer. He said that 36 energy panels producing 8 kilowatts cost about $11,000, and the initiative has indeed led to an increase in visiting worshippers….

Opinion: Trump’s Palestine deal is a real estate transaction / Bill Law
Al Jazeera 9 Feb — As President Donald Trump continues to bluster and tweet his way through a chaotic presidency, the Middle East is simmering dangerously close to a boiling point … Once again, all but forgotten are the Palestinians. Israel, buoyed by Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as its capital, continues, in flagrant disregard of international law and UN resolutions, to build settlements in the West Bank. And Trump threatens to cut off US aid because the Palestinians refused to meet his Vice President Mike Pence after the president had provocatively named Jerusalem as the capital of Israel …
The peace proposal that Trump likes best – and that his son-in-law and special Middle East adviser Jared Kushner is reportedly pursuing together with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – looks remarkably like a real estate transaction. Unsurprising, given that the 36-year-old Kushner has no previous experience in diplomacy, but an awful lot of it in wheeling and dealing in the high-stakes world of New York property ventures. It has been called “the sanctuary plan”. It involves the Palestinians surrendering some 50 percent of the West Bank to Israel. Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank that are encircled by Israeli settlement projects would fall under the administrative control of Jordan. For their part, the Egyptians would agree to cede North Sinai to a new Palestinian entity contiguous with Gaza. The capital of this strange agglomeration would become a Palestinian town on the outskirts of Jerusalem, Abu Dis. Jerusalem whole and undivided would then become the capital of Israel.
It is, of course, a madness. What would cause the Palestinians to give up their rights in the West Bank in return for a piece of Egypt riddled with terrorism? Why would Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi turn over more of his land, having already been roundly attacked for giving up two small islands in the Red Sea to the Saudis? But if one year of the Trump presidency has taught us anything, it is that the most extreme and ludicrous of positions can morph quickly into a crude and ugly reality…. (listserv)