Examples of continuous Israeli harassment vs Palestinians

angelburst29

The Living Force
The Israeli government has established a specific “public relations commando unit” to tackle pro-Palestinian projects such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, according to Ynet News.

Israel creates rapid response unit to combat BDS
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171229-israel-creates-rapid-response-unit-to-combat-bds/

Minister of Strategic Affairs and Information Gilad Erdan pushed the cabinet to authorize the decision yesterday, in a bid to “step up” and provide a fast and coordinated response to criticism of Israel on the world stage.

The decision authorized the creation of a “civil infrastructure to assist and be used by the State of Israel and the pro-Israeli community in combating the de-legitimization campaign against the country.”

The operation will reportedly use a variety of public campaigns, lobbying, Israeli delegations, extensive media presence and communications with other pro-Israeli organizations abroad, to purport the Zionist narrative where government bodies might be restricted.

The decision comes just days after singer Lorde announced that she was cancelling her show in Israel in support of the BDS campaign.

“Imagine that right after Lorde announced she was cancelling her Israeli show, she was hit that same day with a viral campaign in websites all over the world and full-page ads in all major world newspapers,” a source with knowledge of the new initiative said. “That’s something the official State of Israel could not have achieved.”

The project is estimated to cost over $75 million and will the see the government look to foreign donors for at least half of the funds, as well as management of the program.

“A joint response from the government and pro-Israeli organizations will be a significant force multiplier to the government’s own efforts and will assist us in turning back the tide of BDS and defeat it,” Erdan concluded

Israel has increased its campaign to combat the BDS movement over the past year, attempting to pass legislation that could see campaigners fined or jailed and has continued to frame BDS supporters as anti-Semites.

In October it was revealed that Israel has secretly been using a US law firm in order to fight BDS activists in Europe and North America. Israeli ministers have also been fighting against the publication of a UN list of firms operating in the illegally occupied West Bank.


Israel will give thousands of African asylum seekers 90 days to either leave or face prison, Haaretz reported yesterday.

Israel tells African asylum seekers: leave or face prison
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171229-israel-tells-african-asylum-seekers-leave-or-face-prison/

The paper said the Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority has begun preparing to deport asylum seekers on the orders of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

The cabinet vote on the deportation campaign was postponed due to a budget dispute between the treasury and public security ministry,” it said.

There are currently said to be 27,000 asylum seekers from Eritrea, 7,500 from Sudan and 2,500 from various African countries as well as 5,000 children born in Israel to asylum seekers.

“The Interior Ministry estimates the total cost of its deportation operation at some 300 million shekels ($86 million) a year. This includes wages of Interior Ministry employees, deportation flights and money given to those who leave. For now, every asylum seeker who leaves the country will receive $3,500, but this amount will be reduced in the future,” the paper added.

Unwelcome: African migrants hit by new tax in Israel
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170703-unwelcome-african-migrants-hit-by-new-tax-in-israel/


The Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked has criticised Orthodox Zionist rabbis for meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is embroiled in corruption investigations, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported.

Israel: Officials slam Netanyahu’s meetings with Zionists rabbis
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171229-israel-officials-slam-netanyahus-meetings-with-zionists-rabbis/

“It’s because of them that he disregards us,” the paper reported Shaked as saying during a private meeting with close associates from her Jewish Home party. “Netanyahu knows that he has the rabbis [in his camp],” she added.

Shaked has also complained about a letter sent by Rabbi Haim Druckman in which he called not to participate in the right-wing anti-corruption protests which took place in Jerusalem last weekend.

Haaretz quoted commentator on religious parties, Israel Cohen, saying: “Party leaders are bothered, and rightfully so, that there is someone [Netanyahu] who is bypassing them and talking with rabbis over their heads. … It looks to them like their power is being weakened.”

On Tuesday, Netanyahu met with met with a group of extremist rabbis who requested settlements be given priority in exchange for their support during the ongoing corruption cases against.

Member of the Knesset, Elazar Stern of Yesh Atid party, criticized the meeting saying: “When the government needs approval in light of police investigations he calls the rabbis of religious Zionism, but when he needs (guidance on the issues of) kashrut, Shabbat, Judaism, and the rabbinate, he does not consult with them.”

Netanyahu is currently entangled in four political scandals: Case 1000 which involves allegations that the PM and his wife accepted illegal gifts from businessmen; Case 2000 which accuses Netanyahu of attempting to buy favourable newspaper coverage; Case 3000, also known as the “submarine scandal”; and Case 4000, in which a close associate of Netanyahu is suspected of providing confidential information to Israel’s largest telecoms company.

The prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, has also been accused of using public funds for private expenditure in the prime minister’s households.
Only 20 per cent of respondents to the recent survey believe she is innocent.


Israel’s parliament (Knesset) ratified a law which would bar police from publicizing information about their criminal investigations, a measure opposition says is aimed at softening scrutiny of corruption probes against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli Parliament Ratifies ‘Anti-Police’ Bill Shielding Prime Minister
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961007000920

The so-called “recommendations Bill” passed its final reading in the parliament on Thursday, with 59 lawmakers voting in favor and 54 opposed after a 43-hour filibuster, presstv reported.

The law will prevent the police from publicly saying whether they have found sufficient grounds for charges against Netanyahu, among other officials. The Israeli public would then have to wait until the attorney-general decides on the cases, and announces his decision.

The final version of the legislation stipulated that the law would not be in effect regarding investigations that predate its ratification. Therefore, it would not apply to probes currently underway against Netanyahu.

The bill, tabled by Netanyahu's rightist Likud party, also proposes a one-year jail term for officials leaking findings to the press. Critics have, however, slammed the measure as the “anti-police law” aimed at shielding Netanyahu.

The opposition Yesh Atid party announced it would submit a petition to the High Court of Justice against the legislation on Thursday.

“The sweeping ban on releasing the recommendations critically impairs the public's right to know, the freedom of the press and the freedom of political expression,” the petition added.

On December 3, Netanyahu called for the bill to be amended so it did not apply to the criminal investigations against him.

Netanyahu is involved in two separate corruption cases and investigators have questioned him several times.


Jewish settlers stormed a Palestinian school in the occupied West Bank on Thursday morning and assaulted students and teachers, according to a prominent Palestinian official.

Jewish Settlers Storm Palestinian School, Assault Students, Teachers
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961007001139

Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian Authority official in charge of tracking Israeli settlement expansion in the Northern West Bank, said about 15 Jewish settlers had stormed the Burin school in the West Bank city of Nablus, where they had assaulted students and vandalized teachers' cars, Daily Sabah reported.

The incident led to limited clashes between Palestinian students and settlers before the Israeli army intervened, he added.

According to Daghlas, Israeli army troops used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the Palestinian teachers and students.

Israeli army troops used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the Palestinian teachers and students.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party unanimously agreed a proposal yesterday to effectively annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, land that Palestinians want for a future state.

Israel’s ruling party calls for de-facto annexation of West Bank settlements January 1, 2018
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180101-likud-party-approves-annexation-of-w-bank-settlements/

The proposal, which was voted for in the Likud Party’s Central Committee’s conference in Jerusalem, called for making Israeli sovereignty and laws dominant in the occupied West Bank Palestinian territories and gives permission to build more Jewish settlements.

By enacting civilian law over settlements, the move could streamline procedures for their construction and expansion. That land is currently under military jurisdiction and Israel’s defense minister has a final say on building there. The settlers are subject to Israeli civilian law.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told the delegates at the meeting:

“We will now promote the recognition of our sovereignty of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). … We must begin to enact this sovereignty, we have the moral right and obligation towards our settler brothers

Ministers and lawmakers from the party supported the proposal, however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also from the Likud party, did not make a statement on the issue. He did not attend the meeting, which attracted several hundred delegates including ministers, legislators and party officials.

If the proposal is presented to the Israeli parliament Knesset, it needs to be discussed in three different sessions before being approved.


The Palestinian movement Hamas denounced the Israeli prime minister’s Likud party for initiating a resolution to annex the West Bank and increase the Israeli settlements, calling on the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority to halt cooperation with Tel Aviv in protest.

Hamas Raps Israeli Party’s Push to Annex West Bank
https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2018/01/01/1616876/hamas-raps-israeli-party-s-push-to-annex-west-bank

In press comments issued on Sunday, Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said Benjamin Netanyahu’s party’s plan to annex the West Bank reveals that US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel has encouraged the Zionist regime of Israel to implement its racist polices.

The Hamas official also stressed that the Palestinian nation’s move to press ahead with Intifada and strengthen resistance to the Israeli occupation will thwart all Zionist plots.

Qassem then called on the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to make a proper decision in reaction to the Israeli plans for expansion of settlements, bow out of the peace process, stop security arrangements with Israel and reinforce Palestine’s internal front.

On Sunday, the Likud party voted for a resolution that calls on its leaders to move to formally annex the West Bank.


Jewish settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem increase by three times in 2017.

Israel seized 2,500 acres of Palestinian land in 2017
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180101-israel-seized-2500-acres-of-palestinian-land-in-2017/

Israel has seized around 2,500 acres of Palestinian land, destroyed 500 buildings and constructed eight new Jewish settlement units in 2017, according to Palestine’s Land Research Centre (LRC).

According to the report of the centre, Israel seized Palestinian lands with “military aims” and the “aim to construct Jewish settlement units” in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem.

The report also recorded 900 incidents of violence and attacks of Israeli forces in East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli and Palestinian law institutions, activities of Jewish settlement in West Bank and East Jerusalem have increased by three times in 2017 compared with the previous year.

Peace Now movement also announced that Israeli government approved the construction of 1,982 houses in 2015, 2,629 houses 2016 and this figure increased to 6,500 in 2017.

Israel’s Minister of Public Works and Housing, Yoav Galant, on December 24 announced a plan to build 300,000 new houses in East Jerusalem under the name of “housing on the land of united Jerusalem, the capital of Israel”.

It has been stated that Israel has established 131 settlements in the West Bank, 10 in East Jerusalem and 116 in the regions of the Hill of the West Bank since 1967.

It is said that Israel wants to bring the number of settlers in the West Bank to a million in a short period of time, while half a million residents are currently living in Jews settlements in Palestinian soil and 220,000 in the settlements in East Jerusalem.


Israeli army detained 6,742 Palestinians along the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank in 2017, according to Palestinian human rights organizations.

Israel arrested more than 6,000 Palestinians in 2017
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180101-israel-arrested-more-than-6000-palestinians-in-2017/

In a joint statement, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)-linked Palestinian Committee of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs, Palestinian Prisoners Committee, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights said the arrests in 2017 included 1,467 children, 156 women, 14 Palestinian Legislative Council members and 25 journalists.

The statement also said some detainees were later released.

As of Sunday, there are 6,950 Palestinian prisoners, including 359 children, 22 journalists and 10 MPs, in Israeli prisons, it added. There are also 450 prisoners who are under “administrative detention”.

Under the policy of administrative detentions, prisoners can be held without trial for periods ranging from six months to a year.

Israeli forces frequently raid Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and detain local Palestinians, claiming they are “wanted” by Israeli security agencies.

The statement also said 2,436 Palestinians, one-third of whom are children, have been arrested in occupied Jerusalem.


Israel’s occupation forces arrested retired Major General Yousef Al-Sharqawi on Sunday, Quds Press has reported. The Palestinian officer was detained in occupied Jerusalem.

Israelis arrest retired Palestinian general
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180101-israelis-arrest-retired-palestinian-general/

Eyewitnesses said that the Israelis stopped Al-Sharqawi while he was driving his car in the occupied city. He was taken to an unknown destination.

Al-Sharqawi, 60, is from Bethlehem. He served as a senior officer in the National Security Service of the Palestinian Authority before his retirement.


This is the fifth week of protests against the Israeli Prime Minister.

Israelis continue protests against Netanyahu ‘corruption’
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180101-israelis-continue-protests-against-netanyahu-corruption/

Thousands of Israelis have continued to protest in Tel Aviv against Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged corruption, Quds Press reported on Sunday. This is the fifth week of protests against the Israeli Prime Minister.

The demonstrators have been calling for the speeding-up of legal procedures related to the investigations into the allegations of bribery and the misuse of public funds. Demonstrators are reported to be calling for Netanyahu to step down after accusing him of sitting on top of official corruption in Israel.

According to reports, financial and ethical corruption among senior Israeli officials has reached a record level. As well as Netanyahu, the former Chairman of the Government Coalition, David Bitan, and Interior Minister Arie Deri are implicated.

Netanyahu first served as Prime Minister of Israel from 1996. On 31 March, 2009, he was sworn in for the second time and is now serving his fourth term in office.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Israeli forces carried out raids in several areas across the West Bank during the early hours of the New Year, arresting 26 Palestinians, including a member of Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

Israeli Forces Raid West Bank, Detain More Palestinians During Early Hours of New Year
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000894

Israeli forces arrested Nasser Abd al-Jawad, a Hamas member of the PLC, after they stormed his home in Salfit City at dawn Monday, Safa news agency reported.

More than 10 youths were also arrested in the city of Tulkarm in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops stormed a number of Palestinian houses, and deliberately caused damage to them.


Israeli authorities have filed charges against a Palestinian woman after a video showing her and her cousin slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank went viral.

Israel charges Palestinian teenager in viral ‘slap video’
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1217436/middle-east

Nour Tamimi, 20, had on December 15 along with Ahed Tamimi, 16, accosted two soldiers in their village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank.

The soldiers were in the yard of a home to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists nearby, according to the charges filed at the Ofer military court on Sunday.

Ahed Tamimi’s family says the incident occurred in the yard of their home. A video shows the cousins approaching two Israeli soldiers and telling them to leave before shoving, kicking and slapping them. Ahed Tamimi is the most aggressive of the two in the video.

The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them. They then move backwards after Ahed Tamimi’s mother Nariman becomes involved.

Nour Tamimi, who was arrested on December 20, was charged with aggravated assault of a soldier and disturbing soldiers carry out their duties, the indictment read.

She will appear in the Ofer court later Monday for a hearing on whether she will be held in detention until her trial begins.

Ahed Tamimi and her mother will face the same military court later Monday for a hearing, during which the prosecution could announce its intention to press charges.

Ahed Tamimi, arrested on December 19, has been lauded as a hero by Palestinians who see her as bravely standing up to Israel’s 50-year occupation of the West Bank.

She has been involved in a series of previous confrontations, leading Israelis to accuse her family of using her as a pawn in staged provocations.

Palestinians however say she is engaged in legitimate resistance.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party voted for a resolution which calls for the formal annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian Movement Slams Likud Resolution that Calls for Annexation of Israeli Settlements
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000613

On Sunday, the non-binding vote called on Likud members of parliament to spread Israel's authority throughout the West Bank and to annex Israeli settlements, presstv reported.

"The Likud Central Committee calls on Likud’s elected leaders to work to allow unhindered construction and to extend Israeli law and sovereignty in all areas of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank),” the resolution read.

It also called for unlimited construction of the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Despite being non-binding, the resolution can be used to exert significant political pressure.

The Palestinian Fatah Movement has censured the vote, stating that it is a clear violation of UN resolutions.

"The decision of the Likud party to impose Israeli control over the occupied West Bank represents an end to the remnants of the peace process unilaterally," a statement said, released by the group.

A few days ago, the Israeli cabinet approved $11 million in funding for settlement activities in the occupied West Bank.

Much of the international community regards the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

Last month, the European Union urged the Israeli regime to stop plans for the construction of new settler units in the occupied West Bank, warning that such moves undermine peace efforts.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Israeli regime's legislation body Knesset in a late-night debate approved a bill that enacts stiff new obstacles to any potential land-for-peace deal involving al-Quds (Jerusalem), while also easing the way to rid the city of several overwhelmingly Palestinian neighborhoods.

Israeli Knesset Approves Bill Paving Way for Jewish-Only Al-Quds
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961012001154

The bill passed with 64 votes in favor and 52 against on Tuesday stipulates that a majority of 80 Knesset members of 120-member Knesset will be required to any transfer of territories from the occupied al-Quds within the framework of any potential diplomatic agreement, Al-Waght reported.

The new legislation would also reduce al-Quds' Palestinian population by a third.

A member of Regime's Knesset, Esawi Freige, blamed the bill as "a race law", saying it was meant to cleanse al-Quds of its Arab residents.

According to Freige, after the Israeli regime "chose to erect a wall within Jerusalem, now it is seeking to remove 100,000 of its residents from the city.”

Areas impacted by the bill are located on the far side of the concrete separation wall which Israeli regime installed a decade ago. They include Kafr Akab, Shuafat refugee camp and parts of Walaja, Sawahra and a-Sheik Sa'ad.

Since 1967, Israel has revoked the residency permits of more than 14,000 Palestinians, forcing them to leave al-Quds.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party voted for a resolution which calls for the formal annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, as, on Sunday, the non-binding vote called on Likud members of parliament to spread Israel's authority throughout the West Bank and to annex Israeli settlements.

Both rival Palestinian political groups slammed a non-binding resolution passed by the ruling Israeli Likud party.

The Israeli cabinet also on Wednesday approved the transfer of 40 million shekels ($11 million) in funding for settlements in the occupied West Bank, as the approval came a day after a group of Zionist rabbis met with Netanyahu and asked him to give higher priority to the settlements.

Netanyahu met with the rabbis to seek their support against the backdrop of two police investigations that are being conducted against him, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

During the meeting, the rabbis in return called on Netanyahu to give higher priority to Israeli settlements.

Israeli authorities have denied any relation between the meeting and the settlement funding.

Netanyahu is involved in two separate corruption cases and investigators have questioned him seven times. The cases involve allegations that Israeli Prime Minister received lavish gifts from wealthy businessmen and negotiated a deal with a newspaper owner for more favorable coverage.

The Palestinian foreign ministry denounced on Sunday a new Israeli settlement construction plan, which includes the building of 300,000 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem.

It held US President Donald Trump responsible for "Israeli arrogance" that has endorsed the annexation of East Jerusalem.

"The ministry affirms that this Israeli colonial arrogance would not have happened without US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital," the statement read.

"Trump's administration must bear the responsibility for new crimes that Israel, the occupying country, imposes on our people," it added.

The ministry urged the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court to confront the move.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The separation wall, which Israel started building in 2002, snakes through the occupied West Bank's territory, dividing villages, encircling towns and splitting families from each other.

Much of the international community regards the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

Last month, the European Union urged the Israeli regime to stop plans for the construction of new settler units in the occupied West Bank, warning that such moves undermine peace efforts.

A UN Security Council resolution passed last year condemned all Israeli settlement construction on the occupied Palestinian territories. The landmark Resolution 2334, passed in December 2016, called the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds a “flagrant violation of international law.” The resolution also called on Israel to stop all such construction.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
US President Donald Trump has told Israel that he is planning to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem this year, Israeli website Wallah revealed on Tuesday. Trump is apparently putting pressure on the relevant government departments in Washington to coordinate with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to get the relocation procedures started.

Trump tells Israel that embassy will be moved this year January 3, 2018
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180103-trump-tells-israel-that-embassy-will-be-moved-this-year/

“President Trump sent a clear message that he wants to start relocation of the embassy soon,” a White House source said. “He stressed that work is going to start as soon as possible in 2018.”

Although it is known that no new building is readily available for the embassy, sources claim that it is moving to a “diplomatic hotel” in Jerusalem.

Israel occupied West Jerusalem in 1948 and East Jerusalem in 1967. In 1980, the government announced that it had annexed Jerusalem and that the city was Israel’s “undivided” capital. Last month, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the “eternal capital” of Israel and announced plans to relocate the US embassy to the holy city. Under international law, Jerusalem is still occupied territory.


Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, has passed the “United Jerusalem Bill” which makes it necessary for at least 80 MKs to agree to future changes in the status of the holy city in any future deal with the Palestinians, Quds Press has reported. Prior to the approval of this bill, a simple majority of MKs — 61 — was necessary.

Knesset approves bill to reduce chance of ceding part of Jerusalem to Palestinians
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180103-knesset-approves-bill-to-reduce-chance-of-ceding-part-of-jerusalem-to-palestinians/

It is ironic that under the new regulation, this bill would not have been passed; only 64 MKs voted in favour, with 51 votin

“Just now, we ensured that Jerusalem will be united forever,” wrote Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Facebook. “We initiated the law that guards Jerusalem so that it cannot be divided without a huge majority of 80 MKs. The Mount of Olives, the Old City, the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa Mosque] and the City of David [Silwan] will remain in our hands forever.”

The far-right extremist claimed that this is Israel’s response to the “shameful” UN vote on Jerusalem. “There will be no more political manoeuvres that will… tear our capital apart.”

Israel’s Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Ze’ev Elkin, also hailed the approval of the bill. “I congratulate the Knesset on the approval by a large majority of the amendment to the Basic Law: Jerusalem, which strengthens the defensive wall against those on the left who may try to harm Israeli sovereignty in united Jerusalem in the future.”


Islamic organizations in Jerusalem said on Tuesday that the Israeli Knesset’s approval of the so-called United Jerusalem Bill is “null and void” and called upon Muslims to work towards the liberation of the holy city. The statement was backed by the Council of Jerusalem Religious Endowments, the High Islamic Commission, the Palestinian Fatwa Department and the General Directorate of Jerusalem Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs.

Islamic organizations condemn Israel’s United Jerusalem Bill
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180103-islamic-organisations-condemn-israels-united-jerusalem-bill/

“The bill, which allows the Israeli authorities to demarcate the borders of occupied Jerusalem as if it is part of Israel, is legally and religiously null and void,” insisted the religious bodies. They called upon politicians and clerics in the Arab and Islamic world to take measures equal to the Israeli violations of Jerusalem, not only deliver speeches and issue statements.

The organizations pointed out that UN Security Council Resolution 478/1980, which is binding upon all UN members, including the US and Israel, stipulates that all Israeli measures to change the identity and legal status of Jerusalem are “null and void”. They called upon members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to cancel the bill.

In conclusion, the Islamic organizations warned Muslims around the world about Israel’s plans to fill Al-Aqsa Mosque — Islam’s third holiest site — with illegal, extremist Jewish settlers.


Israel’s occupation forces have “confiscated” thousands of Israeli Shekels from Palestinians in several cities across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Felesteen.ps reported on Tuesday. The money was taken on the pretext that it was intended for “funding terror activities”.

Israel ‘confiscates’ money from Palestinians in occupied West Bank and Jerusalem
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180103-israel-confiscates-money-from-palestinians-in-occupied-west-bank-and-jerusalem/

Local sources pointed out that the Israeli occupation forces have, over the past three months, also taken 14 large items of machinery, four lorries and 20 other vehicles, four cameras, eight PCs and four mobile phones owned by Palestinian citizens. They added that 14 instances have been recorded of Israeli troops taking NIS 213,000 ($61,700) as well as jewellery from Palestinian-owned homes and shops.

Lathes and other machines which are alleged to be used to make weapons have also been “confiscated”, as has Palestinian land. Furthermore, documents have been stolen by the security forces, it is alleged.

Commenting on Israel’s violations, lawyer Alaa Badarneh told Felesteen.ps that the Israeli occupation imposes sanctions on the Palestinians as a punishment for their persistence in remaining on their own land. “All these measures are illegal as they violate article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” he pointed out. This cornerstone of international law lays stress on the protection of people’s property during wars and armed conflicts. He noted that Israel treats such international conventions with contempt, and believes that it can act with impunity.


President Donald Trump admitted the Middle East peace process was in difficulty and threatened to cut aid to Palestinians worth more than $300 million a year, drawing a rebuke that they would not be “blackmailed.”

Trump threatens to cut aid to Palestinian territories
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1218336/middle-east

“We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” Trump tweeted. “With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was threatening all of the budget, worth $319 million in 2016, according to US government figures. “We will not be blackmailed,” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement Wednesday after Trump’s tweet.

“President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice. Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible actions!“

The US has long provided the Palestinian Authority with much-needed budgetary support and security assistance, as well as an additional $304 million for the UN’s programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

Unless Trump follows through on his customary tough talk, the message is likely to be seen as primarily political.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
The full story of Ahed Tamimi's arrest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPwAyNRuuJY (2:51 min.)

Published on Jan 3, 2018

Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old girl, was arrested by Israeli forces and may spend 10 years in jail for slapping an Israeli soldier. This is the whole story behind the Nabi Saleh village incident and the video that went viral.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
The shadow behind Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu - George P. Shultz.

This article appears in the February 24, 2006 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Netanyahu's Fascist Record: All Roads Lead to Shultz by Steven Meyer
_http://larouchepub.com/other/2006/3308schultz_bibi.html

If supporting the fascist Pinochet coup in Chile with its the death squads, and creating the Cheney/Bush regime which now threatens to blow up Southwest Asia were not enough, George P. Shultz can add another notch to his belt as the man who created and directed Israel's Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu.

Dick Cheney, Shultz's thug-in-residence in the Bush Administration, is pushing for Bibi to again become Prime Minister of Israel, so that he can start a war against Syria, in case resistance to a planned war against Iran succeeds.

Netanyahu's net worth to Shultz has been several-fold. As the leading voice of the Likud, he fingered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for assassination to stop the peace process. As Prime Minister, he used the "Clean Break" dossier to bury the Oslo Accords and spark the Intifada, lighting the fire that would start the "Clash of Civilizations." As Israel's Finance Minister, Netanyahu implemented a brutal fascist austerity program which put the final nail in the coffin, burying Israel's once thriving scientific and industrial economy. One of every four Israelis now lives in poverty.

Netanyahu's political career was meteoric, thanks to Shultz and Israel's Ambassador to the United States Moshe Ahrens, who in April 1982 plucked the young travelling salesman for Israel's Rim Furniture company, and placed him in Washington as the Deputy Chief of Mission in the Israeli Embassy. With no diplomatic or political experience whatsoever, Netanyahu's job was to sell a different commodity to the U.S. population and Congress: Israel's invasion of Lebanon, and the subsequent Sabra and Shatila massacres.

Bibi did such a good job, that in February 1983, when Ambassador Ahrens was called back to Israel to become the new Defense Minister after Ariel Sharon was sacked for his role in the Lebanon massacres, Shultz pressured Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to appoint Netanyahu to Ahrens's vacant post as Ambassador!

Shamir refused, but in the interim six months before there was a new appointment, Netanyahu took charge of the embassy. From there Shultz called young Bibi into his State Department Office for a chat.

Shultz shared classified information from the CIA on terrorism in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Iran with Netanyahu, and as described by authors Ben Caspit and Ilan Kfir in their 1998 book Netanyahu, The Road to Power, Shultz said: "Those terrorists are wild animals and not human beings. I have decided to change American policy towards terrorism.

"Shultz told Netanyahu about the sharp debate between himself and Caspar Weinberger, who opposed the use of American and international force against terrorism...."

Shultz and Pre-emptive Use of Force - Netanyahu and Shultz decided to hold an international conference on terrorism in Washington, D.C., at which Shultz would give the keynote and announce his new policy of pre-emptive use of force. The conference would be hosted by the Jonathan Institute for the International Study of Terrorism, named after Bibi's brother Yoni, who was killed in the Israeli anti-terrorist raid in Entebbe, Uganda. The chairman of the Institute was Benzion Netanyahu, Bibi's father. Ahrens served as Benzion's personal secretary, when the latter chaired the international Revisionist Movement after the death of Vladimir Jabotinsky.

As the story goes, Netanyahu left Shultz's office and set up a meeting with his friend Doug Feith to discuss how to organize the conference. (Feith would be one of the authors of the "Clean Break" document that was written for Netanyahu more than a decade later, when he would become Prime Minister of Israel.)

The Washington conference, held on June 24-27, 1984, was a mega-event. Some 36 experts on terrorism spoke during the four-day conference, including the self-described universal fascist Michael Ledeen, and many others from the U.S. neo-con stable who would later play an essential role in spreading the intelligence lies that were used for the invasion of Iraq.

Shultz's keynote was broadcast live internationally, and it was a foretaste of what he would launch with the Cheney/Bush Administration. "... Can we as a country, can the community of free nations, stand in a purely defensive posture and absorb the blows dealt by terrorists?"

"I think not. From a practical standpoint, a purely passive defense does not provide enough of a deterrent to terrorism and the states that sponsor it. It is time to think long, hard, and seriously about more active means of defense—defense through appropriate preventive or pre-emptive actions against terrorist groups before they strike."

Ironically, Shultz continued: "We will need to strengthen our capabilities in the area of intelligence and quick reaction. Intelligence will be particularly important, since our societies demand that we know with reasonable clarity just what we are doing and against whom we are acting....

"We must face that challenge with realism, determination, and strength of will. I have great faith that we do have such will, and the capability to act decisively against this threat."

At the same conference, Walter Berns, an American Enterprise Institute Scholar and one of Leo Strauss's foremost protégés, who is an expert on Constitutional Law for the Federalist Society, gave a presentation on the "unitary executive" theory of powers in the fight against terrorism.

Netanyahu served as chairman of the conference and gave the opening and closing address. With Shultz's backing and the appropriate media hype, he was made into an instant political star and an overnight expert on terrorism.

Less than three months later, Netanyahu was promoted as Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations. Two rather well kept secrets accompanied him. The first was that Bibi's posting included Bernard Lewis, the British Intelligence Arab hand who is the father of the "Clash of Civilizations" policy. Lewis, who had spoken at the terrorism conference, joined Netanyahu's UN staff. Second, David Bar-Ilan, who had organized the entire Jonathan Institute conference, and who was a regular contributor to Norman Podhoretz's neo-con Commentary Magazine, became a full-time paid advisor.

Bar-Ilan was critical for Bibi. Netanyahu's major speeches were ghost-written by him, and he served as a go-between for Netanyahu and the powerful conservative Jewish Republicans who would finance Bibi's endeavors. Podhoretz and his wife, Midge Decter, both of whom spoke at the terrorism conference, personally took Bibi under their wing, introducing him to all the leading conservatives, neo-cons, and free-market economic gurus in Shultz's stable.

Shultz continued to promote Netanyahu as an up-and-coming political figure. The two appeared together as main speakers at a Jewish fund-raising dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York months later, where Shultz sang the praises of Netanyahu for changing international policy in dealing with terrorism.

Shultz's Netanyahu project went hand-in-hand with his take-down of the Israeli economy. In 1983, Shultz sent Stanley Fisher, the current chairman of the Bank of Israel, and American Enterprise Institute economist Herb Stein, to Israel as his personal emissaries to launch the "Chicago School" restructuring, which has brought Israel to its knees. As Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Netanyahu would put Israel through the final phases of Shultz's economic recipe of destruction.

Before he left New York and the UN, in 1988, Netanyahu had crafted a plan to return to Israel to take over the leadership of the Likud and become Israel's Prime Minister. By 1996, he had done both.

Shultz and 'Clean Break' - When Netanyahu took office as Prime Minister in 1996, he was handed the infamous "Clean Break" document which was issued by the Jerusalem-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS). "Clean Break" called for the destruction of the Oslo Accords and regime change in Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Internal Revenue Service documents reveal that IASPS is financed by the San Francisco-based Koret Foundation. George Shultz is a key advisor to Koret, which is a mega-funder of the Hoover Institution and many of Shultz's projects.

The same week that IASPS handed Netanyahu the "Clean Break" document, it also provided him with an economic program, "A Jubilee Plan," to further privatize and loot what was left of Israel's economy. The report was authored by former Congressman Jack Kemp, an IASPS trustee, and Alvin Rabushka, a Hoover Institution economic specialist who originated the Flat Tax. These two, along with IASPS director Robert J. Loewenberg, met with Netanyahu to advise him of their plan.

Kemp was a speaker at the Jonathan Institute conference on terrorism, and had befriended Netanyahu while he was UN ambassador, recruiting him to the "Chicago School" of economics.

Koret is also a regular funder of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress (ICSEP), a joint Anglo-American economics think-tank, whose director, Daniel Doron, is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society. Doron has served as a financial advisor to Netanyahu.

The think-tank has both a British and an American board of advisors. Leading economists on the British side devised Margaret Thatcher's privatizing and austerity economic policy. Neo-con Irving Kristol serves as chairman emeritus of the U.S. Board of Advisors. Other board members include Midge Decter and Judge Abraham Sofaer, a Koret board member who is the George P. Shultz Scholar at the Hoover Institution.

Armed with the double-barrelled input from both think-tanks, Netanyahu gave an interview which was featured on the cover of the January 1997 international edition of Business Week, where he boasted that he was the first Israeli Prime Minister who has the will and determination to enforce the necessary economic reforms and privitazations to transform Israel into a "post-industrial economy."

In 1996, Shultz received the first "Koret Prize" for his role of Gauleiter over the Israeli economy, and he continued to advise Netanyahu on economic and strategic policy throughout Bibi's years as Prime Minister.

Shultz's Koret also funds Commentary Magazine, the American Enterprise Institute, Daniel Pipes's Middle East Forum, and the war-mongering Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI). Koret provided the funds for Condoleezza Rice to become a Hoover Fellow, in 1999, before Shultz placed her as President Bush's National Security Advisor.

Did Shultz Choose Bibi for his Nazi Pedigree? - Why would George Shultz invest his time in promoting the career of a 33-year-old furniture salesman with no political or academic experience? Could it have been Netanyahu's pedigree?

Netanyahu's father Benzion (now deceased), who has been described as Bibi's personal mentor as well as his political advisor, was a supporter of fascism as a young man in Palestine in the 1920s. This was not a passing fad for the elder Netanyahu, for of all the ways to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Israel, in 1998, Benzion chose to commemorate the life of his mentor, self-proclaimed fascist Abba Achimeir, with a special public lecture. At the time, Benzion was an advisor to his son, the Prime Minister.

According to Revisionist archivist Laurence Cramer, Achimeir recruited Benzion Netanyahu to the Brit Habiryonim (the Brotherhood of Hoodlums or Band of Zealots) which was modelled on the Hitler youth and Mussolini's brown shirts. The Brit Habiryonim busted up meetings of their political opponents. For example, Cramer documents that Netanyahu and Achimier lead the disruption of ancient historian Dr. Norman Bentwich, who was giving a lecture at Hebrew University.

Achimier was a political and intellectual leader in Jabotinsky's revisionist Zionist movement, and he authored a column in the Palestine Revisionist newspaper Doar Hayom entitled "From the Desk of a Fascist," in which he sang the praises of Mussolini and Hitler. At that time, the Revisionist press published Mussolini's speeches and ran articles on his corporatist economic policies. Achimier was committed to the principle of the dictator and wanted Jabotinsky to refer to himself as "Il Duce."

Achimeir was a hard-core fascist. According to archival material in the Jabotinsky Institute in Israel, Achimeir lamented in 1952, that one of the failings of Revisionists was that they did not succeed in the early 1930s in preventing the association of fascism with anti-Semitism, and this had been one of their main objectives.

Netanyahu's mentor recruited young Zionists to the inner core of the Brit Habiryonim with a tract entitled "The Scroll of the Sicarri." The Sicarri were the Jewish fundamentalists who flourished at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, who armed themselves with daggers (Sica) under their cloaks to assassinate their opponents, both Roman and Jewish.

In early 1934, Achimeir openly called for the assassination of Jewish opponents of Revisionism in a speech in Haifa. Then, in 1935, his paper began a character assassination of Chaim Arlosoroff, David Ben Gurion's "Foreign Minister," who was secretly negotiating with leading Arabs and the Emir of Jordan to form a bi-national state, which the Jabotinskyites opposed. After months of targetting, Arlosoroff was gunned down and killed as he walked with his wife on the beach at night.

Netanyahu's mentor Achimeir was arrested as the author of the assassination, along with two of his Brit Habiryonim followers whom Mrs. Arlosoroff identified as the killers. Controversy and judicial technicalities resulted in all three being released. They denied any involvement, claiming that "young Arabs" had killed Arlosoroff during an attempted robbery. Subsequent ballistics tests done years later on the gun that killed British High Commissioner Lord Moyne in Egypt in 1944 (an act carried out by two young members of the Canaanites, an Achimeir-derived group), proved it to be the same gun that killed Arlosoroff. The nascent peace process was now dead.

Netanyahu: Condoner of the Rabin Assassination - Leah Rabin, widow of the assassinated Prime Minister, recalled the Arlosoroff assassination when her husband was felled by the extremist Israeli Yigal Amir. She never accepted the condolences of Bibi Netaynahu, who had set the stage for her husband's assassin, much as Achimeir had done for the Arlosoroff murder.

As the chairman of the Likud and political opposition leader to Rabin, Netanyahu knew of the plot to assassinate Rabin and did nothing to stop it. Moreover, he had taken part in demonstrations calling for the death of her husband. The slain Prime Minister's wife said of Bibi: "Netanyahu was the one who supplied the inspiration to the group of subversives planning the execution, and to the assassin himself." As Caspit and Kfir report, at the beginning of July 1995, Bibi headed a "funeral procession" in which Rabin's coffin and a hangman's noose were borne on high, and shouts of "Death to Rabin" could be heard. For the first time, the slogan was heard "Through blood and fire [a slogan used by Brit Habiryonim] Rabin shall expire."

After the rally, Carmi Gilon, the head of the Israeli internal security police, Shin Bet, briefed Netanyahu on newly gathered intelligence that there was a plot to assassinate Rabin, and he asked him to tone down his public remarks. Netanyahu refused.

As the campaign against Rabin reached its peak in October 1995, Netanyahu went to a mass rally in Ra'anana, and publicly shook hands with the protesters, who were carrying a coffin draped with a black cloth and yelling, "We are burying Prime Minister Rabin." As Caspit and Kfir report, Netanyahu "gave carte blanche—a stamp of kashruth [kosher]—for a future attack on Rabin's life."

When Oslo II was voted up by the Knesset later that month, a mass rally of all Israel's right wing joined forces in Jerusalem's Zion Square. More than 100,000 hysterical fanatics rallied against Rabin, some burning him in effigy. Netanyahu addressed the crowd from the front of the speaker's stage, his hands stroking the huge red letters on the poster which called for "Death to Rabin." As Caspit and Kfir relate, "... [F]or older members of Israeli society, survivors of the Holocaust, this sight brought back memories of Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany."

The Imminent Danger - After the March 28 elections in Israel, Bibi could again become Prime Minister, thereby turning Israel into a protential hand grenade for starting a new Mideast war under Shultz's orders. The election polls now show the Likud Party trailing both the Ariel Sharon founded Kadima party and the Labor Party, but these polls mean very little, because most Israeli elections are determined in the last three days before the vote. Moreover, even if the Labor Party were to win, it would still have to form a coalition with another party. If that fails, the initiative to form a government could go either to Ehud Olmert of Kadima, or Netanyahu.

Either way, in a Kadima-Likud coalition, which despite media commentaries is more likely then a Kadima-Labor coalition, Netanyahu could very well end up in the Prime Minister's seat or as number two in the government. If Shultz's other puppet, Dick Cheney, is not out of the White House, this danger become more likely indeed.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
JERUSALEM: Israel will reverse a power cut to Gaza begun in June after the Palestinian Authority agreed to pay for its supply to the blockaded enclave, the energy ministry said Sunday.

Israel says restoring Gaza power after PA pledge to pay
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1220716/middle-east

It said Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz had ordered the supply to be restored by Monday.

A cut in PA payments to Israel to supply power on its behalf to the Gaza Strip in June reduced the amount being delivered to the coastal Palestinian territory by some 50 megawatts.

Many residents were left with around four hours of electricity per day as a result.

Restoring the 50 megawatts will return the enclave to the situation before June, when mains electricity was supplied to residents in eight-hour cycles.

Steinitz said the PA had last year cut the amount of its monthly payments from 40 million shekels (9.7 million euros, $11.6 million) to 25 million shekels.

The electricity payments have been a key issue in efforts at reconciliation between Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs Gaza, and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah. The cut came as part of measures taken by Abbas to pressure Hamas after the Islamist movement created what was seen as a shadow government in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas and Fatah signed a landmark reconciliation accord in Cairo in October aiming to end their decade-long feud and hand authority in Gaza back to the PA.

However, reconciliation efforts later stalled and the rival factions missed a December deadline to transfer power in Gaza.

Security control in the territory remains a major issue, with Hamas refusing to disarm its 25,000-strong armed wing.


RIYADH: The separation surgery of Palestinian conjoined twins Farah and Haneen has been successful, announced Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah, adviser at the Royal Court and General Supervisor of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) who is head of the medical and surgical team for the separation surgery.

Palestinian conjoined twins separation surgery successful Sunday 7 January 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1220936/saudi-arabia

Dr. Al-Rabiah affirmed that the situation of the twin is very stable and the separation surgery is going well in its sixth phase, which is the separation of the urinary system and the separation of the wall of hip, which takes 3 hours.

Dr. Al-Rabiah said that Farah is a parasitic twin and doesn’t have necessary organs to live because she doesn’t have heart, lungs, and brain.

“The surgery is going on as planned successfully, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will record it as the 45th successful twin separation surgery,” Dr. Al-Rabiah said, adding that Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who always lead by example when it comes to humanitarian action.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Namshan, Pediatric Surgery Consultant and a member of the surgical team said that the surgery started at 8 a.m., and the various stages would take up to 15 hours to complete.

Dr. Al Namshan added that Farah doesn’t have necessary organs to live, as she doesn’t have a normal heart, lungs, and trachea and also has cerebral atrophy, therefore she will be treated as a parasitic twin.

The surgery was held at King Abdullah Specialized Children Hospital in Riyadh.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Thousands of people attended an anti-corruption protest in Tel Aviv for a sixth consecutive week on Saturday, with demonstrators calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down over graft allegations.

Thousands Protest Against Israeli PM in Tel Aviv for Sixth Week in A Row
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Protesters held up signs against government corruption and calling Netanyahu the “crime minister”, as, according to Police, a number of streets were closed off around the city’s Rothschild Boulevard, Middle East News reported.

People also held signs against Netanyahu, chanted, "The people want legal justice" and carried signed reading "Corrupt ones, go home".


The Palestine News and Information Agency, WAFA, documented 382 violations by Israeli forces against journalists and media institutions in the occupied Palestinian territories during 2017.

Israel Committed +380 Violations Against Journalists in 2017
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961018000782

It said in its annual report on Israeli violations against journalists, released on Monday, that these Israeli violations included use of live fire, rubber-coated bullets and teargas canisters against journalists, in addition to physical beating and arrest, WAFA reported.

The report added that 213 journalists were injured by live fire or rubber-coated rounds, suffocated by teargas or beaten by Israeli forces during the year.

It also announced that 142 journalists were either arrested or targeted by Israeli gun fire but were not injured, while 27 Israeli assaults on media institutions were documented.

“Although journalists wear vests with visible signs indicating their work during confrontations…, the occupation forces do not care about this and they target them directly in order to prevent the truth about [Israel’s] barbaric crimes from being known,” the report stressed.


Scores of Palestinians blocked the convoy of Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday in a row over land sales to Israel.

Palestinians Protest Jerusalem Greek Orthodox Patriarch over Land Sales to Israel
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Protesters threw eggs at the Patriarch's procession as he arrived in the city to attend Christmas Eve in the Church of the Nativity, which Christians believe marks the birthplace of Jesus Christ at midnight, Daily Sabah reported.

Demonstrators accused the Patriarch of signing deals with Israel to sell and rent endowments of the Orthodox Church.

Earlier on Saturday, scores of demonstrators rallied in Bethlehem to call for boycotting the patriarch, whereas the municipalities of Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala, all in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, called for the patriarch's boycott.

Nicola Khamis, the mayor of the Christian town of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, said he wanted Theophilos removed from his post over controversial sales of church land to Israeli settlement groups in mainly Palestinian East Jerusalem. "Our move today is a protest against the patriarch over the sale of land of the Orthodox," Khamis told AFP.

Palestinian state news agency WAFA however reported that President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah were expected to attend Saturday's procession.

The church elected Theophilos in 2005 after dismissing his predecessor Irineos over an alleged multi-million-dollar sale of church land to Jewish buyers.

But Khamis said the practice continues, adding that "Theophilos ignored all the demands and continued selling this land even if the (Christian) majority is against it." "Today we are taking a stand to say the patriarch must stop the selling of the land," Khamis stressed.

Property transactions with Jewish buyers anger Palestinians, who see Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state.

The Greek Orthodox Church owns large amounts of land throughout Jerusalem, including the land Israel's parliament, the Knesset, is built on.


Settlement watchdog from Israeli Peace Now organization claimed that the Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee is expected to approve the promotion of at least 1,329 housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israel to Approve More Than 1,329 Illegal Settlement Units
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In a statement released on Friday, Peace Now said that the committee published its agenda, and is expected to approve the new settlement units next Wednesday, January 10, Ma'an News Agency reported.

Two-thirds of the 1,329 units (883 housing units) “will be located in isolated settlements that Israel would probably have to evacuate under any two-state agreement,” according to the group.

Peace Now added that a total of 361 housing units will receive approval for validation, while another 986 will be approved for deposit.

Among the plans to be approved are the expansions of the Alon settlement by 289 housing units, nearly doubling its size. Alon is located some kilometers Northeast of mega-settlement Maale Adumim in the central West Bank Jerusalem district.

A plan for the addition of 120 housing units in Karmei Tzur, North of Hebron in the Southern West Bank, is intended to expand the settlement by 91 dunams.

A plan for dozens of housing units in the settlement of Ateret, North of Ramallah in the central West Bank, is set to be advanced, despite previous legal action showing that most of the land purchases were based on forged documents.

The group highlighted that on the committee’s docket is a plan for the “temporary” approval of 11 structures in the illegal Nativ Haavot outpost, which is partially located on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Despite orders from Israel’s High Court for settlers to evacuate 17 buildings that were built fully or partially on private land by March 2018, Peace Now reported that the settlers are now “preparing a plan for building permits for the houses to be partially sawed off, so that it will be possible to circumvent the demand of the Court.”

“The government continues to act irresponsibly by promoting settlement construction, including in areas that Israel will have to evacuate under a final status agreement.


Israel on Sunday identified 20 activist groups from around the world whose members will be banned from entering the country over their calls to boycott the Jewish state, stepping up its fight against a movement it views as a serious threat.

Israel Lists 20 Groups from Around World to Be Denied Entry over Boycott Calls
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The list made public Sunday follows up on that legislation and could impact thousands of people if it is enforced, Japan Times reported.

“The boycott organizations must know that the state of Israel will act against them,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement, adding that "The creation of this list is another step in our struggle against the incitement and lies of the boycott organizations.”

The list is part of Israel’s efforts against a grassroots movement known as BDS, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians. The movement has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel and it includes thousands of volunteers around the world.

Supporters of the movement say the tactics are a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. Israel says the campaign goes beyond fighting its occupation of territory Palestinians claim for their state and often masks a more far-reaching aim to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.

The listed groups, from the United States, France, South Africa and beyond, count thousands of people as members. They were chosen because they are the main ones who “operate consistently and continuously” against Israel, according to Erdan’s office.

American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group on the list, said it would continue to work for “peace and justice.”

“We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations,” Kerri Kennedy said who is an AFSC official responsible for international programs.

The US-based Jewish Voice for Peace, which says it has more than 13,000 members, was also blacklisted.

“Israel’s decision to specifically ban JVP is disconcerting but not surprising, given the further erosion of democratic norms and rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom,” Jewish Voice for Peace wrote on Facebook in response to the decision.

Israel last year enacted a law that would ban any activist who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.”


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) vowed to continue its work after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for it to be scrapped.

UNRWA Vows to Go On after Israel's Call to Scrap Agency
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In a series of tweets on Sunday evening, a Spokesperson for the UN agency said it would continue providing help to Palestinian refugees until the international community comes up with a solution for their plight, Al-Jazeera reported.

"UNRWA is assigned by the General Assembly to continue its services until a fair solution to Palestinian refugees issue is reached," UNRWA official Sami Mushasha noted.

His comments came shortly after Netanyahu called for the agency to be scrapped, accusing it of helping "fictitious refugees".

"UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem and the narrative of the right-of-return, as it were, in order to eliminate the State of Israel," the Israeli leader said, adding the development agency needed "to pass from the world".

The agency plays a significant role in supporting Palestinian refugees with access to education, healthcare, social services and employment in the occupied Palestinian territories, and in neighboring states.


Israeli forces detained on Monday at least 23 Palestinians during raids across the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

Israeli Forces Detain 23 Palestinians in West Bank, Jerusalem
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961018001395

The PPS said Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians from the Bethlehem area, seven from East Jerusalem, including a lawyer, two from Jenin, two others from Ramallah, one from Nablus and a 16-year-old minor from Hebron.


A new report stated that an Israeli firm says it has paid about $30 million to the family business of Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide.

Report: Kushner Family’s Extensive Business Ties with Israel Deepen
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961018001261

Kushner Companies, which specializes in real estate, has received an around $30 million payment from the Israeli insurance company Menora Mivtachim, The New York Times reported Sunday, citing one of the Israeli firm’s executives.

The hefty investment concerned Maryland apartment complexes owned by Kushner Companies, but did not involve Jared Kushner personally, the Times reported, noting that the transaction did not violate federal ethics laws.

Ran Markman, Menora’s head of real estate, told the daily that he had never even met Kushner and his position in the US government did not play a role in striking the deal.

“The connection to the President was not an issue,” Markman stressed.

Kushner, who is married to Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka, resigned from the family business last year to join his father-in-law’s team at the White House. However, he still owns stakes in the company, including in the Maryland apartment buildings.

The Times had reported last year that Kushner had teamed up with a member of a wealthy Israeli family to invest about $200 million in apartment buildings across New York City’s flashy Manhattan neighborhood.

Kushner’s company has also received a number of loans from Bank Hapoalim, the Israel’s largest bank, which has been under a US Justice Department investigation over allegations that it helped wealthy Americans evade taxes.

Additionally, Kushner’s family foundation has contributed to Israel’s illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian lands by donating money to a settlement group in the West Bank, the Times said.

The deep business ties raises questions about Kushner’s ability to maintain a neutral role in his mission as Trump’s designated mediator between Israel and Palestine.

He has had no prior career in diplomacy or governance and, like his father-in-law, was in real estate before Trump won an upset victory in the US presidential election in November 2016.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Israel said it will pay almost $9,000 dollars to citizens who help in the forced expulsion of asylum seekers.

Israel Offers $9,000 to Citizens Who Help Deport Asylum Seekers by Force
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961021000807

Volunteer civilians who are willing "to temporarily serve as inspectors in the expulsion of asylum seekers" will be given a bonus payment of up to 30,000 shekels ($8,705), Haaretz reported.

Israeli authorities on Sunday "published a notice that it is hiring 100 inspectors on a temporary basis for terms of two years, from March 2018, as well as 40 investigators for the unit that examines asylum requests".

The 'inspectors' will be working in the greater Tel Aviv area, with some hired for the voluntary repatriation program and others to enforce laws against asylum seekers and their employers.

According to the newspaper, the job "would entail holding hearings for the asylum seekers; interviewing and documenting the ones prepared to leave 'voluntarily'; coordinating and issuing travel papers and coordinating flights; accompanying asylum seekers; and monitoring their re-entry to their countries or origin or elsewhere."

The others would be involved in the "enforcement of laws against asylum seekers and their employers. Their job would be to find them, record their stories and investigate the employers as well".

Israel has approved a plan to force asylum seekers to choose between indefinite detention in an Israeli prison or deportation to a third country in Africa.

The migrants were told they had three months to leave, drawing condemnation by activists who stressed that the Israeli's government move would endanger people's lives.

According to the Israeli scheme, asylum seekers will be given a plane ticket and up to $3,500 for leaving.

The United Nations on Tuesday called on Israel to scrap a new program forcing thousands of African migrants out of the country, condemning it as incoherent and unsafe.

The plan was widely criticised when first unveiled last year, but the UN refugee agency sounded a fresh alarm after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement early this month that the program had begun.

"UNHCR is again appealing to Israel to halt its policy of relocating Eritreans and Sudanese to sub-Saharan Africa," the agency said in a statement.

UNHCR Spokesman William Spindler told reporters in Geneva that the program was not "coherent" and "has been implemented not in a very transparent manner."

Currently, Israel is home to about 40,000 asylum seekers, according to government figures, which includes 27,500 Eritrean and 7,800 Sudanese asylum seekers, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has reported.

Migrants, however, oppose the decision, saying Israel is trading the migrants with other countries against their will. Rights activists stressed that Israel has created a separate justice system which restricts the rights of the people with a different skin color.

Israel has not clearly said where the migrants will go, but tacitly recognises it is too dangerous to return the Sudanese and Eritreans home.


A group of around 500 Israeli settlers on Wednesday attacked two villages East of Qalqilia in West Bank, eyewitnesses said.

Around 500 Settlers Attack Villages in West Bank
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961021000434

According to residents of the Jit and Farata villages, a large group estimated at around 500 settlers from nearby settlements attempted to forcefully enter the two villages and attack its residents, but were chased off by the local men and youth, WAFA reported.

Head of the Ambulance and Emergency unit in Qalqilia Munther Nazzal told that ambulance crews rushed to the area to treat a woman who suffered a panic attack in the village of Farta following the incident.

Israeli forces are currently stationed at the entrance to Jit.

Israel ordered a sweeping crackdown in the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank after the shooting death of an Israeli Rabbi Raziel Shevach.

Tel Aviv often uses such incidents as pretexts to intensify its already draconian restrictive measures against the Palestinians residing in the territory, which it occupied in 1967.


Israel has demolished 420 Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2017, according to the UN Office for Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

+820 Palestinians Displaced in 2017 after Israel Razed 420 Structures
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961021000563

OCHA said in a report that 278 structures were razed in the West Bank, causing to displace 602 Palestinians, World News reported.

A total of 142 Palestinian structures were demolished in East Jerusalem, displacing 223 Palestinians, the UN office added.

Israel also seized around 2,500 acres of Palestinian land, destroyed 500 buildings and constructed eight new Jewish settlement units in 2017, according to Palestine's Land Research Center (LRC).

Peace Now movement also announced that Israeli government approved the construction of 1,982 houses in 2015, 2,629 houses 2016 and this figure increased to 6,500 in 2017.

According to the same report, a total of 75 Palestinians were killed and 8,156 others injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2017.

The Israeli Army also detained 6,742 Palestinians along the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank in 2017, according to Palestinian organizations.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-linked Palestinian Committee of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs, Palestinian Prisoners Committee, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, in a joint statement, said the arrests in 2017 included 1,467 children, 156 women, 14 Palestinian Legislative Council members and 25 journalists.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expects to hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming weeks, as he himself said addressing a Jerusalem conference organized by the Globes newspaper.

Netanyahu expects to meet with Putin in coming weeks
http://tass.com/world/984685

"I have secured a meeting with Putin in the coming weeks," Netanyahu’s office quoted him as saying. He added that "in the coming weeks, I plan to meet with leaders of three of the four most powerful countries in the world." Netanyahu pointed out that apart from meeting with the Russian leader, he would also make a visit to India soon, holding talks with the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while he also intended to meet with US President Donald Trump "in Washington in March, if not sooner."

On January 1, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin and Netanyahu had held a telephone conversation and agreed "to meet in the near future in order to discuss the current state of bilateral relations and exchange views on various global and regional issues."

The Russian president and the Israeli prime minister last met in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on August 23, 2017, while on March 10, 2017, they held talks in Moscow.

During his terms in office as prime minister - in 1996-1999 and from 2009 till now - Netanyahu has visited Russia 12 times.


Lebanese government forces discovered and dismantled an Israeli spying device in the country’s Southern province of Nabatieh.

Lebanese Army Troops Find Israeli Spying Device in Nabatieh Province
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961021000221

The device was discovered on the outskirts of Zawtar al-Gharbiyeh (Western Zawtar) town which lies just North of the Litani River, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Lebanese security forces in October 2017 busted an espionage cell in the country, whose members were collecting sensitive information and passing it to the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network, General Director of the General Security Directorate Major General Abbas Ibrahim stated that the cell, run by a Syrian national identified as Paul George Khoury, was dismantled last July.

Fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement also found an Israeli spying device on the outskirts of Barouk village in the Chouf district of Mount Lebanon in mid-August.

The Israeli military then remotely detonated the spy device to prevent the de-codification and interpretation of its recorded data. However, Hezbollah forces could recover some parts of the exploded device, including its transmission receiver base and batteries.

The Lebanese army soldiers and Hezbollah fighters have on occasions dismantled Israeli surveillance devices planted near the country’s border regions with the occupied territories.

Israel has continued to use offensive tactics aimed at creating chaos in Lebanon. It has planted devices not just on Hezbollah’s civil telecommunication networks, but also on its military ones.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
The Russian Foreign Ministry reaffirmed its principled position on the illegality of Israel's settlement activities on the Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem.

Russia Reaffirms Illegality of Israeli Settlement Activities on Palestinian Soil
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961024000634

"Moscow reaffirms Russia's principled position on the illegality of Israel's settlement activities on the Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem. We believe that Israel's stance is not conducive to the creation of conditions for opening the direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians during which all the problems relating to the final status should be settled," the statement said, RIA Novosti reported.

The Russian Foreign Ministry added that Israel's steps undermined the prospects for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the two-state solution principle.

The statement comes days after the Israeli Civil Administration adopted the plan to construct over 1,100 housing units in 20 West Bank settlements. According to the administration, additional Israel's construction projects on the Palestinian territories might be agreed upon in the near future.


Thousands of Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv in a mass protest against government corruption, targeting in particular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family.

Thousands Attend Tel Aviv Anti-Corruption Protest Against Israeli PM, His Family
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961024000292

Thousands of people took part on Saturday evening in an anti-corruption rally in Tel Aviv for the seventh week in a row, with demonstrators calling for Prime Minister to resign over graft allegations, World News reported.

People held signs that read slogans such as "Out with the corrupt!" and "Not leftist, not rightist, but honest!", while others read, "Being a pig isn't kosher" and "Bibi go home."

In addition to the main demonstration in Tel Aviv, smaller scale anti-corruption protests were also held in Jerusalem, Haifa, and Afula.

As pressure on Israeli PM grows over allegations of corruption, the family’s public image was also dealt a blow after a report aired by Israeli television, which included a recording of a 2015 conversation that three young men, with powerful parents or connections, had had after a night at a strip club.

They were Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister, Nir Maimon, the son of natural gas tycoon Kobi Maimon, and Roman Abramov, an employee of Australian gambling tycoon James Packer, who has been accused in Israeli media of getting the well-paid job without having the relevant experience.

The audio was leaked of Yair, speaking disparagingly about women while attending stripper clubs with his friends. The young Netanyahu came under fire after it was revealed that he was followed on his debaucherous journey by a bodyguard and a driver, both provided to him through the state. Netanyahu's son was heard in the tape telling his friend, the son of business tycoon Kobi Maimon, about a controversial deal involving their powerful fathers.

Yair has apologized for the recordings, while Netanyahu said he taught his children to “respect every woman.” Both have strongly criticized the release of the tapes, however, and the Netanyahu family added in response to the report that the recordings were part of a “witch hunt” meant to undermine the Prime Minister.

Israeli Prime Minister is involved in two separate corruption cases and investigators have questioned him several times. The first involves receiving gifts from wealthy businessmen and the second is negotiating a deal with a newspaper owner for better coverage in return for curbs on a rival daily.

They have said they suspect him of being involved in bribery, fraud and breach of trust, but Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing and dismisses the accusations as a witch hunt by a hostile media.

At the same time the PM’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, faces fraud charges over allegedly wasting $100,000 of public funds.

The protests come amid widespread public anger over a parliamentary bill which would bar police from publicizing recommendations on indictments, as many announced that the bill is specially devised to protect Netanyahu. The premier had reportedly asked Israeli lawmakers to prepare a new draft of the bill that could not apply to the ongoing investigations against him.

Israel’s parliament (Knesset) ratified a law late December which would bar police from publicizing information about their criminal investigations, a measure opposition says is aimed at softening scrutiny of corruption probes against Netanyahu.

The law will prevent the police from publicly saying whether they have found sufficient grounds for charges against Netanyahu, among other officials. The Israeli public would then have to wait until the attorney-general decides on the cases, and announces his decision.

The final version of the legislation stipulated that the law would not be in effect regarding investigations that predate its ratification. Therefore, it would not apply to probes currently underway against Netanyahu.

The bill, tabled by Netanyahu's rightist Likud party, also proposes a one-year jail term for officials leaking findings to the press. Critics have, however, slammed the measure as the “anti-police law” aimed at shielding Netanyahu.

Israelis have been holding weekly demonstrations in Tel Aviv, urging Netanyahu to leave office and to stand trial over repeated allegations of graft while in office.


GAZA: The Israeli military said on Sunday it had destroyed a cross-border attack tunnel that ran from Gaza into Israel and Egypt, dug by the Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Palestinian enclave.

Israel destroys Gaza attack tunnel under Israel, Egypt borders Sunday 14 January 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1225391/middle-east

Residents in Gaza said Israeli jets bombed an area east of the southern town of Rafah, by the Egyptian and Israeli borders, late on Saturday night. Israel confirmed the attack immediately after, but gave no details until Sunday.

“We understand this was a terror tunnel because it runs underneath strategic facilities,” Israeli military spokesman Col. Jonathan Conricus said, referring to gas and fuel pipelines, as well as an army position it ran under. “It could also have served to transfer terrorists from the Gaza strip into Egypt in order to attack Israeli targets from Egypt.” Hamas did not comment.

Conricus said the tunnel destroyed Saturday was dug by key operatives of Hamas and was 1.5 km long (about one mile), penetrating 180 kilometers under the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Israel and into Egypt. “It is definitely a possibility that an attack was imminent,” Conricus said, but would not elaborate further.

Kerem Shalom, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza, was shut down on Saturday before the Israeli attack.


Israel’s Ambassador in Cairo David Govrin complained to the Egyptian government about his exclusion from diplomatic briefings and press releases, according to a report.

Israel Angry over Exclusion from Official Meetings in Egypt
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961024001302

“In spite of the strategic relations between the two countries,” he fumed, “representatives of embassies in Egypt are invited except the representative of Israel’s Embassy”, Quds Press reported.

Govrin expressed his particular disappointment that he was not invited to a meeting held by the Foreign Ministry concerning the war on terror, adding that nobody from his embassy was invited even though the Israeli air force had hit ISIL targets in the Sinai Peninsula.

A source at the ministry refused to comment about the issue, and pointed out that the Israeli complaint is being reviewed.

Relations between Egypt and Israel have improved recently following a meeting between President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the United States.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in New Delhi on Sunday for a six-day visit which comes a few weeks after India voted to nullify the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in the UN General Assembly.

Benjamin Netanyahu Visits India: Muslims Burn Israeli Effigies in Protest
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961024000691

Scores of Muslims have taken part in a rally in New Delhi to say "no" to Netanyahu's forthcoming visit to India, Sputnik reported.

During the rally, the protesters set an effigy plastered with Netanyahu pictures on fire. Anti-Israeli protests were also held in about 1,000 villages across India, according to media reports.

Earlier in December, US President Donald Trump announced his intention to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, ordering the State Department to launch the process of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

On December 20, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) voted 128 to 9 to condemn the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It declared the US move "null and void," although this declaration is non-binding.

India voted in favor of the document, which was harshly criticized by Tel Aviv, which declared that it refuses to accept the UNGA's decision.

The decision caused an international uproar, with Palestinian officials calling it a provocation and President Trump's biggest mistake.


The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO EC) called on Saturday for convening an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations with the aim of creating an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.

PLO Urges to Convene Conference Under UN Auspices to Create Palestinian State
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201801141060735882-paestine-urges-un-create-state/

"The Executive Committee of the PLO urges the international community to seriously work in order to convene a full international conference under UN auspices. [PLO EC expects that the conference would guarantee] the creation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem [within the borders that existed before 1967 Arab–Israeli War]," the PLO EC said in a statement.

"We call for ensuring financing through the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, in order to maintain the steadfastness of the Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem, to render assistance to the families of the victims, to those wounded and prisoners," the PLO EC also stated. The PLO EC added that funding was necessary amid threats of the United States to cut its aid to UNRWA.


The Israeli government passed Friday its 2019 budget, which envisages financial cuts to the Foreign Ministry and the closure of at least seven diplomatic missions abroad, including those in the United States and Canada, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

Israel to Close 7 Diplomatic Missions Abroad, Including in US, Canada - Reports
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201801121060708777-israel-no-diplomatic-mission/

According to the newspaper, Israel currently operates nine missions in the United States and three missions in Canada. The annual operating costs of each location are reportedly anywhere from $3.4 million to $4.4 million.

Other Israeli missions under threat are in Brazil, Turkey and Germany, while some diplomatic staff cuts may affect Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the publication said.

The decision was made after the Finance Ministry has suggested earlier this week to gradually close down 22 of its 103 diplomatic missions worldwide.

Sources familiar with the situation told the media outlet that the money saved would be used for defense and real estate expenses.

The move was made a month after US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and instructed the US State Department to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Later on, Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was negotiating with "several countries" the transfer of their embassies to Jerusalem, but did not name the countries.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) has just bought a private jet for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli media reported on Thursday.

Despite US aid cuts, Palestine president gets $50mn jet
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180125-despite-us-aid-cuts-palestine-president-gets-50mn-jet/

“The PA has purchased a luxurious $50-million private jet to be used by Abbas,” Israel’s Channel 12 reported.

According to the broadcaster, the aircraft — set to be delivered “within weeks” — will be stationed in the Jordanian capital, Amman, for the Palestinian president’s personal use.

Funding for the plane was reportedly provided by the PA ($20 million) and the Palestinian National Fund ($30 million).

Notably, the reported purchase comes amid major reductions of US financial assistance to the PA and an ongoing economic crisis in the blockaded Gaza Strip.


Abbas will receive the private jet in Amman, according to Israeli media (AFP)

Arabic press review: Has Abbas really bought a private jet?
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/arabic-press-review-abbas-buys-private-jet-jordanian-media-claims-1161502378

Jet set Abbas - Mahmoud Abbas has bought a $50m private jet, according to unverified report in the Jordanian newspaper, Assabeel.

The newspaper quoted Israeli media saying $30m came from the Palestinian National Fund and $20m from the Palestinian Authority's budget.

The Palestinian president will receive the plane, which will be dedicated to the president’s private use, in the Jordanian capital Amman in the upcoming weeks, according to the Jordanian newspaper.

The reports were unsourced.

Guardians of Jerusalem - Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, tried to set up a meeting with Islamic and Christian leaders and the Palestinian Fatah movement to discuss Saudi guardianship over the city of Jerusalem, according to Arabi21.

"Saudi Arabia is making efforts to impose guardianship over the holy city," a source in Jerusalem told Arabi21. "Saudi Arabia contacted members of Fatah Central Committee and Islamic as well as Christian figures to hold a meeting in Riyadh, which was intended for last Saturday.

"Jordanian authorities detained the Palestinian delegation at the Karameh border crossing and to bring them back to the West Bank."

A member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Jerusalem, Jamal Amro, stated that "the committee has already monitored Saudi contacts with Muslim and Christian figures in Jerusalem, without knowing their names."

He added the committee "received this information from one of the figures, who has been contacted by Saudi Arabia but declined the invitation to visit."


A monitoring committee in Gaza’s southern city, Khan Younis, has destroyed 182 tonnes of rotting food, including frozen beef and juice, Felesteen.ps reported.

Gaza throws away 182 tonnes of rotten food amidst electricity crisis
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180125-%e2%80%8bgaza-throws-away-182-tonnes-of-rotten-food-amidst-electricity-crisis/

Principal of the General Health Department Said Al-Astal said that the food was seized in several shops across the city and then destroyed.

Food marketer Ahmed Shahwan, who distributes locally manufactured food products, said that the food went off because there is not enough electricity to refrigerate it.

Gaza currently has only four hours of electricity per day. Israel has restored the supply of electricity to Gaza it severed in June but one of the Strip’s two turbines which power the sole electricity plant in Gaza has shut down due to lack of fuel.


Israeli authorities are imposing “severe restrictions” on visits by Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip to relatives held in Israeli prisons, NGO B’Tselem has reported.

Israel imposing severe restrictions on prison visits by Gaza families
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180124-israel-imposing-severe-restrictions-on-prison-visits-by-gaza-families/

Citing official Israeli figures, B’Tselem says there are 358 Palestinian prisoners and detainees from the Gaza Strip being held in Israeli prisons located within the Green Line.

“Keeping residents of the Occupied Territories incarcerated within Israel forces their relatives to obtain permits in order to visit them”, the NGO noted.

It is a violation of international law to transport prisoners outside of occupied territory.

As described by B’Tselem, “over the years, Israel has imposed overwhelming obstacles on the families of inmates from Gaza”, such as banning all visits in 2007, and only reinstating them in 2012.

At first, only visits by parents and spouses were reinstated, and, according to the Red Cross, Israel now allows visits by children up to the age of 16. There is, however, “a blanket ban on visits from other relatives, including grandparents and siblings”.

Visits are short, lasting 45-60 minutes, and “a glass partition separates the inmate from his visitors, and they communicate by phone”. Children under the age of ten are allowed to hug their father.

As so-called ‘security prisoners’, Palestinians are unable to communicate with their families by phone. When coupled with “the stringent restrictions on visits, this makes life very difficult for their children, who grow up without their fathers; on their wives, who are left to raise the children alone”.

B’Tselem stated that “maintaining family ties is a fundamental human right, and prison inmates are no exception”.

“Family visits are a right of detainees and prisoners, and visiting their relatives is a family’s right. As Israel chose to incarcerate residents of Gaza in its sovereign territory, in breach of international law, it must allow their relatives to visit them without imposing arbitrary restrictions”.


A UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) media spokesperson has said that the organization needs $500m to meet its needs, Quds Press reported on Wednesday.

UNRWA suffers budget deficit of $500m
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180125-unrwa-suffers-budget-deficit-of-500m/

According to Adnan Abu-Hasna, UNRWA aims “through the campaign we launched this week to collect donations” to boost the UNRWA budget, “which suffered a dramatic and unprecedented deficit that is endangering its activities”.

Abu-Hasna said that there has been a “massive response” to the campaign, noting that the organization had contacted several sides at all levels, targeting donors including the Palestinian private sector.

“UNRWA is currently talking with the International Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, as well as with the Palestinians in the diaspora to contribute to the donation campaign,” Abu-Hasna said.

Pierre Krähenbühl‏, UNRWA Commissioner General, launched on Monday a donation campaign named “Dignity Is Priceless” to help cover the budget deficit of the organization.

The campaign came after the US withheld $65m of its annual payment for UNRWA as a punishment for the Palestinians following their rejection of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

UNRWA serves over 5 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. It runs 700 schools that educate 525,000 students and 150 clinics that see 9 million visit a year.


The heads of 21 leading humanitarian organizations have appealed to the Trump administration to reverse its recent steps to slash funding to UNRWA, the UN agency which cares for the needs of Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and wider region.

Leading humanitarian groups urge US to rethink cuts to UNRWA
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180125-leading-humanitarian-groups-urge-us-to-rethink-cuts-to-unrwa/

Signatories to the letter, which has been sent to US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, include Oxfam America, Save the Children and Norwegian Refugee Council USA.

In the letter (which is reproduced in full below), the leaders say they are “deeply concerned by the humanitarian consequences of this decision on life-sustaining assistance to children, women and men in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.

“Whether it is emergency food aid, access to primary healthcare, access to primary education, or other critical support to vulnerable populations,
there is no question that these cuts, if maintained, will have dire consequences”.


Hundreds of Palestinian refugees gathered on Wednesday in Jabalya refugee camp, to the Northeast of Gaza, to protest the United States recent decision to scale down its financial contribution and food aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which will affect the livelihoods of thousands of refugee families in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Hundreds in Gaza Protest US Decision to Scale Down Aid to UNRWA
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961105000256

The protesters waved banners that condemned Washington move against UNRWA as well as the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, WAFA reported.

The gathering, which was called for by the national and Islamic forces, also denounced the biased US position toward Israel, calling on the international community not to give in to the Israeli and US dictates.

Washington announced mid-January that it would withhold about half the initial aid it planned to give a UN agency that serves the Palestinians, after US President questioned the value of such funding.

The US State Department said the United States would provide $60 million to the UN Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) while withholding a further $65 million for now, adding that the aid group needed to make unspecified reforms.

The US also withheld another payment to the UN's relief agency for Palestinian refugees, as $45 million dollars pledged for food aid is now frozen.


Former US Secretary of State John Kerry told close associate of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas not to yield to US President Donald Trump’s demands during peace negotiations, Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv has revealed.

Former US State Secretary Kerry to Abbas aide: ‘Do not give in to Trump’
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180124-former-us-state-secretary-kerry-to-abbas-aide-do-not-give-in-to-trump/

According to the report, Kerry met Hussein Agha, a senior advisor to the PA, in London this week during which Kerry conveyed a message to Abbas to “hold on and be strong”.

“Tell him that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President Trump’s demands,” he said.

Kerry went on to say that he did not believe President Trump would remain in office much longer, and offered to help the Palestinians advance the peace process, recommending that Abbas present his own peace plan.

“Maybe it is time for the Palestinians to define their peace principles and present a positive plan,” he suggested.

He advised the PA not to attack the US or the Trump Administration, but rather focus on Trump as an individual, whom Kerry considers solely responsible for the current situation.

Kerry further hinted that many in the US establishment, as well as in the intelligence community, are dissatisfied with Trump’s performance as president. He also informed Agha that he was seriously considering running for president himself in 2020.

John Kerry Considering Presidential Run in 2020
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961105000623
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
A whole array of pressing issues, covering Iran, Syria and Lebanon, has topped the agenda of Benjamin Netanyahu's talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Israeli Prime Minister's working visit to Moscow.

Putin Grants Netanyahu Schindler's Letter During Meeting in Moscow (PHOTO) 30.01.2018
https://sputniknews.com/world/201801301061181165-putin-netanyahu-visit-schindler-letter/

Russian President Vladimir Putin has presented Benjamin Netanyahu with an authentic letter written by Oscar Schindler, a Nazi party member who saved the lives of more than 1,000 Jews by recruiting them to work in his Polish factory during World War II.

"After the [two's] meeting, President Putin presented Prime Minister Netanyahu with a gift. This is the original of Oscar Schindler's letter to his wife. The head of the government was very touched by this gift, timed to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day," Netanyahu's press secretary Anna Jonathan-Leus said.

She added that Netanyahu intends to hand the gift to Yad Vashem, Israel's largest Holocaust memorial located near Jerusalem.

Jonathan-Leus's remarks came after Netanyahu visited Moscow on a one-day working visit to meet President Putin and discuss a spate of bilateral and international issues, including those pertaining to Syria, Iran and Lebanon.

During the visit, Netanyahu pledged that Israel will never forget the contribution made by the Soviet Union to the defeat of the Nazis.

Putin, for his part, praised efforts by the Israelis to preserve the memory of the Soviet soldiers who had rescued European Jews from complete annihilation.


Palestinian nation has reiterated its calls to end the Israeli occupation of its territories and called for the creation of an independent state within the 1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem, Palestine’s Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal said Tuesday.

Palestinian Nation Reiterates Calls for Creation of Independent State – Envoy
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201801301061199539-palestine-independent-state-israel/

"The Palestinian people, who suffer from the most recent and most disgusting occupation in history, expect even greater support for their fair cause and their legitimate rights to end the Israeli occupation and fulfill their aspirations that primarily focus on creating an independent state within the borders from June 4, 1967, with the capital in East Jerusalem, and finding a fair solution to the refugee issue in accordance with the relevant international resolutions," the ambassador said on the occasion of the World Day for the Support of Palestinian Rights, which is celebrated on January 30.


The start of a military trial for a Palestinian teenager charged after a viral video showed her hitting two Israeli soldiers has been delayed until February 6, her lawyer said Tuesday.

Trial delayed for Palestinian teen in viral ‘slap video’
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1236101/middle-east

The trial of Ahed Tamimi, 16, had been due to begin on Wednesday. Her mother Nariman will also go on trial on February 6, their lawyer Gaby Lasky told AFP. The Israeli military confirmed the date had been changed to February 6, adding it was postponed at Lasky’s request.

Both Ahed Tamimi and her mother have been ordered to be held in custody throughout their trial.

Ahed Tamimi’s cousin Nour Tamimi, 20, has also been charged in connection with the case, but was freed on bail on January 5. Her next court appearance has been set for February 12, Lasky said.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has criticized Israeli authorities’ actions in the case, while the European Union has expressed concern over Israel’s detention of minors, including Ahed Tamimi.


Over 40 organizations will rally at New York’s Penn Station on Tuesday to demand the release of Ahed al-Tamimi, the 16-year-old Palestinian girl held in Israeli military detention since Israeli forces raided her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in mid-December.

Americans to Rally in Support of Imprisoned Ahed Al-Tamimi
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961109001377

We must demand the release of Ahed Tamimi, who is held in Zionist captivity paid for by US tax dollars that funded the soldiers who harassed and shot her family in the first place," Nerdeen Kiswani of New York City Students for Justice in Palestine said, WAFA reported.

"The US played a part in starting this, so we must play a part in ending it," Kiswani added.

The demonstration is part of a series of worldwide actions marking both Ahed's 17th birthday on Wednesday, January 31, and the start of her Israeli military trial, scheduled to begin at Israel's Ofer prison the same day.

Tamimi’s family, however, asked the court to defer the trial date to February 6 when the court is supposed to hear the case against Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, who was also detained on the same day as her daughter when she went to inquire about her at Benyamin detention center.

"At least 40 gatherings over a week, including 14 on Tuesday alone, will call for Ahed's release," US coordinator of Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network Joe Catron stressed, adding that "Her imprisonment by Israeli occupation forces has ignited a strong global campaign and reinvigorated the overall movement to liberate Palestine."


A 16-year-old Palestinian was killed in clashes between the Israeli military and stone-throwers in a West Bank village on Tuesday, Palestinian officials said.

Israeli troops kill Palestinian teen in West Bank clash
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1236421/middle-east

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the teen as Laith Abu Naim and said he was killed by a shot to the head. The Israeli military denied using live fire amid a “violent riot” in which dozens of Palestinians rolled burning tires and hurled rocks at troops.

Mayor Faraj Al-Nasan said an Israeli military patrol entered the village of Mughayer and that local teens started throwing stones. Al-Nasan said the soldiers were in military vehicles and there was no threat to their lives when one of them opened fire.

The military said troops responded with “riot dispersal means,” usually tear gas and stun grenades. The military said it was aware of the death and that it was investigating.

The teen’s death brought to 18 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in confrontations since President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. An Israeli man was killed in a Palestinian shooting attack earlier this month.


A hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip has halted its services after it ran out of fuel for its electric generators, the health ministry says, as a dire power shortage continues to worsen the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave.

Gaza Hospital Suspends Services As Fuel Runs out: Ministry
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961110000938

According to Ashraf al-Qidre, a spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry, lots of patients in the Beit Hanoun Hospital on Monday were transferred to other hospitals or medical centers that are still working despite persisting lack of fuel and electricity, presstv reported.

He added that the hospital, which is in a city with the same name on the northeast edge of the blockaded sliver, is the only health facility in the northern section of Gaza where pediatric and ear, nose and throat surgery is available.

Qidre further said that around 60,000 people are usually served by the hospital, which had been treating dozens of patients in critical condition.

Meanwhile, Beit Hanoun Hospital wrote in a statement posted on its official Facebook page that “All health services provided at Beit Hanoun hospital were suspended due to power cuts and the lack of fuel for the hospital’s backup generators.”

It also posted a number of photos showing empty beds, hallways, pediatric wards and operating rooms, warning that the chronic fuel shortage “threatens the lives of patients.”

At current electricity rates, the hospital needs 500 liters of fuel per day to operate a generator and keep services open, Qidre went on to say.

Early this month, people in Gaza took to the streets to protest the increasingly unlivable conditions in the enclave, as they are suffering from crippling energy shortages, with inhabitants receiving only a few hours of electricity each day.

Gaza’s only power plant was forced to shut down in early April last year after it remained without fuel. Three electricity lines set up by Egypt and reaching into Gaza are capable of providing 27 MGW of mains electric power per day but are rarely operational.

Payments for electricity have been a key issue in ongoing efforts at reconciliation between the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Last summer, the PA slashed its monthly payments for the power supplies to Gaza by 30 percent, prompting Israel to cut the electricity. The PA move was allegedly aimed at pressuring Hamas, which has denounced the power cuts as collective punishment.


Israeli forces detained on Tuesday 20 Palestinians from several areas in the occupied West Bank during wide-scale raid-and-search operations, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), in addition to 33 from occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli Forces Detain 20 Palestinians from West Bank, 33 from Jerusalem
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961110001095

It said in a statement that Israeli soldiers detained six people from the Jenin district, three from Nablus, four from Bethlehem district and three from Ramallah, WAFA reported.

The statement also said that two people from Tulkarm were detained and two from Beit Surik, a village northwest of Jerusalem.

The PPS said that in addition to the 20 from the West Bank, Israel detained as well 33 from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, the majority were minors ranging in age between 15 and 17 years.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
The protesters marked Ahed Tamimi's 17th birthday and her upcoming military trial in Israel, saying she was only protecting her family and her land. Pro-Israelis also at the protest said Tamimi's arrest was justified.

Pro-Palestinian Supporters Protest for Tamimi's Release in New York
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A rally has been held at a train station in New York's Penn Station to demand the release of Ahed Tamimi, the young Palestinian activist detained by Israel, TRT World reported.

The 17-year-old has become a symbol for the Palestinian cause after a video of her slapping an Israeli soldier went viral.

The Israeli military confirmed the trial date has been changed to February 6, adding it was postponed at the request of Tamimi's lawyer Gaby Lasky.


Richard Burden MP announced that he and a group of parliamentarians will immediately submit a draft bill to the British Parliament that the release of Ahed Tamimi, and all child prisoners, from the Israeli jails. The bill will also demand that Israel should respect human rights and provide decent living conditions inside the prisons.

UK Parliament to Hear Demand for Release of Ahed Tamimi
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This came at the end of a session in the British Parliament that the General Union of Palestinian Students in the United Kingdom organized in cooperation with the Britain Palestine Communication Centre, Middle East Monitor reported.

12 members from across the parties were represented, along with four members of the House of Lords, in addition to representatives of a group of human rights and media organizations and a large number of Palestinian students.

The MPs listened to a number of statements by a group of Palestinian students about the occupation’s practices against Palestinians in general and against children, students and women in particular.

Bassem Tamimi, activist in the Popular Resistance and the father of the captive child Ahed Tamimi, presented his testimony through a video conference. He reviewed the circumstances of the arrest of his daughter, and other children, and the poor detention conditions experienced by the child prisoners in the occupation prisons, before answering the questions of MPs on the developments in Ahed’s case, and his demands regarding his daughter’s case.

Dr. Fouad Shaath, head of the Britain Palestine Communication Centre, introduced the event and stressed that the extremist Israeli government has lost abandoned the two-state solution through its daily crimes against the Palestinian land and people. He also warned from the repercussions of the lack of political plans on the security of the region and the world, and called on the British Parliament to immediately pressure Israel to abide by international law and UN resolutions.

Raed Al-Dabai, head of the International Relations Committee of Fatah Youth and Vice-President of the International Union of Socialist Youth, gave a presentation on the situation of child prisoners in the occupation’s jails, in which he reviewed how the Israeli occupation sent the child Razan Abu Sal, 13, from Hebron for a month and a half in prison, on Tuesday. He referred to 300 children in prison, 62 female prisoners and 1,000 patients who are in need of urgent and immediate treatment, in addition to 12 deputies, 4,500 administrative detainees and 20 journalists also incarcerated.

He also said that Israel is the only country which sends children to military courts, and violates all laws and values in treating its prisoners. This led to the martyrdom of prisoner Hussain Atallah, last week, as a result of the medical negligence. Al-Dabai called on the British Parliament to immediately and urgently press for effective steps to end the racial discrimination against Palestinians, especially that Britain bears direct responsibility for the suffering of our people.

The Secretary-General of the General Union of Palestinian Students, Hazem Mhisen, has expressed his gratitude to the participating parliamentarians in the hearing session, and stressed that the General Union of Palestinian Students in the United Kingdom will continue its efforts to expose the Israeli occupation and its arrogance by following up the case of Ahed Tamimi and Munther Amira, with the help of the Parliament and other institutions and media organizations.

Dr. Asid Al-Serr, researcher at Queen Mary University of London, talked about the conditions of the Gaza Strip and the unjust siege that still afflicts our people, which caused a health disaster that might lead to the death of many of our people.

Anaam Tirawi, member of the Union’s leadership in the UK, stated that the issue of child arrests is resonating within the British society, as it infringes the basic human rights, captivates Palestinian children’s childhood and shows the occupiers’ real and ugly side.


The United Nations human rights office said on Wednesday it had identified 206 companies so far doing business linked to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, where it said violations against Palestinians are "pervasive and devastating".

More Than 200 Companies Have Israeli Settlement Ties: UN
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The report is politically sensitive because companies in the U.N. database could be targeted for boycotts or divestment aimed at stepping up pressure on Israel over its settlements, which most countries and the world body view as illegal, Yeni Safak reported.

"The majority of these companies are domiciled in Israel or the settlements (143), with the second largest group located in the United States (22). The remainder are domiciled in 19 other countries," the U.N. human rights office said in a statement.

At least 206 companies have ties to illegal Israeli settlements: UN report
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/least-206-companies-have-ties-illegal-israeli-settlements-un-report-1915173633


Generators at seven health centers in the besieged Gaza Strip have stopped working due to the shortage in fuel, the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced today.

No Electricity at 7 More Gaza Medical Centers
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Ministry spokesman, Ashraf Al-Qadra, said the medical departments affected are: the Sourani Centre, the Palestinian Medical Centre, the Medical Foundation, the Gaza Health Administration, Abasan Al-Kabira, the Atatra and the Society of Physically Handicapped People – Gaza Strip, Middle East Monitor reported.

The crisis management committee in the ministry confirmed that the situation in the Strip has entered an unprecedented stage due to the fuel crisis, demanding donors intervene immediately to bring it to an end.

The committee called on the energy company to work urgently to provide electricity to hospitals around the clock.

“Our health services are on the decline after a number of them stopped at the Beit Hanoun Hospital for the third day and Al-Durra children’s hospital and patients were transferred to other hospitals because of the lack of fuel. We are only a few hours away from seeing the generator at the psychiatric hospital stopping.”


The two leading Palestinian factions missed another deadline Thursday to implement a reconciliation deal, potentially burying the landmark accord aimed at ending their decade-long split.

Palestinian reconciliation deal dying slow death
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Hamas was to hand over power in the Gaza Strip by December to the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by secular movement Fatah. But the handover was missed and a February 1 deadline for solving the issue of two rival civil services passed Thursday with no progress in sight.

While small changes have occurred since the deal was signed in October — notably the handing over of Gaza’s borders to the PA — Hamas remains firmly in charge in Gaza.

Hamas and Fatah traded blame for what could turn out to be a gradual abandoning of the accord.

Senior Hassam official Bassem Naim said the Fatah-led PA had backed away from the deal “without clear reasons,” while Fayez Abu Eita, a Fatah official in Gaza, called for Hamas to respect the deal.

Egypt, which brokered the agreement, has elections coming up and the focus of its leaders appears elsewhere.

Egyptian intelligence services chief Khaled Fawzy, the main broker of the deal, was replaced last month. It was hoped that reconciliation could alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza, home to some two million people.

Earlier this week a senior United Nations warned Gaza was on the verge of “full collapse.”

The reconciliation deal was also seen by some as a strategy for the Palestinians to face down an increasingly hostile US administration and right-wing Israeli government.

US President Donald Trump has suspended tens of millions of dollars in aid and threatened to withhold much more.

On Wednesday his administration added Hamas leader Ismail Haniya to a terror blacklist.

Hamas won 2006 parliamentary elections but Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah and much of the international community refused to accept the result, leading to increased strife. A year later, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza. Since then two separate civil administrations emerged.

The PA kept on its payroll tens of thousands of employees, who stayed home but still claimed their salaries, while Hamas employed tens of thousands to replace them.

This and the as yet unresolved future of Hamas’s vast armed wing are the two key issues that have derailed previous reconciliation bids. “They were trying to negotiate the issues over time in order to build a sense of trust, but these issues — the employees and Hamas’s standing army — are the biggest hurdles, and it’s clear they haven’t surpassed them,” said Grant Rumley, who focuses on Palestinian politics at the US think tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Since October, Hamas has largely stopped paying its staff, saying it is the responsibility of the PA under the agreement while last year PA staff have had their salaries cut by 30 percent.

Bashir Amer, 30, who works at the Hamas-run education ministry, said he was struggling to care for his family. “They give us 1,000 shekels ($300, 235 euros) and it is not enough to eat and drink,” he said.

Hugh Lovatt, Israel and Palestine coordinator at the European Council of Foreign Relations think tank, said Egypt’s Fawzy “had really been driving this process.” “It is unclear whether Egyptian sponsorship of the ongoing reconciliation process — which has been critical — will continue in his absence.”

Meanwhile Hamas, which remains heavily armed, has appointed former military figures to senior roles in the past year, most notably former military leader Yahya Sinwar who became its chief Gaza.

Fears have grown that Hamas — which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 — could opt for war again, Rumley said. “My sense is that Sinwar and the rest of the military faction do not want a war now because they’re focused on ameliorating the situation, primarily through reconciliation talks,” he said. “When those fail and Hamas is backed into a corner, how will its new leadership respond?“


JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said Israel will retain security control over the Palestinians as part of any future peace deal, deepening Palestinian fears that Israel and the Trump administration are colluding on a proposal that will fall far short of their dreams of independence.

Israel vows to retain West Bank control in any peace deal
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1237226/middle-east

Netanyahu’s statement exposed a deepening rift that has emerged between the US and Israel on one hand, and the Palestinians and the Europeans on the other, ahead of an expected peace push by the Trump administration. Those disagreements could complicate things for the US team.

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has distanced himself somewhat from the two-state solution — the outcome favored by the international community, including Trump’s predecessors, for the past two decades.

Instead, he has said he would support Palestinian independence only if Israel agrees. The European Union, meanwhile, along with the rest of the international community, remains committed to the two-state solution.

These differences were evident at a meeting Wednesday between Netanyahu and the German foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel.

In an awkward exchange, Gabriel said his country is “very much in favor” of the two-state solution. “I was very thankful to hear that of course also the government of Israel wants to have two states, but (with secure) borders,” he said.

Netanyahu broke in with a clarification. He said Israel’s “first condition,” would be to control security west of the Jordan River, an area that includes all of the West Bank, the heartland of the Palestinians’ hoped-for state. “Whether or not it is defined as a state when we have the military control is another matter,” he said. “I’d rather not discuss labels, but substance.”

That suggests Israel would prefer something most observers would more likely define as autonomy than independence — an arrangement that would have few if any equivalents in the world.

The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, areas captured by Israel in 1967, for their state. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but it has settled over 600,000 people in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, making it increasingly difficult to partition the land.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinians would not accept the presence of “one Israeli soldier” on sovereign Palestinian lands. “Either there will be full Palestinian sovereignty or there will be no security, no peace and no stability,” he said.

Advocates of the two-state solution, including Israel’s opposition parties, have long argued that the establishment of a Palestinian state is essential for Israel’s own survival. Without a Palestinian state, they say that the number of Jews and Arabs under Israeli control will be roughly equal.

Israel would then have to choose between granting millions of Palestinians citizenship, threatening the country’s status as a Jewish-majority democracy, or turning into an apartheid-like state where Jews and Palestinians have different sets of rights.

It is far from certain that Netanyahu’s envisioned solution would ease international concerns over Israel’s half-century occupation over the Palestinians.

The Palestinians have long been suspicious of Trump’s Mideast team, led by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, due to their deep connections to Israel and years of support to the West Bank settlement movement.

Those suspicions deepened after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month. The Palestinians accused Trump of siding with Israel and said they would no longer accept the US as a mediator.

Palestinian officials now claim that Trump’s team is working with Israel on a plan that would give them a mini-state in roughly half of the West Bank, with Israel retaining overall security control, as well as control over Jerusalem and its holy sites. Final borders and the fate of Israel’s dozens of settlements would be decided later. The officials say a third country with close ties to the US recently presented details of the proposal.

When they tried to negotiate improvements, they say they were told it was a “take it or leave it” plan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified diplomatic issue.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials have said recently that the White House is still working on its proposal, and have refused to say when it might be unveiled.

On Wednesday, European officials urged the administration not to go it alone. “Any framework for negotiations must be multilateral and must involve all players,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in Brussels. “Nothing without the United States, nothing with the United States alone.”

At an academic conference in Tel Aviv, Gabriel, the German foreign minister, expressed grave concern for Israel’s future, saying the government’s ambivalence toward a Palestinian state showed a lack of direction and suggesting that Trump’s unflinching support wasn’t necessarily in Israel’s best interest.

Gabriel said that in Europe “there is clearly growing frustration with Israel’s actions,” and asked Israelis: “How do you want Israel’s future to look like? Are you prepared to pay the price of perpetual occupation?“


Israel is exerting efforts to erase “highly classified” security information put online by Israeli scientists working in state institutions, the Anadolu Agency reported Israeli media saying yesterday.

Israel Deletes Secret Information Put Online by Scientists
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According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the publication of this information “shocked” the Israeli security agencies who shifted blame onto one another, Middle East Monitor reported.

The Israeli newspaper described the information as “top secret”, noting that the Israeli authorities are trying to erase any trace of the information but said that the information cannot be fully deleted as it has been republished numerous times.

Haaretz said that Israel had exerted a “great” and “consistent” effort to hide the information, without giving any hint about what information has been published.

The newspaper noted that the information was a result of scientific activity carried out by a state institution where the researchers obtained permission to publish it from the director of the defence ministry several years ago.

It said that the scientists continued their work in the project and published its results without getting additional permissions from the current director.


Israeli troops early Thursday raided dozens of homes in the Northern West Bank and arrested eight Palestinians, according to eyewitnesses.

Israel Troops Raid West Bank Homes, Detain 8 Palestinians
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“Large numbers of Israeli army troops stormed the village of Deir Istiya near the city of Salfit, where they raided about 100 homes on the pretext of searching for weapons and wanted Palestinians,” local witnesses told Anadolu Agency by phone.

Troops ransacked homes and prevented residents from leaving, witnesses said, adding that at least eight Palestinians from the village had been detained during the six-hour operation.

Neither Palestinian nor Israeli officials have yet to issue statements regarding the witnesses’ claims.
 
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