Palestine and the Arab World

Arab democracy and resistance

Archive for April 2014

Palestinian rivals hold unity talks in Gaza

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By Nidal al-Mughrabi | Reuters, Gaza
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Palestine Liberation Organization delegates arrived in Gaza on Tuesday to discuss unity with militant group Hamas for the first time since their 2007 conflict, in a potential boost for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Few Palestinians expect a breakthrough in the deadlock that has paralyzed Palestinian politics, and many have low expectations of any resolution to the seemingly endless duel.

A deal could restore a measure of sovereignty to Abbas in Gaza and boost his negotiating power with Israel in any future peace talks, although such a partnership could also provoke a backlash from Israel against the PLO in the occupied West Bank.

The reconciliation mission coincided with a meeting between Abbas’s Fatah-led group and Israeli peace negotiators in Jerusalem to try to extend talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

Hamas and Fatah have failed since 2011 to implement an Egyptian-brokered unity deal because of disputes over power-sharing and the handling of conflict with Israel.

Azzam Al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official, denied that the attempt to negotiate a deal with Hamas was designed merely to strengthen Abbas’s hand in talks with Israel.

“We want to end the division whether there is negotiation (with Israel) or there isn’t. We want to build Gaza and the West Bank and end the (Israeli) occupation,” Al-Ahmed told official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

“We are one country, one people and no power on earth could dismantle this holy bond … We must end the ugly chapter of division and implement everything we have signed,” Al-Ahmed said on arrival in Gaza.

Arab-brokered unity pacts reached between the two sides have yet to be implemented after years of mutual blame.

“No Room for Failure”

But if Palestinian unity talks end with a deal, paving the way for elections and a national strategy towards Israel, not only might Abbas gain negotiating power, but Hamas, hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, might become less isolated.

“We must conclude national reconciliation and end the division so we can have one government, one political national agenda and one system … There is no room for failure at this dialogue,” Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said.

The two sides disagree on policy toward Israel. Islamist Hamas refuses to renounce using force against the Jewish state while secular, Western-backed Fatah wants a deal with Israel to set up a Palestinian state in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem – lands Israel captured in 1967.

Hamas and Fatah also trade blame over the dozens of prisoners held by each side since Hamas took control of Gaza and Fatah remained the predominant party in the Israeli-occupied West Bank after Hamas won 2006 parliamentary polls.

“Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank believe more in what they see, not in what they hear,” Gaza political analyst Hani Habib told Reuters. “Past experiences have taught them that, every time, something happens at the last moment and makes their hope evaporate.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 23 April 2014 KSA 23:13 – GMT 20:13


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April 23, 2014 at 7:07 pm

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Israeli Navy fires on Gaza fishermen

Of the Gaza Strip’s 1.8 million inhabitants, roughly 40,000 earn their living through fishing, according to the Palestinian Fishermen’s Union.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen off Gaza shore on Monday.

“Three fishing boats sustained minor damage,” Nezar Ayash, spokesman for Gaza’s fishermen, told Anadolu Agency.
No casualties were reported. Israel allows fishing in a six-mile zone off the Gaza shore.

When it first imposed its blockade on the strip in 2006, Israel had specified a three-nautical-mile fishing zone for Palestinian fisherman. Gaza fishermen say the measure has adversely impacted their business, complaining that their annual hauls of fish had since fallen from pre-blockade levels of some 4,000 tons to a current 1,500 tons.

Of the Gaza Strip’s 1.8 million inhabitants, roughly 40,000 earn their living through fishing, according to the Palestinian Fishermen’s Union.


Israel to close Karam Abu Salem crossing for 5th day

For the fifth day in a row, Israel on Tuesday will maintain its closure of the Karam Abu Salem commercial crossing linking it to the southern Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said Monday.  “Israeli authorities told us they would keep the terminal closed on Tuesday in response to rockets fired at southern Israel from Gaza,” Raed Fatouh, head of a Gaza Economy Ministry committee tasked with coordinating traffic through the crossing, told Anadolu Agency.

On Monday, Israel alleged that seven rockets fired from the Gaza Strip had landed in the country’s south.

The reported rocket attacks, however, had caused no human casualties, Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner declared via Twitter. Fatouh said Israel would only permit the entry of limited amounts of diesel, gasoline and butane gas – as well as some fuel for Gaza’s sole power plant – into the strip via Karam Abu Salem.
Based on earlier official statements, Israel had been expected to open the crossing on Tuesday, following the end of Jewish Passover celebrations.  Palestinian Authority border chief Nazmi Mehanna told AA last week that Israel would close the crossing from Friday to Tuesday to coincide with the Passover holidays.
Mehanna warned, however, that the closure of the Karam Abu Salem crossing in particular threatened to “paralyze commercial activity” in Gaza.


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April 22, 2014 at 11:00 am

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It is not just Abbas who should be demanding prisoners release. It is every one of us !

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Palestinian prisoners’ struggle disappearing from mainstream narrative
Ramona Wadi
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 16:55
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Palestinian prisoners’ struggle disappearing from mainstream narrativeAfter Israel predictably failed to uphold its terms in the agreement, as confirmed by foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, to release the fourth group of Palestinian political prisoners, the Ma’an News Agency has reported that prisoners in Israeli jails are to embark on a series of protests. According to the undersecretary to the Minister for Prisoner Affairs, Ziad Abu Ein the protests could result in hunger strikes should Israel refuse to adhere to the agreement.

Pitting sensational symbolism against reality, the bargaining dynamics between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have revealed contempt and a disregard for dignity. While Israel exploited the previous releases as an excuse to consolidate its colonial expansion, the PA has effectively agreed to the further deterioration of the Palestinian territory and is attempting to project a dignified stance by a last resort attempt to seek international recognition – a move which will result in further oppression and fragmentation in the absence of unity and resistance.

Away from the propaganda surrounding the political agenda in relation to the US-brokered negotiations aimed at weakening Palestinians further, thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are rendered insignificant due to the lack of publicity surrounding their status. Israel’s normalisation of the humiliation suffered by Palestinians in Israeli jails is now reflected by widespread oblivion aided by media that capitalises upon sensation rather than freedom.

After the symbolism of unity personified by Samer Issawi’s hunger strike and negotiated agreement, the cause dwindled to a peripheral afterthought, exacerbated by the conscious division implemented by authorities. Despite the rampant imprisonment which has affected practically all Palestinian families, Israeli narratives of security concern have dominated the perspective concerning the humiliation. Continuous attempts by Palestinians to highlight incarceration and its ramifications are portrayed as a routine practice that garners predictable results of an endless cycle consisting of protests and retaliation by the military in the form of populating prisons with an additional batch of detainees.

The deaths of Palestinian prisoners due to untreated life-threatening illnesses or torture have the ability to ignite a temporary furore which is later replaced with dejection. Since Issawi’s release, his family has been subjected to increased hostility including the detention of his sister, Shireen Issawi, last month, who has now been transferred to HaSharoun Prison. The absence of a prolonged hunger strike, in this case, has made the narration less worthy of attention despite her relentless campaigning to ensure her brother’s freedom.

Such dejection renders unified mobilisation impossible, leading to a detachment that betrays the resilience embodied by Palestinian prisoners. A common trait of Israeli rhetoric is its contradictory implication; as it articulates its security concerns to Palestinian representation and the willingly susceptible international community, the settler-colonial state is also exhibiting an inherent fear; that of the Palestinian prisoners’ coordinated resistance as a threat which has the ability to transform oppressive incarceration into a national resistance.

Distancing Palestinians from the PA would cultivate what should be perceived as a natural dynamic. Extending resistance against colonial incarceration both within the confines of jails as well as within the wider struggle to dismantle the settler-colonial state would serve to deconstruct Israel’s self-bestowed impunity.

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April 8, 2014 at 7:34 pm

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Mohammed Qasim

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Worrisome health condition of Mohammed Qasim, lawyer requests to transfer him to the hospital

Print EmailDetails Published on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 16:03

The Minister of Prisoner Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, has informed that the health condition of the prisoner Mohammed Qasim Alazraq, 27 years old and Secretary General of Fatah in Aida camp has deteriorated due to the harsh interrogation he has been subjected to.

The Minister told PNN that an investigation would start to find out the circumstances that led to the physical injuries that Mohammed is suffering from. He has shown signs of beating and is also suffering from gastrointestinal problems.

Issa Qaraqe said that the Israeli occupation should be held responsible and should react to the seriousness of Mohammed’s health condition. His lawyer made an official request to have him transferred to a hospital, adding that the captive needed immediate medical attention. The Ministry of Prisoner Affairs will be following this case closely and has already contacted other lawyers and international organizations.

Mohammed Alazraq was arrested in his home last 26th of March, after a large group of Israeli occupation forces stormed into Aida camp at dawn and raided his house.

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April 8, 2014 at 7:20 pm

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What is so complicated about peace ?

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There is an illegal occupation. So end it.

There is an illegal wall. So remove it.

There are 600 illegal checkpoints. So take them down.

There are illegal settlements. So dismantle them.





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April 7, 2014 at 7:38 pm

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Kerry should take a hike …

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At long last we are seeing the Palestinian leadership step yp to their task.  Palestinians have been shrugged off for far too long.  Palestine wants freedom.  What is so strange about that?

Acceding to 15 multilateral treaties and conventions as the Palestinian president has just done on behalf of “Palestine” is a good start, but it is not enough. The Palestinian leadership, for too long timid and self-serving, finally has a chance to redeem itself.  Signing up to the Fourth Geneva Convention is important.  The Rome Statute should be next.

The standard response has been forthcoming from the Obama administration.  Kerry has threatened the isolation of Palestine and the discontinuation of aid.  Did anyone expect any other response ?

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories Richard Falk.
UN expert calls for assessing legal status of prolonged Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands

Meanwhile in New York ….

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories Richard Falk.

21 March 2014 – An independent United Nations human rights expert today called for an assessment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of the legal status of Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian Territory.

“Special steps must be taken to ensure that the human rights of the Palestinian people are protected and the rule of law established in an occupation which has lasted now for more than 45 years,” said Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on occupied Palestine, in a press release ahead of the presentation of his final report to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.

Asking that the Court – the UN’s highest legal body – weigh allegations that the occupation has legally unacceptable characteristics of “colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing,” the expert also called on the Council to examine the legal implications of the occupation, and urged the international community to act decisively to uphold Palestinian human rights.

“Ongoing settlement expansion remains a serious obstacle and undermines prospects for Palestinian self-determination,” he said, noting that the number of settlements built in the West Bank doubled in 2013, according to Israeli official data.

“So far, there have been no signs of change in this trend for 2014 and Israel has already defiantly approved the construction of hundreds of new homes in the first three months of the year despite the ongoing peace negotiations.”

Mr. Falk also reiterated concerns on the separation wall, recalling that, in 2004, the ICJ declared the barrier’s construction illegal in the occupied territory. An estimated 85 per cent of the planned route of the Wall lies within the West Bank; more than 60 per cent of a planned 708 kilometres has been completed and construction continues.

“Such a course of action undermines respect for international law and should be challenged,” Mr. Falk underscored.

The Special Rapporteur called for urgent attention to the deterioration of the situation in East Jerusalem, which his report describes as a “microcosm of the fragmentation of territory taking place throughout the West Bank.” He noted that “more than 11,000 Palestinians have lost their right to live in Jerusalem since 1996, under rules imposed by Israel.”

The potential liability of companies who profit from settlements is also analyzed in the report. “The international community is starting to react responsibly in relation to issues of corporate social responsibility,” Mr. Falk said.

“Some companies and countries are increasingly moving away from engagement with settlements on the basis of their illegality under international law; these examples are to be commended and should be followed by others.”

The human rights expert also expressed his views on a worsening humanitarian situation in occupied Gaza, noting that “the effects of the blockade, coupled with regional developments, are having a severe impact on the civilian population of Gaza.”

“We mustn’t forget that thousands of Palestinian political detainees, including children, remain in Israeli prisons. Among them are more than a hundred administrative detainees. Many of them are subjected to ill-treatment and torture from the time of their arrest to their interrogation in detention,” said Mr. Falk.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Speaking before his final appearance as Special Rapporteur before the Council, Mr. Falk stressed the importance of this mandate to bear witness to the serious human rights violations that continue to afflict the Palestinian people after more than four and half decades of occupation.

“In the face of Israel’s continuing refusal to cooperate with this mandate, accentuated by defamatory attacks by political non-governmental organizations intent on undermining it, it is of the utmost importance that my successor is supported and enabled by the United Nations and the Human Rights Council to report objectively on the human rights violations being endured by the Palestinian people,” he stressed.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue
Middle East: ‘status quo not sustainable’ UN political chief warns Security Council


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April 3, 2014 at 9:54 pm

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