Dec. 16, 2014
Daily summary, Tuesday, January 7, 2014
ISRAEL APPROVES CONSTRUCTION OF 272 SETTLEMENT UNITS IN THE WEST BANK
The Israeli organization Peace Now said yesterday that a plan to build 272 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the West Bank had been approved on the eve of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s departure from the region. The organization said that 250 units would be built in Ofra and 22 others in Karni Shamron. According to an unnamed Israeli official, the announcement last Sunday was the second of four stages needed to begin construction, adding that obtaining the proper licenses would ‘take several months.” In the same regard, Israeli PM Netanyahu said to his Likud Party that he had no intention of dismantling settlements in the West Bank as part of an agreement with the Palestinians, clarifying that he would not give any concessions ‘over land.” in the Jordan Valley, the West Bank or east Jerusalem. Kerry said upon leaving the Middle East after four days of talks that he did not succeed in convincing the Palestinians and Israel to accept his peace plan. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=663220)
SECRETARY OF STATE LEAVES WITHOUT ACHIEVING BREAKTHROUGH; PALESTINIAN OFFICIAL: WE DID NOT AGREEMENT WITH KERRY OVER ANYTHING
A Palestinian official told Al Ayyam that the talks with US Secretary John Kerry over the past few days had covered ‘everything’ but had not resulted in an agreement on anything. The official said the Palestinians had specified their position to Kerry on all the issues and were now waiting for him to propose written ideas about a framework agreement, which would be the basis for the next stage of negotiations. The official said that although they agreed to the presence of a third party in a final agreement, the Palestinians would not agree to any Israeli presence after the agreement is signed. He also said that the recognition of Israel had been done in 1993 with the mutual recognition with the PLO and that the issue of recognizing a Jewish state ‘should not be put to them.” He said Kerry’s efforts were largely dependent on what he can get out of the Israeli side. (Al Ayyam)
KERRY: FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT BY END OF MARCH TO BE CAPPED OFF WITH DIRECT MEETING BETWEEN ABU MAZEN AND NETANYAHU
US Secretary of State John Kerry said his country would lessen its involvement in the peace process if efforts to reach a framework agreement by the end of March failed. Kerry said this during a meeting with Israeli opposition leaders Yitzhak Herzog. According to the Israeli daily Maariv in this morning’s edition, Kerry reaffirmed to Herzog that progress had been made in the peace process and that Abu Mazen and Netanyahu had made ‘important concessions’. Kerry also said that the US hoped for a framework agreement by the end of March, which would be capped off with a meeting between Abu Mazen and Netanyahu. For his part, Herzog told Kerry that the majority of the Knesset supported the peace process with the Palestinians. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=663252)
JORDAN: WE WILL NOT NEGOTIATE FOR THE PALESTINIANS AND WE REJECT ISRAELI SOVEREIGNTY OVER THE JORDAN VALLEY
Jordanian foreign minister Nasser Judeh said yesterday that Jordan rejects any Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, confirming that the kingdom would not accept any solution in the region that does not coincide with its interests. Judeh, who was speaking to the Jordanian television program “The Third Opinion” also said that “we would not accept any arrangement that the Palestinians do not agree to and which would prevent the Palestinians from having sovereignty over their land.” He also stressed that “Palestine must have recognized borders.” Judeh explained that there were 1.2 million Palestinians registered as citizens in Jordan, adding that Jordan would be responsible for speaking about its own interests. Judeh showed his support for the current Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, saying that “we are up to date on everything happening in the talks.” He said John Kerry was careful to keep them up to date, adding that they had a ‘higher interest” in the two-state solution. Finally, Judeh said that Jordan ‘ would not negotiate for the Palestinians or on subjects such as how the borders should be designated inside the Green Line”, saying they were in agreement that the border with Jordan would be on the western side of the state of Palestine. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=663222)
PROJECTS WORTH $250 MILLION HALTED; 50% RISE IN UNEMPLOYMENT BECAUSE OF ISRAEL’S BAN ON THE ENTRY OF CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS TO GAZA
Head of the popular committee for confronting the siege in Gaza Jamal Khudari said yesterday that Israel’s ban on the entry of construction materials into Gaza has caused a halt in projects worth $250 million. Khudari said in a press conference that the halt in the projects and the halt of contracting and construction companies linked to construction has resulted in the rise in unemployment rates which now exceed 50%. This, he added, also meant a rise in poverty levels, citing the latest World Bank report that said the poverty level among Gaza residents had reached 38%. He said the level had risen even further with thousands of laborers and skilled workers out of jobs because of Israel’s ban on construction materials and the halt of dozens of projects. He explained that Israel had prevented the ban of these materials over the past 80 days from the Karem Abu Salem crossing after discovering a tunnel underneath the southeastern border of the Gaza Strip, which leads to the other side of the separation fence. (http://www.alquds.co.uk/?p=120252)
HANIYEH RELEASES FATAH DETAINEES AND ALLOWS OTHERS TO RETURN TO GAZA
De facto Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh issued a number of decisions yesterday which he said were aimed at “pushing the course of Palestinian reconciliation forward and ending the split.” In a press conference last night, Haniyeh said he would allow all Fatah cadres who had left the Gaza Strip after the split in 2007 to return except for those who have files in the judicial system. Haniyeh said the decision “would have a positive impact on all of our people and our prisoner,” adding that was pushing this forward in order to ‘promote internal Palestinian cohesion.” Haniyeh also said that the interior ministry would also “release some Fatah detainees who were facing “some politically-oriented security issues”, adding that they were ‘very few.” He also said he would allow Fatah PLC members who left the Strip, to return. “2014 will be the year of Palestinian reconciliation,” Haniyeh said. “We are completely prepared for positive vibes between us and our brothers in the West Bank.” (http://www.alquds.co.uk/?p=120238)
OFFICIAL CONTACTS REVEALED BETWEEN AZZAM AL AHMAD AND ABU MARZOUQ TO REACH RECONCILIATION, FAR FROM THE SPOTLIGHT
Fatah announced yesterday that there were ‘official contacts’ being held with Hamas at the ‘senior leadership level’ aimed at continuing reconciliation files, but denied that any final agreement had been made for the formation of a national unity government. Fatah spokesperson Ahmad Assaf said the talks were being held ‘far from the spotlight.” He said contacts were held on Sunday between Azzam Al Ahmad and his Hamas counterpart Mousa Abu Marzouq, adding that Fatah’s ‘hearts were opened and their hands outstretched’ to reach national unity and implement signed agreements. (http://www.alquds.co.uk/?p=120417)
ARAB MINISTERIAL DELEGATION HEADED BY QATAR TOO MEET WITH KERRY ON SUNDAY IN PARIS
President Mahmoud Abbas sent a written letter to Arab League chief Nabil Al Arabi yesterday explaining the discussions with Secretary Kerry during his most recent trip to the region. Al Arabi announced that a ministerial delegation under Qatar would hold a joint meeting with Kerry next Sunday in Paris, which would include foreign ministers from Eqypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Palestine. Al ARabi said the delegation would discuss the Palestinian demands for an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict within a specific time frame. He also said the delegation would convey a written letter to Kerry in which they confirm the Arab commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital and would also reiterate their rejection of Israeli plans and measures aimed at changing the demographic and geographic reality in the occupied Palestinian territories, Jerusalem included. (http://alhayat.com/Details/590082)
THE PRESIDENT DURING ‘CHRISTMAS DINNER’: WE WILL DO WHATEVER WE CAN TO ACHIEVE PEACE; PATRIARCH THEOFILIOS LEADS MIDNIGHT MASS
During the Christmas dinner held in the Nativity Church in Bethlehem on the occasion of the Orthodox Christmas, President Mahmoud Abbas said the leadership ‘was doing its utmost to reach peace with the Israelis.” During his speech, Abbas also offered his condolences to Christians for the painful events that led to the destruction of 90 churches in Egypt. “This is a precedent that has never happened in our history but took place at the hands of barbarians and criminals with a new culture of destruction and factionalism that is foreign to our societies,” he said. Abbas expressed hope that such events would never occur again and that all peoples would live in peace together.
Furthermore, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Kirios Theophilos III led midnight mass last night in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, calling for the success of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel and the recognition of a Palestinian state under President Abbas’ leadership. (Al Ayyam)
ROCKET LANDS IN THE ESHKOL SETTLEMENT BLOC
Israeli radio said last night that a homemade rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip and fell in an open area in the western Negev. According to the radio report, the rocket fell in the Eshkol settlement bloc without causing any injuries or damages. No Palestinian group has claimed responsibility (Al Quds)
INDYK’S ASSISTANT MEETS WITH SETTLER LEADERS
According to the Israeli website Walla, an official on US peace envoy Martin Indyk’s team recently met with settler leaders including Pinhas Falerstein and Danny Dayan. Both are former heads of the West Bank and Gaza settlement council. The US member of the Indyk team, David Macovsky met, according to Walla, with both men and discussed the agreement that Kerry is trying to push forward, however both Dayan and Falerstein refused to discuss the report. (Al Ayyam)
ISRAELI OCCUPATION TROOPS STORM BETHLEHEM AND RAID HOMES AFTER SETTLER IS INJURED
An Israeli settler was lightly injured last night after an explosive device was thrown at him near the checkpoint north of Bethlehem. According to local sources, the army closed the road near the 300 checkpoint and the road leading to the Caritas children’s hospital. The army then raided several apartment buildings in the area, keeping the areas closed off until this morning. According to Hebrew sources, a Palestinian threw a hand grenade at the DCO military camp near Beit Jala, west of Bethlehem but the bomb did not explode. It was then defused by army forces. (http://qudsnet.com/news/View/262139/قوات-الاحتلال-تقتحم-بيت-لحم-وتداهم-منازل-المواطنين-بعد-إصابة-مستوطن/)
ISRAELI FORCES ARREST SEVEN FREED PRISONERS FROM JERUSALEM
In the last few hours, Israeli occupation forces have waged an arrest campaign in which several freed prisoners have been arrested. According to head of the committee for Jerusalemite prisoner families Amjad Abu Asab, several freed prisoners, who had spent dozens of years in Israeli prisons, were arrested including: Haytham Ju’beh, Khalil Ghazawi, Juda Juda, Mohammed Hidmi, Muayad Bibuh and Abdel Saleh Bkerat. (http://safa.ps/details/news/119829/الاحتلال-يعتقل-سبعة-أسرى-محررين-بالقدس.html)
*The President receives phone call from Kerry (Al Ayyam)
*Kerry proposes the return of limited number of Palestinian refugees (Al Ayyam)
*Netanyahu: I will not agree to give up the settlements; the ‘territories” are part of our homeland (Al Ayyam)
*Efforts to solve UNRWA employee issue standing in place (Al Ayyam)
*Egypt to open the Rafah crossing next Wednesday and Thursday (Al Ayyam)
*Map of Palestine on Chilean football team’s shirts, raises ire of the Jews (Al Ayyam)
*Child killed after being run over in Thahriyeh (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Agriculture minister: decrease in prices depends on rainfall (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Children organize solidarity activity with Yarmouk camp (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Haniyeh phones Abbas, reconfirms efforts to end the split (Al Quds)
*Lieberman tries to turn new page with Americans: Palestinians inside the Green Line to join Palestinian state; no right of return (Al Quds)
*Confrontations with Israeli troops in Hebron; arrests in the West Bank (Al Quds)
*Eastern Christian sectors celebrate Christmas today (Al Quds)
|Front Page Photos |
Al- Quds:Bethlehem: Patriarch Theophilios III arrives at the Nativity Church for Christmas celebrations
Al-Ayyam:Bethlehem: President Abbas and his Sri Lankan counterpart MahindaRajapaksa during Christmas dinner in the Nativity church
Al Hayat Al Jadida:1) President Abbas and his Sri Lankan counterpart MahindaRajapaksa during Christmas dinner in the Nativity church; 2) Children in Ramallah show solidarity with Yarmouk camp
|Voice of Palestine News |
Gaza: The Rafah Crossing will be opened tomorrow at 9 in the morning for humanitarian cases and students, according to Egyptian authorities. There is a growing fuel crisis in Gaza in terms of gas and transportation after Israeli authorities decreased the amount of fuel allowed into Gaza. School and university students are finding it hard to get to classes because of the lack of transportation. The Karem Abu Salem was opened this morning to allow 230 truckloads of aid and a limited amount of diesel. The Rafah crossing is expected to be opened for two days.
|Voice of Palestine Interviews|
** Imad Sunbul, spokesperson for the popular committees in West Bank refugee camps, on the UNRWA employee strike
Q: What is this ‘policy of negligence’ by UNRWA that you are talking about and how far do you think things might reach?
The situation in refugee camps is already at a desperate level; there are not services from UNRWA for the past 33 days, including sanitation services. There are huge piles of garbage; also 33 days of strike has led to a halt in UNRWA schools for the same period. The popular committees responded to this yesterday by closing the offices in protest of this policy of disregard towards West Bank camps. We have warned the PLO that there is a political goal behind this policy of disregard.
Q: What cutbacks are you talking about specifically? Do you really think this is intentional or is it perhaps what UNRWA claims, which is the lack of funds?
No, this is a policy because if we compare the services offered by UNRWA five years ago and what they offer today, there is at least a 20% decrease in all services. Also, the only camps targeted are those in the West Bank – why are the cuts only here? Not in Jordan? Or Lebanon? No cuts have been made
Q: So why do you think the camps are being targeted?
There is a policy taken by UNRWA, which is to create confusion in the West Bank. And anyway, if there are funding problems, how come the salaries of senior UNRWA employees have not been affected? Why are the services suffering? This is unacceptable.
The government had promised, through the Prime Minister, to transfer funds to the camps, but that was a month ago, and no money has been transferred. So the popular committees are filling in where they can, like collecting garbage.
**Minister of Waqf, Mahmoud Habbash, on the drive to collect funds for the Yarmuk camp
Q: Can you tell us a bit about this drive?
We wanted to do something for those besieged in the Yarmouk Camp and collect donations for them. We are opening accounts for people to volunteer and donate in four banks in Palestine. Also, donations will be collected in mosques from those who wish to help our people in Yarmouk. This is the least we can do.
Q:What if you can’t get basic goods into the camp? Do you have a plan to get money in?
There are no guarantees at all, not in the camp or in Syria in general. But we are going to try our best through the PLO in Damascus, through the Red Cross, volunteers, UNRWA, the Red Crescent, and even with the parties in the conflict. All we want is for this relief to reach them. We know that this will not solve the crisis – the problem is much bigger than that. But this is a small step to help out.
**PLO Executive Committee member Hanna Amira, on Kerry’s latest visit
Q: Are the statements being used accurate, that everything was discussed but nothing was agreed on during Kerry’s latest visit?
Yes, all the issues have been discuss, but nothing has been agreed on to end these issues, this has become very clear. The Americans are still looking for a mutual formula to continue with the negotiations. But there are huge distances between the two positions, especially if we talk about the Jewish character of Israel and control over the Jordan Valley.
Q: Are there other differences than the ones you mentioned? Or is there agreement on other points?
There has been no agreement on any point. Israel speaks of Jerusalem as its capital – the Americans are still looking for ideas and ways to continue the negotiations. That is all it can do right now. there are only efforts going on now. but as we know, the devil is in the details. That is when things get more complicated. It happened in 2000 in Camp David and in the 2008 talks.
Q: How important is Kerry’s meeting with the Arab foreign ministers on Sunday?
It is safe to say that Kerry wants to recruit an Arab position for the sake of pushing forth a framework agreement or at least ‘ideas’. That would give a common denominator for continuing talks.
**Osama Qawasmi, spokesperson for Fatah, on reconciliation efforts
Q:What is going on in this regard?
There is a more positive atmosphere but on the ground, there is nothing tangible. We asked Hamas to give us a clear position and agreement to form a national unity government; we also called for general elections. We have not heard this agreement from Hamas so far.
Also, we are waiting for this ban on Fatah members from Gaza to end. No citizen should be barred the right to return to their home. In the West Bank it is unheard of that a citizen cannot return to Nablus, for example. The Gaza Strip is the same thing. Also, we have agreed that Fatah cadres should be released from prison. So, what is happening now – the release of the prisoners – is good, but it is not enough. We need to end the split and this takes clear positions by Ismail Haniyeh to hold general elections. This is the main gateway for ending the siege.
Q: What about these contacts everyone is talking about?
Communication and contacts have never ceased. The last one was a couple of days ago between Azzam Al Ahmad and Mousa Abu Marzouq. Fatah has never shied away from its responsibilities or the agreements it signed. Now there are plans to arrange meetings and hopefully to push forward to achieve reconciliation.
Map of Palestine on Chilean football team’s jerseys raises ire of Jewish community
A football team “Falasteeno”, which was established by a group of Palestinians who immigrated to Chile in 1920, made new jerseys last week with the number 1 shaped like the map of Palestine. The colors of the shirt are also the colors of the Palestinian flag. The jerseys have angered have angered the Jewish community, which said the decision to change the shirts was a ‘black day for Chilean football.” The Israeli daily Yedioth Ahranoth, which ran the story yesterday, accused the team of injecting symbols and political stances to the football team by adding the pre-1948 map of Palestine to their shirts. (Al Ayyam)
Israeli MK to propose draft law banning negotiations over Jerusalem
Head of the foreign committee in the Knesset, Miri Regev plans to propose a draft law to the ministerial committee for legislation on Sunday, to bar any political negotiations over Jerusalem and refugees if they do not first get prior approval from the Knesset. According to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahranoth today, the draft law confirms that the results of any negotiations over these two issues without Knesset approval would not be binding for Israel or its government. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=663289)
Israeli sources: the negotiations may end in a verbal agreement
Israeli political sources said today that the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams will most likely reach a verbal agreement on certain issues, ruling out the possibility of reaching a written agreement at the time being. The sources told Israel’s public radio that it was unclear whether the two sides would sign any kind of document at the end of the nine-month period for talks. Palestinians are saying there are three articles posed by Kerry that are contentious between the two sides, which are: the Jewish character of Israel, Jerusalem and security. (http://safa.ps/details/news/119850/مصادر-إسرائيلية-المفاوضات-قد-تنتهي-لاتفاق-شفهي.html)
Caught in the cross-fire
By Ramzy Baroud
A worst-case scenario is unfolding in Syria, and Palestinian refugees, particularly in the Yarmouk refugee camp, are paying a heavy price for Syria’s cruelest war. They are starving, although there can be no justification, nor logistical explanation for why they are dying from hunger.
Spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Chris Gunness, told AFP that “at least five Palestinian refugees in the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk have died because of malnutrition, bringing the total number of reported cases to 15,” since September 2013. Other estimates, especially those reported by local residents, say the number is significantly higher.
The camp, which is located south of Damascus, had once housed nearly 250,000 Palestinians that included 150,000 officially registered refugees. Three years of a brutal war later, Yarmouk is now nothing but ruins, and houses only around 18,000 residents who couldn’t escape to Lebanon, Jordan or elsewhere.
Reporting for the BBC from Damascus, Lyse Doucet quoted aid officials: “Aid officials in Damascus recently told me ‘the gates of Yarmouk were slammed shut in July’ and almost no aid has been allowed to enter since then.”
A minor Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — the General Command, has tried to control Yarmouk on behalf of the Syrian government, an act that the refugees rejected. There has been a semi-consensus among Palestinians that they should not be embroiled in Syria’s war. However, the warring parties — the Syrian government, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other groups — desperately tried to use every card at their disposal to weaken the other parties. The result has been devastating and is taking place at the expense of innocent refugees.
Fair and balanced ideas
Al Khaleej Editorial
US Secretary of State John Kerry claims he will present fair and balanced ideas for settling the Arab-Israeli conflict, however the Secretary has not specified fair standards. UN Resolutions are far from this thoughts and international law, which the United States has violent many times (the Iraq invasion for example) has not crossed its mind. This is not to mention Israel and how it stomps on it day and night without ever receiving reprimand from Kerry’s country. There can never be fair and balanced ideas if they are not based on specific references; that is, a system of legislations and laws which are recognized by the parties of any problem.
However, the current situation follows a ‘reference’ of the status quo. That is, the balance of powers that are in this time and place. And this balance of power deems that the United States is still the only superpower and is the military, political and diplomatic support system for Israel. From this point of view, it sees that anything offered to the Palestinians must be considered a concession, since the powerful party is not obligated to offer anything. By this, the US is staying that its balance and fairness comes from the fact that it looks at the Palestinian cause from a humanitarian perspective. Palestinian refugees are in the perfect situation for those in power over them to make them pay the price of their weakness. However, from a humanitarian perspective, their rehabilitation can be considered so they can continue living. The Palestinians are only emergency cases in Palestine and so they must recognize the ‘Jewishness” of the state of Israel.
And because the United States’ view of the occupied territories is not based in UN resolutions but rather on the premise that it is “disputed land” at best, whatever Israel takes account for in terms of land for itself is seen as normal. This explains the US’ leniency over the issue of settlements, which can even be described as its implicit approval of it.
Furthermore, the religious dimension that drives American policy on Jerusalem makes it a reference that is biased towards Zionist claims. Hence, balance and fairness in the approach of the Secretary of State has a reference devised by him. And since it is not rooted in international law, it lies in the balance of power. If it is not rooted in UN Resolutions, it stems from the religious and historical perspective of the American administration. So Kerry, in terms of the standards he has placed, is completely in line with himself when he says he is balanced and fair.
The Palestinians have no one to blame but themselves, when they did not insist on a clear and specific methodology for the negotiations that would unequivocally set the criteria that govern each step of these talks. It is not enough to say that these are our criteria; what is more important is that the other clearly recognizes them. Perhaps one of the main problems in the negotiations is the contradiction in each negotiator’s terms of reference. (http://www.alkhaleej.ae/studiesandopinions/detailedpage/8ada8bee-11ee-4002-a06a-a20a39af7ed1)
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