International Criminal Court to probe possible war crimes in Occupied Palestinian Territories


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“My office will take the same principled, non-partisan, approach that it has adopted in all situations over which its jurisdiction is seized.”

Bensouda, who will be replaced by British prosecutor Karim Khan on June 16, said in December 2019 that “war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”.

The UN recognises the Occupied Palestinian Territories as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – disputed territory claimed by Israel.

She named both the Israeli Defence Forces and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas as possible perpetrators.

The next step will be to determine whether Israeli or Palestinian authorities have investigations themselves and to assess those efforts.

‘Long-awaited step’

Israel’s government on Wednesday called the court “morally and legally bankrupt”.

“The decision to open an investigation against Israel is an exception to the mandate of the tribunal, and a waste of the international community’s resources by a biased institution that has lost all legitimacy,” Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When the court ruled on jurisdiction, he said: “When the ICC investigates Israel for fake war crimes, this is pure anti-semitism.”

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the prosecutor’s investigation.

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It is “a long-awaited step that serves Palestine’s tireless pursuit of justice and accountability, which are indispensable pillars of the peace the Palestinian people seek and deserve”, the Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Islamist militant group Hamas defended its own actions in the conflict.

“We welcome the ICC decision to investigate Israeli occupation war crimes against our people. It is a step forward on the path of achieving justice,” Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said.

Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said ICC member countries needed to stand by to fiercely protect the court’s work from political pressure.

The ICC is a court of last resort established to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide when a country is unable or unwilling to do so.

The prosecutor’s office was targeted by sanctions under former US President Donald Trump in response to its investigation in Afghanistan, which is examining the role of US forces.

Reuters

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Road to Palestinian vote full of obstacles


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced that the first presidential and parliamentary elections since 2006 will be held later this year. But the road to the vote — key to advancing Palestinian statehood and mending a rift between Abbas’ Fatah party and the Islamic militant group Hamas — is littered with obstacles.

Parliamentary elections are to be held on May 22, followed by a presidential vote on July 31. The rival factions will meet in Egypt later this month, hoping to work out logistics and settle their differences before election campaigns kick off.

With the aging Abbas at the helm in the West Bank, and Hamas’ rule entrenched in the Gaza Strip, there are many outstanding questions. Here’s a look at the complications surrounding a Palestinian election:

WHY NOW?

The Palestinians endured four tough years under President Donald Trump, who largely sided with Israel, prompting the Palestinians to cut off ties with the administration. Trump also brokered deals to establish ties between Israel and four Arab countries, shattering a longstanding wall of Arab opposition to normalization with Israel until it made major concessions to the Palestinians. The Trump administration cut funding to the Palestinians, further weakening their position.

While President-elect Joe Biden is likely to take a more balanced approach, he is expected to direct his attention first to more urgent foreign policy issues, such as the Iran nuclear deal. Abbas apparently hopes to start the relationship with the Biden administration on good terms by meeting the West’s long-standing demand that he hold overdue elections. Abbas may also have felt pressure from the European Union, one of the most important backers of his self-rule government, the Palestinian Authority. Similar pressure appears to have been exerted by Turkey and Qatar on Hamas.

___

CHALLENGES AHEAD

Hamas and Fatah have spent years trying to reconcile after a split more than a decade ago. Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel and Western countries, won the last parliamentary elections in 2006, but the international community largely refused to deal with any government that included Hamas figures.

After fierce street battles, Hamas routed Fatah forces and seized power in Gaza in 2007. It retained control of the territory despite an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. Numerous attempts to bring the factions together have failed, with terms for holding elections a major sticking point. Both sides have been unwilling to cede power and compromise — and it’s not clear whether attitudes have changed. In Gaza, Hamas has created its own government bureaucracy, along with an armed wing and a stockpile of rockets aimed at Israel. Abbas, who oversees autonomous zones in the West Bank, opposes violence as a means of ending more than half a century of Israeli occupation.

An additional roadblock is the uncertainty about holding the vote in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, sought by Palestinians as a future capital. Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to about 300,000 Palestinians, in the 1967 Mideast war, along with Gaza and the West Bank. Israel considers all of Jerusalem as its capital. While Israel permitted voting there under a less hard-line government in 2006, it could now view a vote as undermining its control and block it. Palestinian Central Election Commission chief Hanna Nasser said Saturday that officials have asked Israel about allowing voting in east Jerusalem. Abbas has said it is essential for such voting to take place.

___

QUESTIONS REMAIN

Abbas, 85, has led the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization since the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004. While he has repeatedly said he would not seek another term as president, he has not groomed a successor. It’s possible that he will run again. Several senior Fatah members in their 60s and 70s consider themselves as potential candidates, but no clear favorite has emerged. Marwan Barghouti, a leader of the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, has done well in opinion polls, but is serving multiple life terms in an Israeli prison, complicating any candidacy.

A challenger from Hamas is also up in the air. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who led the group’s electoral list in the 2006 vote, left Gaza in 2019 for what was billed a regional tour, never to return.

Haniyeh, who now leads the movement’s decision-making body, was for years the group’s self-styled prime minister, running Gaza during the blockade and three wars with Israel. As a candidate and later head of the territory’s government, Haniyeh portrayed himself as an average person still living in the crowded al-Shati refugee camp on the edge of Gaza City, but that image did not last long. People in Gaza, many poor and jobless because of the blockade that was imposed in response to Hamas’ policies, whispered about Haniyeh’s rumored wealth. Since he left Gaza, images of his often luxurious stays in hotel suites in Qatar have leaked online, a jarring contrast to the grim reality of Gaza’s 2 million people.

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Palestinian Teen Killed In Clashes With Israeli Army: Govt


A Palestinian teenager was killed on Friday in clashes with the Israeli army on the sidelines of a protest in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Ali Ayman Nasr Abu Aliya, 13, “succumbed to his wounds after he was shot with live rounds in the stomach” during clashes north of Ramallah, the ministry said in a statement.

The youth was hit during a demonstration in the village of Mughayir and was transported in critical condition to a hospital in Ramallah, where he died, it said.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a tweet he was “appalled by the killing.”

“Israel must swiftly and independently investigate this shocking and unacceptable incident,” he added.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said it would prosecute Israel at the International Criminal Court over the shooting “to ultimately hold Israeli war criminals to account”, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

The Palestinian Authority condemned “the cold-blooded murder” describing it in a statement as “the latest episode in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people”.

Mughayir mayor Amin Abu Aliya, quoted by WAFA, said the Israeli army had “violently dispersed” the protest against the establishment of an Israeli settlement in the area.





Palestinian demonstrators face Israeli forces during a protest against Israeli settlements in Kafr Malik in the occupied West Bank on December 4, 2020, the same day a Palestinian teenager was killed in clashes in the village of Mughayir
 AFP / ABBAS MOMANI

Four other people were wounded by Israeli army fire, WAFA reported.

The army denied live rounds were used, but said it was “aware of reports regarding a number of injured rioters and a Palestinian casualty”.

An army spokesperson told AFP dozens of protesters had thrown rocks at security forces.

“Rioters attempted to roll boulders and burning tyres from ridges above the Allon road, endangering the lives of civilians on the route,” she said.

“Security forces prevented the rioters from blocking the road and responded with riot dispersal means.”

The Palestinian village of Mughayir is located near several Israeli settlements and has been the site of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the past.

It is also near the Ras al-Teen area, where Israel has threatened to demolish a school, a move condemned in early November by the European Union, which co-funded its construction.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967.

More than 450,000 Israelis live in settlements in the territory, home to more than 2.8 million Palestinians.





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Demolition the foundation of Palestinian civil society


The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped Israel’s appetite for land confiscation, settlement building and demolition of Palestinian houses in the occupied West Bank while besieging the Gaza Strip, writes Dr Ibrahim Natil.

ISRAEL’S LARGE-SCALE demolition of Palestinian houses, settlement expansions and denial of international human rights activists’ visas have been taking place while claiming peace, security and normalisation with neighbours. On 30 October 2020, Michael Lynk, U.N. special rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian Territory, called on the international community to take action and move beyond condemnation to ensure accountability for Israel’s human rights abuses and international law violations.

Demolition of properties and denial of entry

After two days of destroying the Bedouin village Khirbet Hamsa al-Foqa, near Tubas in the Jordan Valley, leaving its nearly 80 inhabitants homeless, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy/vice-president commission condemned Israel’s action on 5 November 2020.

The Israeli forces destroyed more than 70 structures, including residential, livelihood and sanitation facilities, belonging to 11 Palestinian families with 41 children as the world watched the U.S. Election.

The EU, however, learned that there are currently 52 Palestinian schools under threat of demolition as their statement says:

‘This large-scale demolition confirms once again the regrettable trend of confiscations and demolitions since the beginning of the year. This comes on top of the threat of demolition of the Palestinian school in the Ras Al-Teen community in the central West Bank, which has been co-funded by the EU and several EU Member States.’

Israel behaves above the international law with a free hand, changing the de facto on the ground gradually. Israel does not listen to its partners from the EU and the international community calls for the protection of children, including ensuring their right to education in a safe and secure school environment.

Systemic measurements took place during the pandemic while Israel denied entry to the majority of staff for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) working in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville confirmed that nine out of 12 staff members have been made to leave Israel since August after their visas were not renewed. 

Following Israel’s denial of the February publication of a blacklist of 112 companies operating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Michael Lynk criticised strongly the silence of the Security Council towards Israel’s actions:

“The international rule of law matters and, if we are to avoid the rule of the jungle, it must be obeyed. And if the rule of law matters, then so must accountability. If the Security Council is to speak with authority, then the disobedience of Council directions must have consequences.”

As these actions of destroying houses took place, building settlements have witnessed unprecedented record as the Peace Now watchdog group reported that more than 12,150 illegal Israeli settlement homes were approved this year, making 2020 one of the most prolific years for settlement expansionism.

Civil society and the fight for a better Palestine

Settlement expansion

Israel approved constructing more than 2,200 West Bank settlement housing units while entering a new era of regional peace treaties. This approval of new expansion by a “defence ministry planning committee” is part of a building boom during the Presidency of Donald Trump, a staunch ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Palestinian Authority is powerless while Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, stated:

“The plan is against all international conventions and laws.”

Michael Lynk said:

“The international community observes, it sometimes objects, but it does not act.”

Israel continues to confiscate the land that is meant for the independent Palestinian State and “it is high time for accountability”.

On 16 October 2020, the foreign ministers of Europe’s five major powers – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – urged Israel to immediately stop its plans to build new settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Frydenberg and Coalition prioritise Israel, shunning Palestinian aid

Jordan, however, condemned constructing 4,900 housing units in the occupied West Bank as the Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates tweeted on Friday 16 October 2020:

‘We condemn Israel’s decision to build 4,900 new settlement units in occupied West Bank. This decision and other illegal actions undermine the two-state solution and prospects for peace and are clear violation of International law. It is imperative world acts against them in protection of peace.’

How could “peace deals” work with settlements? What kind of peace? Does Israel test the water of its new partners in the Middle East by authorising building new settlements? Has Israel known the position of the new partners in advance? Would Israel want to say to all nations, governments and partners, we do not care about your position or condemnation?

Israel does not pay any consideration for EU-funded structures and the humanitarian impact of the current coronavirus pandemic on the Palestinian children and women. These developments are serious challenges and an impediment towards the so-called “two-state solution” and Israel implements the annexation plan silently and gradually.

Dr Ibrahim Natil is a lecturer at Dublin City University. He is a human rights campaigner and a Fellow at the Institute for International Conflict Resolution. You can follow Dr Natil on Twitter @Natilibrahim.

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Prominent Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat dies after contracting coronavirus


Saeb Erekat, a veteran peace negotiator and prominent international spokesman for Palestinians for more than three decades, has died weeks after testing positive to COVID-19.

Mr Erekat, 65, was one of the most passionate and experienced advocates of the Palestinian cause

Although well known in foreign ministries across the world and regularly featured in the media, he was on the second tier of Palestinian politics and diplomacy.

Fluent in English as well as his native Arabic, he was a high-profile spokesman for Palestinian leaders such as Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, while never a serious candidate to succeed them.

Three years ago he had a lung transplant in the United States that left his immune system compromised

Then on October 8 this year Mr Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), confirmed he had contracted coronavirus.

He died after being hospitalised for weeks in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Centre.

Mr Erekat, who was educated in the US, was involved in nearly every round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians going back to the landmark Madrid conference in 1991, when he famously showed up draped in a black-and-white chequered keffiyeh, a symbol of Palestinian nationalism.

Over the years, he was a constant media presence.

He tirelessly argued for a negotiated two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, defended the Palestinian leadership and blamed Israel particularly hard-line leader Benjamin Netanyahu for the failure to reach an agreement.

Mr Erekat was born in the occupied West Bank town of Jericho, where he spent most of his life.(Reuters: Mohamad Torokman)

In the weeks leading up to his death in hospital, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain had normalised ties with Israel, breaking with the long-held Arab position that a deal on Palestinian statehood must precede normalisation.

Mr Abbas and members of his inner circle, including Mr Erekat, found themselves internationally sidelined and deeply unpopular among Palestinians.

And decades of unfettered Israeli settlement expansion had made a statehood deal based on the partition of territory increasingly unlikely.

Erekat saw himself as an ordinary Palestinian

Mr Erekat was born on April 28, 1955 in Jerusalem. He spent most of his life in the occupied West Bank town of Jericho, a palm-studded desert oasis about 30 minutes from Jerusalem.

As a child in Jericho, he witnessed Palestinians fleeing to nearby Jordan during the 1967 war in which Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

In interviews, Mr Erekat often spoke about life and his family in Jericho as a way of explaining the impact of Israeli occupation to foreign viewers and to position himself as an ordinary Palestinian.

His wit and grasp of colloquial American phrases made him popular with interviewers.

Mr Erekat studied abroad, earning a BA and MA in international relations from San Francisco State University and later completing a PhD at the University of Bradford in the UK, where he focused on conflict resolution.

Mr Erekat also held US citizenship.

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When he returned to the West Bank he became a professor at An-Najah University in Nablus and an editor at the Al-Quds newspaper.

A self-described pragmatist, he invited Israeli students to visit the university in the late 1980s and condemned violence on all sides.

He was nevertheless convicted of incitement by an Israeli military court in 1987 after troops raided the university and found an English-language newsletter he had authored in which he wrote that:

Mr Erekat insisted he was advocating peaceful resistance and not armed struggle, and he was later given an eight-month suspended sentence and fined $US6,250 ($8,588).

“If they have reached the point of fining someone like me $6,250 for three words written in English and sent abroad, then the occupation is not working and they are really getting nervous,” he later said.

The first intifada, or Palestinian uprising, erupted later that year in the form of mass protests, general strikes and clashes with Israeli troops.

That uprising, along with US pressure on Israel, culminated in the Madrid conference, widely seen as the start of the Middle East peace process.

Mr Erekat was a prominent representative of Palestinians living inside the occupied territories at the time, but became a close aide to Mr Arafat when the exiled Palestine Liberation Organisation returned to the territories following the 1993 Oslo accords.

In subsequent years he routinely served as Mr Arafat’s translator and was sometimes accused of editing his remarks to soften the rough edges of the guerrilla leader-turned-aspiring statesman.

Throughout the 1990s, Mr Erekat was a frequent guest on CNN and other news programs, where he condemned violence on both sides but warned that the peace process was at risk of collapse because of Israel’s refusal to withdraw from the territories.

‘I am the most disadvantaged negotiator in the history of man’

Mr Erekat was a senior Palestinian official and was seen as a possible successor to Mr Arafat, who died in a French hospital in 2004.

Mr Erekat accompanied Mr Arafat’s body on the flight back to the West Bank for burial. He continued as a top aide to Mr Abbas and served as a senior negotiator in sporadic peace efforts in the late 2000s.

“I am the most disadvantaged negotiator in the history of man,” he told a reporter in 2007, the year Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of Gaza from Mr Abbas’s forces.

Mr Erekat resigned as chief negotiator in 2011 after a trove of documents was leaked to the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera showing the Palestinian leadership had offered major concessions in past peace talks that were never made public.

But Mr Erekat remained a senior Palestinian official and a close adviser to Mr Abbas, who later appointed him secretary-general of the PLO.

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Israel and the Palestinians have not held substantive talks since Mr Netanyahu a hard-liner who opposes concessions to the Palestinians took office in 2009.

But Mr Erekat continued to call for a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines, accusing the Israeli leader of putting a “nail in the coffin” of hopes for peace by continuing to expand settlements.

While Mr Erekat was welcomed in world capitals, he was more controversial in the West Bank, where he was seen as part of an elite clique enjoying a jet-setting lifestyle but detached from the public and clinging to an unrealistic goal after years of failed peace efforts and Israeli settlement expansion.

He was a strident critic of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which would allow Israel to keep nearly all of east Jerusalem and up to 30 per cent of the West Bank.

He derisively said “real estate men” would never solve the conflict and accused Mr Trump and Mr Netanyahu of teaming up to “destroy the Palestinian national project.”

“To reject this plan isn’t to reject peace but the contrary: Rejecting it means rejecting the perpetuation of a system of apartheid,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in January.

He closed the column with the same call to action he had been issuing for nearly three decades.

“The international community must decide: Either it stands on the right side of history with the independence of the state of Palestine living side by side, in peace and security, with the state of Israel on the 1967 border — or it agrees to tolerate an apartheid regime.”

Mr Erekat is survived by his wife, two sons, twin daughters and eight grandchildren.

Reuters/AP



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Israel demolishes most of Palestinian Bedouin village in West Bank



Israel has demolished most of a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, displacing 73 Palestinians, including 41 children, in the largest such demolition in years.

Tented homes, animal shelters, latrines and solar panels were among the structures destroyed in the village of Khirbet Humsah on Tuesday (local time), according to a United Nations official.

Israel’s military liaison agency with the Palestinians, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), confirmed that a demolition had been carried out against what it said were illegal structures.

By Thursday morning local time the residents had already moved back to the site, using tents donated by Palestinian aid groups, according to a Reuters witness.

The remains of the demolished village lay across the hillsides, with just two of the original homes still standing some distance from the others.

“They want to expel us from the area so that settlers can live in our place, but we will not leave from here,” said resident Harbi Abu Kabsh.

Mr Kabsh was referring to the roughly 430,000 Israeli settlers who live alongside 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank, which Israel captured in a 1967 war.

COGAT issued a statement saying that an “enforcement activity” had been carried out by Israeli forces “against seven tents and eight pens which were illegally constructed, in a firing range located in the Jordan Valley”.

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Israel often cites a lack of building permits in demolishing Palestinian structures in the West Bank.

Yvonne Helle, a humanitarian coordinator for the UN in the Palestinian territories, said relief agencies had visited Khirbet Humsah and recorded 76 demolished structures.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said the structures included 18 tents and sheds.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accused Israel of timing the demolition for election day in the United States, when the world was distracted.

He wrote on Twitter: “As the attention is focused on #USElection2020, Israel chose this evening to commit another crime/ cover it up: to demolish 70 Palestinian structures, incl. homes.”

A COGAT spokesman on Thursday had no comment on Mr Shtayyeh’s claim.

But it released a statement saying: “The enforcement was carried out in accordance with the authorities and procedures, and subject to operational considerations.”

Some 689 structures have been demolished across the West Bank and East Jerusalem so far this year, leaving 869 Palestinians homeless, according to the UN.

Reuters



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Frydenberg and Coalition prioritise Israel, shunning Palestinian aid


The Australian Government continues to endorse Israel and fund in-country projects, while it reduces funding to the UNRWA and ignores the plight of Palestinians, writes Ali Kazak.

JOSH FRYDENBERG announced a $2.5 million grant for the further development of the Adelaide Holocaust Museum and a $3.5 million grant to build a Holocaust museum in Brisbane.

On the other hand, he reduced Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) from $20 million to $10 million, as reported in the Australian Jewish News.

This is in addition to the $10 million Frydenberg gave last year to Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre and the millions of dollars federal and state governments have given throughout the years to Holocaust museums in Melbourne and Sydney.

On top of this, Queensland’s former Liberal National Party Leader Deb Frecklington had pledged to match the $3.5 million grant if she won Queensland’s October 31 Election.

The Jewish community is one of the wealthiest communities in Australia, sending tens of millions of tax-exempt dollars to Israel every year.

Frydenberg stated the museum would:

‘Allow every South Australian child to learn about this tragic period … about the importance of tolerance and humanity.’

Evidently, Frydenberg’s tolerance and humanity does not extend to the over six million Palestinian refugees who are tragically ethnically cleansed from their homeland and denied their right to return just because they are not “Jews”.

While local Jewish leaders welcomed his generosity to build more Holocaust museums, they unashamedly praised his punishment to the health, education, work and social wellbeing of six million Palestinian refugees.

The Australian Jewish News reported on 15 October that the Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said

‘It is time for UNRWA to be wound up … this reduction in funding is a positive step.’

UNRWA was established by the UN following the ethnic cleansing of over 70 per cent of the Palestinian people in 1948. It was designed to support the refugees’ wellbeing and provides health, education and other services in 61 refugee camps scattered throughout the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

The UNRWA supports those refugees until they can return to their homeland in accordance with international law and existing UN resolutions, particularly General Assembly Resolution 194, which gives the refugees the right to return and compensation for those who do not choose to return.

America's cut to aid in Palestine promises greater regional instability

Israel and its Zionist lobbies are launching a war to starve UNRWA from its international funding and destroy it. Their aim is to keep the Nazi crimes of the Holocaust alive and never forgotten, and on the other hand, to obliterate Israel’s crimes of the Nakba (“catastrophe”).

They use the Nazi crimes as a cover-up on their crime against the Palestinians. 

The late Sir Gerald Kaufman, a British MP, summarised this in a speech in the House of Commons on 15 January 2009 saying:

My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The current Israeli Government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count.

And Jacob Cohen, a Moroccan Jewish scholar and human rights activist, wrote last year that: 

Israel is still employing the cause of the Holocaust to justify the occupation and gain the sympathy of global public opinion. Israel has been trying to invest in this cause since the 1970s in order to redeem its public image and distract the world from the violations committed against the Palestinian people. Israelis are always trying to raise this issue to suggest that Israel is threatened.

As victims of over seventy-two years of horrendous crimes, oppression, racial discrimination and dispossession, we sympathise with victims of the Holocaust. But their suffering should not be used by the Zionists to continue their denial of our legitimate and inalienable right to return to our homeland.

Zionists are using Australia to serve their interest in their war against the Palestinian people. All this is kept away from the Australian public, who would be appalled to learn what they are doing.

World Vision aid worker detained in Israel on 'trumped-up charges'

While there are many Jewish-run Holocaust museums in Australia, funded by millions of tax dollars from federal and state governments, there is not one single Indigenous museum to show the war of annihilation waged against them by the British colonialists.

Nor is there a museum to show the Nakba inflicted on the Palestinians by the British and Zionist coalition which Australia played a major part in.

Why doesn’t Frydenberg and the Federal Government give the Indigenous people of Australia and the Palestinian community an equal amount to establish museums so Australian children can learn about these crimes against humanity and about the importance of tolerance and humanity?

The answer to that is for everyone to think about.

Ali Kazak is a former Palestinian ambassador.

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Israel police wound Palestinian driver who attacked officers


JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police said an officer shot and wounded a Palestinian driver who attempted to run over and stab Israeli security personnel in the West Bank on Wednesday.

The Israeli military said the man attempted to ram his car into a soldier and a police officer at an intersection near the West Bank city of Nablus. The police said in a statement that the officer shot the Palestinian after he came out of the vehicle and ran at the officers with a knife.

The soldier and the policeman were lightly wounded while the attacker was moderately wounded, the army said.

Security camera footage from the incident published by Israeli media showed a silver vehicle appearing to accelerate and collide with a parked police car.

Palestinians have carried out dozens of stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks on Israeli security personnel and civilians in recent years. Most were by lone Palestinian attackers with no apparent links to armed groups.

Palestinians and human rights groups have frequently accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force.



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Israel to halt Palestinian land annexation in ‘historic’ deal with UAE | World News


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel are to establish diplomatic ties in a deal halting the planned annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians.

US President Donald Trump announced the deal on Thursday after successfully getting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan to agree normalising relations between their two countries.

The deal, to be signed in the coming weeks, will see Israel backing down from “unilateral annexation” of areas of the occupied West Bank – land sought by the Palestinians for their future state, Israeli foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.

It also firms up opposition to regional power Iran, which the UAE, Israel and the US view as the main threat in the region.

Israel signed peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994 but the UAE, along with most other Arab nations, did not recognise Israel and had no formal diplomatic or economic relations with the Jewish nation – until now.







Israel strikes breakthrough deal with UAE

A joint statement tweeted out by Mr Trump said delegations from Israel and the UAE will meet to sign bilateral agreements on “investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies and other areas of mutual benefit”.

It added that both leaders had expressed their “deep appreciation” to Mr Trump “for his dedication to peace in the region and to the pragmatic and unique approach he has taken to achieve it”.

Israeli MPs have welcomed the deal, with defence minister Benny Gantz saying it expressed an “alliance” between countries in the region who aim for stability and prosperity, adding that it would have “many positive implications” on the region.

The Hamas militant group, which wants to destroy Israel, accused the UAE of stabbing the Palestinians in the back.



Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs



‘Win-win’ deal for Israel and UAE

“This announcement is a reward for the Israeli occupation’s crimes,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

“The normalisation is a stabbing in the back of our people.”

UAE foreign minister Anwar Gargash called the deal “a bold step”.

“The UAE is using its gravitas and promise of a relationship to unscrew a time bomb that is threatening a two-state solution,” he added.

He said embassies in both countries would open soon, adding that “this is for real” but admitted “nothing is perfect in a very difficult region”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the deal was “hugely good news”, while Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK welcomed the “historic step”.

He said: “We welcome both the decision by the UAE to normalise relations with Israel, as well as the suspension of plans for annexation – a move the UK has opposed as it would have been counterproductive to securing peace in the region.

“Ultimately, there is no substitute for direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel, which is the only way to a reach a two-state solution and a lasting peace.”

The UAE's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will also sign the deal
Image:
The UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan (here pictured with Mike Pompeo) will also sign the deal

Analysis: A big win for Trump and Israel – but the Palestinians have been left out in the cold

By Mark Stone, Middle East correspondent

It’s more than 25 years since an Arab country normalised ties with Israel.

No wonder President Trump calls it “a truly historic moment”. He isn’t wrong.

Until now there had only been two countries in the Arab world with relatively normal relations with the Jewish State of Israel – Egypt and Jordan.

Today’s announcement at the White House was a rabbit-out-of-hat moment in the sense that it was not billed and not expected now.

Yes – it’s true that for some time, quietly in the background the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel have warmed their relations.

But the formal announcement of the normalisation of relations with a key Arab nation combined with a commitment by Israel to suspend its heavily trailed plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank – this is big, important news.



RAMAT GAN, ISRAEL - SEPTEMBER 10:  Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu points to a Jordan Valley map during his announcement on September 10, 2019 in Ramat Gan, Israel. Netanyahu pledges to annex Jordan Valley in Occupied West Bank if Re-Elected on SEPTEMBER 17th Israeli elections.  (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)



Netanyahu vows to annex part of West Bank

The deal has been named the Abraham accord. Abraham was the father of all three great faiths at the core of the struggle for Middle East peace.

The three signatures of this deal believe it could pave the way for dramatic changes in the region.

The expectation is that other Arab states could now follow the UAE. The deal, says Donald Trump, will be an “ice breaker” for countries like Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and others to normalise their relations with the Jewish State.

For commerce, for tourism, for aviation, for geopolitics, this is certainly a crucial juncture in the long road to Middle East peace.

Iran is the common enemy of Israel and much of the Arab world. This accord strengthens the anti-Iran axis but also potentially strengthens efforts for dialogue there. The UAE and Iran have dialogue that can now, indirectly, be extended to Israel.

But in all this, one key player has been left out: the Palestinians.

The rumour is that they were not consulted at all in this deal. While it is positive for Palestinians that the annexation plans are – it seems – off, there is a deep sense of betrayal.

Just look at how Hanan Ashrawi, one of the most senior and seasoned Palestinian diplomats, replied to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s tweet.

“May you never experience the agony of having your country stolen; may you never feel the pain of living in captivity under occupation; may you never witness the demolition of your home or murder of your loved ones. May you never be sold out by your ‘friends’,” she wrote.

This is a big win for Donald Trump. It is a big win for Israel (though more for pragmatists than hard-line settlers). But for the Palestinians what does it mean?

Well – for decades the price Arabs have asked from Israel for the normalisation of relations has been a Palestinian State. But no longer.

Is this the clearest sign yet that Arab sympathy for Palestinians is waning? Trade, commerce and an axis against Iran trumps the Palestinian cause? Maybe.

A Palestinian state still far off. For Palestinians, the Abraham Accord has staved off annexation but the status quo of occupation will rumble on.



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Palestinian women most affected by COVID-19 and annexation


COVID-19 and Israeli annexation pose new challenges to civil modern society and group participation in occupied Palestinian territories, writes Dr Ibrahim Natil.

PALESTINIAN civil modern society and women of all ages, in individual, have been dwelling in severe, severe circumstances owing to political shifts and financial instances. The danger of Israeli profession, annexing up to 30% of the West Lender has previously improved stress on the Palestinian people. 

Violence in opposition to women in Palestinian territories is a severe concern, due to the long heritage of conflict in Palestine and Israel, and the socio-economic situation that have existed since Israeli occupation in 1967. Gendered discrimination and violence are heightened in contexts of fragility, conflict, displacement and crisis. 

Palestinian ladies in Gaza suffer from high level of violence, poverty, deficiency of possibilities and despair. They are matter to psychological abuse, cursing, insults, and yelling.

The next most commonplace type of abuse in opposition to gals since the last Israeli military operation during the summer season of 2014 was economic devastation.

COVID-19 and domestic violence

These situations have been acquiring worse given that the beginning of this year, as eleven women were being killed. On April 20, 2020, Al Jazeera reported that at minimum five women of all ages have been killed at the palms of their abusers given that the coronavirus lockdown. The violence towards ladies has greater in Gaza in the course of quarantine and lockdown, as COVID-19 pitfalls exacerbating women’s vulnerabilities and gender inequalities in Palestine.

Even in advance of COVID-19, even so, the fees of violence towards females was superior in Gaza. 

The factsheets of SAWA, a Palestinian West Financial institution-dependent organisation, show that phone calls from girls searching for aid improved from 40% to 58% when the hotline prolonged its hours (indicating that females had not found the time or privateness to simply call), with calls regarding abuse and domestic violence from partners raising by 38%.

A United Nations Women’s examine, nevertheless, found in 2017 that 80% of guys and 48% of ladies feel that guys ought to be the selection-makers at property.

Treatment International stories that ladies comprise only 5% of Palestinian Central Council customers, 11% of the Palestinian Countrywide Council, 14% of the Council of Ministers, one woman governor out of 16, 44% of all staff members in the community sector and 13% of females community sector workers keep the rank of Director Typical or larger.

Inspite of the well being, political and economic shifts, women’s participation in local community and political organisations supporting the COVID-19 reaction is marginal, with implications for its access and effects.

Shifts and defiance

Despite significant contributions by the Palestinian civil modern society organisations, they faced major worries as a result of the repercussions of the successive crises hanging the Palestinian group.

These shifts have presently posed a severe challenge to the performance of civil modern society organisations which deliver products and services to the inhabitants of the sector in fields, such as training and health and fitness, and improving livelihoods, unemployment and infrastructure jobs.

Having said that, several organisations as the Society Voice Foundation (SVF) nonetheless go on to empower young people today, fight violence from women of all ages and promote women’s engagement in local community peacebuilding, despite the problems the pandemic has triggered.

SVF has succeeded in implementing six community on the net meetings to talk about the mechanisms of participation in conclusion-creating, the position of media, the empowerment of gals and the advertising of human rights and community peacebuilding. This involves applying psychological and social assist classes for kids who are in require of perform, have enjoyment and have out some actions in the article-faculty stage.

In addition, marginalised and vulnerable women in wider society however initiate nearby pursuits and initiatives, defying and challenging the status quo. These women of all ages hope and seek a superior everyday living.

Dr Ibrahim Natil is a lecturer at Dublin City College. He is a human legal rights campaigner and a Fellow at the Institute for Global Conflict Resolution. You can follow Dr Natil on Twitter @Natilibrahim.

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