Middle East Monitor - Creating New Perspectives Bringing you the latest and up-to-date news from the Middle East. We go one step further, facilitating a better understanding of the issues facing the Middle East. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/component/content/frontpage Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:45:04 +0000 MEMO en-gb UN official pledges to lift the 'illegal' siege on Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10975-un-official-pledges-to-lift-the-illegal-siege-on-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10975-un-official-pledges-to-lift-the-illegal-siege-on-gaza Pierre KrahenbuhlThe new Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Pierre Krahenbuhl pledged yesterday to defend Gaza and work hard to end the blockade.

Krahenbuhl said that all United Nations (UN) human rights reports, human rights organisations' reports and journalistic reports could not reflect the continuous suffering and isolation of the Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip.

He said that he arrived in Gaza just hours ago and he did not travel there in order to get facts and numbers but to see, defend and show his solidarity with the refugees.

The new UN official noted that his first impression about Gaza is "wires and separation wall" which reminded him of what his predecessor said: "The longest and most famous siege of Leningrad." He stressed that Gaza is living under "illegal" collective punishment.

Regarding his efforts in this field, he pledged to work with the international community and UN leaders to lift the siege. He reiterated that UNRWA will continue to offer its services to the refugees and defend them until their issue, including the right of return, is solved.

He said that he is going to discuss this with all intellectuals and educated people he meets.

Krahenbuhl said UNRWA provided aid to 80,000 refugees in Gaza in 2000. Today, the number is 800,000 and rising.

"We are following more transparent mechanisms to reach the real needy people," he said.

Krahenbuhl called for access to the Palestinian refugees in Syria, especially to the Yarmouk refugee camp. He said Palestinian refugees are being forced to relive the experiences of their fathers.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:36:19 +0000
Kuwait: Gulf rift 'will be resolved soon' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10974-kuwait-gulf-rift-will-be-resolved-soon https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10974-kuwait-gulf-rift-will-be-resolved-soon Khalid Suleiman Al-JarallahThe dispute between the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar "will be resolved soon" as things are "moving in a positive direction towards containing the issue", Kuwait's Foreign Ministry Undersecretary said.

Kuwait's KUNA state news agency quoted Khalid Al-Jarallah saying, after a meeting of the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC), that the dispute "did not impact the GCC's meetings" which reflects the GCC's keenness to maintain Gulf unity and experience.

Answering a question about Kuwait's role to contain the dispute Al-Jarallah said: "Kuwait has played a role and announced its readiness to carry out any role that contributes to the GCC's cohesion and unity," without providing further details about the nature of possible agreements or settlements.

Al-Jarallah's remarks come hours after the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister said that there was lack of serious mediation with Qatar to end the crisis.

The three Gulf states demand Doha stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:32:27 +0000
Haniyeh: 'Turkey is fighting to lift the siege of Gaza' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10973-haniyeh-turkey-is-fighting-to-lift-the-siege-of-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10973-haniyeh-turkey-is-fighting-to-lift-the-siege-of-gaza Ismail HaniyehPalestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Wednesday that Turkey is "fighting" in every way to break the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

"I haven't forgotten about Turkey, which sacrificed for the Palestinians in the Freedom Flotilla, and which continues to fight diplomatically and politically to help lift the siege on the Gaza Strip," Haniyeh told a press conference at the inauguration ceremony for a number of Qatar-funded projects. Nine humanitarian activists were killed when Israeli occupation forces carried out a violent attack on the Turkish-flagged aid flotilla on 31 May 2010 as it headed for the Gaza Strip.

Haniyeh called on Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing fully and to allow the movement of both goods and individuals. "We thank Egypt for facilitating the entry of the construction material required for these projects and we call on [the Egyptian government] to open the Rafah border crossing permanently, around the clock," said the prime minister.

Thanking Qatar for its support for Gaza, Mr Haniyeh noted that the projects the Gulf State is funding represent a turning point for the besieged territory. "It only took one hour with His Highness Emir Hamad, just one hour, to approve these projects worth $400 million," he added.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:31:04 +0000
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister accuses PA of incitement https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10972-israels-deputy-foreign-minister-accuses-pa-of-incitement https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10972-israels-deputy-foreign-minister-accuses-pa-of-incitement Ofir AnukisIsrael's Deputy Foreign Minister has accused the Palestinian Authority of "incitement" against Israel. Speaking to Israel Radio, Ofir Akunis suggested that Israel's chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, should postpone her meeting with the Palestinian side scheduled for Thursday until the seven-day mourning period for police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi ends. The Israel Defence Forces veteran was shot and killed in Hebron on Monday whilst driving to an illegal settlement.

Akunis criticised Knesset members from the Israeli Labour and Meretz parties who met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during this sensitive period and reaffirmed his opposition to the two-state solution. MK Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz rejected Akunis's criticism, saying that the negotiations with the Palestinians have been void of any substance to-date. Horowitz stressed the need to discuss substantive issues if the negotiating process continues and to fight incitement by Palestinians and Israelis alike.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:30:03 +0000
ICC is ready to look at Israel's complaint against Abbas https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10971-icc-is-ready-to-look-at-israels-complaint-against-abbas https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10971-icc-is-ready-to-look-at-israels-complaint-against-abbas Mahmoud AbbasThe International Criminal Court (ICC) has said an international tribunal is authorised to look into Israeli lawyer Mordechai Tzivin's complaint against the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Tzivin filed a complaint against Abbas and senior Hamas leaders to the ICC. In his complaint, he claimed that Abbas is responsible for "terrorist operations" carried out by Hamas against Israelis.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth today said that Abbas is responsible for everything happening in the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip, as the president for a UN non-member state.

Tzivin claimed that the ICC offers a chance to fight terrorism and it does not leave this issue to a single party. He described the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation "war crimes and crimes against humanity".

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:28:28 +0000
Why Prince Bandar of Saudi was sacked https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10970-why-prince-bandar-of-saudi-was-sacked https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10970-why-prince-bandar-of-saudi-was-sacked Prince Bandar Bin SultanPrince Bandar Bin Sultan was not shocked by his sacking, Saudi's King Abdullah has been angry with Prince Bandar who implicated the Kingdom in several conflicts which in turn angered the US and embarrassed Saudi Arabia in front of the White House earlier in the year, Saudi sources have said.

The news site Asrararabiya quoted sources as saying that Prince Bandar had failed to deal with several regional issues, in particular the financial and military support he had provided to armed forces in Syria who, it transpired, were affiliated to Al-Qaeda.

"Bandar channelled generous funds to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant dubbed as Daash and AnNusra Front which seized large areas in Syria but failed to topple the regime of Bashar Al-Assad," the sources said. Price Bandar's complete failure on the Syrian front has strengthened Al-Qaeda and did not topple Al-Assad's regime.

Prince Bandar has also failed to convince the US to launch a military strike against the Syrian regime last year, at a time when he convinced the King that he could influence Washington and put pressure on the White House and Congress and convince them to attack Al-Assad's government. But, at the last minute, the US cancelled its planned strike under an agreement with the Russians, the regime's main ally, ignoring Prince Bandar's objection.

Prince Bandar's list of failures spreads to other regional issue. Not only did the Prince fail on the Syria front, he also failed to curb the Iranian regional influence and to create frictions between Sunni and Shia Muslims that could hinder the Iranians' ambitions.

More importantly, Prince Bandar supported the military coup in Egypt, a move that has been widely opposed in the Kingdom prompting at least two princes to openly announce their opposition to it. King Abdullah is said to have been angered with the financial costs the Kingdom had to endure to support the military coup in Egypt which is said to have topped what Saudi Arabia spends on its largest cities. Prince Bandar has been widely criticised in Saudi Arabia for financing the coup in Egypt while thousands of Saudis suffer from poverty.

According to a Saudi source, Prince Bandar held secret reconciliation agreements with the Houthis in Yemen channelling generous funds to them in order not to attack the Kingdom after the Saudi forces failed to repel their attacks and incursions in the south.

Prince Bandar has also failed to reinstall Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to power, a key ally of Saudi Arabia.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:38:29 +0000
UN mission: Increasing violence affects Libya's reputation and development https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10969-un-mission-increasing-violence-affects-libyas-reputation-and-development https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10969-un-mission-increasing-violence-affects-libyas-reputation-and-development Libyan flagThe "increasing violence in Libya negatively affects the reputation and economic development" of the country, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said yesterday.

In a statement issued about the kidnapping of the Jordanian ambassador in Tripoli, the UNSMIL said that "violence", including kidnapping, is denounced by Libyans.

According to the statement, the UNSMIL has been exerting much effort in cooperation with the Libyan Authorities and other parties in order to release the ambassador. It said it is not saving any effort to get to a positive end to this crisis.

The UNSMIL noted that the United Nations Security Council had condemned the attack on the diplomatic convoy of the ambassador and called for the Libyan authorities to respect its international obligations and protect the diplomatic and consular missions.

The Libyan parliament condemned the kidnapping and affirmed that all related parties are working together in order to guarantee safe release of the ambassador.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:35:31 +0000
Why is Israel opposed to Palestine joining international treaties? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/10968-why-is-israel-opposed-to-palestine-joining-international-treaties https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/10968-why-is-israel-opposed-to-palestine-joining-international-treaties UN logoLast week, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that he had accepted the application of Palestinians to join 13 international UN conventions. Significantly, these include the Geneva Conventions, which govern the rules of war and military occupation.

Ban informed all 193 UN member states that the application, by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was made "in due and proper order" and that it would be processed within a month. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said that Palestine was ready with more applications to join UN agencies, conventions, and treaties, depending on Israel's actions.

The question of Palestine's UN status is a charged one. In November 2012, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to grant Palestine "non-member observer status". This allowed the Palestinians to participate in General Assembly debates, as well as improving its chances of joining UN agencies and conventions, and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The decision to seek international recognition and support for an independent Palestinian state along pre-1967 borders reflected intense frustration with the US-led peace process. While some dismissed it as a symbolic and grandstanding move that would have no impact for people on the ground in Palestine, it still caused alarm in Israel, which was concerned that the Palestinians' ultimate aim was to seek to bring international human rights charges against Israel.

Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that as a prerequisite for the latest round of talks, spearheaded by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Abbas agreed to stop seeking further UN recognition. That agreement held for the prearranged nine-month period of talks. However, that process is currently floundering, after Israel refused to carry out the last of four prisoner releases that had been agreed at the beginning of the process. Israel wanted a guarantee that the Palestinians would continue to talk after the end of April deadline passed and decided not to release the prisoners. In response, Abbas went back to the UN.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not pleased, to say the least. The day before Ban announced that the UN would accept the Palestinian application, Israel said that it would impose sanctions against the Palestinian Authority. This was in retaliation for the request to join international conventions. Netanyahu ordered all government ministries to halt cooperation with Palestinian entities. He placed a particular emphasis on meetings between Israeli ministers and their Palestinian counterparts.

In the past, Israel has hit out at this "unilateral" action by the Palestinians at the UN, arguing that it will hinder the peace process and complicate matters because there is no universally recognized Palestinian state.

But clearly, the anxiety in Israel stems from the fact that many of its actions - not least, settlement building - are illegal under international law. One area of particular concern is the Geneva Convention's prohibition of colonizing occupied land. Israel has argued that this should not apply to settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza because the sovereignty of the two territories is unclear: they were ruled by Jordan and Egypt before 1967, and Palestine has never had its own full state. Israel also argues that east Jerusalem should not be considered occupied land because the state has extended citizenship rights to Arab citizens (only a few thousand of the city's quarter of a million Arab residents have taken it up). Allowing Palestine to be party to this convention is a significant development that has been a long time coming: the Palestinian Liberation Organisation first tried to join the Geneva Conventions in 1989 but was rebuffed by the Swiss Foreign Ministry "due to the uncertainty within the international community as to the existence or non-existence of a State of Palestine."

This has not happened yet, but if Palestine is allowed to sign up to the Rome Statute, the founding document of the ICC, it could ask prosecutors to investigate Israel for crimes against humanity, for instance in the 2008 assault on Gaza. Ultimately, the more recognition the Palestinian Authority obtains, the more conventions and organisations it becomes party to, the greater recourse to international justice it has. Speaking to Middle East Monitor last year, the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim said that the initial accession to non-member observer status was significant: "It means the Palestinians are cutting their losses with Netanyahu and Obama," he said. "On 99 per cent of the permanent status issues, international legality supports the Palestinian position."

Writing in the Haaretz newspaper last week, journalist Zvi Ba'arel argued that Netanyahu's sanctions - which could potentially include the withholding of tax that Israel collects on behalf of the PA, as well as resurrecting dismantled checkpoints and restricting business travel - are counter-productive. "The actual goal of the sanctions is unclear. If Netanyahu pressures Abbas to retract Palestine's signatures from the UN treaties, he is likely to see Abbas sign the Rome Statute as well," he wrote. "If Netanyahu is trying to prove how strong Israel is, the sanctions actually show Israel's weakness, as the Palestinians have already shown they are not scared of a more brutal occupation."

As with the original bid for UN membership, this move by Abbas demonstrates frustration with the peace process and a lack of hope that it is heading anywhere. Whether it will provide relief for people in the West Bank or Gaza remains a point of debate, but it certainly represents an attempt to up the pressure on Israel and the US.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Samira Shackle) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:29:26 +0000
Palestinian-Israeli talks to continue beyond April 29 deadline https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10967-palestinian-israeli-talks-to-continue-beyond-april-29-deadline https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10967-palestinian-israeli-talks-to-continue-beyond-april-29-deadline Martin IndykPalestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his government's readiness to extend peace talks by an additional nine months to discuss core issues, informed Palestinian and Israeli sources said yesterday.

Palestinian sources said that US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the issue with the US Peace Envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk. They discussed how both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides would announce the extension with "the lowest costs and without surprises".

In addition, the Palestinian sources said the meeting between the Palestinian and Israeli peace teams that should have been held yesterday was cancelled.

Abbas met a delegation from the Left-wing Israeli Ministers of the Knesset and discussed the situation of the peace talks with them. He expressed his willingness to extend the talks on the condition that they focus on the core issue; the arrangement of the permanent Palestinian-Israeli borders.

Despite the stalemate that faced the peace talks, the US administration expected the talks to continue beyond the April 29 deadline.

Commenting on the issue, spokeswoman of the US Department of State Jennifer Psaki said: "A number of issues are being discussed by both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides. There are certain steps that both sides have to carry out in order to improve chances to reach peace."

She added: "Both sides say that they are willing to continue peace talks and they are discussing how to do that." She hinted to a US role in trying to bring the two sides together.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:24:14 +0000
5,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10966-5000-palestinian-prisoners-held-in-israeli-jails https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10966-5000-palestinian-prisoners-held-in-israeli-jails Israeli prisonEXCLUSIVE IMAGES

Approximately 5,000 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails, including 20 women and 230 minors, figured released by the Palestinian Prisoners Club today showed.

The figures were released as part of a report on Palestinian Prisoner's Day. According to the data in the report, some 95 per cent of them have been tortured when they were arrested and during investigations.

The publication also includes eye-witness accounts of human rights abuses carried out by Israeli forces. It said that in 2013 and the beginning of 2014; Israeli prison services broke into the jails of the prisoners at least once a week.

Three prisoners died in custody last year because of torture, mistreatment and poor healthcare services. Another prisoner died shortly after being released.

The report showed that 1,000 prisoners are suffering from diseases including 160 prisoners suffering chronic illness. The worst cases are in the clinic of Al-Ramlah Prison.

It noted that 30 prisoners are being illegally detained as they completed their prison terms last month. According to the report, the detainees were informed of their release however the Israeli government retracted its obligations to the Palestinian negotiation team and the US brokered peace talks.

MEMO Photographer Mohammed Asad

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:21:08 +0000
Israel allows hundreds of Christians from Gaza to visit Bethlehem for Easter holiday https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10965-israel-allows-hundreds-of-christians-from-gaza-to-visit-bethlehem-for-easter-holiday https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10965-israel-allows-hundreds-of-christians-from-gaza-to-visit-bethlehem-for-easter-holiday Christians crossing into West BankThe Israeli authorities allowed nearly 600 Christians from the Gaza Strip to pass through the northern Beit Hanoun crossing on Thursday in order to participate in the Easter celebrations in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

The director of public relations in Gaza's Orthodox Church, Jabr Al-Jildeh, told SAFA news agency that, "Israel has issued 600 permits for Christians from the enclave to travel to the West Bank to participate in the Easter celebrations." Al-Jildeh pointed out that the permits extend for approximately two weeks, starting from Thursday until Monday, 28 April.

He noted that Israel only granted the permits to those Christian Palestinians who are between 35 and 40 years of age, and as usual prevented any Christians between the ages of 16 and 35 from leaving the enclave for alleged security reasons.

Around 3,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip, which has a total population of about 1.8 million people; most of Gaza's Christians are Greek Orthodox, with a small minority being Roman Catholics.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:57:05 +0000
Youth movements demonstrate in central Cairo against anti-protest law https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/10964-youth-movements-demonstrate-in-central-cairo-against-anti-protest-law https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/10964-youth-movements-demonstrate-in-central-cairo-against-anti-protest-law Human Chain in CairoHundreds of Egyptian political activists from a number of different youth movements organised a human chain in central Cairo on Wednesday, demanding for the interim government to abolish the controversial anti-protest law and release all political prisoners.

Several youth movements had previously announced that a week of activities would be taking place devoted to protest against the new law starting from Saturday and titled "the week to abolish the anti-protest law".

The youth activists held banners reading "Freedom for prisoners", "Free Egypt" and "Free the brave ones", as well as photos of detained activists.

A member of the Revolutionary Socialists movement, Haitham Mohammadein, said: "The anti-protest law is a military decree which prevents demonstrations and denies the youth from claiming their rights." He described the law as "curbing the revolution".

Mohammadein pointed out that since the law was approved in November, nearly 1,037 Egyptians have been imprisoned merely for staging protests. He demanded that the military-backed government release them.

For his part, political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah stated that: "The revolutionary movements will look for new methods to escalate and put pressure on the regime until their demands are met and the law is abolished."

Abdel Fattah noted that the protests will continue until next week, saying that a sit in for women will be organised on Tuesday outside the Federal Palace, east of Cairo, and a march will take place outside the presidential palace on the following Saturday.

Groups supporting the activities include the April 6 movement, the democracy front, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Way of the Revolution movement, the Egypt Strong Party, the Freedom and Justice Party, the Egypt Current Party and other resistance movements.

The Egyptian authorities claim that the law does not deny the right to demonstrate, but merely organises it by requiring any group that wishes to protest to notify the Interior Ministry in advance or face penalties ranging from imprisonment to paying a fine.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:41:28 +0000
Dalia Mogahed: Al-Sisi will fail in uniting Egyptians https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/10963-dalia-mogahed-al-sisi-will-fail-in-uniting-egyptians https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/10963-dalia-mogahed-al-sisi-will-fail-in-uniting-egyptians General SisiAmerican scholar Dalia Mogahed predicted that Al-Sisi will fail to unite Egyptians if he wins the presidential elections.

In an interview with Aljazeera, Mogahed argued that one of the reasons of Morsi's departure was his failure in uniting the Egyptian people.

Mogahed, also an advisor on the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships, pointed out that Egyptian society is currently suffering deep polarisation and that Sisi will not be able to alleviate that.

She argued that the major reason for the hate sentiments prevalent in Egyptian society is the media which significantly contributes to spreading hatred and divisions among Egyptians.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:38:40 +0000
Egypt court sentences 119 Morsi supporters to three years in prison https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/10962-egypt-court-sentences-119-morsi-supporters-to-three-years-in-prison https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/10962-egypt-court-sentences-119-morsi-supporters-to-three-years-in-prison Morsi supporterAn Egyptian court sentenced 119 Mohamed Morsi supporters to three years in jail on charges of illegally protesting last October 6.

On October 6, 2013, more than 50 protesters were killed in the nationwide protests that called for the fall of the military coup and reinstatement of Morsi.

The court acquitted six defendants in the case.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:34:44 +0000
Egypt: Judges step down from case demanding labelling Qatar as "terror-sponsoring country" https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/10961-egypt-judges-step-down-from-case-demanding-labelling-qatar-as-qterror-sponsoring-countryq https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/10961-egypt-judges-step-down-from-case-demanding-labelling-qatar-as-qterror-sponsoring-countryq Qatari flagThe judicial panel hearing the lawsuit that calls for labelling Qatar a "terror-sponsoring country" stepped down from the court, citing "uneasiness", judicial sources said.

The case has been adjourned till Wednesday until another court reviews the case.

Egyptian law allows judges to withdraw from cases citing "uneasiness" without having to state the specific reason for withdrawal.

Samir Sabry, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit, accused Qatar of "hosting fugitive terrorists."

Egypt after the July 3 coup accused Qatar of meddling in Egypt's affairs and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood from which the ousted president hails.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:17:14 +0000
Egypt: Salafi preacher convicted of fraud, sentenced to seven years https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/10960-egypt-salafi-preacher-convicted-of-fraud-sentenced-to-seven-years https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/10960-egypt-salafi-preacher-convicted-of-fraud-sentenced-to-seven-years Egyptian flagThe Cairo Criminal Court convicted Wednesday the Salafi politician Hazem Abu Ismail of fraud and sentenced him to seven years in prison, Reuters news agency reported.

The court charged Abu Ismail with forging his presidential candidacy papers in 2012 by claiming that his late mother did not hold American nationality. The Egyptian prosecution allegedly obtained papers proving that Ismail's mother was an American citizen.

Egyptian law stipulates that parents of presidential candidates must not hold non-Egyptian citizenships.

In Saturday's session, Abu Ismail reportedly protested against the court's appointment of a lawyer to defend him after his lawyer withdrew. According to eyewitnesses, Ismail told the judge: "I feel as though I am not in a court. Are you hiring one of your lawyers to defend me?"

A source told Reuters that Ismail has been sentenced to one years with labour over his argument with the judge in Saturday's hearing.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:13:47 +0000
Solidarity, concessions and complicity https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/10959-solidarity-concessions-and-complicity https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/10959-solidarity-concessions-and-complicity Palestinian flagIn the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the United Nations deems it pertinent to issue a reminder to Palestine with regard to the rapacious imperial benevolence. On April 14, the UN website published a news brief stating that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had spoken to Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu in an effort to salvage the temporarily stalled negotiations.

According to spokesperson Stephanie Dujarric, "The purpose of the calls was to discuss the ongoing efforts to extend the negotiations towards a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine." Dujarric added that Ban "expressed his hope that both leaders will seize the current opening created by US efforts to find a way forward to achieve the two-state solution."

Omitted from the official statement was the reference to Abbas's decision to seek international recognition following Israel's refusal to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners. Instead, reference was made to the 2010 deterioration in negotiations following Netanyahu's refusal to freeze settlement expansion.

The brief report attempted to obliterate the spectacle and its protagonists. As the US, the UN and Israel articulate their concerns and calculated concessions, Palestine remained an inconsequential detail identified solely by expectations of compliance that revert the narrative back to imperialist demands. Israel retained its prestigious inclusion within the oppressive network, allowing itself to be relegated briefly to the periphery in order to provide a context for what the UN describes as a "conflict", as opposed to settler-colonialism. The transition is rectified immediately, as Israel is welcomed back within the coalition that, despite its rhetoric, requires no settlement other than the continuous deterioration of Palestine.

In his speech during the UN International Meeting on the Question of Palestine held in Quito, Ecuador, on March 25, Ban reiterated the alleged commitment to the two-state solution, "with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security". He called upon both parties "to reach an agreement, even if it requires painful concessions."

Renouncing accountability remains an imperative. Even as international law is evoked to declare the settlement expansion illegal, the UN will avoid any insistence for the dismantling of the settler-colonial state. Neither will the UN expound upon its imagined two-state solution, reduced in fact to an improbability which is expected to be constructed upon the remaining fragments of Palestinian land not already expropriated by Israel.

By contrast, the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was mentioned twice, in a manner as ambiguous as the publicised multilingual banners that favour the embellishment of illusion over Palestinian liberation. The solidarity achieved so far by the UN is less than a fragment of what activists have accomplished over decades. However, the glorification of the imperialist institution provides the required impunity to shield it from accountability over its recognition of the settler-colonial state.

The UN would do well to remember that within its vastly and selectively quoted legislation lies enshrined the freedom to resort to legitimate resistance against colonial and military occupation. However, as with other states challenging imperial domination, reference to resistance will never be acknowledged by the UN unless it can be manipulated into the gruesome operation erroneously designated as humanitarian intervention.

With reference to what was uttered in Quito, "painful concessions" do not exist. Not even a substitute of the euphemism used would rectify the damage imposed upon Palestine by the mirage of imposed equality. The UN should obliterate reference to "painful concessions" and acknowledge the accumulated collateral damage or murder, to discover the equation of complicity in supporting the settler-colonial illegality that the organisation seeks to protect.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ramona Wadi) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:07:03 +0000
Human rights abuses by the American forces in Iraq https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/10958-human-rights-abuses-by-the-american-forces-in-iraq https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/10958-human-rights-abuses-by-the-american-forces-in-iraq Stewart SloanThe United Nations and the United States of America are calling for an investigation into human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan government and LTTE. Sadly, one of the regular responses by the Sri Lankan government to the call for accountability is the fact that the UN has never hauled up the US for the now, well documented accusations, of human rights abuses in Iraq, including the horrific torture of literally thousands of detainees. I am not suggesting for one minute that two wrongs make a right or that Sri Lanka should not be held accountable. However, the call by the Sri Lankan government that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones is a valid one.

Following the 'successful defeat' of Saddam Hussein's forces the Americans then had to face an unexpected foe. The Sunnis were rising up in opposition to the 'democracy' that the occupation forces were attempted to impose. The American's found a convenient ally in the form of the Shia that had been brutally oppressed by Saddam. This harassment included chemical weapon attacks which were condemned internationally. However, it is fully documented that the Americans used white phosphorus and napalm on the Iraqi civilians. One of their explanations was that the weapon they were using was not, in fact, napalm but some other weapon. It was later revealed that it was indeed napalm, they had just changed the name.

The Shia were formed into police militias, trained and armed by the American and set lose on the Sunni population in order to quell them. No one knows the exact number of illegal detention cells that were set up by the Shia militia but they were created with the full knowledge of the Americans. Thousands of people were horrendously tortured and one of those methods used was by hanging the victim upside down and using an electric drill on several parts of his body. Once again, this was done with the full knowledge of the Americans, one of them being General David Howell Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq at that time.

Allow me to repeat that the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE must be held accountable to the UN and the international community for crimes against humanity and the human rights abuses committed. However, for the international community not to demand accountability from the United States of America is hypocrisy in the extreme.

Please see the following videos for further information. The videos may not be suitable for some.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Stewart Sloan) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:59:13 +0000
Rouhani: Iran will stand firmly against any state acting against our people's interests https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10957-rouhani-iran-will-stand-firmly-against-any-state-acting-against-our-peoples-interests https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10957-rouhani-iran-will-stand-firmly-against-any-state-acting-against-our-peoples-interests Hassan RouhaniIranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that his country will stand firmly against any country working against the interests of the Iranian people.

In a speech before a crowd in the south eastern city of Zahedan, Iran's Fars news agency quoted Rouhani as saying that his country offers a "hand of friendship" to any state that respects the rights and interests of the Iranian people, while standing firmly in the face of any government or state that works against the interests of his people.

"What made us win over the East, the West and the plots of major powers, including the United States, is our spirit of resistance and the resolve of our defiant men," he said.

Since Rouhani's election last summer, relations between Iran and Western countries have improved after years of US and Israeli-led efforts to isolate Iran.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:55:43 +0000
Qatari construction projects in Gaza worth $400 million approved in one meeting https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10956-qatari-construction-projects-in-gaza-worth-400-million-approved-in-one-meeting https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10956-qatari-construction-projects-in-gaza-worth-400-million-approved-in-one-meeting Qatari construction materials in GazaEXCLUSIVE IMAGES

Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh confirmed on Wednesday that the former Qatari Emir had approved multiple projects to reconstruct the Gaza Strip in just one meeting.

During a tour around the different construction sites in Gaza that are being sponsored by Qatar, Haniyeh revealed that: "All these projects, which are worth about $400 million, were approved in one meeting that lasted for only one hour."

Despite the strict siege of the Gaza Strip, construction on these projects has continued. "What has been completed on these projects is considered an achievement for the Palestinians," he said.

He called upon Egypt to permanently open the Rafah Crossing in order to allow all necessary materials to enter the Strip that sustain everyday life for the people of Gaza. He thanked Egypt for allowing the entrance of the construction materials needed for the Qatari projects.

Haniyeh also thanked the Qatari government for sponsoring the projects and for its efforts to lift the illegal Israeli siege of Gaza, now in its eighth year. He singled out the Qatari measures to supply the Strip with fuel worth $465 million in order to run Gaza's sole electricity plant.

Meanwhile, he thanked the Palestinian engineers, workers and contractors, who are all working on the construction of these projects.

MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:37:04 +0000