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 Thu, 27 Nov 2014 12:47:50 +0000 MEMO en-gb Jordanian Prince to run for FIFA presidency https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15500-jordanian-prince-to-run-for-fifa-presidency https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15500-jordanian-prince-to-run-for-fifa-presidency Sepp Blatter, the current FIFA presidentUEFA officials are encouraging Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, FIFA vice president, to run against FIFA president Sepp Blatter in the coming elections for the presidency.

British tabloid newspaper The Sun said UEFA officials are unhappy with Blatter after allegations of corruption following the assignment of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 games to Qatar.

UEFA president Michel Platini has decided not to run against Blatter, preferring to concentrate on European football. He spoke to the Jordanian Prince to convince him to enter the race after Blatter, 78, announced his intention to run for a fifth term.

According to the Mirror, Ali Bin Al Hussein "is convinced he will have votes from Asia, Europe and the CONCACAF section".

Nominations have to be made before January 31.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 27 Nov 2014 12:42:42 +0000
The Mossad's strategy against BDS https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/inquiry/15499-the-mossads-strategy-against-bds https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/inquiry/15499-the-mossads-strategy-against-bds Former Mossad director Shabtai Shavit had a most notable opinion piece printed in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz this week. Entitled, "For the first time, I fear for the future of Zionism," there are several lessons to learn from this article.

Not the lessons Shavit wants readers to learn of course. He is in no position to instruct anyone in ethics or morality.

One of the world's foremost terrorist organisations, the Mossad is Israel's international spy agency. It is adept at kidnapping and murdering Palestinian activists, writers and scientists. It has also had some successes killing Palestinian political leaders and resistance fighters.

This is the group that in 1972 murdered Palestinian author, playwright and activist Ghassan Kanafani using a car bomb in Beirut. This is the group that in 2011 kidnapped Dirar Abu Sisi, an engineer from Gaza who was visiting family in the Ukraine at the time.

It also kidnapped Mordechai Vanunu, the heroic Israeli dissident who exposed Israel's nuclear programme to the world on the pages of The Sunday Times. For his efforts he was abducted by Mossad thugs off the streets of Rome and, after a show trial, served 18 years in an Israeli jail – most of it in solitary confinement.

The first lesson one can take from Shabtai Shavit's new Haaretz piece is this: Israel is seriously worred about the impact of the Palestinian-led global movement to boycott, divest from and and sanction Israel. Israel has no idea how to address this "threat" to its occupation.

"The global BDS movement," Shavit writes, "has grown, and quite a few Jews are members." This is a significant admission on two fronts. Firstly, this former Israeli intelligence chief is admitting that the movement is having a growing impact on combating Israel's war crimes, racism and various other forms of injustice against the Palestinian people.

Second, the fact that he noted the "increasing number of Jewish students [that] are turning away from Israel." This is important, since "university campuses in the West ... are hothouses for the future leadership of their countries."

The point about Jewish participation in the BDS movement is important, since it undermines Israel's arrogant and false claim to represent all Jewish people, worldwide. Netanyahu even once (in 2011, speaking to the US Congress) claimed that, as prime minister "I speak on behalf of the Jewish people" – rather that of all Israeli citizens (since that would have to include some 1.5 million Palestinians with ostensible Israeli citizenship). It also undermines the typical (and increasingly un-believed) Israeli propaganda line about Palestinian solidarity activists being motivated by anti-Semitism.

Shavit's paragraph conceding the power of BDS is directly followed by a sinister insinuation that: "In this age of asymmetrical warfare we are not using all our force, and this has a detrimental effect on our deterrent power." The meaning here is vague, but it is not too much of a leap to imagine that Shavit is hinting that Israel should start to use force more often in order to deter Palestinian and international BDS activists.

This is not so much of an outlandish notion as it may sound. It is already well documented that Israeli spy agencies are involved in the systematic monitoring, and probably the infiltration, of Palestine solidarity activism around the world.

The Mossad also has the resources and networks of various Zionist organizations to draw on around the world. Groups such as California's "Amacha Initiative" which I and my colleague at The Electronic Intifada Nora Barrows-Friedman exposed at the beginning of this year as having infiltrated and spied on a student delegation to Palestine.

While an Amcha representative refused to comment when we asked if they were sending the information they collected on activists to any Israeli government agencies, there are other groups have have a far more intimate relationship with Israel's international death squads.

Shurat HaDin, led by Israeli lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, presents itself in international media (including in some gullible British papers, such as the Guardian) as a plucky group of "civil rights" lawyers which is "bankrupting terror, one law suit at a time," the reality is far more sinister.

Last year it was revealed that the group is closely linked to Mossad, and acts as a proxy for law suits the Israeli government would like to carry out around the world, but is not able to do so directly due to political considerations.

"The Israeli government has some constraints," Darshan-Leitner explained to a Washington, DC panel in 2012: it "has some problems: they have to be politically correct. They have foreign relationships, they have international treaties they are signed of and they cannot do what private lawyers can do."

Last year it was revealed (thanks to political prisoner and leaker Chelsea Manning) in a US embassy cable that Nitsana Darshan-Leitner in 2007 confided that her group "took direction ... on which cases to pursue" and "receives evidence" from the Mossad and from Israel's National Security Council.

This is in direct contradiction to public claims, such as on its website which states it is a "fully independent" organization "unaffiliated with any political party or governmental body."

Whether or not Shavit is really advocating a more aggressive strategy against international solidarity with Palestine, and whether or not his advice is listened to, only time will tell.

My next column will address the second notable aspect of Shavit's piece.

An associate editor with The Electronic Intifada, Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Asa Winstanley) frontpage Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:57:40 +0000
Jordan has to balance between security and basic freedoms https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15498-jordan-has-to-balance-between-security-and-basic-freedoms https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15498-jordan-has-to-balance-between-security-and-basic-freedoms It has become apparent that the official policy of the Jordanian government is heading towards zero tolerance of armed Salafi jihadist ideology. There is also clear opposition to Jordan's participation in the international coalition against ISIS, and sometimes there are calls for reform.

This trend was identified during the summer when the General Assembly in Amman passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act which expands the definition of terrorism. This can now be exploited in order to accuse and prosecute individual activists and peaceful opposition. Similar laws have also been passed in other Arab countries over the past few months, leaving a large gap between what the countries say and do.

The message became clear after Zaki Bani Irsheid, the Muslim Brotherhood's deputy secretary-general in Jordan, was arrested a few nights ago. He is due to appear before the State Security Court on charges of "committing acts not permitted by the state that may sour Jordan's relations with a foreign country". Bani Irsheid published an article on Facebook in which he accused the UAE government of "supporting terrorism" in response to the Emirates including the Brotherhood on its list of "terrorist organisations". His article prompted official concerns over Abu Dhabi's reaction, due to the fact that the UAE is a member of the international coalition to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria and a main donor to Jordan's treasury. In addition, more than 220,000 Jordanians work in the Emirates.

The decision to arrest Bani Irsheid is problematic, as is the man himself. There are those who believe that it is of the utmost importance to protect national security and Jordan's interests, and that this outweighs human rights and freedom of expression. This is claimed to be especially true since the criticism in this case was made by a man who holds a senior position in the Brotherhood; the movement appears not to have understood the government's message that it may be tolerated in the kingdom but this does not mean that it can challenge and undermine the state. On the other hand, human rights activists, lawyers and politicians believe that the official reaction was based on emotion and "made a mountain out of a molehill", lowering Jordan's human rights standards to those of neighbouring Arab states.

Bani Irsheid's arrest raises other questions. What if the writer of an article published in a local newspaper accused the prime minister of Israel of terrorism or if an activist organised a demonstration calling on the people not to buy Israeli goods? What if he cursed the US president and accused him of being a spy for the Freemasons? Both Israel and the US are allies of Jordan and America provides the kingdom with millions of dollars annually in financial and military aid. I am certain that there would be no repercussions or consequences for the author of such allegations because a country like America respects freedom of opinion and US presidents are accustomed to criticism of their performance.

Following the Bani Irsheid experience, the Jordanians will now be subject to the Arab standard for human rights, which are different to those of the West. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that activists and others who criticise official decisions will be prosecuted by the State Security Court, not the civil courts. Instead of being accused of slander and defamation in accordance with the Penal Code, they will be charged alongside people who use violent means to make political points.

We must remember that the threat to the democratic process and political reform, or any means of establishing a "civil state", is posed not only by Takfirist ideology and the dark acts of politicised religious groups but also by the security mentality, which does not believe in the value of citizens nor is it concerned about diversity in public discourse. This mentality is a slave to injustice and oppression because it sees itself as the absolute truth and respects neither pluralism nor public opinion.

Of course, Jordanians are very aware that their country is in the eye of the storm, with threats from the east, west and the north in an extremely unstable region. They are also aware that they must be protected from the "ideology and evils" of extremist time bombs which can explode at any moment. In light of the uncertainty of the situation characterised by a collective fear of terrorism, Jordanians understand the government's decision to ban 30 imams from preaching, as well as the prosecution of their fellow citizens accused of "joining armed groups or terrorist organisations and promoting them", including ISIS and Al-Nusra Front.

However, this does not mean we have to sacrifice our rights to free expression, media freedom and human rights for the sake of national security and stability, even though it is regarded as essential for those states fearful of the chaos within the region since the outbreak of the Arab revolutions and protests in 2011. Such chaos has allowed the spread of radical Takfirist ideology that has crossed all borders in the Middle East and which has support in almost every Arab country that suffers from poverty, unemployment, ignorance and exclusion, as well as an absence of justice in the distribution of the benefits arising from national development. Nor does it mean that Jordanians will accept restrictions on their general freedoms or allow legitimate fears and concerns to be used to gag the people and violate their basic human rights.

International law acknowledges that the protection of "public order and national security" is a legitimate goal that may call for restrictions on certain rights for its preservation in "limited and narrowly defined situations". Regardless of what happened with Bani Irsheid or anyone else, though, in Jordan we must respect the need for security and freedom without violating or diminishing basic rights and freedoms. It is a tough tightrope upon which the government has to walk, but it has to get the balance right.

Translated from AlGhad newspaper, 26 November, 2014

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Rana Sabbagh) frontpage Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:52:15 +0000
British High Court order opens door for potential prosecution of Egyptian cabinet members https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/15497-uk-high-court-order-opens-door-for-potential-prosecution-of-egyptian-cabinet-members https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/15497-uk-high-court-order-opens-door-for-potential-prosecution-of-egyptian-cabinet-members ITN SolicitorsBelow is the full text from a press release by ITN Solicitors, a leading Criminal and Human Rights law firm based in London.

The Crown Prosecution Service has agreed to an Order, sealed at the High Court in London on 26 November 2014, making the potential for prosecution of members of the Egyptian cabinet a very real prospect in the United Kingdom.

The Order confirms that members of the Egyptian Cabinet can be investigated for international crimes, including torture, with a view to their future prosecution even though they are currently members of the cabinet.

The Order was agreed by the Crown Prosecution Service during Judicial Review proceedings which had been lodged on behalf of the Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) at the High Court in London. The legal team was led by former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Ken Macdonald QC and included leading lawyers Rodney Dixon QC, Tayab Ali and Ravi Naik.

On 28 February 2014 a dossier prepared on behalf of the FJP was submitted to the War Crimes Team of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, SO15. The Metropolitan Police agreed to meet with the lawyers of the FJP and subsequently opened an investigation into the allegations contained in the dossier. Those allegations have the potential to implicate members of the 2013 post-coup Egyptian cabinet and members of the military and security services in crimes against humanity including torture and including involvement in the deaths of thousands of unarmed protestors at Rabaa Square.

On 3 March 2014, consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions was requested for a private arrest warrant for the Egyptian Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade, Mr Mounir Fakhry Abdel Noor, as he was travelling to the United Kingdom.

The Crown Prosecution Service responded on 4March 2014 stating that it considered that Mr Noor's ministerial positon "would attract personal immunity under customary international law". Following this decision Judicial Review proceedings were lodged in the High Court with a view to overturning the CPS's position on immunity.

However, prior to the Judicial Review, the CPS stated that they had not asserted that Mr Noor and others in the cabinet have immunity. The CPS agreed to this position in the High Court Order confirming that "they had not made a decision that Mr Noor (and other members on the cabinet) are immune" from prosecution.

The CPS also agreed to inform the Metropolitan Police that "issues of immunity do not preclude investigations into allegations against persons still in office, irrespective of their function, for the purpose of future prosecution". The FJP and CPS agreed to a High Court Order stating that "immunity is not a bar to the investigation of Mounir Fakhry Abdel Noor and others that have been named in the course of the proceedings".

Tayab Ali, a member of the legal team instructed by the FJP said that "Today's High Court Order marks an important step in international criminal justice. The confirmation received from the CPS that they have not made a decision that members of the Egyptian cabinet are immune from prosecution and the agreement that immunity will not prevent the police investigation for the purpose of future prosecutions is a clear signal that there are fewer and fewer safe havens for those suspected of committing international crimes. My client will continue to assist with the police's investigation".

Tayab Ali added "We should remember that these crimes are not historic ones. Thousands are still detained in Egypt including Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's only democratically elected civilian President. Hundreds still face the death penalty following show trials which breached the most basic human rights norms. The outcome of these Judicial Review proceedings should make those in all governments think very carefully about complicity in criminal acts".

View the court order

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:55:38 +0000
Difficult living conditions increase cases of child labour in Syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15496-difficult-living-conditions-increase-cases-of-child-labour-in-syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15496-difficult-living-conditions-increase-cases-of-child-labour-in-syria Syrian refugee children on the streetsThere has been an increase in the number of Syrian children who are forced into employment because of the unrest in their country, the loss of the family's income, or the loss of the main breadwinner.

Many children have left school to work and support their families; they work selling bread, cigarettes and other commodities on the pavements, or work in grocers.

Safi Nofil, a child from the Idlib suburbs, said he was forced to work to support his family because of the price increases which the country has seen.

Children as young as seven and eight years old are being forced to work, especially those who have been orphaned, as there are not international children's organisations operating in the country.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:48:15 +0000
Israel renews Sheikh Raed Salah's travel ban https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15495-israel-renews-sheikh-raed-salahs-travel-ban https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15495-israel-renews-sheikh-raed-salahs-travel-ban Sheikh Raed SalahIsraeli security authorities issued on Wednesday an order to extend its travel ban imposed on Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement inside Israel, until 9 January 2015, Pls48 news website reported.

The order that the Israeli authorities handed to Sheikh Salah was signed by Interior Minister Gilad Erdan and claimed that his traveling abroad would "harm Israel's security".

Commenting on the news, Sheikh Salah said that: "Although the Israeli authorities seek to put me physically under siege, they cannot silence my voice, because my voice is the voice of every free person in our Muslim nation, the Arab world and among the Palestinian people, and this voice cannot be silenced or broken because it is the voice of righteousness in the face of the Israeli occupation."

He told Pls48 that: "It seems the Israeli authorities are trying to harm the Palestinian will and our youth through such repressive and violent policies. Israel is under the illusion that these racist practices can succeed in breaking our will, killing the resolve of the people of Jerusalem and ending their ability to stand up to Israel's policies against Al-Aqsa Mosque."

Sheikh Salah added that he was certain Israel would regret resorting to such policies.

He pointed to the state of hysteria and confusion that the Israeli authorities are currently going through, which is prompting them "to execute our people in Jerusalem, as well as the martyr Khier Hamdan in Kar Kana in Hebron."

"They are also proposing a list of racist laws against us, laws that could have very ugly implications, including deporting us from our land."

But in spite of all this, Sheikh Salah noted that, "Our strategy is clear and irreversible, which is the strategy of stability and remaining on our land."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:46:06 +0000
Ennahda's deputy chief prevented from entering the US https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15494-ennahdas-deputy-chief-prevented-from-entering-the-us https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15494-ennahdas-deputy-chief-prevented-from-entering-the-us Abdelfattah MourouThe deputy chief of Tunisian Islamist movement Ennahda, Abdelfattah Mourou, announced on Wednesday that he has been prevented from travelling to the US.

Anadolu news agency reported that Mourou was invited to attend a conference organised by Palestinian-Americans in Chicago, but in transit he was asked to leave the plane for unknown reasons that he expects are "administrative" only.

Mourou told Tunisian radio that: "The Tunisian security took my wife and I off the plane, which was heading to Germany and then to the United States."

He said that the Tunisian security at first told him that the German authorities had refused him, but later on he was informed that it was the US that had done so.

"It is clear that it is an administrative problem," he said, according to Anadolu. "I do not expect it is political, and I do not want to create ambiguities or make any suggestions that this is the US's position towards the Tunisian political Islam and Ennahda."

Mourou said that he had visited the US more than ten times in the past.

The American embassy in Tunis has stated that it did not have any information on the ban.

Mourou further pointed out that he has not been listed on any of the American blacklists, noting his visa is valid and the embassy is working on resolving the situation.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:37:49 +0000
UNICEF: 425,000 children in Gaza need immediate psychosocial support https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15493-unicef-425000-children-in-gaza-need-immediate-psychosocial-support https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15493-unicef-425000-children-in-gaza-need-immediate-psychosocial-support Children in GazaMore than 400,000 children in Gaza need "immediate psychosocial and child protection support" following Israel's devastating assault, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The data is contained in an October report produced by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

At least 538 Palestinian children are confirmed killed by Israeli military attacks during so-called 'Operation Protective Edge', says UNICEF. More than two-thirds of the child fatalities, 68 percent, were 12 years old or younger.

The UN agency reports that nearly 425,000 children in Gaza are in need of immediate psychosocial and child protection support, including at least 3,373 injured children (some with permanent disabilities), as well as more than 1,500 children who were orphaned.

All require urgent support "to deal with acute levels of psychosocial distress and vulnerability at a time when several neighbourhoods and villages of the Gaza Strip still lie in ruins."

The report includes the story of 10-year-old Shaima from Shuja'iyya in eastern Gaza City, who, like many others, is regularly seen at home by a counsellor.

Her neighbourhood is "now mostly reduced to a vast expanse of rubble" with "the threat of explosive remnants" looming "around every corner."

During Israel's offensive, Shaima's family sought shelter in her grandfather's apartment, only for shrapnel from an Israeli shell to kill her father, Adel, and her sister, 2-year-old Dima.

"I saw my uncle carrying my sister. I realized her head was cut off in the shelling. I didn't look at my father's body because I was afraid his wounds were as bad. I ran away... I cannot sing anymore. I think of my dad and my sister who are dead. I feel guilty."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:33:35 +0000
Ban Ki-moon calls for an end to Israeli occupation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15492-ban-ki-moon-calls-for-an-end-to-israeli-occupation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15492-ban-ki-moon-calls-for-an-end-to-israeli-occupation The United Nations the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People held a special session in the General Assembly on Monday marking the anniversary of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which is held on November 29 every year.

In a statement to mark the occasion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to the Israeli occupation, lifting the siege on Gaza and taking steps to ensure Israeli security as a way to resolving the conflict between the two sides.

Ban pointed out: "Much more must be done to protect civilians and abide by international human rights and humanitarian law." Stressing: "On this day of solidarity, our hearts turn to the many Palestine refugees in Gaza and beyond".

The secretary-general said that achieving stability in the region is tied to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which "means lifting the closure on Gaza, ending the half-century occupation of Palestinian land and addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns".

He also "denounced Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem".

"On this International Day of Solidarity, I call on the parties to step back from the brink. The mindless cycle of destruction must end. The virtuous circle of peace must begin," Ban said.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:33:32 +0000
Pentagon: 'No connection between Hagel's resignation and US strategy against ISIS' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15491-pentagon-no-connection-between-hagels-resignation-and-us-strategy-against-isis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15491-pentagon-no-connection-between-hagels-resignation-and-us-strategy-against-isis The spokesman for the US Department of Defence John Kirby denied any connection between US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel's resignation and the American strategy in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

"There's no connection between the Secretary's resignation and the strategy we're pursuing against ISIL [ISIS]," Kirby said at a Pentagon press briefing.

In a press statement issued today by the US Department of Defence, Kirby confirmed that the US-led coalition against ISIS is progressing strongly and that Kurdish and Iraq forces were able to regain some of the territory that was seized by the organisation over the past few months. The military official said the United States will continue its aerial support of the Iraqi army, in addition to providing support and advice of military forces on the ground.

Hagel's departure was "a mutual decision arrived at between the President and the Secretary of Defence," Kirby said. "It would be inaccurate to characterize it as anything other than that. It's not that he didn't want to stay on the job. It's that they both decided he had accomplished a lot."

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Hagel's resignation came as a result of a series of consultations that took place between him and US President Barack Obama during which the two sides agreed that it was time to make changes at the Pentagon, and that it would prove beneficial for someone else to lead the Department of Defence during Obama's remaining two years as president.

"This is based on a conversation between the two of them about what the next two years of this administration is going to look like," Earnest said. "And based on what those priorities are going to be over the next two years, both men determined that it was an appropriate time for Secretary Hagel to step down."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:30:14 +0000
Demonstration outside Moroccan parliament calls for protection of women against violence and harassment https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/15490-demonstration-outside-moroccan-parliament-calls-for-protection-of-women-against-violence-and-harassment https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/15490-demonstration-outside-moroccan-parliament-calls-for-protection-of-women-against-violence-and-harassment Dozens of Moroccan women protested in front of parliament in Rabat on Tuesday, demanding protection from violence and harassment, as well as legal protection for their dignity.

The demonstration organised by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (the largest human rights association in Morocco) was held on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Protestors chanted slogans calling on the Moroccan authorities to swiftly pass a law to combat violence against women and to provide them with protection from sexual harassment and violence. The protestors also called for societal integration equal to that of Moroccan men.

The Moroccan government has expressed on several occasions its intention to proceed with the implementation of a bill launched in May 2013 tackling the issue of gender inequality. The bill is expected to be implemented in 2016.

The law intends to combat a number of issues in Moroccan civil society including violence against women, sexual harassment and unequal access to education, as well as underage marriage.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:28:04 +0000
South Yemen separatist movement demands Russian support https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15489-south-yemen-separatist-movement-demands-russian-support https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15489-south-yemen-separatist-movement-demands-russian-support Supporters of a southern Yemeni separatist movement sent a letter to the Russian consulate in Aden yesterday asking for support as they attempt to secede from northern Yemen.

Members of the separatist movement recalled the strong relationship they previously had with the Russian Federation before 1990 in their appeal.

In their letter, the advisory board to the separatist movement said: "We strongly urge Russia to adopt the issue of southern Yemen as quickly as possible and we ask the United Nations to implement the charters that support the people's right to self-determination in our case."

It also called on the international community to come to the aid of Yemeni protestors who have been subjected to "violence and human rights violations by the regime". Demonstrations began last June when camps were set up in central Aden as a way of demanding secession from the north.

The letter to the Russian consulate called upon Russia to remember the strong relationship that was enjoyed by the two countries during the Cold War. Russia supported southern Yemeni separatist movements until unification with northern Yemen was achieved in 1990. Southern Yemeni demands for secession resurfaced in 2007; however, the movement quickly turned into a question of restoring stolen land and territory.

A national dialogue conference was held in January to discuss the shape of a new Yemeni state consisting of six provinces, four in the north and two in the south.

North Yemen and South Yemen merged to form a unified state 1990, but the differences between the leaders of the ruling coalition, coupled with southern complaints of marginalisation and exclusion, led to the declaration of a civil war that lasted for months in 1994.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:25:37 +0000
Jordan and UAE complete joint military exercise https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15488-jordan-and-uae-complete-joint-military-exercise https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15488-jordan-and-uae-complete-joint-military-exercise The Jordanian and Emirati armies performed a joint military exercise yesterday in Jordan.

Jordan's King Abdullah II, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for National Security in the UAE, Saif Sultan Al-Aryani, and the commander of the presidency in the UAE, and a number of senior Jordanian Armed Forces officers were all present at the training site, according to their official website.

The training exercise included firing live ammunition from various weapons and military vehicles in built up areas. There was also aerial support from both Jordanian and Emirati military aircrafts.

The goal behind the military training was for personnel from both countries to learn from one another and exchange military expertise as well as implement skills and manoeuvres that would improve the overall performance of each army.

There is currently a joint Arab-Western coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) which currently controls large areas in both Syria and Iraq. Last June, members of ISIS declared that they had established a caliphate state in the areas under their control.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:20:59 +0000
Turkey condemns airstrike on Libya airport https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/15487-turkey-condemns-airstrike-on-libya-airport https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/15487-turkey-condemns-airstrike-on-libya-airport Turkey strongly condemned on Wednesday the airstrikes by the Libyan air force at the Mitiga Airport in Libya's capital Tripoli.

"The airstrikes have worsened the existing problems in Libya and are undermining the efforts to resolve the crisis by peaceful means," the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a written statement.

The Mitiga Airport in Tripoli, which was recently seized by the Islamist "Dawn of Libya" militia group, was shut Tuesday after being struck by warplanes for the second time in less than 24 hours.

Mitiga was the only functioning airport in Tripoli after the city's main airport was destroyed in August in clashes between rival militias.

"The crisis in Libya can only be resolved by stopping foreign intervention, ensuring a cease-fire and an inclusive political dialogue," the statement said.

The ministry also called on all the parties in Libya to support the UN efforts that are trying to establish dialogue in the country.

Libya has been dogged by political instability since the 2011 ouster and death of long-ruling strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Ever since, rival militias have frequently locked horns, often bringing violence to the country's main cities, especially Benghazi and the capital Tripoli.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:25:25 +0000
Hamas: 'We have alternatives should reconstruction fail' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15486-hamas-we-have-alternatives-should-reconstruction-fail https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15486-hamas-we-have-alternatives-should-reconstruction-fail Hamas has options should the parties charged with reconstructing the Gaza Strip fail to do so, a senior member of the group said yesterday.

Deputy leader Mousa Abu-Marzouk told Palestine TV that the group has other options if the parties fail to rebuild Gaza.

Adding that UN envoy Robert Serry "has no plan for reconstruction and Hamas has not accepted any plan verbally or in writing." Adding: "All Serry asked as for was to safeguard the movements of UN staff in Gaza."

Previously, Abu-Marzouk announced that his movement did not accept Serry's reconstruction plan, which included heavy monitoring for construction materials, as this would delay the construction process. He described reports that he had given his personal approval to the plan as lies.

He wrote on Facebook that the plan was never presented to the movement and that neither he nor any other member of the organisation agreed to it. Saying Hamas would use all its political and social prowess to modify the plan.

He said that all attempts by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sidestep Hamas would fail, stressing that Hamas would not leave Gaza employees and any partial solution to their problem would be rejected.

Abu-Marzouk said that the anti-Israeli operations taking place in Jerusalem are all being carried out by individuals and this reflects the resistance culture among Palestinians and this temporarily halted the Israeli division of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:13:12 +0000
Refugees of the Revolution: Experiences of Palestinian Exile https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/book-review/15485-refugees-of-the-revolution-experiences-of-palestinian-exile https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/book-review/15485-refugees-of-the-revolution-experiences-of-palestinian-exile Author: Diana Allan
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Published Date: 30 October 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0804774925

Review by Dr Walaa Ramadan

Diana Allan gives a powerful account of the Palestinian refugee experience today providing a provocative ethnographic examination of everyday life in the Shatila camp in Beirut. This retrospective scholarly gaze is presented by anthropologist and filmmaker Allan who founds and co-directs the Nakba Archive, a testimonial project that has recorded filmed interviews with over 500 first-generation Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon. The author has observed first-hand the lives of Palestinians in the Lebanese camps in the 2000s which has no doubt enabled her to provide such an in-depth account.

Read the full review on our Palestine Book Awards site.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Dr Walaa Ramadan) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:04:26 +0000
Is sacrificing the Brotherhood the basis for reconciliation? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/15484-is-sacrificing-the-brotherhood-the-basis-for-reconciliation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/15484-is-sacrificing-the-brotherhood-the-basis-for-reconciliation The recent Gulf-Gulf reconciliation seems the most serious out of the attempts over the last two years in an effort to re-organise and re-arrange internal Gulf affairs. The return of the Saudi Arabian, Bahraini and the Emirati ambassadors to Doha reflects a desire to "turn a new page" with the state. However, the reunion that has been imposed by the regional circumstances raises questions, especially in terms of the Egyptian-Qatari issue, regarding the bases and foundations on which it is based and whether they are stable and solid enough to build on.

Egypt's welcoming of King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz's invitation for Cairo to join the reconciliation seemed to stem from a desire to repay Riyadh after it supported President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi since he overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood rule. Egypt's response was in no way due to its conviction that the estrangement and isolation of Doha should end, as Cairo accuses Doha of supporting the Brotherhood as well as the Takfirist groups in Sinai and Libya. The statement made by Egypt did not even refer to Qatar by name. When Al-Sisi was asked about the reconciliation in Rome, he gave a brief answer and put the ball in Qatar's court.

Doha surprised everyone at the beginning of the month when it took a positive position towards Cairo during the UN Human Rights Council, praising its new constitution. It also took initiative not too long ago and expelled Muslim Brotherhood leaders. Despite the strong setback suffered by his country due to the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad, was the first to congratulate Al-Sisi, as well as Adly Mansour, before him, on their new roles.

Theoretically, such messages are considered positive signs from an opposing country, however, Qatar's demagoguery is in no way a solid foundation upon which anything can be built, especially at a time when the media front, in particular, on both sides, are exchanging violent "attacks" sufficient enough to undermine any positive message or indications. Even after the Saudi monarch called on the "public opinion leaders and media outlets" to seek to achieve reconciliation, the bickering on both sides continued.

In addition to this, there have been no updates or actions taken regarding the Al-Jazeera journalists detained in Egypt, except the statement made by Al-Sisi saying that the issuance of a presidential pardon is "under consideration".

On the Brotherhood front, the Egyptian authorities' arrest of Mohammed Ali Bishr, one of the most prominent Muslim Brotherhood leaders outside prison, merely hours after welcoming Saudi Arabia's call to support the Riyadh agreement, raised eyebrows. Although some have linked this measure to the protests planned by the Islamists next Friday, others saw it as a clear message to Qatar that any reconciliation or rapprochement would not include the Brotherhood.

The Qatar-Egypt reconciliation requires more than just good intentions. All eyes are focused on the next Gulf summit to be held in Doha and what signs may appear regarding the foundations for this reconciliation. Will the Brotherhood's head be one of these foundations?

Translated from Annahar newspaper, 26 November, 2014

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Monalisa Freiha) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:14:01 +0000
Why is the Muslim charity Interpal being blacklisted as a terrorist organisation? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/15483-why-is-the-muslim-charity-interpal-being-blacklisted-as-a-terrorist-organisation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/15483-why-is-the-muslim-charity-interpal-being-blacklisted-as-a-terrorist-organisation Today is a difficult time for a Muslim charity in Britain. For all your hard work, you risk being reviled, smeared and branded a terrorist organisation.

The Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, known as Interpal, is one such charity. Interpal provides humanitarian aid, education, health and community development in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon. It celebrates its 20th anniversary today.

Headquartered in London, with offices in Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford and Leicester, Interpal runs a registered and staffed field office in the Gaza Strip.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) publicly recognises Interpal as an indispensable partner. With refugees fleeing Syria's bloody conflict and a huge relief effort under way in Gaza in the aftermath of the latest war with Israel, their work has never been so vital.

Interpal has many supporters. Fellow aid workers, distinguished academics and doctors have described its work as heroic. Sir Terence English, the pre-eminent cardiac surgeon, and Oliver McTernan, who was involved in peace talks in the 1990s Kosovo conflict and now runs Forward Thinking, a charity aimed at improving relations between Muslims and the West, hold Interpal in high regard.

But over the last 18 years, the charity has fought an extraordinary battle against the odds to keep running. Media speculation and a series of unsubstantiated and vicious allegations stretching back to 1996 accusing the group of supporting Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist organisation, has prompted three Charity Commission enquiries, all of which have cleared it of wrongdoing and misuse of funds.

In 2003 the United States designated Interpal a terrorist organisation, which has meant its banking facilities have been severely restricted.

Since 2008, Interpal has not had regular banking facilities, including credit card donations and a direct debit service. For a group whose outgoings were over £5m in 2012, this is a huge problem. Many observers have said it is a miracle the charity is still running.

Last autumn 38 MPs signed an Early Day Motion recognising Interpal's humanitarian work in Palestine. It called "on the Government to press the US administration to rescind its damaging designation of Interpal".

All this seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The truth is that Islamic charities in the UK find themselves in choppy waters as they face extraordinary scrutiny and pressure. In recent weeks, as David Cameron awarded the Charity Commission extra powers to investigate "extremism", this has escalated.

Interpal's troubles started in 1996 when the Charity Commission launched its first investigation into allegations the charity funded Hamas and had links to a number of Hamas militants.

The charity was designated a terrorist organisation by the US in August 2003 for allegedly supporting Hamas' political and militant wing.

A US Treasury spokesperson said: "Treasury designated Interpal for its support to the terrorist organisation, Hamas, which exploits the charitable sector to raise funds and cultivate support for its violent activities. Interpal was a principal charity used to hide the flow of money to Hamas, including through the use of other charities."

But what was behind the US's blacklisting of Interpal – and was it justified?

Much of it was linked to its post-9/11 clampdown on Islamic charities, part of the "War on Terror". Many were shut down and their assets seized, such as the famous case of the Holy Land Foundation, the biggest Muslim charity in the US at the time. In 2008 five members of the Holy Land were convicted of dozens of charges, including supporting a terrorist group. The group was never accused of directly financing terrorism, but funding it indirectly through Hamas infrastructure projects. Critics said the case was politically motivated.

In the months before the designation, the US also came under intense pressure from Israel to pursue Hamas' funding after a suicide bombing by two British Muslims at Mike's Bar in Tel Aviv in April 2003 that killed three Israelis, commentators say.

In any case Washington's decision led to the second Charity Commission inquiry into Interpal in 2003, which cleared the group of wrongdoing again. The commission said US authorities failed to provide evidence to back up its claims.

Nevertheless, despite vindication from the UK Charity Commission, the US's designation of Interpal was to cause huge financial problems for the charity – and still does – sparking yet more vicious allegations against it, fed by a drip feed of spurious media reports.

In 2005 Interpal won a libel case against the Board of Deputies of British Jews two years after it denounced Interpal a terrorist organisation on its website. It issued a retraction.

Families of victims of suicide bombings in Israel filed a court case in the US in early 2006 against NatWest, Interpal's bank at the time, for offering services to charity linked to Hamas.

Last year a US district judge threw out these cases involving NatWest and Interpal, saying there was no evidence that the group funds Hamas-supporting charities or that Natwest knowingly facilitated Interpal's alleged provision of money to these charities.

A US appeals court, however, revived the lawsuits against NatWest in September.

The Jerusalem Post was forced to apologise to Interpal in 2006 and NatWest for an article containing remarks that said the charity was connected to a terrorist organisation.

Three years later a BBC Panorama programme accused Interpal of funding organisations in the Palestinian territories that supported the extremist ideology of Hamas and claimed there were personal links between the charity's chief trustee, Essam Mustafa, and Hamas. The programme provoked a furious response from then Labour MP Phyllis Starkey, who branded the film "disgraceful" and accused it of "recycling allegations that have been found by the Charity Commission to have no validity".

She said it relied on evidence which was "guilt by association", pointing out that it was likely Hamas officials would be involved in Palestinian charities as the party had just won the largest vote in the recent elections.

The Panorama film sparked the third Charity Commission investigation between 2006 and 2009 that probed a very similar line: that the charity supported the ideology of Hamas by using local partners that were closely linked to group.

The commission for the third time found insufficient evidence to support the claims. However it found that the charity needed to be more rigorous when it came to choosing and monitoring local partners.

It also called on Interpal to sever its ties with an umbrella organisation of a number of charities called Union for Good, which the US designated in 2008, saying it funnelled money to organisations controlled by Hamas. The commission also said Interpal trustee Essam Mustafa could not continue as General Secretary of Union for Good and instructed the charity to publish guidelines related to its work with local partners in the Middle East.

Interpal did exactly what the Charity Commission asked. In 2012 the commission published a report, saying it was satisfied Interpal had complied with its statutory orders following its inquiry.

The US designation has unfairly stained Interpal's name, but it has also affected it financially. NatWest said it could no longer offer banking services to Interpal in 2007.

In 2008 Lloyds TSB said it could not offer clearing services to Interpal, which has an account with the Islamic Bank of Britain, a Lloyds subsidiary.

Lloyds declined to comment. HSBC and the Co-operative Bank have also refused Interpal accounts.

Since Interpal has had no normal banking services, it has no direct debit facility and donations can't be made by credit card. It has to rely on cash donations at events and fund-raisers through third parties. Both Interpal chairman Ibrahim Hewitt and trustee Essam Mustafa are barred from travelling to the US, Israel, Canada and Australia.

Since the last Charity Commission investigation, Interpal has gone to great lengths to be as transparent as it can.

An impressive 80-page compliance manual lists a set of strict guidelines that the charity must operate within. Major activities undertaken by the group are risk-assessed.

What is more, the group has almost entirely stopped working with local partners in Gaza. Funding proposals are dealt with by its local office there and money is disbursed directly to projects.

Interpal trustee Essam Mustafa strenuously denies the charity has ever misused funds. He says when the charity used to work with local partners, it chose only to partner with ones approved by the local authority. Before 2006 all local charities and their boards in Gaza were registered and approved by the Israeli authorities anyway, he points out.

"They [Israel] can remove board members if they see that they are not fit for the position and if there were Hamas activists then why would they keep them?" asked Mr Mustafa.

Jonathan Benthall, an associate fellow at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at Manchester University, knows Interpal well and has worked on high-level reconciliation efforts between Western governments and Islamic charities.

He said: "Interpal has kept the most meticulous records, as much as any other international charity working in the Middle East. When they send money to orphans in the West Bank, they take the social security number of the orphan even if it's $50 that's being given.

"It seems to me what they are doing is currently above suspicion and they are playing things very clean," he added.

Vindication from no less than three Charity Commission investigations tells a story. So does the barrage of newspaper allegations over the years, many of which have led to the publication in question apologising to the charity and retracting its claims. Commentators suggest that if the US and Israel had any evidence that Interpal is actually funding Hamas terrorism, they would have closed down the group long ago and prosecuted its senior staff.

Bewildering, too, is the stance of the British government, caught between the decisions of the US government and the Charity Commission. What has it done to apply serious pressure on the US to lift the terrorist designation on Interpal, if it has at all? Could it have done more? If commercial interests were at stake the UK government would surely act, but Interpal is not a famous British company and no trade deal is at stake.

It is true that Interpal's Essam Mustafa continues to arouse suspicion over his alleged links to Hamas. In late 2013 he was attacked by the media for appearing in a video next to Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, appearing to participate in an anti-Israeli song that praises Hamas' military wing, Al Qassam Brigades, and martyrdom.

Mr Mustafa said he only raised his finger during the chant when it praised Islam and not in others parts of the song.

But as Interpal's Hewitt points out and others with knowledge of humanitarian work in Gaza, it is almost impossible not to deal with Hamas, the ruling political party in the territory before the unity deal earlier this year, if you're a charity working there.

Oliver McTernan, director of Forward Thinking, who describes Interpal's treatment as "completely out of order", thinks Mr Mustafa's meeting with the Hamas leader is "totally appropriate".

"Anyone senior visiting Gaza who is doing humanitarian work, who has staff in Gaza, who are dependent on the security of the de facto government [Hamas] there, it is totally appropriate for them to make time to see the prime minister [Haniyeh]. Engagement is not endorsement," he said.

Interpal's work in the Middle East is hugely challenging, but it is made harder by the restrictions placed on it. Britain likes to promote fairness and tolerance, but those are two words that aren't applicable to Interpal's experience over the last two decades in the UK. If Interpal or any of its staff are guilty of a crime, it should face justice, if not it should be left unhindered to continue its vital work

"If there's been illegal activity then by all means stop it, but don't drive people down who are trying to do good work," says Mr Hewitt.

Happy birthday Interpal! And keep up your fine humanitarian work.

This article was first published on The Telegraph on Thursday the 26th of November 2014.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Alex Delmar-Morgan and Peter Oborne) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:05:25 +0000
Israeli president stands against Jewish state law https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15482-israeli-president-stands-against-jewish-state-law https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15482-israeli-president-stands-against-jewish-state-law Israeli President Reuven Rivlin voiced his opposition to Likud's Jewish state law which threatens the coalition government, local media reported on Monday.

Speaking in a conference in Eilat, he criticised the elevation of the state's Jewish identity over its democratic sensibilities, arguing that the two elements should remain equal.

Rivlin said: "Therefore, the declaration not only determines the complete equality of social rights for all its citizens, but religious, language, educational and cultural rights. The founding fathers of the State of Israel, envisioned a state whose Jewish nature and democratic nature, were as one."

Adding: "So, we should ask ourselves seriously, what is the point of the proposed law?"

"Does this proposal not in fact encourage us to seek contradiction between the Jewish and democratic characters of the state? Does this bill not in fact play into the hands of those who seek to slander us? Into the very hands of those who wish to show, that even amongst us, there are those who see contradiction between our being a free people in our land, and the freedoms of the non-Jewish communities in our midst?"

The Jerusalem Post reported Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog saying: "Only a prime minister who lacks confidence needs a Jewish state bill to justify himself."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:44:56 +0000
UNRWA's Chris Gunness slams "callousness" of Israel's Gaza assault https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15481-unrwas-chris-gunness-slams-qcallousnessq-of-israels-gaza-assault https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15481-unrwas-chris-gunness-slams-qcallousnessq-of-israels-gaza-assault Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), slammed Tuesday what he called the "callousness" of Israel's summer assault on the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at a symposium in London to mark the 20th anniversary of UK-based charity Interpal, Gunness said that while the war was "predictable", the UN agency's staff had been "completely taken by surprise by its ferocity, its scope and its sheer callousness."

Providing an update on the Israeli attacks on UN-run facilities in the Gaza Strip, Gunness noted that on seven separate occasions, UNRWA schools sheltering people were hit.

The UN official noted that "the precise GPS coordinates of all our installations in Gaza were conveyed to the relevant authorities before the conflict began", as well as during the hostilities.

In the case of the attack on the school in Beit Hanoun on 24 July, the Israeli army was notified of the coordinates 12 times – in the case of Jabalia school on 30 July, 17 times, and in the case of a UN school in Rafah hit on 3 August, UNRWA notified the Israeli army no less than 33 times.

Gunness said that the attacks on the schools in Beit Hanoun, Jabalia and Rafah, killed a cumulative total of 45 civilians.

Gunness also condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the armed groups which had hidden rockets in three UNRWA schools, calling it a serious violation of international law.

According to the UNRWA spokesperson, the confirmed death toll in Gaza stands at 2,254, including 538 children. "We estimate that of the 3,000 children injured, 1,000 will have some form of disability for the rest of their lives", he added, noting that 70 percent of fatalities are "believed to be civilians."

138 students attending UNRWA schools are confirmed killed, with an additional 814 injured and 560 having lost either their father, their mother or both parents.

By the end of the assault, 118 UNRWA installations had been damaged, of which 83 were schools and 10 were health centres. Israeli attacks killed 11 UNRWA staff members – "the majority killed were inside their homes."

Gunness noted that an estimated 120,000 homes were left damaged or destroyed, with an estimated 8,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance littering the fenced-in territory.

During his remarks to the invitation-only audience, Gunness urged the international community to "make Gaza a liveable place again" by "addressing the underlying causes of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict: an end to the occupation that has ground on for nearly half a century and a full lifting of the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:23:21 +0000
The colonial nature of Israel's Wall https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15480-the-colonial-nature-of-israels-wall https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15480-the-colonial-nature-of-israels-wall EXCLUSIVE IMAGES

At the heart of the current upsurge of resistance in Jerusalem is the struggle against Israeli settler-colonialism and its various tools. The ongoing attacks against al-Aqsa mosque, settler violence, land and property confiscation, as well as racist building and planning restrictions and house demolitions are all organs within this wider project. Another cog in that wheel, and one which has played a significant role in supporting Israel's designs for Jerusalem is the 'Apartheid' or 'Annexation Wall'.

Israel has always defended its 'need' to build the Wall as a tool of 'security' - a claim which is easily dissected as Zionist hasbara with some straightforward realisations. The Wall remains unfinished and in several areas of the southern West Bank it remains possible to walk across the Green Line, albeit at risk of being shot by Israeli military patrols. Given that undocumented workers use these routes regularly to reach work in Jerusalem, these routes could similarly be used by Palestinians to carry out the 'suicide bombings' that Israel claims the Wall has stopped. As Israel knows well, it was a Palestinian decision that led to the cessation of such operations and not the Wall. Above this, with well over one million Palestinian 'citizens of the State of Israel' and 'Jerusalem ID holders' living west of the Wall, it is simply irrelevant in the prevention of Palestinian resistance in those areas as has been highlighted again over recent months. More accurately, with at least 85% of the Wall's route being inside the West Bank rather than on the 1967 borders Israel's true intentions become much clearer.

Instead of a 'security requirement', the Apartheid Wall is a powerful colonial tool which has annexed around 10 percent of the West Bank. It has played a significant role in reinforcing the annexation of Jerusalem and strengthening the colonisation and population transfer project in the West Bank. It has tightened Israel's grip around the bantustans of Area A and reinforced the isolation of communities in Area C. Farmers are today separated from their lands by nine metres of concrete, and families have been literally split in half.

As 2014 draws to a close 25 years have now passed since the Berlin Wall fell - but what human lessons have been learned? Ten years have also passed since the ICJ's advisory opinion on the illegality of the Wall - but what legal action has been taken? The Wall today remains a powerful colonial weapon in Israel's vast arsenal, and another stark reminder of man's inhumanity to man.

MEMO photographer: Rich Wiles

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Rich Wiles) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:00:42 +0000
Let us return to the land between the sea and the river https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/15479-let-us-return-to-the-land-between-the-sea-and-the-river https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/15479-let-us-return-to-the-land-between-the-sea-and-the-river In an article published in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, an Israeli analyst presents all the signs and characteristics of the Zionist project state, which has been planned since 1948, and poses the question: What is new about the "law" approved by Netanyahu's government and what does this government want exactly?

Former Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Jeff Barak said that the population in Israel is approximately nine million, 75 per cent of which are Jews, Hebrew is the dominant language, and the weekends and holidays are mostly Jewish, as the people rest on Saturdays and remain silent on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). In addition to this, all of the supermarkets and restaurants only sell Kosher food, i.e. meat slaughters in accordance with Jewish law. During the state's national holidays, the first row usually seats the two Chief Rabbinates of Israel, one for the Ashkenazi Jews and the other for the Sephardi Jews.

We also find that the Declaration of Establishment of State of Israel begins by declaring that the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel will be known as the State of Israel. Jeff adds: "As a result, over 60 years later, anyone with one Jewish grandparent automatically has the right to Israeli citizenship, regardless of where they were born, their knowledge of Hebrew or previous affiliation with any Jewish organization, be it synagogue, cultural club or sporting team. The country's national anthem, Hatikva, is exclusively Jewish-focused, talking of the 'Jewish spirit yearning... to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem'. Israel is very clearly the Jewish state; there is no other country like it."

The writer asks: "Why the need for a new basic law defining Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people? And the answer is that there is no need. Unless, of course, you want to make 20% of Israel's citizens (some 1.7 million people) feel unwelcome in their own country, which is precisely the intention of right-wing Knesset members Ayelet Shaked, Yariv Levin and Ze'ev Elkin."

The latter, a Member of the Knesset from the Likud party, downgrades the status of Arabic as one of the country's two official languages. This Ukrainian man, who was born in 1971 and didn't step foot into our land until 1990, wants to erase a language that has been around for dozens of centuries and was used by our ancestors to record their history. Elkin also says that the settlers must root themselves all over the country, which has no limits.

However, Netanyahu responded to the proposal regarding the language with an even harsher proposal that implicitly degrades the Arabic language implicitly, but avoids being a blatant proposal due to the fact that the Israeli state claims to be a democracy and therefore it cannot ignore the right of the people to cultural equality. In terms of culture and language, Netanyahu wants to appear tolerant at this time and appear to be fine with it as long as the law regarding the Jewishness of Israel is passed and motivates the settlers to spread throughout the occupied territories. He will also appear tolerant as long the law ratified by his government regarding the allowance of daily practices that have exclusionary and settlement implications makes the territories occupied in 1948 an area from which the Arab population can be expelled, either by allowing crackdowns and racism on every level or through proposals that suggest land swaps in the areas where the Arabs are concentrated as a part of a settlement the Palestinians are deluded into believing will actually be reached.

We are in need of a national and popular Palestinian and Arab conference that is not related to political work that determines that the Palestinians and the Arab nations will have nothing to do with the recognition of the state of Israel. The purpose for considering recognising Israel was for the occupier to recognise some of its victims' rights, but we no longer have any other choice other than to go back to claiming that Palestine extends from the river to the sea.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Adli Sadeq) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:52:24 +0000
Lavrov and Muallem meet in Russia to discuss Syria crisis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/48-asia/15478-lavrov-and-muallem-meet-in-russia-to-discuss-syria-crisis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/48-asia/15478-lavrov-and-muallem-meet-in-russia-to-discuss-syria-crisis Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will discuss the crisis in Syria with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in a meeting on Wednesday in the Russian resort city of Sochi on the Black Sea.

Anadolu news agency quoted a statement of the Russian foreign ministry as saying that: "The Jihadists have set up a state across wide areas in Syria and Iraq. They are forcefully and inhumanely trying to impose their sovereignty. Their deeds do not belong to Islam."

The ministry also stated that the threat from the Jihadists, including the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Nusra Front, is increasing every day. "Moscow believes this is the time to prioritise the mission of facing terrorism and extremism, which threatens the Middle East," the statement warned.

Regarding the current efforts to confront terrorism, the statement said that Syria is playing a major role in this area and doubted that any efforts, including those made by the US, would achieve positive results in fighting the terrorists without cooperation with the Syrian regime.

Furthermore, Anadolu news agency added that Russia maintained that all efforts would be "ineffective" without adhering to the principles of international law, "especially in regards to respecting the sovereignty of other states and the non-interference in their internal affairs."

The statement highlighted the importance of resuming the political efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis: "With respect to all [military] efforts being exerted to fight terrorism, the political efforts aimed at solving the crisis are not less important than those efforts."

Moscow also reiterated that it is ready to meet the necessary conditions for political talks to take place between all sides involved in the Syrian crisis, noting its support for the efforts of the UN's Special Envoy for the Syrian Crisis, Staffan de Mistura.

According to the statement, Moscow thinks that Mistura's proposals for solving the crisis could lead to local reconciliations and gradual development towards resolving the crisis in Syria.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:47:02 +0000
Middle East Studies Association affirms right of members to discuss, call for BDS https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15477--middle-east-studies-association-affirms-right-of-members-to-discuss-call-for-bds https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15477--middle-east-studies-association-affirms-right-of-members-to-discuss-call-for-bds The Middle East Studies Association (MESA), meeting in Washington D.C., passed a resolution Monday defending the right of its members to discuss, and advocate for, a boycott of Israel.

The text, adopted by 256 votes to 79, affirms that "calls for institutional boycott, divestment and/or sanctions are protected free speech and legitimate forms of non-violent political action", and pointedly "deplores intimidation directed against organizations who have adopted BDS resolutions."

This is a reference to attacks by pro-Israel advocates on the likes of the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies, after they supported the Palestinian call for BDS.

The resolution also mandates MESA to "organize discussions at its Annual Meeting and for the MESA Board to create opportunities in 2015 to discuss the academic boycott and consider an appropriate position for MESA."

MESA, founded in 1966, has 2,700 members and more than 60 institutional members worldwide.

The resolution will now go to the full membership for a vote within the coming months.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:33:07 +0000
Iranian official: Israel is a big obstacle ahead of nuclear talks https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15476-iranian-official-israel-is-a-big-obstacle-ahead-of-nuclear-talks https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15476-iranian-official-israel-is-a-big-obstacle-ahead-of-nuclear-talks Iranian flag"Israel is the biggest obstacle ahead of the nuclear talks," Ali Saidi, the representative of the supreme leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, said yesterday.

The Anadolu Agency reported Saidi saying: "The Zionist lobby in the American Congress undermines all efforts being exerted to reach an agreement in this regard."

The remarks of the Iranian official were first reported by the Iranian news agency IRNA. He was reported by IRNA as saying that Iran has two demands throughout the talks: the first regarding the enrichment level and the second is the lifting of the economic sanctions imposed on it.

IRNA reported him saying that the P5+1, which is heading the talks with Iran, has considered the strategies of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Saidi described the talks as "very complicated" so the Iranian side has to pay attention to that. "Both sides need to reach an agreement. The retention of the sanctions on Iran is inappropriate," he said, noting that the US is facing an economic crisis.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:20:23 +0000
Al-Thani government admits to bombing Mitiga airport https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/15475-al-thani-government-admits-to-bombing-mitiga-airport https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/15475-al-thani-government-admits-to-bombing-mitiga-airport Libya's interim government began the aerial bombardment of the Mitiga International Airport, in the capital Tripoli, on Monday.

In a statement issued yesterday, the interim Libyan government, headed by Abdullah Al-Thani, said: "The air strikes on Mitiga airport were conducted by the national air force to target the group Libya Dawn."

"The shelling by the Libyan Air Force of the Mitiga airport is a pre-emptive strike on groups of so-called Libya Dawn fighters, which were preparing ammunition, vehicles and aircrafts to strike the country's infrastructure and facilities."

It continued: "Previously, Libya Dawn destroyed the facilities and the civilian aircrafts which on the ground at Tripoli International Airport, and the homes and public and private installations in Qaser Bin Ghashir, near Tripoli International Airport, and also bombed Zintan airport."

Al-Thani said: "What the Libyan government has done is part of its responsibility to protect the civilian population."

Since Monday evening, Mitiga International Airport has witnessed air strikes from fighter jets, according to an official source and witnesses.

Retired Major General Khalifa Haftar's forces had previously bombed the airport saying it was used for "terrorist purposes".

In a statement, Mohammed Hijazi, Haftar's spokesman said: "The military plane that targeted the airport today belonged to the Libyan army because this airport is used for terrorist purposes which pose a threat to the Libyan people."

A week ago, the Libyan Council of Representatives in Tobruk announced it would officially recognise the "dignity" with which Haftar fought against what they called "extremists" in the country, and said it was a legitimate military operation.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:43:40 +0000
Pope: Door of dialogue with Islamic State should not be closed https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/15474-pope-door-of-dialogue-with-islamic-state-should-not-be-closed https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/15474-pope-door-of-dialogue-with-islamic-state-should-not-be-closed Pope Francis said on Tuesday that although it is "almost impossible" to have a dialogue with the Islamic State, or ISIS, the "door should never be closed", Anadolu news agency reported.

Speaking to Vatican Radio after his return from a visit to the EU parliament in Strasburg, he said: "I never say all is lost, never. Maybe there cannot be a dialogue but you can never shut a door."

He continued: "It is difficult, one could say almost impossible, but the door is always open."

Responding to a question about whether or not it would be possible to communicate with rather than fight the militants, he said: "I repeat what I have said: when you want to stop an unjust oppressor, you must do so with international consensus."

ISIS has been controlling wide areas in the east of Syria and north and west of Iraq for several months. In June, the organisation, which most of the international community has labelled as terrorist, announced a caliphate with Abu-Baker Al-Baghdadi as its leader.

Despite doubts about the relations between Al-Baghdadi, who was a prisoner in an American facility in Iraq, and the US, the latter has been leading an international alliance against ISIS. Some political experts even argue that ISIS is an American made militant group.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:40:21 +0000
Israeli police chief blames 'extremist agenda' for tensions in Jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15473-israeli-police-chief-blames-extremist-agenda-for-tensions-in-jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15473-israeli-police-chief-blames-extremist-agenda-for-tensions-in-jerusalem Inspector General of the Israeli police Yohanan Danino has criticised Israeli Knesset members who carry out provocations against Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Jews as Temple Mount, blaming them for the rising tensions over the past few months, Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday.

In a press conference held on Tuesday in the Israeli settlement of Sderot near the Gaza Strip, Danino said: "It is a mistake to allow right-wing MKs into [Al-Aqsa Mosque compound]."

He continued: "Anyone who wants to change the status quo at [Al-Aqsa Mosque] should not be allowed up there." He criticised Israeli Attorney General Yehudah Weinstein for enabling right-wing politicians to "incite" Arab unrest by "visiting the disputed holy site".

The police chief stressed that the Israeli right wing is intent upon changing the status quo in the holy city. "We realised after the elections that members of the radical right took [the situation at Al-Aqsa Mosque] and made it an agenda," he said.

He then warned: "We cautioned them and said that we need to leave [Al-Aqsa Mosque] alone ... these Knesset members do not understand what they are igniting."

Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported that the Israeli police have intensified security measures for three MKs in response to the tense security situation in occupied Jerusalem.

Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, one of these three, replied to Danino's remarks on his Facebook page, saying that: "Danino failed to protect Jerusalem and ensure the security of the citizens, and is now trying to find a scapegoat and excuses for his failures."

Feiglin regularly storms Al-Aqsa Mosque about once monthly, despite Jewish prohibitions against doing so. "This is the legal, moral, national and religious right of every Jew," he insists.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:34:54 +0000
Egyptian court to hear Badie's defence in espionage case https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/15472-egyptian-court-to-hear-badies-defence-in-espionage-case https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/15472-egyptian-court-to-hear-badies-defence-in-espionage-case The Cairo Criminal Court, held at the Police Academy, headed by Judge Shaaban Shamy, will today hear the defence case in the trial of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and Mohamed Saad Katatni in the case where they are charged with spying.

Thirty-five leaders and members of the Brotherhood are also charged in this case including former President Mohammed Morsi.

The defendants are charged with "communicating with third parties, disclosing national secrets, committing espionage with foreign organisations and entities outside the country and coordinating with jihadi organisations inside and outside of Egypt in order to stage terrorist operations on Egyptian territory."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:29:35 +0000
Humanitarian aid is still a target for the Israeli occupation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15471-humanitarian-aid-is-still-a-target-for-the-israeli-occupation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15471-humanitarian-aid-is-still-a-target-for-the-israeli-occupation I have been the chair of trustees for 17 of Interpal's 20 years as a British charity helping Palestinians in desperate need; it is a privilege to be in such a position. Being a trustee has enabled me to meet and work with some wonderful people, including our incredible beneficiaries in occupied Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. They inspire us as we try to bring a degree of normality to their extraordinarily abnormal situation.

It hasn't been an easy ride. Interpal was declared by the US government in 2003 to be a "Specially designated global terrorist entity"; there was no due process, no investigation and no immediately obvious right to appeal against the decision. We discovered our new status via the BBC website. I called it "gesture politics" at the time, because claims that the US was freezing Interpal's assets in America were nonsense; we didn't have any assets there. In fact, the only money we have in the States now is around $100,000 which was confiscated by Citibank as the transfer of funds for our orphans' programme in Jordan crossed a computer screen in New York. Orphans went without so that American and Israeli egos could be massaged.

A number of investigations and inquiries by Britain's charity regulator have found no evidence of illegal activity by Interpal, and the US government has offered no evidence to justify its designation. The absence of any police involvement, said one senior Metropolitan Police officer, "is hugely significant".

The "terrorist" tag originated in Israel, of course, which has a strong interest in blocking any kind of aid to the Palestinians living under its brutal military occupation; if life is made harsh enough, the theory goes, then perhaps the Palestinians will pack up and cross the Jordan into permanent exile. This is known in Zionist jargon as "silent transfer". After almost 70 years of occupation, the Israelis obviously do not know the Palestinians, or the people who support them.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose senior spokesperson, Chris Gunness, has flown over to speak at Interpal's 20th anniversary symposium in London, is at the forefront of working to keep the Palestinians afloat. Interpal is proud to be a valued partner of UNRWA and has a number of projects in the pipeline to continue such work in the months and years ahead.

Despite having such a high profile link to a UN agency, accusations of supporting "terrorism" have been thrown at Interpal almost since day one, with a claim in a major broadsheet that we "funded the training of suicide bombers" in 1996. A small charity has been seen as an easy target; we are the pebble in the Israeli shoe and just won't go away. "Interpal," said one Israeli politician, "is a tough nut to crack."

The attack on our charity has been relentless which is odd, given our relatively small size. Italian journalist and author Loretta Napoleoni is an expert on "terrorist financing". She told me that the US and Israeli governments are going after charities like Interpal precisely because they think that we are easy targets and can be shut down, at which point they can claim to be "cutting off terrorist funding". The reality, she said, is that most of the $3 trillion drugs and terrorist economy is channelled through legitimate businesses, not charities. In 2012, HSBC confirmed that it was going to pay the US authorities $1.9bn (£1.2bn) in a settlement over money laundering. "A US Senate investigation said the UK-based bank had been a conduit for 'drug kingpins and rogue nations'," reported the BBC. The bank "admitted having poor money laundering controls and apologised." There has been no special designation for a bank involved in very serious crime, but a small charity against whom there are only allegations from vexatious complainants face being driven out of existence; our only "crime" is helping Palestinians.

The message from our New York lawyer is that the US Treasury can only do so much about the designation: "It was a political decision and needs a political decision to rescind it." In other words, the State Department must be involved, which is why Interpal has asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office a number of times to speak on its behalf. Even though HM Government intervened on behalf of British banks facing legal action in the US, this British charity has been told "you need to raise it yourselves with the Americans". Individual parliamentarians in both Houses have been very supportive over the years, but of government action there has been none.

Interpal distributes on average around £4 million a year and every penny is accounted for. In the great scheme of things, this is a relatively miniscule amount (Israel gets $8m a day from the US). The bureaucratic system that we have in place makes it ridiculous to suggest that we divert donations for illegal purposes.

The fact that many of the projects Interpal has funded are also funded by USAid doesn't carry any weight in Washington, and America insists that we should discriminate along political lines in the distribution of our funds; discrimination of any kind is illegal for British charities, and rightly so. We will continue to support Palestinians with humanitarian aid without fear or favour, the only criteria being need.

Many of Interpal's beneficiaries are women and children. The children of Palestine, Muslims and Christians alike, have had their childhood stolen from them; we should all hang our heads in shame at this. More than 80 per cent of the children in the Gaza Strip suffer from post-traumatic stress. Every time an Israeli jet flies overhead, or a helicopter, or a drone, these children wait for the bombs to follow; that is what they have come to expect. It is a shameful situation.

The recent news that the dedicated surgeon and activist Dr Mads Gilbert has been given a lifetime ban by Israel from entering the Gaza Strip illustrates perfectly the Israeli attitude towards anyone offering humanitarian assistance to Palestinians. It has nothing to do with "terrorism" and everything to do with enforcing an immoral and illegal blockade on the territory. What is being done in the name of "the only democracy in the Middle East" is not only undemocratic but also breaks international law. Israel's leadership knows this but carries on regardless and with apparent impunity. NGOs and others will do likewise until justice is seen to be done and a free and independent Palestine emerges from the rubble.

This is an edited version of the speech given by Ibrahim Hewitt at Interpal's 20th anniversary symposium in London on 25th November.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ibrahim Hewitt) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:20:15 +0000
Khamenei: US and colonial powers will not succeed in bringing Iran to its knees https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15470-khamenei-us-and-colonial-powers-will-not-succeed-in-bringing-iran-to-its-knees https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15470-khamenei-us-and-colonial-powers-will-not-succeed-in-bringing-iran-to-its-knees The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei, said on Tuesday that the US and European colonial powers have united to bring Iran to its knees, but they were not and will not be able to do so, Anadolu news agency reported.

His comments came after the last round of negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme ended on Monday in the Austrian capital, Vienna, with no tangible results.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA reported that Khamenei addressed current issues in a speech during his meeting with Islamic scholars in the Iranian capital Tehran.

According to Anadolu, Khamenei suggested that the Islamic State or ISIS terrorist organisation has offered to serve the goals of the world powers, describing people's movements in the Arab countries as an "Islamic awakening", but noting that extremist groups in the region have begun to deviate the Islamic awakening from its path.

Khamenei stressed the need to fight against organisations similar to ISIS at the ideological level, noting that rescuing the young from the hands of ISIS is the scholars' job.

The Iranian Supreme Leader also called the US fight against ISIS a "blatant lie", adding that: "The US is working to keep the confrontation with ISIS alive. According to the information we have received, the US has provided assistance to ISIS by dumping weapons and ammunition on the areas under the control of ISIS in Iraq, and this was repeated five times."

Khamenei also spoke about the Israeli aggressions against Al-Aqsa Mosque, pointing out that: "The Islamic world is distracted by extremists who were created by global powers, rather than focusing its attention on what is happening to Al-Aqsa Mosque," recognising the attempts to generate sectarian divisions in the region.

Khamenei continued: "We are not prisoners of our view; what we have presented to Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, was also presented to Sunni Hamas in Palestine. We have worked to strengthen the power of our Palestinian brothers through our support and we will continue to do that. As I said earlier, the West Bank residents should arm themselves and should be ready to defend themselves in the face of Israel, like those living in Gaza."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:45:35 +0000
Israel as a Jewish state https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/the-guardian/15466-israel-as-a-jewish-state https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/the-guardian/15466-israel-as-a-jewish-state Dear Editor,

Re: Israeli cabinet approves legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people

As with many other things, Benjamin Netanyahu is wrong to equate a "Palestinian state" with a "Jewish state" (Israeli cabinet approves legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people, 23 November). The former would, it is reasonable to expect, be open to people of all ethnicities with Palestinian citizenship; his "Jewish state" is built, in theory at least, around people of one ethnic background. Israel as a "Jewish state", therefore, is fundamentally racist in character and thus undemocratic. He admits as much in noting that non-Jews will not have full "national rights".

Ibrahim Hewitt
Senior Editor,
Middle East Monitor

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ibrahim Hewitt) frontpage Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:22:00 +0000
Assad planes kill 63 in Raqaa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15469-assad-planes-kill-63-in-raqaa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15469-assad-planes-kill-63-in-raqaa IMAGES

At least 63 people were killed by Syrian regime air strikes on Raqaa, in the north of the country, yesterday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman told AFP: "Among the 63 killed were at least 36 civilians. There were also 20 unidentified victims who could be civilians or jihadists, as well as the disfigured remains of at least seven other people."

He added that regime aircrafts targeted the industrial city of Raqaa twice, "the first strike came, residents rushed to rescue the wounded, and then the second raid took place".

Eyewitness footage showed bodies laid out on a street near the apparent bombing site as an ambulances rushes to the scene.

Raqaa is the only city which is entirely under the control of the Islamic State (ISIS). It has not witnessed raids for several months.

Images source : Anadolu

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:29:23 +0000
Israel complains to NATO: Erdogan supports Hamas and the Brotherhood https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15468-israel-complains-to-nato-erdogan-supports-hamas-and-the-brotherhood https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15468-israel-complains-to-nato-erdogan-supports-hamas-and-the-brotherhood Israeli authorities demanded NATO take effective steps against Turkey claiming that it allows Hamas leaders to operate from Istanbul, without any obstacles.

Today, Israel Today newspaper said the official Israeli letters said: "It is not possible for a NATO member to have relations with terrorist organisations."

Israel claims that Hamas operates from Istanbul, headed by the prominent leader Saleh Al-Arouri who Israel hold responsible for a number of military operations against it.

According to the newspaper, leaders also believe that Al-Arouri is involved in an attempt to overthrow the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank which was discovered a few months ago, claiming that he also plans to implement a series of military operations against Israel.

Commenting on the issue, a senior Israeli source said that "the government is sure that the resistance movement's base in Istanbul works with the consent of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and under his supervision, which is the same one who supports the Muslim Brotherhood, and is responsible for sending the Mavi Marmara flotilla to the Gaza Strip."

During his visit to the US last month, Israel's Security Minister Moshe Ya'alon told former Defence Minister Chuck Hagel: "Hamas receives support from Turkey and Qatar."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:24:21 +0000
PLO: Israel's national homeland bill ends the two-state solution https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15467-plo-israels-national-homeland-bill-ends-the-two-state-solution https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15467-plo-israels-national-homeland-bill-ends-the-two-state-solution The Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation has strongly condemned the Israeli cabinet's approval of a draft law stating that Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people only, saying that the law aims to eliminate the two-state solution.

In a press statement sent to Anadolu news agency on Tuesday, the committee said that: "The Jewish national law is designed to eliminate the two-state solution by forcing the 'Greater Israel' project of a Jewish state onto the historic land of Palestine."

It continued: "The draft bill is a unilateral cancellation by Israel of the 1993 Letters of Mutual Recognition, constituting a violation against the holy places of all religions other than Judaism, with the latter being the only identity of the state."

"The draft bill also reveals the true essence of the nature of Israel's distorting political and judicial systems, which breach the international principles prohibiting racism and ethnic cleansing, and build upon a long series of racist laws, proposals and practices that reflect the official political decision to turn the conflict into a religious one, which fuels the on-going violence on an ideological basis," the statement added.

The PLO and Israel recognised each other under the Oslo agreement in 1993.

Last Sunday, the Israeli cabinet approved the draft bill of a law explicitly stating that Israel is the national homeland for the Jewish people only, in preparation for its presentation before the Knesset next week.

The PLO Executive Committee said that declaring Israel to be the homeland for Jews only is a racist attempt to distort and falsify the historic Palestinian narrative and to erase the Palestinian presence while taking it out of its historical context.

"The draft resolution completes and reinforces the Israeli Law of Return, which grants every Jew in the world 'the right' to return to Palestine while depriving others of the same right, particularly the indigenous Palestinian people."

The committee called on the UN and the international community to take concrete steps to hold Israel accountable and to support the Palestinian legal endeavour at the UN Security Council later this month to determine a timeframe for ending the occupation and establishing the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:16:28 +0000
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu: "Air strikes are not sufficient in fight against ISIS" https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/15465-mevluet-cavuolu-qair-strikes-are-not-sufficient-in-fight-against-isisq https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/15465-mevluet-cavuolu-qair-strikes-are-not-sufficient-in-fight-against-isisq Mevlüt ÇavuşoğluTurkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu emphasised that air strikes alone will not be enough to remove the threat posed by ISIS.

Çavuşoğlu's statements came in the form of a speech to the Turkish parliament on Monday. During discussions conducted by the planning commission on the ministry's budget for 2015, Çavuşoğlu highlighted the foreign policy pursued by his country in many regional and international issues.

Çavuşoğlu added that the Syrian regime has recently sought to encircle the city of Aleppo in order to prevent the arrival of international aid to the opposition there and have since cut their ties with Turkey.

He explained that both ISIS and the Syrian regime have placed immense pressure on the region as their continued air strikes have caused the largest humanitarian crisis and largest migration in recent history. Turkey has called for the formation of safe zones and no-fly zone near its borders with Syrian areas.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:45:49 +0000
Tensions rise between Israel and Jordan over Jerusalem situation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15464-tensions-rise-between-israel-and-jordan-over-jerusalem-situation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15464-tensions-rise-between-israel-and-jordan-over-jerusalem-situation Photo from earlier this month when Israeli forces entered Al-Aqsa mosque, for the first time in decadesThe Washington Post recently highlighted the growing tensions between Israel and Jordan and commented on King Abdullah II and the Jordanian people's anger over Israel's actions in occupied Jerusalem. The current situation in the Holy City poses a threat to the peace agreement currently in effect between the two countries.

The American newspaper also noted in on its website on Monday, that a feud between Jordan and Israel could undermine the efforts of the US-led fight against Islamic extremists and it also threatens the natural gas deal worth billions of dollars for both countries.

It was also noted that Jordan had made an unusual decision by choosing to recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv as a form of protest to Israel's actions in the Holy City and the escalation of conflict due to Israel's mistreatment of Muslim worshippers at the Aqsa Mosque. The Jordanian ambassador has yet to return to his post.

Jordanian officials emphasised that King Abdullah's inability to protect the Aqsa mosque is something that could undermine his credibility in his own country as his legitimacy or claim to the throne stems from the idea that he is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad and a member of the Hashemite tribes. Jordan's inability to act in defence of al Aqsa would also undermine its image within the Muslim community as well as hinder any progress in the fight against Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:43:49 +0000
Individual Palestinian resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15463-individual-palestinian-resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15463-individual-palestinian-resistance Lamis AndoniThere is no doubt that the phenomenon of individual resistance poses a new challenge for the Israeli authorities. Israel's security agency (Shin Bet) admitted that collective punishment has failed and called for "aggressive surgical operations" that target individuals and subject Palestinians to monitoring and censorship on social media websites. However, at the same time, individual operations indicate the absence of Palestinian organisations and organised work which is necessary to contextualise popular resistance and an intifada politically and organisationally because individual operations lack leadership and the network necessary for support and continuity.

We might be facing a new phenomenon which could lead to the formation of new leaderships and organisations. However, the overall situation makes it difficult to find alternative organisations to the PLO or Hamas because this process will take time, although we had hoped that there would be a new beginning for the Palestinian resistance.

The emergence of this phenomenon suggests that the organisations have stopped playing an effective role in the life and consciousness of the Palestinians, as well as these organisations' failure, after the Oslo Accords, to establish their roles and spread across Palestinian society. Most importantly, this phenomenon suggests that these organisations have lost credibility for the new generations that do not know and are not aware of the history of the Palestinian struggle. The new generation finds itself alone in the confrontations against the brutal and fierce occupation. Most of the new generation consider all these organisations to be part of the fight for power and authority and nothing else. In addition to this, the new generation, inside and outside Palestine, is dangerously ignorant to the facts of the Palestinian revolution, which rules out the idea of continuing the path of resistance and building on previous experiences, and hinders the acceptance of the idea of organised work.

The concentration of individual actions, especially in Jerusalem, is a result of the policy of isolating Jerusalem practically and psychologically and the failure of the PA and Palestinian organisations to provide even minimal protections and leadership to the occupied people of Jerusalem who are targeted by measures of Judaisation and expulsion. Israel has succeeded, to some extent, in achieving its goal of fragmenting the Palestinian people and resistance.

The Jerusalemite youth directly clash with the occupation army, perhaps due to the fact that they are under direct Israeli control; nothing separates them from Israeli soldiers other than their bodies and their will, and in doing so they are examples for the Palestinian youth across Palestine, challenging all divisions and fragmentation. These youth are united by the idea of resistance and their actions on the ground across Palestine. They are taking us back to the time of the resistance, when it was a unifying force, both theoretically and practically. The absence of a political framework and context has made it easy for Israel to take retaliatory action, leaving the youth by themselves with no support of a popular movement or political organisation.

It is true that the Israeli security services find it difficult to carry out deterrent action as it cannot resort to targeting an organisation with a leadership and structure, as it has done in the past, nor can they read the minds and intentions of the youth, even if they monitor social media sites. This makes it likely that such operations will spread with no previous planning or coordination. Israel's intelligence services do not know how to confront such operations, not even with all of its advanced technology.

However, if this individual action is not accompanied by a popular movement, it will not produce a resistance movement that has the potential to survive, express its goals and rally the people to support the movement. This puts us back at square one and we will suffer the consequences of the absence of the PLO and the so-called Palestinian-Israeli security coordination.

Ultimately, the resistance operations suggest that the Palestinian people are ready for a new intifada and we fear for such intifadas from the failing leadership more than all of Israel's repressive strategies.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Lamis Andoni) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:37:36 +0000
US calls on Israel to treat all its citizens equally https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15462-us-calls-on-israel-to-treat-all-its-citizens-equally https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15462-us-calls-on-israel-to-treat-all-its-citizens-equally US Flag"Israel is a Jewish and democratic state in which all citizens should enjoy equal rights," US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said during a press conference yesterday.

Rathke said: "This is the beginning of a process, and so I don't want to speculate on the outcome. It would be our general view, though, that we would expect any final legislation to continue Israel's commitment to democratic principles."

The Israeli government decided to postpone the decision on the nation-state law to next week. The decision had been expected tomorrow.

Fourteen Israeli ministers initially supported the coalition's vote while six opposed it, including Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Minister Limor Livnat did not participate in the vote.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is determined to pass the Likud party's vision for the Jewish nation-state law because it will serve as "the basis for the Jewish state and the land of the Jewish people. This law will reflect the reality that Israel is the only nation-state for the Jewish people".

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:50:51 +0000
Tunisian party gives up support for Marzouki https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/15461-tunisian-party-gives-up-support-for-marzouki https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/15461-tunisian-party-gives-up-support-for-marzouki Tunisians at a public engagement by Moncef Marzouki during this year's Presidential election campaignTunisia's Popular Front, a coalition of democratic and left-wing forces, announced it would not support the presidential candidate Moncef Marzouki, Al-Arab Al-Yawm reported today.

The announcement came in the wake of reports that Marzouki and the leader of Nidaa Tunis Party Beji Caid El-Sebsi are going for a second round of elections.

Mohamed Al-Jamour, a senior leader of the Popular Front who made the surprise announcement, said that the Front had not yet decided on its final position. He said that the group is to meet soon and would study what it would do in light of the results of the elections. Adding that the group would take the decision that is in the country's best interests.

The Front had its own nominee in the presidential elections, Hamma Hammami, who did not have any support from the other political groups in Tunisia.

Hammami obtained nine per cent of the votes in the elections, according to the Anadolu Agency, which Al-Jamour described as an okay result.

Marzouki obtained 34 per cent of the votes in the first round of elections, while El-Sebsi attained 42 per cent.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:13:58 +0000
An 'Intifada' that adapts to reality https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15460-an-intifada-that-adapts-to-reality https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15460-an-intifada-that-adapts-to-reality Hani Al-MasriIs what is happening in Jerusalem nowadays an outburst, an Intifada, the prelude to the outbreak of an Intifada, or an "Intifada" that adapts to and fits reality?

Most of what is happening indicates that what is happening is a form of uprising. However, the lack of leadership, a goal and organisation, as well as the fact that not all the people of the nation are participating in the uprising makes this local and sporadic outbursts with varying degrees differing from one area to another. In Jerusalem, there is a state of uprising, but in other areas, there are sporadic outbursts that vary in intensity.

It is not expected for the third Intifada to occur in the same manner as the first or second Intifadas. The local, Arab, and international facts, experiences, and circumstances are all completely different. There are areas that are not only occupied, but annexed, such as Jerusalem, areas that are under full control such as the Jordan Valley and the area known as Area C, and areas that are under Israeli sovereignty, but the PA receives certain powers over them and participates in security coordination. In such areas, the Israeli forces are not always present, but when necessary, they make arrests and raids, which occur in many cities. As for the Gaza Strip, it is subject to the occupation by means of the blockade, aggression, and invasions from time to time.

After the Oslo Accords were signed and the devastating division, a large section of the nation, both inside and outside the authority, started to have interests in allowing the situation to remain the same and were opposed to the outbreak of an Intifada. Meanwhile, the PA president openly and explicitly stated he would prevent an Intifada while the factions leading the Intifadas and uprisings are in ruins.

The Intifada occurring today has many faces and is occurring in the form of waves and popular outbursts, and even in the form of an Intifada in certain areas. We have also seen outbursts in solidarity with the prisoners, in opposition to settlement activity, and in defence of Gaza, which suffered three brutal attacks, the most recent of which was the most vicious. However, in Jerusalem we are witnessing an "Intifada".

The next uprising does not necessarily have to last for years. It may be more suitable to come in the form of successive waves and outbursts with different themes, taking breaks in between to refresh before rising up once again. It will build on the achievements of the previous uprisings and outburst, only if these uprisings have a goal, leadership, and a national front that will ensure its ultimate victory.

What is happening in Jerusalem at the moment is a new cycle of the conflict that erupted after matters reached a certain point that Jerusalemites can no longer endure. After over 47 years of Jerusalem's occupation and annexation by Israel and the announcement that it is the unified and eternal capital of Israel, and 20 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, which separated the territories occupied in 1967 and Jerusalem, as it did not include East Jerusalem as part of the Area A territories, which should be under PA control, the city is still being systematically targeted with acts of Judaisation. In addition to this, Israel is expelling as many Jerusalemites as possible from the city in order to reach a point where the Palestinians in Jerusalem are a small minority subject to the will of the Jewish majority.

The Jerusalemites have reached a state of complete frustration, as they feel they are unable to change the hell they are living in. Instead, matters are getting worse, especially after Mohammed Abu Khdeir was burned and killed, escalated armed settler attacks, and calls for killing and murder without being held accountable. Attacks on people, property, trees, stones and holy sites have become part of the daily routine.

Jerusalemites suffer from their leadership's fear of confrontation and its inability to protect them or provide a way to save the Palestinian cause, after having reached an impasse. The Palestinian leadership is also reluctant to choose a new path and only voices condemnations and denunciations rather than taking responsibility. The leadership relies on Jordan, the Arabs and Muslims at a time when they are not responding to the calls.

In the face of all this and in light of the continued division which is preventing the outbreak of an Intifada since all the Palestinian energy is being consumed by internal conflict, despite all the horrors and dangers, the Jerusalemites found no other choice than to take action through a new form of Intifada that suits the reality; a reality in which the leadership and national forces are not carrying out their duties of providing protection or leading the confrontation imposed on the people. The failure to confront means the complete victory of the colonial settlement project. When the leadership and forces are absent, each individual takes action to defend themselves in the manner they see fit.

This is instead of taking an alternative path to bilateral negotiations solely under American auspices; a path that adopts all forms of resistance, including the peaceful, popular, and armed forms which are part of the Palestinian rights and are guaranteed under international humanitarian law. This resistance must be based on one national authority that determines which forms of resistance are appropriate for each phase and each Palestinian group. However, the reality we are witnessing is completely different. We are seeing condemnation for armed resistance even though it is a given right, and it is being called "targeting civilians", as if the conflict is between two equal countries with armies, and as if those carrying out the operations are factions that possess equal leaderships, capabilities and expertise rather than individuals doing all they can against the enemy. They cannot distinguish between civilians and soldiers; between clerics and holy sites and military barracks and soldiers. In this case, the clerics are spearheading the racist colonial project, making the violation of Al-Aqsa a daily routine. All of these violations are occurring under various pretexts aiming to strip these operations from their heroicness, and trying to distinguish between resistance and revenge.

We cannot blame those who are drowning for trying to hold on to anything that may save them from drowning in any possible way. When the national organisation that unites the entire nation, as well as the leadership, factions, unions are lacking one unified goal and a national front, as well as political, organisations, and economic foundations, then the Intifada will become an individual uprising. This type of intifada is more of out of desperation than of hope, while the large Intifadas fuelled by hope are capable of victory. In the midst of the confrontation, a leadership capable of restoring hope is being formed; a leadership confident in the ability of the Palestinians to persevere and hold out until victory comes.

Rather than mourn the Intifada before it even starts and reject all forms of armed resistance, the elite and leaders must first provide the conditions for its victory and prevent it from becoming chaotic. The means of struggle are not limited to only one way, especially when the occupation commits all sorts of crimes at an unprecedented rate and pass racist laws that leave no room for Palestinians in their homeland. In this case, we cannot completely rule out armed resistance.

National dialogue must also be held and it must begin discussing whether the Palestinians need an Intifada or not or if they should immediately and completely abandon the terms of the Oslo Accords of if they should do it gradually. If the answer is yes, which is suggested by various indicators, and then the discussion must move to the appropriate means and time frame for this to be carried out and the goal sought to be achieved. In addition to this, the conditions for the victory of the Intifada must be provided so that when it breaks out, and it will inevitably do so sooner or later, it can be another source of glory.

Despite all that has been mentioned above, there is apparent and clear confusion in the Israeli government regarding the losses caused by the resistance and the escalated disputes in Israel regarding assessing what is happening and how to deal with it in order to prevent it from growing and turning into a full blown Intifada. The fear of the "Jerusalem Intifada" has reached the point of blaming the government and its radical and racist policies claiming to unify Jerusalem, while it seems even more divided than before. There is also a fear in Israel of the continuation of the Intifada and its escalations, as well as its Arab, Islamic and international repercussions, because the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem unite all the Arabs, Muslims and the free people in solidarity with the just Palestinian cause.

The eruption of the conflict in Jerusalem can change all the cards and equations and turn the tables against the interests and objectives of Israel and its supporters. Or, it can drive matters to chaos, which can serve Israel's purposes and interests. Are we daring enough to choose the right choice or will division and the fear of confrontation be the end of us?

This article was first published in Arabic by masarat.ps

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Hani Al-Masri) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:10:24 +0000
EU Parliament to vote on Palestinian statehood https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/15459-eu-parliament-to-vote-on-palestinian-statehood https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/15459-eu-parliament-to-vote-on-palestinian-statehood File photo of the European ParliamentFollowing symbolic recognition of a Palestinian state by several European countries, the European Parliament is set to debate statehood recognition on November 27. According to the EU Observer's paraphrasing of a senior EU diplomat, "the pro-recognition feeling reflects 'frustration' that Israel is ignoring Europe on settlement expansion". Frustration has also been expressed in "brainstorming" punitive measures against Israel – a mere consideration of recalling ambassadors from the settler-colonial state as a response to unheeded advice to stop settlement expansion.

Several condemnations by EU countries with regard to settlement expansion and the retaliatory demolishing of homes following Palestinian resistance in Jerusalem have been predictably ignored by the settler-colonial state – a reflection of the intentional futility implied within the usual issued recommendations in Israel's regard. The EU vote on Palestinian statehood, brought forth by the European United Left and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, is non-binding upon member states.

Ynetnews has reported alleged "fears" that the EU Parliament will vote in favour of Palestinian statehood, stating that Israel's ambassador to the EU David Walzer has been meeting political advisors and MEPs to dissuade from the symbolic recognition. Predictably, the recent attempts at recognition have been deemed unilateral decisions that "will not help in bringing Netanyahu and Abbas to the negotiation table but will only push the two sides further away." Israel's opposition was also expressed by its staunch ally, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, who declared support for the two-state fabrication adding "unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state won't move us forward".

While both EU and Israeli reports claim that the symbolic votes reflect unease at Israel's settlement expansion, the gesture is a recapitulation of dictates that have subjugated Palestinians to colonial and imperialist demands. According to the EU Observer, the text will reflect an adherence to the two-state conspiracy – an affirmation of denying the Palestinian right to armed struggle for liberation. The text prepared by the European United Left calls upon member states "to recognise the state of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital". Briefly, Palestinians are expected to comply with external political dictates that ensure continued oppression through the manipulation of legitimacy and freedom – a measure through which colonialism can be preserved and expanded departing from the usual rhetoric of equality.

The underlying implications of the symbolic recognition based upon compromise reflect and aid Israel's colonial endeavour. Viewed historically, Israel's obvious disregard of recommendations reflects the previous complicity of the international community's recognitions of the settler-colonial state's fabricated existence on Palestinian land. Ignoring recommendations – a trait cultivated within the essence of recommendations being non-binding in order to create perpetual violations, is an extension of international collaboration in maintaining a colonial presence in Palestine. Enforcing the two-state conspiracy as part of Palestinian statehood recognition ultimately exhibits the EU's protection of Israel – blatantly undermining the purported support it claims to give Palestinians through symbolism and humanitarian aid. In this regard, the EU is consolidating what other international organisations have been practicing – a professed support for Palestine that attempts to render the colonised perpetually subjugated.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ramona Wadi) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:48:14 +0000
Captured Israeli soldiers 'strong cards' for Hamas https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15458-captured-israeli-soldiers-strong-cards-for-hamas https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15458-captured-israeli-soldiers-strong-cards-for-hamas File photo of Palestinian resistance fighters, in full camouflage and sniper riflesThe Israeli soldiers believed captured by Hamas during the recent 51-day Israeli war on the Gaza Strip are considered cards of strength in the hands of Hamas in light of the economic and political crisis it is incurring due to the strict Israeli siege on the Strip.

Observers said Hamas might them to oblige Israel to lift the siege, in addition to seeking the release of new batches of Palestinian prisoners held in the Israeli jails.

Israel announced the death of two of its soldiers during the war, their bodies were never found. Hamas announced it captured only one of these soldiers, without saying if he was alive or dead.

There are reports that Hamas is in possession of more than the bodies of the two soldiers, regardless to whether they are alive or dead.

Palestinian political analyst Talal Okal told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed website that Hamas might use the "bodies" of the two soldiers to accelerate the reconstruction of Gaza and lift the siege. He noted that Hamas would insist on using them to release prisoners.

However, he expected Israel not to respond "quickly" to Hamas as it is attempting to recapture its soldiers in a different way to avoid Hamas' demands.

Another Palestinian analyst Ibrahim Al-Madhoun affirmed Okal's views, but he added that Israel would not deal seriously with the issue of the soldiers unless the government faces internal pressure.

"If that pressure was achieved, then the Israeli government will seriously discuss the issue of the soldiers and might lift the siege and release prisoners," Al-Madhoun told Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed.

Al-Madhoun said the indirect talks between Hamas and Israel would not resume soon because Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Israel are all interested in weakening Hamas before the talks so it is unable to achieve its political goals in the region.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:33:20 +0000
‘Jewish state’ law furore misses the point: Israel already discriminates https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/15457-jewish-state-law-furore-misses-the-point-israel-already-discriminates https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/15457-jewish-state-law-furore-misses-the-point-israel-already-discriminates Ben WhiteThe proposed 'Jewish nation-state' bill has prompted a huge amount of discussion and controversy within and outside of Israel.

But missing in most of the international coverage is the extent to which Israel already defines itself as a Jewish state, and in so doing, institutionally and legally discriminates. Here are three key ways in which Israeli law has created an ethnocracy, not a democracy.

One. In the first few years after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the Knesset passed three laws that established the foundations of a Jewish state at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians (most of whom had been ethnically cleansed and prevented from returning).

The combined effect of the Law of Return, the Absentee Property Law, and the Citizenship Law meant the following: any Jew in the world could move to Israel and become a citizen, while expelled Palestinians were stripped of their citizenship and their properties expropriated by the state.

Two. There is no such thing as Israeli nationality, with "the Population Registry's use of the term 'nationality' referring not to citizenship but rather to ethnic identity." In October 2013, Israel's Supreme Court ruled against an effort to establish an Israeli nationality distinct from a Jewish one.

In doing so, the judges affirmed a 1972 Court decision that affirmed "there is no Israeli nation separation from the Jewish nation", and that to create one "would negate the very foundation upon which the State of Israel was formed" – that is, as a Jewish state.

Aeyal Gross noted in Haaretz that this distinction, along with "the identification of the state with one specific national group, creates a hierarchy and exclusion" expressed not just with "symbols" but also "in terms of allocating resources, governmental power, jobs, discrimination (formal or informal) and the need to indicate in the Population Registry who is a Jew and who isn't."

Three. There is no guarantee of equality for Jewish and Palestinian citizens enshrined in Israeli law. As the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reported in 2012, there is neither a "definition" nor "prohibition of racial discrimination."

The closest it gets is Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992), but this contains no specific commitment to equality – or, in the words of Justice Aharon Barak, "not all aspects of equality" are "included within the framework of human dignity."

In fact, the Basic Law itself includes a crucial caveat, or limitation clause, that allows the "rights" contained within it to be 'violated' by laws "befitting the values of the State of Israel" – namely, "as a Jewish and democratic state."

On these foundational elements, and others, are built a host of discriminatory policies and practices. These serve to protect a Jewish majority created through the mass expulsion of Palestinians, and ensure benefits and privileges for Jews at the expense of those Palestinians who remained.

This affects land allocation, housing, regional and municipal planning, citizenship rights, the family, education, dissent, and a host of other areas of life. Even the U.S. State Department acknowledges that Israel practices "institutional and societal discrimination" against its Palestinian citizens. (For more, see my book 'Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy').

Reporting on the new bill, The Times ran with the headline 'Israel wavers on 2nd-class Arabs law'. An editorial in The New York Times claimed that "Israel's courts and laws" have consistently given "equal weight" to Israel's definition as both 'Jewish and democratic'. This is simply not true.

It is absurd, as the New York paper put it, to suggest that "Israel's very existence...has been based on the ideal of democracy for all of its people." Palestinians have always been second-class citizens (at best), and Israel already defines itself as a 'Jewish state' rather than a state of all its citizens.

So yes, the new wave of far-Right legislation signals something new – but let's not forget that what we are witnessing is an intensification of racial discrimination, not its emergence.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ben White) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:08:06 +0000
Abbas: We are ready to set up Palestine state on 22% of mandate land https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15456-abbas-we-are-ready-to-set-up-palestine-state-on-22-of-mandate-land https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15456-abbas-we-are-ready-to-set-up-palestine-state-on-22-of-mandate-land Mahmoud AbbasPalestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas called on the international community to compel Israel to comply with its legal obligations regarding international resolutions, saying he is ready to set up a Palestinian state on only 22 per cent of historical Palestine.

UN Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine Riyad Mansour spoke on behalf of Abbas in the special meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The Anadolu Agency reported that the statement included the PA's readiness to resolve the conflict with Israel in accordance with the international resolutions and set up a Palestinian state on only 22 per cent of historical Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The statement also mentioned that as part of the resolution, a just solution for the refugees should be found in accordance with the UN resolutions.

"The time has come to find the political will in order to work seriously for achieving the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the independence of the Palestinian state on the bases of 1967," Mansour said.

Adding: "The State of Palestine had, through the Arab Group, presented a draft resolution to the Security Council to set a timeframe for ending the Israeli occupation."

"The State of Palestine continued to act with utmost responsibility to serve its people and uphold its legal obligations and international commitments. It had stood ready for decades to reach a solution to the conflict, and despite diminishing hopes and a dangerous situation on the ground; it remained committed to the two-state solution. "

Abbas called for stopping all Judaisation measures in East Jerusalem and the actions aiming at changing the Christian and Islamic Palestinian identity of the holy city and to refrain from attempts to divide Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The special meeting was held ahead of the International Day, observed annually on November 29 to mark the date in 1947, when the General Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning Palestine into two States, one Arab and one Jewish.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:03:16 +0000
Israel pushing an Intifada? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15455-israel-pushing-an-intifada https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/15455-israel-pushing-an-intifada Palestinian resistanceOn 12th July, three Israeli boys were kidnapped resulting in collective punishment throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israeli soldiers led a manhunt to find the boys, ransacking thousands of homes- the boys' bodies were found two and a half weeks later. Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach had been shot dead shortly after they were kidnapped.

Their deaths unleashed a summer of fire which is still burning brightly across East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. With no sign of it subsiding, fears and speculations regarding a third intifada are growing stronger. Whether the current events will spark an intifada or not, Israel seems intent on stoking the embers.

The week that started with the funerals of the three Israeli teens ended with the funeral of a Palestinian boy. The badly charred body of 16 year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir from East Jerusalem was discovered on 2nd July- he had been abducted by Israeli extremists in revenge for the murder of the three Israeli teens. After his funeral, protestors rioted on the streets of East Jerusalem calling for justice and change. By this time, the US brokered peace talks had already collapsed amidst continued settlement building, killing any hope of achieving an end to the situation by diplomatic means.

Just days later Israel began its military offensive over Gaza. The outbreak of "Operation Protective Edge" led to what some described as the strongest and most sustained uprising by the city's Palestinian residents in a decade. In the protests, 16 year old Mohammed Sunuqrut was shot in the head with a sponge tipped bullet and died from his wounds a weeks later.

From Mohammed's Abu Khdeir's abduction until the Gaza ceasefire was brokered some 56 days later, around 727 people from East Jerusalem had been arrested and it is believed 260 of them were under 18- most are accused of throwing stones and partaking in the protests.

The months of October and November saw a series of car ramming incidents that took the lives of several Israelis, including a border policeman and a baby- dubbed the "run-over Intifada" by the New York Times. On the 10 November two stabbing incidents on the same day killed an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv and a woman in the West Bank. Most of the suspects were extra-judicially assassinated. Israel bought back its policy of "punitive house demolitions" to further punish the assailants and their families.

This has all been happening against the backdrop of Jewish claims to the Al-Aqsa compound. Israeli Jews claim the mosque lies on the site of Temple Mount, the most holy site in Judaism, however many Rabbi's, including Israel's chief rabbinate, believe that entering Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam, is a violation of Jewish law. In October, an Arab Knesset member revealed that there would be a vote on a law drafted by an Israeli committee regarding the partition of Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews. Clashes have plagued the holy site more than ever recently.

On October 29 a Palestinian on a motorcycle attempted to assassinate US born right wing Yehuda Glick, spokesman for Israeli groups advocating greater Jewish access to the Temple Mount. A day later Al-Aqsa was shut for the first time since 1967.

On November 16, a Palestinian man from East Jerusalem was found hanging in the bus and colleagues claimed six extremist settlers had killed him. This version contradicted the official Israeli narrative of suicide, which was disputed strongly by his family and many Palestinians who took to the streets of East Jerusalem in protest.

Two days later, at a synagogue in West Jerusalem four Israeli Rabbis and an Israeli policeman were killed during morning prayers. Two assailants, cousins from East Jerusalem, were shot at the scene.

Revenge attacks and hate crimes directed against Palestinians followed the attack on the Synagogue. A settler shot a 16 year old boy. A Palestinian woman was run over by a car. Instead of seeking to ease the tensions, Israel relaxed gun possession regulations for the self-defence of its citizens.

After years of frustrations, various incidents served as tipping points that sparked the first and second intifadas. The first intifada is often attributed to the killing of four Palestinian civilians by an Israeli jeep, and the subsequent killing of a 17 year old by an Israeli officer who fired into a crowd of protesting Palestinians. The intifada was however a reaction to 20 years of Israeli occupation- 20 years of dispossession, degradation and frustration.

Ariel Sharon's visit to Al-Aqsa flanked by a 1,000-strong security force lit the flames of the second intifada. Against the backdrop of years of failed negotiations it was the final straw for disenchanted and frustrated Palestinians that only saw concessions from the Oslo Accords.

Summer in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has been full of potential "tipping points". This is by no means an exhaustive list of them, but highlights just some of the incidents that could have united Palestinians in a sustained and mass uprising. Added to continuing collective punishment and Israel's discriminatory policies towards Palestinians; the failed negotiations, the devastating bombardment of Gaza and Jewish claims to Al-Aqsa, are an explosive mix.

Israel certainly seems intent on pushing the right buttons to spark an intifada. If it is successful, Israel will most certainly use the expression of Palestinian frustrations, albeit rockets or protests, or even car ramming incidents, to brutally crush the Palestinian population under the banner of "self-defence", once again.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Jessica Purkiss) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:05:44 +0000
Bennett to US: Nation-state law is our problem not yours https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15454-bennett-to-us-nation-state-law-is-our-problem-not-yours https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15454-bennett-to-us-nation-state-law-is-our-problem-not-yours Naftali BennettIsrael's Economy Minister and leader of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett rejected the US State Department's criticism regarding the nation-state law which states that country is for Jews, making Arabs second class citizens.

He told Israeli Army Radio today: "I say to the Americans that the affairs of the State of Israel - we will manage [ourselves]. In the end this is an internal matter and I do not think anyone has a right to interfere in it."

In a press conference yesterday, US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Washington understood that the proposal was only at the "beginning of a process, and so I don't want to speculate on the outcome," but added that the US "would expect any final legislation to continue Israel's commitment to democratic principles."

The Israeli government decided to postpone the decision on this law to next week. A decision had been expected tomorrow.

Israeli radio said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned members of his party and the coalition not to vote against the draft bill or they risk being dismissed.

Finance Minister and chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, Yair Lapid, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni both oppose the draft law.

"Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid know very well, that [voting 'yes' for the bill is] part of the coalition agreement," Bennett said Tuesday. "The coalition agreement says that we should accept the Jewish State law."

Mohammed Dahlan, a lawyer and expert in Israeli law, said the draft national law states explicitly for the first time that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, to make the status of Arabs void. He pointed out that it would negatively affect the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel.

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, some 1.6 million Arabs in Israel, they make up more than 20 per cent of the roughly eight million people living in the country.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:03:28 +0000
Senior UN official calls for lifting the siege of Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15453-senior-un-official-calls-for-lifting-the-siege-of-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/15453-senior-un-official-calls-for-lifting-the-siege-of-gaza Sam KutesaPresident of the UN General Assembly Sam Kutesa and other top UN officials voiced their solidarity on Monday with the people of Palestine and called to lift the siege of the Gaza Strip.

The remarks came during a Special Meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in Observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which is annually observed on 29 November.

Kutesa highlighted that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip remains critical, with high rates of poverty and unemployment.

"The long-standing restrictions on the movement of people and goods continue to undermine the living conditions of the 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza and, therefore, the blockade should be lifted," he stressed.

The International Day of solidarity marks the date in 1947 when the General Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning Palestine into two states, one Palestinian and one Jewish.

Since then, the Palestinian state has not been realised, whereas a Jewish state was immediately established with the help of the international community. To this day, millions of Palestinians in the region and around the world remain stateless refugees.

"Indeed, more than 5 million Palestinian refugees continue to experience exceptionally difficult circumstances," the UN official reminded those attending the meeting.

Regarding the stalled peace process, Kutesa warned: "The peace process now hangs from a thread and the process of rapprochement seems to be slipping away. The lack of progress and the renewed tension require sustained attention."

He also reiterated that the conditions in occupied Palestine and especially Jerusalem remain "volatile" and thus are "still a source of serious concern".

"In light of the recent violent incidents that led to civilian deaths and injuries, I strongly condemn all acts of violence against civilians and attacks against religious sites," he said.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:52:04 +0000
Marzouki invites Essebsi to televised debate in Tunisia's runoff presidential election https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/15452-marzouki-invites-essebsi-to-televised-debate-in-tunisias-runoff-presidential-election https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/15452-marzouki-invites-essebsi-to-televised-debate-in-tunisias-runoff-presidential-election Beji Caid el Sebsi making a speech during this year's Presidential campaignThe campaigns of both Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and his rival Beji Caid Essebsi have secured the top two positions in the first round of the presidential elections, which took place on Sunday, and Marzouki has now invited Essebsi to a televised debate in front of the Tunisian people, Arabs48 news website reported on Monday.

The campaigns of Essebsi and Marzouki each claimed winning shortly after the polling stations closed in the first free presidential elections in the country's history. There are no official results yet, but competitors have also acknowledged their defeat.

According to the preliminary results, neither Marzouki nor Essebsi obtained enough votes to avoid a runoff, which is expected to take place in around a month.

Arabs48 quoted Marzouki as saying, in a speech to his supporters late on Sunday from the balcony of the central headquarters of his party, that he is inviting Essebsi to a televised debate and a direct confrontation in front of the Tunisian people.

The campaign of Essebsi, a former official in the era of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled in a popular uprising in 2011, did not comment on the invitation.

Marzouki said he expects that his rival would accept this challenge.

He also called on his allies in the struggle who did not succeed in winning the presidential election to support a democratic president against the return of those who were a part of the old regime, referring to his rival Essebsi.

However, Mohsen Marzouki, the head of Essebsi's campaign, claims that his party is now representing the "new system" and that the losers in the parliamentary elections are the ones that represent the old system.

After more than three years following the end of the one-party rule under Ben Ali, Tunisia spearheaded a paradigm shift in the region through forming a new constitution, following a consensus policy and avoiding the turmoil faced by its neighbours.

Sunday's vote comes in the wake of general elections held in October, where the secular Nidaa Tunis party won the majority of seats in the parliament, defeating the Islamic Renaissance Party, which had won the first free elections back in 2011.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:48:35 +0000
Hamas: Gaza siege does not improve Israel's security https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15451-hamas-gaza-siege-does-not-improve-israels-security https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15451-hamas-gaza-siege-does-not-improve-israels-security Fawzi BarhoumPalestinian Islamist movement Hamas affirmed on Monday that maintaining the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip does not afford security to the Israeli occupation, Anadolu news agency reported.

In a statement, Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said: "Anyone who thinks that the siege of the Gaza Strip, causing famine to its people, will afford security to the Israeli occupation is misguided."

He added: "There are several sides taking part in the siege of Gaza along with the Israeli occupation. Their aim is to provide security for the occupation."

According to Anadolu, Barhoum did not name any of these sides, but called on them to reread the history of the region to "understand the equation of the area very well".

The Hamas spokesperson warned that those helping the Israeli occupation tighten the blockade would one day "pay the price" and be "burnt by the fire of resistance".

The Israeli occupation has been imposing a strict siege of the Gaza Strip since mid-2007 after Hamas swept rival Fatah – supported by Israel and the West – out of the enclave.

Since then, Israel has waged three brutal wars in the Gaza Strip that claimed the lives of around 4,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 16,000 others. That last war lasted for 51 days and ended on 26 August. However, the siege is still in effect despite international calls to lift it.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:47:05 +0000