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 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 20:34:23 +0000 MEMO en-gb Message from President Morsi smuggled out of prison https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14873-message-from-president-morsi-smuggled-out-of-prison https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14873-message-from-president-morsi-smuggled-out-of-prison BREAKING NEWS

Great People of Egypt,

I congratulate you on the occasion of the New Hijrah year while the country is still at the zenith of its revolution and the youth are at the peak of their determination to implement their will. I congratulate you and express delight at the continuation of your revolution against the paralysed coup and its leaders who seek to subjugate the country to their whims. Yet, they will never succeed. They live in fear of a black fate awaiting them as a punishment for what they have perpetrated of crimes against this great nation.

I seize this opportunity to announce that I have turned down, and continue to reject, all the attempts to negotiate a compromise at the expense of the revolution and the blood of the martyrs. These are attempts that are aimed at enabling the criminals to continue enjoying the enslavement of a people they never deserved to be part of. I would also like to reiterate my instructions to all active revolutionaries in the field, including their leaderships, their councils, their coalitions, their symbols, their thinkers and their students: "there should be no recognition of the coup, there should be no retreat from the revolution and there should be no negotiation at the expense of the blood of the martyrs."

Happy new year, and may the next year arrive while you are still revolutionaries and are free.

As for me, I am absolutely confident, by the Grace of God, that God will provide our revolution with victory. My trust in your glowing willpower and enormous strength is unwavering. By the will of God I shall not depart my prison before all my detained sons are freed and before all my detained daughters are back in their homes. My life is not dearer than the lives of the noble martyrs of the revolution. I derive my willpower from that of the innovative youth in all revolution squares and universities.

So, bear the glad tidings and continue your revolution. God will support the truth and will not let you down. God willing, we shall meet soon to celebrate the success of the revolution.

Muhammad Morsi

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (President Mohammad Morsi) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 18:19:15 +0000
Morocco: remarks of Israeli officials to undermine legal status of Jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14872-morocco-remarks-of-israeli-officials-to-undermine-legal-status-of-jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14872-morocco-remarks-of-israeli-officials-to-undermine-legal-status-of-jerusalem Palestinians being denied entry to Al-Aqsa mosque for Friday prayersMorocco denounced on Friday the latest Israeli escalation in the city of Jerusalem, and the remarks of some Israeli officials, as an attempt to "undermine the legal status of the city."

A statement issued by the Moroccan foreign ministry and reported by Anadolu Agency said that the "remarks of some Israeli officials are trying to undermine the legal status of noble Jerusalem, which was identified by international legitimacy as an unalienable part of Palestinian land occupied in 1967."

The statement also stressed "such remarks lead the Palestinian cause towards undesired religious and dogmatic conflicts ahead of a complete control over Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to facilitate partitioning it."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Thursday that Israeli occupation authorities would order the "strongest possible response" to any future Palestinian civil protests - what he referred to as "riots" - in occupied Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying that: "United Jerusalem was, and will always remain, the capital of Israel. Every attempt to harm its people will be met with a stronger response. We will return peace and security to Jerusalem."

Morocco called upon the international community to put more pressure on Israel to stop its aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque, stop judaisation and the building of settlements in the holy city.

It considered that Israeli measures contradict international efforts to reach a just reconciliation for the conflict in the Middle East.

The statement expressed the "deep concern" and "serious worries" of the Moroccan authorities over Israeli escalation in the city and the mosque. It also warned that "hostile Israeli actions" might lead to counter destructive violence.

Morocco noted that it expects to host a cooperative meeting for the Islamic Cooperation Organisation in the first week of November this year. The meeting is to discuss the necessity of defending Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:58:51 +0000
Hamas: occupation to pay price for its 'crimes' in Jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14871-hamas-occupation-to-pay-price-for-its-crimes-in-jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14871-hamas-occupation-to-pay-price-for-its-crimes-in-jerusalem Israeli police arresting a Palestinian near Al-Aqsa mosquePalestinian Islamist movement Hamas warned the Israeli occupation that it would "pay a high price" for its "crimes" in the Palestinian city of Jerusalem, promising to take "strong" and "surprising" measures.

Speaking to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Resalah, Hamas Spokesman Husam Badran said: "The City [Jerusalem] is witnessing a huge escalation; it has been living a kind of intifada for months. It is witnessing daily arrests, casualties and the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque."

The city is ready for escalation on all levels, he said, and it would witness "massive resistance operations" to respond to the "increasing violence of the occupier" as well as the "state of silence" from other Arab countries.

Badran warned: "The enemy is mistaken if it thought it could predict the upcoming responses. It does not know what is coming in the future."

The city has recently witnessed dangerous escalations, including the killing and arrests of Palestinians, as well as almost daily invasions of Israeli settlers, police and army to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Palestinian teenager Ayman Shaludi, 20, ran over Israeli commuters waiting for the train in Jerusalem. It was reportedly said that the incident was revenge for a settler killing a 5 year-old Palestinian girl in Hebron.

However, witnesses said that was an unplanned car accident as the car, which was filmed by a CCTV camera, collided about 14 metres before it hit the commuters waiting at the station. Then, when the teenager got out of his car after it was stopped, an Israeli guard shot him.

Badran stressed that what is happening in Jerusalem is well organised. At the same time he downplayed Israeli threats to target Hamas leaders.

"Israeli threats are not new and at the same time they do not scare the leaders of the movement," he said. "They will not change our positions. Palestine deserves the sacrifice of souls and bodies."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:53:30 +0000
Israeli forces kill 14-year-old Palestinian boy https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14870-israeli-forces-kill-14-year-old-palestinian-boy https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14870-israeli-forces-kill-14-year-old-palestinian-boy Israeli security forces members stand guard as a group of Palestinians protest the Jewish settlement construction in Al-Jalzoo region of RamallahIMAGES

The Israeli army killed on Friday evening a Palestinian boy in the West Bank village of Silwad, near Ramallah, Palestinian Safa news agency said.

Witnesses said that Orwa Hamed, 14, was killed after Israel fired live bullets at tens of Palestinian protesters in the western side of the village.

According to witnesses Israeli forces held Hamed after he was shot and prevented Palestinian ambulances from taking him to hospital.

"Hamed was shot by a sniper from a very close distance," the eyewitness stressed.

After a while, the witnesses said, the Israeli occupation allowed the ambulance to approach the Palestinian boy and found him already dead.

The Israeli army spokesman claimed that the boy was shot because he was about to hurl a Molotov cocktail at oncoming traffic on Highway 60 in the West Bank, endangering lives.

Images in the gallery may be disturbing for some.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:37:49 +0000
US questions whether ISIS uses chemical weapons https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14869-us-questions-whether-isis-uses-chemical-weapons https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/14869-us-questions-whether-isis-uses-chemical-weapons John KerryUS Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that his country is investigating claims that ISIS militants used chemical weapons against Iraqis last month, Anadolu Agency said.

Kerry did not confirm whether the chlorine was used by the ISIS militants, but described the allegations as "extremely serious."

He said chlorine can be considered a chemical weapon if it is mixed with other toxic agents.

"The use of any chemical weapon is an abhorrent act," Kerry told reporters at a State Department news conference with the South Korean foreign minister.

"It is against international law," he said, "and these recent allegations underscore the importance of the work we are currently engaged in." He said the attacks, if true, would not change US strategy in Iraq.

Kerry said it might slightly affect some US tactical decisions, but would not affect strategic ones. "We are promoting the alliance step-by-step so we are able to support the Iraqi army in order to fight ISIS by themselves," he said.

Meanwhile, the American forces and its allies carried out 18 aerial attacks around the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani on Thursday. The attacks targeted ISIS sites and their vehicles.

The alliance targeted several sites for ISIS, including the city of Mosul, the area around the Baji oil refinery in the south of Iraq, and the area around Fallujah.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 12:21:16 +0000
Israel fires on farmlands in southern Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14868-israel-fires-on-farmlands-in-southern-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14868-israel-fires-on-farmlands-in-southern-gaza File photo of Israeli soldiers at the border with GazaIsraeli army forces opened fire on Palestinian farmlands in southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, eyewitnesses said.

"Israeli forces stationed at the Kisovim military post opened fire on farmlands [in Khan Younis city]," an eyewitness told Anadolu Agency.

No casualties were reported.

There has been no comment from the Israeli army.

Israel and Palestinian resistance factions struck an open-ended cease-fire on August 26 to bring an end to a seven-week Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, which left more than 2,160 Palestinians dead and nearly 11,000 injured.

At least 73 Israelis – 68 soldiers and five civilians – were also killed in the offensive, according to Israeli figures.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 12:17:33 +0000
Egyptian military experts calls for setting up wide buffer zone in Sinai https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14867-egyptian-military-experts-calls-for-setting-up-wide-buffer-zone-in-sinai https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14867-egyptian-military-experts-calls-for-setting-up-wide-buffer-zone-in-sinai Car bomb explosion at an anti-coup protest in Giza on October 24In the wake of the explosion that killed 25 Egyptian soldiers and wounded several others in Sinai, Egyptian military experts called on the Egyptian National Defence Council, which convened on Friday, to set up a wide buffer zone in the peninsula, Anadolu Agency said.

The buffer zone, according to the experts, should include the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid in the north of Sinai. They should be evacuated until the area is purified from 'terrorism.'

Speaking to an official Egyptian TV channel, the Director of the Republic's Strategic Studies Centre Major General Sameh Seif Yazal called for the evacuation of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, saying similar steps were taken during 1967 in Port Said and Suez. If it goes ahead the government will have to find alternative accommodation for the residents of both cities.

Military Expert Major General Sayyid Hashim called on the National Defence Council to take important decisions, including announcing that the border area with Israel is an operation site. He said that this area should include the two cities, which he advised be evacuated from civilians.

Meanwhile, the Former Major General of the Strategic Study Centre for the Armed Forces Alaa Ezziddin said to Anadolu that the National Defence Council met to take "deterrent decisions" regarding terrorism in the country, especially in Sinai.

"On the top of these decisions is the acceleration of the ratification of terrorism law," he said.

Ezziddin explained: "This law includes all the necessary measures on how to deal with security issues, including sentence verdicts for anyone who owns unlicensed weapons, as well as prosecuting anyone who carries weapons and explosives and causes an attack before a military court."

It was expected that the National Defence Council would take decisions that tighten the restrictions already imposed on residents in the north of Sinai. One of the decisions taken was the closure of the Egyptian-Palestinian border crossing, Rafah, until further notice.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:55:02 +0000
Twelfth lawsuit brought against Muslim Brotherhood leader https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14866-twelfth-lawsuit-brought-against-muslim-brotherhood-leader https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14866-twelfth-lawsuit-brought-against-muslim-brotherhood-leader Mohammed BadieThe Egyptian Public Prosecution turned on Friday the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie and 92 other leaders to the criminal court in the city of Beni Suef on the charge of instigating violence and riots.

This raises the number of lawsuits against Badie to 12. Different courts have issued appealable verdicts in four of them, according to Badie's defence committee lawyer Mohamed Al-Dimati.

They were accused of burning the headquarters of the city's governorate, the real estate registration office and a school for nuns, as well as using weapons, endangering public safety and spreading the ideology of a terrorist group.

Al-Dimati said that one of the court sentences against Badie is a death sentence. "All these verdicts are appealable before high courts," Al-Dimati said. "There are 15 other cases against him being investigated."

Since the military coup against the first ever freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the coup authorities have been accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of "inciting terrorism and violence." The group said that it has stuck to its longstanding ideology, which is peaceful resistance.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:45:06 +0000
Israel's Housing Minister intends to live in Silwan https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14865-israels-housing-minister-intends-to-live-in-silwan https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14865-israels-housing-minister-intends-to-live-in-silwan Uri ArielUri Ariel, Minister of Housing and Construction from the Jewish Home party, has announced his intention to move to the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. He made the announcement after touring the neighbourhood with his wife. He intends to live there for several days each week.

According to a report broadcast by Israeli TV station Channel 2, Ariel went to Shin Bet's VIP guarding unit and asked them to prepare for his move to the new house.

Security agencies are concerned about Ariel's move, which could escalate the recent violence that has erupted in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods.

Ariel intends to live there because of the existing dispute between the Israeli government and the US Administration over building in this area and whether or not Jews are allowed to live there.

Senior government officials, including Netanyahu himself, have stated that Jews can live wherever they want to. Other officials have said that Jews have the right to live in Silwan, just as Arabs have the right to live on French Hill, a neighbourhood and settlement in East Jerusalem.

This step comes as a real test for the statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to US President Barak Obama.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:43:23 +0000
Algeria refuses the opening of a Red Cross office on Malian border https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14864-algeria-refuses-the-opening-of-a-red-cross-office-on-malian-border https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14864-algeria-refuses-the-opening-of-a-red-cross-office-on-malian-border International Red Cross logoAlgerian authorities have refused to open an office for the International Red Cross in Tamanrasset Province on the border with Mali in order to take care of African refugees, an official Algerian news agency reported on Friday.

Head of the Algerian Red Crescent (CRA) Saida Benhabiles said: "We refused to open an office for the Red Cross in Tamanrasset under the cover of caring for Malian refugees, which is a humanitarian project aiming at jeopardising nation sovereignty."

Benhabiles continued: "We refused to make of Tamanrasset a point for passing international aid because of the existence of an office for the Algerian Red Crescent, which carries out its mission very well."

The International Red Cross and the Algerian Red Crescent, Benhabiles said, discussed the issue of opening an office for the Red Cross in Tamanrasset last September in Geneva.

The Algerian Red Crescent take care of hundreds of Malian refugees fleeing from conflict. The refugees are residing in camps in the southern borders of Algeria.

Head of the International Red Cross has previously said that he reached an agreement to cooperate with the Algerian Red Crescent regarding Malian refugees.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:40:54 +0000
Love wins: Palestinian perseverance behind walls https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/book-review/14863-love-wins-palestinian-perseverance-behind-walls https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/book-review/14863-love-wins-palestinian-perseverance-behind-walls Love wins: Palestinian perseverance behind wallsAuthor: Afzal Huda & Waleed Abu-Ghazaleh
Publisher: Olive Branch Press
Published Date : 1 January 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1566569545

Review by: Amelia Smith

In the summer of 2011 award-winning Canadian filmmaker and photographer Afzal Huda was given a map depicting areas in Palestine most affected by the Apartheid Wall. Huda spent three weeks capturing life in what has now become an “open-air prison”, and how Palestinians survive and resist such an existence.

To read the full review, visit the Palestine Book Awards site.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Amelia Smith) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:09:24 +0000
Israel's internment regime https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/inquiry/14862-israels-internment-regime https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/inquiry/14862-israels-internment-regime Asa WinstanleyWatch the BBC's coverage and it may have you believing that Israel is a small, embattled outpost of modern "civilisation" in the war-ravaged Middle East. A "villa in the jungle," as racist former war minister and Israeli killer Ehud Barak once infamously put it.

After all - the propaganda has it - Israel is a modern democracy, with a thriving tech-led economy, a state that offers democracy and human rights for all. Sure, Israel comes under criticism during the recurrent wars it engages in with its neighbours, and sometimes, indeed, it may even go too far. But after all, Israel is one of us - the "civilised" West. Israel "belongs to the White Man" as Eli Yishai, the former interior minister and fanatic Israeli racist once put it.

But the truth, as so often, is far removed from the mainstream media image.

Every so often some smug liberal will ask the annoying question, Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? Why do the Palestinians not try non-violent resistance to Israeli occupation? And so on, in monotonous fashion.

Those same smug liberals do not bother to inform themselves about the basic realities of Israel's West Bank imprisonment regime.

Palestinian activists, human rights defenders, journalists and academics are frequently picked up off the streets, out of their homes in the middle of the night, in front of their families – Israel's thug soldiers take them off to jail and intern them without trial, often in conditions of torture and isolation.

Military courts then rubber-stamp the actions of Israel's military and spy agencies.

There was one salient example of their regime only this week. Abdullah Abu Rahme, one of the main organisers of popular resistance against Israel's apartheid wall in the village of Bil'in, was convicted by one of the Israeli military's kangaroo courts of "obstructing the work of a soldier". This was in reference to a 2012 incident when Abu Rahme tried to stop a military bulldozer from clearing land on which to build the apartheid wall. According to +972 Magazine Abu Rahme is likely in December to be sentenced for four months in prison for this "crime".

Ghassan Najjar, an activist with the Solidarity Movement for a Free Palestine (SFP -- an ISM offshoot) was taken by Israeli soldiers from his home village of Burin, near Nablus, on 27 August. Najjar is well known locally as unarmed activist against Israeli occupation. For this "crime," Najjar languishes in Israel's prisons, under its "administrative detention" regime – i.e. internment without charge or trial. SFP says he has had been barred from seeing a lawyer apart from one short conference during a military court hearing that extended his detention.

The day before Najjar, Israel abducted retired academic Yousef Abdul Haq formerly of An-Najah university in Nablus. Abdul Haq is allegedly affiliated with the Marxist organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. For this "crime" the 73-year-old's home was ransacked at 2 am, and he is still being detained without charge.

In a similar vein, elected PFLP law-maker Khalida Jarrar was in August issued with an internal deportation order by Israeli occupation forces. Soldiers delivered the order to her Ramallah home, ordering her out of the city, expelling her to Jericho, in another part of the West Bank. This was a vindictive action presumably intended to obstruct her activism and educational work in the West Bank and internationally. In this case, international solidarity with Jarrar has had an effect, and the order was effectively withdrawn last month. Her daughter Yafa (a well-known boycott activist in her own right) issued a statement saying: "We believe that this arbitrary and unjust decision would not have been reconsidered without all the international pressure and local pressure that you have contributed to."

Israel's prisons are full of "Palestinian Gandhis". There are many Palestinians committed to resisting Israel in all sorts of ways, be it cultural resistance, popular protests or educational activities. But the mainstream media's obsession with violence is part of the reason that armed resistance will always have a key role to play in opposing Israel.

Israel's very existence is predicated on violence and negation of the Palestinians' very right to exist. This is a state that was literally built on the ruins, ashes and mass graves of those 750,000 Palestinians expelled by Israel in 1948. The long-term outlook for such 19-century-style colonialism in the twenty-first century is not good to say the least.

Meanwhile, Palestinians will continue to resist Israel by any means necessary.

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

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Asa Winstanley) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 10:40:09 +0000
Democratic Islam is the best antidote to ISIS https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14861-democratic-islam-is-the-best-antidote-to-isis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14861-democratic-islam-is-the-best-antidote-to-isis Soumaya GhannoushiThe spoils of the falling Arab Spring have been divided among many. If the most obvious beneficiaries have been the old guard, Arab autocrats and their foreign allies, who have an equal interest in keeping the region firmly under the thumb, they have not been the only ones. Al Qaeda's share of the spoils has been a substantial one. It had watched helplessly from a dark distant corner as ordinary Arab men and women rose up to topple the corrupt despots who had crushed them for decades. As the mass popular movements of protest came to occupy the centre stage of history, its grandiose exhibitionist spectacles of violence and devastation looked more absurd than ever. Its claims about the impossibility of change except through bombs, bullets and blood rang hollower than empty drums. Never did al-Qaeda seem more isolated and less relevant.

A child of crisis and conflict, it could only flourish in climates of despair and despondency. So as the Arab spring turned into a winter of military coups, sectarianism and civil strife, al Qaeda breathed a deep sigh of relief and emerged with renewed vigor out of its seclusion. Its credibility was restored and, vindicated, it confidently addressed the Arab public once more: "Did I not tell you so?! Peaceful protests and ballot boxes are not for you! They are pointless. Violence can only be confronted with violence. It is the only way."

The most powerful challenge to this seemingly consistent argument comes not from the Pentagon and its war fleets, but from a small country on the westernmost part of the Arab world. Tunisia, which had shown Arabs a way out of the prison of dictatorship through peaceful protest, is today demonstrating that on the ruins of the old order a democracy could be built. While the rest of Arab Spring countries have slid either into chaos and civil strife -- sectarian and ethnic -- or back into the bleak and brutal era of military coups, Tunisia seems to have withstood the powerful storms raging around it. The country is currently preparing to elect a representative parliament on October 26 and a president a month later.

The road to these polls has not been an easy one, with numerous terrorist attempts and widespread social unrest. But thanks to a politics of power-sharing and compromise, Tunisia's democratic experiment was kept on track. When it won the October 2011 constituent assembly elections, Tunisia's Ennahdha called for a national unity government and moved to share power with moderate secularist parties within what came to be known as the Troika.

And when the country was plunged into crisis after the assassination of a member of the opposition, which coincided with the military coup in Egypt, Ennahdha gave priority to safeguarding the country's democratic transition over its own partisan interests. In a highly pragmatic move, it proceeded to cede power to a caretaker government to manage the country in the elections' run up, much to its bases discontent.

This realism and acute awareness of the complexity of transitional phases and the dangers presented by a hostile regional context have spared the country much blood and mayhem, helping keep its transition to democracy firmly intact.

Tunisia's Ennahdha seems to have learned much from two decades of repression at home and the failure of democratic transitions in neighboring Algeria and Egypt. Through their years of exile in European capitals, its leaders appear to have discovered the complex business of politics, with its painstaking negotiations, necessary concessions and changing coalitions and alliances. They seem to have learnt the art of compromise and consensus, which may be the hallmark of the nascent Tunisian political model.

Tunisia is not out of the woods yet. Its democratic process is still under immense pressure. Geopolitics is not in its favor: Libya at its southern border in turmoil, with rampant anarchy, proliferating arms, and disintegrating state structures; Mali further down in the sub Sahara desert in the grip of terrorism, and its wider Arab environment plagued with rising instability. More menacingly is the presence of a Gulf block determined to annihilate what remains of the Arab Spring through manufactured chaos and insecurity, media propaganda and dirty politics, via the power of petrodollars. Though Tunisia is fortunate enough to be geographically remote from this centre of counter-revolutionary conspiracies, it is not entirely immune to its destructive effects, however.

Aside from security, the challenge facing Tunisians today is economic. Thanks to the spirit of consensus, Tunisians have taken substantial steps to laying down the institutional and legal foundation stones for their democracy. Chronic structural problems, political instability and widespread social protests have impeded progress on the economic front. But Just as they have translated freedom, the first demand of the Jasmine revolution, into a democratic constitution and free elections, they must turn dignity, its second rallying cry, into development, equal distribution of wealth among its regions and welfare for all its citizens.

The first wave of democracy revolts may have ended in failure in much of the region, but reverting back to the old ways of "doing business" with the Arab world is unattainable. The clock will not turn back and "stability" can no longer be bought at the price of freedom. Real political stability in the region can only be built on a solid basis of democracy and respect for the popular will. The alternative is non-constructive chaos, neither freedom, nor stability.

Sunday's legislative elections in Tunisia will draw a line under the post-revolution interim phase, transferring the country from the transitional to the permanent. Should these polls be conducted successfully and the necessary political compromises be reached in their aftermath, Tunisia would emerge as the Arab world's first full fledged democracy.

This would not only have implications for its 11 million inhabitants, but would resonate around the whole region. It would offer a model of hope amidst the feverish voices of despair and nihilism competing over Arabs' allegiance, from military dictators and corrupt theocrats to militant anarchists. Tunisia would again chart a third path beyond fatalistic subordination to authoritarianism and the insanity of violent extremism.

This article was first published by the Huffington Post.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Soumaya Ghannoushi) frontpage Sat, 25 Oct 2014 10:32:43 +0000
The Reckoning: How the Killing of One Man Changed the Fate of the Promised Land https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/book-review/14860-the-reckoning-how-the-killing-of-one-man-changed-the-fate-of-the-promised-land https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/book-review/14860-the-reckoning-how-the-killing-of-one-man-changed-the-fate-of-the-promised-land The Reckoning: How the Killing of One Man Changed the Fate of the Promised LandAuthor: Patrick Bishop
Publisher: William Collins
Published Date : 27 February 2014
ISBN-13: 978-0007506170

Review by: Shatha Khalil

After the fatal shooting of Zionist fighter Avraham Stern the Jewish community in Mandate Palestine is split between those who believe they need British help to build their new country and those who believe the British are standing in their way.

To read the full review, visit the Palestine Book Awards site.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Shatha Khalil) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:08:24 +0000
Poll: British public twice as likely to blame Israel as the Palestinians for ongoing conflict https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14859-poll-british-public-twice-as-likely-to-blame-israel-as-the-palestinians-for-ongoing-conflict https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14859-poll-british-public-twice-as-likely-to-blame-israel-as-the-palestinians-for-ongoing-conflict British Public Opinion PollTwice as many British adults blame Israel for the failure to achieve a final settlement as they do the Palestinians, according to a new poll commissioned by Israel advocacy groups.

The survey was conducted by Populus on behalf of The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) and the Jewish Leadership Council, with more than 2,000 interviewed online 10-12 October.

Asked to choose from a list of words and phrases the 3 that most closely describe their view of Israel, respondents opted for: 'Jewish' (40%), 'Under threat' (32%), 'Aggressive' (32%), 'Bullying' (18%), and 'Isolated' (14%).

The poll also suggested a generational gap when it comes to attitudes about core questions. Asked to pick from three possible statements, support for Israel as a Jewish state – even in the context of a negotiated two-state solution – was at only 27% among 18-24 year olds, compared to 55% amongst the 55-64 age bracket.

The fact that the poll was commissioned by two of the UK's main Israel advocacy bodies, reflected in the questions, makes these results even more noteworthy.

A report on the data in The Jewish Chronicle declared 'Poll shows no mass hostility after Gaza', an indication of the anxiety felt by Israel's lobbyists since the summer's hostilities.

Indeed, the article notes that "Israel supporters hope the figures will answer the concerns of those who believe attitudes have turned heavily against the country in the past year." The poll would thus appear to be an expensive PR exercise performed on behalf of advocacy groups worried at the frustration in their own constituencies at Israel's deteriorating image.

Coincidentally, the newspaper also reported this week on remarks made by Tory MP Robert Halfon, who has complained that Israel's supporters are being "outclassed and outgunned", and ultimately, "losing the battle."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:26:47 +0000
Libya reduces budget by 20 per cent due to declining oil revenues https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14858-libya-reduces-budget-by-20-per-cent-due-to-declining-oil-revenues https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14858-libya-reduces-budget-by-20-per-cent-due-to-declining-oil-revenues The Libyan parliament has reduced the size of the 2014 budget from 64 billion dinars ($48.2 billion) to 52 billion dinars ($40 billion) due to a decline in oil revenues, a member of the House of Representatives in Tobruk said yesterday.

Abdel Salam Nasiah told the Anadolu Agency that oil revenues are estimated to reach 18 billion dinars ($13.8 billion) by the end of this year. He went on to add that the current budget deficit in Libya amounts to approximately 19 billion Libyan dinars ($14.6 billion) and that this will be addressed by using other funds amounting to approximately 15 billion dinars ($11.5 billion). In an attempt to address the remainder of the deficit, the Ministry of Finance will issue treasury bills without interest that will circulate through the Central Bank of Libya.

In a recent report, the World Bank predicted that the budget deficit in Libya would reach 23.3 per cent in 2014 compared to 3.6 per cent last year. It also predicted that the deficit would drop five per cent by next year.

Nasiah added that the main reason behind reducing the budget is a drop in oil revenues, which are estimated at around 26 billion dollars ($20 billion), adding that, "there were nearly no oil revenues in the first six months of 2014".

According to the Budget Law, there are four sources for financing the general budget, the most notable of which are oil revenues at an estimated 18 billion dinars. The remainder comes from budget surpluses from the previous year which amount to eight billion dinars ($6.1 billion) as well as customs and tax revenues of approximately six billion dinars ($4.6 billion).

Libya is currently suffering from a bloody armed conflict in which militias are fighting to gain control of the country. The violence has resulted in the formation of two governments, an internationally recognised government based in Tobruk and a second in Tripoli.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:21:45 +0000
Like ISIS in Iraq, settlers in Jerusalem must be stopped https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/resources/commentary-and-analysis/14857-like-isis-in-iraq-settlers-in-jerusalem-must-be-stopped https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/resources/commentary-and-analysis/14857-like-isis-in-iraq-settlers-in-jerusalem-must-be-stopped Are there similarities between the so-called "Islamic State" in Iraq and Syria and the self-styled "Jewish State" in Palestine? Quite a few. For a start, both thrive on religious bigotry and pursue exclusivist, expansionist and repressive agendas. Everything taking place in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque today underlines how very little distinguishes the two.

There is one major difference, though. While the Jewish state enjoys the political, economic and military backing of the West, ISIS is fought against, as it should be, for its heinous crimes. Furthermore, just as the Kurds and Arab tribes of Syria and Iraq have the right to resist ISIS, so too do the Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem have every right to resist Israeli oppression.

For several months now there have been almost daily clashes in Jerusalem. The Israeli media have taken to describing events there as a quiet "Intifada". They have been a response to and consequence of the excesses of Israeli settler-vigilantes backed by the state.

Reports that the Knesset will next month vote on a draft law to partition Al-Aqsa Mosque have raised the stakes to critical levels across the occupied territories. But this is not all.

The seizure of Palestinian homes by Jewish settlers in Silwan, south of Jerusalem, has also brought tensions to the surface. It is there that more than 30 illegal settler families have been preparing to occupy apartments seized in the area during the past three months.

The odds against them are enormous but the Palestinians are not pinning all their hopes on support from any of their immediate neighbours or those further afield. "We Palestinians are not depending on the Arabs or Muslims at the present time," said Shaikh Ekrima Sabri, the imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque, "because they [the Arabs] are also busy in what is called fighting terrorism and they don't know that the Zionist occupation is the real terror."

Israel's ambition to seize Al-Aqsa is as old as the occupation itself. It is one that Palestinians have thwarted successfully over the years. Short of imposing a blanket ban on all Muslims visiting the mosque, Israel has resorted to every form of repression and subterfuge to change the status quo therein. This has only increased Palestinian resolve to ensure that the sanctuary remains the collective heritage of all Muslims.

Under the pretext of the observance of Jewish religious holidays, the Israeli authorities close the mosque repeatedly to Palestinian worshippers. And just as ISIS has attacked Christians in their churches in Iraq, Israeli forces have attacked Palestinian Muslims with tear gas and rubber bullets in Al-Aqsa Mosque. They have evicted Muslims forcefully from the site, seized control of its main gates, and allowed only Jews to enter and "worship".

ISIS has evicted the Yezidis from their villages in Iraq; similarly, Israeli settler organisations backed by the army continue to evict Palestinians from their homes in Silwan.

These acts of aggression are often portrayed in the Western media as the errant practices of fringe elements in Israeli society. This is, however, an obscene misrepresentation of reality. When the government funds the settlers and ministers participate in their actvities this can only be described as state policy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, indeed, has personally given orders to suppress the Palestinians who are seeking to exercise their fundamental human right to worship in their historic mosque.

Israel is relying on Western support and Arab preoccupation with their own crises, as it did during its war against the people of the Gaza Strip and other misadventures. Netanyahu interprets international and Arab silence as a green light. In fact, he is in a hurry to complete the imposition of Israeli "sovereignty" over all of Jerusalem before the Palestinian Authority makes any further moves at the UN.

It is regrettable that the PA is still not acting with the sense of urgency that the situation requires. While President Mahmoud Abbas calls on Palestinians to defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, his security forces suppress any effort to resist the rampaging settlers.

To the same degree that Western governments, the Vatican and other religious institutions have condemned and opposed ISIS, as they should, the time has come for them to stand up to Israeli bigotry passed off as democracy.

No country in the world has recognised Israel's unilateral claim to Jerusalem and its religious sites. On the contrary, it is still overwhelmingly recognised as an occupying power. The rights of the civilian population and the duties of the occupier are well documented in international law.

As a belligerent occupier, Israel can only requisition land and carry out physical transformation in the occupied territory under two conditions: if there is an "urgent military necessity" or if the change "benefits the local population". Neither holds true in the case of Jerusalem and so, for this reason if no other, the international community must act to uphold its will and the rule of law. The self-styled "Jewish State" must be tackled in the same robust manner as the equally self-styled "Islamic" version in Iraq and Syria. Anything less makes Israel's international backers complicit in its constant breaches of international law.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Dr Daud Abdullah) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:17:57 +0000
Innocence can only be lost once https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14856-innocence-can-only-be-lost-once https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14856-innocence-can-only-be-lost-once Within hours of the 7 July bombers wreaking havoc, death and terror in central London back in 2005 it was clear to many this was a direct legacy of Britain's involvement in the war against Iraq.

On that terrible day I invited trade union giant the late Bob Crow onto my TV show to discuss the attack which had impacted on thousands of commuters as well as directly and indirectly on all London transport workers in his union, the RMT. He was angry and outraged, and when I asked him for his immediate thoughts he said in his trademark robust and forceful tones, "This is what happens when you go round bombing other peoples' countries." He was referring to the invasion of, and war against, Iraq, pointing the finger of blame directly at the then Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Many – apart from Blair who is still in denial to this day – agreed with his sentiments. When a video emerged in September of that fateful year, Ayman al-Zawahri of Al-Qaida confirmed as much. He said that the group would target the "lands and interests of the countries which took part in the aggression against Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan."

Of course, there is no justification for targeting civilians anywhere in the world but you can't legislate for the actions of random individuals (and governments, for that matter) who, for whatever reasons, take it upon themselves to launch devastating terror attacks, but Bob Crow's words are still ringing in my ears. This is why I was surprised at the comments of Ontario's Senator Jim Munson in the wake of the Ottawa attack this week, when a lone gunman brought terror to the Canadian parliament after gunning down a soldier standing guard at a war memorial nearby.

"It's a day, I feel, where Canada lost its innocence," he said during a TV interview. As sound bites go, it was no surprise that the media leapt on to it in order to convey the emotions of the Canadian people after gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was shot dead in the halls of the parliament building. The theme was followed up by some international media outlets.

However, the real surprise is that Canada has not been targeted sooner. This is a country which, like its allies Britain, America and Australia, has played a major military role in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, as journalist Glenn Greenwald observed: "Canada has spent the last 13 years proclaiming itself a nation at war. It actively participated in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and was an enthusiastic partner in some of the most extremist War on Terror abuses perpetrated by the US. It is always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked and bewildered when someone brings a tiny fraction of that violence back to that country."

Greenwald's comments were made following a shooting two days earlier against another uniformed Canadian soldier; nevertheless, his words are extremely relevant to the second murder.

The shootings reminded me of a visit that I made to Canada in 2003, during which I had a private meeting with several parliamentarians in Ottawa who were concerned even then about a possible backlash from the war in Afghanistan and the merits of keeping soldiers there. I reminded them that no Western military venture had ever succeeded in Afghanistan and suggested that the wisest thing to do would be to withdraw Canada's troops and walk away before more soldiers paid the price of the politicians' folly with their blood.

We know, of course, that it is difficult to "walk away" when you have the ever persuasive forces of Washington exerting pressure on you. The same pressure was applied recently and resulted in a squadron of Canadian fighter jets leaving their home base in Alberta on a six month mission to bomb "Islamic State" forces in Iraq.

I'm genuinely saddened that Canada and its people have now found themselves at the unwelcome centre of the never-ending War on Terror and I hope that the actions of this latest lone gunmen are the last that they suffer. I also hope that Canadian citizens don't sacrifice their freedoms and liberties in the name of over-the-top security measures as has happened in the US.

Perhaps they should cast their minds back to a bombing campaign in May 1970 across Montreal where, by autumn the same year a group of French-Canadians kidnapped two politicians. The abductions ignited a series of events known as the October Crisis. Kidnappers from the Front de Libération du Québec had also plotted to abduct the American and Israeli consuls in Montreal in their campaign for sovereignty for the predominantly French-speaking province.

Best not to get swept up, therefore, with the idea that Canada has only now lost its innocence, for innocence can only be lost once; in Canada's case, that happened a long time ago.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Yvonne Ridley) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:08:24 +0000
Former Kuwaiti PM gives final testimony in 'coup case' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14855-former-kuwaiti-pm-gives-final-testimony-in-coup-case https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14855-former-kuwaiti-pm-gives-final-testimony-in-coup-case Kuwait's former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah finished giving his statement to the state's prosecutor general yesterday evening in the case brought against him and the country's former parliament speaker Jassem al-Khorafi.

Emad Al-Saif, the former prime minister's lawyer, said in a press statement after the investigation was concluded: "Today we have finished hearing the testimony of His Highness Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah regarding the case submitted by Sheikh Ahmed Fahd Al-Sabah."

According to the press statements by his lawyer, Ahmed Fahd Al-Sabah, a former minister, accuses both the former prime minister and the former parliament speaker of committing crimes against state security, planning a coup, money laundering, abuse of public funds and financial dealings with Israel.

Al-Sai added: "The prosecutor general listened to Shaikh Nasser's detailed answers to all the allegations in Shaikh Ahmed's lawsuit, and as you can see, the investigation is over and Shaikh Nasser has returned to his home."

He said that the matter is now in the hands of the prosecution and that it will carry out its duties in evaluating the testimony. Al-Saif also expressed his confidence in the prosecution, stressing that he will reveal details that do not violate the prosecutor general's ban on publically announcing the matter.

As of last Thursday, Shaikh Nasser has appeared before the prosecution six times.

Shaikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah served as Kuwait's prime minister between February 2006 and November 2001, while Jassem Al-Khorafi served as parliament speaker between 1999 and 2011.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:03:42 +0000
Palestinian fatwa bans the sale of land and real estate to Israelis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14854-palestinian-fatwa-bans-the-sale-of-land-and-real-estate-to-jews https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14854-palestinian-fatwa-bans-the-sale-of-land-and-real-estate-to-jews The Supreme Palestinian Fatwa Bureau, lead by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, issued an official fatwa forbidding the sale of land and real estate to Israelis.

This prohibition was implemented in the wake of Israeli forces and settlers seizing Palestinian properties in Silwan, East Jerusalem, a decision that directly affects the presence of Palestinians in Jerusalem and its environs. Thus, the fatwa council considered any individual who willingly sold his house or land to an Israeli as a traitor of Islam, God and to his nation. The fatwa called upon the Palestinian people to isolate and boycott these individuals and not to allow them entry into society and ban them from marrying into the community.

The Mufti called on any individual who wishes to sell any piece of land to research the buyer's history carefully before agreeing to a sale.

The council also condemned the recent violations that have been committed against Muslim and Christian holy sites, including the burning of the Abu Bakr Mosque in the village of Aqraba, near Nablus, and the attack of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

In addition, Israeli forces have been promoting both a spatial and temporal division of Al-Aqsa mosque and its courtyards. The Fatwa council has asked to convene an urgent meeting with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in an effort to stop these aggressive practices.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:00:04 +0000
On the Lawful Façade of Israel’s Discriminatory Policies in East Jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14853-on-the-lawful-facade-of-israels-discriminatory-policies-in-east-jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14853-on-the-lawful-facade-of-israels-discriminatory-policies-in-east-jerusalem Yesterday morning while crossing the Qalandiya checkpoint to my way to work in Ramallah I "earned" a traffic ticket. The police officer informed me that I had violated the right of way while driving in a second lane around the circle just before the checkpoint. I pass there every day, and every day drivers proceed ever so slowly in several lanes around that circle to enter the obstructed checkpoint.

Trying to be "friendly," the policeman who issued the expensive tickets to me and other drivers said: "I'm here to help people have the right of way."

"In fact," I responded, "it is the checkpoint that prevents the right of way for all of us, not my driving."

But this was not the only "violation" I've committed. As a non-Jewish resident of East Jerusalem, conspiracy, smuggling and bribery are part of my everyday life.

I must conspire with friendly neighbors in order to find a parking spot for my car when I arrive home late at night: they move their cars to provide me some scarce room for parking. Too few parking places increasingly has led to ugly fighting between neighbors in East Jerusalem's shrinking neighborhoods.

I'm also guilty of smuggling delicious goat cheese made in West Bank villages. When my friends give it to me, I hide it under my car seat and drive with a rapidly beating heart through the checkpoint, praying that the soldiers will not notice it and confiscate it or fine me, and that the cheese and I will arrive safe to enjoy a supper with my family. Israeli law criminalizes bringing meat, cheese, eggs, fruits and vegetables from the West Bank to Jerusalem, leaving no legal option for someone who boycotts Israeli products. Border police sometimes even use dogs to make sure no one brings in a prohibited item.

At home, instead of chasing children jumping up and down in our cramped living room or worrying about them playing in the streets where people drive fast, I resort to bribing my nephews and nieces with my laptop, smartphone and iPad to sit quietly indoors. While West Jerusalem boasts 1,000 public parks, 34 swimming pools, 26 public libraries and 531 sports facilities, East Jerusalem has 45 public parks, 3 swimming pools, 2 libraries, and 33 sport facilities. This leaves few options for a community where the majority of children like to picnic and play outdoors.

Leisure time for Arab East Jerusalemites not only is constrained by this lack of resources, but by official policies of discrimination and segregation. In May, for example, a Jaffa schoolteacher was unable to make a reservation for a class trip to Superland, an amusement park. When he gave the real name of the Arab school where he taught he was told there were no tickets. But when he called back speaking fluent Hebrew and gave the name of an Israeli school, all of a sudden there were plenty of tickets available and his pupils were welcome. When the story went public, Superland management claimed that many schools ask to visit the park on days when only students from schools of the same ethnic group will be there, to ensure the "safety" of all visitors. Doesn't that sound very much like segregated America in the years before the civil rights movement (see June/July 2013 Washington Report, p. 36).

On just about any given Jerusalem morning, Arab residents share photos on social media of the latest demolished home. Statistics show that building permits for Palestinians are almost impossible to obtain. While illegal settlements for Jews only continue to grow, naturally growing Palestinian families cannot legally expand or renovate their already aging and small houses. They thus are often left with no choice but to build without a permit, despite the ever-present risk of demolition which threatens thousands of buildings and puts thousands of families at risk of homelessness. Since occupying Arab East Jerusalem in 1967, Israeli authorities have thwarted its development by sparing no effort to launch legal proceedings against non-Jewish residents who build without permits.

The Jerusalem municipality not only issues and implements demolition orders on its Palestinian citizens, it also fails to provide adequate services in East Jerusalem—despite the fact that we pay equal taxes and much higher fines than Jewish Israelis. Moreover, threats of demolition orders are used to extract hundreds of thousands of shekels from Palestinian owners. Just today the Amira family from Sur Baher village, south of East Jerusalem, demolished the two-story home it built a year ago, because Israeli charts show the family lot as registered in area C, where Israeli occupation authorities forbid building by Palestinian residents. Israeli authorities threatened to send bulldozers to level the family home and bill the owner more than 200,000 NIS (nearly $60,000) to do the job on his behalf.

The gap between East and West Jerusalem when it comes to such crucial services as infrastructure, construction, sanitation, welfare, education, social affairs, roads and recreational and cultural facilities is enormous. Yet Israeli media habitually cite statistics showing that "Arab residents" have a higher incidence of household and road accidents—as if we are inferior beings, not living in a deliberately underprivileged environment.

Government offices are much more user-friendly in West Jerusalem, with special access for the disabled and longer office hours. They do have one thing in common with offices located in East Jerusalem, however: both sides display signs and use forms in Hebrew only. In the Ministry of Interior's population registry office in East Jerusalem, for example, Arabic-speaking residents must either pay to have the documents translated or depend on the good will of the civil servants who work there.

Israel is determined to maintain a "demographic balance" in Jerusalem of at least 70 percent Jews. A key strategy is its revocation of permanent residency status for Arab East Jerusalemites—as if we were foreign immigrants. Such draconian policies as the prohibition on construction and the denial of applications for family unification with Palestinian spouses and children living outside Jerusalem have caused thousands of Palestinian families to leave their native Jerusalem for Ramallah, Jericho and other places in the West Bank where life is less difficult. In so doing, they lose their status as permanent residents of Israel—and the rights associated with it. Israel's "right" to revoke the residency status that it "grants" to non-Jewish residents of East Jerusalem is considered "lawful"—even though it ignores that fact that we were born in Jerusalem, have lived there all our lives, and have no other home or citizenship rights elsewhere.

As I contemplate the ticket I was given for "violating the law," it seems undeniable that Israeli regulations are scrupulously designed to make our daily life—and mere existence—unlawful in East Jerusalem, to the point where one might lose sight of who's the offender and who the offended. Certainly Israeli laws regarding its non-Jewish residents are not consistent with international codes of human rights and ethics. Instead they serve to hijack our freedom and opportunities and cause harm to our personalities and damage to our souls, while granting a false sense of legality to our oppressors—the very opposite of what a law is meant to do!

One should not forget that it is we who are the natives of this city and this land. We belong to Jerusalem and have been here long before the disastrous moment in history when occupation seized our birthplace and enacted its discriminatory laws designed to contort us into compliant residents or shun us as delinquents and lawless intruders.

Samah Jabr is a Jerusalemite psychiatrist and psychotherapist who cares about the wellbeing of her community—beyond issues of mental health. This article was first published on wrmea.org.uk 

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Samah Jabr) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:00:37 +0000
Trans-border disputes for political escapism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14852-trans-border-disputes-for-political-escapism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14852-trans-border-disputes-for-political-escapism It was around noon on Saturday October 18; Algerian border guards attacked 10 Moroccan civilians, gravely injuring one the face. A bullet crossed Salhi Rizkallah's cheeks while he was ploughing his father's land, according to his family. In response to the incident, Morocco summoned the Algerian ambassador seeking an explanation. The Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Moroccan smugglers of throwing stones at the Algerian military officials. Suddenly, the small village of Ouled Salah, near the north-eastern city of Oujda, attracted media attention and another dispute on the closed Moroccan-Algerian borders sparked a war of words, especially because Moroccan civil society intended to organise a sit-in in front of the Algerian Embassy in Rabat.

Although Algeria refused Morocco's exaggerated explanation and denounced the "political exploitation" of the event, the wound in Rizkallah's face is indicative of the tense relationship between the two sides of the Zouj Beghal (two mules in Arabic) border.

Similar incidents have punctuated many years of uneasy border relationships, either due to smuggling, drug trafficking, escalations over the Moroccan Sahara, arms races, accusations of human rights abuses, fighting terrorism or seeking better involvement in international affairs in a region always on the move politically. Also, on both sides, the media these days, especially online news websites, continue a quarrel that dates back to the onset of the French colonisation in the region. Though the dispute changed into a war in 1963, the two regimes have resorted to closing the borders as a strategic solution.

The borders between the two have been closed since the Atlas Asni terrorist attack in Marrakech in 1994, for which Morocco accused Algerian intelligence. The Algerian authorities did not deny the accusation, but hinted at Moroccan involvement in pre-civil war Algeria, when the dismantled Front for Islamic Salvation made a landslide victory in the first round of parliamentary elections in 1991, Karim Moulai, an ex-Algerian intelligence agent, told the press. Possibly, Morocco was hopeful of an Algerian leadership that would recognise the "Moroccanness" of the Sahara and bring the long-standing rupture into a halt.

To understand the reasons behind the current spat, despite the difficulty of the task, a closer look at the context may uncover certain insights. Today, Algeria suffers from two intermixing and coterminous problems. The first is the political void that results from the absence of the president. Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been ill since April 2013, when he was transported to Paris for medication. Ever since, an iron curtain has enshrouded his health condition, similar to the practices of most leaders in pre-2011 Arab World. Nevertheless, he was elected for a fourth term in April 2014. During his election campaign, his speeches were read for him. His inaptitude makes rumours about his demise familiar news.

The second problem is the police protests. On October 14, in a rare move, 300 officers took to the streets of Algiers against the working condition of other riot units, reportedly attacked in the southern oasis city of Ghardaia. On the following day, they besieged the presidential palace, requesting the resignation of the general director of national security, and demanding the setting up of a police union.

The Republic Guards were subsequently put on alert. The situation reflects internal struggles within the current regime, which mainly result from the idea that the military led the country from behind Bouteflika.

The losers from the situation, notwithstanding the path the current spat will take, are mainly two. Foremost is the Algerian population. Since the ouster of the Socialist Forces Front (FSS), Algeria has entered into a dark tunnel of civil war, deadly checkpoints, terrorist attacks and unidentified assaults on civilians. The outcome is that the Algerian political scenery has become intolerable to Islamists, despite their social presence. Leaders have become less tolerant of democracy too. That is why, the reaction of Algerians to the Arab Spring was a little timid, not because they don't need more freedoms and rights, but due to the iron fist that smothers the country.

The second loser is North Africa. With the current situation, especially with the Algerian unconditional support for the Polisario Front, North African countries make considerable economic, political and cultural loses. Movement within the Maghreb Union is bracketed, visa permits sway and economic, civil society and academic cooperation is meagre.

What triggers anxiety in the current state of affairs, is that it perpetuates the need for foreign intervention and international mediation between the two adjacent countries. Exchanged accusations of human rights abuse weaken cooperation in international bodies, further aggravated by calls to file an international complaint for Salhi Rizkallah as a violation of human rights. Political exploitation of the disputes will continue on both sides, notwithstanding who incites first. This means the two peoples and regimes alike will continue to be crippled by a problem that only mutual understanding and reciprocal concessions can solve.

Abderrahim Chalfaouat is a researcher in media studies and MENA politics from Morocco.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Abderrahim Chalfaouat) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:51:37 +0000
Israel and Egypt target Palestinian fishing boat off Rafah https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14851-israel-and-egypt-target-palestinian-fishing-boat-off-rafah https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14851-israel-and-egypt-target-palestinian-fishing-boat-off-rafah Egyptian and Israeli navy vessels have been continuously targeting a fishing boat in the waters near Rafah in the south of Gaza with heavy gunfire.

Security sources have told Alresalah that the Egyptian navy opened fire towards a fishing boat which resulted in the boat catching fire. This was followed by gunfire from Israeli vessels.

They said ambulances and Palestinian Civil Defence forces were called to the beach fearing the fishermen were injured.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:18:39 +0000
High security alert as Tunisian elections nearing https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/14850-high-security-alert-as-tunisian-elections-nearing https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/14850-high-security-alert-as-tunisian-elections-nearing Shafiq SarsarThree days before the Election Day one policeman was killed and another wounded in an exchange of fire between security forces and Islamist militants in Oued Ellil, a suburb to capital Tunis as security forces were investigating a house believed to be the hideout for a group preparing to disrupt the elections, announced Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui during a press conference. Earlier the same day one civilian was killed when two alleged insurgents were detained in the country's southern city of Kebili, allegedly "preparing operations in the area," declared Aroui. According to local radio station Mosaique FM five soldiers had also been injured in a landmine explosion near the Algerian border.

Despite the pre-election violence Aroui assured the public at a press conference that security forces will guarantee the safety of the elections, "We have escalated the pre-emptive operations to secure the elections," he announced and added, "We want to send a reassuring message to Tunisians: our security forces are ready." However, with only two days to go until Tunisian parliamentary elections security remains on high alert as fear is mounting that extremists will manage to disrupt the country's final democratic step.

Tunisia has become a democratic role model in the region and the Arab Spring's last hope for a successful democratic transition. The Parliamentary Election on October 26, followed by the Presidential vote November 23, mark the country's final step of its democratic process, which began in the end of 2010 with the start of the Arab Spring protests. However, Tunisia, located between Algeria and Libya, both of which have Islamist extremist groups declaring loyalty to the Islamic State, which reject democratic practices and instead aims to establish an Islamic Caliphate, fear a spill over effect.

The already insecure Algeria-Tunisia border region of Kasserine with its, by now notorious, Mount Chaambi, an alleged hideout for radical extremists, has already caused concern about the country's rise in extremist violence since the revolution. Terrorist movement Ansar al-Shariah, which emerged after the revolution, in 2011, is believed to be behind an attack on the US embassy and the American school in 2012, as well as the two political assassinations of leftist politician Chokri Belaid and Mohammed al-Brahimi in 2013. The group has announced allegiance with both the Islamic State's self-described caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and al-Qaeda's Ayman Zawahri. In a statement in July the group also declared war on the Tunisian state.

Another group, the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade, believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has threatened the elections in a statement on the group's website.

The group claimed responsibility for an attack earlier this year, during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which brutally killed 14 soldiers at the Mount Chaambi.

Following these attacks Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa raised the national security alert on September 17 due to the increasing militant violence primarily in the border region with Algeria. Islamist political party Ennahdha's leader Rachid Ghannouchi has declared that the Tunisian model of governance is a way to defeat the Islamic State. "The success of the Tunisian experience is in the international interest, especially in the fight against extremism and the fight against Islamic State," Ghannouchi told AFP during an interview.

An estimated 1,500 suspected jihadists have been arrested this year Jomaa told Reuters. The ministry has declared that 50,000 security forces will be deployed for the elections and security is on high alert as reservists have been called up to protect polling stations.

Kasserine region continues to be one of the most affected regions. Yet some of the people living close to the mountain have not seen any trace of radical extremists. "I am not afraid," said Mohsen Dalhoumi who lived with his 12 dogs in a small shack approximately one kilometre from the foot of the mountain. He has never seen anything, "If anyone wanted to kill me they would have done so by now," he concluded. Dalhoumi will not allow the security threat to keep him from voting, "I will vote for my country," he said determined.

However, his closest neighbour, a hundred meters away, Hafsia Yahyaoui, is afraid of a potential attack on Election Day. But despite living close to the notorious mountain she has not yet noticed anything suspicious, "The police came and gave us a number to call if we see something, but I have never seen a thing," she said. Unlike Dalhoumi, Yahyaoui can see no point in voting, arguing that it will not change anything.

A large amount of security personnel has been employed to secure the city of Kasserine ahead of the elections. "Something will happen on Election Day," feared the convinced journalist Ezer Mnasri from Kasserine, adding, "If not on the actual Election Day then some time during the election period."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Christine Petré) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:35:12 +0000
Eight per cent decline in domestic personal transfers in Palestine during first quarter of 2014 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14849-eight-per-cent-decline-in-domestic-personal-transfers-in-palestine-during-first-quarter-of-2014 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14849-eight-per-cent-decline-in-domestic-personal-transfers-in-palestine-during-first-quarter-of-2014 Data issued by the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA), which carries out the work of the Central Bank, indicate that the total amount of domestic personal transfers made by Palestinians in the Palestinian territories amounted to $1.557 billion during the first quarter of 2014, compared to $1.693 billion during the first quarter of 2013, an 8 per cent decline, Anadolu news agency reported.

According to the official Palestinian data, which Anadolu obtained a copy of on Wednesday, the number of personal transfers made by Palestinians during the first three months of 2014 was about 35,078 within the Palestinian territories (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip).

The data also shows that the value of the internal transfers made in the Israeli shekel is about NIS 3.676 billion ($1.035 billion), amounting to 66.9 per cent of the total value of transfers. The number of shekel transfers made during the first quarter of 2014 reached 17,940.

In the Palestinian market, there are four major currencies that are traded as a result of the Oslo Accord and the Paris Economic Protocol of 1993, which stipulated the use of the Israeli shekel as a circulated currency, as well as the Jordanian dinar, the US dollar, and for the past several years, the European euro has been used as well.

Based on the PMA data, the value of internal transfers made in the Jordanian dinar reached about JD 99.659 ($143.172 million), 9.5 per cent of the total transfers made in 2014. The number of dinar transfers made during the first three months of this year was about 5,626.

The value of internal transfers made in the US dollar during this period was about $351,358,619, which makes up 22.7 per cent of the total value of transfers during this time. The number of dollar transfers reached 10,902.

And finally, the value of internal transfers made in euros was about €9,991,553 ($13.65 million), totalling 0.9 per cent of the total value of transfers. The number of euro transfers reached 610, according to the official data.

The Central Bureau of Statistics reports that the total number of Palestinians living in the Palestinian territories is about 4.3 million people, while the total value of deposits made by Palestinians in banks operating in Palestine is about $9 billion, as of the end of the second trimester of 2014.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:24:20 +0000
Netanyahu orders the enforcement of Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14848-netanyahu-orders-the-enforcement-of-israeli-sovereignty-over-all-of-jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14848-netanyahu-orders-the-enforcement-of-israeli-sovereignty-over-all-of-jerusalem On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered "that sovereignty be enforced in all parts of Jerusalem by positioning additional [occupation] forces throughout" the holy city, which both Palestinians and Israelis claim as their capital, Al-Quds newspaper reported.

Netanyahu made these remarks in a statement issued by his office after security discussions were held on Thursday afternoon in the context of the escalating clashes in various parts of Jerusalem between Palestinian youth and Israeli occupation forces. The latest clashes erupted after Israeli police in Jerusalem killed a young Palestinian man accused of running over a number of Israelis, resulting in the death of a child and the wounding of eight Israeli settlers.

"United Jerusalem was, and will always remain, the capital of Jerusalem. Every attempt to harm its people will be met with a stronger response. We will return peace and security to Jerusalem," Netanyahu said in the statement.

He added that Israel would step up its intelligence and law enforcement efforts throughout the city.

The security consultations were held at the National Headquarters of the Israeli Police in Jerusalem and attended by Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israeli Police Inspector-General Yohanan Danino, Israeli Security Agency head Yoram Cohen, Jerusalem District Police head Assistant-Chief Moshe Edri and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

"We support the Israel police and give it whatever reinforcements and capabilities it needs to carry out this mission. We have proven that with determination and patience we can achieve these goals in all parts of the State of Israel," Al-Quds quoted Netanyahu as saying.

He also added, "Not only is Jerusalem under terrorist attack, but other capitals and cities around the world are as well," referring to the unrelated shooting that took place this week in Ottawa, Canada.

"But the attacks in Jerusalem are supported by Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], "who both extols the murderers and embraces the organisation that the terrorists belong to, Hamas. And against these actions by the Palestinian Authority Chairman, we find international weakness; they are not prepared to utter so much as a word of criticism against him. We have no such weakness. We will insist on our rights and on our obligation to defend our capital. We will do strongly – and we will win," Netanyahu reportedly stated.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:17:20 +0000
Netanyahu orders use of force against 'riots' in Jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14847-netanyahu-orders-use-of-force-against-riots-in-jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14847-netanyahu-orders-use-of-force-against-riots-in-jerusalem Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed, on Thursday, that Israeli occupation authorities would order the "strongest possible response" to any future Palestinian civil protests, what he referred to as "riots", in occupied Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying that: "United Jerusalem was, and will always remain, the capital of Israel. Every attempt to harm its people will be met with a stronger response. We will return peace and security to Jerusalem."

Netanyahu made these remarks while holding a consultation session at the occupation's police headquarters, with the participation of the Public Security Minister, Inspector General of the Israeli Police, head of the Israeli Security Agency and Jerusalem mayor.

Netanyahu ordered more armed reinforcements around the city of Jerusalem to suppress any moves by Jerusalemites to protest against apartheid policies and occupation.

Instructions were issued to the leadership of the Israeli police in Jerusalem to tighten the punitive measures and financial penalties against all stone throwers.

Meanwhile, Al-Quds newspaper reported that the Inspector General of the Israeli police, Yohanan Danino, conveyed that he is expecting every occupation officer to act quickly to any "run-over attack" similar to what happened on Wednesday.

Abdul Rahman Al-Shaloudi died from his injuries on Wednesday after being shot by police in occupied Jerusalem when he ploughed into nine settlers as he lost control of his vehicle in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. The occupation authorities claim that the young man had deliberately run over Israelis who were standing near the tram station.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:30:00 +0000
Kuwait to hold international conference on countering ISIS propaganda https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14846-kuwait-to-hold-international-conference-on-countering-isis-propaganda https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14846-kuwait-to-hold-international-conference-on-countering-isis-propaganda An international conference will be held in Kuwait on Monday to deal with the Islamic State's messaging, the US Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday.

In a statement the ministry said: "Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel will travel to Kuwait to lead the US delegation for the October 27 conference of coalition partners focused on countering ISIS messaging and combatting violent extremism in the region."

"The government of Kuwait is hosting the conference and senior officials from Bahrain, Egypt, France, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the UAE, have been invited to participate."

The statement noted that the "conference will present an opportunity for an in-depth exchange of ideas for increasing cooperation among coalition partners."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:28:25 +0000
Vatican envoy to Damascus criticises media's neglect of the suffering of all Syrians https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14845-vatican-envoy-to-damascus-criticises-medias-neglect-of-the-suffering-of-all-syrians https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14845-vatican-envoy-to-damascus-criticises-medias-neglect-of-the-suffering-of-all-syrians The Vatican's envoy to Syria, Mario Zenari, has criticised some media outlets for focusing only on the events occurring in the Kurdish city of Ayn Al-Arab, also known as Kobani, without mentioning the suffering of Syrians in other cities, Vatican Radio reported on Thursday.

In an interview with the official broadcasting service of the Vatican, Zenari pointed out that: "The Islamic State (ISIS) was merely the straw that broke the camel's back in Syria, as it caused a state of extreme panic and suffering."

"However, Syria has witnessed three years full of destruction, with the number killed reaching over 200,000 and refugees who have reached over three million," he explained, adding that, "There are also about seven million Syrians displaced inside the country."

"Therefore, we must not, as I have seen some media outlets do, only talk about Kobani," he warned. "There are many suffering in Aleppo, Idlib, the rural areas of Damascus and southern Syria."

The Vatican diplomat also expressed his belief that "the time has come for the international community, as well as the countries in the region, to make serious efforts and to review their positions, because this conflict must be resolved and we must eliminate the disaster that is ISIS."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:01:14 +0000
Israel looking to secure entry of settlers to Al-Aqsa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14844-israel-looking-to-secure-entry-of-settlers-to-al-aqsa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14844-israel-looking-to-secure-entry-of-settlers-to-al-aqsa An Israeli parliamentary committee will on Monday look into recommendations regarding securing the entry of settlers to Al-Aqsa Mosque, despite the ongoing protests.

According to the Knesset's website, on Monday the Interior Committee will hear details of a "report by Yitzhak Ohranovic, the internal security minister, on personal safety in Jerusalem, and to discuss the recommendations of the sub-committee on the issue of the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa]".

The parliamentary committee, chaired by Member of the Knesset Miri Regev, met on October 13 to discuss the police's participation in the settlers' raids of Al-Aqsa.

According to a statement issued by the Knesset at the time, Regev said at that meeting, if "there are government directives on allowing Jews to visit the Temple Mount, they must be abided by."

"In exceptional cases, police must examine the possibility of closing the mount before the entry of children of all religions, following the riots, and there should also be a buffer zone between Jews and Arabs in the areas of most friction."

She added: "During the month of November 2014, the Interior Committee will meet again to discuss the matter with the Minister of Internal Security."

However, the Knesset's calendar shows that the meeting will be held this month.

The meeting comes in spite of protests made ​​by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the sponsor of the holy sites in Jerusalem, and the Palestinian Authority, last week, regarding the Israeli government's plans to hold such a hearing in the Knesset.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: "Through their raids of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the settlers are seeking to divide it, but we will not allow this, and we have started to take the necessary international legal steps."

Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a statement after the protests that it is not Israel's intention to change the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque.

He added: "Extremist Palestinian groups are deliberately promoting lies about the Temple Mount with the aim of incitement, and they bear the full responsibility for the unrest that has erupted in this holy site."

"The Israeli police do not enter the courtyards of the site, except in the cases when Palestinian extremists throw stones, firecrackers and Molotov cocktails in the area without any justification, the police work to protect worshipers and visitors and to arrest rioters and this is their duty."

Over the past couple of months, Al-Aqsa Mosque has witnessed tensions, following the imposition by the Israeli police of restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshipers, to allow for the entry of settlers to the mosque.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:56:33 +0000
President of Tunisia's Constituent Assembly rejects foreign intervention in Libya https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14843-president-of-tunisias-constituent-assembly-rejects-foreign-intervention-in-libya https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14843-president-of-tunisias-constituent-assembly-rejects-foreign-intervention-in-libya Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the president of the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia, has said that foreign intervention in Libya would only deepen the crisis in that country and called upon all parties involved in the Libyan conflict to stop the fighting and start a dialogue leading to political stability, Alamat Online news reported on Thursday.

Three years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is still dominated by chaos and fighting between Islamists and other groups who are vying for power and control of the land.

Alamat Online quoted Ben Jaafar as saying that: "The only solution for the Libyan crisis has to be a Libyan-Libyan one, because any foreign intervention would only make the situation more complicated and be more be more harmful than beneficial to Libya and the region since its interests are commonly shared and interrelated."

Ben Jaafar added that: "The crisis cannot be solved by anyone but the Libyans themselves, and our role is to bring their views closer together and provide a helpful framework. There is a trend in the Arab League towards facilitating dialogue between the conflicting parties, but first the shooting has to stop and the weapons have to be put aside. We do not have any choice but the dialogue table to reach a solution for achieving stability in Libya."

The Tunisian political leader described the Libyan case as a regional affair, saying that: "The problem of Libya is also our problem and taking into consideration the Tunisian experience, we believe the only solution to the crisis is dialogue between Libyans."

He added that: "We hope that stability will be achieved in neighbouring Libya in order to realise the grand Maghreb dream, which could have great economic and political benefits. It is a generational project that we hope to implement in the service of our citizens."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:23:44 +0000
NGO: More than one Israeli attack on Gaza per day in September https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/14842-ngo-more-than-one-israeli-attack-on-gaza-per-day-in-september https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/14842-ngo-more-than-one-israeli-attack-on-gaza-per-day-in-september Two months on from the ceasefire that ended a 50-day Israeli bombardment of Gaza, human rights defenders have accused Israel of routinely violating the terms of the agreement that ended the hostilities.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has published figures detailing repeated attacks throughout September on Palestinian civilians in Gaza's so-called 'buffer zone', or Access Restricted Areas (ARA).

Attacks by Israeli naval forces included 18 shooting incidents and four further incidents when fishermen were chased and arrested. On 17 September, a 69-year-old fisherman was shot in the leg as he stood 200m from the coastal border fence working with his sons.

As part of the 26 August ceasefire agreement, Palestinian fishermen were to be permitted to work up to 6 nautical miles from shore (under the Oslo Accords, Gaza's maritime area was defined as 20 nautical miles). Yet according to PCHR, all the documented attacks through September "took place within the distance of 6 nautical miles."

Just this Wednesday, Israeli naval forces arrested seven fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza, claiming that they had gone beyond the six-nautical mile limit imposed by Israel's blockade. The forces fired warning shots and rubber-coated metal bullets, injuring one.

According to PCHR, in addition to the attacks at sea, September also saw 13 attacks by Israeli forces close to the border fence, including shootings and two ground incursions. On 28 September, for example, Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian in northern Beit Lahia.

Israel established the 'buffer zone' in the Gaza Strip after its redeployment of forces in 2005 (the 'disengagement'), establishing a no-go area enforced with live fire. As PCHR describe:

Preventing Palestinians from accessing their lands and fishing areas violates numerous provisions of international human rights law, including the right to work, the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Enforcing the 'buffer zone' through the use of live fire often results in, inter alia, the direct targeting of civilians and/or indiscriminate attacks, both of which constitute war crimes.

The Israeli military's actions in the border fence 'buffer zone', as well as those off Gaza's shore, make for a total of 35 attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinians during the month of September alone, an average of more than one incident per day.

Since the end of 'Operation Protective Edge', Palestinian factions in Gaza have not fired a single rocket in two months, with one mortar shell fired from inside the Gaza Strip reportedly landing in Israel on 16 September. Hamas denied having anything to do with the mortar fire, and no other group took responsibility.

There is a precedent here. In the first three months after November 2012's 'Operation Pillar of Defense', there were more than 100 incidents of Israeli forces shooting Palestinians, conducting border incursions, or attacking fishermen. These attacks killed 4 and wounded 91. During the same period, no rockets and just two mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Now we have yet another example of Israel's definition of a 'period of calm'.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ben White) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:11:09 +0000
Does America want to embarrass Turkey in front of the Arabs? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/14841-does-america-want-to-embarrass-turkey-in-front-of-the-arabs https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/14841-does-america-want-to-embarrass-turkey-in-front-of-the-arabs Does America want to involve Turkey in the Syrian swamp? This question does not carry surprises and its answer, whether yes or no, does not signify anything. Senior Turkish officials have made statements to the media saying, our entry into Syria is being likened to Saddam's entry into Kuwait and America's support for us does not prevent Russia from playing the role of America in 1991 and putting Turkey before international courts.

However, questions regarding America's commitment to defend Turkey in the face of any aggression on the one hand and its aggression and harassment of Turkey on the other are all legitimate. It is nothing new for America to harass Turkey and put it in an awkward position politically and in terms of local and international security.

Politically, America was behind the coup staged by the army against the civilian rule in 1980, which disrupted Turkey's renaissance for two decades and put it in a state of political and economic paralysis. Militarily, Turkey discovered, at some point during its war with the PKK, that its enemy is fighting it with weapons from Turkey's ally, i.e. America.

Strategically, America wields the sword represented by the Armenian file from time to time at carefully chosen moments in order to inflict maximum embarrassment and blackmail the Turkish government.

Meanwhile, the "Sevres issue" (in reference to the secret Treaty of Sevres signed during the First World War which aimed to divide Turkey and was exposed by Russian Bolsheviks) controls the Turks' view of America, as they are wary of NATO desires to divide their country. On the other hand, America also has doubts especially after Turkey refused to allow the American army to invade Iraq from its territories.

NATO's answer to this not only concerns the Turks, but the region as a whole, as it is viewed as a danger and as a phenomenon aimed at weakening the state in the region and fragmenting its communities. Such concerns are justified due to the evidence of the events in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.

In this phenomenon, Turkey represents the last remaining model that the region can use to re-shape itself and advance once again. The stories of history indicate that a Seljuk or Ottoman-Turkish axis was instrumental in re-shaping the region's communities after each Persian raid, which the Arab societies were an arena for.

Light is shed on the extent of the damage that America allows to be inflicted on Turkey from the strategic value Turkey was given upon its acceptance into America's "club" (NATO) in 1952. For America, the poor agricultural underdeveloped country that was exhausted by WWI was nothing more than a geographic area adjacent to the Soviet Union that it could use to build its military bases and a secular army that has lost its intellectual value and its only job was to pull the trigger in any direction it was ordered to.

America used the Turkish army in its war in Korea in 1953 in order to fight in a country it did not know, against an enemy it had no hostility towards and alongside an ally that was recently its mortal enemy. That same army has immensely changed today, its leader changed, and it regained its affiliation and loyalty to its own country. Its rebellion and rejection of America's request to invade Iraq from its territory in 2003 is a clear manifestation of its new creed.

America's need for Turkey is limited to the state Turkey was in 1952 when it played the role entrusted to it to the best of its ability during the most critical times, i.e. during the Cold War.

America's need for Turkey does not require Turkey to be the sixth ranked economy in Europe and it does not require Turkey's inflation rate to drop from 30 per cent to 7 per cent. It also does not need Turkey to double the average annual citizen income ten-fold, as well as doubling the number of airports and universities in a matter of 10 years. In addition to this, Turkey's free health services reach every village and mountain summit and the network of highways and fast trains extend across its mountains; none of this is necessary to America and its removal is not harmful.

On the other hand, ailing Europe is not pleased with the largest airport in the world moving from Europe to the city of Istanbul and for the youth in the Middle East and Africa to leave Europe's prestigious universities for Turkey, as well as its hospitals. It is also displeased that Turkey has become an economic giant. None of this is a requirement for the West's relations with its Turkish NATO ally.

America has preferred "Turkey's Islam" to the "Arab Islam" and Turkey is not considered to be a fundamentalist giant by Washington. Instead, it is considered a recovered state system and civil society, which, over the past nine decades of the modern state's life, has acted as an incubator in order for its societies to gain cultural rehabilitation and recover its identity after the Sykes-Picot operation, performed in the context of comprehensive social re-engineering of the region.

America's view of the region's communities is in harmony with what the English espionage pillars expressed in the aftermath of WWI, i.e. the war did not achieve its greatest objective in terms of the Islamic East which was eliminating the "Eastern Question" (the name of the West's battle against the Islamic East by dismantling its regional regimes and social structure). The objective was not considered to be complete because these communities posed the same political and social interfaces that were posed during the Ottoman times.

In other words, an event the size of WWI which brought about the first change in the world's political map in six centuries, was unable to bring about complete socio-cultural changes in the region, despite the fact that, as a result of the war, Arab-Turkish relations reached a long dormant social and cultural state. The political and social changes in Turkey today represent a new transformation in these relations.

The Arab political system's self-assessment of its performance is no different than Europe's self-assessment of its performance. Turkey has become involved in Arab affairs, just as Abdel Nasser's Egypt and Saddam Hussein's Iraq were in the past. Its flags are raised in Arab streets instead of their own flags and the names of their leaders are being used to name newborns. More importantly, this is not the work of political or Islamist activists, but that of people far from political influences and political Islam with the most humility in the community.

This is a scene that intimidates and concerns the Arab governments, as they see it as the return of the Ottoman Empire, which wasn't ruled by religion as much as it was ruled by social norms stemming from Islam and a conservative political system. This system maintained the characteristics of the region's communities and this is what societies want from their states, and they find this in Turkey.

Everything that is happening in Turkey today is not consistent with the official regional mood (Arab and Iranian) or the international mood, and everything that occurs inconsistently with their moods are met with their temperaments. Therefore, the Arab's official money is being showered on the secular and spiritual parties and institutions in Turkey that are opposed to the current Turkish government, while American weapons are falling from the skies on the organisations opposed to Turkey which represent an extension of the PKK, which is on America's terrorism list.

Iran's hands are also getting involved in moving the sectarian minorities in and around Turkey and it holding successive international security conferences for planning military activities across the Turkish borders. The "nations of the earth" will participate in these activities and Turkey will look like the black sheep in a white herd.

The main idea of the current official regional scene is there is no place for Turkey in the vicinity of surroundings that are handed over to the rule of militias; there is no place for the state's economy in the vicinity of the black market and smuggling of natural resources; there is no place for a multi-ethnic, multi-doctrinal, and multi-religious majority community in an area of minorities; there is no place for civilised Islam in the face of sectarianism.

There is no harm in removing the current government in Turkey, along with the prosperity and stability it has brought about, and allowing the secularists along with their failures and turbulences to take over, keeping Turkey as mere land in America's eyes. Getting rid of Turkey is an end and harassing it is a means to that end.

Translated from Al Jazeera net, 22 October, 2014

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Rabee Al-Hafidh) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:43:45 +0000
Hamas says latest operation in Jerusalem was carried out by one of its members https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14840-hamas-says-latest-operation-in-jerusalem-was-carried-out-by-one-of-its-members https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14840-hamas-says-latest-operation-in-jerusalem-was-carried-out-by-one-of-its-members The Islamic resistance movement Hamas announced on Thursday that the Palestinian who slammed his car into Israeli settlers on Wednesday was indeed one of its members, but did not officially endorse the operation, Anadolu news agency reported.

Anadolu quoted a statement issued by the movement in the West Bank as saying that the young Jerusalem man, Abdul-Rahman Al-Shaloudi, aged 21, who died of his injuries on Wednesday after ploughing his car into nine Israelis in Jerusalem, was a member of Hamas.

Hamas also stated that, "The daring Jerusalem operation carried out by Al-Shaloudi is a normal and expected reaction to the escalating Zionist aggressions carried out by Israeli occupation forces and extremist settlers against the Palestinian people and our holy places."

However, despite declaring that Al-Shaloudi was one of its members, the movement did not take responsibility for the operation.

Hamas went on to praise "the steadfastness of the Palestinian men and women inside Al-Aqsa Mosque," calling on all segments of the Palestinian society to "rally around the city of Jerusalem in order to lift the Zionist siege forced upon it", as well as to "escalate the confrontation with the occupation forces wherever they are present".

Israeli medical sources announced on Wednesday that Al-Shaloudi died of his injuries after he was directly shot by an Israeli policeman.

Israeli medical and security sources said earlier that a three-month-old baby was killed of her injuries that resulted from Al-Shaloudi's operation, which also left eight Israelis wounded.

Media is reporting that Al-Shaloudi was a Hamas activist in occupied Jerusalem who had spent a period of time in Israeli jails against the backdrop of his anti-occupation activities.

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a further crackdown against Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post newspaper quoted a statement released by his office as saying that the prime minister has given instructions to "exercise Israeli sovereignty" in all parts of the holy city through the introduction of additional occupation forces.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:31:59 +0000
Jerusalem on the brink https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14839-jerusalem-on-the-brink https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14839-jerusalem-on-the-brink Ten days before he drove his car on passengers descending from the light train in Jerusalem, killing a three months old baby and wounding four others, Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, a Jerusalemite Palestinian, published a post on his Facebook page: a picture of Al Aqsa mosque in flames accompanied by the inscription "Al Quds (Jerusalem) in danger, Al Aqsa in danger".

For the Israeli media, this post is a proof that the deadly incident was a premeditated terror attack. It is probably true. At the same time, this post reflects the deep feelings of most Palestinian in Jerusalem: Al Aqsa is under attack and their very existence in the city is under threat. A sure recipe for an upcoming explosion which might shake not only Jerusalem, but also the West Bank and Gaza, if not the whole Middle East.

The current chain of violent events began three months ago, with the murder of the Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was burnt alive by three Israelis seeking revenge for the killing of three Israelis teens in the West Bank.

Since then, life in Jerusalem has not known one day of quiet. There have been: violent clashes with police in various Palestinian neighborhoods, harassment of Palestinians in the streets of West Jerusalem, Palestinian youth throwing stones at the light train almost daily,  checkpoints at exits from Palestinian quarters, mass arrests of more than 700 Palestinians.

"The worst year since 1967," sums up Fakhri Abu Diab, a Palestinian political activist from Silwan, the neighborhood from which Shaludi came from.

Yet, as always in the last hundred years in Jerusalem, at the heart of conflict between Jews and Palestinians stands Haram a-Sharif or Temple Mount, depends on your allegiance.

Ever since the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, there were Jews aspiring for the "removal" or simply blowing up of al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock in order to replace them with the Third Temple. But for many years, they acted at the fringes of Israeli society, opposed by most leading rabbis who had claimed that even praying on Temple Mount would be a sacrilege.

This atmosphere has changed in the last few years. The various movements for the rebuilding of the Third Temple have gained ground within the rightwing camp, and the religious vetoes against praying on Temple Mount have started to fall silent. Since the murder of Abu Khdier, these movements have only stepped up their activity, challenging the status quo on the mountain, according to which Jews are prevented from praying there.

These days rightwing Jews pass by the mosques daily, escorted by heavy police guard, sometimes even posing for a symbolic prayer. Every such visit is a source for clashes with the Muslim worshipers on the mountain.

Their political aim is quite clear. "The Temple will rise on the expense of the mosques, there is no doubt about it,'" said Yehuda Etzion, one the movement's leaders, convicted of planning to blow up the Dome of the Rock some thirty years ago. The difference is that this time, people like Etzion enjoy political backing outside their usually limited circles.

Miri Regev, a rightwing Knesset member who heads the committee for Internal Affairs, has conducted 14 sessions on the subject since June 2013. This compares to just four sessions in the previous ten years.

In most of these sessions, the police representatives are scolded for not allowing for more Jews to visit the Temple Mount and for being "too soft" on Palestinian protests.

The discussions have achieved tangible results.

According to Ir Amim, an Israeli organisation for "an equitable and stable Jerusalem" the number of restrictions on Muslim worshipers in al-Aqsa have risen sharply when compared to previous years. During last Ramadan, for example, access to al-Aqsa was forbidden to Muslim men under the age of 50 for five consecutive Fridays.

"These Jews want to prove that the past belong only to them," said 52-year-old Abu Diab who prays regularly in al-Aqsa thanks to his advancing age. "You are not allowed to photograph them, and if you say 'Alla huwe-akbar' [God is great] in front of them, you run the risk of being expelled for two weeks from Al Aqsa by the police".

In September and October, during the last Jewish holidays - from Rosh Hashana (New Year) to Sukkut (Tabernacles) which ended ten days ago - clashes on the hill became a daily event. Palestinian teens threw stones at the Jewish "visitors" while the police shot tear gas and stun grenades into al-Aqsa mosque itself.

It’s during this time of heightened tensions that Shaludi posted about the danger for al-Aqsa.

But the conflict is not just confined to this small patch of Old Jerusalem and troubles from al-Aqsa have spread into the surrounding areas.

In the last few weeks, Jews settlers have moved into dozens of apartments in the Silwan quarter, which sits just a few hundred meters south of al-Aqsa. Their purpose is clear: to enlarge their hold on Silwan and make it into a Jewish neighbourhood.

For Abu Diab, this move is part from a large scale plan: "In order to take over al-Aqsa, you need to take over the areas around it. They do not want to live with us, they want to live instead of us."

Knesset Member Regev does not hide her intention to change the status quo on Temple Mount and insists that she is striving to create justice and unity so that every citizen in Israel - Muslim, Christian or Jew - will be able to pray in his sacred places. “It is unconceivable that there will be freedom of worship for Muslims on Temple Mount, but not for Jews," she has said.  

Her model is the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Ibrahimi Mosque) in Hebron, where the army allocates separate days and places for Muslim and Jewish prayers. She insists it “works very well in Hebron" although she is careful not to mention that the mosque was the sight of a massacre in 1994 when a Jewish settler walked into the Ibrahimi mosque and shot dead 29 Muslim worshipers.

The leaders of the movements calling for the rebuilding of the Third Temple do not hide their hopes that once they will be allowed to pray on Temple Mount, they will be able to draw thousands of Jews into the place, leading eventually to the "removal" of the current mosques.

Regev claims that "no one is speaking about the destruction of the mosques" and insists that she is certainly not supporting such a move. However she also stresses that “if there are people calling for it, they should not be prevented from praying on Temple Mount.”

According to Regev, those not happy with freedom for worship on Temple Mount for everyone, including Jews, "are free to look for another country to live in" while anyone holding protests will likely only succeed in cause Temple Mount to be closed altogether.

Regev wrote a law proposition allowing for Jews to pray on Temple Mount. The proposition will be discussed next month, but Regev is realistic. The current government will not allow it to pass, fearing international and above all Jordanian pressure.

But even if a dramatic change in praying arrangements on Haram a-Sharif is not imminent, the threat is there and it is having its effect on Palestinians in Jerusalem. Added to 47 years’ worth of discrimination, house demolitions and worsening living conditions that have been accompanied by growing feelings of mistrust and hatred – all which have been accentuated after Abu Khdeir's murder - Jerusalem is ready to explode.

True, what is happening now does not yet look like an organised Intifada, but riots do not necessarily need a leading hand.

The festering sense of entrapment and what some Palestinians describe as “not having any way out” may prove to be enough to spark a wider escalation. The younger generations learnt to believe that Israel understands only  the language of force. As Abu Diab told me: “When you feel you have nothing to lose, the explosion is very near". 

The response to yesterday's killing of the three-month-old baby will be probably tougher repressive measures by the Israeli police against Palestinian protesters. By viewing the current situation in Jerusalem, its seems this response only has a slim chance of working. 

Meron Rapoport is an Israeli journalist and writer, winner of the Napoli International Prize for Journalism for a inquiry about the stealing of olive trees from their Palestinian owners. He is ex-head of the News Department in Haaertz, and now an independent journalist. This article was first published on the Middleeast Eye.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Meron Rapoport) frontpage Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:22:02 +0000
ISIS gains control of new area in Ramadi https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14838-isis-gains-control-of-new-area-in-ramadi https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14838-isis-gains-control-of-new-area-in-ramadi ISIS FightersMembers of the Anbar Operations Command announced on Thursday that Islamic State (ISIS) forces gained control of Al-Bakr neighbourhood in Al-Hit, west of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, after security forces and tribal fighters withdrew from the city.

General Rashid Flaih, the commander of the Anbar Operations (a sector of the Iraqi Army), told the Anadolu Agency: "ISIS forces have gained complete control of Al-Bakr neighbourhood in Al-Hit, a city located 70 kilometres west of Ramadi, after a battle broke out between security forces and tribal leaders against ISIS. It began last night and lasted until dawn."

"Security forces and tribal leaders withdrew after they ran out of supplies and were no longer to reload their weapons," Flaih continued.

Since June, the Iraqi army has been engaged in numerous battles against ISIS fighter in an effort to regain control of western and northern provinces of the country. With the help of its allies, including the US army and the Kurdish Pashmerga, Iraqi forces have been able to expel ISIS' forces from a number of cities.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:27:49 +0000
Palestinian options at the United Nations and the International Court of Justice https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/14837-palestinian-options-at-the-united-nations-and-the-international-court-of-justice https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/14837-palestinian-options-at-the-united-nations-and-the-international-court-of-justice Palestinian flagAt last, it appears that the United Nations General Assembly's (UNGA) 138-9 majority vote in November 2012 to accord Palestine observer state status might finally be bearing fruit. Sweden's announcement that it will recognise Palestine, the House of Commons 274-12 majority vote calling on the British government to recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, the decision by Spanish lawmakers to hold a similar vote on recognising Palestine in their parliament, and France's announcement that it will recognise Palestine if negotiations with Israel fail are all steps in this direction.

Unable to end Israel's 47-year occupation through negotiations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took the first incremental steps towards asserting Palestinian statehood in the international arena by acceding to more than a dozen treaties on human rights and humanitarian law, steps that only states can take. He also took steps to reunify the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single political entity under one rule of law, a process that is still underway.

After Israel's 51-day assault on the Gaza Strip this summer, President Abbas announced a plan to end the occupation. In his UN speech, he said that Palestine and the Arab Group at the UN had started to prepare a draft UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution that would set a timetable for Israel to end the occupation that would be linked "to the immediate resumption of negotiations between Palestine and Israel to demarcate the borders, reach a detailed and comprehensive agreement, and draft a peace treaty between them".

There is no guarantee that the UNSC will move to a vote. In the case that it does, the United States has indicated that it will veto the resolution. If this happens, President Abbas has threatened to apply for membership in UN agencies and join the International Criminal Court (ICC). An application by Palestine for membership in UN Agencies and the ICC, however, would result in the loss of much needed Congressional funds, not to mention US political support. Israel could also retaliate in myriad ways. Moreover, membership in the ICC could involve delays and legal complications.

Does President Abbas have any other options?

He does. Instead of submitting applications to UN agencies and the ICC in the event of a US veto, President Abbas might consider delaying these moves and ask the UNGA to discuss the steps that member states can take to help end Israel's occupation of Palestine. Should Israel ignore a call from the UNGA to end the occupation, Palestine and the Arab Group could then ask the UNGA to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal responsibilities of states and international organisations to end the occupation.

It will be recalled that when the US vetoed a draft UNSC resolution that condemned Israel's decision to construct the wall in the West Bank in 2003, the UNGA requested an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the legal consequences of its construction. In July 2004, this lead to 14 of the 15 judges to declare in their advisory opinion that the settlements, the wall, and their associated regime are contrary to international law. The court also called on states not to aid or assist Israel in the wall's construction. But because the question addressed to the court in 2003 specifically concerned the wall, the court could not address the larger issue of ending the occupation. In 2003 it was not clear whether a Palestinian state had emerged, and moreover the First Intifada was still underway.

In light of the developments that have taken place in the last decade, President Abbas could ask the UNGA to request a new advisory opinion from the ICJ in the event of a US veto. This time, however, consideration could be given to drafting a question for the UNGA that would: 1) inquire into the legal consequences of Israel's continued occupation and settlement activity in the state of Palestine in light of the UNGA resolution that accorded Palestine observer state status; and 2) provide guidance to the UNGA on the responsibilities of states and international organisations to bring to an end the occupation and Israel's settlement activity.

The question could make reference to the 134 states that have already recognised Palestine, relevant UN resolutions, applicable treaties, and customary international law. Unlike in 2004, this time the court would have its previous advisory opinion to take into account, Palestine's application for membership in the UN, its membership in the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, and the UN resolution that accorded Palestine observer state status. The court would also have to hand a plethora of UN reports, including the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

There have been a number of legal developments since 2004 as well. In addition to the International Law Commission's Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, the International Law Commission has drafted Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations. Furthermore, the court would be expected to make reference to the treaties that Palestine acceded to in April 2014. In addition to the 1907 Hague Regulations, the four Geneva Conventions, and Additional Protocol 1, these treaties include the Human Rights Covenants, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.

Of course, the question rendered to the court would have to be carefully framed, preferably by lawyers with legal experience and expertise at the ICJ. The emphasis of a question that focuses on legal consequences, the occupation, and Palestine's statehood would be to inquire into the legality of a prolonged occupation that has prevented the Palestinian people from exercising their right to self-determination. The hope is that the court would call for an end to the occupation as a matter of international law in order to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination within their own state. The question formulated for the court could be linked to President Abbas's plan to end the occupation.

There are several advantages of going back to the ICJ as opposed to lodging another application at the ICC. The Palestinians have a good track record at the ICJ. They do not have a good track record at the ICC, which rejected their attempt to grant that court jurisdiction after Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. Although the ICC prosecutor has indicated that the ICC would accept a new application submitted by Palestine to join the court, the final ruling on whether the ICC has jurisdiction would be left up to the judges. Furthermore, the ICC has a mixed record of carrying out investigations or preliminary examinations quickly. Not only would it have to check whether Israel is investigating the crimes that took place in Gaza, it may have to wait for the Israeli legal process to run its course, which would also take time. Additionally, because Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute, it has no obligation to co-operate with the ICC; without Israeli co-operation, the process could take even longer. And finally, even if the prosecutor decides to open a full investigation, she would then have to charge and issue arrest warrants for Israelis and Palestinians implicated in crimes under the statute. Yet Israel would be unlikely to hand over any of its nationals to the ICC. With so many possibilities for a stalemate, the ICC route is unlikely to produce the desired results.

In contrast, an ICJ advisory opinion could be produced in a matter of months. The 9 July 2004 advisory opinion on the wall only took the court five months to deliver after it heard the oral pleadings in February 2004. Admittedly, a question on the legal consequences of Israel's continued occupation of Palestine, in light of its new statehood status, would raise more intricate legal issues and might take more time. Even so, it would still be a quicker process than anything at the ICC.

Another advantage that the ICJ has over the ICC is that there is no Congressional legislation that would require the US to withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority in the event that the UNGA requests an advisory opinion from the ICJ, because it is not Palestine that would request the opinion but the UNGA. Moreover, the Palestinians and the Arab Group at the UN would have more control over the question that is formulated for the ICJ, because an advisory opinion is a response to a question that has been rendered to it from the UNGA, which Palestine and the Arab Group can influence.

An opinion that addresses Palestine's legal status and the territories over which Palestine is entitled to exercise sovereignty could help future applications to join the ICC, UN Agencies, and other international institutions. It would also be an opportunity for the court to offer clear guidance on the extent to which Israel is still the occupying power in Gaza (which Israel has disputed since it redeployed its troops in 2005) and provide guidance on the manner in which the Palestinian state came into being in light of the UNGA resolution that accorded Palestine observer state status despite Israel's continuing occupation.

Israel and its allies would find it more difficult to object to a question to the ICJ from the UNGA than a Palestinian application to the ICC. Unlike the ICC, the ICJ cannot try individuals or heads of states for crimes. An appeal to the ICJ could therefore be portrayed as being consistent with a diplomatic effort to reach a negotiated two-state solution by linking it to a need to end the occupation and to stop Israel from building more settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In the event that the UNGA requests an advisory opinion from the ICJ, member states would be invited to give written statements and make oral submissions to the court. As part of this process, member states would have to clarify their legal positions with respect to Palestine's statehood, including explaining what steps the UNGA could take to bring an end to Israel's occupation and settlement activity. Some states may make reference to the manner in which Israel has violated the territorial integrity of the Palestinian state through its construction of the wall in defiance of the court's previous opinion and through its establishment of settlements and by-pass roads. They may also suggest to the court that states and international organisations have a responsibility not to aid or assist Israel in maintaining the occupation and its annexation of Jerusalem, possibly even calling on states and international organisations to consider suspending economic, cultural, and trade agreements with Israel to the extent that these agreements apply to the territories that comprise the Palestinian state. Although advisory opinions are not legally binding in the sense that states are not obliged to comply with them (unless the UNSC determines otherwise), in formulating its opinion, the court would be stating what the law is, which would be binding on states irrespective of the legal status of the advisory opinion.

A favourable and cogent opinion from the ICJ could help shift world public opinion further in favour of Palestinian rights to have a state of their own next to, and at peace with, the state of Israel. At the same time, an advisory opinion may give impetus to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to sit down and negotiate a final status agreement to establish a democratic, contiguous, and independent Palestinian state along the lines of the phased plan to end the occupation that President Abbas plans to present to the UNSC.

In the event that Israel ignores the court and chooses to defy the international community by further entrenching the occupation and building more settlements, those states and organisations sitting on the side-lines would be given a reason and an opportunity to take the moral high ground and insist that Israel respects the court's opinion and the right of the Palestinian people to exercise independence in their own state alongside the state of Israel or face consequences in the form of countermeasures. At that stage, President Abbas could then take steps to join the ICC and UN Agencies.

Victor Kattan is a post-doctoral fellow at the Law Faculty of the National University of Singapore and a policy advisor to Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network. He was previously a legal adviser to the Palestinian Negotiations Support Project in Ramallah on secondment from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Jerusalem. Kattan is the author of From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1891-1949 (London: Pluto Press, 2009) and is the editor of The Palestine Question in International Law (London: The British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 2008).

This article was first published by the European Council on Foreign Relations

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Victor Kattan) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:23:02 +0000
ITN Solicitors: UK government review of Muslim Brotherhood clears them of any links to terrorism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14836-itn-solicitors-uk-government-review-of-muslim-brotherhood-cleares-them-of-any-links-to-terrorism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14836-itn-solicitors-uk-government-review-of-muslim-brotherhood-cleares-them-of-any-links-to-terrorism ITN SolicitorsBelow is the full text of the press release by ITN Solicitors. MEMO has also published a statement from the Muslim Brotherhood on this matter earlier today.

Lawyers representing the Muslim Brotherhood have been informed that the Prime Minister's review into the organisation's activities has cleared them of any links to terrorism.

In August, the Financial Times reported that the review had concluded that "the group should not be labelled a terrorist organisation and in fact [...] found little evidence its members are involved in terrorist activities." The Financial Times report went on to say the review's release had been delayed because of its conclusions and their diplomatic implications.

"Sir John will say that the Brotherhood is not a terrorist organisation. The Saudis and Emiratis will then be very upset with us," a source told the Financial Times.

Recent 'leaks' from the Cabinet Office to the press in contradiction to these stories appear to be an attempt to force a reversal in the review's original findings and besmirch the name of the Muslim Brotherhood and their members resident in the UK.

In particular, on 19th October 2014, the Sunday Telegraph reported apparent findings of the review which attempted to vilify the Muslim Brotherhood and link it to extremism. Much of the Telegraph's report has been proven to be inaccurate and misleading. The report notably cited former MI6 Chief Sir Richard Dearlove as an 'advisor' to the review and Dr Lorenzo Vidino as have having 'worked on the review'.

It has been confirmed that neither had in fact worked on the review as claimed. This trend of leaks suggests an improper attempt to manipulate the review's findings. The Muslim Brotherhood has engaged fully with Sir John Jenkin's review and
provided access to its members at the highest level possible, throughout the world.

The Muslim Brotherhood reserves the right to reply to any negative allegations made against it from any quarter. To date, the Review Team has not provided the Muslim Brotherhood's legal team with any allegations that it considers to be of concern.

There is legitimate concern that, despite the findings of the review, the goalposts are changing. The Muslim Brotherhood calls on the Prime Minister to publish Sir John's report in full and in its original form.

In the spirit of open engagement, which commenced prior to the review being announced, the Muslim Brotherhood has offered to meet with the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary to directly discuss the review's findings.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:14:37 +0000
Ajnad Misr takes responsibility for Cairo University bombing https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14835-ajnad-misr-takes-responsibility-for-cairo-university-bombing https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14835-ajnad-misr-takes-responsibility-for-cairo-university-bombing Injured victim being carried to an ambulance after the bomb blastA group that calls itself Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt) has claimed responsibility for a bombing that took place on Cairo University's campus yesterday injuring 10 people.

Ajnad Misr published the following Tweet: "Thanks to the retribution that was given to us by God Almighty, we were able to gain access to the heart of the security apparatus' criminals functioning inside Cairo University."

"God has enabled us to penetrate their ranks despite their large numbers and we were able to plant a bomb that was directed at them. It was detonated in their midst," the group continued.

The group claims that this operation came in response to the increased killing and subjugation of university students.

Since the beginning of the academic year on October 11, there have been numerous clashes between students who stand in opposition of the current government and the regime's forces. These clashes have led to many injuries and arrests among students.

The Egyptian Ministry of Interior announced that these explosions led to the injury of 10 individuals, six of whom are members of the police force.

A source within Egyptian state intelligence told the Anadolu Agency: "We believe that the culprit behind this explosion is a member of Ajnad Misr, a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda. The group apparently watched security forces for three days and they took advantage of riots within the university to make their move."

The explosion took place in the same location as the group's previous attack on April, which killed one soldier and injured five others.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:10:10 +0000
The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A very short introduction https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/book-review/14834-lineages-of-revolt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/book-review/14834-lineages-of-revolt  The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Very Short IntroductionAuthor: Dr Martin Bunton
Publisher: OUP Oxford
Published Date : 29 August 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0199603930

Review by: Ben White

This book is part of a large series covering a wide range of topics, but it is the first in the Oxford University Press' "Very Short Introduction" collection to address the question of Palestine-Israel. Responsibility for the task was given to Professor Martin Bunton, an academic based at the University of Victoria, Canada.

To read the full review, visit the Palestine Book Awards site.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ben White) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:48:24 +0000
Red Cross begins Gaza clean up https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14833-red-cross-begins-gaza-clean-up https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14833-red-cross-begins-gaza-clean-up Red Cross logoThe International Committee of the Red Cross began removing rubble from agricultural land in south-eastern Gaza yesterday. Large areas of agricultural land were heavily shelled and bombarded in the Gaza Strip during the latest Israeli offensive on the Strip.

The spokeswoman for the Red Cross, Masada Seif, told the Andolu Agency that the organisation began its efforts by removing rubble from Khanons, in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip, in order to allow farmers to access their fields. This was considered an initial step that was taken to enable farmers to work towards re-cultivation.

"The areas covered by rubble are estimated to be around 5,000 square acres and it is also estimated that the project will cost $0.5 million. We expect that it will take two weeks to complete this project," Seif added.

Israel launched an attack on Gaza on July 7 in attempt to stop fighters in Gaza from launching rockets on Israeli territory. The offensive on the Strip, which is home to approximately 1.9 million people, lasted 51 days and killed 2,165 Palestinians and wounded 11,000 others.

According to statistics released by the Palestinian Ministry for Public Works and Housing, the war destroyed nearly 9,000 homes and partially destroyed 8,000 others.

Data released by the Israeli government showed that 68 Israeli military personnel and four civilians were killed during the war, while a further 2,522 were injured, 740 of which were military officials.

The two sides reached a long-term truce on August 26 under Egyptian auspices. Both sides agreed to a ceasefire as well as opening commercial crossings in and out of Gaza. Israeli and Palestinian officials are scheduled to reconvene next week in order to discuss a prisoner exchange deal.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:29:01 +0000
Settlers burn 100 olive trees near Nablus in the occupied West Bank https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14832-settlers-burn-100-olive-trees-near-nablus-in-the-occupied-west-bank https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14832-settlers-burn-100-olive-trees-near-nablus-in-the-occupied-west-bank File photo from the Palestinian village of Burin, where settlers from the Yitzhar settlement set fire to another Palestinian olive groveExtremist settlers set fire on Wednesday to agricultural lands in the town of Huwara, south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, Al-Resalah newspaper reported.

According to Al-Resalah, the mayor of the town said that a group of masked settlers had sneaked onto the land in western Huwara and then poured incendiary fluids on the trees, setting them on fire, which led to the burning of at least one hundred olive trees.

The mayor also pointed out that Israeli occupation forces prevented Palestinian citizens from reaching the lands in order to extinguish the fire. Later on, the Israeli forces allowed the civil defence, existing in the adjacent Palestinian village of Burin, to access the fire and extinguish it, but only after it had expanded to an even larger area of land.

The mayor explained that the landowners had previously not been allowed any access to the lands that were burnt unless in coordination with the occupation forces, thus preventing them from harvesting their olives trees, and now it is too late.

The town of Huwara has witnessed continuous attacks carried out by Israeli settlers who come from the Yitzhar settlement and the surrounding colonies, where the settlers are known for their extremism and hostility towards Arabs.

According to Anadolu news agency. "Around 20,000 Jewish settlers live near Nablus in 39 Jewish-only settlements. Palestinian residents, for their part, complain of repeated attacks by settlers, who usually enjoy the protection of Israeli military personnel."

Settler attacks have recently escalated with the start of the olive harvest season, and several Palestinian towns have seen their crops stolen, olive trees cut and lands confiscated.

Settler attacks are almost universally condemned, but rarely punished. "In 2013, there were 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs," Anadolu reported.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:19:00 +0000
Egypt and Algeria meet to discuss Libyan crisis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14831-egypt-and-algeria-meet-to-discuss-libyan-crisis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14831-egypt-and-algeria-meet-to-discuss-libyan-crisis Sameh ShoukryThe Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is scheduled to visit Algeria today in order to discuss relations between the two states as well as the crisis in Libya.

An official statement issued by the Algerian foreign ministry said: "The Foreign Minister of Egypt Sameh Shoukry is scheduled to visit Algeria this Thursday for work. Shoukry's visit comes at the invitation of Ramtane Lamamra, the Algerian minister of foreign affairs."

"The purpose of this visit is for both sides to discuss regional and international issues that interest both parties, especially the recent developments in Libya."

Shoukry's visit was billed "as an opportunity for both sides to assess the value of bilateral cooperation and work to complete preparations for the seventh session of the Joint Higher Committee headed by Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and his Egyptian counterpart Ibrahim Mahlab."

No information was given about the length of Shoukry's visit.

A few days ago, Lamamra denied that there had been tensions between the Egypt and Algeria regarding the Libyan crisis. This meeting is thought to be in response to the rumours that were published in the Arab press.

In a press conference, held in Algiers on October 14, Lamamra said: "There is a sense of coordination and agreement between both countries. We are not in any disagreement, not in any sense of the word."

Libya is currently suffering from an armed conflict in many cities, especially Tripoli and Benghazi. The conflict is between armed militias trying to take control of the country and they are affiliated with both liberal and Islamist factions. This conflict has led to the establishment of a second government in Tripoli. The internationally recognised elected government is now based in Tobruk.

Both Egypt and Algeria have expressed their support for the government in Tobruk. Egypt has previously been accused in partaking in airstrikes, with the UAE, against targets in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Both Abu Dhabi and Cairo denied the reports.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:13:07 +0000
UN insistence on Palestinian acquiescence https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/14830-un-insistence-on-palestinian-acquiescence https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/14830-un-insistence-on-palestinian-acquiescence Ban Ki-Moon"The international community cannot be expected to continually pick up the pieces of another war and then pick up the bill." Uttered by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the Security Council Briefing on the Middle East, the comment is a reflection of the constant impunity generated by imperialism. As the international community and the UN generate their own impunity, incessant cycles of colonial violence against Palestinians will be maintained – serving the purposes of supporting the UN's existence as well as the necessity of infiltrating the remnants of Palestine to ensure Israel's intention of complete colonisation.

Selective remembrance, one that suited Israel and the UN, was once again exhibited by Ban as the atrocities committed by Israel during "Operation Protective Edge" were simplified into attacks on the imperialist organisation's premises and the "suffering" endured by Israel epitomised by a single child's death. The illogical argument sustained during the briefing utilised the concept of collateral damage in a manner that once again prioritised forthcoming compromised investigation disassociated from the carnage inscribed by the settler-colonial state. To allude to "hope" for Palestinians in Gaza is an additional unwarranted humiliation that the UN secretary-general was not averse to expressing after he deplored the legitimate armed resistance against imperialist-supported colonial violence.

As expected, the prelude led to another insistence upon the imperialist two-state conspiracy – an alleged solution for Palestinians departing exclusively from Israeli demands that ultimately support the process of complete colonisation. "Leaders on both sides must overcome their differences and dispense with the unilateral initiatives that serve only to fuel mistrust and polarisation. The two-state solution is the only viable option for a durable peace."

Rather than overcoming differences for the sake of acquiescence, the Palestinian leadership should embark upon identifying and maintaining differences in order to construct a narrative derived solely from Palestinian history, memory and the necessity of entire liberation. The cycle of destruction that is adamantly adhered to by the PA and the unity government consists of a multitude of concessions in return for obtaining a compromised semblance of legitimacy. "Underlying causes" continue to form the premise of diplomatic rhetoric. Reference to various forms of colonial violence committed by the state and its settler-population are interpreted in the absence of context in order to absolve both Israel and its international allies of complicity, while allowing for ineffective reprimands based upon the quoting of international law.

Expecting the UN to provide a context for Israel's perpetual violations of international law is as illusory as referring to the legal sources inscribed and interpreted by imperialism, which is how phrases such as "tough compromises" remain relevant within a diplomatic framework despite the insidious implications.

However, assimilation to the compromise rhetoric by Palestinian leaders should be eliminated to articulate the importance of resistance and liberation prior to any peace discourse. In particular, a stance against the reinvention of Palestinian "needs" should be asserted, notably insistence upon the obliteration of the settler-colonial state as a legitimate demand corresponding to the legitimacy of Palestinian armed resistance.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ramona Wadi) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:09:41 +0000
Cairo University president supports security over academic freedom https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14829-cairo-university-president-supports-security-over-academic-freedom https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14829-cairo-university-president-supports-security-over-academic-freedom The Ministry of Higher Education recently hired the private security company Falcon, whose personnel can be seen here at Cairo UniversityDr Jaber Nassar, the president of Cairo University, has warned that the failure of the private security company hired by the government to limit political dissent at Egypt's universities could lead to serious consequences, including the suspension of the school year or the return of the police, Alamat Online news reported on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Higher Education recently hired the private security company Falcon, which, according to Egypt's Mada Masr online newspaper, is owned by prominent former generals and businessmen. Indeed, "Falcon Group is the same security firm that was in charge of safeguarding President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's presidential campaign in 2014."

Falcon has been tasked to secure the gates of the universities during the current academic year in order to ensure the recent ban on political activities on campus, but many students are objecting to its presence and clashes have broken out between the two parties.

However, Nassar has defended the private security company. Alamat Online quoted him as saying that: "The private security personnel are doing their job in securing the doors of the universities, where they have seized knives and firecrackers from day one."

The university president also reportedly said that he holds the Muslim Brotherhood responsible for the violent incidents that the universities are currently witnessing, saying that the failure of the new procedures would have serious consequences. He explained, "This may lead to the suspension of the academic year, or even the return of the police forces to the universities, which poses a threat to their independence."

Over the past few weeks, students and faculty across Egypt have been protesting against the draconian measures Al-Sisi's regime recently passed restricting academic and other freedoms in Egypt, leading to a further crackdown against dissent.

Human Rights Watch earlier demanded for the Egyptian authorities to release university students who have been detained since the beginning of this school year.

Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch's Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa, said, "the mass arrest of students is a pre-emptive strike against freedom of expression and freedom of assembly," adding that, "universities should be safe areas for the exchange of views, including political discussions."

An article published on Wednesday by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace about the recent crackdown on academic freedom in Egypt noted that the on-going student protests "have shone a spotlight on the fact that popular support for President Al-Sisi comes largely from older Egyptians," pointing out that the banning of student protests shows that the "Egyptian authorities are aware of what might be the Achilles' heel of Al-Sisi's regime."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:02:13 +0000
Muslim Brotherhood: Britain's investigation proves we are not associated with terrorism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14828-muslim-brotherhood-britains-investigation-proves-we-are-not-associated-with-terrorism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/14828-muslim-brotherhood-britains-investigation-proves-we-are-not-associated-with-terrorism David Cameron with Mohammed MorsiThe Muslim Brotherhood stated that the British government's investigation into the group's activities proved that the group is not associated with terrorism.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Brotherhood said: "The lawyers representing the group have been informed that the investigation ordered by British Prime Minister David Cameron regarding the group's activities proves that the group has no link to any acts of terrorism."

"Informed sources said that there is no evidence of a link between the Muslim Brotherhood and acts of terrorism."

The group said: "It is worth noting that the investigating team still has not provided any allegations to the Muslim Brotherhood's legal team, and this indicates that the team believes the group is a source of concern."

British Prime Minister David Cameron had ordered a comprehensive investigation into the Brotherhood's activities due to "the concern that the group raises as well as the activities of its members residing in the country".

In its statement, the Brotherhood referred to what is considered to be media "leaks" that have recently been published regarding the report, and claimed that the source of these leaks was the prime minister's office. It considered these sources to be "trying to force the concerned parties to back down from the original results of the report and distort the image of the group and its members living in the UK".

In this regard, the Brotherhood noted in its statement that on October 19, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper published alleged results of the report that clearly aim to ruin the reputation of the group and link it to extremism, noting that "most of what was mentioned in the Telegraph's report has been proven to be false and misguiding".

The Telegraph had claimed that "the former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove was an adviser to the review and Dr Lorenzo Vidino worked on the report, but it was later revealed that the two men did not work on or review the report at all."

Britain's Middle East Eye revealed that the Sunday Telegraph relied on a researcher, linked to an Emirate research centre who has no link to the investigations carried out by the British government, for the results of the report on the British investigations of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The website also said that "the researcher admitted that he did not look at the results of the investigation", which Middle East Eye said was contrary to what the Telegraph stated in its report.

The Muslim Brotherhood described these "leaks" as misguiding and considered them to be "dishonourable attempts to tamper with the results of the report".

The group has urged the British Prime Minister to publish the full report without any amendments.

In an attempt to keep the lines of communication open, just as they were during the preparation of the report, the Muslim Brotherhood voiced its willingness to meet with the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary to discuss and present the results of the report in the group's statement.

The Brotherhood concluded their statement by saying, "The Muslim brotherhood has completely cooperated with Sir John Jenkins' investigation and allowed him to meet all the members of the group, even the senior officials located all over the world. Therefore, the Muslim brotherhood maintains the right to respond to any negative allegations or claims made against the group from any other party."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:57:00 +0000
Jewish Chronicle forced to correct report on Gaza protest 'antisemitism' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/14827-jewish-chronicle-forced-to-correct-report-on-gaza-protest-antisemitism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/14827-jewish-chronicle-forced-to-correct-report-on-gaza-protest-antisemitism Jewish Chronicle apology to Sarah CoborneThe Jewish Chronicle has been forced to issue a correction for a report published during Israel's bombardment of Gaza on alleged 'antisemitism' amongst Palestine solidarity activists.

The original article, 'Pro-Palestinian group says its supporters made antisemitic comments', claimed that Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) director Sarah Colborne had "acknowledged" that the organisation's supporters had "made anti-Semitic comments", and that demonstrations had been used to "peddle hatred."

Though now removed, tweets to the article remain, from the Jewish Chronicle account, the paper's reporters Marcus Dysch and Rosa Doherty, and the Community Security Trust (CST). The latter was itself the focus of criticism over the summer for "abusing its mandate" of monitoring and combating antisemitism "by providing political support for Israel."

The correction published today by the paper is as follows:

In an article published on July 17 headlined 'Pro-Palestinian group says its supporters made antisemitic comments', we stated that the Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Sarah Colborne, had said that demonstrations against the Gaza conflict "had been used by people to 'peddle hatred and intolerance' towards Jews". Ms Colborne had not said that. In fact, what she had said was: "The Palestine Solidarity Campaign opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and racism directed against Palestinians whether living in the West Bank and Jerusalem, or as citizens of Israel." We are happy to set the record straight.

Speaking to me today, Colborne noted that when the Jewish Chronicle published its story, "Israel was at the height of its massacre in Gaza". With public opinion in Britain "one of absolute horror and outrage", PSC was "at the forefront" of the "mobilisation" of thousands across the country.

Responding to the publication of the correction, the PSC director said that they had been "quick to challenge this irresponsible piece of journalism through the Press Complaints Commission" and are "happy with the result." Colborne affirmed: "PSC and other organisations supporting the cause of justice and freedom for Palestinians must be able to do so without fear of smear and slander."

During the bombardment of Gaza, the Jewish Chronicleapologised to readers for publishing a humanitarian appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee. Explaining his position, Editor Stephen Pollard wrote he was sure that "many" of the reported "civilian casualties" were in fact "terrorists."

This is not the first time that the Jewish Chronicle has been forced to issue corrections or apologies under the editorship of Pollard. In 2011, the paper also attracted controversy for publishing a piece expressing "pleasure" at the killing of Italian human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ben White) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:48:47 +0000
Pressure mounts on South Africa's Woolworths to end ties with Israel https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14826-pressure-mounts-on-south-africas-woolworths-to-end-ties-with-israel https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/14826-pressure-mounts-on-south-africas-woolworths-to-end-ties-with-israel #BoycottWoolworthsThe Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South Africa) will be taking part in this month's National Day of Action against Woolworths alongside COSATU, the ANC Youth League, the National Coalition 4 Palestine and other civil society organisations. Woolworths has come under pressure from consumers, trade unions and political parties to end its ties with Israel. In recent weeks, a growing number of public figures have come out in support of the #BoycottWoolworths campaign, including anti-Apartheid veteran Denis Goldberg, freestyle footballer Ashley Mkhize and TV actor Thato Molamu.

A successful National Day of Action against Woolworths was held on 27th September with protests, flash mobs and till jams taking place across South Africa. The company has threatened to take peaceful protesters and activists to court. It has thus far refused to meet with concerned consumers, opting instead to take an arrogant approach to members of the public who are calling on Woolworths to respect human rights for Palestinians. BDS South Africa says that it is, therefore, being "forced to intensify" its actions against Woolworths.

Modelled on and once owned by Britain's Marks and Spencer, Woolworths is being called upon to take the lead in ethical retail business; respond to the wishes of consumers; be on the right side of history in opposing what has been termed "Israeli apartheid"; respect the international boycott of Israel; and bring to an end its 12 million Rands' ($1.1 million) worth of trade with Israel.

According to BDS South Africa, Woolworths sources products and produce from Israeli companies including pretzels, couscous, matzos, coriander, figs, lychees, plums and mangoes. The human rights organisation Who Profits says that almost all of Israel's agricultural companies have illegal operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Sources within Woolworths have indicated that the company is feeling the impact of the campaign in terms of PR and income.

Woolworths has been selected by BDS South Africa as the focus of its campaign in part because the company claims to be "ethical". Campaigners argue that if that is the case then it should not trade with a country like Israel which abuses human rights and ignores international laws and conventions. "We call on Woolworths to respect the Palestinian boycott of Israel, take the lead in this respect and end its trade relations with Israel," said a BDS South Africa spokesperson. "It should set an example for other South African retailers."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:43:09 +0000
Meshaal: Qassam commander Deif is alive https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14825-meshaal-qassam-commander-deif-is-alive https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14825-meshaal-qassam-commander-deif-is-alive Caricature of Mohamed Al-Deif Hamas' military commander Mohamed Al-Deif is still alive and the tunnels from Gaza to Israel are defensive weapons, the head of the movement's political bureau Khalid Meshaal has said.

Speaking during an interview with the American magazine Vanity Fair published recently, Meshaal said: "Mohammed Deif is alive. Israelis failed to kill him. But they succeeded in killing his wife and his two children. Mohammed Deif is still alive, and will continue to fight the Israeli aggression and occupation. Inshallah."

Responding to the question about why Al-Deif has not made an appearance to prove he is alive, Meshaal said: "We have proof. It is not important the others have it. Mohammed Deif is not a politician in order to make public appearances. He is a military man who hardly ever turned up in public, even before the war."

Defensive tunnels

About the tunnels, which were a game changer in the recent Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, Meshaal said they mark a creative technique that achieves a kind of balance with the Israel's military power.

"In light of the balance of power, which is shifted toward the Israeli occupation, we had to be creative in finding innovative ways. The tunnels were one of our innovations. The Israeli army is stronger than us. It possesses a great destructive power. It has airplanes, artillery. It possesses the strongest weapons arsenal in the region."

"Therefore, what Hamas and other resistance factions are doing in Gaza, with the full support of our people, is just an attempt to ensure the necessary means to protect our people... The tunnels come in this context, that of putting more obstacles in the way of any Israeli attacks, and enabling the resistance in Gaza to defend itself."

He explained: "We used them [tunnels] when the Israeli occupation waged war against us. So the tunnels may have been outwardly called offensive tunnels, but in actual fact, they are defensive ones."

"If those were offensive tunnels," he explained, "Hamas would have used them before the war. But, when Israel carried out its aggression against us, we used the tunnels to infiltrate behind the back lines of the Israeli army, which is waging war on Gaza."

Meshaal insisted that the tunnels were not used to wage aggression against civilians. "There are Israeli towns adjacent to Gaza. Have any of the tunnels been used to kill any civilian or any of the residents of such towns? No. Never!"

"[We] used the tunnels either to strike beyond the back lines of the Israeli army or to raid some military sites such as Nahal Oz. Hamas filmed this operation and aired the footage on TV networks. This proves that Hamas is only defending itself, is engaged in a war of self-defence."

Israel targets civilians

"They [Israel] did not declare the tunnels as part of the military targets. But when they discovered the tunnels, this is when they started to raise the issue. This proves that they first started the war, and then looked for justifications. This is the first point," the Hamas leader explained.

"The second one is, if what Israeli leaders are claiming is correct - that Hamas dug those tunnels to attack the Israeli towns and kill civilians - how come Hamas hasn't done that during the war?"

Meshaal insisted that Israel started the war because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to iron out internal problems within his government.

"Netanyahu, because of his cabinet's internal problems and because of the public anger against him, opted to escalate the situation in Gaza. He sought to score a victory over his political opponents and in front of the Israeli people, so he carried out his aggression."

Fighting settlers is lawful

When asked about the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 12, Meshaal said: "The Israeli investigations have shown that a Hamas field group in the West Bank had killed those three settlers. So, this was indeed an operation executed by a Hamas group.

"As the Israeli investigations have shown, it turned out that a Hamas field group in the West Bank had killed those three settlers. So, this was indeed an operation executed by a Hamas group. We now have specific information. [The] question now is: Was this operation legitimate or not? This was a legitimate operation. Why? I told you. It is the right of the lawful owners of the land in the West Bank, whether they are from Hamas, or from some other group, to engage in resistance against the occupiers, whether they are the Israeli military or settlers. It's as simple as that."

Meshaal explained that Hamas' leadership don't give orders regarding which operations should be executed but there is an overall control mechanism. "In the leadership of Hamas, we never give orders to execute this operation - or stop that one. We present general policies: that there is an occupation and part of our strategy is to resist this occupation. Somebody might say, 'But don't you have any control over those working in the field?' Of course we do."

"When we agree on a ceasefire, for example, this becomes a decision from the leadership of the movement, and those working on the ground must abide by it. But the leadership does not interfere with the execution, or with ordering this operation to be carried out, and that one not to."

Hamas accepts state on 1967 borders

Hamas doesn't seek to kill Jews of people of any other faith, but rather is fighting to liberate its people from an occupation and settlers, Meshaal told Vanity Fair.

"Hamas' position and its principles are clear. We do not seek to kill Jews or any other people of any faith, nationality, or race. We are only engaged in resistance against those who occupy our land, regardless of their religious beliefs or race.

"We do not kill Israelis because they are Jews. We kill them because they are occupiers. They occupied our land and have transgressed against us. This falls in the context of self-defence and defending our land. This is a legitimate right recognised by all religions and by international laws."

To distance the policy of his movement from the policies of other extremist Islamists such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS), Meshaal insisted that his movement does not extend its operations outside Palestine.

"Hamas is containing its struggle within Palestine," he said, "we killed no Americans, or Europeans. Nor did we kill anyone else in the East or in the West. Our battle is on Palestinian land, because this is where the occupation and the settlements are."

He asked: "Why did the Americans start their revolution centuries ago? And why have the French fought the Nazis? Why did South Africans struggle to achieve their freedom? Those are peoples' rights."

Meshaal said a two-state solution is the solution to the ongoing unrest between Palestinians and Israelis. "Hamas announced many years ago, that it agrees with other Palestinian forces on reaching a settlement on the basis of the 1967 borders. We agreed to a Palestinian State on the basis of the border of June 4, 1967, and its capital Jerusalem, along with the right of the returnees."

Also read: Love in the time of Gaza: The story of Mohamed Al-Deif and his late wife Widad Asfoura

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:30:20 +0000
Is it time to bypass governments in the search for justice? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14824-is-it-time-to-bypass-governments-in-the-search-for-justice https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/14824-is-it-time-to-bypass-governments-in-the-search-for-justice Ibrahim HewittOne of the conundrums about Israel is that the country's media often carries far more robust stories about the state than the many pro-Israel media outlets in the West. Discussions take place within Israel that are blocked or stifled by lobbyists in Europe and Americas; its activists appear to be more Zionist than the Zionist Israelis themselves. Indeed, such is the power of the zealots within the pro-Israel Lobby in the US that it more or less dictates Washington's foreign policy; it is inconceivable that any administration in America would be able to do anything meaningful in the Middle East which might have a negative impact on Israel.

As Robert Fisk reveals in his book The Great War for Civilisation, the same holds true for defence matters. During his investigations over many years into the global arms industry, and his efforts to find out how and why a US-made Hellfire missile sold to the US Marine Corps ended up being fired by an Israeli helicopter at a civilian ambulance in Lebanon, killing two women and four children, Fisk was told by one senior US officer: "Anyone on [Capitol] Hill knows that challenging any [arms] transfers to Israel is not going to help their political career... The Israeli [sic] lobby is very, very powerful. It's not going to be criticised." (p968)

In the space of the past few days, a Palestinian child was knocked over and killed by a Jewish settler in the occupied Palestinian territories, and a Jewish child (from America) was hit and killed by a car driven by a Palestinian. US state department spokesperson Jen Psaki called the killing of the Jewish child a "terrorist" act; she made no comment about the killing of the Palestinian girl. How many more children are going to be killed to satisfy Israel's apparently untouchable demand for "security" at the cost of innocent lives on both sides; before America stops being more Israeli than Israel?

Despite its claims to be an honest broker for peace, the US is behind Israel 100 per cent and will never take a truly neutral stand in order to bring peace and justice to Palestine-Israel. Its politicians have just too much to lose by being honest and fair towards the protagonists. There is a strong argument for lumping America alongside Israel as a protagonist; certain EU states could probably be thrown in for good measure along with others for whom it is Israel first and foremost, right or wrong, legal or illegal. So too could those within the Palestinian Authority who have a vested interest in "security cooperation" with the Israeli occupation authorities, the price for which is being paid by ordinary Palestinians who are not protected by the Palestinian "security agencies", with their 70,000 officers, against illegal settlers and Israel Defence Forces (IDF) violence.

Earlier this year, writing for Al-Jazeera online, Yousef Munayyer of the Jerusalem Fund noted that civil society groups around the world are leading the push for Palestinian rights. There is a clear shift, he wrote, from states to civil actors. Most notably with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, civil society is leading the way in putting pressure on the Israeli government. "The second shift is in the way desired goals are understood," noted Munayyer. "As civil society pushes forward and as states recede, so too does the statist approach focused on partition. Civil society actors are far more inclined to focus on people and their rights rather than borders and the brokering of political power between factions or states." This is an important point given the apparent dichotomous approach of the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, with, for example, his threat to go to the International Criminal Court to take action against Israel countered by his belief that security cooperation with the occupation is "sacred".

How much longer, it is fair to ask, will global civil society allow the West to pour millions of dollars into the PA which, clearly, is doing very little for the civil, legal and human rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and nothing at all for the rights of refugees in neighbouring countries and the wider diaspora. Despite the necessary and probably very painful navel-gazing that this requires of Palestinians as they examine their own shortcomings, Munayyer pointed out that the shift "from a partition focus to a rights-based focus... is a far more uncomfortable global conversation" for Israel to hear. It is, after all, "the main culprit in Palestinian human rights abuses".

BDS aside, there is more that civil society can do to bring pressure to bear and make sure that Munayyer's "shift" has an effect in countries beyond Palestine-Israel. This includes legal as well as political activism. There is, for example, a General Election looming in Britain; it has to be held next year at the latest, and the mockery that passes for democracy in the United States, where money wins elections rather than policies, is already swinging into action for the presidential primaries prior to Obama leaving the White House in 2016. The governments in Washington and London gave Israel unconditional backing during so-called Operation Protective Edge this summer; Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that Israel had his "staunch" support while the IDF was bombing and killing its way through civilian areas of the Gaza Strip. Civil society needs to remind politicians of this fact during the election campaigns; the complicity of Western governments in Israel's destruction of Palestinian lives and infrastructure has to be an election issue.

For too long, Western politicians have been allowed to get away with preaching democratic values at home while helping Israel to commit very un-democratic acts against Palestinian civilians. If human rights are right for us in the West, they have to be right for Palestinians living under the world's last colonial enterprise in the occupied territories. Mr Cameron cannot be allowed to insist on British schoolchildren being brought up to respect law and order while he gives his government's "staunch" support to the state which disregards international laws and conventions with impunity. Once politicians know that their foreign policies have domestic payback at election time, it is reasonable to assume that such policies will change. Until then, civil society must bring pressure to bear on them. If we are serious about peace and justice for Palestine-Israel, then perhaps it is time to bypass governments in order to achieve them.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ibrahim Hewitt) frontpage Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:17:22 +0000