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 Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:45:18 +0000 MEMO en-gb Abbas plans to resume negotiations and marginalise the Palestinian resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/13891-abbas-plans-to-resume-negotiations-and-marginalise-the-palestinian-resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/13891-abbas-plans-to-resume-negotiations-and-marginalise-the-palestinian-resistance Mahmoud AbbasAs the Palestinian armed resistance persevered against Israel's latest colonial massacre, the two state solution has become part of the diplomatic discourse. The atrocities committed have created a diverse political framework that has united the people behind the resistance, however Mahmoud Abbas has reverted to the collapsed negotiations which have become a recurring focal point.

As Abbas intentionally fluctuates on whether or not he will seek Israel's indictment at the International Criminal Court he demeans the Palestinian resistance by imploring the US and Israel to "outline specific borders". The emerging political allegiances between the people and the resistance risk becoming another form of imperialist oblivion.

According to the Times of Israel, US Secretary of State John Kerry is seeking a return to the perpetual negotiations that have plundered Palestinian land and resources for decades. While reporting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is less than enthused about the negotiations prospects – possibly owing to additional so-called concessions to Palestinians including the release of the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners. This is reminiscent of attempts to prevent liberation (of Palestine) through diplomatic hypocrisy.

There were speculations last week about Abbas's undisclosed plan for a "political and diplomatic solution". The plan allegedly involves international interference under the guise of "handing over responsibility for a resolution to the conflict to international forces". Given the willingness to make further concessions, the ICC threat by Abbas becomes insignificant. According to Israel Radio, Abbas regurgitated criticism of Hamas for refusing to accept the previously proposed ceasefire and asked, "is the Palestinian nation so trivial in our eyes?"

It is the triviality with which the Palestinian Authority regards Palestine that has ensured its international political recognition. The PA, an instrument of collaboration, is intent on eliminating the role embraced by the Palestinian resistance and the people in favour of bargaining over a process that will not yield any demarcation of borders until the settler-colonial process is complete.

The efforts by Kerry and Abbas negate, not only the ramifications of Operation Protective Edge, but also undermine the increased legitimacy of the Palestinian resistance – the latter already indirectly enforced through the numerous restrictions upon the rebuilding of Gaza.

Abbas constantly endorses the role of international interference in Israel's illegal settler-colonial existence. Despite the Palestinians embracing the armed resistance, Abbas is determined to fragment the right to land and considers international forces to be a suitable option.

Abbas considers security to be tantamount to the elimination of Palestine, which will elicit references to "borders", "peace", "negotiations" and "solutions" and succeeding in the temporary incarceration of Palestinians and, in the long run, the extermination of any reference to Palestinian land or people. The vacuum of previous years when resistance became embroiled in diplomacy seems to have been eliminated. The future political processes are unknown, but Palestine has succeeded in establishing a legitimate struggle beyond manipulative officials and legislation.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ramona Wadi) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:17:32 +0000
Netanyahu: disarming Gaza is an unachievable goal https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13890-netanyahu-disarming-gaza-is-an-unachievable-goal https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13890-netanyahu-disarming-gaza-is-an-unachievable-goal Benjamin NetanyahuIsrael's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said during a closed session with senior Israeli officials that the disarmament of Gaza would not be possible in the near or distant future, Israel's Channel 10 reported.

The channel quoted officials who said that Netanyahu ruled out taking a final decision on a few issues in Gaza, such as the airport and seaport at this stage.

The channel said that contrary to public statements, Netanyahu confirmed that Hamas had gained some privileges as a result of the cease-fire, including the mitigation of the crossings and increasing the ​​fishing area to more than 6 miles.

The channel quoted Netanyahu as saying that there were no preparations to hold a new round of indirect talks with the Palestinian factions in Cairo scheduled at the end of the month.

He remarked on the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, saying, "the withdrawal from the West Bank will lead to tunnels that could reach Kfar Saba and Sharon", hinting that he does not intend to evacuate areas from the West Bank within a future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:15:24 +0000
UN says 1,688 killed in Iraq in August https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/13889-un-says-1688-killed-in-iraq-in-august https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/13889-un-says-1688-killed-in-iraq-in-august Kurdish Peshmerga Forces firing missiles at fortified IS encampmentsThe United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) announced the death of 1,688 Iraqis, and the injury of 2,166 more, during August due to acts of violence in different parts of the country.

The UN mission made the announcement on Monday via a statement on its official Facebook page.

The statement pointed out that the capital, Baghdad, was the area with the highest number of casualties, both dead and injured, but Mosul was the highest in the number of deaths as a result of the wave of violence that the country is currently witnessing.

The UN mission also revealed that the number of Iraqi civilians who were killed in August outside of the Anbar province was 1,265, including 77 members of the civilian police, and that the number of those injured has reached 1,198 people, including 105 police officers. In addition, 155 members of the armed forces were killed and 172 injured.

The statement said the capital Baghdad was the worst affected in regards to the number of civilian casualties, which reached 857 people, with 246 dead and another 611 injured, followed by the northern city of Mosul, where the number of victims reached 695, including 625 dead and 70 others injured. The city of Kirkuk, in the north, witnessed the death of 95 people and the injury of 248 others, while 140 people were killed in Diyala and 94 others were injured. In the Salahuddin province in the north, 105 civilians were killed and 103 injured.

Regarding the Anbar province, where statistics are independently reported by the UN mission, "the total number of casualties of Anbar province during August – based on the numbers Health Directorate Anbar – has reached 268 deaths and 796 injuries", with a high potential for an increase in the number of victims in the coming weeks.

The mission drew attention to the difficulty of verifying the figures, or including the number of people killed in non-combat situations, like hunger or illness. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have now been displaced due to the ongoing violence.

The state of turmoil has dominated areas in the north and west of Iraq after the "Islamic State", which is known as Daash in Arabic, and Sunni insurgents allied with them took over large parts of the Nineveh province on 10 June 2014, when the Iraqi army withdrew without any resistance leaving large quantities of weapons and gear.

The same thing happened in the cities of the Salahuddin province and the city of Kirkuk months earlier, as well as in the cities of the Anbar province in western Iraq.

Backed by armed militias and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, as well as US air strikes, the Iraqi forces have now chased the militants out and retaken control of a number of cities and towns after heavy fighting over the past few weeks.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:31:58 +0000
85,000 persons forcibly disappeared in Syrian prisons https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13888-85000-persons-forcibly-disappeared-in-syrian-prisons https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13888-85000-persons-forcibly-disappeared-in-syrian-prisons The Syrian Network for Human Rights, SNHR has issued a report marking the international day of the victims of enforced disappearances saying the Syrian regime's forces are holding at least 85,000 people since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution on March 15, 2011.

The network said "the Syrian regime have been carrying out arrest campaigns since the beginning of the Syrian revolution. They targeted the leaders of the popular uprising at first before expanding to include anyone connected or related, even remotely to the Syrian revolution or any other political, intellectual, media or humanitarian activities aiming to benefit the Syrian revolution".

The report stated that "the great disaster is the fact that there is not any information about the whereabouts of those detainees according to tens of testimonies of victims' families".

The report pointed out that enforced disappearance is a violation of customary humanitarian law and a crime against humanity according to Article 7 of the Rome Statute, amounting to a war crime.

The network also pointed out that it has lists of more than 110, 000 people still being detained by the Syrian regime and that the real number of detainees could be double, amounting to nearly 215, 000 prisoners.

The network said the Islamic State (IS) has arrested hundreds of people and committed the crime of enforced disappearance, mostly against media activists, military activists or even relief workers. One of the most notable individuals that have been disappeared was Father Paolo Dall'Oglio.

The network held the armed opposition factions responsible for committing enforced disappearance, most notably against civilian activists such as Razan Zeitouna, Wael Hamada and Samra Al Khalil.

SNHR head, Fadel Abdulghani said "the Syrian regime has not only arbitrary arrested tens of thousands of civilians, it also keeps them in undisclosed locations perpetrating several crimes at the same time. The detainee should be kept in places that have humanitarian standards, publically known and supervised by the government who should be responsible for his life and security. They should also ensure that he is not tortured to die. If the Syrian authorities refuse to give information about the detainees and their places of detention, then they are a partner in the crime of enforced disappearance."

The network recommended that the United Nations and the Security Council pass a binding resolution forcing the Syrian authorities to release all those detained.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:30:37 +0000
Egyptian court defers lawsuit demanding the closure of Human Rights Watch https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13887-egyptian-court-defers-lawsuit-demanding-the-closure-of-human-rights-watch https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13887-egyptian-court-defers-lawsuit-demanding-the-closure-of-human-rights-watch Human Rights Watch logoThe first circuit in the Administrative Court, headed by Judge Sami Darwish, has postponed until 18 November a lawsuit demanding the closure of the headquarters of Human Rights Watch and all other foreign organisations operating inside Egypt without a license, Al-Alam Online news website reported.

According to the lawsuit, because Human Rights Watch's funding sources are unknown and undeclared, this raises doubts about the expenditures spent on its activities and the size and agenda of its grants to small organisations in the countries where it operates.

Human Rights Watch is a New York City-based international non-governmental organisation concerned with defending "human rights". It was founded in 1978, reportedly to ensure the Soviet Union's respect for the Helsinki Accords at a time when other organisations were also being established to monitor human rights around the world.

The organisation recently issued a report on the Rabaa massacre in Cairo, saying that this mass bloodshed amounted to a crime against humanity and calling upon the United Nations to form an international fact-finding committee to investigate the "mass killing operations" that claimed the lives of many supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:28:51 +0000
Davutoglu: No normalisation with Israel unless Gaza blockade lifted https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13886-davutoglu-no-normalisation-with-israel-unless-gaza-blockade-lifted https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13886-davutoglu-no-normalisation-with-israel-unless-gaza-blockade-lifted Ahmet DavutogluTurkey's Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu ruled out on the normalisation of relations with Israel unless the blockade on the Gaza Strip was lifted and aggression on the enclave was stopped, saying there was "no hope" unless this happened.

Davutoglu's remarks came during a speech to the Turkish parliament in Ankara.

He pointed that he will seek to promote economic growth and continue Turkey's efforts to join the European Union.

Davutoglu did not refer to any changes in policy pursued by his predecessor, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the past 11 years.

He said, "Turkey will be a new pioneering country" and he promised to make the country "freer, richer, and fairer and more prosperous".

Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the first directly elected president in Turkey and is expected to exert considerable influence on the government's performance.

Davutoglu announced his new cabinet Friday where the majority of ministers from the previous government will retain their portfolios.

He said that Ankara will continue its support for the Syrian refugees as well as the peace process with the PKK rebels. He added that Turkey will continue its efforts to join the European Union, a project stalled last year after the Erdogan's government repressed protests that erupted in several cities and the campaign it launched against the judiciary and the police based on their involvement in fabricating a corruption scandal against Erdogan.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:05:40 +0000
17 jailed in Saudi for financing terrorism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13885-17-jailed-in-saudi-for-financing-terrorism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13885-17-jailed-in-saudi-for-financing-terrorism Saudi Arabian flagA Saudi court yesterday sentenced 17 defendants to jail on charges of financing terrorism, the Saudi News Agency reported.

The defendants, 16 of them Saudi and one Senegalese, received jail sentences ranging from between 30 months and 26 years, the Anadolu news agency reported.

This is the third group of defendants in the case, which includes a total of 67 defendants.

The charges included disobeying the ruler by traveling to take part in fighting in places of "sedition", pursuing a "takfirist" approach, and assisting "misguided individuals" who wanted to travel to Iraq to fight.

In addition to financing terror, the defendants have also been convicted of "insulting the prominent scholars of the Kingdom" and "attempting to turn public opinion against the Saudi state".

The Senegalese defendant has been sentenced to 11 years in jail; he will be deported at the end of his sentence.

The verdict can be appealed within 30 days, the court said.

On August 25, a Saudi court handed jail sentences of between nine and 33 years against 17 defendants in the same case, while 23 others received jail terms of between three and 22 years two days later.

Rights groups have accused the Saudi government of using its campaign against extremists as a pretext to crackdown on opponents.

In February, the Saudi monarch issued a decree that considered traveling to take part in fighting outside the Kingdom a criminal offence punishable by jail terms of between three and 20 years.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:04:00 +0000
Sisi seeks to expand his constitutional powers https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13884-sisi-seeks-to-expand-his-constitutional-powers https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13884-sisi-seeks-to-expand-his-constitutional-powers President SisiAides close to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi are seeking to amend the constitution to expand his powers, a report said.

The attempt to amend the constitution is aimed at expanding the legislative powers of the president and allow him to form a government without consulting the parliament, Almesryoon newspaper said, adding that the articles on the system of governance will also be subject to amendments.

According to article 226 of the Egyptian 2014 constitution, the president can request the amendment of the constitution only if a third of the parliament approves the request, by specifying the articles that require amendment and the reasons for this request, and the parliament should discuss it within 30 days, then approve or reject the request with a majority vote.

Former council of state president, Judge Mohamed Hamed Al-Gamal, said that President Al-Sisi does not have the right to amend the current constitution unless there is a parliament in place. He pointed out that Al-Sisi has temporary legislative powers until the election of a parliament, and that he can only use these powers to issue laws, but not to amend the constitution.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:01:52 +0000
American-Egyptian attempts to start new talks on Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13883-american-egyptian-attempts-to-start-new-talks-on-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13883-american-egyptian-attempts-to-start-new-talks-on-gaza File photo of Al-Qassam Brigade soldiers during a rally in ShujaiyaEgyptian media reported that Assistant US Secretary of State Thomas Caterman met on Monday with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri in Cairo.

Ambassador Rakha Hassan, Egyptian deputy foreign minister, said that the aim of the meeting was to push ahead a new round of indirect talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis in an effort to reach a solution on the outstanding issues between both sides, including the seaport and airport.

Rakha Hassan said that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had made no gains since the war on Gaza. He had suffered a "clear loss" despite [Israel's] military superiority.

Hassan went on to note that Netanyahu was trying to compensate for his defeat by committing further violations in order to satisfy the Israeli Jewish extremist. "Doing this, he [Netanyahu] is defying the international position, which opposes the Zionist violations," he said.

The ambassador said that it will be possible for Egypt to prepare for the two-state solution and conclude the conflict, noting this demand is supported by the West, Palestine and Israel.

Egyptian political analyst Kamal Habib said that the US and Israel are trying to start peace talks after reaching a long-term ceasefire.

Habib stressed that there is no choice for the two sides other than a long-term ceasefire and the discussion on the outstanding issues such as the seaport, airport secure aviation and establishing secure passages to connect Gaza with other parts of Palestine.

He advised the Palestinian factions to keep united in order for the talks to be successful.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:57:33 +0000
Israel freezes Palestinian tax revenues https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13882-israeli-freezes-palestinian-tax-revenues https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13882-israeli-freezes-palestinian-tax-revenues Bank of PalestineThe public treasury of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been suffering a high level of indebtedness for several years and according to Ma'an news agency, the occupation authorities have now frozen Palestinian tax revenues.

An unnamed senior Palestinian official told the news agency on Monday that the Israeli occupation has not transferred the tax revenues it had collected on behalf of the PA.

This is particularly bad news at the present moment, because following the end of the latest Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip and in the wake of forming a Palestinian unity government the PA has now entered a new stage of increased responsibility.

The PA must meet the needs of the Gaza Strip, which was announced a "disaster area" by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. On the other hand, the PA is facing the new reality of having to pay the salaries of Palestinian employees recruited during Hamas's control of Gaza.

To make matters worse, all these challenges have come at a time when most donor countries have not met their aid commitments, not having transferred any money to the PA treasury.

Until today, the PA has not announced the expected date for it to pay its employees in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:51:26 +0000
Saudi and France 'finalising' $3bn contract to arm the Lebanese army https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13881-saudi-and-france-finalising-3bn-contract-to-arm-the-lebanese-army https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13881-saudi-and-france-finalising-3bn-contract-to-arm-the-lebanese-army French President Francois Hollande and Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin AbdulazizFrance and Saudi Arabia are finalising a $3 billion arms deal to provide the Lebanese army with weapons, the French presidency announced yesterday following talks between French President Francois Hollande and Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz.

Hollande said, during an official dinner hosted in honour of the Saudi Crown Prince, that Lebanon is a "great but vulnerable country" which "needs security".

He added: "We have come together, Saudi Arabia and France, to help Lebanon on the condition that it also helps itself, for its own security."

Prince Salman arrived in Paris yesterday for a three-day visit to meet with Hollande who hosted a dinner in his honour. Most of the attendees were representatives of arms companies.

The Lebanese army, which suffers from a shortage of arms in quality and quantity, demanded the international community help it contain the repercussions of the ongoing war in neighbouring Syria, where Islamic State fighters control large areas.

The Lebanese army recently fought violent confrontations with IS elements in the town of Arsal, near its border with Syria.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:14:14 +0000
Netanyahu will not continue talks with Hamas https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13880-netanyahu-will-not-continue-talks-with-hamas https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13880-netanyahu-will-not-continue-talks-with-hamas Benjamin NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retracted the terms of the ceasefire deal reached last week with the Palestinian fighters in Cairo, Israeli TV Channel 10 revealed yesterday evening.

According to the deal, the Palestinian and Israeli sides reached a final agreement on several issues, including ending the siege on Gaza, and postponed discussions on other issues, including building a seaport and airport. The discussions should resume in Cairo within a month.

Senior Israeli officials reported by the TV station said: "The prevailing impression for Netanyahu is that he did not plan to resume talks with Hamas."

Channel 10's political reporter Raviv Drucker said: "The prime minister said, in a closed meeting on Monday, that he was not intending to send the Israeli delegation to Cairo to resume talks."

According to Drucker, Netanyahu said that he would beat Hamas through his retraction from the demands agreed upon in the ceasefire deal.

The station said that Netanyahu did not disclose the whole realty about the concessions he made regarding opening the Gaza crossings and the expansion of fishing zones.

It said he might take unilateral measures without carrying out more concessions for Hamas or any other party regarding the crossings, expansion of fishing zones and the other demands "laid down by Hamas".

Speaking to close aides in a closed meeting, Netanyahu said that demilitarising Palestinian factions is currently "difficult", as is accepting a seaport and airport in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials who took part in the meeting warned of Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank. "If Israel withdrew from the West Bank, tunnels would be built into Israeli cities," the officials said.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:11:36 +0000
Hamas: US is partner to Israeli crimes in Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13879-hamas-us-is-partner-to-israeli-crimes-in-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13879-hamas-us-is-partner-to-israeli-crimes-in-gaza Mahmoud Al-ZaharSenior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar said on Monday that the United States is a partner to the Israeli occupation and its crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to the Palestinian Al-Quds television, he said: "We mean the US administration, not the American people, who took to the streets in large rallies against Israel's crimes."

He explained that lifting the Israeli siege of Gaza is not a demand, but a right. "We have the right to exist and lifting the siege is one of our rights," he said, "it has to be lifted without a price."

Regarding the Israeli soldiers who were abducted during Israel's latest invasion of the Gaza Strip, he said their price is the release of the Palestinian prisoners. "This is our policy, which the enemy knows very well," he said.

He continued: "There are two kinds of prisoners: MPs, former ministers, Hamas leaders and those prisoners freed in previous swaps; and the prisoners who are spending long terms in Israeli jails."

The first kind should be released without a price, he asserted, while "the Israeli prisoners in our hands" are the price for the second kind of prisoners.

He also spoke about the seaport and airport that Hamas insisted on during the ceasefire talks in Cairo. "The airport was built during the time of late Yasser Arafat, but the occupation forces demolished it," he said. "It is our right to rebuild it."

"The seaport was supposed to be built in Gaza's central port, but the occupation forces have stopped any positive measures from happening in the Strip, including the seaport," he explained. "The Palestinian Authority was too weak to defend establishing the seaport. It is our right, which we seek to achieve. Whoever attacks us, we will attack them."

Al-Zahar stressed that the Israeli occupation has to be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court (ICC). If the Palestinian Authority does not carry out this mission, individuals in Europe and Latin America and every free country should pursue Israeli criminals at the ICC.

He concluded by comparing negotiations and resistance as methods to gain Palestinians rights. "There are diplomatic negotiations, which supporters think will gain a Palestinian state," he said. "However, they have now failed and its supporters warn that they are going to join international organisations if negotiations are not revived."

Meanwhile, he said the resistance programme is more "successful" and it insists on not making any concessions on Palestinians' rights.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:08:58 +0000
Gaza destroys five tonnes of unexploded Israeli bombs https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13878-gaza-destroys-five-tonnes-of-unexploded-israeli-bombs https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13878-gaza-destroys-five-tonnes-of-unexploded-israeli-bombs Gaza destroys five tonnes of unexploded Israeli bombsIMAGES

The explosives engineering division in the Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip yesterday destroyed around five tonnes of unexploded bombs that were launched by the Israeli army on the sector during their latest assault.

Imad Al-Amasi, director of the division, told the Anadolu news agency: "Today, we were able to successfully destroy the remnants of the Israeli occupation's bombs, which were dropped during Israel's war on the Gaza Strip on the cities of Rafah and Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip, but did not explode."

An Anadolu reporter was present during when the bombs were destroyed, which occurred in an open area, west of Khan Yunis.

Al-Amasi said that the materials, which were "heavy bombs, missiles of different sizes, types and shapes, and artillery shells" were collected from different residential and border areas that were subject to bombing or ground invasion.

He said approximately "five tonnes" of munitions had been collected from the areas of Khan Yunis and Rafah as a first stage.

Work is still being carried out to retrieve unexploded bombs from other areas in the Gaza Strip in order to destroy them.

On August 13, five people were killed, including two explosives engineers and two journalists, and six others were injured when an unexploded Israeli rocket detonated in the northern Gaza Strip.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 10:46:19 +0000
Bennett: Building is the Zionist response to murder of Jews https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13877-bennett-building-is-the-zionist-response-to-murder-of-jews https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13877-bennett-building-is-the-zionist-response-to-murder-of-jews Naftali BennettIsraeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday that Israel has always responded to the killing of Jews by building more illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Visiting a Jewish seminary in the Gush Etzion settlement in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media quoted Bennett as saying that Israel's "ultimate goal" is clear, referring to the Zionist plan to seize all of historic Palestine.

Regarding the Israeli decision to confiscate nearly 4,000 dunams of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank to build a new illegal settlement, he said building is the Israeli response to "terrorism".

The US has criticised Israel's move to confiscate more Palestinian land. "This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes... is counterproductive to Israel's stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians," a US official told Reuters news agency.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 10:34:48 +0000
Turkey demands US explanation over reports of spying https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13876-turkey-demands-us-explanation-over-reports-of-spying https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13876-turkey-demands-us-explanation-over-reports-of-spying Bulent ArincTurkish authorities summoned the US charge d'affaires in Ankara yesterday over reports suggesting Washington is spying on Turkish officials, a spokesperson of the Turkish government said.

Deputy Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Arinc confirmed that the US charge d'affaires had been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs "to elaborate" on the allegations.

In its Sunday issue, the German magazine Der Spiegel said US and British intelligence agencies have been carrying out intensive electronic surveillance of their NATO ally Turkey.

Citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel said that the US national security agency has been spying on senior Turkish officials since 2006, by monitoring their computers, to find out the intentions of its former conservative prime minister and newly elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The German weekly added that the US placed Turkey in the same surveillance priority rank as Venezuela - higher than Cuba.

The Turkish foreign ministry said it expected the US to investigate these claims and, if proven true, to put an end to those activities which target its institutions and representatives abroad.

Erdogan said he would discuss this matter with other officials during the coming NATO summit in Wales on Thursday.

Two weeks ago, Der Spiegel reported that German intelligence has been spying on Turkey, prompting the latter to summon the German ambassador and express its "concerns".

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 10:31:42 +0000
UN and Italy condemn Israel's land grab in West Bank https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13875-un-and-italy-condemn-israels-land-grab-in-west-bank https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13875-un-and-italy-condemn-israels-land-grab-in-west-bank Federica Mogherini The United Nations expressed dismay at Israel's decision to confiscate land in the West Bank while Italy considered such a move an obstacle in the way of peace, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said settlements "are not only illegal on the basis of international law but also represent an obstacle to peace and to the two states' prospects."

"Italy has always, together with the other EU partners urged the two sides to abstain from unilateral and counter-productive initiatives such as the one announced today, which can prejudice dialogue," she said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday expressed dismay over the Israeli authorities' announcement to confiscate Palestinian land in the West Bank.

According to a statement issued by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric today: "The Secretary-General is alarmed by yesterday's announcement by Israeli authorities to declare as so-called 'state land' nearly 1,000 acres of land in the Bethlehem area of the West Bank."

Ban said: "The seizure of such a large swathe of land risks paving the way for further settlement activity, which - as the United Nations has reiterated on many occasions - is illegal under international law and runs totally counter to the pursuit of a two-state solution."

The UN chief urged Israel to respond to the international community's calls to stop settlement activity and comply with its obligations under international law and the Quartet roadmap.

The Israeli government announced yesterday plans to expropriate 988 acres of Palestinian land in the area of ​​Hebron in the southern West Bank adjacent to the Gush Etzion settlement compound.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 10:25:54 +0000
Palestinian poll: Gaza war significantly boosts Hamas' popularity https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13874-palestinian-poll-gaza-war-significantly-boosts-hamas-popularity https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13874-palestinian-poll-gaza-war-significantly-boosts-hamas-popularity An Al-Qassam Brigade soldier kisses the forehead of Mousa Abu-MarzoukA vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip consider Hamas to be the winner of the summer's conflict, with the group receiving a significant boost in popularity, according to a new poll.

The findings, published Tuesday by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), show that 4 in 5 Palestinians surveyed believe Hamas won the Gaza war, while only 3% believe Israel came out the winner. A similar majority see Israel as responsible for the outbreak of hostilities.

Around two-thirds believe the ceasefire agreement satisfies Palestinian interests, while 94% were satisfied with Hamas' military performance in confronting Israeli forces. In an evaluation of the performance of various Palestinian actors, the PA and Abbas received 36% and 39% positive ratings respectively, while Khaled Meshaal and Hamas received 78% and 88% respectively.

PSR described the results as showing a predictable post-war "spike in the popularity of Hamas and its leaders", as well as "major decline in the popularity of Fatah and president Abbas". The poll was conducted between 26-30 August, with a sample of 1,270 adults in 127 randomly selected locations.

The respected pollsters note that "the size of the change in favour of Hamas is unprecedented since 2006" and that "if presidential elections were to take place today, Ismail Haniyeh would easily win over Abbas and Hamas would win the largest percentage of the popular vote in parliamentary elections". There is also strong support for "Hamas' approach of armed confrontation with Israel as the most effective means of ending Israeli occupation".

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 10:01:41 +0000
New York academics publish open letter in support of Students for Justice in Palestine https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/13873-new-york-academics-publish-open-letter-in-support-of-students-for-justice-in-palestine https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/13873-new-york-academics-publish-open-letter-in-support-of-students-for-justice-in-palestine City University of New York (CUNY)More than one hundred university professors in New York City have signed an open letter, which was published on Monday, to administrators throughout the City University of New York (CUNY) system regarding the "principles of freedom of speech and assembly, and how such freedoms apply to students involved in organising with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at several of the CUNY colleges".

In the letter, the professors explain that: "We have viewed with great concern instances of unequal and unfair treatment of SJP by members of the CUNY administration over the past few years. These have been well documented by legal rights groups such as the Centre for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, as well as by students involved in SJP at CUNY and their faculty advisers. These include arbitrary changes in policies regarding student groups, aimed specifically at curtailing SJP activities; the over-policing of SJP events and activities, including simple actions like handing out fliers, in a way that has caused intimidation to students; and making unfounded accusations that lead to 'investigations' into widely publicised events. All of these actions have a chilling effect on free exchange and open dialogue."

The letter calls "upon members of the administration throughout the CUNY system to treat SJP as they would any other student organisation, respecting their right to organise events and activities within the existing rules and practices governing such organisations and refraining from setting up unfair barriers or subjecting SJP to standards different from those applied to other student groups. These students are acting within the traditions of intellectual inquiry and public responsibility that have guided CUNY since its inception."

The CUNY professors urge the administrators at their university to "show courage in upholding the principles of freedom of speech and assembly". They point out that while not all faculty members who have signed the letter always agree with the views expressed at SJP events, they support "unconditionally" the students' "right to express these views without fear of reprisals or unfair treatment by this university."

Amongst the many dozens of esteemed faculty in the CUNY system who signed the letter are: David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and History; Talal Asad, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology; Linda Martín Alcoff, Director, Women's Studies Certificate Program and Centre for the Study of Women and Society; Moustafa Bayoumi, Professor of English; Corey Robin, Professor of Political Science; Susan Buck-Morss, Distinguished Professor of Political Science; Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished Professor of Sociology; Ervand Abrahamian, Distinguished Professor of History; and Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.

To view the full letter and its list of signatories, please visit here.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 09:55:28 +0000
Haaretz: Hamas was never planning any coup https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13872-haaretz-hamas-was-never-planning-any-coup https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13872-haaretz-hamas-was-never-planning-any-coup Palestinian boy being detained by Israeli soldeirs and used as a human shieldIsrael's Haaretz newspaper raised serious doubts on Tuesday about the Israeli Security Agency's (Shin Bet) investigation into Hamas leader Riad Al-Nasser and the supposed coup that Hamas was allegedly planning against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank.

According to the investigation documents obtained by the newspaper, Al-Nasser's remarks indicate that Hamas was only preparing itself to replace any vacuum left by the potential collapse of the PA, assuming that the latter's hold on power would soon come to an end.

Al-Nasser was investigated at the Shin Bet headquarters for 51 days, during which time "Dozens of investigators questioned Nasser almost around the clock. The transcripts of those conversations amount to hundreds of pages, far more than the norm."

According to Haaretz, Al-Nasser spoke in detail about Hamas's activities in the West Bank, including the names of different activists and the political situation, as well as the movement's foreign relations, but denied any forbidden military activity.

Following the end of the interrogation of Al-Nasser, and during the height of Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip, Shin Bet was quick to announce that it had aborted a Hamas network that was planning a coup against the PA.

However, the newspaper's investigation into the security documents reveals that Shin Bet greatly exaggerated Hamas's plans. What Al-Nasser had actually said was that in the event of the PA's potential fall from power, which was expected to happen soon, Hamas should be prepared to fill in the vacuum "in a stable manner".

Nasser, aged 38, has been arrested several times in the past by the Israeli authorities, which consider him a leading Hamas figure in the West Bank.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Sep 2014 09:45:45 +0000
Silence over Galloway attack https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/13871-silence-over-galloway-attack https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/13871-silence-over-galloway-attack George GallowayNeil Masterson, the suspect in the attack on British Member of Parliament, George Galloway, is to appear at Hammersmith Magistrates Court on Monday. Galloway, the Respect Party representative for Bradford West, was posing for pictures with supporters when he was attacked by Masterson on Friday. The incident left the 61 year old, six times elected politician with a badly bruised face, a broken jaw and a broken rib.

Masterson is charged with "religiously aggravated assault", while he also faces charges of common assault for his attack on a passer-by who attempted to intervene. The attack is believed to be linked to Galloway's outspoken support for Palestine. During the incident, the assailant reportedly compared Galloway to Hitler, and referenced the Holocaust. On social media sites, Masterson has framed himself as a Catholic Zionist and anti-Islamic, and in the hours before the attack he reportedly threatened to slit Galloway's throat on Facebook.

The last violent attack on an MP was the stabbing of Stephen Timms in 2010 by a Muslim woman in revenge for the Iraq war- Timms had voted in favour of the war. Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke commented on the incident, "I am completely shocked by what has happened to my friend Stephen." He added, "The whole Treasury team wishes him the very best and we hope he will make a speedy recovery." Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman said: "One of the great strengths of the British political system is the everyday accessibility of MPs to their constituents but we can't have a situation where MPs are at risk. Parliament needs to consider how best to ensure MPs can carry out their responsibilities safely." A Downing Street spokesman said that Prime Minister David Cameron was aware of the incident, adding: "He expressed his concern and offered his best wishes and asked to be kept closely informed."

Galloway has not received one public message of sympathy from a single MP from any party, nor has the Prime Minister's Office made a comment on the brutal attack of a politician in the streets of London. There's has been an alarming silence. If the attacker had been a pro-Palestinian supporter would the response have been different? Would the attacker be referred to as a "terrorist"? A fundraising page has been launched to cover Masterson's legal costs - it has already raised nearly 4,000 USD in one day. Would that page still be allowed to run if the legal costs it covered was not for a Catholic who committed a violent crime in the name of Zionism, but instead a Muslim who committed a crime in the name of Islam?

The attack on Timms was considered by many to be the first terror attack to injure someone on the UK mainland since the July 2005 bombings. Terrorist attacks are defined by the UK's security agency MI5 as:"the use or threat of action designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public, or a section of the public; made for the purposes of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause; and it involves or causes"- this includes serious violence against a person. If the silence over the attack on Galloway continues, and is not condemned as the attack on Timms was, it will perpetuate the belief that only when the assailant is Muslim, are such attacks cause for concern.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Jessica Purkiss) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:25:10 +0000
Selling lies and delusions https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13870-selling-lies-and-delusions https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13870-selling-lies-and-delusions Oraib Al-RantawiMany argue that the Islamic State (IS) wouldn't have taken northeast Syria as a safe haven if Washington had taken action to resolve the situation militarily with the Syrian regime in the early days of the Syrian crisis, before the threat of IS and Al-Nusra Front and the militant factions that adopted their school of thought spread; is this an accurate assumption? More importantly, is the door still open for an American "military resolution" that eliminates IS and overthrows the "tyrant", as claimed by some who have outdone themselves in promoting delusions and believing the lies they told themselves?

We have two "fresh" examples of American military intervention in the Arab region, the first in Iraq and the second in Libya. What were the results of American military intervention and why do some assume that Syria would face a different fate if the military intervention is repeated for the third time in 10 years?

Washington "fabricated" evidence of Saddam Hussein's regime's involvement and links with Al-Qaeda to be used as the second justification for its war on Iraq in 2003. The first justification of war was the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. After 11 years of invasion and occupation, the American-British narrative was tangibly proven to be a lie, but more importantly, since the invasion, Iraq entered a state of prolonged chaos, strife, and civil war, and turned into a safe haven for terrorism in the years after the war. In addition to this, its political life became "sectarianised" and "denominational" in an unprecedented manned, and today, Iraq is subject to division and fragmentation, with the support of at least half the population (the Kurds and Sunni Arabs), not to mention its transformation into a playground for all the regional and international actors. It also suffers from economic and social destruction, the collapse of the services and education system, rampant poverty, unemployment, corruption, and a shortage in water and electricity have all been added to the latest list of failures, disappointments and defeats.

As for Libya, three years after the overthrow of the dictator at the hands of the NATO forces and American Air Force, it is witnessing one of the worst phases of its ancient and modern history. It has become a haven for terrorism and shelter for weapons and jihadists and is on the verge of division. Actually, it is practically divided into mini-states and emirates, two parliaments and two governments, and rampant militias. It has repelled all Arab and foreign diplomats and journalists, and has become a place where tribes and rival militias have wiped out what is left of Libya. It is also a source of threat to the security of its neighbours including Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Chad, and even poses a threat to those who are farther away. This is the Libya you were promised.

Why do some people firmly believe that if there is international intervention and resolution the situation in Syria would be better off than it is in Iraq and Libya? Syria is a denominational, sectarian and nationalist mosaic, like Iraq, and even more so than Libya. Syria is a base of great challenge for political and armed Islam more so than both Libya and Iraq, and the Syrian geography has an astonishing ability to attract regional and international intervention, as it promises oil, gas, and wealth. Syria is also connected to the Arab-Israeli conflict, making it a target for all sorts of conspiracies, and it is entangled in many regional issues, making it a base of vulnerability and, at the same time, influence. Once again, why would Syria face a different fate if NATO and Washington had decided to resolve the crisis with the regime militarily?

If the Islamic State controlled over a quarter or a third of Syria today, and Al-Nusra Front controlled other provinces, then the two organisations would undoubtedly have been fighting in Damascus, Latakia and Aleppo, but instead, we saw gallows being erected on the peaks of the Alawites and Druze mountains. Also, the Christians of Syria would have beat their Iraqi counterparts to the world of exile and diaspora and the number of Syrian refugees from different sects and denominations would have been more than the three million refugees mentioned in the latest United Nations report.

In any case, we are not talking about a history that is long gone; we are talking about a future that some parties are still filling with delusions and losing bets. If Washington was hesitant on its war on IS, then how can we ask it to fight a battle on two fronts, IS and the regime? And who said that the reasons that prevented Washington from waging war on the regime in the past have now been resolved and that the way is open to wage a delayed war on the "tyrant"? Also, where is Russia in all of this; it is acting like a wounded tiger in its Ukrainian den. Where is Iran, which understands what is going on in Syria and Iraq, and Lebanon and Gaza, is actually a war on its role, influence and aspirations? Where are the allies and supporters of this axis who are willing to burn everything and everyone in a battle to defend not only their roles, but their existence as well?

The most optimistic scenario is that one that assumes that an American war on IS would be coordinated with the Syrian regime, and the least optimistic scenario is that Washington wages this war without the regime or any coordination or participation from it. However, I do not believe that the scenario of an American war on IS and the regime is on anyone's agenda, except for those who spent the three and a half years of the Syrian crisis promoting lies and delusions and "Waiting for Godot".

Translated from Addustour newspaper, 1 September, 2014

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Oraib Al-Rantawi) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:22:16 +0000
IS used cluster munitions in Syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13869-is-used-cluster-munitions-in-syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13869-is-used-cluster-munitions-in-syria File photo of missles being fired in the conflict with Islamic State and the governmental forces of Syria, Iraq and Iraqi KurdistanIslamic State fighters have used ground-fired cluster munitions in at least one location in northern Syria in recent weeks, Human Rights Watch said today.

In a statement released earlier, the organisation said: "The use of cluster munitions by non-state actors such as the Islamic State shows the urgent need for Syria to join the ban on cluster munitions, and destroy their stockpiles."

Syrian government forces have used cluster munitions since June 2012 despite widespread international condemnation. An attack on August 21 is the most recent report of government use. More than 140 countries condemned Syria's use of cluster munitions in statements and resolutions, including 51 that have not joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

"Any use of cluster munitions deserves condemnation, but the best response is for all nations to join the treaty banning them and work collectively to rid the world of these weapons," said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).

IS forces used cluster munitions on July 12 and August 14 during fighting around the Syrian town of Ayn Al-Arab, also known as Kobani in Kurdish, in the Aleppo governorate near Syria's northern border with Turkey. The area is under the control of Kurdish forces from the People's Protection Units (YPG).

A senior Kurdish official from the town told HRW that four Kurdish combatants and an 11-year-old child had been killed in the two attacks, which also wounded another child. This is believed to be the first known use of cluster munitions by the group.

The Syrian government has used at least 249 cluster munitions since mid-2012 in 10 of the country's 14 governorates, HRW said. The actual number is thought to be much higher as not all instances of use have been recorded.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:14:57 +0000
Israel demands formation of bilateral committee to supervise entry of construction material to Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13868-israel-demands-formation-of-bilateral-committee-to-supervise-entry-of-construction-material-to-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13868-israel-demands-formation-of-bilateral-committee-to-supervise-entry-of-construction-material-to-gaza Palestinian border police monitor a truck containing building materials entering the Gaza Strip (file photo from 2012)Israeli sources reported Sunday that the Israeli authorities have not changed the regulations imposed on the entry of goods and construction material into the Gaza Strip through the Karem Abu Salem crossing, despite the passage of five days since the cease-fire agreement signed with the Palestinian factions went into effect.

The sources said the Israeli government informed international, regional and Palestinian sides that it will not change its regulations on the entry of construction material into Gaza Strip unless they are monitored by the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United Nations.

The sources pointed out that the Israeli government demanded that the committee which will supervise entry of goods must consist of the coordinator of the Israeli government activities in the West Bank, General Yoav Mordechai, and the United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, and Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah.

Head of the committee that coordinates the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip from Israel in the Palestinian Economy Ministry, Raed Fattouh said the "commercial traffic in the Karm Abu Salem did not witness any change until Sunday and has been working according to the same regulations since the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip". The crossing allows entry of food and medical relief material only, he said.

The Gaza Strip is connected to Israel through two crossings; the first is the Beit Hanoun crossing in the northern Gaza Strip which is used by individuals to travel to the West Bank and the Karam Abu Salem crossing in the southern the Gaza Strip, which is used for commercial material. Israel closed four commercial crossings with Gaza in 2007 following Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

A leader of the Islamic Jihad and a member of the Palestinian negotiating team in Cairo, Khaled al-Batsh said Sunday that the Palestinian delegation was waiting for the Egyptian invitation to return to Cairo to resume the indirect talks with Israel and discuss the outstanding issues.

In response to assertions by the Director General of the General Administration of Crossings and Borders, GACB Nazmi Muhanna that there has not been any changes in the movement of material through the crossings after the end of the war on Gaza, al- Batsh said: "the Palestinian Authority has a clear mission to prepare a detailed report of the goods that must enter Gaza and their quantities and to submit it to the Palestinian negotiating delegation which, in turn will submit it to the Egyptian competent bodies who sponsor the cease-fire agreement".

He stressed that the Egyptian side has requested that the report highlights any Israeli breaches of the cease-fire agreement.

Al- Batsh commented on threats launched by Israel's Justice Minister, Tzivi Livni about the possibility of resuming a new round of violence with Gaza, saying: "No one can trust Israel because it is an enemy, but again there is an agreement and understandings with the Israelis and we demand Egypt, the official sponsor of the talks to oblige Israel to respect the cease-fire terms. In case Israel breached the agreement, we have many options to follow".

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:13:55 +0000
UK government condemns Israel land grab https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13867-uk-government-condemns-israel-land-grab https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13867-uk-government-condemns-israel-land-grab Philip HammondBritain's government condemned Monday what it called an "ill-judged" decision by Israel to confiscate a further 988 acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank, saying it should instead work on a ceasefire in Gaza.

Responding to Israel's claim Sunday to the land for a Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement that the government "deplores the Israeli government's expropriation of 988 acres of land around the settlement of Etzion."

Hammond added that the decision would cause "serious damage to Israel's standing in the international community."

Israel's announcement comes on the back of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing intense criticism at home - including from within his own coalition - for a costly 50-day conflict in Gaza with no clear victor. Although the attack had overwhelming support among Israelis, some feel Netanyahu did not go far enough and - despite mass Palestinian losses and destruction - Israel's own death toll stood at 64 soldiers and six civilians.

Following the ceasefire with Palestinian unity government partner - and Israel's sworn enemy - Hamas, Netanyahu's approval rating has dropped from 69 percent to 55 percent, according to a Channel 10 poll. The land confiscation is seen as a move to appease conservatives in his government.

Britain, although having supported Israel's "right to defend itself" against what it considers Hamas' "terrorist" attacks, has in the past condemned Israel over settlement expansion.

"Our position on settlements is clear: they are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace and take us further away from a two state solution at a time when negotiations to achieve this objective urgently need to be resumed," added Hammond, strongly urging Israel to reverse its decision.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 15:22:04 +0000
Abbas' shadow government https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13866-abbas-shadow-government https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13866-abbas-shadow-government Abbas and cabinetDespite Mahmoud Abbas remaining true to his slogans, we expected that he would be more tactful when dealing with a new political arena and would not use language to provoke Hamas, the resistance forces or the Palestinians at home and abroad. We expected this in light of the victorious feelings (though he never mentioned the word victory) that spread as a result of the heroic achievements in the Gaza Strip, or at least, out of respect for the martyrs' blood and sacrifices.

However, Abbas did not hesitate to discredit one of the most important stages in Palestinian history since the Mandate, Al-Aqsa Intifada. The intifada united all popular forces under the banner of resistance. He also did not wait long to express his opinion about events in the Gaza Strip, condemning the approach first, and Hamas second, saying that if Hamas had accepted the Egyptian initiative (rejected by all factions), we would have been spared many losses and destruction. He went on to refer to the "shadow government" in Gaza, saying they had made the decision to wage war, disregarding the fact that it was in response to aggression against them and they had not started the war.

This is not surprising of course, as he deals with Hamas as a political opponent (I do not want to use the term enemy) and with its weapons as political, intellectual, and personal rivals. However, his sense that Hamas' political growth among the masses after the battle in Gaza is no less important, and because of this, he is trying to change its image concerned by the impact it could have on his popularity and his movement.

If Hamas had accepted the Egyptian initiative, then a lot of destruction and bloodshed would have been avoided, but the same would be true if the Palestinian people accepted the current Palestinian Authority's offer in the 1970's, the "village associations". The same would have applied to the Algerian people if they had agreed to remain under colonialism, the Vietnamese if they had agreed to remain under occupation, and while I am listing examples, I'll mention that the same would be true for the French had they remained under German occupation, and many others.

Surrendering to and begging the enemy and accepting their bread crumbs of a land that was occupied would spare blood and sacrifices, but would be the pretext for accepting an imbalance of power. The Palestinian people are worth no less than the people who have resisted and won, including the Lebanese who drove the invaders out, as well as the Iraqis. These are examples from recent history but there are countless examples from the past.

Is it not enough that Abbas has been begging for the past ten years, preceded by the Oslo Accords 21 years ago and has reached an impasse; has it not proved to be pointless? Hasn't the effectiveness of resistance been proven during experiences of the free peoples of the world? As for resorting to international institutions, it is even more useless and everyone knows it will not lead to anything (Has Abbas forgotten the Hague Court's ruling against the Apartheid Wall in 2005, which stressed the withdrawal to the 1967 borders, and which is considered to be stronger than Resolution 242?)

It has been over two years since Mahmoud Abbas stopped threatening to resign from his position if the enemy did not give him what he wanted, although he did sometimes (vaguely) threaten to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, which no one actually takes seriously. However, what he has surely and firmly said is that the third Intifada will not happen as long as he is alive. Abbas and a handful of those around him have taken the power and privileges that come with the PA as well as the profits and investments. They do seem to want to return to resistance and repeat the experience of his predecessor, who was besieged in his compound while he, personally (Abbas, along with his rival Dahlan) were plotting against him and planning his assassination.

According to Abbas' logic, another path could have been taken to prevent the aggression and reduce the losses. This path could have been a comprehensive Intifada in the West Bank that clashes with the occupation military checkpoints, thus forcing Netanyahu to stop the aggression

Also, shouldn't he have rejected the Egyptian initiative instead of being one of its godfathers, given that he knows it is a document that will force the Palestinians to surrender? Instead it is a prelude to a distorted solution, supported by other Arabs who back this miserable initiative.

The new initiative that was agreed is different to the first initiative, which did not mention an airport or seaport, the easing of the blockade, which was dependent on the stability of the security situation, which is actually determined by the enemy not any other party.

I would also like to remind everyone that Abbas's support for the Egyptian initiative was to show courtesy to the Egyptian government in the hopes that they would keep away his archenemy Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan, is not a political adversary (there is no difference in their political discourse), but a personal adversary. Those who would like to know the details of this should refer to Dahlan's interview with Wael El Ebrashy, which could be found on YouTube.

What is most ironic about Abbas's statements is his talk about a shadow government in Gaza, as if Hamas and the resistance in the Gaza Strip need to wait for Hamdallah's government to decide what they should do and whether they should respond to the attacks or not. Then if they were to respond, they would wait for the government [PA] to give the resistance its weapons stockpile to fight.

Abbas explained his reality, and I have said this previously; he wants to annex the Gaza Strip to the West Bank through negotiations and security coordination. He does not want this heroic battle to be a victory for the resistance and a step towards uniting everyone behind the resistance.

We have no hope in this man, and the Palestinian situation will continue to be lost as long as he is leading the ship and as long as Fatah continues to promote the spirit of partisanship. He also has another element of support, via the regional alliances that Netanyahu repeatedly praised during the war.

Hamas and the resistance's response is the big question that those concerned should answer. The reconstruction bribes should be ignored, perhaps even be the basis for swapping with the resistance's weapons.

Their (Abbas and his gang) hopes, of course, are that elections will be organised in a few months, during which they will hold a gun to the heads of the Palestinians, forcing them to either elect them and give them legitimacy or expose themselves to siege, destruction and the prevention of reconstruction.

This path must be revolted against, the blood of the martyrs and heroism imposed on it. An authority for the people at home and abroad needs to be elected, an authority that will decide the course of the struggle, while the administrative authority continues to be managed consensually. Another big question will be, what if Hamas wins? Will the PA surrender its authority or will it give Hamas empty ministries, as they did in 2006?

These are big questions for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all the honourable Palestinian people at home and abroad after this heroic battle, and they should answer them away from diplomatic conversations with a miserable man who is not even courteous to them, but undermines and trivialises their struggle and their victory.

Translated from Al Jazeera net, 31 August, 2014

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Yasser Al-Zaatreh) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 15:17:17 +0000
Fatah: The status quo will not continue https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13865-fatah-the-status-quo-will-not-continue https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13865-fatah-the-status-quo-will-not-continue Palestinian boy standing on wreckage of house 2014The Mobilisation and Organisation Commission of the Fatah movement has issued an internal statement for its leaders and cadres in the West Bank announcing steps to be taken by the movement in the near future as part of its path towards independence and national liberation.

A member of Fatah's Central Committee Mahmoud Al-Aloul told Al-Quds news site that Fatah cannot accept the status quo and the continuation of the Israeli occupation and decided to "engage in an important challenge against the Israeli occupation whatever the results".

The statement, which appeared on some news sites, said that Fatah will seek international protection over Palestine and will work to form an international committee to investigate Israeli war crimes. It also pointed out that the movement will continue preparations for the donors' conference next month for the reconstruction of Gaza and will call on Arab states to support its demands during the Arab League meeting on September 7.

The statement said the Palestinian leadership will ask the international community and the United Nations next month to determine a timeframe for ending the Israeli occupation and the application of international legitimacy resolutions before going to the Security Council.

The statement threatened to annul all previous agreements with Israel in case the United States procrastinated in dealing with the steps aimed at ending the Israeli occupation and to go to the international organisations to prosecute Israeli leaders.

It revealed that the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip came after the formation of a committee which included members from Fatah and Hamas as well as representatives from Qatar which shaped Palestinian conditions and handed them over to the Egyptians.

The statement noted to the "unacceptable actions carried out by Hamas in the Gaza Strip including the imposition of house arrests and shooting of Fatah members and the confiscation of humanitarian aid and denying their access to the beneficiaries."

Meanwhile, the statement stressed on the importance of continuing the boycott of Israeli goods and supporting Palestinian products instead.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 15:05:30 +0000
The era of 'fortress Israel' is over https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13864-the-era-of-fortress-israel-is-over https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13864-the-era-of-fortress-israel-is-over Ali JaradatJust as it is not possible for the Palestinian resistance or any armed popular resistance movement to achieve a decisive knockout victory in a short amount of time, it is also not possible for Israel, like any occupying army, to deter the Palestinian resistance and to prevent the development of its cultural and structural forms. It was upon this general rule that the war between Zionist forces and the Palestinian resistance in Gaza was based.

Therefore, just as the Palestinian resistance has yet to achieve a victory against the occupation, at least in terms of forcing Israeli forces to withdraw from the occupied 1967 territories, Israel has also not been able to break the will of the Palestinian people and prevent them from developing despite the fact that Israel's army is undoubtedly the strongest in the region. In fact, the Palestinian resistance is present in many forms and in many areas of the Gaza Strip and the Israeli army was unable to defeat these resistance forces despite its vast supply of sophisticated weaponry. Although the Israeli army is known to some as being the "invincible army", it was unable to eradicate the Palestinian resistance.

The historical factors that have governed the Arab struggle with Israel become even more significant when considering the War of Attrition (March 1969-September 1970) and the joint efforts of the Syrian and Egyptian armies in 1973. These two moments in history, when paired with the Camp David agreement, can be considered the factors that put an end to the dream of a "Greater Israel", because of the Israeli government was forced to hand over Sinai. Moreover, the work of the Lebanese resistance front, which forced Israeli forces to withdraw from southern Lebanon in 2000, and the subsequent Israeli defeat in Lebanon in 2006, completely shattered the notion of Israeli invincibility despite Hassan Nasrallah's claim that Israel was nothing more than a "house of cards".

One can say that Israel is no longer what it once was and this can be said without taking its abilities lightly. Israel is no longer capable of achieving clear and concise victories nor can it continue to deter resistance or threats that come its way. Thus, the Israeli government practices racism to the point of fascism and continues to commit massacres against civilian populations, including women, children and the elderly. All of these game changers are what will force Israel out of its place of privilege as the world's favourite child and when that happens, it can no longer continue to be a state above international law. I believe that this is one of Israel's biggest losses due to its ongoing massacre of the Palestinian people. How?

At the end of the first month of the most recent war on Gaza, the Israeli army ended its limited ground offensive in Gaza and was not able to fully undermine the resistance's apparent victory, which ultimately gave Netanyahu's government room to dictate the grounds of the ceasefire. Yet, the fascist nature of this government eventually led to its lack of cooperation in the ceasefire negotiations and increased its drive to practice violence against the Palestinian people. They believed that in doing this, they would be able to break the will of the Palestinian people and their resistance and force them to accept one of the three following conditions: either Israel lifts the siege on Gaza in exchange for disarming the resistance, or peace (as in a ceasefire) in exchange for peace on both sides, or that the Palestinians cooperate to meet Israel's security needs in exchange for Israel cooperating to meet Gaza's humanitarian needs.

It was here that Netanyahu and his government of settler-colonialists realised that it would be impossible to achieve any of these three goals without prolonging the violence and deepening the bounds of their ground invasion by taking complete control of the Gaza Strip. Although the Israeli government and army are more than capable of achieving these motives, a comprehensive and total occupation of the Gaza Strip is an outcome that the Israelis have been avoiding for years. Thus, Netanyahu and company's threats to fully occupy the Gaza Strip are nothing more than empty threats because they fear this outcome the same way that humans fear a plague. The Israeli government's threats to re-launch their ground offensive on Gaza not only function as talking points for the ceasefire negotiations, but they also solidify Israel's intention of separating Gaza from the West Bank geographically, politically and in terms of resistance and political fate. What does all this mean?

The Israeli army's failures in their latest barbaric war on the Gaza Strip not only demonstrate the failures of Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Gants, as the opposition would undoubtedly express; however, they also solidify that the golden era of Israeli expansionism, the idea of a "Greater Israel" and the privileges that Israel once enjoyed as the world's rogue state are now a thing of the past that will never return.

I say this knowing full well that the Israeli government's barbaric aggressions against the Palestinian people have not come to an end and that they will not stop in the near future. I say this despite the fact that the massacres will continue and despite the fact that the Obama administration, like all American administrations before it, will not stop funding these massacres because of Israel's inherent "right to defend itself".

The United States continues to act as if Israel is not responsible for countless fascist policies against anything that may be Palestinian or as if Israel has not been the sole party responsible for 20 years of failed negotiations. The United States blindly funds Israel despite the fact that it has pushed the members of Palestinian society to the point of implosion. And yet, the American administration goes on talking about the Palestinian people's right to determination and human rights as if it wasn't America that continues to encourage Israel to systematically cleanse the Palestinians through years of genocide. The US has yet to admit that it is the American administration that keeps Israel from being condemned by the International Criminal Court and other global institutions of international law. However, one cannot ignore the fact that the Arab governments have also failed to provide the Palestinians with a true sense of support. Despite all of these factors, one cannot ignore that Israel's position on the global and political stage is no longer the same.

Take the following factors as examples of how Israel's era of power is over:

How can a sane person believe that the Israeli army, which was not capable of achieving a clear decisive victory in the Gaza Strip, would one day be able to defeat the Lebanese national army in a battle on their front? One must not forgot that the Lebanese army has sophisticated weapons and training and possesses the ability to strike their target with precision and accuracy.

How can a sane person believe that the Israeli army, which was not capable of achieving a clear decisive victory in the Gaza Strip, would one day be able to win in a war with Iran, a war that Netanyahu continues to call for and claims he would win if it was waged?

In a nutshell: Many of the lessons that we have learnt from Israel's latest war on Gaza have demonstrated that the Israeli army was unable to defeat the Palestinian resistance and disarm them and yet what this also demonstrates is that Israel no longer "sits in its magical castle above the law". Israel is no longer invincible. Yet, this new reality runs contrary to the core ideology of today's Zionist rulers who continue to argue that the Arab governments are vulnerable and have abandoned their national duty to defend their people and continue to take part in American-backed negotiations, which falsely argue that they will result in "land in exchange for peace". This is the notion that was sanctified by the Madrid Conference and for 20 years American and global leaders have argued that the ability to achieve peace is in American hands. However, our practical and hands-on experience shows that 99 per cent of the reasons that the war has continued are American and that 99 per cent of the failures of the negotiations are due to American and Israeli motives. More importantly, 99 per cent of the reasons behind the conflict are American and 99 per cent of the responsibilities for Zionist massacres against the Palestinian people lie in American hands.

Translated from Al-Ayyam newspaper, 27 August, 2014

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ali Jaradat) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:59:06 +0000
2,600 people killed in Syria last month https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13863-2600-people-killed-in-syria-last-month https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13863-2600-people-killed-in-syria-last-month Syrian fighters in tanks 2014Some 2,591 Syrians died in August, most of them killed by regime forces, figures published by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) showed.

SNHR said that the Syrian regime killed 2,123 people, including 1,728 civilians, including 251 children, 157 women and 243 people who were tortured to death. The armed opposition killed 395 others.

The Islamic State (IS) killed 362 people, including 123 civilians and 239 from the Syrian armed opposition members, which killed 106, including 103 civilians and three from other opposition groups.

The network said that it documented deaths among civilians and combatant, but it did not document the deaths among the regime and IS forces because both of them ban the network from working in the areas under their control.

Meanwhile, the organisation documented the death of 75 people but was unable to identify which party killed them; however it holds information of their full names, time of death and place.

It noted that it was unable to document many cases as they could not reach places of crimes because of massacres, sieges or due to communications channels being cut.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:44:21 +0000
Qatar hails Gaza resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13862-qatar-hails-gaza-resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13862-qatar-hails-gaza-resistance Tamim Bin HamadIn a telephone call with a Hamas official yesterday evening, Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani said that Gaza had raised the heads of the Arabs and Muslims around the world.

Speaking to deputy Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, the Emir hailed the victory the resistance movement achieved over the Israeli occupation.

He said reconstructing the Gaza Strip is a "duty".

For his part, Haniyeh expressed his gratitude for the regional and international Qatari efforts, which aimed at stopping the Israeli war and their continued support for the Palestinian people.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:41:20 +0000
Abbas: Palestinians were asked to annex parts of Sinai https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13860-abbas-palestinians-were-asked-to-annex-parts-of-sinai https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13860-abbas-palestinians-were-asked-to-annex-parts-of-sinai Palestinian holding a Palestinian flagPalestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday revealed that Palestinians refused a plan to annex parts of Sinai to solve the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Speaking in a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah, Abbas said: "The plan, which was proposed in 1956, included annexing 1,600 square kilometres from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip in order to receive Palestinian refugees."

He continued: "The plan is being proposed again, but we refused it." He did not mention who had proposed the plan.

"Anyway, those who proposed the plan and those who accepted it passed away and this issue is absolutely unacceptable and the Palestinians will not accept it. Israel does not object to a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip without the West Bank and Jerusalem," he added.

Regarding the state with temporary borders proposed in 2003, Abbas said: "Israel suggested isolating Gaza - leaving it out of discussions and for 40 to 60 per cent of the West Bank to be for Palestinians and the remaining to be discussed after 15 years."

He continued: "Jerusalem and refugees issues to be delayed."

Abbas stressed that he is sticking to a Palestinian state on all Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Meanwhile, he said that if peace talks remain stagnant, the PA would join 522 international organisations, including Rome Convention, which paves the way to prosecuting Israel before the ICC.

Regarding the Israeli war on Gaza, Abbas said that he asked Egypt to mediate despite its disputes with Hamas. It introduced an initiative, which we adopted, he said, and if Hamas accepted it at the beginning, the number of casualties would have been far less than 2,140.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:43:21 +0000
30 Syrians killed after Assad bombs Idlib https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13859-30-syrians-killed-after-assad-bombs-idlib https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13859-30-syrians-killed-after-assad-bombs-idlib Houses destroyed in latest attacks in Syria 2014At least 30 people were killed when regime forces rained explosive barrel bombs on the province of Idlib, northwest Syria, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said yesterday.

The London based watchdog said the regime's helicopters threw explosive barrels on the towns of Al-Hbeet and Khan Shaykhun which are controlled by opposition forces, killing at least 30 people including women and children and wounding dozens more.

The injured were transported to field hospitals in the two towns. Several houses were destroyed by the attacks and residents were working hard to unearth anyone trapped in the rubble.

The Syrian Revolution General Commission and the Local Coordination Committees of Syria confirmed that regime forces carried out aerial attacks against the towns of Al-Hbeet and Khan Shaykhun.

The Local Coordination Committees said in a statement that the regime's warplanes today sent more than 60 vacuum bombs on the neighbourhood of Jobar which fell under the opposition's control, east of the capital Damascus. Residents were said to be fleeing their homes following the intensification of the regime's attacks.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:28:32 +0000
Israel investigates war on Gaza ahead of NGO war crimes probe https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13858-israel-investigates-war-on-gaza-ahead-of-ngo-war-crimes-probe https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13858-israel-investigates-war-on-gaza-ahead-of-ngo-war-crimes-probe Israeli forces at Gaza borderThe Israeli army is planning to carry out investigations into two incidents during the Israeli war on Gaza; Israeli radio reported sources saying yesterday.

Israeli military sources said that the performance of the Givati Unit in Rafah and the regulations when soldiers are kidnapped would be the prominent topics for the investigation.

Both are in relation to the massacre carried out in Rafah in August 1, when around 190 Palestinians were killed and more than 350 were wounded. This after Israel broke a three-day truce which had started hours earlier.

Israeli sources said that the Palestinian fighters kidnapped the body of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, a Givati officer, after they killed him. The incident prompted heavy Israeli fire that resulted in the large number of casualties.

According to the military sources: "The concentration on these two topics is necessary in order to face possible allegations from the UN and other human rights organisations regarding committing war crimes during the operation in Gaza."

The UN Human Rights Council decided in August 17 to commission investigations into allegations of Israeli war crimes could have taken place against the Palestinians during the war.

The Israeli radio noted that "investigations into the proceedings of the operation started a short time after the start of the operation." Adding: "The investigation includes tens of incidents, situations and materials in order to get the lessons from the operation."

Major General Noam Tibon, the commander of the army's Northern Corps, is heading the investigations.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:19:29 +0000
Egyptian court says it lacks jurisdiction to suspend members of Mubarak's party from running in parliamentary election https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13857-egyptian-court-says-it-lacks-jurisdiction-to-suspend-members-of-mubaraks-party-from-running-in-parliamentary-election https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13857-egyptian-court-says-it-lacks-jurisdiction-to-suspend-members-of-mubaraks-party-from-running-in-parliamentary-election Hosni MubarakAn Egyptian court ruled on Sunday that it lacks the proper jurisdiction to issue any ruling on a case to decide whether or not members of the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP), which was headed by ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, are allowed to run in elections, judicial sources told Anadolu news agency.

The court's decision keeps the Court of Urgent Matters' annulment of a ban effective, thus allowing NDP leaders to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The Supreme Administrative Court had initially issued a ruling on 16 May 2013 banning members of the dissolved NDP, which was the ruling party during the Mubarak era, from running in presidential and parliamentary elections. In addition, the party was dissolved and its assets were liquidated, all based on the demands of the 25 January revolution, which toppled the political regime and forced Mubarak to step down.

However, Court of Urgent Matters reversed this decision two months later in response to an appeal and the earlier ruling was annulled, allowing the NDP members to run for office. This move was strongly criticised by the supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who described it as a reversal of the 25 January revolution.

According to legal sources, Sunday's decision keeps the Court of Urgent Matters' ruling in effect. In April of this year, the Court of Urgent Matters issued a ruling banning members of the Muslim Brotherhood from running in elections.

Egypt's parliamentary elections are supposed to be held in the coming months, but a date has yet to be set. The elections will constitute the third step in the roadmap announced by former interim President Adly Mansour on 8 July 2013, after the military coup that ousted Morsi. The first step was the referendum on the constitution, which took place in mid-January, and the second step was the presidential election, which was held in late May.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:01:23 +0000
After years of pressure, is Veolia quitting Israel? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/13856-after-years-of-pressure-is-veolia-quitting-israel https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/13856-after-years-of-pressure-is-veolia-quitting-israel Ben White Veolia, the largest publicly-traded water company in Europe, is selling its water, waste, and energy businesses in Israel, and intends to 'step back' from the country as a marketplace.

The news is a boost to Palestinians and global Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaigners, who have targeted the French multinational for ties to illegal Israeli settlements and their associated infrastructure in the Occupied West Bank.

According to reports in mid-July, Veolia has agreed to sell its activities in Israel to "funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management LP", cutting the company's debt by $341 million. The sale includes the company's 50% stake in Ashkeon desalination plant.

Veolia described the divestment as part of a strategy to concentrate efforts on "less capital-intensive opportunities". Importantly, a company spokesperson told Global Water Intelligence "that the group's Israeli holdings are being sold as a full operating business rather than a collection of assets, and that Veolia would be stepping back from Israel as a marketplace".

Paris-based Veolia spokesperson Sandrine Guendoul confirmed with me that the "divestment should be closed and completed by the end of the year", since approval is required "from Israel's competition authorities".

Veolia remains complicit in the City Pass consortium-run Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR), however, which links western Jerusalem to illegal settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank (and was the target of angry Palestinian protesters earlier this year).

Veolia's financial and operational stake in City Pass was previously transferred to Transdev, a 50-50 joint venture between Veolia and Caisse des Dépôts. Guendoul told me that Veolia "has started to disengage from the transportation business completely and sell its stake of Transdev" as part of "a broader divestment plan initiated and engaged in 2011."

Veolia's involvement with the JLR has been a major focus of protests against the company. Campaigners point to lost contracts worth billions of dollars. Already by 2010, an anonymous Veolia official told AFP that the JLR had earned the company "boycott threats" and "lost us important contracts".

In 2012, CEO of Veolia Israel Arnon Fishbein admitted that "many people in the group" believed "that the company lost many contracts because of this project [the JLR]". By late 2013, Veolia had already sold off all its settlement bus lines, offering further confirmation of the role of pressure in the company's decision-making.

Palestine solidarity activists are thus asking whether the summer's developments mark "the beginning of the end", and the ultimate success of the international drive to 'Dump Veolia', which has included local authority-focused and campus-based campaigns, as well as divestment initiatives.

"Thanks to the tireless and dedicated campaigning of unions, churches, NGOs and solidarity activists across the world that has cost Veolia billions of dollars, the company is clearly starting to realise that the BDS campaign against it makes doing business in Israel more trouble than it is worth", commented Mahmoud Nawajaa, the coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

Nawajaa stressed that with the sale still not confirmed, and with Veolia's remaining involvement in the operation of the JLR, "the campaign against Veolia shall continue until it ends all aspects of its involvement in Israeli projects in the occupied Palestinian territory".

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ben White) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:22:35 +0000
Washington didn't know about Libya air strikes! Come off it https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/americas/13855-washington-didnt-know-about-libya-air-strikes-come-off-it https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/americas/13855-washington-didnt-know-about-libya-air-strikes-come-off-it Alastair SloanDid the bomber pilots of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt really act without Washington's consent when they bombed Libya? It's extremely unlikely.

The Americans have a clear motive to lie, as they have done so brazenly. A joint statement signed by Washington (and Paris and Berlin and Rome and London, all nations which vigorously back both the military president in Egypt and the absolute monarchs of the United Arab Emirates) worried that "outside interference in Libya exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya's democratic transition".

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told the press immediately on hearing of the strikes: "We understand there were airstrikes undertaken in recent days by the UAE and Egypt."

The department later back-tracked, with the same spokeswoman saying the information she had was "inaccurate", and that her comments were intended to "refer to countries that have been reportedly involved and not to speak to whether they were involved or their kind of involvement". A Freudian slip followed by a backtrack worthy of a nation with no visible strategy in the Middle East.

Even eminent outlets such as the New York Times (to be expected), the Guardian (unfortunate as I also write for them, though not on Middle Eastern matters) and the BBC (blame it on the cuts) think otherwise. The Guardian has even produced an animated presentation explaining these sorties as a temper tantrum from the Gulf States, unimpressed by Barack Obama and his Shia-loving ways and concessions to naughty nuclear Iran.

Never mind that the UAE are delighted that de-sanctioned trade routes across the Straits of Hormuz are now ripe for exploitation, or that Riyadh has just entertained a senior official from Tehran to discuss fighting Islamic extremists in Iraq.

The faux surprise of course came from that most reliable of sources: Mr Anonymous Official of the US State Department who briefed the New York Times with the official version of events. Egypt continues to deny their hand in the strikes, and the Emiratis are yet to grace us with a response.

Let's remember, the Bin Zayeds are extremely good friends of America. So extreme that it's highly unlikely they'd have taken a risky punt in a no-fly zone policed by NATO (albeit a no-fly zone that has at times resembled an Emmental cheese just past its sell-by date). Sources close to the Riyadh government whisper that they were in full accord with the two sorties.

Riyadh's consent makes sense – given Riyadh, Abu Dhabi (and the whiny Al-Khalifas in Bahrain) are currently engaged in a shouting match with Qatar over their support for Islamic extremists, the exact kind of Islamic extremists who Egyptian and Emirati pilots had in their cross-hairs. Also given very little gets done in the Gulf Cooperation Council without Riyadh's consent.

Last year, American Congress approved the sale of an estimated $5 billion worth of Lockheed Martin hardware to Abu Dhabi, in the form of 25 F-16 Block 60 fighters. According to press reports at the time, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates were also in line for "advanced standoff weapons" - gunspeak for high-tech and highly explosive missiles. The munitions, which also included "bunker-busting" bombs, brought the total deal to close to $10 billion. Abu Dhabi is entrusted with the big guns.

The Pentagon reportedly consulted with Congress - and may have laid out the obvious strategic advantage of having two Middle Eastern states, both with a vigorous taste for combating Islamic extremism and with a long-standing relationship with the United States - armed so ferociously. The United Arab Emirates also has a US manufactured missile defence system, comparable to the "Iron Dome" in Israel, which was sold to them by Pentagon-endorsed American defence companies.

Then in January, Abu Dhabi media reported even closer ties: "UAE troops could soon be trained in counter-terrorism, counter-piracy, infrastructure protection and national defence by the US Marine Corps." Reporters cited a request to Congress from the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency for $150 million.

During the conflict in Afghanistan, the UAE's Special Forces were the only Arab personnel to undertake full-scale operations alongside American troops. In Libya in 2011 – the UAE deployed a dozen fighter jets for combat missions under NATO command. In Somalia in 1992, the UAE fought under US Central Command to "secure the environment and provide humanitarian relief". Naval personnel are also involved with ongoing anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden. In the Bosnia-Kosovo conflict, the UAE was among the first non-NATO states to express support for NATO's air operations. The UAE then participated in peacekeeping operations. And, in the first Gulf war, the UAE was again eager to express support for the American-led liberation of Kuwait.

Abu Dhabi has also become Washington's partner of choice for their Global Counterterrorism Forum – a network of nations primed to fight Islamic extremism and terrorist attacks (it appears not to be going well).

Announced just after the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, the initiative has seen American trainers working with the European Union and 29 other countries, including 11 Muslim nations, to co-ordinate and share resources for fighting Islamic extremism. That's the exact kind of Islamic extremism that the recent raids on Libya were designed to beat back.

Abu Dhabi has become the de facto operations centre for the forum, headquartered at the Global Centre for Excellence in Countering Violent Extremism. Upon its inauguration, attended by US State Department dignitaries, the lead spokesperson on Washington's side said that Abu Dhabi had been chosen because "the US and Abu Dhabi have a very good working relationship. Both recognise the threat posed to people around the world, and it is a matter of a country stepping up and saying this is important and wanting to play a key role."

What about Egypt? They've been hinting at a Libyan excursion for weeks, especially given the Islamic extremists are so close and present a far more perilous threat than the amateurish and otherwise engaged Hamas, who Al-Sisi also seems intent to destroy.

Of course Al-Sisi wouldn't wish to jeopardise his supply of American teargas and other more deadly munitions, in case Egyptians realise they've been duped into military rule and rise up. Nor would he wish to endanger the billions in American aid which, along with Gulf funding, is shoring up an exhausted post-revolution economy. Washington is even prepared to let that military coup slide – unlocking half a billion dollars in military aid a couple of months ago. So again, stepping out of line, going behind Washington's back, asserting their independence, or whichever other cliché of reportage the Western commentariat care to employ, would be somewhat surprising.

The American viewing public is captivated by TV reports about the Islamic State in Iraq. Chaos in Libya, in no small part due to American meddling, is for the moment lower down the agenda. This is useful for Obama, especially as his bombers are slamming targets around precious Kurdistan (forget the other genocide-threatened minorities of Iraq, they're not sitting on enough oil).

A direct American incursion into Libya would have been an unhelpful reminder of what can go wrong when America tries to bomb Islamic extremists into submission. The hangover from the horrific killing of an American ambassador in Benghazi in 2012 is still keenly felt. And who wants to fight a war on two fronts these days?

Reaching out to well-armed friends in the Gulf to do the dirty work, then denying American pre-meditation and involvement, provides a plausibly deniable response to the success of violent radical "Islam" in Libya. Obama may at times seem listless and unsure in the Middle East, staggering from crisis to crisis like a drunk old general with an unloaded gun and a nervous stutter, but in one way he is smarter than Bush. "W" was stupid enough to go public with his wars – but Obama now cloaks his dagger in the language of drones and "regional partners". A pity he won't just admit it. Although to be fair – the ever consistent US State Department has now admitted, they did know about the strikes, but said they were a bad idea.

Yeah right.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Alastair Sloan) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:03:52 +0000
Second US Congressional delegation arrives in Egypt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/13854-second-us-congressional-delegation-arrives-in-egypt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/13854-second-us-congressional-delegation-arrives-in-egypt HowardMkeonA U.S. Congressional delegation arrived Monday in Cairo for talks with senior Egyptian officials, the second visit by a U.S. Congressional delegation to the Egyptian capital within a week, sources at the Cairo airport said.

The delegation, led by chairman of the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee Howard McKeon, landed in Cairo aboard a chartered plane for a visit, which duration is yet to be known, the sources told Anadolu Agency.

The talks between the visiting delegation and the Egyptian officials would focus on "issues on mutual concern" and the latest developments in the region, the sources noted.

Relations between Egypt and the U.S. administration soured shortly after the Egyptian military moved to oust elected president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

The U.S. then withheld part of its military and financial aid to Egypt, including the delivery of some important arms for the Egyptian army.

The Congressional delegation is the 15th that visited Egypt since Morsi's ouster.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:56:17 +0000
Haniyeh asks Egypt to force Israel to commit to terms of the truce https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13853-haniyeh-asks-egypt-to-force-israel-to-commit-to-terms-of-the-truce https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13853-haniyeh-asks-egypt-to-force-israel-to-commit-to-terms-of-the-truce Ismail HaniyehDeputy Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh yesterday asked Egypt to force Israel to commit to the terms of the ceasefire deal reached last Tuesday.

A statement issued by the Hamas press office said that Haniyeh phoned the Egyptian intelligence and said: "It is necessary to force the Israeli occupation to commit to what was agreed upon in the ceasefire, which was brokered by Egypt."

During his phone call, Haniyeh said it is necessary to start reconstructing what the Israeli war destroyed during the 51-day war.

Haniyeh hailed the Egyptians as they played a big role in reaching a ceasefire, underscoring the Egyptian role towards the Palestinian issue and the whole region.

The statement also said that the Egyptian intelligence affirmed that Egypt is to continue its efforts after the ceasefire deal, as well as to complete what is needed regarding all other outstanding issues.

The Anadolu news agency, which reported the news, was unable to obtain any comment from Egypt.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:44:38 +0000
$1 billion campaign to support Gaza Strip launched from Turkey https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13852-1-billion-campaign-to-support-gaza-strip-launched-from-turkey https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13852-1-billion-campaign-to-support-gaza-strip-launched-from-turkey Palestinian man sits near debris 2014The Popular International Committee to Support the Gaza Strip launched a campaign yesterday to raise $1 billion for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip; $100 million is set to support shelter and emergency relief services in the enclave.

The committee, which held its first forum in Istanbul, announced the formation of the Popular International Committee to Support the Gaza Strip.

The participants called for the activation of relief campaigns and convoys to break the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and to continue organising international activities to support Gaza, demanding Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories come to an end.

They stressed on the need to take all legal measures before local and international courts wherever possible to prosecute Israeli officials for their crimes against civilians in the Gaza Strip and urged the Palestinian unity government to assume its responsibilities towards the Gaza Strip and its citizens without discrimination or distinction and to lifting the Israeli blockade as well as the establishment of the port and the airport.

They also called on Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing to allow the transfer of aid and construction materials as well as humanitarian convoys to meet the Palestinians' needs and facilitate the exit of wounded individuals.

The two day forum, which was attended by 250 participants from 35 countries representing more than 70 foundations, was sponsored by Qatar Charity.

The participants presented research papers highlighting the Israeli aggression and its implication on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The forum aimed to unify grassroots efforts to provide a helping hand to the Gaza Strip and to organise and accelerate the delivery of aid to the needy as well as to identify the enclave's needs. The event included a presentation of the Miles of Smiles convoy's efforts which includes more than 50 charitable organisations from more than 15 countries.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:37:28 +0000
Lieberman continues incitement campaign against Arab Israelis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13851-lieberman-continues-incitement-campaign-against-arab-israelis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13851-lieberman-continues-incitement-campaign-against-arab-israelis Avigdor LiebermanIsrael's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has continued his incitement campaign against Arab Israelis on social media by describing a festival of solidarity with the Gaza Strip, which was organised in the Galilee on Friday, as "a demonstration to support terrorism" and calling the participants "traitors", Arabs48 news website reported.

On his personal Facebook page, Lieberman went so far as to call for Israel to put both the festival organisers and participants in prison.

Arabs48 quoted him Lieberman as saying: "Those who participated on Friday in the festival to support the Palestinian people in Gaza in the village of Kabul in the Galilee should celebrate for a long time in prison on charges of treason and supporting terrorism," elaborating that: "The demonstrators, including Arab MKs, did not demonstrate out of human solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza, but to express their support for the enemy who fought against Israel for almost two months. Therefore, they must be treated as traitors just like those who support any terrorist organisation. They must be tried and granted a moment of silence, as they did in the demonstration, but this time inside prison cells."

He continued: "As for the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, which organised the festival, this is more proof for those who run the state and turn a blind eye to the organisation, viewing it as a legitimate body; we tell them that this is not the case. We are talking about extremists who support the state's enemies and holding dialogue with them sends a negative message to Arab Israelis who are loyal to the state, while sending a message of complicity to the extremists who support a terrorist organisation."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:31:37 +0000
Egypt admits police abuse claims https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13850-egypt-admits-police-abuse-claims https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13850-egypt-admits-police-abuse-claims Egyptian police soldiers The Egyptian Ministry of Interior has admitted that a number of police officers committed violations against prisoners inside places of detention, Al-Jazeera reported.

The ministry recently investigated three police officers who were allegedly involved in the "desecration of a corpse" inside the Khanka hospital in the Qalyubia governorate. According to a statement by the ministry, the Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim has referred the three officers to a disciplinary board after their release pending investigations.

Moreover, the ministry said it referred a police officer to the public prosecutor on charges of raping a mentally ill girl.

Human rights organisations accuse Egyptian police of systematic abuses against detainees, while police officers involved in acts of torture usually enjoy impunity despite video evidence implicating them.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:25:57 +0000
Egypt’s economic losses reach 70% as Nile tourism halted https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13849-egypts-economic-losses-reach-70-as-nile-tourism-halted https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13849-egypts-economic-losses-reach-70-as-nile-tourism-halted Tourists in EgyptA large number of workers in the Egypt's Nile tourism sector have lost their jobs because of the halt in cruises in Luxor and Aswan, an NGO said yesterday.

According to data obtained by the Justice and Development Organisation for Human Rights, the halt in Nile cruises has led to huge economic losses, amounting to 70 per cent in the critical tourism sector in Luxor and Aswan. The losses are largely due to authorities' failure to attract cruises to Upper Egypt governorates despite the overall calm in the security situation in the area, the NGO said in a report.

It added that halting Nile tourism has caused Nile hotels and ship owners to make massive losses. It has also lead to the total paralysis of hotel tourism in Luxor and Aswan.

The NGO called on Egypt's Ministry of Tourism to develop an immediate plan to confront the economic losses in the sector and to utilise the Nile islands in the Upper Egypt governorates as tourist destinations.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:21:19 +0000
Palestinian rights groups urge Abbas to sign Rome Statute https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13848-palestinian-rights-groups-urge-abbas-to-sign-rome-statute https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13848-palestinian-rights-groups-urge-abbas-to-sign-rome-statute Mahmoud AbbasA number of Palestinian human rights groups have called on the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to immediately sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in order to facilitate the prosecution of Israeli leaders over war crimes.

The NGOs include the Aldameer Association for Human Rights, the Al-Haq Foundation, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and the Mizan Centre for Human Rights. The organisations launched a joint campaign to document the war crimes perpetrated by Israeli forces during the 2014 aggression on Gaza.

In a statement yesterday, the organisations said they recruited a team of 100 researchers to carry out surveys and collect data. The team has been trained on collaborative work to compile data on the victims and the circumstances of their deaths, as well as the destroyed properties.

The NGOs have printed tens of thousands of data collection sheets to document the deaths and casualties along with damage to the environment or private and public properties.

The research work is in parallel with investigations on the ground regarding the crimes committed against civilians in Gaza, the statement said.

The NGOs urged all citizens and concerned agencies to cooperate with its field researchers to help accomplish the task as soon as possible.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:16:13 +0000
Hamas: PA should pave the way for opening Gaza borders https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13847-hamas-pa-should-pave-the-way-for-opening-gaza-borders https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13847-hamas-pa-should-pave-the-way-for-opening-gaza-borders Mousa Abu MarzoukThe Palestinian Authority should propose a mechanism for the opening of the Gaza border crossings in accordance with the ceasefire agreement, leading member of the Hamas movement Mousa Abu-Marzouk said yesterday.

In an interview with Al-Aqsa Satellite Channel, Abu-Marzouk said the opening of borders should not be confined to the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel.

The Gaza Strip has seven border crossings, six of which are under Israeli control, while only the Rafah crossing is controlled by Egypt.

Following Hamas' victory in the Gaza elections in 2007, Israel closed four commercial crossings and left only two partially operating, including Kerem Shalom.

Concerning the Rafah crossing, Abu-Marzouk pointed out that Egypt wants the Palestinians to manage it but that it does not consider Hamas a legitimate government.

Abu-Marzouk accused the Palestinian unity government of delaying the implementation of measures that would address the conditions of Egyptians to open the border crossing to alleviate the suffering of Gaza's residents.

Egypt has closed the Rafah crossing since the military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsi last summer.

During the Israeli offensive, Egyptian authorities opened it for the movement of casualties and strictly for humanitarian cases.

The ceasefire agreement has not addressed the opening of the Rafah crossing, under the pretext that it's a Palestinian-Egyptian matter unrelated to Israel.

In a similar context, Abu-Marzouk said he expects the unity government to pay the salaries of Gaza employees next Wednesday.

He pointed out that during the Cairo negotiations, Hamas insisted on the condition of lifting economic barriers facing the unity government, but that Fatah representatives said the issue had been resolved that that there was no need to include this in the agreement.

Some 50,000 civil servants in Gaza have not received their salaries since May. Hamas says it agreed with Fatah last April that the unity government would be tasked with the payment of all salaries of Gaza employees. The government, however, only paid the West Bank employees, which led to a wave of protests and strikes in Gaza.

Abu-Marzouk added that the Palestinian resistance will honour the ceasefire agreement so long as Israel does not breach it.

He stressed on Gaza's demand to have an airport and seaport, pointing out that Palestinians will pursue various means to pressure Israel to address these demands.

Concerning the reconstruction of Gaza, Abu-Marzouk said that the unity government is the one in charge of this issue.

The Palestinian and Israeli sides signed an Egyptian-sponsored long-term ceasefire agreement on Tuesday. Palestinian resistance factions considered the agreement a "victory" and stressed that they achieved most of their goals during the battle with Israel.

The agreement, according to the Egyptian foreign ministry, calls for a comprehensive and mutual ceasefire as well as the immediate opening of border crossings between Gaza and Israel to allow for the entrance of humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials.

The agreement also stipulates the extension of Gaza's Mediterranean fishing zone and the continuation of the negotiations over all other issues, such as prisoners, the airport and seaport, to take place within a month of the ceasefire.

The truce came after a 51-day offensive on Gaza that resulted in Israel killing about 2,150 Palestinians and injuring at least 11,000 others, mostly civilians.

On the other hand, Israel says it lost 65 soldiers and four civilians, as well as a foreign worker. Israeli NGOs say that 2,522 Israelis, including 750 soldiers, received medical treatment during the war, according to Anadolu.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:12:20 +0000
Javad Zarif: Iran and Saudi Arabia fighting common threat of terrorism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13846-javad-zarif-iran-and-saudi-arabia-fighting-common-threat-of-terrorism https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13846-javad-zarif-iran-and-saudi-arabia-fighting-common-threat-of-terrorism Mohammed Javad ZarifIranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that his country and Saudi Arabia share common interests, such as fighting terrorism and extremism in the region.

During a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart Erkki Tuomioja in the Iranian capital Tehran, Anadolu news agency quoted Zarif as saying that Tehran's relations with Riyadh have improved after the recent meeting between Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal Al-Saud.

"We always strive to improve our relations with neighbouring countries, especially Saudi Arabia, due to its prominent status among the countries of the Muslim world," he added.

Sunni dominated Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite dominated Iran have had tense relations for many years, exacerbated by the Arab Uprisings. Riyadh helped to quash the Shi'ite democratic uprising in Bahrain and openly supports the opposition in Syria, whereas Tehran stood by Bahrain's protesters and seeks to preserve the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:03:04 +0000
UAE to supply Egypt with $8.7bn oil products https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13845-uae-to-supply-egypt-with-87bn-oil-products https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13845-uae-to-supply-egypt-with-87bn-oil-products Barrels of oil

The United Arab Emirates has agreed to supply Egypt with oil products worth $8.7 billion for one year starting from September, Reuters reported yesterday.

According to an unnamed source, the first shipment will be delivered next week.

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, has provided Egypt with over $20 billion in assistance since the military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsi last summer.

The official added that Egypt will receive part of the petroleum aid as grants and the rest will be repaid in instalments as part of a credit agreement.

Egypt is facing an unprecedented electricity crisis with almost daily power cuts in many areas across the country.

The official said that Egypt imports petroleum products worth an average of $1.3 billion per month.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:52:04 +0000
The Islamic State's new war - au féminin https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13844-the-islamic-states-new-war-au-feminin https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13844-the-islamic-states-new-war-au-feminin Catherine ShakdamNow that IS - the Islamic State - has successfully encroached itself on Iraq and Syria, having risen above all other terror factions and militias to reinvent itself as an institution, Islamic radicals have felt secure enough within their own borders to turn their attention toward the establishment of a new social, religious and political paradigm; one which they intent to be built in their image.

As radicals have pillaged and murdered through the greater Levant, asserting their presence in every village and city under their control, they have systematically worked to tear down the walls of society. Living by the rule, "to build anew, one needs sometimes to destroy", the Islamic State is undoubtedly looking to carve a new world order.

With IS, formally known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), busy erecting its new terror empire, the world has stood witness to the birth of a dogma so fierce and intolerant that old enemies are said to be willing to stand together to fight this Leviathan. Despite its reticence, the United States is considering an alliance with Syrian President Al-Assad in order to deal with the cancerous evil which IS has degenerated into.

But if IS hordes have proven implacable in their barbarism, it is their treatment of women which has proven most chocking and despicable in nature.

The war on women

While Islamic radicals have been vocal in their dismissal of women, often relegating them to mere objects, at best useful baby incubators; IS' incredible brutality and unparalleled contempt towards the fairer sex, has confounded the most traditional of Muslims.

As noted by Haleh Esfandiari, Director, Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: "Women have been treated with special savagery, based on the narrowest possible interpretation of Islam and Islamic law. Women are regarded both as trophies and as targets for persecution."

Standing in complete opposition of the Quran, IS goons have turned women into sexual objects, forcing them to perform despicable acts under threat of torture or death. Under-age girls have been sold as slaves to IS jihadists, condemned to serve and fulfill the whims of soulless animals, stripped of their dignity and honour.

As reported by Esfandieri: "Women of all ages have been raped; Christian women have been forced to convert. In the city of Mosul, women were ordered to cover completely and to appear only in the company of male relatives. Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi's followers even toyed with the idea of female genital mutilation (FGM), and for a while there were rumours (later denied) that Al-Baghdadi had issued a fatwa requiring FGM for Mosul's women."

Commenting on IS atrocities toward women, Cairo University psychology professor and family relationship consultant, Dr Waliuddine Mukhtar told the Levant earlier this August: "Women under ISIL rule have seen their civil and religious rights marginalised to an unprecedented degree and are treated merely as objects of pleasure and procreation... The effects of these incidences are destructive to a woman's psyche and consequently will adversely impact the psyches of the children and the family in general."

Under the black flag of the Islamic State the sun has set on women, leaving room only for darkness and utter despair.

But if IS has been tireless in its war against women, keen to humiliate them, deny them, brutalise them, strip them of their very humanity and soul, IS has also worked to turn women into new weapons of war, playing the psychology of jihad to assert its control.

Women of war

As women in Iraq and Syria have seen their world disappear under Al-Baghdadi's sickening interpretation of Islam, the dark caliph has worked to recruit female jihadists, keen on appealing to impressionable young western Muslims to fuel his terror machine and better indoctrinate those under his command. Not content on enslaving women as it would animals; IS now seeks to use female militants to run its repression campaign. Socially this is quite dangerous as it will mean that women could be working for their own enslavement, through coercion and a misplaced sense of religious duty.

Back in July the Islamic State set up two offices in charge of recruiting young female volunteers to serve either as wives for its soldiers or "security agents" in its all-female battalions.

Rather than use men to police women and ensure that they comply with IS' draconian rules, Islamists have quite simply decided to turn women into weapons of war by radicalising them to the point where they become mindless puppets in the hands of their masters, willing slaves under their owners' yoke. IS brings an entire new dimension to the Stockholm syndrome.

Detailing IS recruitment methods Safia Al-Souhail, an Iraqi politician and former Member of Iraqi Parliament, explained: "They [IS militants] have created the Al-Khansaa Brigade composed mainly of girls between the ages of 18 and 25."

She added: "There are also male members of families within IS who force their sisters and daughters to marry IS fighters to gain the trust of high-ranking members of the organisation in order to get promoted... There are women in the region and the diaspora who are in charge of recruiting women to join this terrorist group."

Users and abusers of women, IS has grown into a tentacular monster, whose heads, like the Hydra, continue to spring as fast as they are being cut off.

Amid such unspeakable horrors, it is the world's silence before this modern time evil which many have found most difficult to comprehend, let alone fathom. As the women of Arabia are enslaved not by men but beasts, who will stand to break their shackles? Who will speak their name and reclaim their honour?

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Catherine Shakdam) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:40:41 +0000
Gulf source: Saudi Arabia behind calming tensions with Qatar https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13843-gulf-source-saudi-arabia-behind-calming-tensions-with-qatar https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13843-gulf-source-saudi-arabia-behind-calming-tensions-with-qatar Qatar and Saudi flagAn informed Gulf source with inside knowledge of the discussions that took place at the Gulf Ministerial Council in Jeddah this weekend told Arabi21 news website that the results of the meetings were positive regarding Qatar.

According to the source, "Saudi Arabia mediated with the UAE and has shifted from the position of being a party to the conflict to the position of a mediator". However, he added that, "the UAE was angry because it sought an escalation with Doha."

As for the Saudi motives behind this new stance, the source explained that "Saudi Arabia is seeing a more comprehensive picture of the region," pointing out that it is associating the events in Syria with those in Iraq and those in Yemen, and that it "does not wish to fragment the Gulf Cooperation Council" any further, whereas "the UAE is focusing on the narrow enmities with the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Libya."

As for the reasons behind the change in the Saudi position, the Gulf source pointed to what he called the "negative Egyptian intervention in Syria," which has annoyed Riyadh. This is in addition to the support Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi lent to former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Malki, especially as the latter kept annoying the Kingdom with his numerous critical statements accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Within the same context, the source noted that the Saudis were disturbed by the Egyptian Foreign Minister's visit to Baghdad soon after Al-Sisi took office.

The Gulf source concluded by saying that "there are strong indications that Saudi Arabia now desires to arrange matters in a positive manner with Qatar."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:30:12 +0000
Palestinian president demands for Israel to backtrack on mass land confiscation in West Bank https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13842-palestinian-president-demands-for-israel-to-backtrack-on-mass-land-confiscation-in-west-bank https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13842-palestinian-president-demands-for-israel-to-backtrack-on-mass-land-confiscation-in-west-bank Nabil Abu RudeinehThe Palestinian president strongly denounced on Sunday the Israeli decision to seize almost 4,000 dunams of land in the occupied West Bank to build a new illegal settlement.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called on Israel to reverse its decision. Anadolu news agency quoted him as saying, "This decision will lead to more instability. This will only inflame the situation after the war in Gaza."

Abu Rudeineh also stressed that settlement construction is "illegal".

On Saturday, the Israeli government declared 4,000 dunams of land south of Jerusalem in the Hebron province – which is adjacent to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc – as state land. The move will pave the way to establishing a new settlement called Gvaot.

Haaretz newspaper reported that the appropriated land belongs to five Palestinian villages in the Bethlehem are: Jaba, Surif, Wadi Fukin, Husan and Nahalin.

The newspaper described the mass land confiscation as "the latest of a series of plans designed to attach the Etzion settlement bloc to Jerusalem."

Last week, the Israeli cabinet decided to seize the land to collectively punish Palestinians for the abduction and killing of three young Israeli settlers in June.

Anadolu reported that objections to the Israeli decision could be presented before an Israeli court within 45 days—without specifying which court objectors may appeal to.

The left-wing Israeli movement Peace Now issued a statement strongly criticising the Israeli move, describing it as "unprecedented" and saying that the seizure will "dramatically change the reality in the Gush Etzion and the Bethlehem area".

Peace Now's general secretary Yariv Oppenheimer said the Israeli decision is like "a stab in the back" to President Abbas and other Palestinian "moderates".

According to the peace movement, this is the largest land confiscation in 30 years.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 09:57:51 +0000
Protestors in the Netherlands demand that Israeli officials be prosecuted https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13841-protestors-in-the-netherlands-demand-that-israeli-officials-be-prosecuted https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13841-protestors-in-the-netherlands-demand-that-israeli-officials-be-prosecuted Protesters in Netherlands against IsraelNearly 2,000 protestors have gathered in front of the Dutch Parliament in The Hague to demand that the international community prosecute Israeli officials over their involvement in the recent Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, which lasted for more than 50 days and led to the killing of more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians.

Anadolu news agency's correspondent reported that Palestinian, Turkish, Moroccan and Dutch protesters, alongside anti-Zionist Jews, started their demonstration with a moment of silence for all those who died as a result of the Israeli assault on Gaza.

The demonstrators then chanted pro-Palestinian slogans, such as "Freedom for Palestine", "Boycott Israeli goods", "End the Israeli occupation", "Netanyahu is a murderer" and "We are all Palestinians".

A spokesperson for the protesters said the international community has so far stood silently by in face of Israel's war crimes in Gaza.

He also criticised the Dutch government's policy and attitude towards the Israeli aggression.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 01 Sep 2014 09:44:43 +0000