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 Sun, 24 May 2015 06:57:23 +0000 MEMO en-gb Egypt court adjourns Hamas 'terrorist' case to June https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18807-egypt-court-adjourns-hamas-terrorist-case-to-june https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18807-egypt-court-adjourns-hamas-terrorist-case-to-june Egyptian supreme court.      [File photo]An Egyptian court on Saturday postponed to 6 June delivering its ruling in a lawsuit calling for designating Palestinian faction Hamas as a "terrorist" group.

Cairo's Urgent Matters Court postponed its verdict, which was slated for Saturday, until 6 June without providing justification, a judicial source told Anadolu Agency.

In February, the same court designated Hamas as a "terrorist" group over claims that it had carried out attacks in Egypt via tunnels linking the Sinai Peninsula to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The following month, an Egyptian court set 28 March for the first hearing of the appeal filed the State Lawsuits Authority, the Egyptian government's legal arm, against designating Hamas as a "terrorist organization."

A different court has since postponed ruling on the case twice.

Cairo-Hamas relations have soured since the Egyptian military ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July of 2013, with Egypt's government tightening its already-firm grip on the Rafah border crossing – Gaza's only outlet to the outside world not under Israeli control.

The Egyptian media blames Hamas, an ideological offshoot of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group, for a series of deadly attacks on security forces carried out since Morsi's ouster in mid-2013.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 23 May 2015 12:21:11 +0000
The Siege: Palestinian play makes its London debut to a packed audience https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/film-review/18806-the-siege-palestinian-play-makes-its-london-debut-to-a-packed-audience https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/film-review/18806-the-siege-palestinian-play-makes-its-london-debut-to-a-packed-audience the siege

IMAGES

It's April 2002 and the Second Intifada has engulfed cities across the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In Bethlehem, a group of armed fighters have fled to one of the world's holiest places to seek sanctuary- the Church of Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus. Around 200 Palestinians are also sheltering inside, hiding from the Israeli incursion into the city. In response, Israeli soldiers place Bethlehem under siege and completely surround the Church.

The siege lasted 39 days. Over those weeks eight Palestinians were killed and 40 injured as snipers picked them off one-by-one. In the end, a deal between the fighters and Israel was reached- the fighters would surrender and accept permanent exile from Palestine.

The Freedom Theatre, a Palestinian theatre company based in the West Bank city of Jenin, has re-created this key moment in Palestinian history in their play "The Siege". The play has come to London as part of its international tour, but not without difficulties- protests were held outside their venues and British newspaper The Daily Mail, launched an attack on the tour under the headline: "UK taxpayers fund 'pro-terrorist' play: £15,000 of public money given to show based on the words of Hamas killers."

However, attempts to place a dampener on the group's UK tour failed and on the opening night in London on Tuesday, the theatre company performed to a packed audience in the Battersea Arts Centre. Tickets for the upcoming performances in the London leg of the tour are now completely sold out.

Memo spoke to assistant director Alaa Shehada on why the group chose this particular event as the subject for their latest play. He told Memo that the group wanted to challenge the narratives of what happened. The siege of the Nativity Church made headlines across the globe at the time as a result of the sanctity of the church, but the reporting told a different version of the events which were not accurate, says Shehada. He says that this kind of unfair representation or distortion of the truth by international media outlets with regards to the situation in Palestine is still occurring. "We want to show the real stories that happen in Palestine," says Shehada. "We are Palestinians living under occupation and we have the right to tell our stories."

The Siege is a gripping portrayal of this defining moment in the Second Intifada and it is told in a way that breathes life into the events. The play is narrated by a tour guide, who leads the audience through the historical and spiritual significance of the church. His tour then introduces us to the story of the Palestinian fighters and we are transported back 13 years to their entry into the Church of the Nativity. The Siege focuses on six of the fighters and their relationship to one another, with the Israeli army outside and to the clergy within the church. We follow their journey through the 39 days holed up inside the church and gain an insight into the difficult decisions and complex emotions they must have dealt with during their time there.

The play is based on the real-life testimonies of these fighters. The Freedom Theatre conducted hours of interviews with those who still live in exile and their families. With the help of immensely talented actors, original footage and realistic sound effects, the audience is transported into the heart of the Second Intifada. It was not an easy watch- the play did this so successfully; at times it was hard not to look away. It is uncomfortable and painful, but passionate and moving. At times, the English translation of the Arabic speaking was out of sync or it was difficult to tell whose line was whose. Some native Arabic speakers also commented that the translation sometimes diluted the meaning of what was being said. However, this did not diminish the ability of the audience to stay connected with what was happening.

But what does the theatre company hope will come of the play's UK tour? "We wish through our plays that we will make changes in the heads of the people and that they can then affect their governments," says Shehada. "We want to show the British community that we came from a cultural place. We are artists, we are photographers, dancers, actors, directors- we are not terrorists as they call us. We are peaceful people and we love our life." He added: "It is our right as Palestinians to show our culture and our identity. We want to tell our stories."

For Palestinians, the work of the Freedom Theatre provides a space for creativity and a way to challenge the occupation in a different way, says Shehada. "You don't know how many generations get killed by their mind because of the occupation...we have several occupations in our mind, in the society." He added: "One of our main goals is to give space, to find new colours, because there are no colours in our life, no space for imagination or creativity and no area for dreams."

"Here is the magic of theatre", he says. "I believe 100% that through my art I can do anything".

Images by thefreedomtheatre.org


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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Jessica Purkiss) frontpage Sat, 23 May 2015 11:44:12 +0000
Undisclosed meetings between Libyan rivals in Tunis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18805-undisclosed-meetings-between-libyan-rivals-in-tunis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18805-undisclosed-meetings-between-libyan-rivals-in-tunis Khalifa Haftar

Representatives of the two main Libyan rival militias ended a series of meetings that took place in Tunis, Quds Press reported credible Libyan and Tunisian sources on Friday.

These were the first of their kind between Fajr Libya militias, adherent to the parliament in Tripoli, and Al-Karama militias, adherent to the renegade Libyan Colonel Khalifa Haftar who controls the city of Tubrok.

Quds Press said that the sources asked to remain undisclosed, but reported that they reiterated three meetings between the rivals between Tuesday and Thursday. The sources also said that the Tunisian authorities knew about the meetings, which took place in the Tunisian capital.

"The two sides agreed on several common stances ahead of halting mutual fighting in Libya," the sources said. "They initially agreed to form a national agreement government and carry out parliamentarian elections."

According to the sources, the meetings were friendly and included food and beverages. The sources also said that the two sides agreed to hold similar meetings in Libya very soon.

Quds Press says that no solution for the crisis in Libya could be reached without the agreement of these two sides, in addition to the Shura Council in Benghazi.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 23 May 2015 11:15:00 +0000
Algeria calls for intensified Arabic media support for Palestine https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18804-algeria-calls-for-intensified-arabic-media-support-for-palestine https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18804-algeria-calls-for-intensified-arabic-media-support-for-palestine Flag of Algeria

Algeria calls for intensified Arabic media support for Palestine

Algerian Communication Minister Hamid Grine called on Thursday for intensified Arabic media support for the pivotal Arab issue –Palestine, Quds Press reported.

While speaking in the 46th meeting of the Arab Information Ministers Council, Grine said that his call come in the light of the "state terrorism" practiced against the Palestinians in order to erase the Palestinian humanitarian cause and cultural identity.

Grine also called for continuous media support to disclose the Israeli practices against the Palestinians until they are able to achieve their legitimate and established rights and build their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Meanwhile, he urged the Arab media to develop and renew the Arab media discourse to spread the values of tolerance and acceptance of the other, and to deal with intellectual and religious radicalisation.

He emphasised the importance of supporting and integrating efforts to eradicate unemployment, illiteracy, illegal emigration and cybercrime.

The minister said that problems in the Arab region including terrorism, radicalisation and campaigns to stir up trouble and tensions in order to plunder the wealth and hinder development efforts in the Arab world, require the development of a media strategy tailored to the Arab media system.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 23 May 2015 10:54:04 +0000
New road parallel to Israeli buffer zone in Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18803-new-road-parallel-to-israeli-buffer-zone-in-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18803-new-road-parallel-to-israeli-buffer-zone-in-gaza israeli bulldozer

This week, the Hamas military wing started to pave a new road along the Israeli military buffer zone along the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip.

Farmers in the nearby areas said that they saw bulldozers owned by Al-Qassam Brigades had approached the buffer zone and started working.

"At first, a Palestinian bulldozers owned by the Palestinian housing ministry started working," a farmer from the middle area of the Gaza city said.

He continued: "The Israeli monitoring tower opened fire at the bulldozer, pushing it to retreat. A few time later, a new bulldozer escorted with two Qassam 4x4 vehicles returned to the same area and started working."

A senior Qassam source stated, "the construction of a new road along the buffer zone is underway." The source said that the read will be 300 metres far from the borders and Qassam is planning to setup monitoring towers opposite to the Israeli towers.

Since the ceasefire announced on August 26 that ended a 51-day Israeli offensive, Al-Qassam has deployed its members along the borders to prevent any Palestinians firing rockets or carrying out any offensive against the Israeli side.

However, the Israeli occupation has been breaching the truce almost everyday as it opens fire at Palestinian farmers in the east of the Strip and fishermen off the Gaza coast.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 23 May 2015 10:51:29 +0000
Addressing US Jews, Obama defends his policies with Iran, Palestinians https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/18802-addressing-us-jews-obama-defends-his-policies-with-iran-palestinians https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/18802-addressing-us-jews-obama-defends-his-policies-with-iran-palestinians White house

During his visit to Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington on Thursday, US President Barack Obama attempted to persuade American Jews that his policies regarding Palestinian issue and Iran do not go against their interest.

There was applause after every single phrase announced by Obama, who said: "The deal that we already reached with Iran has already halted or rolled back parts of Iran's nuclear program. Now we're seeking a comprehensive solution. I will not accept a bad deal."

He added: "This deal will have my name on it, so nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure that it delivers on its promise. I want a good deal."

Obama told the Jews that the deal would impose "unprecedented inspections" on all elements of Iran's nuclear programme, "so that they can't cheat; and if they try to cheat, we will immediately know about it and sanctions snap back on."

For him, he told the Jews: "A deal that makes the world and the region -- including Israel -- more secure. That's how I define a good deal."

About the Palestinian-Israeli issue, he said: "And I believe that's two states for two peoples, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."

He frankly called the occupied Palestine a Jewish homeland and avoided to describe Palestinians as living in their own land. "Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people on their land, as well," he said.

"Now, I want to emphasise the Palestinians are not the easiest of partners," he said. "The neighbourhood is dangerous. And we cannot expect Israel to take existential risks with their security so that any deal that takes place has to take into account the genuine dangers of terrorism and hostility."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 23 May 2015 10:43:10 +0000
The week in pictures https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/in-pictures/18801-the-week-in-pictures https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/in-pictures/18801-the-week-in-pictures The last 7 days in pictures.

SHUJA'IYYA, GAZA: Palestinian children look on from their house, which was damaged during the recent Israeli war. At least 100,000 Palestinians are still living without adequate shelter more than nine months after the end of Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip last summer.

SANAA, YEMEN: Yemeni people look at graffiti commemorating the victims of the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

TALIOUINE, MOROCCO: Farmers tend to their crops between the Atlas Mountains. The farmers have resisted the use of modern technologies to help in the harvest.

AMMAN, JORDAN: Visitors at an art exhibition which deals with the history of art and its relationship with politics in the Arab region between 1975 and 1995.

GAZA CITY, GAZA: Palestinians enjoy the weather along the Mediterranean Sea.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 19:49:08 +0000
Israel and apartheid https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/the-guardian/18800-israel-and-apartheid https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/the-guardian/18800-israel-and-apartheid Dear Editor,

Re: Israel has many injustices. But it is not an apartheid state

It is irrelevant what we call it (Israel has many injustice. But it is not an apartheid state, 22 May), but the simple fact is that Israel is driving Palestinians off the land on which they and their forefathers have lived for centuries. Ilan Pappé calls it "ethnic cleansing", and it is hard to argue with him given the evidence from 1948 to the present day. How will Israel's 20 per cent non-Jewish citizens fit into a "Jewish State"? At a stroke of a legislator's pen they will be second-class citizens, which certainly smacks of apartheid in all but name.

It was fitting that Benjamin Pogrund's "anti-apartheid Israel" article appeared at the same time as reports that Israel's deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, declared, "This land is ours. All of it is ours." This is classic Zionism: all of the land of Palestine with as few Palestinians on it as possible. Hence, the ethnic cleansing, land grabs, withdrawal of Jerusalem residence rights and the brutal paraphernalia of occupation and colonisation intended to make life so miserable for Palestinians that they will leave voluntarily. When there are no more Palestinians left in the occupied West Bank, or maybe just enough to keep the West satisfied that Israel isn't quite so bad after all, the state will turn on Israel's non-Jewish citizens. It's already happening, despite Pogrund's apologetics. According to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a victim of South African apartheid (unlike Mr Pogrund who would have enjoyed all the privileges of being white when he was there), what the Palestinians are experiencing is worse than what the "non-whites" went through.

"Why is Israel the only country in the world whose very right to existence is challenged in this way?" Pogrund asks. Because it is the only country in the world today which is colonising someone else's land and insists on its own "exceptionalism", making it free to treat with contempt the laws and conventions that the rest of the civilised world lives by. Apartheid or not, it's totally unacceptable.



Ibrahim Hewitt
Senior Editor,
Middle East Monitor

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ibrahim Hewitt) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 09:41:00 +0000
Did the Metropolitan Police send staff to Israel during last year's Gaza assault? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/18799-did-the-metropolitan-police-send-staff-to-israel-during-last-years-gaza-assault https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/18799-did-the-metropolitan-police-send-staff-to-israel-during-last-years-gaza-assault File photo of armed British policeLast November, a post appeared on the blogging platform Medium which claimed that between March 1, 2014 and August 31, 2014 - a period of six months - some 80 employees of London's Metropolitan Police had "travelled to Israel."

This overlaps in part with Israel's unprecedented assault on the Gaza Strip, which lasted from July 8 to August 26. During 'Operation Protective Edge', Israeli armed forces killed some 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children.

The post does not reveal the source of its information, and there are no further details supplied. It does, however, cite an apparent refusal by the Met to clarify the matter, on the grounds that it would "have the effect of compromising law enforcement tactics and strategies."

So on February 5, I decided to ask the Met's press office about the claim. Over the phone, a spokesperson told me that "this is a matter that we are not prepared to discuss any further." When I asked why, I was told (predictably): "This is not something we can discuss at this stage."

I decided to file a Freedom of Information Request, and did so on February 5, along the following lines: "Did any Metropolitan Police members of staff/employees travel to Israel in their professional capacity during 2014, and if so, how many, during what period/dates, and what was the purpose of the visit (e.g. training, lectures etc.)?"

The decision, received by email on March 26, was more of the same. "The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service]", the reply stated, "can neither confirm nor deny that it holds any information relating to this request." Four separate exemptions were then cited: Section 23(5) Information Supplied by or concerning certain Security Bodies; Section 24(2) - National Security; Section 27(4) - International Relations; and Section 31(3) Law Enforcement.

According to the FOI Request response, to answer the question about a trip to Israel in 2014 could "potentially undermine ongoing investigations, reveal policing techniques, risk the identification of individuals, reveal the involvement of any exempt bodies and put national security at risk."

The Met concluded that "the balance test favours neither confirming nor denying that information is held." By way of emphasis, the response concluded - in bold - "Please note this response does not confirm or deny that the MPS holds the information that you have requested."

There is precedent. In 2002, for example, the Met visited Israel in order to "look for tactics that might be effective against a suicide bombing." In 2005, Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by the police in an operation that incorporated the advice of "Israeli security forces."

We also know that the Met's Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, was in Tel Aviv in September 2014 for talks with his counterparts. For now, however, it is unclear whether Met staff were visiting Israel as the bombs rained down on Gaza – and if they did, for what purpose.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ben White) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 18:11:09 +0000
Coalition strikes halted before joining Geneva meet https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18798-coalition-strikes-halted-before-joining-geneva-meet https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18798-coalition-strikes-halted-before-joining-geneva-meet Houthi rebels in Yemen

Yemen's Houthi group yesterday made its participation in a UN-sponsored conference on Yemen in Geneva later this month conditional on the halt of an ongoing air offensive launched by a Saudi-led coalition against its positions.

In a televised address, Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdel-Salam called for an immediate suspension of what he called the "Saudi aggression" on Yemen.

He said this was his group's condition for participating in the conference that will seek to find a peaceful settlement for the crisis in Yemen.

"We will defend our dignity by responding to the Saudi enemy at the appropriate time and place," Abdel-Salam said.

The United Nations had earlier proposed holding a conference on the Yemeni crisis in Geneva on May 28 and 29.

Yemen has been pounded by airstrikes since 25 March by a Saudi-led coalition established to fight the Shia Houthis.

Saudi Arabia says it launched its campaign in response to appeals by Yemen's embattled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi for help against the Houthis who overran the capital Sanaa late last year.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 15:44:38 +0000
Jordan says Middle East can solve its problems https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18797-jordan-says-middle-east-can-solve-its-problems https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18797-jordan-says-middle-east-can-solve-its-problems King Abdullah II of Jordan

King Abdullah II of Jordan said today that the problems of the Middle East can be solved by utilising the region's strengths.

Speaking during the inaugural session of the World Economic Forum which kicked off in Jordan today, he added that Amman would not allow ongoing regional problems in the Middle East to take it away from its own objectives.

He noted that his country was small in size, but it still had unique investment opportunities.

Some 900 business leaders and foreign politicians are attending the forum.

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres are amongst the attendees.

Addressing the gathering, Al-Sisi said his country would host the World Economic Forum next year.

He said the forum would be held in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 15:39:42 +0000
Child killed in attack in Saudi border village https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18796-child-killed-in-attack-in-saudi-border-village https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18796-child-killed-in-attack-in-saudi-border-village Flag of Saudi Arabia

A child was killed and three others injured in southern Saudi Arabia today when missiles fired from Yemen fell in villages in the kingdom's Jizan province, Saudi media has reported.

The official Saudi press agency quoted defence spokesman Yahya Al-Qahtani as saying that the missiles fell in residential areas in the border region of Al-Tuwal.

He did not, however, mention whether the victims were Saudi nationals.

Friday's fatality is the third in Saudi Arabia since the end of a five-day humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen on Sunday.

Since 25 March, Yemen has been pounded by airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition established to fight Yemen's formidable Shia Houthi militant group.

Saudi Arabia says it launched its campaign in response to appeals by Yemen's embattled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi for help against the Houthis, whose growing influence in the fractious country has alarmed the predominantly Sunni-Muslim Gulf states.

Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse Shia Iran of backing Yemen's Houthi insurgency.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 15:14:33 +0000
Palestine to chair UNESCO meeting https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/18795-palestine-to-chair-unesco-meeting https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/18795-palestine-to-chair-unesco-meeting UNESCO

Palestine was elected to chair the third Meeting of States Parties to the UNESCO 1970 Convention on Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property for the first time earlier this week.

Palestine became the 195th full member of UNESCO in 2011 with the support of a large majority of countries.

Chairing a meeting of nearly 130 state parties has "both symbolic and practical" significance for Palestine, Mounir Anastas, deputy ambassador of Palestine to UNESCO, told the Anadolu Agency.

According to Anastas, the meeting that mainly aims to recover embezzled cultural property is a significant legal tool for Palestine that saw its own property "illegally exported or even stolen", particularly because of Israel's partial occupation of the West Bank.

"As you see, Israel is not among the states parties to attend the meeting, which will offer Palestine a legal framework to seek its rights," Anastas said.

Speaking about the process that led to the election of the Palestinian delegation to chair the meeting, Anastas said the initiative made by the Arab countries was "fully supported by Turkey".

The Turkish delegation, which currently holds the presidency of the regional bloc of "Western European and Other States" in the UN, was consulted as a national delegation and chair of its voting group, Anastas said.

As for the reaction of the other states members, Anastas said the delegation received "a lot of positive feedback".

"Even states that had voted against the recognition of Palestine as a full member state to UNESCO, like Canada and Germany, congratulated us, except the United States."

Anastas was optimistic about the possibility of chairing another UN meeting.

"We are here to practice our membership," he said.

UNESCO is currently the only UN agency that recognises Palestine as a full member state.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 15:03:41 +0000
Gaza unemployment 'ticking time-bomb': Israeli lawmaker https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18794-gaza-unemployment-ticking-time-bomb-israeli-lawmaker https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18794-gaza-unemployment-ticking-time-bomb-israeli-lawmaker Palestinian worker

The surge in unemployment in the Gaza Strip is a "ticking time-bomb", an Israeli member of Knesset said today.

Gaza's joblessness rate has risen to 43 per cent, according to the World Bank.

Gazans who are not members of Hamas are not enemies of Israel, which is why Israel must lead the Gaza Strip's reconstruction process in exchange for disarming the enclave, lawmaker Haim Yellin of the centrist Yesh Atid party was quoted Israel Radio as saying.

On Friday, the World Bank published an alarming report on the Gaza Strip's economic situation.

World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza, Steen Lau Jorgensen, said Gaza's unemployment and poverty figures were very troubling and the economic outlook was "worrying".

"Blockades, war and poor governance have strangled Gaza's economy and the unemployment rate is now the highest in the world," the World Bank said.

"Unemployment in Gaza is the highest in the world at 43 per cent," it added.

It said even more alarming was the situation of youth unemployment in the Strip, noting that this unemployment soared to more than 60 per cent by the end of 2014.

"Nearly 80 per cent of Gaza's population receives some kind of social assistance, and nearly 40 per cent of them still fall below the poverty line," the bank said.

It went on to note that the status quo in Gaza was unsustainable.

"Recovery is conditional upon easing of the blockade to allow reconstruction materials to enter in sufficient quantities and to lift the exports out, as well as donor financing for reconstruction," the bank said.

Gaza has been under an all-out Israeli blockade since 2007.

The siege has deprived the enclave's almost 1.9 million residents of most of their basic needs.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 13:41:04 +0000
Abbas: We rejected all 'transitional solutions' for Palestinian state https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18793-abbas-we-rejected-all-transitional-solutions-for-palestinian-state https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18793-abbas-we-rejected-all-transitional-solutions-for-palestinian-state President, Mahmoud Abbas [File photo]

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said today that he rejected all transitional solutions and the introduction of temporary borders for the aspired Palestinian state.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum which kicked off this morning in Jordan, he said that those who advocated such ideas should stop doing so.

"We emphasis our rejection of any transitional solutions and what is called a state with temporary borders," Abbas said.

He said these temporary borders would divide the Palestinian people and their land.

Abbas called on the international community to help introduce a deadline for the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

He said he was committed to a just and comprehensive peace and the two-state solution, which would open the door for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Abbas also called for solving final status problems, including the issue of Palestinian refugees and prisoners.

"Israel's continued occupation and settlement building hinders all this," Abbas said.

Seated in front of Abbas was Israeli President Shimon Peres, who attended the World Economic Forum in Jordan, along with more than 900 business leaders and foreign politicians.

Discussions in the forum, which ends tomorrow, are due to focus on the economy and youth problems in the Middle East.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 13:13:51 +0000
President of German parliament explains refusal to meet Al-Sisi https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18792-president-of-german-parliament-explains-refusal-to-meet-al-sisi https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18792-president-of-german-parliament-explains-refusal-to-meet-al-sisi Flag of Germany

The president of the German parliament, Norbert Lammert, has justified his cancellation of a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on the basis that there is nothing to discuss, given Egypt's lack of democratic progress, he told Anadolu news agency. The meeting was initially scheduled as part of Al-Sisi's visit to Germany next month.

According to Lammert, he was expecting to discuss the possibility of holding the long-overdue Egyptian elections. "The recent developments in Egypt have shown clearly that there is no democratic evolution in the political sphere," he said, "and so there was no topic left for me to discuss with Al-Sisi."

With regards to the recent death sentences and life terms handed down en masse, including a death sentence for the first elected civilian president in Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, Lammert noted that many internationally-recognised human rights organisations have expressed concern over the legality of the cases and the independence of the courts. "Although Egypt is considered a partner state and an important country in a very complex region," added the German politician, "the shape and density of our meetings and communication are linked to the necessary political criteria that are considered important by parliaments."

He stressed the need not to ignore human rights and other different topics when making efforts to stabilise the region. "I cannot think of tolerating violations of human rights for the purpose of stability," he insisted. "Egypt, like any country, has the right to make domestic decisions, but a long time has passed with no action after the dissolution of the elected parliament, the isolation of the president-elect, and the statements made about implementing the required changes." The Egyptian people's aspirations for modernity and democratic institutions cannot be ignored, stressed Lammert.

Indeed, he pointed out, the current regime has not attended to the promises it made regarding political reconciliation and the election process, and it has not taken any serious steps in this regard. "As such, a meeting with the Egyptian President is useless."

The German parliament has informed the Egyptian embassy in Berlin about Lammert's decision to cancel his meeting with Al-Sisi, citing the human rights violations in Egypt, notably the death penalty for Morsi. "The Egyptian regime did not announce a date for the delayed parliamentary elections, is arresting opposition elements without clear charges, including former head of the Egyptian Parliament Saad Katatni, and decided to execute of a large number of people," the parliament's statement said. The actions of the Egyptian authorities "do not contribute to the strengthening of stability, democracy and inner peace in Egypt, and so President of the German Parliament Lammert does not see any necessity to meet with Al-Sisi."

In response, the government in Cairo issued a brief statement in which it claimed that it had not requested a meeting with Norbert Lammert during Al-Sisi's visit to Germany next month. According to Mohammed Hijazi, Egypt's ambassador to Germany, it was the Germans who had asked for the meeting.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 12:06:29 +0000
Israel releases ex-minister after 10 months in prison https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18791-israel-releases-ex-minister-after-10-months-in-prison https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18791-israel-releases-ex-minister-after-10-months-in-prison Wasfi Kabha

The Israeli authorities released the Palestinian Authority's former Minister of Prisoners, Wasfi Kabha, on Thursday. Hailing from the northern West Bank city of Jenin, Kabha has spent 10 months in prison, the Ahrar Centre for Prisoners and Human Rights reported.

"Kabha arrived home after he was released at Jubara checkpoint near Tulkarem," said Ahrar in a statement. He was arrested on 15 June last year after the kidnapping and murder of three settlers in Hebron; he was then held under administrative detention.

It is alleged that Kabha was assaulted whilst in Israeli custody being transferred to Megiddo jail. He was placed in solitary confinement in Hadarim before being sentenced to 10 months in prison.

The former minister served in the Hamas-led government elected in 2006 and is one of the most prominent leaders of the Islamic movement in the West Bank.

According to Ahrar Centre, Israel is holding 450 Palestinians in administrative detention. They are held without trial for a period ranging from one to six months, and the detention is renewable. Israel uses the measure as a means to hold prisoners for prolonged periods without trial under the pretext of national security.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 11:50:35 +0000
Turkey and its red lines in Cyprus https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/18790-turkey-and-its-red-lines-in-cyprus https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/18790-turkey-and-its-red-lines-in-cyprus President Mustafa Akinci

The independence of the Turkish Cypriots is non-negotiable as far as Turkey is concerned; North Cyprus is no different to any other Anatolian district. So much so, in fact, that Turks defended it, spoke up for it, campaigned for it, got martyred for it and never ever thought about doing anything less than that. It is probably one thing upon which all Turkish governments and all Turkish nationals all agree.

That's why, when the recently-elected President Mustafa Akinci of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus made comments about how he wishes to have a more independent relationship with Turkey, both the Turkish government and public were caught off-guard. Although the harshest reply came from Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, everyone in Turkey - politicians, academicians, citizens, literally everyone - was incensed at Akinci's words and their implications.

However, at this point, it would be more expedient to try to see both sides of the story rather than getting carried away in the heat of the moment.

Turkey sees Cyprus as a national cause: it has never considered giving it up, as to Turkey that would amount to conceding defeat and surrendering its own lands. Even threats to its EU bid didn't deter the government in Ankara from taking such a strong stance over Cyprus. As explained in the words of Turkish opposition leader Devlet Bahçeli, it was about sacrifices and appreciating the prices paid.

Nevertheless, there is obviously another side of the story. Akinci is an elected politician and although he could have worded his intentions in another way, it is clear that he never implied that he intends to cut ties with Turkey. He is aware of the strong links between these two countries and has no intention of damaging them. But he also made promises to his people for an independent, strong country and works to fulfil what he said. He stated his intentions of reopening Maras, which has been closed since 1974, under UN supervision and using the port of Magusa and Ercan airport for direct commercial and non-commercial flights; and showed enthusiasm in starting trade with the Greek side, which is currently suffering from a financial crisis. Also, last week as part of a UN-brokered peace process, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus announced that the visa restrictions between the Turkish and Greek sides have been removed. Travellers from the Greek side can now move about freely across to the Turkish side of Cyprus. These are all clear signs of Akinci's willingness to contribute to peace.

This is all good news, as it is the wish of Turkish and Greek Cypriots to achieve a solution in the island as soon as possible. Having a solution-oriented approach will help greatly with that goal. It is also understandable that a change is seen to be necessary, as the previous methods didn't seem to work. However, rejecting the status quo doesn't equate to distancing Northern Cyprus from Turkey. It also doesn't amount to denying the guarantor status of Turkey. The president is aware of the fact that it is possible to develop a solution by working with Ankara. He also knows that it wasn't Turkey or the Turkish Cypriots who have prevented peace so far; it was the Greeks who rejected the 1985-86 Draft Framework Agreements, the UN-sponsored Set of Ideas of 1992, the package of Confidence Building Measures of 1994 and, more recently, the Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem (Annan Plan) in April 2004. Even the financial crisis in the Greek side of the island couldn't convince them to approach peace; ultimatums issued by the Church kept the Greeks away from their Turkish counterparts.

Another important aspect of the issue is the fact that Turkey is a guarantor country in the conflict and will, therefore, continue to be a part of any solution agreed upon. The Zurich and London agreements gave Turkey, Greece and Britain guarantor status. Turkey will continue to use all the rights vested in it by this agreement to protect the independence and security of the Turkish Cypriots. Even though Greece gives signs that it no longer wishes to be as actively involved in the Cyprus conflict as before, by calling the guarantor status "a model from the old ages", both countries still have guarantor powers and will therefore continue to play important roles in the future of Cyprus.

For Turks, independence is a matter of life and death. They have demonstrated this numerous times during their thousands of years of history. Just like the independence of Turkey, the independence of the Turkish Cypriots, who were part of the Ottoman Empire for 307 years, is non-negotiable. Turkey, as before, will continue to work for peace and emphasise its commitment to a bi-communal, bi-zonal, federal state plan. However, any proposal to remove the Turkish troops from the island - they are the only guarantee of the safety of the Turkish Cypriots - is also a non-starter. Even though there might be a few people willing to compromise on these important principles for the sake of a few EU benefits, Turkey will not hesitate to use its guarantor powers to their full extent to block such moves. The safety and independence of the Turkish Cypriots is a must for Turkey and will not be compromised.

That being said, Turkey will work towards building a state recognised by the two communities on the island, just as it has been working to achieve this to-date. It is clear that new President Akinci will take concrete steps towards achieving that goal too. As he does so, he will find Turkey by his side in every stage of his journey, supporting him in his efforts without compromising the red lines.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Harun Yahya) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 11:34:10 +0000
Erdogan: Democracy is to respect people's will https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18789-erdogan-democracy-is-to-respect-peoples-will https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18789-erdogan-democracy-is-to-respect-peoples-will Turkish president, Tayyip Erdogan. [File photo]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday said that democracy can only be achieved by respecting people's will.

Erdogan said only true democracy can achieve prosperity, which can only be achieved by respecting the national will.

He praised the achievements of his ruling Justice and Development party, stressing that as president he stands at an equal distance from all political parties in the country.

"As prime minister, I could have not executed all these projects, but my loyalty lies with the Turkish people and their prosperity," he said.

Erdogan reiterated his country's support for those oppressed around the world especially those who seek Turkey's help and support.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 11:30:28 +0000
Rouhani: Iran will not sign deal which allows access to military secrets https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18788-rouhani-iran-will-not-sign-deal-which-allows-access-to-military-secrets https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18788-rouhani-iran-will-not-sign-deal-which-allows-access-to-military-secrets Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that his country will not sign any agreement that would allow access to its military and scientific secrets.

Iran's Press TV quoted Rouhani saying: "The recent remarks by the leader of the Islamic republic is a rule for the administration, and we will never sign a deal that would allow anybody to have access to the country's scientific and military secrets."

"Continuing research and development is our red line, and [nuclear] negotiators are aware of the red lines," he said.

On Wednesday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said he would never allow foreigners to inspect Iranian military sites or meet with Iranian nuclear scientists under the pretext of a nuclear deal.

Iran and the P5+1 countries began a new round of negotiations to finalise an accord on the country's nuclear issue in the Austrian capital Vienna on Wednesday.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 11:19:13 +0000
Hamas warns youth against dealing with Israeli recruitment sites https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18786-hamas-warns-youth-against-dealing-with-israeli-recruitment-sites https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18786-hamas-warns-youth-against-dealing-with-israeli-recruitment-sites palestinian overlooks destroyed homes and buildings in Gaza

A Hamas-led Interior Ministry in Gaza yesterday issued a public warning to Palestinians in Gaza against dealing with suspicious sites believed to be operated by the Israeli intelligence that aim to recruit informants in the enclave.

The ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook: "Once you log into one of those sites, you are already on a list of potential informants."

According to the statement, the ministry will punish those found guilty of accessing the sites in question for a period ranging between seven and 11 years in prison in addition to a charge of providing information.

The ministry demanded young people avoid contact with "suspicious sites" all the time.

The sites are believed to be run by the Israeli intelligence apparatus which offers young Palestinians in Gaza a better life in exchange for supplying it with information on the Palestinian resistance, Hamas's weapons and tunnels as well as missing Israeli soldiers.

Last year, Hamas said it arrested several alleged collaborators and executed some of them.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 10:38:27 +0000
Oud Courses with Taqasim Music School at The Arab British Centre https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/culture/18785-oud-courses-with-taqasim-music-school-at-the-arab-british-centre https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/culture/18785-oud-courses-with-taqasim-music-school-at-the-arab-british-centre 2 May- 4 July 12:30- 14:30 |14:45- 16:65 | £170

Taqasim Music School launched in March 2011 with the objective of providing education on Middle Eastern music culture.

Under the direction of Iraqi Oud Master Ahmed Mukhtar, both theory and instrumental courses are taught by professional musicians on a regular basis. The aim is to provide affordable access to the music heritage of the Middle-East and promoting dialogue between music cultures.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 10:34:24 +0000
Israel’s deputy FM: ‘This land is ours. All of it is ours’ https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18784-israels-deputy-fm-this-land-is-ours-all-of-it-is-ours https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18784-israels-deputy-fm-this-land-is-ours-all-of-it-is-ours Tzipi Hotovely

Israel's newly appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely yesterday told ministry employees that all of the land of Israel belongs to Jews only.

Israeli media quoted Hotovely as saying that Israeli diplomats around the world need to begin acting according to the principle of "being right and not just smart".

Hotovely, 36, who served as deputy transport minister in the previous government said: "Many times it seems that in our international relations, more than emphasising the rightness of our cause, we are asked to use arguments that play well diplomatically."

"But at a time when the very existence of Israel is being called into question, it is important to be right," she added.

She went on quoting late settler leader, Uri Elitzur, saying for "the last 40 years, while the Palestinians were demanding their lands, Israel responded that 'we have strategic interests and security concerns'." According to her, those arguments are the arguments of a robber.

"If I wear your coat because I'm cold, and I can prove pragmatically and analytically that it really is cold for me, the world will ask a primitive and analytic question: Who does the coat belong to? In this context, it is important to say that this coat is ours; this country is ours, all of it. We didn't come here to apologise for that," she said.

Hotovely claimed that the world understands Israel's security needs, but arguments based on justice and morality always trump those dealing with security concerns.

"If the Jews were convinced in the righteousness of their path, and that is their land, they would manage with the world," she said.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper said several diplomats and ministry employees disapproved of Hotovely's remarks.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 10:36:57 +0000
Norway warns Netanyahu of international pressure following nuclear deal https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18783-norway-warns-netanyahu-of-international-pressure-following-nuclear-deal https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18783-norway-warns-netanyahu-of-international-pressure-following-nuclear-deal Flag of NorwayNorwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende warned Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening that international pressure on Israel over the Palestinian issue will be renewed after the signing of the final nuclear deal with Iran in June. According to Haaretz, a Norwegian diplomat familiar with the details of the meeting said that Brende stressed the need for a political initiative by the new Israeli government when international attention focuses once again on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Brende's meeting with the Israeli prime minister was unusually long, said Haaretz. It noted that the Norwegian minister is considered to be a friend of Israel and that his advice was friendly rather than threatening. Norway is apparently telling Netanyahu that if he hopes to renew negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, he must agree to at least one of the conditions set by President Mahmoud Abbas, as presented in the speech he gave on the anniversary of the Nakba on 15 May.

Abbas demanded a halt to the construction of settlements, the release of prisoners who were arrested before the Oslo Accords in 1993, and holding continuous negotiations for a year, at the end of which a timetable should be announced for ending the occupation by the end of 2017.

It is interesting that the kind of "international pressure" mentioned by Brende includes the French initiative to push a draft resolution in the UN Security Council for developing principles to resolve the conflict and a strict timeline to complete the negotiations over a permanent solution. The French newspaper Le Figaro published the principles included in the draft resolution on Wednesday.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 10:15:28 +0000
Fresh audio leaks reveal UAE, Egypt arms trade in Libya https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18782-fresh-audio-leaks-reveal-uae-egypt-arms-trade-in-libya https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18782-fresh-audio-leaks-reveal-uae-egypt-arms-trade-in-libya US humvee

New audio leaks of recorded telephone calls said to be from the Egyptian president's office appear to show the involvement of both Egypt and the UAE in the transfer of arms to Libya.

Egypt's Mekameleen satellite network, which aired the recordings, claimed the recordings relate to a period when Egypt's current President Abdel Fatah Al- Sisi was head of the military.

The alleged telephone conversation between Al-Sisi's office manager, General Abbas Kamil, and UAE Deputy Chief of Staff Isa Al-Mazrouei reveals a discussion between the two officials to arrange the transfer of arms from the UAE through Egypt to Libya.

According to the new leak, the UAE has been funding Al-Qaqaa Brigades in Libya, supplying it with arms through Egypt with Al-Sisi's help. The Egyptian president charges a commission for the transactions.

Al- Qaqaa Brigades was allied with supporters of former Libyan dictator Muamar Gaddafi's regime before teaming up with Libya's renegade General Khalifa Haftar.

According to the recordings, the Brigades are believed to have received 10 armoured vehicles in a first deal in 2012 and a further 200-strong armoured vehicles in a second arms deal concluded in July 2012.

The leaks also include a discussion over the arrival of a plane carrying Mohammed Dahlan and his Libyan aide to discuss an arms shipment designated for Libya through Egypt.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 10:07:15 +0000
EU appoints permanent envoy in Jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18781-eu-appoints-permanent-envoy-in-jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18781-eu-appoints-permanent-envoy-in-jerusalem EU flag

Local media have reported that the European Union has decided to appoint a permanent envoy in the occupied city of Jerusalem to push forward the political process between the Palestinians and Israelis.

According to Quds Press, the Hebrew-language media claim that the new EU envoy to the region, Fernando Gentilini, will be based in Jerusalem in order to be able to move easily between Tel Aviv and Ramallah. The objective is to bring the views and political positions of the two sides closer so as to resume peace negotiations. The move is part of the EU's efforts to intensify peace efforts.

"The appointment of Gentilini shows the determination of the Union to strengthen its role in the framework of the peace process, in an effort to implement the two-state solution to the Palestinian and Israeli peoples," explained Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 09:41:48 +0000
Syrian Observatory: ISIS now controls 50% of Syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18780-syrian-observatory-isis-now-controls-50-of-syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18780-syrian-observatory-isis-now-controls-50-of-syria ISIS fighterISIS has seized more than 50 per cent of Syria and is now present in 10 of its 14 provinces in the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday.

The data came after ISIS took full control of the city of Tadmur, including the Palmyra world heritage site in Homs province.

"[ISIS controls] more than 95,000 square kilometres in Syria and exists in the provinces of Homs, Al-Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, Al-Hasakah, Hama, Aleppo, Damascus, Rif Dimashq, Daraa and Al-Suwaydaa," the UK-based observatory said.

They added that ISIS also controls the majority of gas and oilfields in Syria.

In Washington, the State Department denied the accuracy of the observatory's claims.

"We certainly don't deny that ISIL holds significant territory in Syria, but we don't agree with those calculations," spokeswoman Marie Harf said using a different acronym for ISIS. She stopped short, however, of outlining Washington's view of the amount of territory the group controls in Syria.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Shatha) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 09:01:31 +0000
Obama to upgrade Tunisia's status to major non-NATO ally https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/18779-obama-to-upgrade-tunisias-status-to-major-non-nato-ally https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/18779-obama-to-upgrade-tunisias-status-to-major-non-nato-ally US President Barack Obama US President Barack Obama announced yesterday his intention to designate Tunisia as a major non-NATO ally, citing democratic reforms in the country.

The upgraded status would put the level of strategic cooperation between Washington and the North African nation on par with US allies like Israel and Japan.

Currently only four other Arab nations have the high-level designation, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco and Jordan.

The announcement followed a meeting between Obama and Tunisian President Caid Essebsi at the White House.

"I want the president and the people of Tunisia to know that the United States believes in Tunisia, is invested in its success, and will work as a steady partner for years to come," Obama said at a press conference with Essebsi in the Oval Office.

Tunisia was the first Arab nation to be rocked by mass demonstrations in what has become known as the Arab Spring, and is widely regarded as the sole country to have seen lasting reform from the popular uprisings.

Long-time dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled after 23 years in power in 2011, setting in motion political and democratic overhauls in the country of nearly 11 million people.

Highlighting the importance of Tunisia, Obama said: "The place where the Arab Spring began is a place where we have seen the most extraordinary progress in allowing all parties and all parts of the population, including women and minorities, [to] participate fully in the civic and political life of the nation."

Obama said he and Essebsi discussed security, counter terrorism, and efforts to stabilise Libya, which has been the site of widespread instability following the death of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Extremist groups, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda-linked militants, have exploited Libya's chaos and established footholds there as the country's warring factions vie for control.

The situation has prompted security concerns for Libya's neighbors, including the leaders of Tunisia's nascent democracy.

"The democratic process is always fragile and threatened by chaos, by parties that do not believe in democracy, that do not follow democratic policies and discourse, but also by our regional environment, which could represent a threat to the democratic process," Essebsi said.

The White House said if needed, the US would supply Tunisia with a loan guarantee up to $500 million.

"As Tunisia continues to embark on important structural reforms to the economy that we will not only provide short-term aid, but also try to provide the kind of bridge and support that's necessary to complete those reforms and make sure that they're effective and benefiting the people of Tunisia," Obama said.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Shatha) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 08:44:20 +0000
Israeli government legal adviser warned of illegality of demolitions and deportations https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18777-israeli-government-legal-adviser-warned-of-illegality-of-demolitions-and-deportations https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18777-israeli-government-legal-adviser-warned-of-illegality-of-demolitions-and-deportations Israeli soldiers watch on as a Palestinian house is demolishedA senior Israeli government official warned as early as in 1968 that punitive demolitions and deportations of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) constitute violations of international humanitarian law.

Theodor Meron, then Israeli Foreign Ministry legal adviser, sent his opinion to the Israeli prime minister's office in a memo marked "Top Secret". The memo was discovered and made public last week by an organisation investigating the archives for relevant material on human rights.

According to the memo, Meron – like almost all contemporary jurists and legal scholars – said the punitive home demolitions and deportations violated the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in war. Any other argument was just unsubstantiated hasbara.

According to author Gershom Gorenberg, writing in Haaretz: "The discovery of Meron's memo on demolitions and deportations is additional evidence that the regime under which the West Bank is governed began in deception and has been maintained by self-deception – by the government, by the hasbara machine and sometimes by our Supreme Court."

In 2006, another memo of Meron's was revealed, in which, just three months after Israel's rule over the OPT began in 1967, he stated that "civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention." The Israeli government at the time, and every one since, ignored this consensus position.

Meron is currently president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Shatha) frontpage Fri, 22 May 2015 08:20:14 +0000
The Beautiful Game does not belong to murderous killjoys like Netanyahu https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/18776-the-beautiful-game-does-not-belong-to-murderous-killjoys-like-netanyahu https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/18776-the-beautiful-game-does-not-belong-to-murderous-killjoys-like-netanyahu Yvonne RidleyWalking through some of the most miserable camps on earth where people have sought refuge after fleeing wars or natural disasters is always a humbling experience. However, it's not usually the wretched and squalid conditions which catch my breath, it is the sound of children at play. Trails of dust and the unmistakable sound of a bare foot hitting a ball reveal that football is the sport of the poor and dispossessed just as much as the status symbol of corporate fat cats, oligarchs and oil-rich shaikhs.

The attraction of the Beautiful Game is that you don't need a leather football or even a pitch with goalposts to enjoy it; I've seen kids kicking tightly bound plastic shopping bags or rags held together by elastic bands and string. Piles of discarded clothes or mounds of earth mark the goalposts and the pitch is often only limited by the size of the land available for the match.

A quarter of a billion people around the world – possibly many more - have experienced the joy of kicking a ball for their team while billions more have sat and watched from makeshift touchlines to corporate boxes in super stadiums.

My late father introduced me to the joy of the Beautiful Game at St James' Park, a stadium in the heart of Newcastle which was supposed to be a theatre of dreams but more often than not produces nightmare situations because of antics on and off the pitch. We (because Newcastle United Football Club belongs to me and every other Geordie who enjoys the game) are facing abject humiliation by dropping out of the English Premier League this weekend unless we can pluck a victory from the jaws of defeat on Sunday.

Hardened Newcastle United fans are used to such high drama and it's a long time since we had a hint of glory, but the "Toon Army" will always live in hope or live off the glory days; yes, there have been some. I remember when we played the mighty Liverpool at Wembley in 1974 and were publicly humiliated (again) by a 3-0 thrashing. Kevin Keegan scored two of the goals. Through the tears, I and every other Newcastle supporter thought about what might have been when the Liverpool fans roared as their legendary manager Bill Shankly got his hands on the highly-prized FA Cup.

Although we didn't know it, that was Shankly's last game in charge of Liverpool FC; he is still loved and revered in the city in equal measure. Despite the drubbing we received at Wembley, Shanks (as he was affectionately known) was universally respected and if we are honest it was probably a fitting farewell for what he had given to the game. Coming from a Scottish mining community where poverty went hand in hand with humanitarian socialism, football was regarded as an escape from the harsh reality of the daily grind and Shankly never forgot his humble roots.

It was against this backdrop that he emerged as a talented footballer and went on to become one of the greatest managers in the world with a trophy cabinet to prove it. He had a passion for the game and once said, without a hint of irony: "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death; I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

So I think we can all guess what the godfather of football would make of Israel's stifling of Palestinians' attempts to enjoy the Beautiful Game. That the Zionist state has tried relentlessly to stop, at every turn, Palestinians trying to kick a ball is almost beyond comprehension; that, though, is more or less what Israel has done.

Most of the world has looked the other way while Israel has attempted to hijack and manipulate "our" Beautiful Game; this is nothing short of an outrage. It has used every trick in the book, from imprisoning Palestinian footballers to preventing them from travelling to matches and even banning games from taking place at all.

Trying to stop a game of football is like trying to stop people from taking oxygen; kicking a ball whether it's in a stadium or down a back street is one of the few undeniable rights of the poorest of the poor. No one knows this better than Nouredine Ouldali, who manages the Palestinian national football team, but he faces challenges not even the mighty Shanks could have comprehended. His players are frequently subjected to travel bans, unable to pass beyond Israeli military checkpoints whether they live in the occupied West Bank or the besieged Gaza Strip.

Imagine if Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi were apprehended on a match day by the authorities and prevented from playing because of nothing more than malicious spite? There would be rioting in the streets from Rio to Barcelona, Manchester to Madrid.

This, though, is the reality if you are talented enough to make the Palestinian national team. Last November one footballer was arrested for having a chat with a member of Hamas after playing an away game in Qatar. Unbelievably, Israel is spying on the lives of Palestinian footballers on and off the pitch.

Players in Gaza are prevented from training with the national side in the West Bank and it would be inconceivable for West Bank players to train with their teammates in Gaza because of Israel's intransigence. Israel even blocks essential imported sports equipment from reaching the players for whom it is intended.

As someone who has stood on the terraces and windswept sidelines to cheer on players whether they're top professionals or kids in a refugee camp, I would go so far as to say that Israel has no great love for the game. In what is supposed to be a democracy, the state authorities turn a blind eye to the extreme racism from the terraces directed at Arab and Muslim players.

The exasperated head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, has now filed a motion to suspend Israel from world football's governing body. FIFA's controversial President, Sepp Blatter, has been forced to intervene before a crucial conference on 29 May where the motion is on the agenda.

Suspending Israel from FIFA would bar its national team from prestigious international games, including the World Cup and the European Championship. Rajoub spoke to reporters in El-Bireh, at a soccer school named for Sepp Blatter and inaugurated in 2013. On display were large photographs of Israeli troops decked out in riot gear storming a Palestinian match. To his left were photos of the late Mohammed Al-Qatari, a Palestinian player who was killed with a single shot fired into his chest by an Israel sniper on 8 August last year. The promising young player was near his home in the Al-Amari refugee camp outside Ramallah when he was murdered.

It remains to be seen if Blatter will do the right – and courageous – thing by recommending that Israel be suspended. He has been shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah in an effort to find a compromise, while he is under fire himself for trying to win a fifth term as FIFA president.

He knows that for Israel to be suspended 75 per cent of FIFA's 209 members must vote in favour of the Palestinian motion. "If there is a vote," said Blatter, "there will be a lose-lose-lose situation for everybody." This was a reference to Israelis, Palestinians and the international community, all of whom will, he claims, be damaged by Israel's suspension from the football body. I disagree. His words are a thinly-veiled plea for the world to allow the disgraceful status quo to continue.

Naturally, Israel has reacted to the Palestinian motion with its usual trademark fury. "The thing that could destroy the football association is politicising it," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "You politicise it once with Israel, then you politicise it for everyone, and it will cause the deterioration of a great institution."

He has a nerve. Speaking as someone who has a passion for the game, I suggest that he has soiled and infected the Beautiful Game with his toxic policies against the Palestinians. For that, if nothing else, millions of football fans around the world who have a genuine love for the game will not forgive him.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair once described the Taliban as being "evil" because they would not allow children to fly kites in Afghanistan. The so-called Middle East Peace Envoy is silent about a state which, by his own yardstick, must also be evil because it wants to deny an entire nation the joys and passion that football provides. Blair's silence speaks volumes.

I think we all know what the great man Shanks would say. "The trouble with referees," he once opined, "is that they know the rules, but they don't know the game." And that is exactly the problem with those who think that they can meddle with and manipulate the world's greatest sport to serve their own selfish interests, whether for financial gain or out of pure, self-serving, Zionist spite.

Suspending Israel is the right thing to do if justice is to prevail and Palestinians are to be allowed to play a full role within the international football community. However, it remains to be seen if the usually spineless, craven, corrupt officials who are part of FIFA take this seriously and act courageously against the Israelis. FIFA, its credibility hanging by a thread, has already sold out to private interests from the uber-rich and dodgy merchants who want to catch some of the prestige and stardust that falls from football's world stage.

They need to be reminded that stardust comes from the very essence of the game, from the street kids who can play out their dreams for a few hours kicking a ball around a makeshift pitch, to those of us long-suffering fans who cheer, sigh and despair through the rollercoaster seasons our clubs put us through. Football will certainly never belong to the likes of the Old Boys' club that is FIFA or the toxic politicians like Benjamin Netanyahu who think that they can deny the simplest of joys to dispossessed kids.

The Beautiful Game does not belong to FIFA and it will certainly never, ever belong to murderous killjoys like the Israeli prime minister. The game is not theirs; it belongs to you and me and the street kids; and the refugees and those who dare to dream.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Yvonne Ridley) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 17:24:54 +0000
Netanyahu’s government and Palestinian options https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/18775-netanyahus-government-and-palestinian-options https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/18775-netanyahus-government-and-palestinian-options Benjamin Netanyahu

Political analysts agree that Netanyahu's fourth government, with all of its partisan formations and political range, is the most right-wing in Israel since its creation 67 years ago. It is a settler government, which quashes any delusions about the potential for a resumption of the political process with the Palestinians.

Accordingly, there are many questions about the options available to the Palestinians when faced with the expected regular "no" from the Israeli prime minister. The make-up of the government is a reflection of his commitment to the promises he made to the radical right-wing parties, such as the Jewish Home Party led by Naftali Bennett, and the settlers' leaders in the West Bank, during the March election campaign.

Government composition

Netanyahu refused to form an extended national unity government with the Zionist camp that came second in the election with 24 seats in the Knesset; that was a coalition between Isaac Herzog's Labour Party and the Hatnuah Party, led by former Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni. Instead, he formed a new coalition government to join with his own Likud Party (with 30 seats); the right-wing Jewish Home Party (8 seats); the Sephardic Jewish party Shas (7 seats); the Haredi Jews' United Torah Judaism Party (Yahadut Hatorah, 6 seats); and the centrist offshoot from Likud, the Kulanu Party (10 seats).

The financial portfolio was given to the Kulanu Party's Moshe Kahlon, who is a former member of Likud. Bennett was given the education portfolio, which means that religious and nationalist ideas will be further ingrained within the educational curriculum across Israel.

Ayelet Shaked was appointed Minister of Justice and head of the Ministerial Legislative Committee, which means that there is a strong chance that extremist anti-Palestinian laws may be passed in the near future. This also means the that scales will be tipped in favour of those who want to see the Supreme Court weakened, thus reducing civil freedoms, as the appointment of Supreme Court judges is the sole task of the minister of justice.

Jewish Home was also granted the position of Deputy Minister of Security and the agricultural portfolio, both of which were assigned to the extremist settler Uri Ariel, who advocates the construction of a temple in place of Al-Aqsa Mosque. This ministry includes the "settlement unit" which means that Israel's illegal Jewish settlements will receive additional support and probably guarantees the displacement of the Arab Bedouins in the Negev.

The ultra-conservative Sephardic Jews' Shas Party has been given the religion, economy, Negev and Galilee portfolios, while the United Torah Judaism Party received the Ministry of Health and the leadership of the Finance Committee in the Knesset. All of the other ministries, including foreign affairs, security, the interior and so on remain in the hands of Likud.

Moshe Ya'alon kept his position as Minister of Security, while Netanyahu is expected to remain in his position as Minister of Foreign Affairs, acting as a bargaining chip to add new partners to his government in the future. He has also held on to the ministry of information, to which he had previously declared his commitment. It seems that he is seeking to tighten his grip on the media outlets, contain them and neutralise those behind the opposition, such as Channel 10 television.

Many observers believe that Netanyahu's government is too weak to last very long. They also think that the government will be at the mercy of being blackmailed because its Knesset majority is no guarantee of stability. It won't take many MKs to stray off message to upset the balance of power.

Effects on the Palestinians

All Palestinians across the political spectrum agree that the formation of the latest Netanyahu government holds out little hope for a peace agreement or revival of negotiations. Instead, it is expected to lead to further violations, settlement expansion and the escalation of violence against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip and occupied Jerusalem.

The extreme right make-up of the government sends a message to the Palestinians that the doors to peace and a political solution are closing. It also signifies that the political process, in its old form, has ended permanently.

Local media outlets have noted that the Palestinian leadership is determined and insistent on the option of internationalising the Palestinian cause. Fatah Central Committee member Dr Nabil Shaath has said that the Palestinians' experience with successive Israeli governments has shown "the futility of any political process that is not based on the end of the occupation and does not change the status quo by means of negotiations and agreeing on a clear reference such as the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state." He also stressed that the Palestinians will not repeat the miserable negotiations experience.

Shaath pointed out that the experience also revealed that the US cannot be an honest mediator in any political process. Any new negotiations, he insisted, must take place under international auspices and be based on international involvement in ending the Israeli occupation within a specific timeframe. "Any future negotiations must address the next independence day," he added.

Speaking on the anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that a return to negotiations requires three conditions: "Freeze settlement construction in the West Bank; release Palestinians imprisoned in Israel since before the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s; and agree to hold negotiations lasting one year, by the end of which a timetable would be set to end the occupation by 2017."

Feasibility of internationalising the cause

Nearly 22 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, and a succession of Israeli governments, the futility of continuing the negotiations process with Israel has become apparent. In addition, it is clear that there is a need to take political and diplomatic action on a global level by signing-up to more international organisations and treaties, as well as to present the UN Security Council, once again, with the draft resolution to end the occupation. Efforts must also be made to prepare cases for the International Criminal Court, which includes condemning Israel's policies regarding the continuous violence against the Gaza Strip and West Bank, as well as its settlement activities in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Such condemnation of Israeli policies and practices must also include the case of the Palestinian prisoners, who make up 17 per cent of the total population in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In order to internationalise the Palestinian cause successfully, there must be a genuine political will to unite the Palestinian ranks by activating a genuine reconciliation between Fatah, Hamas and the other political forces. There must be agreement on a clear political programme to combat the policies that will be adopted by Netanyahu's government. Such actions would enhance and strengthen the Palestinian position by collecting and using national capabilities and efforts.

A priority must be the rejection of the principle of negotiating with the Israelis after the long and miserable experience of fruitless talks. It would perhaps be more useful, after a proper reconciliation, to raise the bar on Palestinian political discourse so that it includes demands to dismantle settlements and deport settlers, not to mention the removal of the Separation Wall, which is arguably the largest colonial occupation landmark since the Israeli colonisation of the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, started in 1967.

We must hasten to achieve Palestinian reconciliation in order to benefit from the shift of public opinion in many countries in favour of Palestinian rights, and to mobilise the different Palestinian capabilities to confront Israel's highly probable next attack on the Gaza Strip.

Translated from Al Jazeera net, 20 May, 2015.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Nabil Al-Sahli) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 15:23:06 +0000
Hamas surprised at Fatah accusation of negotiating with Israel https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18774-hamas-surprised-at-fatah-accusation-of-negotiating-with-israel https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18774-hamas-surprised-at-fatah-accusation-of-negotiating-with-israel Hamas - Islamic Resistance Movement

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement has expressed its surprise at the "attack" launched by a number of Fatah's leaders, journalists and officials, in which they accuse Hamas of holding direct negotiations with Israel.

In exclusive statements to Quds Press, senior Hamas member Dr Salah Bardawil said that it is strange that such an attack has come from Fatah, which has adopted the principle of negotiations itself. "It is strange because Fatah defends direct negotiations with the Israeli occupation in every way," he said. "Indeed, it has had around a quarter of a century of negotiations with the occupation, and is still going through the worst kinds of discussions over security coordination."

Bardawil accused Fatah of "relinquishing all national values and principles" after it has "merged" its forces and activities with the Zionists. "Not only that," he continued, "but it has arrested, in coordination with the Israelis, Hamas leaders and supporters, so we are surprised that Fatah's leaders and journalists dare to criticise an act or behaviour in which they are deeply immersed themselves." He declined to comment on whether there are really direct negotiations between Hamas and Israel taking place.

The Hamas official made his comments after Fatah demanded that such "absurd" negotiations should stop immediately. It accused Hamas of violating serious national interests and contributing towards Israel achieving its own strategic interest that aims, essentially, to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and thus damage Palestinian representation.

"The only entity which is officially, popularly and legally authorised to conduct negotiations, discontinue them or conclude agreements of any kind is the PLO," claimed Fatah spokesman Osama El-Qawasmi. "It has the legal and legitimacy-based mandate and is recognised internationally. No faction has the right to conduct negotiations with Israel alone."

Hamas has faced three major Israeli offensives since 2008, in addition to a siege that has been in place on Gaza for the past eight years. It has refused to change its position on the Oslo Accords although Fatah has made that a condition for Hamas to join the PLO. The Islamic movement remains opposed to all such demands and reiterated its adherence to the principle of resistance as a strategic option that it believes will lead to the end of the Israeli occupation of occupied Palestinian land.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 14:43:55 +0000
The Mulberry House: ordinary family life in the midst of a revolution https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/film-review/18773-the-mulberry-house-ordinary-family-life-in-the-midst-of-a-revolution https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/film-review/18773-the-mulberry-house-ordinary-family-life-in-the-midst-of-a-revolution The Mulberry House film series

The Mulberry House, which was screened over the weekend as part of the Barbican's "I/Eye in Conflict" film series, is an intimate account of daily life for the film maker Sara Ishaq's family during a tumultuous time in their immediate surroundings. It is 2011 in Sana'a, Yemen and protestors have poured onto the streets to demand an end to the 33 year regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's now ex-president. Sara films the everyday activities of the household during these tense and testing days, capturing ordinary family life as political turmoil and revolution slowly seeps into it.

The documentary is also a personal memoir of return. After Sara's parent's divorce, her Scottish mother moves back to Scotland and she remains in Yemen with her father. As a teenager, Sara becomes disillusioned with the life Yemen has to offer her and decides to join her mother in Scotland. Ten years later, she returns to Yemen armed with a camera and a plan to document her aging grandfather for a university project. Sara's arrival happens to coincide with the uprising in Yemen and through her engagement with the events, her return to Yemen becomes not just a visit but a return and reconnection to her Yemeni roots.

Her transition from an outsider into an active participant of the family and the Yemeni struggle is reflected in the documentary. During early scenes, Sara remains out of the camera's view, gradually becoming more visible as she becomes more involved with what is happening around her. Speaking at a Q + A session following the screening, she said: "In the beginning I was very, very distant ...I tried to observe them (her family) as subjects that I wasn't that directly linked to." She added: "As I moved though my footage I realised I was becoming more and more part of it......it almost reflected my connection with Yemen also....My reluctance subsided and I suddenly felt like I was carried away."

Sara's father and grandfather are central figures in the documentary. At first, her efforts to document the events are greeted with anxiety by both. They seem much more interested in Sara following one of the more traditional routes for Yemeni woman. Her father says: "One of the revolution's achievements will be that Sara finds a husband." As the documentary progresses, perhaps reflecting the change in Yemeni social fabric as a result of the uprising, anxiety is replaced by pride. The response she receives from all family members with regard to her constant filming also shifts- moving from something that makes them feel uncomfortable to an accepted part of everyday life. People begin to express themselves more openly and we watch as the household becomes infected with the revolutionary zeal of the protestors, drawing in all generations.

As Yemen's revolution was far less publicized than the other uprisings in the Arab Spring, it would have been beneficial to the audience to have a little more background on the events covered in The Mulberry Tree. At times it also feels like the director focuses too much on her father's recognition of her achievements- it begins to appear slightly ego-centric and obscures some of the key moments in the documentary. However, Sara gives us a rare glimpse into ordinary family life at a crucial point in Yemen's history. The conversations and interactions she records between family members touch on the seriousness of the situation outside but are peppered with love, humour and familial warmth in a way that somehow manages to close the gap between Yemen and the audience. The way she shoots the documentary works to emphasise this intimacy.

The film ends with Sara's return to Yemen sometime after Saleh has been overthrown. Sadly, we see that the hopes for the uprising have not been realised. This disappointment feels particularly poignant given the current situation in Yemen- a Saudi-led coalition has been bombing areas which have been captured by the Houthi rebel group over the past year.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Jessica Purkiss) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 14:33:33 +0000
US, Israel duplicity over the Iran nuclear deal https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/18772-us-israel-duplicity-over-the-iran-nuclear-deal https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/18772-us-israel-duplicity-over-the-iran-nuclear-deal Iran’s Arak Nuclear Facility site.  [File photo]

As the US intensifies its efforts to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran, it is also seeking to appease Israel by promising further military assistance to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government in return for a retreat from the vociferous opposition to the framework.

According to the Times of Israel, Israel and the US are holding preliminary discussions for a "compensation package" that would include an increase in the number of F-35 fighter jets supplied by the US to Israel, as well as additional batteries for the Iron Dome, assistance for the Arrow 3 missile system and the purchasing of technology for intelligence gathering.

Last Sunday, Netanyahu declared: "It is both necessary and possible to achieve a better deal because extremists cannot be allowed to achieve their aims, not in Iran, not in Yemen and not in Jerusalem."

Netanyahu's incessant laments regarding Iran and the alleged development of nuclear weapons has, by now, become synonymous with Israel's penchant for accumulating further military assistance from the US. Analysed through this framework, the nuclear deal with Iran can also be perceived as an effort to maintain Israel's colonial project in Palestine. One of the earlier ludicrous requests by Netanyahu was to include within the agreement that Iran recognises Israel's right to exist – a stance that Iran has consistently repudiated at an international level and supplemented through facts such as financially supporting resistance movements in Palestine. Israel, therefore, is seeking to maintain its status as a colonial power by imposing its existence upon the forthcoming deal. However, the quest for recognition proved to be a mere prologue to the discussions that are currently unfolding between the settler-colonial state and its imperialist ally.

Netanyahu's silence, therefore, contains resonance of a high degree. As Palestinians in Gaza struggle with the permanent displacement authored by Israel during Operation Protective Edge last summer, Netanyahu is seeking to hasten yet another colonial massacre on the enclave – partially bolstered by further forthcoming military assistance from the US and, while still in its hypothetical stages, craftily secluded from scrutiny through excessive rhetoric about the Iran nuclear deal. Various reports in Israeli media have now discussed a forthcoming invasion of Gaza – the earliest having been mentioned mere weeks following the Egypt-brokered ceasefire.

Therefore, as Iran navigates its political terrain with skill – negotiating with the US on a nuclear agreement while maintaining its commitment to the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle, Israel avails itself of yet another diplomatic issue for its own expansionist gains which ultimately benefit US interference in the region.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has once again stipulated conditions regarding the agreement. "We have already said that we will not allow any inspection of military sites by foreigners." Referring to the US as the "insolent enemy," Khamenei added: "They also say that we must allow interviews with nuclear scientists. This is interrogation. I will not allow foreigners to come and talk to scientists who have advanced the science to this level."

Meanwhile, Israel is also partnering with India to develop medium-range surface-to-air missiles for the Indian army – a continuation of the 1999 defence cooperation signed between both countries. However, the hype about Iran has created the perfect camouflage for Israel and international complicity in maintaining the exploitation and massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ramona Wadi) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 14:14:34 +0000
Erdogan: To me, Morsi is Egypt’s president https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18771-erdogan-to-me-morsi-is-egypts-president https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18771-erdogan-to-me-morsi-is-egypts-president File photo of an Egyptian soldier holding Mohamed Morsi's poster.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that to him the Egyptian President is Mohamed Morsi not Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi.

This came in a press conference with the chairman of three-member Bosnian Presidential Council Mladen Ivanic following a meeting with the council's members in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

During the meeting, Erdogan expressed his dismay at the decision of the Egyptian judiciary to sentence Morsi and others, including Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members, to death. The court referred the defendants to the Grand Mufti for consultation as per Egyptian law.

Erdogan criticised the West for its silence following the announcement of the sentences. "If executions are banned in the European Union, so why do we not hear your voice, EU countries? Why do you not talk? They issue statements that do not have any meaning," he said.

Last Saturday, the Cairo Criminal Court ordered the referral of Morsi's papers to the Grand Mufti along with 121 others from a total of 166 defendants in the cases of jail break and espionage. The court set 2 June as a date for a final verdict.

On his part, Bosnian President Mladen Ivanic denied the existence of any disagreements with Turkey, saying that the security institutions in both countries are cooperating to deal with the issue of foreign fighters who join militants in Syria and Iraq.

He stressed that the two countries are in agreement with regard to their joint combat of terrorism. Ivanic stressed that Turkey is an important partner for his country regarding foreign fighters. "There is good cooperation between the security agencies of both countries, and we are pleased about that," he said.

The Turkish president arrived in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo yesterday on an official one-day visit.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 14:05:45 +0000
El-Baradei: Egyptian regime abandoned plan for power transition on 30 June https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18770-el-baradei-egyptian-regime-abandoned-plan-for-power-transition-on-30-june https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18770-el-baradei-egyptian-regime-abandoned-plan-for-power-transition-on-30-june Mohamed El-Baradei

Egypt's former presidential candidate, Mohamed El-Baradei, said the Egyptian authorities ignored a roadmap put forward by national forces that guaranteed the peaceful transition of power on 30 June 2013.

Speaking at a European Union conference in Florence, Italy, last week, El-Baradei said the plan included five conditions: to hold early presidential elections, provide a decent exit for President Mohamed Morsi, designing an inclusive political system for the country, start a national reconciliation and dialogue process and to resolve sit-ins peacefully.

However, El-Baradei pointed out that the Egyptian authorities ignored the roadmap and resorted to violence to oust Morsi and bring an end to the sit-ins.

"When violence is used instead of dialogue and the concept of justice is missed, there is no place for someone like me," El-Baradei said.

Political supporters of the Egyptian regime rejected El-Baradei's remarks considering them "irrelevant" while others demanded he be tried.

A leader of the Constitution Party, co-founded by El-Baradei, Khalid Metwally confirmed E-lBaradei's claims saying his resignation is clear proof that he opposed the regime's practices at the time.

Metwally said violating the roadmap led Egypt into this state of division where terror prevails.

"Until today, there is no parliament, because the president wishes to monopolise power for as long as possible to issue more legislations that serve his regime," he said.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 13:43:51 +0000
Israel approves 90 new settlement units in East Jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18769-israel-approves-90-new-settlement-units-in-east-jerusalem https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18769-israel-approves-90-new-settlement-units-in-east-jerusalem Israeli illegal settlements.

Israeli District Planning and Construction Committee in Jerusalem yesterday approved the construction of 90 new settlement units in the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Homa, built on Mount Abu Ghanem, in occupied East Jerusalem, Falesteen newspaper reported.

"The Municipality of Jerusalem decided to resume building in the settlement east of the Green Line [East Jerusalem]," a member of the committee from the Israeli Meretz party said.

He added: "The government continues settlement construction, mainly in Har Homa, despite the fact that it recognises the harm this will cause for Israel's international relations."

"This means that the government is heading towards conflict and tensions instead of heading towards a political solution that ends the conflict."

The approval comes in the wake of EU Middle East Envoy Fredrica Mogherini's visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 11:59:47 +0000
UN insists PA and Israel must prevent Gaza collapse https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/18768-un-insists-pa-and-israel-must-prevent-gaza-collapse https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/18768-un-insists-pa-and-israel-must-prevent-gaza-collapse UN flag

The UN envoy to the Middle East, Nikolay Mladenov, said on Tuesday that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority must work to prevent the collapse of the besieged Gaza Strip.

"There is a clear moral and humanitarian imperative not just for the United Nations and the international community, but primarily for the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to prevent the implosion of Gaza," Mladenov told the UN Security Council. "Gaza is desperate and angry."

The envoy called on Israel to freeze settlement activity and urged the new government to reverse decisions on three recent tenders for new construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.

He added that he and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be engaging the new government to explore realistic options for a return to meaningful negotiations towards a two-state solution "within a reasonable timeframe".

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 11:55:05 +0000
Israel rejects Swiss court ruling to pay $1bn oil debt to Iran https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18767-israel-rejects-swiss-court-ruling-to-pay-1bn-oil-debt-to-iran https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18767-israel-rejects-swiss-court-ruling-to-pay-1bn-oil-debt-to-iran Oil tanker

Israel announced on Wednesday that it rejects a Swiss court ruling to pay $1.1 billion to Iran over the sale and shipment of oil prior to the Iranian revolution in 1979.

"Without referring to the matter at hand," said the Israeli ministry of finance, "we'll note that according to the Trading with the Enemy Act it is forbidden to transfer money to the enemy, including the Iranian national oil company."

Israeli media quoted the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, which cited an "informed source" within Tehran's Presidential Centre for Legal Affairs giving details of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court ruling with regard to a "joint oil venture". Iran has been embroiled in a legal battle against Israel in courts in Switzerland and France, demanding that it should pay the debt.

The argument dates back to a 1968 agreement between Israel and the Shah's government. The Iranian Oil Company delivered 14.75m cubic metres of crude oil through the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline to Israel's Trans-Asiatic Oil Company valued at $450m.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 11:40:47 +0000
Norway: Morsi’s death sentence ‘unacceptable’ https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18766-norway-morsis-death-sentence-unacceptable https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18766-norway-morsis-death-sentence-unacceptable Norwegian foreign minister, Borge Brende

Norway yesterday said the death sentence handed down against ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders was "unacceptable".

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said in a statement: "It is unacceptable that more than 100 people, including former President Morsi, have been condemned to death in a summary trial."

"Norway has made it clear that we oppose the practice of holding mass trials that fail to comply with Egypt's international obligations."

"I expect all those accused to be given the opportunity of a fair appeal hearing and the question of guilt to be decided on an individual basis," he added.

The Norwegian minister said that his country expects Egypt to establish a fair system that provides convicts with the right to defend themselves.

Brende urged the Egyptian authorities to ensure the independence of the judiciary, saying that courts must safeguard "the right of the accused to a fair trial in accordance with international standards".

On Saturday, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Morsi and over 100 Muslim Brotherhood members, leaders and supporters to death over charges of espionage and mass jailbreak in 2011.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 11:29:09 +0000
What annoys Al-Sisi about Hassan Salameh? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/18765-what-annoys-al-sisi-about-hassan-salameh https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/18765-what-annoys-al-sisi-about-hassan-salameh Saleh Al-NaamiAbdel Fattah Al-Sisi knows full well that Hassan Salameh, one of the most prominent leaders of the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, has been in an Israeli prison for 19 years. He is also aware that his decision to involve Hassan Salameh in the prison-break case and sentence him to death would be another rarity and an occasion highlighting the sadness and chaos occurring in "Umm al-Dunya" since he seized power. However, Al-Sisi has decided to disregard public opinion in Egypt and the Arab world in favour of pleasing those he believes will help him reinforce the foundations of his government. The sentencing to death in absentia of Hassan Salameh is a message to Israel's leaders that they were right to count on Al-Sisi and that he is providing them with the goods.

Salameh has become a legend in his own lifetime after managing in the mid-nineties, while still a young man, to storm the Israeli security system. After sneaking into the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, he established military cells and gave the illegal settlers in the West Bank hell. He planned and supervised the retaliation for Israel's assassination of Yahya Ayyash in early 1996. These operations killed dozens of Israeli soldiers and settlers and wounded hundreds more. The operations led by Salameh resulted in an unprecedented effect on the sense of personal security among Israelis and escalated the crisis of trust between the government in Tel Aviv and the general public, leading to the fall of the Shimon Peres government in that year's election.

The former Chairman of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Dan Gillerman, said that Hassan Salameh contributed, more than any other individual, to deterring foreign investors from coming to Israel. Statistics have also indicated that his operations resulted in the increase of reverse immigration from Israel. In condemning him to 48 life sentences, the Israeli military judge said that the hostility Hassan Salameh has in his heart towards Israel that influenced him to harm the Zionist project is unimaginable.

As such, Al-Sisi's purpose behind accusing Hassan Salameh and the other Al-Qassam Brigades men, most of whom are martyrs, of storming the Egyptian prison during the 2011 revolution, was to reassure Israel's leaders that they should continue investing in supporting him. It is worth noting that that is how many circles in Israel interpret Al-Sisi's hostile behaviour towards Hamas.

Zionist orientalist Dr Reuven Berko believes that by being openly hostile towards Hamas, Al-Sisi wants to reassure Israel and the West that he can be counted on in the confrontation with "Islamic terrorism". (Israel HaYom 27 June, 2014). Even the Zionist commentators most enthusiastic about Al-Sisi's government who addressed its accusations against Hamas have stressed that this does not reflect reality. Al-Sisi does not need to use such a farce to convince the Zionist leadership and Tel Aviv's elite of the benefits of counting on him. Nor does he need to reiterate the message sent by Israeli diplomat Ruth Landau to Al-Sisi, published by Yedioth Ahranoth newspaper in October last year, under the heading, "Walk, Al-Sisi, and the Israeli people will walk behind you". In this message, Landau stressed that one of Al-Sisi's most important contributions in supporting Israel's national security is the role he plays in containing and besieging the Palestinian resistance.

Anyone following up on the internal Israeli conflicts would notice that the right-wing Zionist elites, who are the most discriminatory, are also the most enthusiastic about supporting Al-Sisi's government. There is a very long list of Al-Sisi supporters, including the Likud Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, who leads campaigns to desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque.

What most reinforces the Israeli realisation of the magnitude of the achievements of the coup in Egypt is the fact that Al-Sisi, unlike Hosni Mubarak, does not hesitate to acknowledge that his security policies serve Israel's purposes. Al-Sisi has said many times that the deployment of Egyptian forces in Sinai is intended to improve the security situation in Israel. This led Zionist commentator Amir Tefon, who has conducted a series of investigations into Egypt-Israel relations, to conclude that Al-Sisi's era is considered to be their golden age.

It is worth bringing attention to the fact that official Israel's keenness on Al-Sisi has reached the point where the Tel Aviv elites avoid admitting the close relations between the Egyptian president and Benjamin Netanyahu in case it creates problems for the regime in Cairo. When Al-Sisi admitted in a recent interview with the Washington Post that he talks "a lot" to Netanyahu, the latter's office refused to comment. Also, when Ayelet Shahar, the political correspondent for Israel's Army Radio, cited sources in Netanyahu's office in her confirmation of Al-Sisi offering Netanyahu a Palestinian state in northern Sinai and that there was no need to evacuate the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, his office immediately denied the story; it was, however, also confirmed by Naftali Bennett.

However, there are a few people in Israel who warn against the dangers of Al-Sisi's enthusiasm to help Israel in its war against the Palestinian resistance and who believe that his behaviour will lead to counterproductive results. For example, military commentator Amir Aron believes that Al-Sisi's position during the brutal Israeli war on Gaza last year actually harmed Israel, because his intense hatred of Hamas made him stall the process of reaching an agreement to end the war. This prolonged the war in a manner that harmed Israel (Haaretz 3 February 2015).

In short, Al-Sisi is taking this position against Hassan Salameh and the others because he realises that they represent all that is the exact opposite of himself; they are everything that he isn't, and he resents that.

Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadid, 20 May, 2015.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Saleh Al-Naami) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 11:20:20 +0000
Morsi to leave to Turkey with Saudi mediation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18764-morsi-to-leave-to-turkey-with-saudi-mediation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/18764-morsi-to-leave-to-turkey-with-saudi-mediation Turkish president, Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish newspaper Takvim reported that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to save ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi from the death penalty handed down to him over the weekend.

The newspaper reported that Erdogan, with Saudi and Qatari mediation, is seeking to move Morsi from Egypt to Turkey.

According to the newspaper, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi remains silent regarding the issue, but at the same time, he wants to get rid of Morsi.

It reported that Al-Sisi met with his Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehlib and Defence Minister Sedqi Subhi to discuss the issue. Mehlib suggested sending Morsi into exile because the country would face violent protests if he were put to death.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 11:13:19 +0000
Saudi Arabia pledges more than $110m for UNRWA https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18763-saudi-arabia-pledges-more-than-110-for-unrwa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18763-saudi-arabia-pledges-more-than-110-for-unrwa Flag of Saudi Arabia

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said on Wednesday that it has signed several agreements with Saudi Arabia in Amman, Quds Press has reported. The deals are worth $111.5 million for UNRWA projects, including $10 million especially for Palestinian refugees affected by the current conflict in Syria, whether they are still in the country or in Lebanon or Jordan.

UNRWA explained that $15 million has been allocated for the reconstruction of the Palestinian Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp in north Lebanon; the camp was destroyed by the Lebanese army in 2007. Reconstruction has been painfully slow due to the lack of adequate funding.

The UN agency added that $74 million will help to reconstruct recently damaged homes, education institutions and health provision in Gaza, with a further $12.5 million going towards the rehabilitation of a number of schools and houses in the occupied West Bank.

These donations, said UNRWA, raises the amount given by Saudi Arabia to the agency to around $500 million since 1994. It is now the third biggest donor to UNRWA for the second year running.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 10:57:13 +0000
Screening: 5 Broken Cameras with Director Q&A https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/palestine-events/18762-screening-5-broken-cameras-with-director-qaa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/palestine-events/18762-screening-5-broken-cameras-with-director-qaa Five Broken CamerasThe International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) is very excited to announce it will hosting a screening of 5 Broken Cameras and a Question and Answer Session with Emad Burnat (Director, '5 Broken Cameras')

on Tuesday 2nd June 2015 at 18.00
Arts 2 Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London
Mile End Road, London E1 4NS

Documentary overview: The documentary is a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil'in, a West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. Shot by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, Gibreel, the film was co-directed by Burnat and Guy Davidi, an Israeli filmmaker. Structured in chapters around the destruction of each one of Burnat's cameras, the filmmakers' collaboration follows one family's evolution over five years of village upheaval. As the years pass in front of the camera, we witness Gibreel grow from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him with the astute powers of perception that only children possess. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify and lives are lost in this cinematic diary and unparalleled record of life in the West Bank.

Tickets to this event are limited. To register, please sign-up by clicking here

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 02 Jun 2015 17:00:00 +0000
Three-day public hospital strike in Tunis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18761-three-day-public-hospital-strike-in-tunis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18761-three-day-public-hospital-strike-in-tunis docter examining a patient

Staff in all public hospitals in Tunisia are taking part in a three-day strike which started on Wednesday, Quds Press reports. A health ministry official said that it had failed to reach an agreement with the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) to postpone the industrial action.

UGTT called for the strike in protest at the government's "negligence" over previous agreements on employees' rights.

The ministry expressed its concern about the "disorder" that will affect healthcare provision in the country. In a statement issued on Tuesday, it said that it would exert all efforts to continue offering urgent services with cooperation from various parties.

Meanwhile, officials called for full respect for work freedom, noting that the ministry accepts union activities guaranteed by the Tunisian Constitution.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 10:30:46 +0000
US sells Israel bombs in $1.8bn arms deal https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/18760-us-sells-israel-bombs-in-18bn-arms-deal https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/18760-us-sells-israel-bombs-in-18bn-arms-deal Hellfire Missile

US Defence Department approved a deal to supply Israel with $1.8 billion worth of precision guided munitions and bombs, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported yesterday.

According to the paper, the Pentagon said that the deal, which was announced yesterday, includes 14,500 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), an arms system attached to bombs that enables precision targeting with GPS intended for fighter jets.

In addition, Haaretz said, the deal includes 8,000 bombs (of the types MK-82 and MK-83) suitable for JDAM. The air force will also receive 50 bunker busting bombs, effective up to six metres, as well as over 4,000 small bombs, weighing 110 kilogrammes each.

The Israeli air force will also receive 3,000 Hellfire missiles, which are fired from Apache helicopters.

"These munitions will enable Israel to maintain operational capability of its existing systems and will enhance Israel's interoperability with the United States," Haaretz reported a Pentagon statement as saying.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 09:42:52 +0000
Palestinians: ‘Conditions not ready for a peace match with the Israelis’ https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18759-palestinians-conditions-not-ready-for-a-peace-match-with-the-israelis https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18759-palestinians-conditions-not-ready-for-a-peace-match-with-the-israelis palestinian footballers

Head of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) Jibril Rajoub yesterday refused a proposal by the FIFA President Sepp Blatter to hold a "peace match" between Israelis and Palestinians.

Speaking in a press conference in the Palestinian West Bank city of Al-Bireh, near Ramallah, Blatter said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had welcomed his proposal but Rajoub said the conditions were not yet ready for such a game.

"It is a creative idea, I like it," Rajoub told Blatter, "but we have to pave the road for that, we have to prepare the environment. This should be an end game, this should be a purpose for you and I urge you not to give up."

Meanwhile, Blatter failed to persuade the Palestinian side to cancel the application to the FIFA congress demanding the suspension of Israeli membership over its continuous violations against the Palestinians and Palestinian sport.

AFP said that the aim of Blatter's visit was to cancel this application. "Blatter himself flew into the region on Tuesday on a mission to resolve the dispute," AFP reported.

Palestinians complain about the Israeli restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinian players and football officials. In addition, they protest the existence of five Israeli teams in illegal settlements built on occupied Palestinian lands.

Blatter met Netanyahu in Jerusalem, where he proposed the "peace match". Then, he met with the Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and took part in the inauguration of five Palestinian stadiums in the West Bank jointly with Rajoub.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 09:33:48 +0000
The Palestinians between reconciliation and national unity https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/18758-the-palestinians-between-reconciliation-and-national-unity https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/18758-the-palestinians-between-reconciliation-and-national-unity Abdul Sattar Qassem

All Palestinians, on every level and front, are concerned with the issue of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. A lot is focused on the search for this elusive concord.

Many Arab states and Palestinian domestic parties have tried to mediate a reconciliation agreement in an effort to end this devastating division affecting the people of Palestine; there has not been much success. In fact, every time that such an agreement is signed, something happens to disappoint the people. They used to rejoice at the announcement of every such agreement between the various factions but their joy and celebration was short-lived because the parties would often go against the document that they had just signed.

The Palestinians have suffered from the conduct of these factions and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for many years. For this reason, much of the trust that was placed in leaders has been lost; many believe that these leaders are only concerned in advancing their own agendas at the expense of the Palestinian cause.

This is a destructive situation because a loss of trust means a loss of the ability to develop strategies that will elevate the status and the prestige of the cause. The loss of trust means the deterioration of basic values in society, namely teamwork and mutual cooperation; ultimately, this means the inability to face challenges. The Palestinian issue is a big issue, and there are many strong players, but if the Palestinian people themselves become weak then that will open the door to many outside interventions.

It will very difficult for the two main Palestinian factions to reach a reconciliation agreement for many reasons, among them the security coordination that is taking place between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation, which forces PA security agencies to ensure Israel's security. This has been the sticking point for several reconciliation efforts.

Even if a true reconciliation is ever achieved, though, this would in no way mean that the internal civil strife among the Palestinians would also come to an end because many relationships are fragile. In short, any reconciliation agreement reached between Fatah and Hamas can easily be spoiled because neither party can control its behaviour towards the other.

Ultimately the Palestinians are not in dire need of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, per se, because we have seen previously how factions can fight each other with weapons in Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. Despite all of this, the Palestinian journey has continued.

What existed instead of long-term divisions between Palestinians in the past was their focus on national unity even as we grow further and further away from the very idea of it; reconciliation remains the most prominent headline in the search for internal Palestinian cohesion.

National unity transcends disagreements between factions and it is possible to develop standards on the level of the PLO that would mandate the faction's acceptance of the other so as not to destroy national unity. Moreover, it is not logical that a Palestinian citizen would be willing to listen to so many political and media statements emerging from various factions about reconciliation without seeing serious interest in the issue of national unity.

Are people interested in the unity of Palestinians wherever they are, and the unity of their factions, or are they interested only in reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas? If the nation is to unite domestically and abroad, it has no option but to write a single Palestinian charter that acts as a compass for different political, cultural, intellectual activism that fights for the return of their rights.

A charter, or constitution, is considered by countries to be an expression of how the nation sees its future, strategies and goals, and the tools that can be used to reach those goals. It is difficult for a country or people to develop a vision of the future without developing a charter or constitution, unless they have cultural norms and practices that over time have become moral values that people, political parties and rulers commit to.

The Palestinian people abandoned their charter in 1996 when the PLO decided to repeal a number of the terms outlined in the national charter and amend other terms in a manner that rendered them null. This left the Palestinian people without a compass to guide them. How can the nation search for freedom or make its way without a constitution that directs its actions and attempts to retrieve set national rights, when it still suffers from expulsion, occupation and repression?

The Palestinians do not have a tradition of creating a system of values that brings people together, with parties around them. It is difficult to judge the behaviour of anyone without the existence of a system of values represented in a Palestinian national charter upon which everyone agrees.

It is unfortunate that the Palestinian factions do not discuss the necessity of creating a charter that can be presented to the factions and the public for discussion, and instead, as mentioned above, care only about the issue of reconciliation. National unity is far more important than national reconciliation, and unity cannot be achieved through an agreement, as an agreement is worthless if it does not bring about constitutional changes that can be followed by the people.

Translated from Arabi21, 19 May, 2015.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Abdul Sattar Qassem) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 09:22:07 +0000
Algerian lawmakers call on government to act against human rights violations in Egypt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18757-algerian-lawmakers-call-on-government-to-act-against-human-rights-violations-in-egypt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/18757-algerian-lawmakers-call-on-government-to-act-against-human-rights-violations-in-egypt ousted Egyptian President Mohamed MorsiAt least 53 lawmakers representing the five opposition parties in Algeria yesterday signed a statement calling on the government to reject "human rights violations" in Egypt in the wake of the mass death sentences handed down to ousted President Mohamed Morsi and more than 100 Muslim Brotherhood leaders, the Anadolu Agency reported.

The five parties; the Movement for Society for Peace, Ennahda, the Movement for National Reform, the Justice and Development Front and the National Building Movement, called on the Egyptian judiciary to be "fair and independent and not to desecrate its reputation by issuing political sentences".

On Saturday, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced ousted President Mohamed Morsi to death, along with 105 others, including senior Muslim Brotherhood members who were found guilty of planning mass prison-breaks in 2011.

The country's Grand Mufti must give his opinion on the court's decision before the sentences can be carried out.

The sentences can be appealed before higher courts.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Shatha) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 08:51:49 +0000
Iranian aid ship being probed in Djibouti https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18756-iranian-aid-ship-being-probed-in-djibouti https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/18756-iranian-aid-ship-being-probed-in-djibouti Damage left in Sanaa after clash between Houthi rebels and yemen militaryThe Iranian aid ship which was heading to Yemen with aid is sailing to Djibouti to be inspected by United Nations officials.

A semi-official Iranian news source reported yesterday that Iran Shahd, which is carrying humanitarian aid for the Yemeni people, will dock in Djibouti for inspection, and will then continue travelling to the Yemeni port of Hodaida.

The ship set off from Iran last Monday set to deliver 2,500 tonnes of food and medical supplies to Yemen.

The source said the ship is carrying 2,400 tonnes of food, including 1,200 tonnes of rice, 700 tonnes of flour, 400 tonnes of canned food, 50 tonnes of mineral water and about 100 tonnes of medical equipment and medicines.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Shatha) frontpage Thu, 21 May 2015 08:27:51 +0000