Occupied: Headlines From Palestine

Blogging From Gaza, Palestine

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PLO Official Visits Iran To Discuss Bilateral Relations

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday sent an envoy to Iran in an attempt to improve bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic.

Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, told Ma’an that the arrangements had been in place for some time and pre-dated recent talks in the country about the nuclear deal with the United States.
The PLO official met with Iranian Foreign MinisterMohammad Javad Zarif and agreed to set-up a “high-profile” joint committee to arrange consultations on political issues, and commercial and educational exchange.
The two officials also discussed possible Iranian support in efforts to implement political reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Majdalani said that the recent nuclear agreement with the United States could “lay the grounds for an international conference which could help clear the region from nuclear weapons, including Israel.”
An Iranian initiative to end the ongoing fighting in Syria was also discussed.
The PLO official’s visit comes amid media reports suggesting that Iran canceled a visit by a Hamas delegation.
The planned trip was reportedly canceled following a visit by Hamas chief-in-exile, Khaled Mashaal, to Saudi Arabia in July.

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PLO Should Retract Recognition Until Israel Reciprocates

JERICHO (Ma’an) — The PLO’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, on Thursday issued a 56-page report on Palestinian-Israeli relations, calling for a comprehensive review of the current status quo.

In a report entitled ‘Determining Palestinian-Israeli relations: Changing, not merely improving, the situation’ the PLO official recommends that the Palestinian leadership consider retracting its recognition of Israel until the Israeli government issues a reciprocal recognition of a Palestinian state.
The PLO, under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, recognized the State of Israel in 1988, a declaration never bestowed on Palestine by any Israeli administration.
The study recommended that the PA should reject any international call for recognizing Israel as a Jewish state — as it could further damage the treatment of its Palestinian citizens — and must not approve the deployment of Israeli forces along the Jordan Valley as part of any peace agreement.
The PLO must also reject any concessions to its sovereignty over East Jerusalem, he added.
While not calling explicitly for disbanding the PA, Erekat said that the authority’s power must extend beyond security coordination and salary distribution.
Erekat suggested that efforts be made for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to join the PLO’s Executive Committee and urged the PLO and Palestinian factions to support popular resistance and the boycott of Israeli settlement products.
The PLO official also recommended that the Palestinian leadership play a better role in assisting the Palestinian diaspora in Lebanon and Syria.

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PLO Rejects Netanyahu’s Proposal to Discuss Settlement Borders

RAMALLAH, May 26, 2015 (WAFA) – Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Tuesday slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to discuss the borders of settlement blocs as an attempt to legitimize illegal settlement construction and expansion in the West Bank and Jerusalem.


“The recent comment by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on the ‘two-state solution’ is nothing new. It’s a request to continue illegal settlement construction with Palestinian consent,” Erekat said in a press release.


“This looks like one state and two systems rather than two sovereign and democratic states,” he added. Erekat stressed that if Netanyahu wants to have meaningful negotiations, which would result in ending the occupation that began in 1967, he should recognize a Palestinian State on the 1967 border and honor Israel’s obligations including halting settlement construction and releasing Palestinian political prisoners.


Last week, Netanyahu told the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, that he wants to resume talks with the Palestinians, that are aimed at reaching an understanding on the borders of settlement blocs that Israel would annex under any peace agreement.


According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, an Israeli source briefed on Netanyahu’s meeting with Federica Mogherini last Wednesday said Netanyahu explained that in this way, Israel can get to know what parts of the West Bank Israel could continue building in.


To be noted, settlement activities in the West Bank and Jerusalem are illegal under international law.


The settler population in the West Bank is estimated at 531,000: in late 2012 the population of the West Bank settlements was 341,400; in late 2011 there were 190,423 individuals living in Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.


Israel has been approving the building of new housing units in settlements located in the Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, despite of international condemnations.


The Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice have all confirmed that the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements and other settlement-related activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are illegal under international law.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was previously quoted by media as stating that, “We will continue to build in Jerusalem. We will add thousands of residential units and withstand all the [international] pressure, as we continue to develop our eternal capital.”



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PLO’s Erekat: Netanyahu Paves Way to More Racism, Extremism

RAMALLAH, May 21, 2015 (WAFA) – Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat Wednesday said it was clear that the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heading towards more racism and extremism with regards to the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Erekat’s statement came following a meeting with the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, in Ramallah on Wednesday.


“It is clear through Netanyahu’s actions, comments, and remarks that Israel has paved a new wave of racist and extremist policies and is not a partner for peace,’ said Erekat.


Netanyahu informed Mogherinib of his support to a two state solution for two people, despite his last-minute rejection of the creation of a Palestinian state in an appeal to the right during the most recent election campaign as well as the ongoing approval of new illegal settlements and outposts.


“The new Israeli cabinet has shown its commitment to consolidate an Apartheid regime in occupied Palestine as well as to continue its incitement campaign against Palestinians, sending the message that Palestinian lives, history and culture don’t matter.”


Mogherini’s visit came on the heels of Israel’s announcement of further settlement construction in Beit Sahour through the construction of 90 units for the benefit of Har Homa illegal settlement as well as settlement activities in and around Occupied East Jerusalem, including the Ramat Shlomo settlement.


The move was in direct contravention of international law and Israel’s obligations under previous agreements, as well as an obstacle ahead of the international community’s commitment to facilitate peace.


A statement by the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department said Netanyahu brazenly expressed his disregard for the international community’s peace efforts by openly presenting Israel’s duplicity in the face of peace.


“While Netanyahu made his extremist, right-wing government’s position clear they have no desire for peace with the Palestinian people, the international community has become increasingly vague in regard to its position on the new Israel,” the statement said.


Erakat added, ‘The international community has allowed Israel to stall the prospects of a just and lasting peace for too long and has a responsibility to face Netanyahu’s hypocrisy head on, and not at the expense of the Palestinian people.


“We call on the international community to do nothing more than demand Israel fulfill its obligations under international law.’


Mogherini’s visit to Israel and Palestine was an attempt to prompt adherence to the two-State Solution and to ask both sides to fulfill their commitments to previous rounds of negotiations and agreements, including halting Israeli settlement expansion.



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Palestine Asks ICC To Set Fixed Date To Submit Lawsuits Against Israeli Occupation


The Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad Al-Maliki on Monday said that he asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to set a date for submitting the case files pertaining to the settlements and war crimes lawsuits against Israel to the court.

“I filed a request two days ago to the ICC to set a date so we can submit the case files of the settlements and Israel’s war crime lawsuits,” al-Maliki told Palestinian radio, according to videonews.us.

“We’re waiting for a date to be scheduled, and it might be in the middle of next month,” al-Maliki said, adding that he “will head to The Hague for this [submitting the case files] once a date is set”.

On April 1st, Palestine officially joined the ICC after The Hague-based tribunal approved its accession bid.

In January, Palestinians formally delivered the UN papers ratifying the Rome Statute – the legal document establishing the court – with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acting as “depository.”

The move came after an Arab draft resolution at the UN General Assembly seeking a deadline for ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories failed to win the nine votes needed to pass.

Shortly later, Abbas applied for Palestinian membership in 18 international treaties, including the Rome Statute.

The ICC was established in 1998 as a court of last resort to prosecute the most heinous offenses – such as war crimes and crimes against humanity – in cases where national court systems had failed.

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PLO: Vatican Accord With Palestine A Contribution To Justice

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The PLO praised the Vatican’s announcement Wednesday that it was preparing to sign its first accord with Palestine, viewing the upcoming signing of the agreement as a “genuine contribution to peace and justice.”
“The significance of this decision goes beyond the political and legal into the symbolic and moral domains, and sends a message to all people of conscience that the Palestinian people deserve the right to self-determination, formal recognition, freedom, and statehood,” PLO Executive Commitee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.
The agreement is in its final stages and will be submitted to authorities for approval, before being debated for official signing, the Vatican told AFP Wednesday.
While it will be the first time the Roman Catholic Church signs a treaty with the State of Palestine, the Vatican has recognized the state since February 2013.”The Holy See has identified the State of Palestine as such since the vote” by the UN general assembly to recognize it in November 2012, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP.”In its annual directory the Palestinian representative is referred to as the representative of the State of Palestine,” he said.
The Vatican’s announcement comes shortly after news came that Pope Francis will be canonizing two 19th century Palestinian nuns later this week.
PLO’s Ashrawi sees the upcoming canonization as giving the Vatican decision significant added meaning, pointing to the long-standing relationship between the Vatican and the Palestinians.
“It is an affirmation of Palestinian identity, culture and narrative in Palestine as the Holy Land,” Ashrawi added.
Israel immediately reacted with displeasure to the Vatican’s news.
“Israel heard with disappointment the decision of the Holy See to agree a final formulation of an agreement with the Palestinians including the use of the term ‘Palestinian State’,” an Israeli foreign ministry official said in an unsigned statement.”Such a development does not further the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct bilateral negotiations. Israel will study the agreement and consider its next step,” the official said.The agreement, 15 years in the making, may be signed this weekend during a visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican for the canonization of the two new Palestinian saints.It expresses the Vatican’s “hope for a solution to the Palestinian question and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians according to the Two-State Solution,” said Antoine Camilleri, the Holy See’s deputy foreign minister.In an interview with the Vatican’s Osservatore Romano newspaper, Camilleri said he hoped “the accord could, even in an indirect way, help the Palestinians in the establishment and recognition of an independent, sovereign and democratic State of Palestine.”The Vatican’s position was seen by the PLO as a “de facto” recognition.”This includes the recognition of 1967 borders and thus Palestinian East Jerusalem, a courageous stance from the Vatican,” said a Palestinian official on condition of anonymity.The Palestinian Authority considers the Vatican one of 136 countries to have recognized Palestine as a state, although the number is disputed and several recognitions by what are now European Union member states date back to the Soviet era.
AFP contributed to this report.

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PLO: We Will Not Resume Negotiations Until A Deadline Ending Israeli Occupation Is Set


Wasal Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO leadership, said Thursday that Palestinians would not return to the negotiation table with Israel unless a deadline for the end of the Israeli “occupation” is set, London-based newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.

He also said that, should negotiations resume, Palestinians would not rely solely on American mediation due to their “bias” towards Israel.

“Bilateral negotiations under US auspices are no longer possible,” he said.

Yousef told the London daily that the decision to refrain from returning to negotiations stemmed from the results of  Israel’s latest elections and government formation, which brought to power an even more right-wing government than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s last coalition.

“We believe that the political horizon is completely closed with this new settler government,” Yousef told Al-Sharq Al-Aswat

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PLO: France Must End Orange Telecom’s Complicity In Israeli Occupation

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Senior PLO official Saeb Erekat has urged the French government to end a national telecom company’s involvement with its Israeli partner over mass violations of Palestinian rights in the occupied territories.

Last Thursday, the PLO official wrote to France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to express concern over Orange’s involvement with Israel’s military occupation, illegal settlements and the deadly war on Gaza last year.Orange, formally know as France Telecom Orange, renewed a trademark license with its Israeli partner operator in 2011, becoming Orange Israel.

“The French company has become a partner in Israel’s occupation of the State of Palestine and a complicit member in Israel’s illegal settlement activities through this agreement and the profits reaped as a result,” the letter seen by Ma’an said.

The phone company has placed antennae and communications in the occupied West Bank on annexed private Palestinian land and has built phone stores in the illegal settlements of Ariel, Beitar Illit, Modin Illit, and Mishor Adumim.

The phone company was also complicit in Israel’s military operation last summer in Gaza by sponsoring combat units which killed over 2,200 Palestinians, launching a campaign entitled ‘Adopt a soldier,’ the letter stated.Orange does not pay taxes to the PA for any of its activities on occupied Palestinian land.French Orange’s partnership with Orange Israel is contributing to Israel’s deliberate policy of creating illegal “facts on the ground” by reinforcing Israeli settlements, actions which are in direct violation of France’s duties under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Erekat said.

The PLO official urged France to insist that Orange “immediately cancel its contractual agreement and cease its involvement with ‘Orange Israel.'”The French government is a 25 percent shareholder in Orange.The letter echoes a report published in May by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its partner organizations Al-Haq, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Association France Palestine Solidarit, Ligue des droits de l’Homme, Union Syndicale Solidaires and the French trades union federation Confdration Gnrale du Travail (CGT).The report urged the French company to cut ties with its Israeli partner and called on European states to end economic cooperation with illegal Israeli settlements.

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PLO’s Dr. Hanan Ashrawi Statement On New Israeli Extremist Government

PNN/ Ramallah

PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi stated:

“Such a coalition betrays the true nature of the Israeli political system and promotes an anti-peace agenda and the language of racism, extremism and violence; it will further increase the isolation and deligitimization of Israel.

In addition to the extremism in the Likud and the ideologies of the religious parties, the Jewish Home Party, which now has control of the Israeli Civil Administration and the Security Cabinet, represents the most extreme and racist elements within Israeli society.

Appointing Ayelet Shaked, who openly advocated for the genocide of the Palestinian people and stated that ‘the entire Palestinian people is the enemy,’ as the new Justice Minister and the head of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and the Judicial Appointments Committee is not only a threat to peace and security, but generates a culture of hate and lawlessness within Israel, compounded by Shaked’s attempts to control the Israeli Supreme Court and to pass legislation that targets civil society, as well as fundamental rights and freedoms of the Israelis.

Handing over key ministries, such as agriculture, to Uri Ariel who approved the construction of thousands of illegal settlement units in Occupied Palestine during his time as the Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction is extremely dangerous and will encourage more settler violence and the deliberate dehumanization of the Palestinian people.

Even though all signs point to the fact that this will be a short-lived government, it has the sufficient ammunition to do irreparable damage and to wreak havoc in the region and beyond.”

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PLO Calls For Boycott Of Extremist Right-Wing Israeli Coalition Government

Donia Al-Watan
The Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation slammed the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government saying the newly formed right-wing government is a clear indication that Israel intends to continue, even deepen, its racist policies against the Palestinian people and their rights.

“The Israeli government’s new members represent symbols of racism similar to those who fostered the apartheid regime in South Africa and elsewhere, if not more extreme,” the committee said in a statement yesterday.

The Executive Committee called on the international community to isolate the new Israeli government politically and to condemn its former policies that aim to subjugate the Palestinian people, warning that these policies will be deepened under the new government.

“It is impossible in today’s world to see a government with this formation and orientation, and whose members are extreme enemies of peace and the Palestinian people and their rights,” the statement said.

“This extreme government will encourage the looting of Palestinian land and enact laws that safeguard racism and stealing the Palestinians’ rights,” it added.

The statement called on Palestinian factions to end their internal divisions and unite and on the Palestinian people to stand against Israeli policies until they achieve their national aspirations for independence and a just peace.