Palestine/Israel

Last Updated January 5th, 2017

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BBC News

Israeli PM Netanyahu backs pardon for manslaughter soldier

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a pardon for a soldier convicted of manslaughter for killing a wounded Palestinian. Elor Azaria, 19 at the time, shot Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, in the head while he was lying immobile on a road. A military court convicted the soldier after dismissing his assertion that the Palestinian still posed a danger. The case has divided Israeli opinion. Azaria, a sergeant, will be sentenced next Sunday, Israel’s military says. There have been rallies to support the soldier, but top military figures say his actions do not reflect the values of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Mr Netanyahu issued his call on Facebook, writing: “I support giving Elor Azaria a pardon.” “This is a difficult and painful day for all of us – and first and foremost for Elor and his family, soldiers and for the parents of our soldiers, and me among them.”

In March, the prime minister called Azaria’s family to express sympathy for their predicament. He joins some other members of the governing coalition in calling for a pardon, including right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennett. But centre-left politician and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the verdict should be accepted. “Only that way can we stop the bleeding within Israeli society since the event occurred and reunite around the military and Israel as a state of laws, whose army is outside political discourse.” President Reuven Rivlin said he could only deal with the issue of a pardon once the judicial process had run its course.

 

SOURCE = BBC News

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The Independent

Barack Obama to meet Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss two-state solution to Israel-Palestine conflict

September 19, 2016

Barack Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. They will meet in New York on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday to discuss a recently agreed deal on US military aid, the White House said. “The meeting also will be an opportunity to discuss the need for genuine advancement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the face of deeply troubling trends on the ground,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. Mr Obama will also meet on Monday with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to discuss ways to deepen the US-China relationship and to address “provocations” by North Korea, he said.

Copyright © = The Independent

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Al Jazeera

UC Berkeley’s ban on Palestine course ‘McCarthyist’

September 18, 2016

Seattle – Tensions between University of California Berkeley students and administrators came to a head this week over the suspension of a student-taught course “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis”, sparking concerns that the university is violating academic freedoms. Students and academics charged university administrators with buckling under external political pressures from Israel advocacy groups when they suspended the course on Tuesday, allegations the administration denied. Paul Hadweh, a senior undergraduate, had already started teaching the course through the university’s DeCal programme, which allows students to teach courses on material of their choice under faculty supervision. Hadweh released a public statement saying that he “learned the course was under scrutiny from a report in the Israeli media that describes the involvement of an Israeli government minister in efforts to cancel the course”. “Two hours later, I received an email from the university notifying us of the suspension,” Hadweh said.

Hadweh’s supervising professor, Dr Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in Near Eastern Studies and Ethnic Studies, said he was notified by Carla Hesse, the executive dean of the College of Letters and Science,  one week into the academic term that the course “did not undergo required academic review” and would be formally suspended until a review of the course material was completed. Hadweh and Bazian said the course was approved in July through all processes required by the university, including full approval from a faculty adviser, the chairman of the Department of Ethnic Studies, and the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses of Instruction. Negative media reports on the course began circulating earlier this month. The AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit organisation, released a statement to the UC Berkeley chancellor saying that the course met the US government’s criteria for what constitutes anti-Semitism and was “intended to indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish state and take action to eliminate it”.

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SOURCE = Al Jazeera

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The Independent

ICC to visit Israel to assess alleged war crimes at request of Palestinians

September 5, 2016

A delegation from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague will be allowed to visit Israel to assess whether the country could be put on trial for alleged war crimes during the 2014 Gaza War, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has confirmed. More than 2,200 Palestinians, including 490 children, were killed in the 51-day Operation Protective Edge, which began on 8 July 2014. Israeli losses totalled 64 soldiers and six civilians, including a four-year-old boy. The ICC launched a preliminary investigation in May this year, shortly after the West Bank Palestinian Authority (PA) was approved as a member. The PA filed evidence on both the 2014 conflict and other more recent violent incidents.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told media on Friday that the ICC would be permitted to visit, but “how and when” is yet to be discussed. “The Palestinian leadership has provided the ICC with documentation relating to apartheid, illegal settlements in [the] West Bank and East Jerusalem, and crimes associated with the settlement regime,” Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq said in a statement. “There are 23 counts in all, including seven war crimes relating to last year’s Gaza war.”

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SOURCE = The Independent

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guardian logo

Palestine’s latest evictions are a human rights crisis – world leaders must act

August 29, 2016

bu Jihad, a Susiya village elder, waits anxiously. His home in the south Hebron hills of the occupied West Bank faces demolition for the third time. Legal options are running out as Israeli authorities proceed with their plans to forcibly evict half the village. Global opinion and pressure have helped keep the bulldozers at bay this time around. So far. The Palestinian herder community of Susiya was forced out of its century-old village in 1986. Israel declared the area an archaeological site and then handed it over to Israeli settlers. The villagers moved into tents and caves on their own farmland, but were evicted from there as well by the Israeli army in 1991. No reasons were given. They now live on another part of their farmland, sandwiched between a hostile Israeli settlement and one of its outposts.

For several decades now, the villagers of Susiya have lived under the constant threat of becoming homeless once again. Mass demolition of their homes and forced evictions took place in 2001 and 2011. Israel claims it has no planning permits to build on the farmland, but at the same time makes it impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits. Residents of Susiya have applied for permits over the years but each application is met with rejection. Susiya’s plight is not an exception. In addition, more than 46 Bedouin communities in the central West Bank – around 7,000 Palestinians – face Israeli pressure to leave their homes. These are among the most vulnerable people in Palestine. Most of them are Palestinian refugees, forced out of southern Israel following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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5914d-tamar-ross-haaretz-logo

The ‘Palestine’ Conflict Rages Over Google Maps

August 11, 2016

Palestinian journalists protested at the weekend that Google removed the Palestine tag from its maps application. But the web giant says it never had a Palestine tag on its maps to begin with. The journalists saw the removal of the name Palestine as a part of an Israeli plan to dismiss the existence of a Palestinian entity.  A campaign was mounted on Twitter under the #PalestineIsHere hashtag. “The Forum of Palestinian Journalists condemns the crime carried out by Google in deleting the name of Palestine, and calls for Google to rescind its decision and apologize to the Palestinian people,” reads part of the statement from the Forum of Palestinian Journalists, posted to its website August 3.

“… The move is designed to falsify history, geography as well as the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland, and [is] a failed attempt to tamper with the memory of Palestinians and Arabs as well as the world.”

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SOURCE = Hearetz

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RT

#PalestineIsHere: Online outrage after Google ‘erases’ Palestine from the map

August 9, 2016

Palestinian journalists have slammed Google for allegedly removing Palestine from its maps. After reporters accused the American tech giant of “falsifying history and geography,” thousands have noticed the absence from Google Maps.

UPD: After Google issued a response to the allegation, it turned out the angry journalists and activists got it wrong – the name Palestine has never been erased or replaced. It was never on Google Maps to begin with.

Over 150,000 signatories have backed a Change.org petition entitled “Google: Put Palestine on your maps” as of Monday, accusing Google Maps of “making itself complicit in the Israeli government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine” either on purpose or inadvertently. The petition, drafted by Zak Martin, slams the omission of the UN non-member observer state’s name on the map as a “grievous insult” to Palestinians.

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SOURCE = Russia Today

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the-economist-logo

Will they, won’t they, join the dance?

September 1, 2016

HAMAS, the Islamist movement that Israel has been clobbering in Gaza, now says it would back the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Mahmoud Abbas if he were to bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. The court could then investigate whether war crimes had been committed during the recent war in Gaza—by Israeli forces or by Palestinian ones. The PA has long threatened to join the court, but it is still not sure to do so. Joining it carries risks for the Palestinians—and for the court itself. Ever since the ICC was founded in 2002, it has suffered because of its limited powers and jurisdiction. It depends on its member states to carry out arrests.

It can open investigations only in countries that have signed its treaty, or that invite it in; Israel has done neither. Alternatively, though the UN Security Council may tell the court to open an investigation anywhere, the United States has said it would veto any such proposal for Gaza. In 2009, when Mr Abbas asked the ICC to investigate allegations of war crimes by Israel during its war in Gaza in 2008-09, the court’s prosecutor refused to do so because Palestine was not then recognised by the UN as a state. That changed in 2012, when the UN General Assembly voted Palestine an “observer state”. Most international lawyers reckon that if the Palestinians applied to join the ICC now, they would get in. The court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, implied as much when she invited them to submit a new request by August 5th, when met the Palestinian foreign minister, Riad al-Malki (pictured leaving the court).

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SOURCE = The Economist

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guardian logo

Protesters greet Israel in Cardiff before Euro 2016 match with Wales

September 6, 2015

Adie Mormech was looking distinctly uncomfortable as he held a banner declaring that the Kop – the famous football stand at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium – believed Israel should be booted out of international sport. It was not that he lacked confidence in the rightness of the cause or was struggling with the weight of the banner on a bright sunny day in Cardiff. “I’m a Manchester United fan,” he said. “I’ve never held a Liverpool banner before and never will again. But this is such an important cause, you have to put aside the usual loyalties.” Mormech was one of hundreds of football fans who had travelled to the Welsh capital not to find out if the national team would reach a major tournament for the first time since 1958, but to protest against their opponents, Israel, and show solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Ahead of kick-off they marched through the city centre to a recreation ground close to Cardiff City Stadium, where Wales were to play Israel in a vital Euro 2016 qualifier. Mormech, who is from Manchester, said he had worked as a teacher in Gaza and had witnessed the suffering of the people there. He said all aspects of life in Palestine, including sport, were affected by the “illegal occupation”. “Israel can’t be part of Europe, can’t be part of European sport if it denies the people of Palestine their right to life, their right to a sporting life,” he said. “We’ve tried diplomacy, we’ve tried everything, it’s time to say: ‘Enough is enough.’”

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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The Independent

Israel lobby’s power waning after Aipac failure to block Iran deal

September 5, 2015

Not since George H W Bush was president has the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) sustained such a public defeat on an issue it deemed an existential threat to Israel’s security. But the Iran nuclear deal has Washington insiders wondering if the once-untouchable lobbying giant has suffered lasting damage. In fighting the deal, Aipac and its affiliates mustered all their resources: spending tens of millions on television ads in the states of undecided legislators and organising a fly-in to blitz Capitol Hill – another is planned for next week when Congress returns from its August recess to vote on a resolution of disapproval. But all that noise amounted to a rare defeat this week, when President Obama secured strong enough support in the Senate to protect the pact from efforts to dismantle it.

Many say Aipac’s efforts were doomed to fail in the aftermath of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s combative speech to Congress in March – an appearance brokered by Israel’s ambassador to the US along with the House Speaker, Republican John Boehner, without White House consultation. Aipac’s position on the Iran deal lines up with the Republican Party’s, but its efforts thus far have helped persuade only two Senate Democrats, and a handful in the House – while Mr Obama has secured more than the 34 Senate votes to ensure that opponents won’t collect a two-thirds, veto-proof majority to block the deal.

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SOURCE = The Independent

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Thomson Reuters Foundation

Israel slams Palestinians’ push to fly their flag at U.N.

September 1, 2015

Israel on Tuesday complained to the United Nations about a Palestinian initiative to fly their flag alongside full member states’ at the world body’s headquarters, calling it “another cynical misuse of the U.N. by the Palestinian Authority.” Currently, only member states’ flags fly at U.N. headquarters. While the 193-nation assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in 2012, a Palestinian attempt to secure full U.N. membership failed. Palestine is considered a non-member state. But the flags of the two non-member states – Palestine and the Vatican – could soon be flying at the United Nations.

The General Assembly is expected to vote on Sept. 10 on a Palestinian resolution that says the flags of non-member observer states “shall be raised at the United Nations Headquarters and Offices following the flags of the member states of the United Nations.” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor wrote a letter of complaint about the Palestinian initiative to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and this year’s president of the 193-nation General Assembly, Sam Kutesa of Uganda.

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SOURCE = Reuters

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telegraph

Israel introduces controversial 20-year jail sentences for stone throwing

July 22, 2015

Stone-throwers could be jailed for up to 20 years under a controversial new law passed by Israeli MPs. The new legislation – supported by Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government – was passed by the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, despite bitter criticisms from Arab parliamentarians who said it was aimed at oppressing Palestinian protest. The maximum 20-year term will apply in cases where there is proof that offenders intended to inflict harm. Sentences of up to 10 years could be passed down to those convicted of throwing stones at civilian vehicles without prosecutors having to prove an intention of causing harm.

Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s Right-wing justice minister – who spearheaded the legislation, described its law’s passage as “justice done”. ” “For years, terrorists avoided punishment and responsibility. Tolerance towards terrorists ends today,” she said. “A stone thrower is a terrorist, and only an appropriate punishment can be deterrent, punitive and just.” The new law was an amended version of a bill provisionally passed by the Knesset last year under the guidance of Tzipi Livni, Ms Shaked’s predecessor as justice minister.

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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Thomson Reuters Foundation

After labelling, EU think-tank proposes banking steps on Israel

July 22, 2015

JERUSALEM, July 22 (Reuters) – The EU agreed this week to push ahead with introduction of labels that specifically identify Israeli goods made in settlements in the occupied West Bank, a policy that has angered Israel; but now an influential European think-tank is proposing going much further, including the targeting of Israeli banks. The European Council on Foreign Relations, which frequently informs EU policy, argued in a paper on Wednesday that the EU is in breach of its own laws. It had to go further to distinguish its dealings with Israel from Israel’s activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it has occupied since 1967.

European diplomats have long said that labelling – to make clear the goods originate in settlements – is only the first in a series of steps the EU could take against Israel over its settlements policy, one that in financial terms is expected to have a relatively minor impact on the Israeli economy. But the new proposals would go much deeper and further, reaching into banking, loans and mortgages, qualifications earned in settlement institutions and the tax-exempt status of European charities that deal with Israeli settlements.

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SOURCE = Thomson Reuters Foundation

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Middle East Online

Israel’s Endless Misery for Gaza is no Policy at All

July 22, 2015

For those trying to read developments between Israel and Gaza over the past weeks, the picture has been unusually puzzling. A month ago European diplomats and Palestinian officials in the West Bank suggested that Israel and Hamas were taking “baby steps”, as one Palestinian analyst termed it, towards a truce. Then earlier this month, as an attack blamed on the extremists of Islamic State (ISIS) killed dozens in Sinai, an Israeli general accused Hamas of supplying the weapons used against the Egyptian military.

A short time later, a group of Israeli army commanders urged the easing of the near-decade blockade of Gaza as a way to end Hamas’ isolation. So what’s going on? Does Israel want Hamas weakened or strengthened? The uncertainty reflects Israel’s increasingly convoluted efforts to “manage” Gaza faced with the fallout from its series of attacks on the enclave beginning in late 2008 with Operation Cast Lead and culminating in last year’s Protective Edge.

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SOURCE = Middle East Online

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telegraph

Stop demolition of Palestinian village, European foreign ministers tell Israel

July 21, 2015

Europe’s top statesmen have issued a stern warning to Israel against demolishing part of a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank after military officials announced that bulldozers could move in imminently. A toughly-worded admonition from the European Union’s council of foreign minister urges Israel to abandon plans for the “forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure” in Khirbet Susiya, a village in the south Hebron hills, along with Abu Nwar, a bedouin community elsewhere in the West Bank.

The plea came days after the US state department issued an equally emotive appeal on behalf of Khirbet Susiya, warning that demolitions and evictions would be “harmful and provocative”. The European intervention – made in a seven-point communique on the stalled Middle East process – will be followed on Wednesday when the Jerusalem envoys of all 28 EU states visit the village for the second time in a month in an effort to intensify the pressure on Israel.

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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Morning Star

Iran: Tehran Slams Talk Of War By US and Israel

July 21, 2015

IRAN condemned continued sabre-rattling by the US and Israel yesterday even as the United Nations approved the new agreement on Iranian nuclear energy. US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on a visit to Israel that the agreement did “nothing to prevent … the US military option.” His visit is seen as an attempt to placate Israel’s aggressive government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that the deal would open the way for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons as Israel has done.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “Applying force … is not an option, but an unwise and dangerous temptation,” adding: “There are people who talk about illegal and illegitimate application of force” for their own purposes. He called the nuclear deal reached last week a “victory of diplomacy over war and violence.” Israel has in the past threatened to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, as it did an Iraqi power plant under construction in 1981.

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SOURCE = The Morning Star

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guardian logo

EU protests against Israeli plans to demolish Palestinian village

July 21, 2015

EU foreign ministers have called on Israel to halt plans for the “forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing” in the West Bank village of Khirbet Susiya amid growing concerns that it may be knocked down in the coming days. In a statement, the European foreign ministers echoed a warning delivered by the US government over the fate of the community of 350 in the south Hebron Hills.

Last week, John Kirby, a US State Department spokesman, warned that any demolition or evictions would be “harmful and provocative”. He said: “We’re closely following developments and we strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village.” Fears for the community have been growing since a visit by a senior Israeli military officer, who told villagers that 37 dwellings had been earmarked for demolition ahead of a scheduled appeal hearing on 3 August.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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Middle East Online

Israel accused of abusing Palestinian children

July 20, 2015

Human Rights Watch on Monday accused Israel of “abusive arrests” of Palestinian children as young as 11 and of using threats to force them to sign confessions. Israeli authorities failed to inform parents of their children’s arrest or whereabouts, the New York-based watchdog added, drawing on accounts of several children detained during intense unrest in east Jerusalem and the West Bank late last year. HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson urged the United States to pressure its Israeli ally to end what it said were long-standing “abusive practices”. The rights group issued the accusations as US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter began a visit to Israel.

“Israeli security forces have used unnecessary force to arrest or detain Palestinian children,” it said in a report giving details of the “abusive arrests” of six children. “Forces have choked children, thrown stun grenades at them, beaten them in custody, threatened and interrogated them without the presence of parents or lawyers, and failed to let their parents know their whereabouts.”

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SOURCE = Middle East Online

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The Independent

Britain still arming Israel despite fear weapons will be used against Gaza

July 2, 2015

The Government has been accused of ignoring its own evidence that British weaponry may have been used by Israel in its assault on Gaza last year after fresh arms deals worth £4m were approved by Britain within weeks of the conflict. Figures seen by The Independent reveal that the UK gave the go-ahead for dozens of military exports to Israel, including components for drones and air-to-surface missiles, in the immediate aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, which claimed more than 2,000 lives, including those of hundreds of Palestinian civilians. Campaigners said the exports showed that the Government was conducting “business as usual” in its arms sales to Israel and turning a “blind eye” to the risk that UK-made weaponry could be used in any fresh clashes between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

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SOURCE = The Independent

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Morning Star

Israel: Navy Diverts Swedish Ship Away From Gaza Mission

June 30, 2015

ISRAELI gunboats intercepted an aid ship bound for the besieged Gaza Strip yesterday, forcing it to divert to an Israeli port.Israeli forces surrounded and boarded the Swedish converted trawler Marianne in international waters. The three other vessels in the flotilla received a distress call from the crew of the Marianne at about 2am that three Israeli gunboats had surrounded her about 100 nautical miles off Gaza. They then lost contact with the trawler. Just after 5am the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) announced that they had “visited and searched” the Marianne and detained everyone on board.

The ship was carrying about 20 passengers including including Israeli MP Basel Ghattas, former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki and Russia Today reporter Nadezhda Kevorkova. The Israeli military claimed that the boarding was peaceful, but the aid group pointed out that Israel had acted against maritime law, recalling the IDF’s 2010 slaughter of nine campaigners on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara and the tasering and beating of others on the Estelle. Freedom Flotilla spokesman in Athens Petros Stergiou said: “Once again, the Israeli state commits an act of state piracy in the Mediterranean Sea.”

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SOURCE = The Morning Star

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New York Times

3 U.S. Churches Weighing Divestment Resolutions in Support of Palestinians

June 29, 2015

Delegates to annual gatherings this week of three United States churches with millions of members were considering resolutions to divest from companies deemed supportive of Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories, or to boycott products made in Israeli settlements. Votes on resolutions at the Cleveland synod of the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church’s general convention in Salt Lake City were expected to come up for votes on Tuesday, representatives of those churches said Monday. A resolution at the Mennonites’ meeting in Kansas City, Mo., was scheduled for Wednesday. Advocates of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement seek to pressure Israel economically over the Palestinian issue. Many advocates for Israel consider the movement a guise for anti-Semitism and for delegitimizing Israel.

© 2015: The New York Times Company

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mail

Israel condemns Vatican treaty with the ‘State of Palestine’ for ‘ignoring the rights of the Jewish people’

June 26, 2015

The Vatican has signed a treaty with the ‘State of Palestine’ today and hopes it will stimulate peace with Israel. It is the first time the Roman Catholic Church has signed a treaty with the State of Palestine and believe it could serve as a model for other Mideast countries. However Israel has condemned the treaty for ‘ignoring the rights of the Jewish people’ and called it one-sided. Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher and his Palestinian counterpart, Riad al-Malki, signed the historic treaty at a ceremony inside the Vatican. Last month, Israel expressed disappointed at the announcement saying it would hurt peace prospects and discourage the Palestinians from returning to direct negotiations.

It warned it would study the agreement and ‘its implications for future cooperation between Israel and the Vatican’. The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012 to recognise a Palestinian state. But the treaty marked its first legal recognition of the territory as a state. Mr al-Malki called the treaty an ‘historic agreement’ and said it marked ‘a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, freedom and dignity in an independent state of their own, free from the shackles of occupation.’  The Vatican’s announcement comes amid growing momentum to recognise Palestinian statehood. Over the last year the European Parliament as well as the UK, Republic of Ireland, Spain and France have all passed non-binding motions in favour.

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SOURCE = The Mail

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telegraph

Palestinians to present evidence against Israel to International Criminal Court

June 25, 2015

The Palestinian Authority will escalate its campaign on Thursday by submitting evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing Israel of breaking international law and carrying out “war crimes”. Riyad al-Maliki the Palestinian foreign minister, will present the ICC’s chief prosecutor with documents for a possible case against Israel. In the process, the Palestinian Authority will defy American pressure and MAY risk the flow of US aid. The submission, covering the period from 13 June 2014 until 31 May 2015, accuses Israel of breaking international law by expanding Jewish settlements on occupied land, mistreating prisoners in jails, and committing war crimes during last summer’s conflict in Gaza.

A United Nations investigation accusing both Israel and Hamas of war crimes in Gaza may serve as part of the evidence. The documents will allege that Israel is guilty of a “pattern of systematic inter-related crimes” within and “throughout the Palestinian state”, said a statement from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). ritics have denounced the move as a stunt. “No one has yet established that they [the ICC] have jurisdiction to initiate any kind of investigation”, said Alan Baker, an expert on international law and a former Israeli ambassador to Canada. The Palestinians were trying to use the ICC “as a backyard tribunal for themselves,” he added. Amar Hijazi, a Palestinian foreign ministry official currently in The Hague, said the submission was “in line with our responsibility to cooperate with the ICC prosecutor’s office”.

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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New York Times

Palestinians to Seek War Crimes Charges Against Israel at Hague Court

June 24, 2015

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinians on Wednesday prepared to submit to the International Criminal Court what they called evidence of Israeli war crimes, a move that will saddle the beleaguered, overstretched court with a new and potentially long-running headache. The effort is part of the Palestinians’ campaign to punish Israel in the international arena and to advance their push for a state. It signals Palestinian defiance against Israeli threats of retaliation and underscores the breakdown of peace talks. It comes on the heels of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry report released Monday, which found that both Israel and Palestinian militants might have committed war crimes in last summer’s conflict in Gaza. Palestinians are likely to incorporate parts of the 217-page report into the files they submit Thursday to the court, based at The Hague.

“We offered information on Israeli violations to international law which could amount to war crimes, and the aim is to convince the chief prosecutor to open an investigation that could lead to her making charges,” said Ghassan Khatib, the vice president of Birzeit University in the West Bank and a member of the Palestinian committee tasked with following up at the international court. The Palestinian foreign minister, Riad al-Malki, is to give the files to the chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. The files are expected to contain mostly information already in the public record and are unlikely to have any immediate impact. The documents are meant to help Ms. Bensouda continue the preliminary examination that she began in January after the Palestinians moved to join the court. The move gives her the authority to look into crimes that occurred on Palestinian land since last July, when the war in Gaza began between fighters for Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls the territory, and Israel.

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SOURCE = The New York Times

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telegraph

Israel cancels Jerusalem entry permits for 500 Gazans after rocket

June 24, 2015

Israel said on Wednesday it was revoking permits for 500 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to enter Jerusalem ahead of Friday prayers because of rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave. A spokesman for COGAT, the defence ministry unit which coordinates with Gaza, told AFP the move to cancel part of its measures easing restrictions on Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan applied to this week only and was “because of the rocket” which hit southern Israel on Tuesday night, causing no injuries. Israel had relaxed restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip ahead of Ramadan which began last week, including letting up to 800 Gazans enter Jerusalem for prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, each Friday of the month.

The defence ministry had said the measures were conditional on a continued lull in violence, which was broken late Friday with the killing of an Israeli hiker in the West Bank and the stabbing of a policeman in east Jerusalem on Sunday. Israel had on Sunday revoked entry permits for residents of the West Bank village home to the Palestinian who had stabbed the policeman. It also cancelled permission for 500 West Bank Palestinians to fly via Israel’s Ben Gurion airport.

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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BBC News

Israeli 2014 Gaza war actions lawful, report says

June 14, 2015

he Israeli government has issued a report into the 2014 war in Gaza, saying that its military actions were “lawful” and “legitimate”. Israel made “substantial efforts” to avoid civilian deaths, it said. The militant group Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, called the Israeli report worthless. It comes ahead of the publication of a UN inquiry into possible war crimes committed during the war, a report Israel dismissed as a waste of time.

The 50-day conflict between Israel and Gaza militants, lasted from July to late August 2014. It left at least 2,189 Palestinians dead, including more than 1,486 civilians, according to the UN. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers were killed along with six civilians. The 277-page report, released by the Israeli foreign ministry, disputed the UN figures, estimating that 2,125 Palestinians had been killed, including 936 militants and 761 civilians, with the status of the remaining casualties unknown. It said that Hamas militants disguised themselves as civilians and converted civilian buildings into military centres.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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BBC News

Israel PM Netanyahu attacks Orange boss for pulling deal

June 4, 2015

Israel’s Prime Minister has attacked the boss of the French telecom giant Orange for looking to pull out of a deal with an Israeli partner. On Wednesday, Orange CEO Stephane Richard said he would back out of an agreement with Partner Communications. Campaign groups say Partner is active in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Benjamin Netanyahu criticised what he called Mr Richard’s “miserable statement”. Partner controls close to 28% of Israel’s mobile market and while Orange has a licensing deal with Partner, allowing it to use the Orange brand name, it does not have a controlling stake in the company.

On 6 May, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), a Paris-based NGO, said: “Partner is building infrastructure on confiscated Palestinian land and offers services to settlers and the Israeli army.” Jewish settlements on occupied territory are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. Neither Israel nor Partner commented on the FIDH report. The BDS campaign group – that Israel says works to “delegitimise” the state of Israel – had also previously called on Orange to sever its ties with Partner. At a conference in Cairo on Wednesday, Mr Richard said: “I am ready to abandon this [partnership] tomorrow morning but the point is that I want to secure the legal risk for the company.

“I want to terminate this, once again, but I don’t want to expose Orange to a level of risk and of penalties that could be really sizable for the company.” Mr Richard said the decision was made because of Orange’s ties to Arab countries. “I know that it is a sensitive issue here in Egypt, but not only in Egypt,” he said.

“We want to be one of the trustful partners of all Arab countries.”

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SOURCE = BBC News

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The Daily Beast

Israel Deported Them. Then ISIS Cut Off Their Heads.

April 21, 2015

JERUSALEM—In a scene that’s become all too familiar, the self-proclaimed Islamic State has executed a group of individuals it deems infidels. A recently released video shows the latest victims of the extremist group, initially thought to be solely Ethiopian Christians, being beheaded in what appears to be Libya. But there’s a catch: At least three of the victims were Eritrean refugees who had been deported from Israel. An Eritrean named Mesi Fashiya who works as a translator for The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, an Israeli NGO that advocates for Israel’s estimated 46,000 refugees, identified the victims. Sadly, one was her relative.

Fashiya told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that her cousin, identified as “T.,” was deported from Israel “back to Uganda or Rwanda—I think Rwanda—where they are not accepted. From there he went on to Sudan, and from Sudan to Libya.” “I recognized my relative, T., from the photos published by ISIS that appeared on Facebook before the video was released,” Fashiya told +972 magazine. T. was sent abroad in a program that Israel initiated to deal with its burgeoning refugee problem. In a brochure obtained by The Daily Beast, the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority “offers foreign nationals from [Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, and Guinea Conakry], who entered Israel illegally, the option to leave the country voluntarily, in a fair and dignified manner.”

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SOURCE = The Daily Beast

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Washington post

Debate ignites over Arab journalist’s role in Israeli independence event

April 21, 2015

Having access to both Jews and Arabs is not easy for most journalists in Israel. Not so for Lucy Aharish, a Muslim Arab who grew up in a Jewish town in southern Israel. A TV anchor and news producer, Aharish says her challenge, instead, is to break stereotypes and be unafraid to sound clichéd when she talks about the need to view people in this complicated society — Jews, Muslims, Christians, Israelis or Palestinians — as human beings. Aharish, 33, is the country’s first Arab Israeli woman to present the television news in Hebrew.

On Wednesday, she will claim another rare title as she and 13 other Israelis being honored for achievements in their professions light torches at a ceremony marking 67 years of Israeli independence. Her participation in the Jerusalem event is a bold step for a member of the Arab population, which generally shuns Israeli Independence Day. Palestinians refer to the set of events that led to Israel’s founding as the Nakba, or the Catastrophe. “I’ve had threats, people cursing me, some telling me I’m a filthy woman or a disgrace to my family,” Aharish said of the reactions from Jews and Arabs — including members of her extended family — to the announcement that she would be among the torch lighters.

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SOURCE = The Washington Post

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telegraph

Three Christians beheaded by Isil were Eritreans who were ‘encouraged to leave Israel’

April 21, 2015

Three Christian men seen on a video being apparently executed by jihadists in Libya were Eritrean refugees who left Israel under its draconian policy towards asylum seekers, an Israeli group said on Tuesday. The claim – from Hotline for Refugees and Migrants – came two days after the release of gruesome footage by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and prompted renewed scrutiny of Israel‘s uncompromising treatment of tens of thousands of refugees, whom it considers as economic migrants.

Hotline released pictures of the three men – whom it did not identify by name – and said they had left Israel for another country, possibly Uganda, last summer but then fled to Libya after finding they had no legal status. The three were among a group of 30, originally said to be Ethiopians, depicted in the video as having been shot or beheaded. One of them, identified by the Hotline only as “T” but named to The Telegraph by a friend as Tesfay Kidana, is pictured wearing an orange jump suit apparently kneeling in a group as armed masked men stand behind them.

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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Morning Star

Palestine: Israel To Transfer Palestinians’ Taxes

April 20, 2015

PALESTINE’S President Mahmoud Abbas said at the weekend that he had reached an agreement with Israel under which taxes it collects for the Palestinians will finally be transferred. Israel had illegally held on to the funds for four months. It “froze” the tax transfers as revenge in January, after Palestine applied to join the International Criminal Court. Israel typically collects taxes and customs on behalf of Palestine and then transfers the sums to the Palestinian Authority.

They account for 70 per cent of the authority’s revenue. Mr Abbas had initially rejected Israel’s unfreezing of the tax funds because Israel had attempted to link the unfreezing with a deduction to settle debts incurred by the Palestinian Authority, including unpaid utility bills. But Mr Abbas told Palestinians leaders on Saturday that “there is an agreement; the money will be sent in full.”

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SOURCE = The Morning Star

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USA Today

Putin: Iran missiles deal doesn’t threaten Israel

April 14, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the missiles he is allowing to be shipped to Iran are “purely defensive” and won’t threaten the Middle East. The conversation comes a day after Putin announced Russia was immediately lifting a five-year ban on transferring one of the world’s most advanced anti-aircraft systems to Iran. Less than two weeks ago, Iran reached a framework agreement with world powers, including Russia and the United States, on limiting its nuclear program in return for lifting economic sanctions.

Russia said Tuesday it would be at least six months before it could deliver the S-300 air defense missile system to Iran, the Associated Press reported. In the phone call, Putin explained the logic behind his actions, saying the decision “would not pose any threat to the security of Israel or other countries in the Middle East” because the tactical and technical specifications of the air defense missile system make it a “purely defensive weapon,” according to a statement by the Kremlin. Netanyahu expressed Israel’s “grave concerns” over the missile system, telling Putin the sale “will only encourage Iranian aggression in the region and further undermine the stability of the Middle East,” according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.

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SOURCE = USA Today

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BBC News

Israel election: US concern over ‘divisive’ rhetoric

March 18, 2015

The White House has condemned what it called “divisive rhetoric” in the Israeli election, won by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. The US, EU and UN have also urged him to continue with the two-state solution to the Palestinian issue. During campaigning, Mr Netanyahu said he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state if re-elected. He aims to build a new coalition government within two to three weeks, his party says. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “It has been the policy of the United States for more than 20 years that a two-state solution is the goal of resolving the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

The US would “re-evaluate our approach” in the wake of Mr Netanyahu’s comments ruling out a Palestinian state, he said. On a warning from Mr Netanyahu that his opponents were bussing Arab-Israeli voters to polling stations, he said: “Rhetoric that seeks to marginalise one segment of their population is deeply concerning and it is divisive, and I can tell you that these are views the administration intends to communicate directly to the Israelis.” Mr Earnest added that President Barack Obama was yet to congratulate Mr Netanyahu on his win but would do so in the coming days once he had been directed to form a government, as in previous elections.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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RT

Palestine accuses Israel of opening dams, flooding Gaza, forcing evacuations

February 23, 2015

Palestinian officials say hundreds of Gazans were forced to evacuate after Israel opened the gates of several dams on the border with the Gaza Strip, and flooded at least 80 households. Israel has denied the claim as “entirely false.”

In the wake of a recent severe winter storm in the region, Israeli authorities opened the floodgates to discharge the accumulated water, Palestinian officials say. Residents of eastern Gaza reported injuries as well as deaths of livestock and poultry, caused by the Israeli action which allegedly came without prior notification, Gaza’s Civil Defense Directorate (CDD) said Sunday.

Photos of the Gaza Strip flood have appeared in social networks, but the date when they were taken can’t be independently verified as yet.

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SOURCE = Russia Today

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guardian logo

US officials and Israeli president blast withholding of Palestinian tax revenues

January 6, 2015

The decision by Binyamin Netanyahu to order the withholding of Palestinian tax revenues in response to Mahmoud Abbas’s application to join the international criminal court has been sharply criticised by Israel’s president and the US, as well as senior Palestinian figures. Although Washington remains strongly opposed to last week’s signing by Abbas of the Rome Treaty – which governs the international court of last resort – the Department of State issued a statement condemning the decision to freeze the transfer of $127m (£83m) in tax revenues.

“We conveyed to the Israelis that freezing the tax revenues is an action that raises tensions,” the department spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters at a daily briefing on Monday. “We oppose any actions that raise tensions and we call on both sides to avoid it.” Psaki, however, also said it was within the power of Congress – where, from Tuesday, both houses will be led by the Republican party – to order cuts in the $440m aid the US sends to the Palestinian Authority if it continued with moves to join the court. That follows the passing of legislation in Congress making US aid dependent on the Palestinian territories not joining the ICC.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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BBC News

Jerusalem attack: Synagogue reopens for worshippers

November 19, 2014

Worshippers have returned to the synagogue in Jerusalem that on Tuesday was the scene of a deadly attack. Security was stepped up by the Israeli authorities at the Kehilat Bnai Torah synagogue ahead of morning prayers. In the attack, two Palestinian men armed with a gun, knives and meat cleavers killed four rabbis and a police officer before being shot dead. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by promising to win the “battle for Jerusalem”.

Before dawn on Wednesday, Israeli troops demolished the home of a Palestinian who killed a baby and a woman last month by ramming a car into a Jerusalem tram stop. The man, Abdel-Rahman Shaloudi, was from Silwan, an area of occupied Arab East Jerusalem. Israel had stopped its policy of demolishing the homes of militants in 2005, after a review committee found they did not deter attacks. However, the practice resumed this year.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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BBC News

Israel bans Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert from Gaza

November 14, 2014

A Norwegian doctor has been permanently banned from entering the Gaza Strip by the Israeli government. Dr Mads Gilbert says he was stopped trying to cross into Gaza in October. He called the move “totally unacceptable”. Israel cited security reasons for imposing the ban. Dr Gilbert has treated patients in Gaza for more than a decade. He worked at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City during the 50-day summer conflict.

He told the BBC he had never broken any Israeli rules during his spells working in Gaza. But he suggested that his open reporting of the medical situation in the territory had angered the Israeli authorities. “The fundamental reason for the ill health of the population in Gaza is of course the siege and the bombing,” he said. An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, described Dr Gilbert as a “Jekyll and Hyde” figure, hiding behind a cloak of being a humanitarian doctor.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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ABC News

Israel Allows Gaza Fish Exports to Resume

November 10, 2014

Israel on Monday allowed Gaza fishermen to export their catch to the West Bank for the first time since 2007. The shipment of more than 730 kilograms of fish marked a symbolic easing of a longstanding Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip. Israel, which imposed the blockade along with Egypt to isolate Hamas after it seized power in Gaza, agreed to loosen the restrictions after a 50-day war against the Islamic militant group over the summer. Adel Attallah, of the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry, said the shipment was meant to “test the Israeli intentions.”

“We will not open the door for export freely,” he said. The move came a day after Israel let 16 tons of cucumber pass from Gaza to the West Bank, also for the first time in years. Gaza used to ship up to 1,200 tons of fish to the West Bank each year before the blockade. Following the war, Israel agreed to double a permitted fishing zone for Gazans up to six nautical miles. Attalah said the produce is 60 percent less than the 4,000 tons of fish caught annually when fishermen were able to reach up to 12 miles.

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SOURCE = ABC News

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International Business Times

Israel: Arabs in Favour of Palestinian State ‘Can Move to Gaza’ says PM Netanyahu

November 10, 2014

Israeli Arabs who are against Israel and in favour of the creation of a Palestinian state can move to Palestinian territory or Gaza, Israel’s Prime Minister has said. Benjamin Netanyahu made the comment after a Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli soldier in Tel-Aviv. Police said it could be a possible terrorist attack. “To all those who demonstrate against Israel and in favour of a Palestinian state, I say something simple: I invite you to move there; we won’t give you any problem,” Netanyahu said, during a meeting of the Likud Knesset faction. “The terrorists incite and want to evict us from everywhere,” he said. “They don’t want us in Jerusalem, not in Tel Aviv and not anywhere”.

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SOURCE = International Business News

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guardian logo

Violence spreads across Israel after shooting in Galilee

November 9, 2014

Months of simmering violence between Israelis and Palestinians in East Jerusalem spread to Israeli Arab towns this weekend after police shot and killed a 22-year-old man in the Galilee town of Kufr Kana, apparently as he was running away. In their original statements about the death on Friday night police said Kheir Hamdan was shot when he tried to stab an officer during an attempt to arrest him for allegedly throwing a stun grenade in the town, near Nazareth. However, CCTV footage of the shooting shows Hamdan tried to strike a police car several times with an object in his hand – allegedly the knife – but officers were inside, with Hamdan posing no immediate threat to them. When a police officer opens the door, Hamdan is seen retreating. It is at this point he is shot.

Police can then be seen dragging the severely injured Hamdan along the ground and bundling him into their car without offering first aid or calling for assistance. He died several hours later. The shooting provoked violent clashes in the town as residents accused officers of murdering Hamdan. Thousands took to the streets to protest, with many hurling rocks and firebombs at police. Clashes continued on Sunday. The tensions add to those in Jerusalem, where Palestinians from the eastern part of the city have been clashing almost daily with police over access to a holy site.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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telegraph

Israel orders probe after police kill Arab ‘in cold blood’

November 9, 2014

Israeli police officers have been accused of “cold-blooded murder” after a shooting an Arab man while he appeared to be trying to run away after attacking their patrol vehicle with a knife. The death of Khair al-din Hamdan, 22, provoked rioting in the Arab village of Kfar Kani in Israel’s Galilee region, prompting a warning from Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, that rioters could be stripped of their Israeli citizenship. It threatened to further stoke tensions already running high following a spate of deadly incidents in Jerusalem in recent weeks, with security officials fearing that unrest which has afflicted the city’s Palestinian-dominated eastern neighbourhoods could spread to Israel’s 1.5 million strong Arab minority and into the occupied West Bank.

Police said they opened fire on Mr Hamdan because they felt their lives to be at risk when he aggressively approached their vehicle with a large knife after they went to Kfar Kani in the early hours of Saturday in response to reports that a stun grenade had been fired during a family dispute. Footage taken from a security camera appears to shows him striking the police patrol van several times with an object before backing away when an officer comes out the vehicle.

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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Thomson Reuters Foundation

Jordanians protest against Israel, urge end to peace treaty

November 7, 2014

AMMAN, Nov 7 (Reuters) – Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Jordanian cities on Friday, calling on the government to scrap its peace deal with Israel following escalating violence at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. “Death to Israel,” crowds chanted in several cities, with activists demanding that Israel’s embassy in Amman be closed. “Why are you keeping the embassy of the Jews? It should be demolished with everyone in it,” Sheikh Hamam, head of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood party, said in central Amman.

Jordan recalled its ambassador from Israel on Wednesday — the first time it has taken such action since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1994, denouncing what they called “violations” at the al-Aqsa mosque. Tensions over the compound, the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest place in Judaism, have fueled repeated clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in recent weeks, culminating in a one-day closure of the mosque last month.

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SOURCE = Thomson Reuters

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telegraph

MPs ‘encouraged Hamas terrorism’ by voting for Palestinian state says Israel

October 24, 2014

Parliament was guilty of “encouraging terrorist attacks” and “giving up” on peace when MPs cast a “miserable” vote in favour of Palestinian statehood, according to an Israeli cabinet minister. Yuval Steinitz, the intelligence and strategic affairs minister, told the Telegraph that he was “surprised” and “frustrated” by the passage of a resolution through the Commons last Monday urging the Government to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel”. This vote came soon after the summer war between Israel and Hamas, the radical Islamist movement, which claimed the lives of 71 Israelis and 2,189 Palestinians.

“It was a reward for this terrorist attack on Israel to make such a vote only two months after Israel was attacked with 4,000 rockets,” said Mr Steinitz. “Of course Israel responded and retaliated, but Israel came under attack for 50 days of fire of hundreds of rockets every day.” Mr Steinitz pointed out that Hamas had been condemned by Arab leaders including Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, who promised to fight for a state with “politics and wisdom” instead of rockets. “Many people in the region condemned it [Hamas], saying ‘this is backfiring, this might reduce support in the world for a Palestinian state, this is not good, this is wrong’,” said Mr Steinitz.

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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guardian logo

Israel is changing, and suddenly Binyamin Netanyahu looks vulnerable

October 23, 2014

A few weeks is a long time in Israeli politics. In August, at the height of the Gaza war, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s standing among Israelis was untouchable. Now, almost two months after the ceasefire, the talk in the Israeli media is about tensions within his crumbling rightwing coalition, early elections, and whether Netanyahu can reinvent himself politically. In private, Netanyahu has reportedly told allies he does not believe his coalition can survive more than a few months. In public, Netanyahu has been more bullish, telling guests at a surprise 65th birthday party that the last thing Israel needs is elections, a message he repeated to his cabinet on Wednesday. The question is whether his coalition partners – or even members of his own party – are listening.

A number of polls conducted since the end of the war with Hamas in Gaza have suggested a slow and continuing realignment in Israeli party politics, whose largest beneficiary has been the abrasive hard-right economics minister and champion of the settler movement, Naftali Bennett. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s political difficulties have been mounting. His plan to hold an early leadership primary within his own Likud party – viewed by some as a precursor to national elections – is opposed by a faction within the party led by central committee chairman Danny Danon, who has been attacking Netanyahu from the right. Outside his own party, Bennett has emerged as Netanyahu’s biggest challenger for the mantle of leader of Israel’s right. He upped the ante again this week, reportedly threatening to destabilise the coalition – including by not supporting the government in a confidence motion on Monday – if Netanyahu does not sign off on more settlement housing approvals.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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euReporter

Israel, Palestinians set to resume Gaza talks in Cairo next week

October 22, 2014

Israel and a Palestinian delegation are expected to resume talks in Cairo next week over a long-term Gaza ceasefire, after Egypt reportedly extended invitations. Egyptian-brokered open-ended truce on 26 August, which put an end to Israel’s 50-day Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza has held firm. However, the terms stipulated that Israel and Hamas, within a wider Palestinian delegation, would return to talks within a month in order to discuss longer-term issues regarding the Gaza Strip. Many outstanding issues remain including Israel’s request for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip and Hamas’s demand to construct an airport and sea port. The two sides held brief indirect discussions last month and resolved to reconvene after Jewish and Muslim holidays which have now ended. As a result, Egypt has apparently invited both sides to talks next week.

Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuk told AFP: “Hamas and the Palestinian factions will take part in a session of indirect negotiations” on 27 October “at the invitation of Egypt.” There has been no official public response from Israeli officials. However, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said that Israel supports Gaza’s rehabilitation, but this must not be “taken advantage of for the building of tunnels, or manufacturing rockets, or anything else that has a military-terrorist purpose.” Israel Radio suggested that next week’s talks will focus on providing relief for Gaza’s residents. Earlier this month, at a conference in Cairo, international donors pledged $5.4bn for Gaza’s reconstruction.

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SOURCE = EU Reporter

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BBC News

MPs to vote on recognising Palestine as a state

October 11, 2014

MPs are to take part in an historic vote in Parliament that will call on the government to recognise Palestine as a state. Labour backbencher Grahame Morris will present the motion on Monday as MPs return to the Commons. The motion has the full backing of the Labour shadow cabinet, the BBC has been told. The vote is symbolic and would not change government policy but could have international implications. Current government policy, as set out by former foreign secretary William Hague, is that the UK “reserves the right to recognise a Palestinian state bilaterally at the moment of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace”.

Mr Morris’s motion states that “this House believes that the government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel”. The BBC understands that a group of backbench MPs will attach an amendment to the motion on Monday. The amendment is expected to add a clause with the words “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”. The vote comes amid moves elsewhere in Europe to recognise Palestine officially. Sweden’s new centre-left government announced last week that it intends to officially recognise Palestine as a state, becoming the first long-term European Union member state to do so. It will join more than 100 other countries that have already recognised Palestinian statehood.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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BBC News

A war within a war: The battles fought by Gaza’s medics

October 10, 2014

The huge task of rebuilding parts of Gaza after the recent war with Israel will be the focus of an international conference in Cairo this weekend. The 50-day conflict caused massive damage and thousands of casualties, overwhelming Gaza’s hospitals. Neither Dr Naveen Cavale or Dr Simon Calvert had ever seen anything like it. The amateur video showed scenes of chaos – tens of doctors jostling from wounded to wounded; journalists with bulky TV cameras swarming around beds where dark red patches bloomed through patients’ dressings. Some casualties lay on plastic sheets on the floor, IV drips dangling above their heads. “No hospital on earth is designed to cope with such a large and sudden influx of trauma like that. But if they had the procedures and protocol we have in London, they may be able to cope in such an emergency,” Dr Simon said.

The seasoned surgeons were shocked by the footage of the emergency room of the Shifa Hospital – Gaza’s busiest – on 31 July, when more than 200 injured Palestinians were brought through its doors. They were part of a team of British doctors from London’s King’s College Hospital who travelled to Gaza to set up a programme for advanced limb reconstruction for victims of war injuries. But neither Dr Naveen nor Dr Simon had ever been to the Middle East before, let alone a conflict zone. The previous week, worlds away in the brightly lit and warm yellow of one of King’s operating theatres during a routine procedure, a Nelly Furtado song playing on a radio in the background, plastic reconstruction surgeon Dr Naveen considered the trip ahead. “I’m terrified of leaving behind my wife and two small children. But I want to do something like this. Someone with the skills that I’ve been trained with, working in a state-of-the-art facility like King’s, ought to be able to transfer these to a place that needs it like Gaza.”

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SOURCE = BBC News

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guardian logo

Revert green light for new West Bank settlement, Kerry tells Netanyahu

September 3, 2014

John Kerry has called the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, amid a US effort to persuade Israel to reverse the go-ahead for the largest appropriation of land on the occupied West Bank since the 1980s. The secretary of state’s call followed the disclosure that the US had officially requested Israel to reverse the decision, amid mounting criticism of the move both internationally and within Netanyahu’s own cabinet.Kerry is preparing to meet Palestinian negotiators seeking a firm deadline for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories to the pre-1967 borders.

Failing that, Palestinian officials have warned they will seek a UN resolution setting a three-year deadline for the end of the occupation. The talks will be Kerry’s first face-to-face discussions with Palestinian negotiators since Washington found itself sidelined from ceasefire talks in July when Kerry – the top US diplomat – failed to broker a truce in the war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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International Business Times

Former Cuba Leader Fidel Castro Says ‘Israel and US Fathered Isis’

September 3, 201$

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has claimed that Israel and the United States are behind the creation of the Isis (now known as the Islamic State) terror group, according to local media reports. In a piece written for official Cuban state media, Castro accuses Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, and US Senator John McCain of conspiring to create the IS. His comments were translated into English by Russia Today. In the article, Castro writes that John McCain is Israel’s “most unconditional ally” and has been in cahoots with Mossad to create IS.

The former Cuban leader alleges that the US Senator, “together with [Mossad, conspired] in the creation of the Islamic State, which today controls a considerable and vital portion of Iraq and reportedly one-third of Syria as well.” Castro then turns to Nato and compares the alliances leaders to that of Nazi Germany’s SS corps. “Many people are astonished when they hear the statements made by some European spokesmen for Nato when they speak with the style and face of the Nazi SS,” he writes.

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SOURCE = International Business Times

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Middle East Online

Israel faces mounting criticism over Palestinian land grab

September 2, 2014

JERUSALEM – Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned Tuesday that Israel was eroding its international support, as criticism abroad mounted of its biggest grab of Palestinian land since the 1980s. Lapid complained the security cabinet had not been consulted about Sunday’s announcement of the confiscation of 400 hectares (988 acres) of land in the occupied West Bank to pave the way for further settlement building. “The announcement, which wasn’t brought to the security cabinet, regarding 900 acres of land for building in Gush Etzion (between Jerusalem and Hebron) harms the State of Israel,” Lapid told an economic conference in Tel Aviv.

“Maintaining the support of the world was already challenging, so why was it so urgent to create another crisis with the United States and the world?” he asked. Lapid, a centrist within the governing coalition, was alluding to widespread international condemnation of the high Palestinian civilian death toll during Israel’s 50-day war in Gaza. However, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, himself a resident of Tekoa in the Gush Etzion settlement zone, defended the expropriation. “The official policy of the government of Israel is first of all to focus on those settlement blocs which it is understood will under any agreement to come remain under Israeli sovereignty,” he said in remarks broadcast by public radio.

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SOURCE = Middle East Online

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New York Times

Israel: U.N. Chief Criticizes Seizing of West Bank Land

September 1, 2014

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations added his voice on Monday to the criticism of Israel over its seizing of nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land in a Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem. Israel’s action on Sunday, Mr. Ban said in a statement, “risks paving the way for further settlement activity, which — as the United Nations has reiterated on many occasions — is illegal under international law and runs totally counter to the pursuit of a two-state solution.” Palestinians, who aspire to create a state on territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, denounced the new land seizure by Israel and said it would further aggravate relations, less than a week after a cease-fire agreement brokered by Egypt was reached to halt 50 days of fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza. American and British officials also criticized the land seizing, calling it counterproductive, while Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said it would have “negative consequences on the peace process.”

Copyright © 2014: The New York Times

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telegraph

Israel shoots down drone over its Syria border

August 31, 2014

Israel was forced to shoot down a drone over its border with Syria as it faced the prospect of a wider intervention in the neighbouring civil war to end a hostage crisis in which jihadists are holding dozens of UN peacekeepers. The capture of Fijian and Filipino troops in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) by al-Qaeda affiliated rebels Jabhat Al Nusra last week has cast doubt over the future of the UN force on the disputed Golan Heights. While a dramatic rescue operation spearheaded by the Irish army retrieved 70 Filipino peacekeepers over the weekend, there remains 44 Fijian forces in jihadist custody.

Israeli officials are believed to be urgently seeking options to shore up the future of the UNDOF mission, which has been in the buffer zone between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights since the 1974 ceasefire. The force comprises 1,233 international peacekeepers drawn from the Philippines, Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal and the Netherlands but a number of contributing states have pulled out or withdrawn offers to deploy in light of the Syrian conflict.

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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NBC News

Israel Launches Airstrikes on Gaza After Rockets Shatter Truce

August 20, 2014

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip after three fired from the enclave shattered a temporary truce on Tuesday. The Israeli military said it bombed targets in the Gaza Strip in response to the renewed rocket fire, adding that “yet again, terrorists breach the ceasefire.” The rockets fired Tuesday from Gaza landed on open fields near the city of Beersheba and did not cause any casualties, Israeli military officials said, with witnesses in Gaza City telling Reuters that they heard the sound of rockets being launched from the enclave. The exchange of fire shattered a 24-hour truce extension that was due to expire at midnight. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have been in Cairo trying to hammer out a deal to end the crisis which has killed around 2,000 Palestinians and more than 60 Israelis.

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SOURCE = NBC News

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International Business Times

Turkey Readies Power Ship For Energy Starved Gaza

August 19, 2014

Turkey has prepared a floating power plant to send to Gaza in order to compensate for the loss of electricity through much of the Palestinian territory. Gaza has experienced severe energy shortages following Israel’s month-long air and ground offensive that has wiped out much of the territory’s energy infrastructure. “Turkey will build power plants in Palestine in the long term but, as a quick solution, Turkey will send a 100-megawatt power-generating ship from Basra to Gaza offshore through the private sector in about two to three months,” Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said in Ankara, as quoted by Turkish state news agency Anadolu.

The company that built the floating power plant is waiting for Israel’s approval before it sends the ship, Yilidz said, adding the delivery would require the lifting of the economic blockade on Gaza. “This can only be realised if the blockade’s energy aspect is eased,” Yildiz said, revealing he thought it likely Israel would acquiesce to the plan. “Israel’s attitude toward energy in Gaza will be different than its current position since having access to energy is a humanitarian issue,” the minister said. The eight-year blockade has come under increased international criticism as the damage from Israel’s offensive into Gaza became clear during the mid-August ceasefire.

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SOURCE = International Business News

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International Business Times

Gaza Strip: 2-Year-Old Girl and Woman Killed in Israeli Airstrike as Ceasefire Falters

August 19, 2014

A two-year-old Palestinian girl and a woman, 40, are believed to have become the first fatalities of the Gaza conflict since the ceasefire began to falter. According to Ashraf al Kidra, a spokesman for local emergency services, both victims died when a house was destroyed by a blast in Gaza City. Thousands of Gaza residents are said to have fled to shelters as Israel launched its assault. Israel says it responded following rockets launched by militants from Gaza. Two were shot down by the Iron Dome defence system and one is said to have landed in Tel Aviv but caused no injuries. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said: “This rocket attack was a grave and direct violation of the ceasefire. The Cairo talks were based on an agreed premise of a total cessation of hostilities. When Hamas breaks the ceasefire, they also break the premise for the Cairo talks. Accordingly, the Israeli team has been called back.”

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SOURCE = International Business News

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Thomson Reuters Foundation

Palestinian negotiator says Cairo talks failed, blames Israel

August 19, 2014

CAIRO, Aug 20 (Reuters) – The head Palestinian negotiator in Cairo, Azzam al-Ahmed, said on Wednesday that talks for a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict had failed and the delegates were leaving Egypt. Speaking after a truce in the fighting lapsed at midnight (2100 GMT), Azzam al-Ahmed of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s mainstream Fatah movement, said “Israel thwarted the contacts that could have brought peace … there was an Israeli decision to make the Cairo talks fail.” Israel withdrew its delegates from Egypt earlier in response to renewed rocket fire from Gaza.

Copyright © 2014: Thompson Reuters Foundation

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Middle East Online

Israel destroys homes of suspected teen kidnappers

August 18, 2014

JERUSALEM – The Israeli army said Monday it had destroyed the homes of two of three Palestinians suspected of involvement in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June. Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach disappeared from a hitchhiking stop in the southern West Bank on June 12 and their bodies were found June 30, with Israel blaming Hamas militants. The incident triggered a series of events which led to the currently bloody standoff in Gaza where Israel and Hamas have been locked in a violent confrontation for more than a month. Israel has named three Palestinians from the southern city of Hebron as being behind the abduction – Hossam Qawasmeh, who was arrested in July, and Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisha – both of whom are still at large.

“Overnight, as part of the ongoing mission to combat terror in the region, security personnel demolished the residences of Hossam Qawasmeh, and Amer Abu Eisha, and sealed off the residence of Marwan Qawasmeh in Hebron,” an army statement said. The homes of Marwan Qawasmeh and Abu Eisha had been partially destroyed by the army on July 1, a day after the teens’ bodies were found, Palestinian witnesses said at the time. At the scene, a correspondent confirmed the demolition of two of the houses and said a third had been sealed off with concrete. Israeli officials say all three are Hamas members, with Hossam Qawasmeh named as the leader of the group.

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SOURCE = Middle East Online

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BBC News

Israel export licences warning from UK

August 12, 2014

UK arms export licences to Israel will be suspended only if there is fresh violence in Gaza, ministers have said. The UK has identified 12 licences for components which could be used in equipment in Gaza by Israel. It said it would suspend them “in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities”. The Lib Dems had urged a suspension regardless of the current ceasefire. A spokesman said this was “as far as we have been able to reach in collective agreement with the Conservatives”. Baroness Warsi, who quit as Foreign Office minister over government policy on Gaza, said the UK’s position on export licences was “morally indefensible”. The Lib Dem spokesman said it was “no secret” there had been a difference of opinion in the coalition government on the issue of export licences.

He said Lib Dem ministers had “been very clear for some time both privately and publicly that they wanted to see arms export licences to Israel suspended because of the situation in Gaza”. “What is clear now is that we have agreement that if the current ceasefire ends in Gaza, which we all hope it doesn’t, and there was a resumption of significant hostilities, then there would be an immediate suspension of those arms export licences to Israel that give cause for concern,” said the spokesman.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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BBC News

Gaza crisis: Rafah school strike ‘criminal’ – UN chief

An attack that killed 10 people at a UN-run Gaza school was a “moral outrage and a criminal act”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said. It constituted a “gross violation of international law”, Mr Ban said. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US was appalled by the “disgraceful” shelling. Israel has declared a “humanitarian ceasefire” in most of Gaza for seven hours on Monday. Brig Gen Yoav Mordechai said the ceasefire would apply to all of the Gaza Strip except eastern Rafah from 10:00 (07:00 GMT) to 17:00.

Sunday’s blast hit the entrance of the school, which is sheltering thousands displaced by the conflict. Israel denies firing into the school. The Israeli military said it had targeted three militants from the Islamic Jihad group on a motorbike near the school, though the group did not report any of it members killed or injured. Government spokesman Mark Regev said that if militants were turning the vicinities of schools into war zones they should be held accountable. Gaza health officials say 30 people have died on Sunday, while militants continue to fire rockets into Israel.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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BBC News

Gaza conflict: US and UN condemn school shelling

July 30, 2014

The US and UN have condemned the shelling of a school housing displaced civilians in Gaza. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the attack, which killed 16, was “outrageous”. Israel said that its military was responding to mortar rounds launched from near the school. More than 100 people died in Gaza on Wednesday, Palestinian officials said. The shelling of a market near Gaza City killed 17, while booby traps claimed the lives of three Israeli soldiers.

Palestinian doctors said an Israeli air strike had also killed seven people in Khan Younis. The Gaza health ministry said 106 people had been killed on Wednesday, bringing the overall death toll to 1,336. Most have been civilians. Some 58 Israelis have been killed, 56 soldiers and two civilians. A Thai worker in Israel has also died.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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guardian logo

Jon Snow has opinions, and they’re fit for TV

July 29, 2014

On his return from Gaza last week, Jon Snow – the face of Channel 4 News – recorded a three-and-a-half-minute video entitled “The children of Gaza”. It was an appeal straight to the hearts and minds of viewers. “I can’t get those images out of my mind,” he told them, talking about his visit to a medical centre treating children wounded in the conflict. “In a very densely packed urban area, if you decide to throw missiles, shells and the rest, then you will undoubtedly kill children.” Snow’s video went viral. Supporters applauded its frankness. Opponents registered their disquiet that an anchor should intervene so directly in a story he had been covering. At the time of writing, it has received over 1 million views across the channel’s social media platforms. But it was never broadcast on Channel 4 News itself.

The most likely reasons for the video’s non-appearance on television are the rules that bind all TV broadcasters in the UK, set down in law and enforced by the regulator Ofcom. A core requirement for all TV news – but not newspapers or internet outlets – is that events are presented with “due accuracy” and “due impartiality”. The regulator tries to be reasonable in defining these terms to avoid every issue being presented as a false he-said-she-said narrative – the worst cases are often climate change coverage misrepresenting a global scientific consensus as an evenly split debate. But the code is still inflexible in parts, and foremost among those is a section requiring broadcasters to “exclude all expressions of the views and opinions of the person providing the service”.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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BBC News

Gaza crisis: 13 Israeli soldiers, scores of Gazans killed

July 21, 2014

Israel and Gaza have both suffered their bloodiest day since the beginning of the current offensive. Israel says that 13 of its soldiers died since Saturday night, the biggest one-day loss for its army in years. At least 87 Gazans were reported killed on Sunday – 60 of them in the district of Shejaiya alone. The total death toll in Gaza now stands at more than 425. Hamas said on Sunday evening that it had captured an Israeli soldier, but Israel has issued a denial. “There’s no kidnapped Israeli soldier and those rumours are untrue,” said Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor. Celebratory gunfire and shouts could be heard in Gaza City after the claim was made. Sunday’s death toll for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is higher than that sustained by the IDF during the entire three-week duration of Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, the last time that Israel sent ground troops into Gaza.

It brings the number of Israeli soldiers killed in the current offensive to 18. The deaths of so many soldiers on a single day will shock Israeli society, the BBC’s Chris Morris reports from southern Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue operations in Gaza “as much as we need to” despite the casualties. He said the Israeli government felt “deep pain” over deaths of its soldiers, and that Hamas, not Israel was responsible for the escalation in Gaza. The UN Security Council is due to meet on Sunday evening in emergency session to discuss the situation. US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to travel to the Egyptian capital Cairo on Monday to support regional efforts to reach a ceasefire.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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The Mail UK

Kerry heads to the Middle East to try and broker ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas

July 21, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to the Middle East as the Obama administration attempts to bolster regional efforts to reach a ceasefire and sharpens its criticism of Hamas in its conflict with Israel. The State Department said Kerry would leave early on Monday for Egypt where he will join diplomatic efforts to resume a truce that had been agreed to in November 2012. In a statement on Sunday evening, department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called the U.S. and international partners ‘deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life.’ The Obama administration has toned down its earlier rebuke of Israel for attacks on the Gaza Strip that have killed civilians, including children, although both President Barack Obama and Kerry expressed concern about the rising death toll.

The U.S. will urge the militant Palestinian group to accept a cease-fire agreement that would halt nearly two weeks of fighting with Israel. More than 430 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have been killed in that time. Cairo has offered a cease-fire plan that is backed by the U.S. and Israel. But Hamas has rejected the Egyptian plan and is relying on governments in Qatar and Turkey for an alternative proposal. Qatar and Turkey have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also linked to Hamas but banned in Egypt. Making the rounds of Sunday talk shows, Kerry pointed to Hamas’ role in the violence.

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SOURCE = The Daily Mail

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Israel-Gaza conflict: Gaza suffers its deadliest day after ‘heinous massacre’ in Shuja’iya

July 21, 2014

Ferocious violence has resulted in more than 100 deaths in Gaza, with Palestinian accusations that a bloody assault on the town of Shuja’iya by Israeli forces, leaving bodies on the streets and buildings destroyed, was motivated by revenge for the deaths of 13 soldiers. The Israeli losses were one of the largest in one operation suffered in recent times by the Jewish state.  Al Quds Force, the military wing of Hamas, had claimed that it had lured troops into a minefield. But the Israeli military stated that the deaths came in separate incidents overnight involving improvised explosive devices and a firefight. The killing in Shuja’iya of Palestinians, including a large number of women and children, was condemned by the Palestinian government led by President Mahmoud Abbas as a “heinous massacre” and a “war crime”. Mushir al-Nasri, a senior Hamas official, said: “We have been carrying out successful military operations against the Israelis, they take their revenge on defenceless civilians”.

But the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, charged that the town had become a “fortress of terror” that had been used to fire rockets into Israel. The controversy over the Israeli mission, with the Palestinian death toll going past 425 in nearly two weeks of fighting, continued with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, caught on a microphone saying: “ It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation. We’ve got to get over there, we ought to go tonight, it’s crazy to be sitting around here.” Behind the international diplomatic manoeuvres and the accusations and recriminations, the terrible human cost of unfolded of what had befallen Shuja’iya. Hania Um Aziz had been lying trapped with a broken leg in her home in Baghdad Street for 14 hours as airstrikes and tank shells pounded around the area. “All the time there was smell of blood coming from downstairs,” said the 64-year-old woman after being rescued; the bodies were those of her brother and niece, killed by tank fire. At the same time, the Al-Qassas family was fleeing the neighbourhood, under fire, along with hundreds of others, when a shell burst between them.

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SOURCE = The Belfast Telegraph

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guardian logo

Philip Hammond: I would still vote to leave Europe

July 20, 2014

Philip Hammond, last week appointed as foreign secretary, has confirmed that he would vote for Britain to leave the European Union unless there was significant reform in Brussels. In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday, Hammond said that current arrangements were “simply not acceptable” and that he stood by the answer he gave in an interview a year ago when he said, if he had to choose now, he would vote for withdrawal from the EU. David Cameron is committed to renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the EU and then holding an in/out referendum before the end of 2017 but he and William Hague, Hammond’s predecessor, have always refused to acknowledge that they could vote no, arguing it is defeatist to go into negotiations contemplating defeat.

But Hammond chose not to equivocate in one of his first interviews since his appointment on Tuesday. Asked if he would still prefer to leave the EU rather than accept the status quo, he replied: “I haven’t changed my mind. “If there is no change at all in the way Europe is governed, no change in the balance of competences between the nation states and the European Union, no resolution of the challenge of how the eurozone can succeed and co-exist with the non-eurozone, that is not a Europe that can work for Britain in the future. So there must be change, there must be renegotiation.” Hammond said he accepted that “Britain gains enormously from being inside the European single market”, but added that overall the status quo was “not in Britain’s interest”.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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Thomson Reuters Foundation

Qatar condemns Israel attack on Gaza’s Shejaia district

July 20, 2014

DOHA, July 20 (Reuters) – The Qatari foreign minister condemned the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday as a “massacre” and called for a ceasefire that would ensure the lifting of a blockade on the coastal region. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, speaking at a joint news conference with the minister, Khaled al-Attiya, described Israeli-Palestinian fighting in Gaza as an “open wound and we must stop the bleeding now”.

(Reporting by Amena Bakr, writing by Sami Aboudi, Editing by William Maclean)

Copyright © 2014: Thomson Reuters Foundation

 

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The Gulf Today

Hamas, Fatah sign unity deal

April 24, 2014

RAMALLAH: Rival Palestinian leaders from the West Bank and Gaza Strip agreed on Wednesday to form a unity government soon, bringing thousands of people on to the streets in celebration. Amid the jublilation, an Israeli air strike on Gaza wounded six people, the coastal territory’s ruling movement Hamas said. “An agreement has been reached on the formation within five weeks of an independent government headed by President Mahmoud Abbas,” said a joint statement read out by Hamas’s Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh in front of a visiting delegation from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

It was not the first time that the rivals have announced a deal to end seven years of separate Palestinian administrations in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the unity deal showed Palestinians were not serious about 11th-hour efforts to salvage US-brokered peace negotiations. Shortly after the deal was announced an Israeli warplane attacked a target at Beit Lahiya, north of Gaza City, wounding six people, one seriously, the Hamas interior ministry said.

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SOURCE = The Gulf Today

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BBC News

Netanyahu says Abbas must abandon unity deal with Hamas

April 24, 2014

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas must abandon Fatah’s pact with Hamas if he wants peace, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told the BBC. Israel earlier suspended peace talks with the Palestinians in response to a unity deal between the two factions. The US has voiced its “disapproval”, but is not ready to declare the talks over and is “still making the effort”. Fatah and Hamas agreed on Wednesday to form a unity government within weeks and hold elections six months later. They have been at odds since Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in 2006, ousted forces loyal to Mr Abbas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip during clashes in 2007 and set up a rival government.

Mr Netanyahu told the BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen that Mr Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah, could “have peace with Israel or a pact with Hamas – he can’t have both”. He said Israel would only resume peace talks with Palestinians “when they decide to abandon the course of terror”. “As long as I’m prime minister of Israel, I will never negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas terrorists that are calling for our liquidation,” he added. The chief Palestinian peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, insisted that Palestinian reconciliation was an internal matter.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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The Statesman

April 24, 2014

In a major breakthrough amid deadlocked peace talks with Israel, rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have agreed to implement a key reconciliation deal, seven years after they fought pitched street battles and Hamas took control of the coastal Gaza Strip. “There has been great progress, and we are nearly ready to sign a deal,” Munib Al-Masri, a member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party delegation in the Gaza Strip said. MR Al-Masri said that the two sides had reached an agreement on all issues, including holding elections within six months. Islamist Hamas’ spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zahawiri, issued a similar statement. A unity government headed by Mr Abbas would be created in the coming period, he said.

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SOURCE = The Statesman

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BBC News

Hamas and Fatah unveil Palestinian reconciliation deal

April 23, 2014

Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have announced a reconciliation deal, saying they will try to form a unity government in the coming weeks. Hamas and Fatah split violently in 2007. Previous reconciliation agreements have never been implemented. The deal comes amid troubled peace talks between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel. Following the announcement, Israel said it would not attend a negotiation session planned for Wednesday evening. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier said Mr Abbas would have to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas. “You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace; so far he hasn’t done so,” he warned. Israel – along with the US and the EU – views the Islamist Hamas group as a terrorist organisation.

Palestinian officials responded by saying reconciliation was an internal matter and uniting Palestinian people would reinforce peace. In a statement, Mr Abbas said there was “no incompatibility between reconciliation and the talks” and that they were committed to peace on the basis of a two-state solution. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was “disappointed” by the announcement and warned it could seriously complicate peace efforts. “It’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist,” she added.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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Canada

Abbas tries to show he has options as deadline for deal on peace talks with Israel draws near

April 23, 2014

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to show that he has alternatives if U.S.-mediated talks with Israel break off Tuesday, the deadline for agreeing on a possible extension. In recent days, Abbas has revived attempts to reconcile with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that seized Gaza from him in 2007. He has also hinted he might dismantle his self-rule government and saddle Israel — formally responsible as the occupying power — with the huge financial and logistical burden of taking care of more than 4 million Palestinians. It’s not clear if Abbas is building leverage for last-minute pressure on Israel to agree to his terms for extending the negotiations, or if he is genuinely changing political strategy. However, the coming days are crucial in deciding which path he will take — political confrontation with the U.S. and Israel, an extension of peace talks or a return to a period of no negotiations.

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SOURCE = Canada.com

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The Boston Globe

US, Israel denounce Palestinian unity plan

April 23, 2014

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — It could be a historic step toward ending a split that has left Palestinians divided between two sets of rulers for the past seven years. Rival factions Hamas and Fatah have agreed to form a unity government and hold new elections. Following the announcement of the deal, hundreds of people took to the streets in Gaza to celebrate. Crowds hoisted Palestinian flags and posters. ‘‘I hope it will be real this time,’’ said Asma Radwan, a 33-year-old schoolteacher who came with her two young sons. ‘‘I came to say ‘thank you’ to the leaders. But don’t disappoint us like the past. Seven years of division is enough.’’

It remained unclear how the plan would succeed where past attempts have repeatedly failed. It also added new complications to U.S. efforts to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Both the U.S. and Israel condemned the agreement. In an initial response, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a planned meeting for Wednesday evening between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators.

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SOURCE = The Boston Globe

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BBC News

UN envoy and Israel in Easter ritual access row

April 20, 2014

The UN’s Middle East peace envoy has criticised Israeli authorities for allegedly preventing him from reaching an Easter ritual in Jerusalem. Robert Serry said the delay was “unacceptable behaviour” and called on all parties to “respect the right of religious freedom”. Israel said it was a “micro-incident” and questioned Mr Serry’s judgement. Thousands of Christian pilgrims took part in the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Mr Serry said that he was held up at a checkpoint along with other diplomats and dozens of Palestinians trying to make their way to the ceremony. He told Reuters news agency that he might have been trampled had he not eventually been allowed to pass.

“It became really dangerous because there was a big crowd and I was pushed against a metal fence the police put up there, the crowd tried to push really hard,” he said. “This wasn’t something you associate with a peaceful procession for Easter.” he said. An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said Mr Serry had displayed “a serious problem of judgment” and that any attempts to limit access were carried out for safety reasons. Spokesman Yigal Palmor praised “the dedicated work of the Jerusalem police”.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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MEM

Abbas alludes to dissolving Palestinian Authority

April 19, 2014

The Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday he might withdraw from the political arena and “hand over the key to Israel to run Palestinian territories” should the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks fail, the Israeli Channel 2 reported. In a meeting with Israeli Knesset members in Ramallah, Abbas alluded to dissolving the PA, indicating that this would be the official stance of the Palestinian negotiations team.

When this happens, Israel will bear the burden of running Palestinian territories, which costs around NIS 2 billion paid by donors to the PA. In an effort to save the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, the US peace envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk held two separate meetings with the heads of the Palestinian and Israeli negotiations teams on Thursday.

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SOURCE = Middle East Monitor

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MEM

Livni: Israel will surround Abbas until he surrenders to our terms

April 7, 2014

Israel will surround the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas until he accepts the Israeli terms and recognises Israel as a Jewish state, Israel’s top negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said yesterday. Livni told Israel’s Channel 10 that Israel will not release Palestinian prisoners who committed violent acts against Israeli citizens. “Israel will not release Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands,” Livni said. Livni claimed that several Arab countries have told Israel they will not transfer funds to Abbas pointing out that she had visited friendly Arab countries 11 times in the past 50 days. “The city of Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel and the Arab and Islamic countries do not object to that,” Livni claimed.

Copyright © 2014: Middle East Monitor

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EI

Video: Israeli crowd cheers as Africans called “slaves”

October 8, 2013

An Israeli high court decision on 16 September striking down legislation authorizing the indefinite incarceration of asylum-seekers from Africa brought hundreds of residents of Tel Aviv into the streets in protest the following day. Blocking the intersection at the entrance to the Hatikvah market in south Tel Aviv to traffic for an hour and a half, Jewish Israelis decried the court ruling, which mandates that the 2,000 Africans jailed in Israel on the basis of the invalidated law must be released within ninety days. In the last several years, south Tel Aviv has become home to approximately 30,000 non-Jewish African nationals, most of whom entered the country by walking across Israel’s desert border with Egypt. Israelis opposed to their presence accuse them of migrating to Israel solely to earn more money than they could hope to in their home countries, while advocates for the Africans claim that most of them have fled dictatorial regimes and ethnic cleansing campaigns.

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SOURCE = Electronic Intifada

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