Sunday, February 25, 2018 Last Update: 10:07 AM GMT

33 Rights Groups to UN: Publish Names of Illegal Settlement-linked Businesses

Israel escalated settlement activities in the West Bank disregarding displacement of Palestinians and international law. (Photo: ActiveStills.org)

More than 30 international and Palestinian human rights groups and organisations have urged the UN Human Rights Office to make public a list of companies linked to Israel’s illegal settlements.

In a joint letter addressed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, the organisations welcomed January’s update by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on the work being done to produce a database of settlement-linked businesses.

The signatories then call on OHCHR “to release and list companies that have been duly screened and contacted, particularly those who have rejected the mandate of OHCHR in this regard and who have failed to respond within the 60-day timeframe.”

Signatories to the letter include Addameer, Amnesty International, DCI-Palestine, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Trocaire.

According to a press release by signatory Al-Haq, “the letter further stresses on the need to accept the Database as a living mechanism that needs to be continually developed and provided adequate resources for that purpose.”

The letter stresses that the database would be an important precedent in ensuring “accountability for corporations involved in human rights abuses worldwide”, and “as a tool to encourage and assist states in bringing companies within their jurisdiction to comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights, international human rights and humanitarian law”.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

US ‘Will Move Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem in May’: US State Department (VIDEO)

Palestinian women visit al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Occupied East Jerusalem. (Photo: MEMO)

The Trump administration will move its US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, the US State Department announced Friday, coinciding with Israel’s 70th anniversary.

While symbolically important, the move is likely a preliminary step in a broader relocation effort initiated by the administration in December, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said will take “years.”

The embassy will first be set up in an existing US facility in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona that “will contain office space for the Ambassador and a small staff,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement announcing the plan. The facility will function as the official embassy while plans to secure a permanent location and design a building are drawn up.

“By the end of next year, we intend to open a new Embassy Jerusalem annex on the Arnona compound that will provide the Ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space,” Nauert added.

“In parallel, we have started the search for a site for our permanent Embassy to Israel, the planning and construction of which will be a longer-term undertaking.”

Vice President Mike Pence had said on his tour of Israel last month that the relocation would not happen until 2019.

The embassy will likely be located at a U.S. facility in the Talpiyot neighborhood, currently used for consular affairs, including passport and visa processing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is in touch with the U.S. administration and will respond once an official announcement has been made by the White House.

Protests promptly broke out in Gaza and the West Bank, having been taking place on a weekly basis since Trump first announced the move on December 6.

Israeli security forces have quelled the demonstrations and 20 Palestinians have been killed since Trump’s controversial declaration of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The United States stood isolated during a UN General Assembly in late December, when that declaration was rejected by 128 nations.

Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem since 1967’s Six-Day War.

(teleSUR, CNN, PC, Social Media)

Two Palestinian Novels Shortlisted for International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2018

Two out of six shortlisted novels were by Palestinian authors. (Photo via Twitter)

Amir Tag Elsir, Aziz Mohammed, Ibrahim Nasrallah, Shahad Al Rawi, Walid Shurafa and Dima Wannous have been announced on Wednesday February 21, 2018, as the six authors shortlisted for the 11th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF).

The books were revealed by the 2018 chair of judges, Ibrahim Al Saafin, during a press conference held at the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation in Amman, Jordan.

Two debut novelists, who are the youngest authors from the longlist, – Saudi Arabian Aziz Mohammed and Iraqi Shahad Al Rawi – make this year’s shortlist. Al Rawi’s Baghdad Clock has already been translated into English and will be published in June by Oneworld Publications.

They are competing with two previously shortlisted authors: Sudanese Amir Tag Elsir (2011, The Grub Hunter) and Palestinian/Jordanian Ibrahim Nasrallah (2009, Time of White Horses), who have also both served as mentors on the Prize’s Nadwa – an annual writing workshop for talented, emerging writers.

Completing the list are Palestinian Walid Shurafa and Syrian Dima Wannous, who are recognized by the Prize for the first time. Wannous’ The Frightened Ones is currently being translated into English, due for publication in 2019.

Last year’s winner of the Prize was A Small Death by Mohammed Hasan Alwan.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is an annual literary prize for prose fiction in Arabic. It is run with the support, as its mentor, of the Booker Prize Foundation in London and sponsored by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

(PC, Social Media)

Israel Kills Palestinian Hours After Arresting Him (VIDEO)

Said occupation forces informed the family of 33-year-old Yassin Omar Al-Saradih from Jericho that he had died. (Photo: Quds Network, via social media)

Israeli occupation authorities yesterday morning killed a Palestinian man hours after arresting him, according to Palestinian human rights sources.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said occupation forces informed the family of 33-year-old Yassin Omar Al-Saradih from Jericho that he had died following his arrest.

The director of Prisoners’ Club in Jericho said occupation stormed the city and raided Al-Saradih’s house, assaulting him during his arrest.

Al-Saradih “was not suffering from diseases, and the occupation soldiers arrested him while he was in a good health condition.”

He died after he was tortured at the hands of occupation forces, the official said, holding the occupation responsible for the “murder… as a result of torture”.

The family reported that Yassin had been beaten during his arrest.

Occupation authorities announced today that 11 “wanted” Palestinians had been arrested from the occupied West Bank for resisting the occupation.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Settlers Attack Palestinian Shepherd, Slaughter His Flock of Sheep

One of the sheep that were killed by Israeli settlers near Nablus. (Photo: PIC)

Israeli settlers on Wednesday attacked a Palestinian shepherd and then brutally slaughtered ten of his sheep near Nablus.

The Palestinian official of settlement in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, said that a group of 15 settlers of Yitzhar nearby illegal settlement attacked a Palestinian farmer, Thafer Rayyan, while herding in the northern skirts of the town and assaulted him violently.

Throughout the years, Israeli settlers have carried out attacks on farmers, shepherds, their lands and livestock.

(Palestinian Information Centre, PC, Social Media)

UNRWA Condemns Killing of Two Palestinian Refugee Children Near Damascus

UNRWA has been the main provider of aid for Palestine refugees. (Photo via Social Media)

UNRWA condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the killing yesterday in a mortar attack of two Palestine refugee children near the Palestinian refugee camp of Jaramana, 8 kilometers from Damascus, UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Guinness said.

Two young boys – both 14 years of age – were killed as they walked  home after school. Both children were previously displaced from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. Two more children ages 14 and 15 were also injured in the attack.

“Our hearts go out to their families and friends in communities that have been so cruelly affected by conflict,” the statement noted.

“There has been an increase in fighting and mortar incidents in Damascus over the past several days, with reports that 50 mortars landed in Damascus yesterday alone. Mortar attacks reaching Jaramana are the result of ongoing hostilities around East Ghouta that have intensified in recent weeks, now deeply affecting civilians in that area and beyond, among them over 700 Palestine refugee families,” Guinness added.

As a result of the attacks and due to the deterioration on the security situation, UNRWA has been forced to suspend schools and food distribution programs in several areas throughout Damascus and surrounding areas. Over 27,000 children will be directly impacted by the closure of the schools and many more will suffer ongoing trauma as a result of the violence.

“We remain committed to delivering a quality education to those 47,000 students across Syria who, despite the war, still manage to access an UNRWA education,” the statement read.

“UNRWA repeats its profound concern regarding the impact of the Syria conflict on children, including by impeding their right to education. Children are and must be protected under International Law,” Guinness concluded.

(UNRWA, PC, Social Media)

Israel Jails Eritrean Asylum Seekers for Refusing Deportation (VIDEO)

Netanyahu said the illegal infiltrators threaten the identity of the Jewish state. (Photo: File)

Asylum seekers held at Israel’s Holot detention facility began a hunger strike last night, reported Haaretz, to protest the jailing of seven Eritreans who refused to leave Israel.

According to the newspaper, this is the first time that asylum seekers have been jailed for refusing to leave. The seven were taken to prison immediately after their pre-deportation hearings yesterday morning.

The paper added that even though “two of them survived torture in Sinai en route” to Israel, “their asylum requests were denied” by Israeli authorities.

As the men “refused to leave Israel for either Eritrea or Rwanda”, they will be jailed indefinitely “unless they change their minds”, as per the interior ministry’s new rules.

To date, Haaretz states, “the immigration authority has sent deportation notices to more than 100 of the approximately 900 asylum seekers at Holot”. The notices warn that if they don’t agree to leave, they face indefinite detention at Saharonim prison.

The Israeli government’s new rules “state that Eritreans and Sudanese who didn’t file asylum requests by the end of 2017, or whose asylum requests were rejected, can be deported to a third country.”

After receiving deportation notices, they have one month to decide whether to accept deportation or be jailed indefinitely.

There are currently about 40,000 Eritreans and Sudanese in Israel, including some 5,000 children born there. So far, only ten Eritreans and one Sudanese have been granted asylum.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press has spoken with African migrants deported by Israel, with one man explaining how the process worked in his case.

“They told me, ‘If you don’t leave you are going to jail’,” said Yohannes Tesfagabr, who fled from Eritrea in 2010 for fear of his life. “It’s forced. They tell you to say you are going voluntarily, but it is not voluntary. They force you to deport yourself.”

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Abbas Proposes Peace Plan to UN Security Council (VIDEO)

Mahmoud Abbas makes rare address to UNSC. (Photo: RT)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, on Tuesday, proposed a peace plan at the United Nations Security Council that tackles core issues, which have foiled peace efforts over the past few decades.

Abbas said, in his speech in front of the UN Security Council, that the plan calls for holding an international peace conference, in mid 2018, that is based on international resolutions and with a wide international participation that includes both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, as well as the active regional and international parties, similar to the Paris peace conference or the Moscow conference called for, based on resolution 1850.

He said, according to WAFA, that the outcomes of the conference must include the acceptance of the State of Palestine as a full member state at the UN and seeking the security council to achieve that, the mutual recognition of statehood between Palestine and Israel on the borders of 1967, the formation of a multilateral international mechanism that aids the two sides in negotiations to solve all permanent status issues according to the Oslo Accords, and the implementation of what is agreed upon within a specified period of time, while providing guarantees for implementation.

He added that the plan includes refraining from all unilateral moves during negotiations, especially those which affect the results of the final solution, most importantly settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories in 1967, including East Jerusalem and freezing of the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and stopping the embassy transfer to Jerusalem.

Abbas also said that the peace plan stipulates the implementation of the Arab Peace initiative as adopted, and signing a regional agreement when reaching a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis.

He affirmed the foundations of any upcoming negotiations, which include adhering to the international law and relevant international resolutions, including Security Council resolution 242, 338 and 2334, the Arab peace initiative and the signed agreements.

Abbas affirmed the two-state solution as a foundation for peace negotiations, which means a State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital that lives side by side with Israel in peace and security on the borders of June 4, 1967. He rejected interim solutions and a state with temporary borders and approved a minor land swap, which is equal in value and quantity, with the approval of the two sides.

(IMEMC, PC, Social Media)

Egypt Announces Rafah Crossing Open for Four Days, Shuts It Down Day Later (PHOTOS)

Hundreds of Palestinians have been trapped on the Rafah border, or held at the Cairo airport trying to get home back to Gaza. (Photo: Quds TV Twitter page)

The Egyptian authorities will open Rafah crossing with Gaza for four days as of today, Wednesday, February 21, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo announced.

However, local Palestinian media sources announced that the crossing was shut down only hours after it was opened.

The Palestinian embassy had said in a press statement a day earlier that the crossing will be opened in both directions.

Shutting down the crossing so soon after the decision to reopen it is catastrophic for Palestinian families that have been waiting to be united for weeks.

Egypt opens the crossing, which is Gaza’s only window to the outside world, for a few days every one or two months to allow movement of what is described as humanitarian cases, including students studying abroad, people with work permits and residency in other countries and patients seeking treatment outside Gaza.

The crossing was supposed to open continuously once the Palestinian Authority assumes full control of the Gaza Strip, as part of reconciliation process between the ruling Fatah movement and Hamas.

(Wafa, PC, Social Media)

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Says People are Living Under ‘Migrants’ Terror’

African refugees in Israel demanding better treatment. (Photo via social media)

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Tuesday said people in Tel Aviv are living under “migrants’ terror,” justifying government’s recent move of handing eviction notices to asylum-seekers from mainly Eritrea and Sudan to either leave the country voluntarily or face jail time.

“The government of Israel has decided to remove migrant workers just like many other democratic countries, including the US and Australia,” Hotovely said, according to i24 News.

Hotovely also said, “The comparison is outrageous,” alluding to the comparison of between deportations of Jews during World War Two and the upcoming expulsions of Africans from Israel.

Earlier this month, the Israel government handed eviction notices to nearly 38,000 migrants from Eritrea and Sudan to exit the country voluntarily by March-end or face indefinite jail time, New York Times has reported.

Calling the migrants, “infiltrators” Netanyahu announced over Facebook, “The government approved a plan today that will give every infiltrator two options: a flight ticket out or jail.”

In January, nearly 36 Holocaust survivors, many who also spent time in concentration camps and ghettos in Europe, also penned a letter to the Israeli PM, urging him to “learn the lesson.”

“As a country founded by refugees,” said another letter signed by 850 members of the Jewish clergy and delivered to Israeli embassies and consulates in the United States and Canada, “and whose early leaders helped craft the 1951 International Convention on the Status of Refugees, Israel must not deport those seeking asylum within its borders,” New York Times reported.

Around 60,000 Sudanese and Eritreans crossed the border from Egypt to reach Israel in 2005. The influx came to a halt in 2012 when Israel decided to put a steel barricade on a 150-mile long stretch bordering Egypt, the New York Times reported.

(teleSUR, PC, Social Media)