Poll: 44% of American Jews Oppose Moving US Embassy to Jerusalem

Forty-four per cent of American Jews don’t support the US President Donald Trump’s suggestion of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the American Jewish Committee (AJC)’s survey revealed yesterday.

The survey, which is conducted annually, was based on telephone interviews carried out in August, incorporating a national sample of 1,000 American Jews aged 18 and over. Nine per cent were Orthodox Jews, 16 per cent identified with the Conservative movement, 31 per cent were Reform Jews, two per cent Reconstructionists and 39 per cent who consider themselves “just Jewish”.

Thirty-six per cent of the survey’s respondents said that they would be in favor of the embassy’s relocation only in conjunction with a clear progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Only 16 per cent believe the embassy should be moved “immediately”, while four per cent were “not sure”.

The poll showed that 65 per cent of the interviewees see that there has been no progress in the peace process between both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides, compared to previous years.

Of the respondents, 77 per cent had an “unfavorable” view of US President Donald Trump, while 21 per cent favor the way he is governing and performing in his job. Sixty-four per cent had voted for Hillary Clinton in last year’s election while only 18 per cent voted Trump.

Some seven million Jews live in the United Sates, according to official data released in 2014.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Arab League, Japan Urge for Just, Lasting Peace in Middle East

The first round of Arab-Japanese political dialogue stressed the necessity of achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, Algerian Foreign Minister Abdul Qader Mesahel said.

In a joint press conference with the Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Mesahel said both sides urged the international community to work with the concerned parties to end the Israeli occupation of all occupied Palestinian and Arab lands occupied in 1967.

Mesahel added that the Japanese-Arab dialogue discussed the most important Arab and international issues, especially the Palestinian issue and the other Arab crises in Libya, Syria and Yemen, in addition to topics of developments in East Asia, combating terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation issues, stressing that political dialogue is the only way to resolve disputes.

He added that Japan is trying to support the Palestinian economy for future progress.

Kono revealed that Japan’s recognition of the State of Palestine was discussed with the US administration. He added that Japan will make its contribution to the policy of US President Donald Trump on the Palestinian issue when it is crystallized.

The first Japan-Arab Political Dialogue was held in Cairo on Monday with the participation of Secretary General of the Arab League, eight foreign ministers, five ministerial level representatives from 21 member states of the Arab League.

(Wafa, PC, Social Media)

UN Official Welcomes Hamas Readiness to Form National Unity Government

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process expressed support for Hamas’ expressed willingness to reconcile with the Fatah movement, head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), in a statement released on Wednesday.

Nickolay Mladenov said that he welcomed developments this week, after a Hamas delegation in Cairo stated it was ready to hold meetings with the Fatah movement, Hamas’ longtime rival.

“Reconciliation is critical to addressing the grave humanitarian crisis in Gaza, preventing the continuing militant buildup and restoring hope for the future,” Mladenov said.

He urged parties to “seize the current positive momentum” in order to “immediately take up its responsibilities in Gaza.”

“Gaza is and must be an integral part of any future Palestinian state. Unity is an essential step towards the peaceful realization of the Palestinian national aspirations,” Mladenov added.

Hamas said in a statement following meetings in Cairo that it was ready to “immediately” sign an agreement with Fatah, and also reiterated claims it was ready to disband its administrative committee – formed earlier this year to the outrage of the PA, which accused Hamas of attempting to form a shadow government and run Gaza independent of the occupied West Bank.

Meanwhile, Majid al-Fitiani, an official in the Fatah movement, told China’s Xinhua news outlet on Wednesday that Hamas was advancing a policy of “maneuvering by calling for new meetings,” emphasizing that national reconciliation did not require new meetings “because we have held innumerable meetings with Hamas in the past ten years without actual implementation for what is agreed upon.”

Hamas “aims at inspiring the Palestinian people with efforts to achieve reconciliation, while on the ground the internal division is being consecrated,” he reportedly said.

(Maan, PC, Social Media)

Palestinian Refugee Killed in Germany

Palestinian refugee Mohamed Abdel Nasser Nasser was found dead in Germany on Tuesday, the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria (AGPS) revealed yesterday.

The AGPS said that Nasser fled the Palestinian refugee camp in the Syria city of Daraa following the outbreak of the war in the country.

According to the group, his body was found with stab wounds.

It also noted that the German authorities had not commented on the death.

The AGPS said that about 85,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria have arrived in Europe due to the ongoing war in Syria.

On its website, the Action Group said that 84 Palestinian refugees were killed or died outside Syrian territories – 17 in Libya, 15 in Egypt and 15 in Lebanon.

It also noted that eight refugees died in Greece, 12 others in Turkey, six in Malta, three in Palestine, three in Italy, one in Sweden, one in Cyprus, one in Macedonia and two in Germany.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Fifteen Year-Old Boy from Gaza Produces Computer Games

A 15-year-old Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip has taught himself to produce professional-standard computer games, Safa News Agency reported on Monday. Bilal Shahin has developed 20 games over the past three years, one of which — Flappy Attack Crush — is available on Google Play Store.

“My love of computer games prompted me to learn the production languages on the Internet,” Shahin told Safa. His English and Hebrew language skills, as well as his Arabic mother tongue, helped him with this. The young man’s IT teacher encouraged him in his choice of profession.

Producing a game starts with an idea, he explained, which is developed from one stage to another until it becomes a game. He generally uses two software programs, Unity and Visual Studio.

Shahin’s first game took four or five months to develop, but now he can get one ready for use within a month or less. Most are combat or adventure games.

As you might expect for someone trying to work in this field in the Gaza Strip, Shahin said that his main obstacle at the moment is the severe shortage of electricity. He also said that the lack of a special training center in Gaza is another challenge. His father called for the authorities to provide more facilities and opportunities for Shahin and others like him to develop their skills even further.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Settlers Uproot Olive Trees in Nablus-Area Village

A group of Israeli settlers from the infamously extremist Yitzhar settlement in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus uprooted a number of olive trees near the village of Burin on Wednesday.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who tracks Israeli settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that a number of Israeli settlers from Yitzhar uprooted 27 olive trees in Burin.

The trees belonged to Ratiba Qadous, and were planted tens of meters away from the settlement.

Daghlas added that the settlers escalate attacks on neighboring Palestinian communities during olive picking season, as villagers’ olive trees are oftentimes located on lands taken over by Israel closer to the Yitzhar settlement. Some residents are permitted to enter their lands to access their olive trees only during olive harvesting season.

Settlers from Yitzhar are well-known to be some of the most extremist Israelis living in the West Bank, and have burned hundreds of Palestinian-owned olive trees over the years.

On Friday, Israeli settlers from the Rechelim settlement uprooted and sawed down 43 olive trees in al-Sawiya area of the southern part of Nablus city.

Some 600,000 Israeli settlers reside in occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law. The international community has repeatedly called their presence and rising population the main impediment to potential peace in the region.

Ma’an, PC, Social Media

Document: British Officials Disturbed by Israeli Child Rights Abuses

Newly published government documents have revealed considerable concern amongst British officials about human rights abuses experienced by Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli authorities.

The documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, are a stark contrast to the warm support offered to the Israeli government in public by Prime Minister Theresa May and other leading Conservatives. Some information regarding contacts with Israeli officials was redacted.

In April 2017, an email sent from the British Consulate General in Jerusalem noted the “widespread use” of administrative detention – that is, without charge or trial – by Israeli authorities, including “15 [Palestinian] children held without charge during reporting period”.

In July 2016, meanwhile, an email sent from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv reported that “the number of minors detained in East Jerusalem…has exploded from previous years”, and described “the reintroduction of the use of administrative detention of minors” as a worrying trend”.

The same email acknowledged “limited progress” in the Israeli authorities’ adoption of recommendations made by a UK-sponsored Children in Military Custody report in 2012. “Overall”, the email states, just “one of the 40 recommendations…has been substantially implemented”.

Other emails from British officials note Israeli forces’ abuse of detainees, and use of lethal violence against Palestinians, including Khaled Bahar, “shot and killed” by an Israeli soldier “from a distance of about 20 meters, striking him in the back as he was running away”.

Last month, in a separate Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Foreign Office declined to identify what boundaries of the Israeli state the UK government recognizes. Meanwhile, another FOI revealed that up to five British nationals are currently detained in Israel – the precise number of reported cases was withheld, “to avoid the risk of identifying the individuals concerned”.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Hamas Declares Readiness to Form National Unity Government from Cairo

Head of the Hamas movement’s politburo Ismail Haniyeh and other high-ranking Hamas members met with Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo on Monday night, with talks focusing on cross border security and a readiness for Palestinian national reconciliation.

The delegation told the Egyptian intelligence minister Khaled Fawzi that Hamas is ready to hold meetings with the Fatah movement, Hamas’ rival and head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA).

Hamas said in a statement it was ready to “immediately” sign an agreement with Fatah, and also reiterated claims it was ready to disband its administrative committee — formed earlier this year to the outrage of the PA, which accused Hamas of attempting to form a shadow government and run Gaza independent of the occupied West Bank.

Hamas leadership told Egyptian intelligence officials they would allow the Palestinian national consensus government to take charge and carry out elections, on the condition that all Palestinian factions hold a conference in Cairo afterwards to elect a national government responsible for the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

Previously, Hamas’ offers for reconciliation have called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to put an end to recent policies imposed on the besieged coastal enclave.

Abbas has meanwhile threatened to undertake further repressive measures against the impoverished territory should Hamas not unconditionally abide by the PA’s demands to end the administrative committee, relinquish control of the enclave to the PA, and hold presidential and legislative elections.

(Maan, PC, Social Media)

Assad Must Keep Iran out of Syria If He Wants to Survive, Says Israeli Minister

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad has to keep Iran out of Syria if he wants to survive, local media have reported.

“Israel needs to pressure world powers to not allow [Iran to establish a strong presence in Syria],” Shaked told Herzliya’s International Institute on Counterterrorism Conference. If the world powers did not comply with this demand, she said, then Israel should “do what we need to do.”

A few days ago, the Israeli air force carried out air strikes to destroy arms caches inside Syria.

“Iran’s [presence] in Syria can be very bad,” added the Likud minister, “and Israel will not agree to it establishing weapons’ factories and ports.” She expressed her hope that the “world powers will not allow it.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s Minister of Regional Cooperation, Tzahi Hanegbi, said that the Iranian presence in Syria would be discussed during next week’s meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.

Hanegbi pointed out that Israel is seeking to prevent Iran being in Syrian using diplomatic means, stressing that it wants to make things clearer to avoid criticism in case it takes any military action in this regard.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Reports: Israel to Take Unprecedented Measures against Amnesty International

The Israeli government is set to take punitive measures against the country’s branch of international human rights group Amnesty International, according to reports in the Israeli media today.

While Amnesty has long been favorite target of Israeli officials for its reports on rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territory, the trigger for what would be unprecedented steps is the NGO’s support for a boycott of produce made in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israel’s settlements are a violation of international law, a position shared by the United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

This summer, Amnesty International launched a new campaign calling for a ban on settlement-made products, with Secretary-General Salil Shetty urging the international community to “put an end to the multimillion dollar profits that have fueled mass human rights violations against Palestinians”.

Now, officials in Israel’s Finance Ministry are reportedly close to terminating the tax-exempt status of the local branch, and leave the organisation open to civil lawsuits by declaring Amnesty in violation of 2011 legislation that prohibits support for boycotts.

An Amnesty spokesperson cited by right-wing news outlet Arutz Sheva said: “We do not respond to rumors or leaks. We expect that in a legal case as important as this, the Finance Ministry will send a formal, orderly request based on established rules, at which point we will issue a response.”

Speaking to Haaretz, Amnesty spokesperson Gil Naveh said: “This story goes beyond one tax break or another. It is part of a systematic persecution of human rights organisations and activists who criticize the Israeli government for its actions inside Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories.”

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

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