Friday, September 18, 2020 Last Update: 1:17 PM GMT

PLO: Arab People, Including in UAE and Bahrain, Reject Normalization with Israel

PLO Senior official Saeb Erekat. (Photo: File)

Saeb Erekat, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said today that the Arab people, including in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, reject normalization with the occupation state, Israel, expressing gratitude for their stance.

Erekat said in an interview with Voice of Palestine radio that the agreements between Israel and some Arab countries are not normalization or a peace treaty, but rather an idea planted by the United States that an alliance with Israel is a must to confront the dangers facing the region.

He said that if Arab national security and protecting it will depend on Israel, then it is a very awkward situation because Israel has always stood with countries in their wars against the Arabs.

Besides, he added, the American-Israeli treaty stipulates that Israel should always remain more powerful than the Arabs, collectively or separately.

He stressed that what is required is to drain the occupation quagmire as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative. As for normalization before this is done, then it is accepting that Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher remain under Israeli sovereignty, which was what came in the so-called “deal of the century.”

The country of Bahrain became the latest Arab nation to normalize ties with Israel, less than a month following a similar decision by the United Arab Emirates.

The Bahraini decision, which was announced by US President Donald Trump on Friday was made despite repeated assurances that Manama will not extend diplomatic ties with Israel until Palestinians obtain their rights in accordance with international law.

The Bahrain-Israel agreement came as another shock to Palestinians who still didn’t recover from the news of the UAE-Israel normalization.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Bahrain-Israel Normalization Agreement Announced

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (L) and US President Donald Trump. (Photo: File)

The country of Bahrain became the latest Arab nation to normalize ties with Israel, less than a month following a similar decision by the United Arab Emirates. 

The Bahraini decision, which was announced by US President Donald Trump on Friday was made despite repeated assurances that Manama will not extend diplomatic ties with Israel until Palestinians obtain their rights in accordance with international law. 

“Trump announced the agreement on Friday, following a three-way phone call he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa,” the Associated Press reported. The three leaders also issued a brief six-paragraph joint statement, attesting to the deal.

“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today!” Trump tweeted.

The Bahrain-Israel normalization is considered a diplomatic victory for the Trump Administration, which is positioning itself as a ‘peacemaker’ in the Middle East. 

Less than a week from now, Trump is expected to host the official signing of the Israel-UAE accords, a highly publicized ceremony that will also be attended by the Bahraini foreign minister, AP reported. 

A joint statement by Trump, Netanyahu and Hamad described the latest round of normalization as “a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East.”

“Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security, and prosperity in the region,” the joint statement read. 

“Like the UAE agreement, Friday’s Bahrain-Israel deal will normalize diplomatic, commercial, security and other relations between the two countries. Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, had already dropped a prohibition on Israeli flights using its airspace. Saudi acquiescence to the agreements has been considered key to the deals,” AP reported. 

Trump’s son-in-law, who has led the normalization efforts said that “this is very fast,” referring to the Bahrain announcement. “The region is responding very favorably to the UAE deal and hopefully it’s a sign that even more will come,” he added. 

For his part, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “It took us 26 years between the second peace agreement with an Arab country and the third, but only 29 days between the third and the fourth, and there will be more.”

The Bahrain-Israel agreement came as another shock to Palestinians who still didn’t recover from the news of the UAE-Israel normalization.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

China Provides Support for UNRWA Food Assistance Program in Gaza

The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Guo Wei, and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, sign a contribution agreement of $1 million in support of food assistance in Gaza. (Photo: via Twitter)

The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Guo Wei, and the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, have signed a contribution agreement of $1 million in support of food assistance in Gaza, which is part of the Agency’s 2020 occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal.

Contributions from China in the last two years were allocated to mitigate the effects of food insecurity among refugee families in Gaza, most of whom now face the unprecedented global pandemic COVID-19.

This new contribution ensures the health and safety of Palestine refugees, including special risk mitigation measures to avoid overcrowding at distribution centers, sanitation of distribution centers to ensure the safe provision of food assistance and PPE for frontline staff.

Announcing their support for UNRWA core food assistance activities, Head of the Office of the People’s Republic of China to the State of Palestine, Ambassador Guo Wei said:

“China attaches great importance to its cooperation with the Agency. China will, as always, support the work of UNRWA and continue to provide assistance to Palestine refugees and their economic and social development.”

UNRWA Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, expressed his sincere appreciation to the Government of China for its support to the Agency: “China’s generous contribution will help UNRWA provide life-saving food assistance to over one million Palestine refugees in Gaza. I hope that this cooperation will continue to grow, reflecting China’s support to UNRWA.”

The Government of China has been consistently providing support to UNRWA. This year, China also ships a substantial amount of personal protective equipment to the Agency’s five fields of operation in the Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to help the Agency assist and protect Palestine refugees in the face of the continuing challenges associated with the pandemic.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Palestinian Youth Hit, Injured by Israeli Teargas Canister

Israeli forces suppress a Palestinian protest in West Bank. (Photo: via Twitter)

A Palestinian young man was injured on Friday morning after Israeli occupation forces directly hit him by a teargas canister near the village of Qaffin, near the city of Tulkarm, in the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Osama Fathi Sabbah sustained injuries in his mouth and face after he was hit by the teargas canister by the occupation forces. He was moved to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

“In 2019, Israeli security forces killed 133 Palestinians, including 28 minors. Of the casualties, 104 were killed in the Gaza Strip, 26 in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and three within Israel,” Human Rights group B’tselem reported. 

“Most of these deaths were a direct outcome of Israel’s reckless open-fire policy, authorized by the government and military and backed by the legal system,” the group added.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Kushner: Saudi Arabia Agreed to Open Airspace to Israeli Flights

Jared Kushner (C) with US President Donald Trump (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: via AJE)

Saudi Arabia agreed to open its airspace to all Israeli flights traveling eastward, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner confirmed on Wednesday.

Kushner made the claim in a press conference ahead of the signing of the Abraham Accords normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel on September 15.

“Countries are starting to let go of old conflicts and move in the direction of peace,” he said, adding that Bahrain has also agreed to open its airspace.

“It’s a tremendous barrier that’s been taken away,” Kushner added. “You’re seeing everyday new announcements of airlines that are looking to fly from Israel to different Arab cities that traditionally they weren’t allowed to go to and back.

“You have a lot of excitement building in the Arab and Muslim world, with people wanting to go to Israel to visit the tourist sites and to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. You’re seeing kosher restaurants opening up now in Dubai.”

On August 13, Israel and the UAE have reached a deal that is expected to lead to “full normalization of relations” between the Arab nation and Israel in an agreement that US President Donald Trump reportedly helped broker.

The agreement is considered a severe blow to Palestinian efforts aimed at isolating Israel regionally and internationally until it ends its military occupation and apartheid-like system in occupied Palestine.

(Palestine Chronicle, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Social Media)

Fatah, Hamas Discuss Committees for High Level Meeting (VIDEO)

A file photo of Hamas and Fatah officials signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo: File)

Senior officials from Fatah and Hamas, along with those from other Palestinian organizations, are discussing the creation of committees to expedite the decisions taken at the secretary general-level meeting held in Beirut last week.

On the agenda will be mechanisms to end the political split that has plagued the Palestinians for more than a decade. It is intended that the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s executive committee will discuss the outcomes of that meeting and make sure that decisions are acted upon.

The officials from Hamas and Fatah are working on a consensus about the committees’ modus operandi, and the people to serve on them, especially the reconciliation committee.

A well-placed source within Fatah told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that the discussion is constructive and that the consensus reached on the practical steps to address Israel’s annexation plans and the UAE’s normalisation deal still holds. Indeed, it is said that it has become stronger following the meeting last Thursday.

Nominations for committee membership are being submitted by the Palestinian factions, along with independents. The intention is to work according to previous agreements signed by the factions and unite in the face of the plots threatening the Palestinian cause. It is expected that the makeup of the committees will be announced early next week.

According to Salah Al-Arouri, deputy to the Head of the Hamas Political Bureau, the movement is communicating with Fatah on a daily basis to ensure successful outcomes. There is an agreement with Fatah on three paths to meet the challenges, he explained. The factions’ stance against Donald Trump’s “peace plan” is unanimous.

Fatah’s Central Committee member Ahmad Al-Hels, meanwhile, said that conditions are now favorable to move towards national unity through which all challenges can be met. Al-Hels added that the meeting last week sent a strong message to the world and their enemies that the Palestinians have high hopes and look forward to the practical realization of what was agreed in Beirut. He pointed out that the five-week deadline given by President Mahmoud Abbas will be more than enough to see concrete results.

A second committee will outline a plan to organize and form a unified leadership for popular resistance to the Israeli occupation, with PLO support. Such resistance, it was noted, is the appropriate choice at this moment.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh followed his attendance at the Beirut meeting with a call for the formation of a national unity government with specific roles to help end the split. “A West Bank and Gaza Strip national unity government that undertakes three missions could end the split,” he insisted. His deputy Al-Arouri confirmed that Hamas will firmly start work on these paths, with a consensus, which will bring about strategic and practical changes through the PLO.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Jewish Settlers Attack Palestinian Vehicles in West Bank

Jewish settlers block a West Bank road and hurl stones at Palestinian vehicles. (Photo: via Twitter)

Jewish settlers Thursday overnight attacked Palestinian vehicles on the road connecting the West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors colonial settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told WAFA that a group of settlers attacked vehicles traveling on the Nablus-Jenin Road, also known as Route 60, close to the former colonial settlement of Homesh, evacuated in 2005, smashing the glass windshields of over ten of them.

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.

“Jewish settler violence should not be analyzed separately from the violence meted out by the Israeli army, but seen within the larger context of the violent Zionist ideology that governs Israeli society entirely,” wrote Palestinian author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud.

“Settler violence has long since become part of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation,” according to the Human Rights Group B’tselem. “Israeli security forces enable these actions, which result in Palestinian casualties – injuries and fatalities – as well as damage to land and property. In some cases, they even serve as an armed escort, or even join in the attacks”.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Netanyahu Demands Probe of Investigators in his Corruption Trial

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Wednesday for an inquiry into the investigators who brought corruption charges against him, in a move that critics said was an attempt to distract from his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reports.

Amid a surge in coronavirus cases, opposition lawmakers have also accused Netanyahu of trying to discredit Israel’s criminal justice system while he is on trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. He denies any wrongdoing.

Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and allies voiced anger this week after Israel’s Channel 12 News reported that police and prosecutors had failed to disclose alleged conflicts of interest by an investigator involved in the cases against him.

“It is clear that the police and prosecution are making political decisions against justice and law in order to topple a right-wing prime minister,” Netanyahu said at the start of a Likud meeting on Wednesday evening.

“This conduct must be investigated,” said Netanyahu, who has consistently accused police and prosecutors of bias against him.

A spokesman for Israel’s State Attorney Office declined to comment on the Channel 12 report or Netanyahu’s remarks.

Netanyahu was indicted in November in cases involving gifts from millionaire friends and for allegedly seeking regulatory favors for media tycoons in return for favorable coverage.

Bribery charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine. Fraud and breach of trust carry a prison sentence of up to three years.

(Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

Arab League Rejects Palestinian Draft Condemning UAE-Israel Agreement

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ryad Malki (R), address his Arab counterparts on Wednesday. (Photo: via Social Media)

Arab countries rejected Wednesday a Palestinian draft that, if passed, would have censured the ongoing normalization between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

The failure to pass the resolution is considered a victory for Israel and the pro-normalization Arab camp, and a blow to Palestinian efforts aimed at forming a united Arab position on the issue. 

The Palestinian delegation had already learned that a draft that would clearly condemn the agreement between Israel and the UAE would be rejected, Anadolu News Agency, citing Palestinian sources, reported. As a result, the Palestinians opted for a watered-down position that would condemn any Arab League member that would violate the ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ of 2002

The Arab initiative was introduced by Saudi Arabia and had, then won the backing of the Arab League. The Israel-UAE agreement, reached on August 13, is a stark violation of the initiative, which insists that no normalization between Israel and Arab countries is possible without a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. 

“After a three-hour debate, some Arab countries refused to include a statement condemning (the UAE) for abandoning Arab decisions. Additionally, they struck out a clause, which discussed the trilateral agreement” between the UAE, US, and Israel, Palestinian Authority ambassador to the Arab League Muhannad al-Aklouk told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency. 

Al-Aklouk also told Reuters that, “Our side has insisted on only one point, the condemnation of (UAE’s) departure from the Arab Peace Initiative.” 

“They spent two hours of discussion to remove this point,” Al-Akloud said, adding that the Palestinian Foreign Minister insisted not to remove it, presenting, instead, the League with two solutions, “either suspending the meeting for hours, days or until a consensus is found, or removing the point altogether.”

“When they (meaning Arab governments) refused to suspend the meeting, the point was removed entirely from the discussion.”

Palestinian sources revealed to Al-Jazeera that Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit was keen on delaying the Palestinian draft. Instead, he pushed forward a draft resolution introduced by the Gulf country of Bahrain – and supported by UAE – not to consider the Palestinian draft in the first place. 

Arab League official Hussam Zaki seemed to blame Palestinians for the Arab failure to approve the draft resolution, according to the Times of Israel newspaper. 

“A number of amendments were proposed, and then counter-amendments…and we were at a point in which Palestinian demands had not been realized, and the Palestinians preferred it not to pass rather than have it pass in a manner which they believed to be inadequate,” Zaki said.

Palestinian Authority officials and representatives of Palestinian factions condemned the Arab League’s failure to support Palestine. 

“The League’s failure to make this decision entices the (Israeli) occupation government and the US administration to carry on with the implementation of their plot aimed at destroying the Palestinian cause,” the Palestinian resistance group Hamas said in a statement. 

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leader of the normalization efforts, Jared Kushner must be grinning as their plan moves forward without disruption,” Palestinian journalist and editor of the Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud said.

“Although Arabs will continue to speak of the ‘Arab Peace Initiative,’ what happened today in Cairo is the death knell of the initiative, which was never taken seriously by Tel Aviv in the first place,” Baroud added. 

“The implicit message coming from Cairo is that Arab governments can proceed with their normalization schemes, with the tacit support of the most influential Arab governments. This is, sadly, the end of official Arab consensus on Palestine, but also, possibly, the start of a new type of Palestinian diplomacy, one that is not focused on rhetorical, and half-hearted official Arab ‘solidarity’.” 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Israeli Court Evicts Palestinian Family from Jerusalem Home

Israeli authorities carry out the eviction of a Palestinian family. (Photo: via Twitter)

The Jerusalem District court yesterday ordered the eviction of Nasser Rajabi and his family from their home in the Batan Al-Hawa neighborhood of Silwan, in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Centre, which monitors Israeli human rights violations in Jerusalem, said in a statement that the Al-Rajabi family’s property is a residential building consisting of three apartments housing 30 family members.

According to the statement, the family has been locked in a legal battle over the ownership of its property since 2016.

The court gave the Al-Rajabi family until 1 April next year to leave the property.

In January, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered the family to leave their property following a lawsuit filed by the Ateret Cohanim settler association in the name of a Jewish trust from the late 19th century.

Ateret Cohanim has filed dozens of lawsuits against some 100 Palestinian families living in Batan Al-Hawa, putting 700 people at risk of eviction under the pretext that in the late 19th century the land was allocated by its Jewish owners to a Jewish trust for the benefit of poor Yemenite Jews of Jerusalem.

However, Palestinians have land ownership documents that show their claim to the areas in question.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Territories (OCHA), “In recent decades, Israeli settler organizations, with the support of the Israeli authorities, have taken control of properties within Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and established settlement compounds.”

“Palestinian houses have been transferred to settler organizations by various means. In some cases, settlers have pursued court cases to evict the Palestinian residents, on the grounds that the land or buildings were owned by Jewish individuals or associations in East Jerusalem prior to 1948,” OCHA said in a recent report.

(Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)