Sunday, December 15, 2019 Last Update: 4:42 PM GMT

Jewish Settlers Torch Palestinian Cars in Occupied West Bank

Jewish settlers routinely vandalize cars in the West Bank. (Photo: via Social Media)

Palestinian officials say Jewish settlers attacked five villages in the occupied West Bank overnight, torching vehicles and olive trees, and leaving graffiti on the walls of homes.

Ghassan Daghlas, a spokesman for the Nablus governorate, says the Jewish settlers set fire to five cars and spray-painted graffiti on more than 20 others. Villagers circulated photos of the damage on social media.

Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967, and commits various abuses against Palestinian civilians, human rights groups say.

More than 600,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions considered illegal under international law.

The Oslo agreement of 1995 divided the occupied West Bank into three: Area A, Area B, and Area C. Area A is under the administrative and security control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Area B’s administration is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, with Israel controlling security. Area C is under full administrative and security control of Israel.

Israeli forces and settlers routinely harass Palestinians in the occupied territories through harming and killing civilians, demolishing homes, poisoning livestock, vandalizing property and other forms of violence.

(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, PC, Social Media)

Netanyahu Slams Indictment against him as ‘Attempted Coup’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Israeli Attorney General’s decision Thursday to criminal indict him, calling it an attempted coup, Anadolu reports.

In a televised speech shortly after the indictment was announced, Netanyahu claimed the investigation was biased by the police and investigators.

“This evening we are witnesses to an attempted government coup against the prime minister, using false allegations and stained investigations,” said Netanyahu.

He added:

“I respect the legal establishment in Israel, but you need to be blind to ignore that something wrong is happening against me from the police, prosecution”.

Netanyahu accused Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit of publishing the indictment at a sensitive time during the elections.

He said:

“[The] timing of decisions draws legal process against me into question. We need a law enforcement arm which the public trusts”.

Right-wing Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman said Netanyahu should be given a chance to prove he is innocent in court.

Centrist Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz said Netanyahu has no public or moral mandate to make fateful decisions.

He, along with his partner at the party, Yair Lapid, called Netanyahu to resign.

Mandelblit indicted Netanyahu on charges which include bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He was charged in three different cases.

The indictment made him the first prime minister in Israeli history to be indicted while in office.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Gaza Cancels Protests for Second Week in a Row

Palestinians taking part in the Great March of Return. (Photo: Abdallah Aljamal, The Palestine Chronicle)

The weekly March of Return protests along the Gaza-Israel fence have been canceled for the second week in a row, Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper reported this morning.

According to the paper, a number of reasons prompted the Higher National Commission of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege to cancel the weekly protests including not granting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the opportunity to start a new military confrontation with Gaza to save himself at a time when he has been indicted on charges of corruption.

The Palestinian body fears Netanyahu, who became the first sitting prime minister in Israel’s history to be indicted on a number of charges including bribery, fraud and breach of trust, would use the confrontation to improve his public image.

The paper said it is widely believed that “Israel will violate the terms of the ceasefire concluded in the last round” and shoot demonstrators at the border, which will prompt Islamic Jihad to respond and lead to a new confrontation that would only benefit Netanyahu in these stressful times.

The Palestinians’ desire to examine the area around the fence for any residue after the recent Israeli shelling, has also been given as a reason why the protests have been suspended today.

The paper said the commission is discussing whether to reduce the frequency of the protests to once a month as a result of the change of the situation in Gaza.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Forces Detain Jerusalem Governor, again (VIDEO)

Palestinian governor of Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith. (Photo: via Social Media)

Israeli police today detained Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith, according to eyewitnesses.

The detention came after police raided Ghaith’s residence in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, the eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency.

Ghaith has been detained several times in recent months as part of Israel’s ongoing violations against Palestinian officials, activists, and institutions in occupied Jerusalem.

The reason behind the detention remains unclear and the Israeli police have yet to issue an official statement.

He was last arrested in mid-October when he was taken from his home.

This latest detention comes after Israeli occupation forces stormed and closed Palestinian media institutes occupied Jerusalem, accusing them of organizing activities under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Israel May Face Third Election after Failure to Form Government

Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) alliance. (Photo: via MEMO)

Israel moved closer towards holding a third election in less than a year on Wednesday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main challenger failed to form a government.

Benny Gantz’s announcement that he would not meet a midnight deadline following Netanyahu’s own failure to put together a coalition in October deepened political deadlock at a time of mounting security and economic concerns.

“In the past 28 days, I have left no stone unturned, irrespective of how small, in my attempt to form a government that would bring to the state of Israel leadership with integrity, morality and values,” Gantz said.

“We have made great efforts toward forming a broad, liberal unity government … a government that will serve everyone – religious and secular, Jews and Arabs.”

Neither Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party nor former general Gantz of the centrist Blue and White secured a ruling majority in parliament in elections in April and September.

Netanyahu, in office for the past decade, failed to put together a coalition after the inconclusive September election. Gantz was handed the task by President Reuven Rivlin next, but his 28 days to form a government expire at midnight (22:00 GMT).

There was no sign of progress towards a Rivlin-proposed deal for a national unity government that would include Likud and Blue and White after weeks of talks.

Lieberman, who heads the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, told a news conference on Wednesday that “both [Netanyahu and Gantz] were guilty” of failing to agree on a Likud-Blue and White alliance, which he had strongly advocated.

With no unity government in sight, Lieberman said, he would deny both men the support of his party’s eight legislators, effectively meaning neither Netanyahu nor Gantz would have sufficient backing to form more narrow administrations.

(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)

Netanyahu Indicted, to Face Prosecution in a First in Israel

Israelis PM Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: FIle)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, making him the first sitting prime minister to face prosecution.

The news comes as Israel’s caretaker government was ordered today to form a government after Netanyahu twice failed to bring together a coalition following two elections this year.

Netanyahu is entangled in four political scandals: Case 1000 which involves allegations that the PM and his wife accepted illegal gifts from businessmen; Case 2000 which accuses Netanyahu of attempting to buy favourable newspaper coverage; Case 3000, also known as the “submarine scandal”; and Case 4000, in which a close associate of Netanyahu is suspected of providing confidential information to Israel’s largest telecoms company.

Netanyahu, who has denied wrongdoing in three corruption cases, is under no obligation to resign after being charged and is due to make a statement later.

He has previously dismissed the investigations into him as a “witch hunt”.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Netanyahu Authorizes Bill to Annex Jordan Valley

Benjamin Netanyahu tours the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank with John Bolton. (Photo: via Social Media)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly agreed yesterday that Likud’s bill which stipulates annexation of the Jordan Valley should be passed to the Knesset for approval, Israeli media reported.

According to the Times of Israel, this measure came following the US’ announcement that settlement in the occupied West Bank can no longer be seen as illegal.

The bill, the Times of Israel said, was proposed earlier this month by MK Sharren Haskel from the Likud, it was held back as a result of the political stalemate in a country which has witnessed two elections which have both ended without a government being formed.

Makor Rishon reported that Netanyahu approved Haskel’s plan to ask the Knesset to advance the bill.

In a tweet, Haskel confirmed that the US announcement was “an opportunity to promote my law for sovereignty in the [Jordan] Valley.”

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Netanyahu Visits West Bank Settlement to Celebrate US Announcement

israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit Gush Etzion settlement, near Jerusalem. (Photo: via Social Media)

Israel’s prime minister traveled to the West Bank on Tuesday to celebrate the US’ announcement that it does not consider Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories to be a violation of international law.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem, where he told settler leaders he was “very moved” by the announcement made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday.

“Here we are on a historic day with another tremendous achievement for the State of Israel, which we have greatly worked for,” he told them, according to a statement released by his spokesman.

“The Trump administration has corrected a historic injustice and lined up with truth and justice.”

Pompeo said that after legal consultation Washington had concluded the establishment of settlements was “not, per se, inconsistent with international law”.

He said that the US was not necessarily considering the settlements legal either but instead would defer to the judgment of Israeli courts. The majority of settlers live in settlements the courts have judged legal.

The decision is the latest in a series of pro-Israeli moves by Donald Trump’s administration, including recognizing the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump has also drawn international criticism for recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967.

It puts Washington at odds with virtually the whole of the rest of the international community and breaks with UN Security Council resolutions declaring the settlements to be illegal as they are built on occupied land.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, alongside more than three million Palestinians.

The Fourth Geneva Convention on the laws of war explicitly forbids moving civilians into occupied territories.

The Palestinian Authority decried the US policy shift as “completely against international law”.

The Arab League criticized Pompeo’s announcement, calling it an “extremely adverse development”.

And the European Union reiterated that it considers all settlement activity “illegal under international law”.

(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, PC, Social Media)

Palestinian Journalist Loses Left Eye after Being Shot by Israeli Sniper (VIDEOS)

Moath Amarneh meets his wife and children following a surgical procedure to remove part of his left eye. (Photo: via Social Media)

Doctors at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem yesterday removed the eye of Palestinian photojournalist Moath Amarneh who was shot by an Israeli sniper on Friday.

A committee of specialists decided that Amarneh’s left eye must be removed along with the bullet which is logged in it. Surgery to do this took several hours.

His family said they had contacted hospitals in a number of countries in the hope of saving his eye but no medical centers were hopeful that this could be done.

Meanwhile, a group of Palestinian journalists organized a protest in solidarity with Amarneh in Bethlehem, but the Israeli occupation forces used force to disperse them.

Amarneh, 32, was shot by an Israeli occupation soldier while he was covering Palestinian protests in Hebron, south of the occupied West Bank.

Witnesses said that he was shot by a sniper, but the Israeli occupation army said he was shot accidentally as he was standing among the “rioters”.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

EU Position on Israeli Settlements Remains ‘Unchanged’

Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas (R) is greeted by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini. (Photo: File)

The European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said on Monday that the EU’s position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank remains “unchanged” adding that the settlements are “illegal” under international law.

Mogherini said in a statement:

“The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334”.

This came after the US announced that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are not illegal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said:

“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace. The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace”.

In her statement, Mogherini said the EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity “in line with its obligations as an occupying power”.

She added that,

“The EU will continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”

Under international law, Jewish settlements constructed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories constitute a violation of international law and are considered illegal.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)