Monday, January 22, 2018 Last Update: 8:16 AM GMT

Palestinian-American Groups Withdraw from Women’s March in Protest of Pro-Israel Speaker, Scarlett Johannson

Palestinian Women Protest in Jerusalem (Photo: File)

NBC reported that three Palestinian human rights groups pulled out of the Los Angeles Women’s March Saturday after it was announced that one of the featured speakers was actress Scarlett Johannson, who promoted SodaStream, a beverage company that owns a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

A former OXFAM ambassador, Johannson resigned her position with the humanitarian organization after criticism for supporting and promoting the support of Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.

The Southern California branch of the Palestinian Women’s Organization made a statement on their Facebook page about the decision to pull out of the march:

“PAWA recently became aware of LA March’s decision to include Scarlett Johansson in their lineup of special guest speakers. Johansson has expressed her unapologetic support of illegal settlements in the West Bank, a human rights violation recognized by the international community whose calls only led to a reaffirmation of her position, sending a clear message that Palestinian voices and human rights for Palestinians do not matter. While her position may not be reflective of all organizers at the Women’s March Los Angeles Foundation, PAWA cannot in good conscience partner itself with an organization that fails to genuinely and thoughtfully recognize when their speaker selection contradicts their message.

“Currently, 16 year old Ahed Tamimi is being held in custody for standing up to two Israeli combat soldiers who raided her family home in the middle of the night on illegally occupied land. Her story, one among hundreds of Palestinian children being abused and imprisoned by Israeli military, has been heard across the globe with calls to #FreeAhed, making the decision to invite Scarlett Johansson speak at an event highlighting “the struggles of marginalized communities and all attacks on human rights” all the more tone deaf.

“We join Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Jewish Voice for Peace, Code Pink, BDS-LA, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return and other organizations who have signed the petition below in boycott of the January 20 march in Los Angeles.”

(PC, Social Media)

French Municipality Recognizes Palestinian State

Patrice Leclerc, mayor of a northern suburb of Paris, announced his decision to recognize the state of Palestine. (Photo: Telesur)

Patrice Leclerc, mayor of Gennevilliers, a northern suburb of Paris, on Friday announced his decision to recognize the state of Palestine saying that the decision will be officially signed next Monday.

Leclerc said in a statement that the French parliament in December 2014 passed a draft resolution urging the government to recognize the independent state of Palestine.

He explained that the French foreign minister at the time, Laurent Fabius, said that in case no agreement is reached in the Palestinian-Israeli talks, France will recognize Palestine, but nothing has been done.

The Palestinian-Israeli negotiations have been suspended since April 2014 due to Israel’s refusal to halt its settlement construction and accept the 1967 borders as a basis for the two-state solution.

Leclerc pointed out that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, refuses to recognize the Palestinian state, calling on other French municipalities to follow Gennevilliers’ steps to push the government to recognize Palestine.

Over the past two years, more than 10 European parliaments have called on their governments to recognize the state of Palestine but governments said they will make this step in an appropriate time.

The Gennevilliers municipality move came in response to the US recognition of Jerusalem, with its eastern and western parts, as the capital of Israel.

(Palestinian Information Center, PC, Social Media)

Maliki Calls on ICC Prosecutor to Exercise Her Statutory Authority Without Delay

Mohammed Tamimi (L) flashes victory sign as he was detained. Ahed (R) in court. (Photos: Twitter, ActiveStills.org)

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riyad Malki Friday called on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, to exercise her statutory authority, without delay, to prevent the continuation and perpetuation of crimes against the Palestinian people.

On the three-year anniversary of the opening of the preliminary examination in the situation in Palestine, Malki dispatched a letter to Bensouda pointing her attention to the recent escalation of violence by Israeli occupation forces in their implementation of unlawful colonial policies and practices in the past month, including the unlawful killing of 16 Palestinians and the injury of approximately 3000 and detention of 720, including 184 children.

In particular, the letter provided details of the case of the unlawful arrest, transfer and detention of 16 year-old girl Ahed Tamimi during a raid of her home in Nabi Saleh, on December 19 in violation of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child and against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention and amounting to crimes under the Rome Statute.

In this regard, the Foreign Minister reiterated that “these wide spread and systematic practices form an integral part of the system of oppression and racism the Israeli government employs against the Palestinian people. Ahed’s case merely serves as further proof of well-established Israeli policies of severe and discriminatory deprivation of fundamental rights of Palestinians.”

Malki also requested that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) states its position regarding the incessant violence being committed against Palestinians, in line with the established practice of the OTP in this regard.

The State of Palestine further requested the OTP to call upon all Israeli officials and forces to desist from any actions in respect of children that may amount to a violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, and which furthermore may constitute a crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

(Wafa, PC, Social Media)

Ayman Odeh: Pence ‘Dangerous and Messianic,’ Dedicated to ‘Destruction.’

US vice-president Mike Pence. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The head of Israel’s Arab coalition party has vowed to boycott the flash visit by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, expected to arrive in Israel on Sunday evening.

“We were asked if there’s a change in our position regarding Pence’s visit,” Joint Arab List chairman, lawmaker Ayman Odeh, wrote on Twitter. “He is a dangerous man with a messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region.

“He comes here as the emissary of a man who is even more dangerous,” Odeh wrote in reference to U.S. President Trump, who he called a “a political pyromaniac, a racist misogynist who cannot be allowed to be lead the way in our region.

“The entire Joint List will boycott his speech in the plenum,” Odeh wrote regarding Pence’s planned speech on Monday in the Knesset.

Ahmed Tibi, another lawmaker from the party, said they were boycotting Pence because “Trump’s speech on Jerusalem and Pence’s own positions, as Pence is one of those pushing for the U.S. to relocate the embassy [to Jerusalem] and because of his outrageous claim that they have taken Jerusalem off the table. This administration is part of the problem, not the solution.”

Pence embarked Saturday on a trip to the Middle East, despite a U.S. government shutdown. His spokeswoman explained that that Pence’s meetings with Egypt, Jordan and Israel are “integral to America’s national security and diplomatic objectives.”

Pence was originally supposed to arrive to the area in December, but the White House delayed his visit by a month as a result of the vote in Congress over the Republican tax plan.

Over the last few days, rumors circulated that his trip might again be delayed once again because of the internal political crisis in Washington that led to the government shutdown on Saturday, but the White House made it clear that the trip would not be postponed.

(Haaretz, PC, Social Media)

BDS Slams Bollywood for Embracing Israel

A selfie bringing together a few Indian film actors and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accused of committing war crimes against Palestinians. (Photo: via Twitter)

Pro-Palestinian activists with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign, BDS, in South Asia joined progressive commentators in slamming the Israeli prime minister over his visit to India and his charm offensive at the country’s film industry in an attempt to brush off his country’s abuses against the Palestinians.

Apoorva Gautam, who heads the pro-Palestine BDS movement in South Asia, said Israel’s appeal to Bollywood is a symptom of a bigger “ideological shift” in the country since the election of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.

“These initiatives are ultimately part of a wider move by the Israelis to improve its image globally, as it continues to perpetrate war crimes against the Palestinians,” Gautam told Middle East Eye Friday. “The Israelis’ attention has now shifted to Bollywood, as the BDS movement gains traction in America and Europe.”

His comments came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a selfie on his Twitter account which showed him with multiple Bollywood figures, including legendary movie star Amitabh Bachchan. The picture was taken during an event called “Shalom Bollywood”, a high-profile outreach program sponsored by the Israeli government to improve its image in the region.

Progressive figures in media and film industries rebuked Bollywood for its embrace of the right-wing prime minister and his government, reminding them of his government’s abuses.

“You are a fascist, racist, child-murdering war criminal. Your place in history is with the despots and dictators,” Muslim British activist and director said in a tweet Friday in response to Netanyahu’s selfie tweet.

“These Bollywood actors, @SrBachchan @juniorbachchan @rajcheerfull @vivek_oberoi should be all be ashamed of themselves.” The controversial selfie included another notable Bollywood figure, Imtiaz Ali who directed the Bollywood film “Drive”, funded by the Israeli Ministry for Tourism, and filmed in Israel.

Gautam of the regional BDS arm expressed disappointment that Bollywood is falling for Israel’s “cultural propaganda” as the country loses ground in Hollywood where “more and more actors and industry leaders are coming out against Israel and subverting this perception” of it being “a free country that was democratic,” he told the Middle East Eye.

Israel and India have seen a warming in relations under the Modi government. He became the country’s first prime minister to visit Israel in 2017. Tel Aviv also reached an arms deal with India worth US$630 million last year.

Several agreements are expected to be signed as part of Netanyahu’s six-day visit to India where he is touring several cities around the country with his family.

The prime minister’s visit was also met with protests by Muslims in India’s eastern city Kolkata Thursday, rejecting the way their government is happily welcoming him.

“We oppose the way in which Israeli Prime Minister was given a grand welcome in our country,” Kamaru Jaman, president of the All Bengal Minority Youth Federation, told Reuters. “We demand that we should not have any relations with the Israeli President or the Prime Minister. Whatever relations were there relating to business purpose should also be ended.”

(teleSUR, PC, Social Media)

Palestinian Prisoner Dies from Medical Neglect

There are least 400 patients in Israeli prisons who do not receive proper healthcare. (Photo: Ma’an)

Due to medical negligence, Palestinian prisoner from West Bank passed away on Saturday morning inside an Israeli prison.

Palestinian sources identified the Palestinian prisoner as Hussein Atalla from the West Bank city of Nablus. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The Palestinian prisoner suffered cancer and received inadequate care in prison.

Like other patients, inmates in the same prison said, the Israeli occupation did not offer him proper medical care intentionally.

Rights groups say that there are more than 6,500 Palestinian prisoners inside the Israeli jails, including at least 400 patients, who do not receive proper healthcare.

According to Palestinian prisoners rights group Addameer, as of December, there were 6,171 Palestinians being held in Israeli prison, 479 of whom were serving a sentence longer than 20 years.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

US Will Further Slash UNRWA Aid by Another $45 Million (VIDEO)

UNRWA provides food aid, medical care and education to more than seven million Palestinian refugees. (Photo: Social Media)

Time Magazine reported that the US State Department is further slashing its aid package to UNRWA by another $45 million.

This announcement comes just days after the US was harshly criticized by world governments and organizations for cutting its aid to UNRWA by $65 million per year.

UNRWA provides relief, education and food aid to more than 7 million Palestinian refugees.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement slamming the US move, which they said would directly jeopardize the health and well-being of millions of refugees. They further criticized the US for harming a vulnerable population to punish the Palestinian leadership.

UNRWA was established in 1949 after the establishment of the State of Israel, which led to the displacement of millions of Palestinians from their ancestral homeland. The United States and European countries provide the bulk of UNRWA’s budget.

(PC, Social Media)

Iconic Irish Leader Gerry Adams Calls for Declaration of State of Palestine (VIDEO)

Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams at the Apartheid Wall in Palestine. (Photo: Social Media)

Long-time supporter of Palestine, and president of the Sinn Féin party in Ireland, Gerry Adams called the International Community once again to recognize a Palestinian State. He called on his own government to upgrade the status of the Palestinian mission in Ireland to full ambassadorial status.

Adams was extremely critical of the US role in the region and Trumps intentions to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

He also called on his own government and the international community to be more active in pressuring Israel to release the hundreds of Palestinian children currently in Israeli prisons.

Adams has visited Palestine on many occasions where he has met with local community leaders, placed a wreath on the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and in recent years has met with leaders of the Hamas movement.

Adams has been an proponent for Palestinian rights for decades and in recent years has been barred by the Israelis from visiting the Gaza Strip. During that time, he likened the Israeli siege and separation wall to Apartheid.

His political party, Sinn Féin strongly supports the Palestinian cause and has organized demonstrations against earlier wars in Gaza.

(PC, Social Media)

PLO Calls on EU to Take Effective Political Steps to Salvage Peace (VIDEO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a joint press conference with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, Brussels, Belgium. (Photo: Anadolu Agency via MEMO)

Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat Thursday called on the European Union (EU) to take effective political steps to save peace in the region.

This came during a meeting with representatives of the EU countries at the PLO’s headquarters in Ramallah, in which he briefed them on the latest political developments and the outcomes of the PLO’s Central Council meeting.

He called on the EU to protect the principles and the human rights’ system that it has built over the years, by translating and embodying its firm position on the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of a recognized State of Palestine.

Erekat reiterated the PLO’s position that the United States’ has lost eligibility to play the role of peace broker after its illegal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the occupying Power, and praised the position of the EU in the Security Council and the General Assembly against US President Donald Trump’s decision.

He said: “The US administration’s rejection of international law constitutes a threat to the international system as a whole, and would drag the region and the world into an endless wave of wars and international chaos. Its decision to cut aid to UNRWA will contribute to increasing despair and extremism. Funding UNRWA is a collective international responsibility and the solution can only be achieved through law and international community.”

Erekat called on the EU to support UNRWA and bridge the gap created by the US in its budget for the refugees’ issue.

(Wafa, PC, Social Media)

Israel Apologizes for Deadly Embassy Shooting in Amman

Two Jordanian nationals were killed by the Israeli embassy officer at the time. (Photo via social media)

Israel has formally apologized for the fatal shooting of two Jordanian citizens by an Israeli embassy guard in Amman last year, Jordan’s foreign ministry said.

The guard, identified as “Ziv”, shot two Jordanians in a residential building in the heavily fortified Israeli embassy compound in Jordan’s capital in July 2017.

The two victims were 17-year-old Jordanian Mohammed al-Jawawdeh, and Bashar Hamarneh, the owner of a property rented out to the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Mohammed was supposed to deliver and install a bedroom set at the embassy residence that had been ordered by the Israeli embassy through Hamarneh.

The Israeli government has pledged to follow up on legal proceedings and compensate the victims’ families, Jordan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Full operations at the embassy will resume immediately, a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed.

“Israel attaches great importance to its strategic relations with Jordan, and the two countries will act to advance their cooperation and to strengthen the peace treaty between them,” the statement on Thursday read.

In its letter to Jordan, Israel also offered an apology for the death of a Jordanian judge, Raed Zeiter, in 2014.

Zeiter was shot by Israeli soldiers at a West Bank border crossing.

Tensions between the two countries rose last summer after Israel installed metal detectors around the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman to denounce the Israeli measures at the al-Haram al-Sharif. The incident at the embassy came amid the tensions in Jerusalem.

Jordan is the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. It called an urgent meeting for Arab foreign ministers to discuss the situation.

(Aljazeera, PC, Social Media)