Wednesday, June 26, 2019 Last Update: 3:18 PM GMT

Israeli Forces Raid School, Seize Construction Equipment near Jenin

Israeli soldiers regularly raid schools and homes in the West Bank. (Photo: ActiveStills.org)

Israeli forces seized construction equipment and an agricultural tractor from inside ‘al-Tahadi 17’ school in the village of Thahr al-Maleh, to the southwest of the city of Jenin in the north of the occupied West Bank, said a local official.

Omar al-Khatib, head of Thahr al-Maleh village council, told WAFA Israeli forces, accompanied by staff from the Israeli planning and building committee, stormed the village of Thahr al-Maleh, and raided al-‘Tahadi 17’ school, where a new project for the construction of new health units and a fence for the school was underway.

Forces reportedly seized the tractor and construction equipment, including bricks, sand, cement, and twisted wires, from inside the school to prevent the completion of the project, citing unpermitted construction as a pretext.

(Wafa, PC, Social Media)

Palestinians Hold General Strike against Bahrain Conference (VIDEO)

Palestinian factions announced a general strike in protest against Bahrain’s “Peace to Prosperity” conference. (Photo: Mohammed Asad, via MEMO)

Palestinian factions today announced a general strike in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip in protest against Bahrain’s hosting of the “Peace to Prosperity” conference.

The conference kicked off today in the Bahraini capital Manama to discuss the economic aspects of the long-awaited “deal of the century”.

Last weekend US President Donald Trump’s advisor for the Middle East, Jared Kushner, revealed details of the plan, stating that $50 billion would be invested in the region.

More than half of this $50 billion would be spent in the economically-troubled Palestinian territories over ten years, while the rest would be split between Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

The National Committee for the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege announced a series of activities this week in rejection of the conference. It has called for widespread participation in the general strike and said it will organize a National Conference in the Strip’s central Gaza City.

Meanwhile, the Committee condemned Arab participation in the Bahrain summit and called on them to respect the united Palestinian rejection of the conference, which it argues aims to undermine Palestinian rights and principles.

As part of the activities announced by the Committee and the Palestinian factions, the Palestinian protesters will gather near Israeli checkpoints in Gaza and the West Bank. Witnesses reported that tens of Palestinians are currently gathering in front of Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Fearing Poor Performance, Netanyahu May Try to Avoid New Elections

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.(Photo: File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may seek to avoid fresh elections currently scheduled for September, in light of poor performances in recent polling, reported Ynet.

According to the article, “Likud sources” say Netanyahu has polling data showing that the new elections would “leave him in worse political shape than today”.

The September elections were called after Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition majority after April’s vote.

The sources cited in the report say that the polls indicate that “Netanyahu’s right-wing-Orthodox camp wouldn’t even make it to 59 seats” without Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Given this situation,

“Netanyahu would rather cancel the September elections and try to reform a government – perhaps a joint coalition with chief political rival the Blue and White party”.

Ynet added that “over the last few days, Likud has checked the option of canceling the dissolution of the Knesset that Netanyahu initiated in May, talking to both members of the current coalition and representatives of the Arab parties that would most likely oppose such a step”.

For now, however, the legal opinion “being given unofficially by Knesset legal advisor Eyal Yinon and other senior judicial officials is it is impossible to cancel the dissolution of the Knesset by law”.

The report stated that “those in Netanyahu’s inner circle are planning to work around this by allowing a Likud MK to submit a private members bill that would allow the dissolution to be overturned, and would work to pass it in the plenum”.

Once the law was approved, the Supreme Court “would likely prefer to avoid conflict with the political echelon and decline to cancel the legislation”, Ynet concluded.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Israel Seeks US Permission to Annex Jordan Valley over ‘Security’ Concerns

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

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu is allegedly seeking support and approval by the United States to enable the annexation of the Jordan Valley under the pretext that it is “a vital area to Israel’s security,” anonymous political sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The speculations come shortly after Netanyahu’s tour with US Security Advisor John Bolton around the West Bank on Sunday, in which the Israeli premier insisted that any future agreement regarding Palestine must first guarantee an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley.

Speaking  on Israeli military control of the valley, Netanyahu said:

“In any future peace agreement, our position is that Israel’s presence here must continue – for the security of Israel and for the security of all.”

Netanyahu reiterated the importance of Israel’s interests in the area when he addressed his cabinet yesterday, announcing that the Israeli Army’s presence there “guarantees stability and security for the entire region.”

Bolton commented on the idea, saying that,

“It’s too bad… that more Americans can’t come to locations like this, see the geography, understand its significance, understand how it affects Israel’s critical security position, and explain why Israel has taken the view that it has.”

Israeli premiers and military strategists have long strived to attain the Jordan Valley due to two primary reasons: the fertile farmland of the valley which the settlers already possess vast control over, and its geopolitical strategic significance. The West Bank is elevated and overlooks Israeli territory stretching to the sea to the west.

Most of the Jordan Valley is classified as Area C, which means it is already under Israeli control.

The Israeli Army has expelled entire Palestinian families from the valley in recent months and has conducted a number of military exercises there. The official annexation of the valley, however, would give it far greater control and would give it an increased military advantage in the area.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Clashes Erupted in Hebron as Palestinians Rally Rejects Bahrain Conference

Violent clashes erupted in the Palestinian city of Al-Khalil – Hebron. (Photo: via Social Media)

Clashes erupted today in the Hebron (Al-Khalil) area after dozens of Palestinians marched towards Israeli army checkpoints, to protest against the upcoming US-led conference in Bahrain.

Some protesters suffered tear-gas suffocation, as Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets and tear gas to suppress the march, according to local witnesses.

Thousands of Palestinians took part in rallies across the West Bank today to protest the Bahrain meeting, which is strongly opposed by the Palestinian leadership as intended to undermine their drive for independence and statehood.

(Wafa, PC, Social Media)

‘Deal of the Century’ to Grant $9 Billion to Egypt

US President Donald Trump (L) meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. (Photo: File)

According to documents released by the White House, the economic aspect of Donald Trump’s ‘peace plan’ between Palestine and Israel includes granting $9 billion to Egypt, half of which is in the form of soft loans.

The documents revealed that $50 billion will be dedicated to the economic part of the deal of the century, which will be invested in the revival of the Palestinian territories, as well as Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt.

The US President’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner will announce the details of the first phase of the peace plan during the workshop on “Peace for Prosperity” in Manama, Bahrain, on June 25-26.

According to the documents, the funds received by Egypt will be invested during three stages over 10 years, as follows:

  • $5 billion to be invested in modernizing transport infrastructure and logistics in Egypt.
  • $1.5 billion to be invested in supporting Egypt’s efforts to become a regional natural gas hub.
  • $2 billion to be dedicated to the Sinai Development Project ($500 million for power generation projects, water infrastructure, transport infrastructure and tourism projects).
  • An additional $125 million to be directed to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which will direct this fund to small and medium-sized enterprises in Egypt.
  • $42 million to repair and modernize electricity transmission lines from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.
  • The commitment to discuss ways to enhance trade deals between Egypt, Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank through Qualifying Industrial Zones in Egypt within the QIZ Agreement.

According to the documents, the West Bank and Gaza Strip will receive about $28 billion, which will be invested in improving transport infrastructure, electricity networks, water supply infrastructure, education, housing, and agriculture.

$5 billion will be spent on transport infrastructure linking the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and another $1 billion on the development of the Palestinian tourism sector.

The remaining part of the $50 billion will be divided between Jordan, which will receive $7.4 billion, and Lebanon, which will be granted $6.3 billion. The totality of funds will be raised through an investment fund managed by a Multilateral Development Bank.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Jerusalem Council: Jewish Settler Numbers Growing Faster than Israeli Population

An illegal Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. (Photo: via AJE)

Hanna Issa, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Secretary-General for the Islamic-Christian Council for Jerusalem and the Holy Places, has announced that the number of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) has reached 503, with 474 located in the West Bank and 29 in East Jerusalem.

In a press release today, Issa also stated that the illegal settlers living in these settlements number over one million, adding that the settler population is increasing at a far higher rate than the population growth rate of Israel itself.

He also expressed concern that the growing number of settlements and their population would be a further hindrance to the creation of a future Palestinian state if they cut the occupied West Bank off from East Jerusalem, which Palestinians have earmarked as their future capital.

“How can we talk about an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the June 4, 1967 borders and a Palestinian population of five million today, [when] Israeli settlements are swallowing land, depriving indigenous people of their freedom and economy, while concealing the possibility of real sovereignty?”

Throughout the past few decades, the building of illegal Jewish settlements in the oPt has increased, despite the fact that this is in direct violation of international law.

Issa reiterated this fact, citing laws such as Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids occupying states from transferring civilians to occupied territory. Another example is the International Criminal Court (ICC) Convention of 1998, which considers as war crimes the occupying state’s transfer of its civilian population to the territories it occupies.

Issa’s remarks come amid a recent increase in assaults by Israeli settlers on occupied Palestinian land, such as setting fire to farmland in the occupied West Bank in order to destroy Palestinians’ livelihood and the demolition and seizure of Palestinian households in East Jerusalem to make space for new Jewish-Israeli homes.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

BDS Activist Banned from Pro-Palestine Events in Germany

Palestinian journalist Khalid Barakat. (Photo: via MEMO)

Germany has banned Palestinian writer and journalist Khalid Barakat and his wife Charlotte Keats from attending pro-Palestine events for their support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Barakat has lived in the German capital Berlin for 18 months and works as a freelancer, while his wife is an international coordinator for Samidoon – a Palestinian media group which supports Palestinian prisoners. Both have been accused of supporting BDS, Arab 48 reported yesterday.

The German police detained Barakat on Saturday as he headed to an event about Palestine, which had been organized by a number of Arab communities in the German capital.

According to Arab 48, the German police informed Barakat that he is now banned from taking part in any political or cultural events, as well as family meetings with more than ten attendees. If he breaks these restrictions, he will be detained for one year and forced to pay a fine.

Last month the German parliament voted to define BDS as anti-Semitic. The motion claimed “the arguments, patterns, and methods of the BDS movement are anti-Semitic”, arguing that BDS’ “don’t buy” stickers – which aim to identify products of Israeli origin so consumers can refrain from purchasing them – “arouse associations [with] the Nazi slogan ‘Don’t buy from Jews’” and are “reminiscent of the most horrific phase in German history”.

The move has since been severely criticized, with the Palestinian Authority (PA) slamming the decision as “dangerous” and Palestinian NGOs arguing such actions delegitimize peaceful resistance.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Former Mossad Chief: ‘Israel Does Not Want Peace’

Former chief of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, Shabtai Shavit. (Photo: File)

The former chief of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, Shabtai Shavit, has said that Israel does not want peace and that, if it had, it would have made peace with the Palestinian Authority (PA) long ago.

Shavit gave his remarks to Israeli daily Maariv, reiterating that if Israel wanted peace it would have discussed it in economic and infrastructure terms that serve the interests of both parties, Arab 48 reported yesterday.

However, Shavit said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not see the PA as a negotiating partner and therefore refuses to develop relations with the authority.

He asked:

“Do you know any other head of an Israeli government who did not talk with the Palestinians?”

Shavit also claimed that Netanyahu stopped speaking to the PA under pressure from the Israeli right-wing, who he claimed “would lynch him in the city center” if he opened discussions today.

“We [Israel] are the strongest in the Middle East”, Shavit continued, adding that:

“At this time no Arab coalition is likely to be formed that would endanger [Israel’s] existence like in the 1960s and 1970s.”

Regarding the Oslo Accords of the mid-1990s – the last substantial attempt at peace negotiations – Shavit said that the Israeli right-wing has since painted this agreement as a “sin,” arguing that had they continued down this path, there could have been peace.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Bolton Meets Netanyahu ahead of Unprecedented Summit on Syria, Iran (VIDEO)

US National Security Adviser John Bolton (L) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: via Twitter)

Against the backdrop of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, US National Security Adviser John Bolton met on Sunday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, ahead of a three-way meeting of security advisers from Israel, the US and Russia about Syria’s future, reports Haaretz.

Russian security officer Nikolai Patrushev and Meir Ben-Shabbat, the prime minister’s national security adviser, will participate in the talks about Iranian influence in Syria, particularly through the Revolutionary Guards’ force.

Netanyahu has aspired to hold such three-way talks ever since Russia boosted its presence in the region, in search of closer cooperation toward the goal of reducing Iranian influence in Syria.

bolton

Netanyahu will meet with Patrushev on Monday and will also attend talks with aides to Patrushev and Ben-Shabbat on Tuesday.

Israel believes that holding such talks in Jerusalem makes it a central regional partner in world powers’ discussions about their interests in Syria and that this sends a public message to Iran’s leaders.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)