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Friday, April 23, 2021 Last Update: 8:14 PM GMT

PA Leadership Committed to Holding Elections in Palestine on Time

Spokesperson of the PA’s Presidency Nabil Abu Rudeineh. (Photo: via Facebook)

The Palestinian Authority (PA)’s leadership is committed to carrying out the Palestinian elections within the timeframe of the presidential decrees and specified dates, Spokesperson of the PA’s Presidency Nabil Abu Rudeineh stressed on Wednesday.

Speaking to Voice of Palestine radio, Abu Rudeineh stated:

“Nothing will change nor will there be a disruption that contradicts the Palestinian interest, since these elections are a Palestinian demand and all disruptions from here or there are not worth anything.”

“Jerusalem is a red line and the Palestinian people will not concede it nor accept a state with provisional borders or anything that contradicts the decisions of the Palestinian National Council and the United Nations resolutions,” he reiterated:

At the same time, he emphasized that “no decision will be taken regarding Jerusalem in any form without going back to the leadership, the factions, and all the forces.”

“The elections will take place on time and efforts are underway with all parties, including the European Union, which is trying to make every effort possible but is unable to force Israel to allow the elections,” explained the presidential spokesperson.

Regarding the role of the US in putting pressure on Israel, he remarked:

“US administration has not yet given an answer regarding pressure on Israel not to obstruct the holding of the elections, despite the fact that this administration is better than the previous one because President Joe Biden has declared his commitment to the two-state solution and his administration announced the return of aid to the Palestinian people.”

However, according to Abu Rudeineh, the current administration is progressing slowly. “The new US administration made a good start until now, but it is not sufficient,” he said, stressing that peace and the relationship with the US will not come at a price less than the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

Regarding the upcoming moves of the leadership, the presidential spokesperson confirmed that the Fatah Central Committee is in an open-ended meeting. If necessary, a joint leadership-factions meeting could take place and continue until the strategic objective of holding elections is achieved.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Palestinian Professor Says He was Denied Job because of His Views on Israel

Palestinian professor Iymen Chehade. (Photo: via Facebook)

A Palestinian professor said that he was denied a job because of his views on Israel and has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Illinois Congresswoman Marie Newman. Iymen Chehade is a Professor of Middle Eastern History at Columbia College Chicago.

Chehade claims that he had a signed agreement with the progressive Democrat Congresswoman for him to take a senior position in her team in return for dropping out of the 2020 US election. He was denied the job, he claims, because of his strong sympathy with the Palestinian cause.

Newman, who is a former supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, was one of the US lawmakers to support a draft bill recently specifying that Israel should not be allowed to use American taxpayer’s money to kill, torture, imprison, displace or otherwise harm Palestinian children and families.

Having narrowly lost the 2018 Democratic primary to a conservative Democrat and House veteran, Dan Lipinski, who is said to be reflexively pro-Israel and one of the favorite Democrats of the Israel lobby, she ran again as a candidate in 2020, as did Chehade.

Fearing that having two candidates on the nominal left would split the vote, Chehade bowed out only after coming to an agreement that he would be employed in a prominent legislative position which had the potential to have an impact on Newman’s foreign policy position. Chehade shared that contract online; the final page bears his signature and one that he says is Newman’s.

The two began to fall out over a statement from Newman on Palestine. Chehade says he worked with the Congresswomen to draft “a powerful statement in support of Palestinian rights.”

Disagreements arose over the content, though, including the position Newman should take on the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In the final draft, Newman says she supported people’s right to boycott, though she did not back the BDS movement herself.

Ultimately, Chehade was disappointed. The Palestine Statement on Newman’s website deleted any reference to the possibility of a single state solution, which Chehade says they agreed on; deleted reference to UN General Assembly Resolution 194 on the right of return and replaced it with a vague reference to the return of refugees; and recognized Israel as a “democratic and Jewish” state.

“As I told Newman,” recalled Chehade, “to say Israel is a Jewish state is tantamount to saying America is a white state or a Christian state.”

After defeating Lipinski in the Democratic primary, ensuring that Newman would go to Congress, Chehade says that he was informed “that she would not honor the employment contract we signed.”

The Palestinian professor has filed a breach of contract lawsuit in a federal court and a national-origin discrimination claim with the Office of Congressional Worker Rights (OCWR). Both cases are pending.

Newman’s office has denied the allegations against her and said that the lawsuit is frivolous and a waste of time.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

UN Security Council to Deliberate Elections in Palestine

Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s envoy at the UN. (Photo: Mark Garten, via UN website)

The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold today an open session chaired by Vietnam to discuss several issues, including pressuring Israel not to obstruct the holding of elections in all the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, according to Riyad Mansour, Permanent Representative of Palestine to the UN.

Mansour stressed in an interview with the official Voice of Palestine radio the importance of this session in highlighting the Israeli violations of international law and the relevant UN resolutions, especially in the issues of settlement and annexation, in addition to the obstacles Israel places in the way of holding elections in Jerusalem.

He pointed to a meeting he is going to hold in the next few days with the representative of the UN Secretary-General to the peace process to discuss many important issues, including the electoral process and the role of the international community in ensuring its implementation without obstruction.

Mansour said that the European Union delegates are going to express in a joint statement their collective position, which is going to include support for holding the elections and a call on Israel not to put any obstacles in their way.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Israel, Morocco Meet to Strengthen Ties and Cooperation

American-Israeli delegation visit to Morocco in December 2020. (Photo: US Embassy Jerusalem, via Wikimedia Commons)

Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis met with the designated ambassador and head of the Moroccan Embassy yesterday to discuss the results of normalizing ties and advancing further cooperation with each other.

Akunis assured Abdel Rahim Al-Bayoud that he would “work to promote joint ventures between the two countries” and that Israeli citizens, many of whom are immigrants from Morocco or have Moroccan ancestry, “are happy and excited about the relationship that is being forged.”

The Israeli minister pointed out that the normalization agreement signed last year has “enormous potential” in trade, the economy, tourism, technology, and innovation. “The agreement fundamentally changes the political situation in our region, creating an entirely new atmosphere in the Middle East.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Moroccan ambassador claimed to be “delighted” to be hosted by the Office for Regional Cooperation. “This historic peace agreement between the two countries has greatly pleased the Moroccan people who love Israel. Jewish tradition is an integral part of Moroccan culture,” said Al-Bayoud.

The ambassador shared his expectations for the agreement, starting with his intent to “strengthen tourism relations between the countries by operating a direct flight line” after the current month of Ramadan.

His meeting with Akunis came after Israeli and Moroccan institutions signed two agreements earlier this month to increase cooperation in the economy and education, noted the head of Israel’s diplomatic mission in Morocco, David Govrin.

The first agreement was signed between the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises, the largest corporate group in Morocco, and one of Israel’s top technology companies, IBEO, explained Govrin on Twitter. Another deal was signed by the National School of Business and Management in Casablanca and Tel Aviv University’s School of Management.

In 2000, Morocco severed all ties with Israel after the latter’s violent response to the Second (Al-Aqsa) Intifada and the suspension of peace talks with the Palestinians. However, it restored diplomatic relations in December under a US-sponsored deal, becoming the fourth Arab country last year to agree to normalisation with Israel after the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Forces Detain Six Palestinians, Including Journalist, in West Bank

Palestinian journalist Alaa al-Rimawi. (Photo: via Social Media)

Israeli forces Wednesday dawn detained at least six Palestinians, including a journalist, from various parts of the West Bank, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

They said that Israeli forces rounded up 43-year-old journalist, Alaa al-Rimawi, after storming his house in the city of Ramallah.

Al-Rimawi works as a journalist for J-Media, which is a Palestinian media organization concerned with producing videos, photography and live broadcasting services for Palestinian events.

Al-Rimawi’s wife confirmed that her husband has started a hunger strike since the time of his detention.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian after breaking into and ransacking his house in Yatta city, south of Hebron.

They also re-arrested a former prisoner from Hebron city.

In Jerusalem district, the sources confirmed an Israeli military raid in al-Ram town, north of the city, where soldiers rounded up three Palestinians.

Israeli forces frequently raid Palestinian houses almost on a daily basis across the West Bank on the pretext of searching for “wanted” Palestinians, triggering clashes with residents.

These raids, which take place also in areas under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, are conducted with no need for a search warrant, whenever and wherever the military chooses in keeping with its sweeping arbitrary powers.

Under Israeli military law army commanders have full executive, legislative and judicial authority over 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. Palestinians have no say in how this authority is exercised.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Netanyahu Mulls Direct Vote for Israeli PM to Solve 2-Year Deadlock

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering a direct vote for the post of prime minister to end two years of political deadlock in the country, Israeli media reported on Monday.

“There is a solution to the political stalemate, and the vast majority of the public supports it,” Netanyahu told members of parliament from his Likud party.

A direct vote for prime minister would avoid “assembling absurd governments” and would allow Israeli citizens to choose a leader in “snap elections, without dissolving parliament”, he explained.

Netanyahu, head of the largest party in the Israeli parliament, has until May 4 to form a coalition government.

Smaller parties hope that he will not succeed in order that they may be given a chance to come together and form an alternative one.

The successful bid would need 61 seats in the Knesset to pass.

Israel has held four elections in two years, none have brought about a clear winner for government, and coalitions formed have collapsed during this period.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Calls for Executing Palestinian Protesters

Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Aryeh King. (Photo: via Facebook)

Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Aryeh King, yesterday called on Israeli police to execute Palestinian protesters who take to the streets of the holy city at night, Shehab news agency reported.

King proposed a change in police policy regarding dealing with protesters and stop using traditional means to disperse them.

According to the Israeli TV Channel 7, King said that shooting the protesters “is the only way which can end the night protests phenomenon.”

Police “do not save any efforts to prevent these demonstrations which were aggravated by the start of Ramadan,” he added.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, King is best known for settling Jews in occupied East Jerusalem and evicting Palestinian families from the city’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Army Starts Military Exercises along Jordan Border

An Israeli military drill in the occupied Jordan Valley. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Israeli army started military exercises along the border with Jordan yesterday, the Israeli defense ministry has announced.

The ministry’s Crossing Authority said that the training would take place at the Jordan Valley crossing.

“The training will require the closure of Route 90 intermittently, and gunfire and explosions will be heard in the area,” it added.

The move comes as Israel said that it was planning to train its forces ahead of an “imminent confrontation with Iran.”

Tensions between Israel and Iran have risen, especially after an Israel-owned freight ship was struck by an Iranian missile in the Arabian Sea recently.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Pro-Israel US Lawmakers Propose Bill to Strengthen US Ties with Israel

US Senator Jacky Rosen. (Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

Pro-Israel US lawmakers have proposed a bipartisan bill that would provide $30 million over five years to companies that partner with their counterparts in the occupation state.

The move is an effort to facilitate joint cybersecurity partnership programs between the United States and Israel through a grant program at the Department of Homeland Security to “promote cooperative research and development between the United States and Israel on cybersecurity.”

Washington is said to be grappling with cyberattacks from Russia, including the recent hack of the information technology firm SolarWinds. The legislation is believed to be a response to that threat.

The bill seeks to fund research by a range of actors, including government entities, private companies, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions, on the condition that they partner with corresponding entities in Israel. It is being sponsored by Senators Jacky Rosen, Susan Collins, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Todd Young in the Senate, and Congressmen Jim Langevin and Andrew Garbarino in the House of Representatives.

“As cybersecurity threats continue to grow in scale, frequency, and sophistication, it’s critical that we find innovative solutions to acquire new technologies,” said Rosen in a statement reported by Politico. She serves on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and has described herself as “a steadfast voice for continued US security assistance to Israel.”

Rosen added that the legislation aims to “stay ahead of the curve” against hackers and that the “bipartisan legislation would enable greater collaboration between the United States and Israel — a major hub for new and emerging cybersecurity technologies.”

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Forces Demolish Al-Araqeeb Village for 186th Time

Israeli forces habitually destroy al-Araqeeb village. (Photo: via Facebook)

Israeli forces again demolished on Monday a Palestinian Bedouin village in the southern Negev region, Anadolu Agency reported.

Israeli forces demolished Al-Araqeeb village for the 186th time despite the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Aziz al-Touri, a member of the Committee for the Defense of Al-Araqeeb, told Anadolu Agency.

Al-Touri said the demolition was the 11th since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and confirmed that the villagers intended to rebuild their destroyed dwellings and other structures as soon as possible.

Homes in Al-Araqeeb, inhabited by 22 Palestinian families, are built of wood and plastic.

The village was first destroyed in 2010 and rebuilt after every demolition since then. Israeli authorities claim that the site where it is located falls under “state land.”

Israeli officials seek to seize control of the lands and expel its residents, with dozens of other villages and Bedouin communities facing the same threat in the Negev area.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)