An unconventional marriage: the Marwan and Fadwa Barghouti story

Other news

The love story of Fadwa and Marwan Barghouti
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 28 Oct by Jaclynn Ashly — …Together in struggle — Fadwa and Marwan grew up together in the village of Kobar, outside of Ramallah city. Fadwa’s family was one of few in the village where their daughter continued her education in the city past the sixth grade, and she was the first woman in her village to obtain a driver’s license. At the age of 18, she became the youngest founding member of the Women’s Union for Social Work, which she now heads. The group works to increase the participation of women in the Palestinian resistance movement. Marwan, meanwhile, began a five-year sentence in Israeli prison when he was 18. Fadwa was just 14 at the time. A few years into his jail term, he sent a message to Fadwa through a recently released prisoner: “He told me that Marwan loves me and that he wants me to wait for him.” When Marwan was finally released, his marriage proposal was anything but typical. “He said he was not interested in money or building a home, and that his heart would be dedicated to the Palestinian resistance,” Fadwa recalled….

Palestinian reconciliation takes its toll on new PA budget
RAMALLAH 26 Oct by Ahmad Melhem — Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is expected to take its toll on the Palestinian Authority‘s (PA) general budget for 2018, which the government will begin drafting by the end of October, a Palestinian official told Al-Monitor. “Reconciliation — if successful — will make the next budget the largest in the history of the PA, with a possible 20% to 30% increase,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The PA’s fiscal year starts Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 31 of each year, in accordance with Palestinian law. The proposed budget for the current year is $4.48 billion, $4.1 billion dollars of which is allocated for current expenditures (salaries, wages, raises, operating expenses and transfers to ministries, public institutions and other executive bodies) and $350 million for development expenditures (operating expenses and capital expenditures for projects). The issue of Gaza’s employees will pose the biggest financial challenge to the 2018 budget, with the payroll bill accounting for more than half of it. The 2017 budget allocated about $2.25 billion to salaries of current civil servants, amounting to 54% of total expenditure … The financial data of the Palestinian government indicate that it cannot afford to cover the salaries of Hamas’ employees, which could amount to $600 million a year….

PLO steps up organizing efforts in Palestinian diaspora
Al-Monitor 25 Oct by Daoud Kuttab — The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has stepped up activities around the world to revive its diaspora constituencies, which had in recent years lost faith in the organization and its leadership. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sent Husam Zomlot, his star ambassador and representative in Washington, to represent him at the Congress of the Confederation of Palestinian Communities in Latin America and the Caribbean (COPLAC). The gathering, held Oct. 20-22 in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, was attended by the host country’s foreign minister, Denis Moncada Colindres, and Palestinian representatives from across Latin America. The COPLAC meeting comes after bitter disputes over the independence of diaspora institutions and the shifting of diaspora affairs from the PLO to the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs. The switch took effect May 24. Zomlot, who heads the PLO delegation in Washington, told Al-Monitor that he was impressed by the character and depth of the Palestinians in Latin America. “Even though they have been fully integrated into their new communities, they are enthusiastically committed to Palestine and support the Palestinian cause.”….

Palestine takes its first step as Interpol member state
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip 29 Oct by Ahmed al-Komi — On Oct. 12, at a meeting in Ramallah of the committee formed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to follow up on his country’s accession to Interpol, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah decided to establish the Interpol National Central Bureau for Palestine. This comes after Interpol approved the membership of the Palestinian territories at its 86th General Assembly meeting held in Beijing, China, on Sept. 27, with 75 voting countries backing the Palestinian membership. In a Sept. 27 statement, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki welcomed Palestine’s admission to Interpol, describing it as “a reflection of confidence in the Palestinian territories’ ability to enforce the law and abide by the fundamental values of the organization.” The Palestinian Authority (PA) had officially submitted an application to join Interpol in 2015, arguing that membership would help it pursue and prosecute outlaws wanted for criminal and corruption charges. Col. Mahmoud Salah al-Din, the newly appointed director of the Interpol national office in Palestine, said joining Interpol is a major achievement for the Palestinian territories, now “part of an organization of 191 member states.”….

Israel, Palestinians said back to full West Bank security cooperation
Times of Israel 27 Oct — Security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has fully resumed some 3 months after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas suspended it to protest new security restrictions imposed at the Temple Mount, Channel 2 TV reported Friday. Channel 2 said the Palestinian forces resumed full coordination this week, but provided no further details …  the PA has continued to make arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank, despite the freeze in cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces. The resumption comes despite the fact that Abbas’s Fatah has just signed a reconciliation deal with Hamas, designed to end a decade of conflict between the Palestinian factions and return PA rule to the Gaza Strip….

FIFA will not take action on Israeli settlement teams
Al Jazeera 27 Oct — International football’s governing body has announced that it will not take a position on the future of six Israeli football clubs based in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. FIFA representatives met in Kolkata, India, on Friday and cited the “exceptional complexity and sensitivity” and “political” nature of the subject. “Given that the final status of the West Bank territories is the concern of the competent international public law authorities, the FIFA Council agrees that FIFA, in line with the general principle established in its Statutes, must remain neutral with regard to political matters,” FIFA said in a statement. “Furthermore, it was agreed that any interference by FIFA in the status quo of football in the relevant territories without the consent of the parties concerned might aggravate the situation of football not only in the territories in question, but also in the greater region affected – which would not be in the best interests of the game.” As a consequence, the body noted, FIFA would refrain “refrain from imposing any sanctions”. It has declared the matter closed. The Palestine Football Association (PFA) had been campaigning FIFA to force the relocation of the clubs since 2015. The clubs are located in settlements considered illegal under international law, which is in breach of FIFA statutes. PFA President Jibril Rajoub previously said that he was not seeking the expulsion of Israel from FIFA, but rather for Israel to abide by international regulations. “We want to stop all football and football-related activity run by the Israeli federation in Palestine’s internationally recognised territories,” he said … In a statement, Fadi Quran, a senior campaigner in Palestine for the civic organisation, Avaaz, said that FIFA’s failure to act means that thousands of Palestinian children are being “robbed of the chance to play the game they love on land that’s theirs.” “If FIFA won’t do its job and won’t respect its own statutes and international law, then the courts will force it to do so,” he said….

Palestinian engineers create phone app detecting breast cancer
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Oct — Palestinian doctors and engineers claim to have developed an app that would allow women to detect early signs of breast cancer by simply snapping a picture on their phones. Al-Quds University released a statement saying that Dr. Zaidoun Salah and engineer Yazid Al Badarin invented the app, which is still in its developmental phases. The university hailed the app as a ”revolutionary discovery (that) will benefit women worldwide.” “Unlike the mammogram which can only be done once every two years, this patented App allows the women to do it infinitely without harmful side effects. Salah says the App and the mammogram complete each other,” the statement said. “We have experimented on mice and the results have been an extraordinary success and has encouraged experimenting on women in a Bethlehem medical center,” Salah said, adding that the app will be available for use upon the results of these experiments. By taking a photo from their phone, women can use the app to instantly analyze her body and reveal early symptoms. Afterwards, she can consult with a specialized physician, who will conduct further tests to determine if the tumor is benign or not. Al-Quds University highlighted its fight against breast cancer, as the disease has been a leading cause of death in Palestine. This year alone, the statement highlighted, the Palestinian Health Ministry recorded that for every 100,000 persons living in the occupied West Bank, 83.8 percent of cases were cancer patients — 52.5 percent females and 47.5 percent males.

Ceremony commemorates achievements of Polish Aid in Palestine
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 25 Oct – A ceremony was held in Ramallah on Wednesday commemorating achievements of Polish Aid development programs in Palestine, according to a press release. Speaking at the event, held at the YMCA Sports Complex in Ramallah, the Representative of Poland to the Palestinian Authority, Aleksandra Bukowska-McCabe, expressed her appreciation to over 40 Palestinian and foreign organizations and institutions working toward community development in Palestine over the past 10 years. Since the opening of the Representative Office of Poland in Palestine in 2005, Polish Aid program has continuously awarded grants to local institutions to support development in Palestine in the fields of education, youth development, rural development, access to water and sanitation, as well as entrepreneurship and private sector development. Special attention was given to projects in East Jerusalem aiming to cultivate the Palestinian heritage and identity as well as projects in Area C improving access to drinking water….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

VIDEO: Israel settlers injure Palestinian olive farmer
Al Jazeera 17 Oct —  Israeli settlers injured three Palestinian farmers as they tried to harvest their olives. It is the latest incident in a harvest season beset by harassment around illegal settlements, where Palestinian farmers need special military permission to reach their land. Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reports from Occupied West Bank [Salfit area].

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian home in Hebron with rocks, stun grenades
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 Oct — Dozens of Israeli settlers reportedly attacked a Palestinian home in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday, according to local sources. Local activist Jamal Iseifan told Ma‘an that Israeli settlers from the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement attacked a house belonging to Kayid Mansour al-Jaabari, under the protection of armed Israeli forces.
Iseifan said that Israeli settlers threw rocks and stun grenades at the house and al-Jaabari’s family, adding that Hebron has seen a rise in attacks on Palestinian houses near the Kiryat Arba settlement, that exists in contravention of international law.
Some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers live in Hebron under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians. Palestinian residents of the Old City face a large Israeli military presence on a daily basis, with at least 20 checkpoints set up at the entrances of many streets.

Israeli soldiers attack a Palestinian woman, international activist in Nablus
IMEMC 28 Oct —  Israeli soldiers invaded, Saturday, Palestinian olive orchards in the Sawiya village, close to an illegal Israeli colony south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and attacked a woman and an international peace activist, harvesting olive trees. The soldiers attacked a woman, identified as Rana al-Barq, and an international peace activist, who were volunteering to help villagers pick their olive trees in their orchards, close to Alei illegal colony. The soldiers also attempted to detain the international activist, but the locals managed to stop them.
On Saturday at dawn, Israeli colonists invaded a Palestinian olive orchard, owned by a villager from ‘Awarta, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and harvested many trees before stealing the produce.

Israeli settlers continue widespread theft of Palestinian olive harvest in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Oct — Over the past few days, Israeli settlers have reportedly stolen the harvest of hundreds of Palestinian olive trees in the northern occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian sources. Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that Israeli settlers from the illegal Kedumim settlement, stole the harvest off of Palestinian-owned land in the Qalqiliya-area village of Jit. According to Wafa, landowners from Jit went to harvest their olives after obtaining Israeli permits to access their land. But when they arrived, they discovered that the olives had been harvested and “many fully grown trees were damaged and dry after being sprayed with toxic chemicals.” The landowner reportedly told Wada that he also discovered sewage water being pumped from a settler’s mobile home into his land.
Meanwhile, Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an in Saturday that over the past few days, dozens of Israeli settlers had stolen olives from more than 700 olive trees in the Nablus area. The majority of the thefts, according to Daghlas, took place on Palestinian lands around the illegal Elon Moreh and Itamar settlements.
Several reports of Israeli settlers stealing olive pickings from Palestinian lands have emerged since the beginning of the harvest season, with NGO Rabbis for Human Rights reporting on a a massive wave” of thefts, which they described as “hate crimes.”
The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and acts carried out by Israeli settlers often occur in the presence of Israeli military forces who rarely act to protect Palestinian residents. The majority of settler thefts committed against Palestinians are met with impunity, with Israelis rarely facing consequences for such thefts.

Israeli soldiers abduct two children, injure a man, in Hebron
IMEMC 29 Oct —  Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday at dawn, several neighborhoods in Hebron’s Old City, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, and Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, abducted two children, and repeatedly assaulted a man after briefly detaining him. The soldiers invaded Beit Ummar town before breaking into and violently searching several homes, and abducted two children, identified as Qussai Samir Abu Mariya, 15, and Qussai Ahmad Abu Hashem, 17. The abduction of the two children brings the number of Palestinians who were taken prisoner by the army in Beit Ummar since the beginning of this year to 148, including 78 children. In addition, the soldiers invaded many neighborhoods in Hebron’s Old City, briefly detained Yosri Adnan Zeitoun, and repeatedly kicked and clubbed him before releasing him. The man was instantly moved to Hebron governmental hospital, suffering various cuts and bruises. The soldiers also installed many roadblocks in southern Hebron, and on roads leading to surrounding villages and towns.

Army abducts six Palestinians in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Jenin
IMEMC 29 Oct — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Saturday evening and Sunday at dawn, six Palestinians in the West Bank governorates of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Jenin, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The Bethlehem office of the PPS has reported that dozens of soldiers invaded the Deheishe refugee camp, south of the city, at dawn Sunday, searched homes and abducted Ibrahim Hasan Abed-Rabbo, 22, and Mohammad Rezeq Hammash, 21. On Saturday evening, the soldiers abducted Hanadi al-Halawani, as she was leaving Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem. It is worth mentioning that she was abducted more than a month ago, and received an order banning her from entering the mosque before she was released later; today was the first time she entered the holy site after the order’s expiration. Also on Saturday evening, the soldiers abducted Dr. Raed Fathi and Dr. Mousa al-Baseet, while they were walking out of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Also on Saturday evening, the soldiers abducted Omar Adnan Hamarsha, 26, from Ya‘bad town, southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, after stopping him at a military roadblock while he was returning home from work in Jenin.

IDF seals off 10 tunnels underneath West Bank security fence
Times of Israel 28 Oct — The IDF sealed off 10 tunnels under the security barrier in the West Bank near the city of Hebron, after dozens of Palestinians reportedly managed to illegally cross into Israeli territory through the passages over the past few weeks. Each of the tunnels, which were built to serve as drain pipes, was about 1.5 meters (five feet) in diameter and about 20 meters (65 feet) in length, allowing for people to easily cross through them, Israel Radio reported on Friday. Last week, at least 100 Palestinians who crossed into Israeli territory via the massive drainage pipes carried out a series of agricultural thefts near Moshav Shekaf, in the Lachish region, stealing dozens of tons of tomatoes and grapes, according to the radio report. Seventy Palestinians who were suspected of taking part in the theft were eventually tracked down and caught by the IDF and taken in for questioning.

Did British Mandate pave way for Israeli occupation? / Linah Alsaafin
Al Jazeera 27 Oct — While the British Mandate in Palestine  lasted for 31 years, notorious remnants of its legacy are still felt by the Palestinians on a daily basis at the hands of the Israeli army. For seven decades, the military occupation of Palestinians has been ongoing, but some of the repressive tactics used by the Israeli army were not necessarily Israeli. Rather, they were first practised on the Palestinians by the British army during the mandate era. “Anyone who looks at the methods the British used in Palestine during the 1930s will see strong parallels with what Israel is doing today,” said David Cronin, journalist and author of Balfour’s Shadow. One such tactic was punitive house demolitions, carried out as a measure of deterrence. Another was administrative detention, or the internment of prisoners for an indefinite period of time without subjecting them to trial or charges. The British used those tactics as a series of reprisals and collective punishments during the Arab Revolt that began in 1936, where a Palestinian nationalistic movement rose to protest British rule and the official support for the increase in Jewish immigration.
British-trained Haganah — The 1930s were marked by a strong collusion between the British and Jewish fighters, mainly from the Haganah paramilitary group, the largest Zionist militia in Palestine at the time, which would later form the central component of the Israeli army. Cronin said that the British had helped the groundwork for the Nakba. It was after all the Haganah who were responsible for mapping out Plan Dalet, the blueprint for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. “Many of the Zionist forces who forced around 750,000 Palestinians from their homes during the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine had received British training,” he said…
House demolitions – –At the height of the second Intifada in 2002, the Israeli army demolished 252 homes in the occupied territories, rendering just over 1,400 Palestinians homeless. A lesser-known fact is that between the years of 1936 and 1939, the British authorities had demolished 5,000 Palestinian homes. On June 16, 1936, approximately 240 homes were blown up by the British in the Old City of Jaffa, leaving as many as 6,000 Palestinians homeless. They were informed by air-dropped leaflets the same morning and many became destitute, having lost all their possessions with their homes. The explanation given by Britain, according to Cronin, was for “urban renewal” purposes, but the main reason was that “its inhabitants were not deemed sufficiently obedient towards their oppressors, so they were made homeless”. Matthew Hughes wrote how the British army had cut wide pathways through the old city with explosives to “allow military access to, and control of, a rebel-held area that had previously eluded military control”. This has been copied verbatim by the Israeli army, most notably during their invasions of the Jenin refugee camp and Nablus’s old city in the second Intifada, where their tanks flattened narrow alleyways, houses and other structures in their way….


Teen accused of attempting stabbing released
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Oct — Israeli authorities, on Thursday, released a Palestinian teen from detention after more than a month, originally held in custody over an alleged stabbing attack that happened in September, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Ihab al-Ghaith, a lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said, in a statement, that Israel’s Ofer military court decided to release wounded teen prisoner Haitham Jaradat, 14 — previously reported to be 15 — after he spent 58 days in detention between the Shaare Tzedek Hospital and al-Ramla jail clinic. Jaradat, a resident of the Hebron-area town of Sair, was shot and injured by Israeli forces after he allegedly ran toward a group of Israeli settlers at a bus stop with a knife. Al-Ghaith said that Jaradat was shot in his back with a bullet that exited his body through his stomach. The teen underwent surgery at the Shaare Tzedek Hospital after his detention. Al-Ghaith also pointed out that the teen was constantly handcuffed and cuffed by his feet to his hospital bed, and that a fine of 2,000 shekels ($564) was also imposed on Jaradat upon his release.
Dozens of Palestinians have been arrested, injured, and killed by Israeli forces for alleged stabbing attacks. Those, including minors, who were not killed have routinely been sentenced with serious jail time, according to Ma‘an. In Jaradat’s case, a video [below] was released of the incident showing an Israeli officer asking Jaradat what he was doing in the area, with the teen replying that he came in order to commit suicide. “Why?” the officer asked him, but Jaradat only replied that he wanted water. The officer asked him if he had come to the area to commit an attack. The boy did not answer and instead continued to ask for water. The video had prompted some to comment that the teen was, in fact, attempting suicide, rather than actually seeking to commit an attack on Israelis….

Former hunger-striking prisoner on strike again in protest of administrative detention
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Oct — Former long-term hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Bilal Diab entered his seventh day of hunger strike in protest against his administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial — on Wednesday, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). Diab, a resident of the village of Kafr Raa‘i in the Jenin district of the northern West Bank, was redetained in a predawn military raid on July 14 and immediately started a hunger strike that lasted 20 days, according to prisoners rights group Addameer. He had also taken on a 77-day open hunger strike in prison in 2012, alongside Thaer Halahleh, in protest of their administrative detentions. He was released on Aug. 9, 2012 after reaching an agreement with Israeli authorities to end his strike.
According to PPS, Diab is now being held in solitary confinement in Israel’s Ashkelon prison in retaliation for his hunger strike. The group highlighted that the fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from moving prisoners from the occupied territory (West Bank) to the occupying state (Israel). APPS lawyer who visited Diab in jail said that he has also began refusing water to protest his transfer to a solitary confinement on Monday. Diab, according to the lawyer, is also refusing to take any vitamins or undergo any medical checkups. His health condition has reportedly deteriorated quickly, PPS said, adding that he currently suffers from overall fatigue, headaches, ear aches, and abdominal and back pain. Diab is reportedly being held in a tiny insect-infested cell, and was given an old mattress and a thin blanket to sleep on, while he uses his shoes as a pillow. He has not been allowed to bathe since he began his strike, PPS said.

Palestinian prisoner given 30 minutes to visit his son battling cancer
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Oct — A Palestinian prisoner was allowed to see his teenage son, who is battling cancer in an Israeli hospital, for only 30 minutes on Monday morning, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. According to Wafa, Rajab Tahhan, who is serving a life sentence in Israeli prison, was allowed only 30 minutes on to see his son, Majd, 19, in his Israeli hospital bed where he is receiving treatment for cancer. The Israeli Prison Services brought Tahhan to see his son, who has leukemia, at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. Tahhan was cuffed from his hands and feet, and was not allowed to see any other family members during the visit. The hospital ward was reportedly shut down during the short visit. “The father and the son cried during the entire visit, which, according to Tahhan family members, was mixed with feelings of joy and sadness at the same time,” Wafa said.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Settlements

Israel delays vote on bill to Judaise Jerusalem
Al Jazeera 29 Oct by Zena Tahhan — Israel has delayed a vote on a controversial bill that would annex illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank to the Israeli-defined boundaries of the city of  Jerusalem. The so-called “Greater Jerusalem bill” was meant to be voted on by a ministerial committee on Sunday before going to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, for approval. The Israeli government did not say why the vote was postponed, but an official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Israeli daily Haaretz that the bill’s current version “invites international pressure and involves difficult legal issues”. If passed, the legislation would annex to the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem the three major mega-settlement cities of Maale Adumim, Givat Zeev and Gush Etzion, which together house around 140,000 Israelis. It would add the Israelis who live there to the population of Jerusalem, thus allowing them to vote in local elections. Simultaneously, the bill would create “independent municipalities” for several Palestinian neighbourhoods, housing at least 100,000 people, that are part of the Jerusalem municipality but cut off from the city by Israel’s separation wall. The purpose is to ensure a Jewish majority in the city of Jerusalem. Palestinian Arabs currently make up some 40 percent of Jerusalem’s population and Israeli Jews the remainder … The law is just one of a number of ways in which Israel has worked to consolidate its hold over the city and Judaise it. The settlements set to be incorporated into the Jerusalem boundaries are already connected to the city through roads and bridges built solely for Israeli settlers….

White House opposed vote on Israel ‘annexation’ bill: US official
JERUSALEM (AFP) 29 Oct — US President Donald Trump’s administration opposed a planned vote on a controversial Israeli bill that critics say would amount to de facto annexation of Jewish settlements surrounding Jerusalem, a US official said Sunday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed a vote on the bill by a ministerial committee that was scheduled to take place on Sunday, with an Israeli official saying “diplomatic preparation” was needed. It was a signal that Netanyahu was under pressure not to move forward from the White House, which has been seeking ways to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. “I think it’s fair to say that the US is discouraging actions that it believes will unduly distract the principals from focusing on the advancement of peace negotiations,” a US official said on condition of anonymity. “The Jerusalem expansion bill was considered by the administration to be one of those actions.” David Bitan, chairman of Netanyahu’s governing coalition, told Israel’s army radio on Sunday that “there’s American pressure that says that it’s a case of annexation.” He disputed that the bill amounted to “annexation”. According to Haaretz newspaper, Netanyahu told cabinet members on Sunday that the bill must be discussed with US officials before it can move forward.

Israel approves 176 new settler homes in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 25 Oct — Israeli authorities approved on Wednesday a major expansion of a Jewish settler enclave in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem, issuing building permits for 176 new housing units. The construction, which a Jerusalem municipal spokeswoman said was approved by the city’s planning committee, was swiftly condemned by the Palestinians as a violation of international law. Construction of the new units will nearly triple the number of settler homes in the Nof Zion settlement, which currently has 91 dwellings and is surrounded by Palestinian houses in the Jabel al-Mukaber neighborhood. The area is located in territory that Israel captured and annexed in a 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians seek as part of a state they want to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. “We are unifying Jerusalem through actions on the ground,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement about the settlement’s expansion. Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital has not won international recognition, and many countries regard the settlements it has built on occupied land as illegal and obstacles to any future land-for peace deal.

Palestinian in East Jerusalem told his house will be demolished
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 26 Oct – The Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem informed on Wednesday night a Palestinian resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabber that his house is going to be demolished because it was built without a permit, according to WAFA correspondent. Staff from the municipality handed Mohammad Abu Jamal an order informing him of its intention to demolish his home, which he has been living in with his five-member family for two years. While the all-Israel municipality headed by a right-wing mayor refuses to give Palestinians building permits in their occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods compelling them as a result to build without one, it has on Wednesday approved the construction of 176 housing units for Jews only in the illegal settlement of Neve Tsion built on expropriated land from Jabal al-Mukabber.

Israel to demolish 5 buildings, 138 apartments, in Jerusalem-area town
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Oct — Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality is reportedly planning to demolish five buildings in the Palestinian Jerusalem-area town of Kafr Aqab, according to a Saturday report from Israeli news daily Haaretz. Haaretz reported that the five buildings hold a total of 138 apartments, 20 of which are occupied, and the rest of which have been sold to Palestinian families.
Last week, Israel’s district court in Jerusalem rejected an appeal against the demolition from Kafr Aqab’s residents, and permitted Israeli authorities to demolish the “illegally built” structures immediately. Kafr Aqab, while located on the occupied West Bank side of Israel’s illegal separation wall, is still considered as part of Israel’s Jerusalem municipality. According to Haaretz, since the construction of the wall, residents in the town were forced to build without Israeli-issued construction permits, as all of their applications were denied. Haaretz quoted Munir Zagheir, chairman of the Kafr Aqab Residents Committee, as saying that since 2001, Israel has issued zero building permits in the town. “I have 52,000 residents living in such homes and the municipality has looked away. These are 138 families who put shekel after shekel together, who sold their jewelry so they could build. They bought because they knew there are no demolitions here and saw that the city did nothing,” Zagheir told Haaretz. The demolition is allegedly aimed at clearing land to pave a public road that will connect a nearby neighborhood with Israel’s Qalandiya military checkpoint….

Netanyahu promises settlers NIS 800 million for West Bank roads
Times of Israel 25 Oct by Jacob Magid —  Mixed reactions to pledge among settler leaders represent a growing rift between those who are willing to take PM at his word and those who aren’t — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a meeting Wednesday with settler leaders, promised to invest NIS 800 million ($228 million) in West Bank roads and infrastructure development. Netanyahu and his chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz, told the chairman of the settlement umbrella group Yesha Council, Avi Roeh, that plan would go into effect at the start of the 2018 fiscal year … A Defense Ministry official said that it was unclear how Netanyahu’s pledge would impact Liberman’s plans for the security package. However, it appeared that the money promised by the prime minister will specifically be earmarked for the paving of new West Bank roads, while Liberman’s plan is devoted to cameras, fences and other security improvements for residents over the Green Line. While Netanyahu had made a similar pledge to pave additional bypass roads for West Bank settlers earlier this month, Wednesday’s assurance included an exact figure which would be allocated for the project. The bypass roads create separate routes for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Settlers say the routes are integral for their safety, citing terror attacks that have taken place on roads that run through Palestinian villages. They also argue that they benefit all residents of the West Bank — Jewish and Palestinian alike — by reducing congestion. But opponents of the pathways call them discriminatory and argue that they encourage the establishment of illegal outposts, and are sometimes paved on private Palestinian land.

Israeli court stops demolition of Palestinian homes in Jordan Valley
TOUBAS (WAFA) 26 Oct – An Israeli court issued on Thursday an injunction stopping demolition orders against dozens of homes for Palestinians in the northern Jordan Valley community of Humsa al-Fouqa, according to Mutaz Bsharat, an official with the Toubas [or Tubas] governorate that is in charge of the northern Jordan Valley areas. He told WAFA that the Toubas governorate and the anti-wall and anti-settlements commission obtained the court order that stopped the demolition of 47 structures in the Bedouin village.Humsa al-Fouqa is among three communities in the northern Jordan Valley Israel is trying to uproot from their land using all pretexts, including construction without permit and using the area as firing and military training zones, in order to take it over and build settlements. The other two are Makhoul and al-Farisieh. The anti-wall commission has also obtained this week a court injunction against demolition of the Makhoul homes. The demolition threat became real after the Israeli High Court recently rejected an appeal by the Palestinian residents of the three communities to have their structures legalized. The three communities are located in the sparsely-populated Area C of the occupied West Bank, which is under full Israeli military control. Israel intends to annex this area, claiming it is vital for its security, and therefore wants to uproot and displace all Palestinians who are living there.

Israeli settler leader behind illegal West Bank construction to head outpost legalization team

Haaretz 27 Oct by Yotam Berger — A prominent West Bank settler leader who has been involved in illegal construction was appointed on Thursday to lead an official panel tasked with finding ways to legalize unauthorized outposts in the West Bank.  The appointment of Pinchas Wallerstein, a former head of the Yesha Council of settlements and the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, was announced by the Prime Minister’s Office in a statement issued on Thursday. According to estimates, thousands of homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank were built illegally on both state and private Palestinian land. The team, whose establishment the cabinet approved in May, is slated to begin is work in a few weeks’ time, the statement said. It described as “an experienced, principled man” who will contribute greatly to the settlement movement. In an interview to the investigative television program “The Source” last year, Wallerstein admitted that he had lied to the authorities in order to advance setting up the Amona outpost, which was built on private Palestinian land and was later evacuated In 1988, Wallerstein was convicted of negligent homicide after being convicted, in a plea bargain, of the shooting death of a Palestinian teen who had thrown rocks at his car. Wallerstein headed the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council for 28 years. In September the High Court of Justice castigated Wallerstein for advancing the construction of a sewage treatment facility on private Palestinian land near the West Bank settlement of Ofra in 2004, during his period as regional council head.

Punitive demolitions

Israel looks to expand demolitions of Palestinian attackers’ homes
JERUSALEM (AFP) 29 Oct — Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday he wants to expand the controversial policy of demolishing homes of Palestinians involved in fatal attacks to include perpetrators who seriously wound Israelis. The minister has instructed the army and defence ministry to “examine the possibility to demolish the homes of terrorists who carried out attacks in which Israeli civilians were seriously wounded,” Lieberman said in a statement. “Destroying the homes of terrorists who carried out murderous attacks is an effective and proven means in the fight against terror and deters those planning attacks,” the statement said. “There’s no difference between an attack that ends in murder and one that ends in a serious injury,” Lieberman said. “In both cases the homes of the terrorists must be demolished.” Israel says the demolition policy, in place since 1967, is a means of deterring future attackers. Critics of the policy say it is a form of collective punishment, forcing family members to suffer for the acts of relatives, and illegal under international law. They also question whether the policy acts as a deterrent or if it creates more potential attackers due to the anger it provokes. In 2005 Israel halted the practice at the recommendation of a military panel. There were essentially no demolitions until 2014, with the exception of 2009, when a number of homes were sealed and razed in east Jerusalem.

Israel to demolish home of Palestinian allegedly involved in death of settler
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Oct — Israeli forces reportedly delivered a demolition notice to a Palestinian home in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin over accusations that a resident of the home was involved in the stabbing of an Israeli settler earlier this month.

Israeli media reported that forces raided the town of Qabatiya and notified residents of a house that the home would soon be demolished by Israeli forces. Israeli forces allegedly gave the Palestinians a few days to either evacuate the home for demolition or appeal the decision in Israeli court. The punitive demolition seemingly came in response to the stabbing and killing of an Israeli settler at a construction site in the village of Kafr Qasim. Reports at the time said the suspects who were working at the construction site were two Palestinians from Qabatiya, and were arrested shortly after the death of the settler. According to Ynet news, the settler was stabbed by his employees over a monetary dispute. Israeli forces had raided the family homes of the alleged suspects and proceeded to photograph the houses — seemingly in preparation for the punitive demolition — “before wreaking havoc and tampering with their contents,” according to Wafa news agency.


Senior Hamas official wounded in Gaza car explosion
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 27 Oct by Fares Akram — The head of Gaza security services was wounded when an explosion ripped through his car Friday, according to the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules the territory. The group called the blast a failed assassination attempt. Hamas said a bomb placed under Gen. Tawfiq Abu Naim’s car exploded in central Gaza. It said Abu Naim “survived an assassination attempt” and that an investigation was underway. Abu Naim was transferred to Shifa hospital in Gaza City, where dozens of Hamas officials gathered and visited him, including politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh. “Those who think that this criminal operation can limit our determination to achieve the reconciliation are wrong,” Haniyeh said. Footage at hospital showed Abu Naim with shrapnel injuries on his arms and a bandage on his head … Abu Naim supports reconciliation efforts with Abbas’ Fatah party. He is also working with Egypt on securing Gaza’s border with Sinai to block extremists like Islamic State group fighters from moving between the two territories. Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, accused Israel of being behind the assassination bid. “We point the accusation fingers to the (Israel) occupation and its spies,” al-Hayya told reporters, as an investigation into the incident begins. But Islamic State loyalists, against whom Abu Naim is leading a crackdown, are strong suspects, experts say. Abu Naim is overseeing construction of a buffer zone on Gaza’s border with Egypt to keep IS fighters out.

Qatar to fund new Palestinian govt HQ after unity deal
AFP 24 Oct — Qatar announced Tuesday it will fund a new headquarters for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza as it seeks to support a recently agreed reconciliation deal between rivals Hamas and Fatah. “Qatar has agreed to build the headquarters of the presidency and the headquarters of the Palestinian government in Gaza after the consensus government assumes its duties fully,” Qatar’s envoy to Gaza Mohammed al-Amadi announced. The Palestinian Authority government is to retake control of the Gaza Strip from Hamas by Dec 1 under a reconciliation deal signed in Cairo this month.Amadi said Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas had asked the Gulf state a week ago for the funding and Qatar agreed as it wants to support reconciliation efforts. The headquarters of the Palestinian Authority presidency and government in the Gaza Strip were targeted several times by Israeli bombing in 2008-09 and 2012 wars, leaving them destroyed. Qatar has long been a supporter of Hamas and has paid for much of the reconstruction of the strip after the last war with Israel in 2014.

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian fishermen, raze lands in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 27 Oct — Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian fisherman off the coast of northern Gaza on Friday, while several Israeli bulldozers entered into the southern part of the coastal enclave and razed lands in the area.Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers entered the “buffer zone” inside the Gaza border fence with Israel, and leveled lands in eastern Khuza‘a, in the southern Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Israeli naval forces opened live fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza. No injuries were reported.

Youth injured in clashes along Gaza borders
GAZA (WAFA) 27 Oct – A Palestinian youth was injured on Friday during clashes with Israeli forces along Gaza borders to the east of al-Bureij refugee camp, in central Gaza, said sources. Israeli forces stationed along the borders between Gaza and Israel opened fire on a group of Palestinians, shooting and injuring at least one youth. The youth’s health condition remains unknown until the moment. Similar clashes were reportedly witnessed in various areas along the borders with Israel. No further injuries were reported.

Lieberman says work on underground Gaza border barrier on schedule
Times of Israel 25 Oct by Judah Ari Gross –– Visiting construction sites for subterranean obstacle, defense minister lauds IDF for maintaining calm, bringing prosperity to southern Israel — The construction of an underground barrier around the Gaza Strip, meant to thwart Hamas attack tunnels, is proceeding on schedule, said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who visited the area on Wednesday. Work on the subterranean obstacle began this summer, but has picked up pace in recent months. The army has expressed concerns that Hamas could attempt to prevent its construction by attacking the workers, but it has vowed to continue with the project regardless. Visiting a construction site, the defense minister said the project “will significantly improve the security of the residents of southern Israel in general, and the residents of the area around Gaza in particular, as it will foil and thwart the plans of the enemy to harm us.” The work on the 37-mile (60-kilometer) barrier, which is being built inside Israel, is expected to be completed within two years, according to the IDF. It will feature an advanced underground protection system that extends dozens of meters below the ground — the army doesn’t specify the depth — in order to detect and destroy tunnels dug to penetrate into Israeli territory, as well as an aboveground metal fence outfitted with sensors … The project is expected to cost approximately NIS 3 billion ($833 million), with each kilometer of the underground portion of the barrier costing approximately NIS 41.5 million ($11.5 million). The aboveground fence is significantly cheaper, at just NIS 1.5 million ($416,000) per kilometer. Construction workers and engineering specialists from around the world are working on the project, at a few different sites along the border. They wear flak jackets and are guarded by IDF soldiers. Entrance to the work sites is otherwise forbidden. By the year’s end, over 1,000 Israeli and migrant workers will be operating on the border barrier in approximately 40 locations. However, some experts harbor doubt that the barrier will truly be the silver bullet to the tunnel problem, as it is often touted to be. “There is no physical barrier that cannot be overcome,” said Col. (res.) Yossi Langotzky, who previously served as adviser to the IDF chief of staff on the threat of tunnels, during a conference on the issue last year….

Israeli forces detain Gazan on his way to receive medical treatment in Jordan
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Oct — Israeli forces detained an ill Palestinian while passing through the Erez crossing from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel late Wednesday night, while on his way to Jordan for medical treatment. Palestinian legal sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained Abd al-Rahman Abu Lihyeh, 27, from the southern Gaza Strip town of al-Qarara while on his way to the Jordanian capital of Amman to received medical treatment. Abd al-Rahman’s father was escorting him through the checkpoint but was sent back. It remained unclear why he was detained.

Delay in getting permit cause of half of Gaza patients losing hospital appointment
GAZA (WAFA) 28  Oct — More than 45% of Gaza patients, many of them children and elderly, seeking treatment outside of the besiege enclave were unsuccessful in obtaining an Israeli permit to leave Gaza to meet their hospital appointment, a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. Of 1,858 patient applications for a permit in September to exit Gaza through Erez/Beit Hanoun checkpoint with Israel for hospital appointments most of them in East Jerusalem or Israeli hospitals, 55% were approved, 3% were denied, and 42% were delayed with no decision by the time of the patient’s hospital appointment. Among those delayed there were 140 children under the age of 18 years and 99 people aged 60 years or older, according to the WHO’s monthly report on Gaza referrals and access. More than half of patient companions were also unsuccessful in obtaining permits to travel out of Gaza, said the report. Of 2,104 permit applications for patient companions to Israeli authorities in September 2017, 43% were approved, 4% were denied and 53% were delayed, with their application still pending by the time of the patient’s hospital appointment date.
WHO said 24 patients (13 males and 11 females) were requested for interrogation by the Israeli General Security Services at Erez during September. Only two were approved permits to travel for health care and a 27 year-old orthopedic patient was arrested at Erez. The report said 1,077 requests for financial coverage for Gaza patients were approved by the Services Purchasing Unit of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in September, which was 50% lower than the monthly average of the first quarter 2017 and 37% lower than the corresponding month in 2016. No access to Egypt was reported during the same period as Rafah terminal between Gaza and Egypt was closed for exit. No medical aid and no medical delegates entered Gaza, said the report. Latest figures indicate that more than four in every five humanitarian workers in Gaza were unsuccessful in securing permits to exit the Gaza Strip.

UNRWA condemns neutrality violation in Gaza
28 Oct Statement by Christopher Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson — On 15 October 2017, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) discovered the existence of what appeared to be a tunnel underneath one of its schools in Gaza. In accordance with its protocol, the Agency has taken the necessary measures immediately to render the school safe and has sealed the cavity underneath its premises. The school resumed its operations on the 25th of October. UNRWA has robustly intervened with relevant parties to protest the violation of the sanctity and disrespect of the neutrality of UN premises. The presence of a tunnel underneath an UNRWA installation, which enjoys inviolability under international law, is unacceptable. It places children and Agency staff at risk. The Agency again demands full respect for the neutrality and inviolability of United Nations premises at all times. Any activities or conduct that put beneficiaries and staff alike at risk, and undermine the ability of UNRWA staff to provide assistance to Palestine refugees in safety and security, must cease.

Young Gazans mobilize to save Palestine’s oldest archaeological site
GAZA CITY 26 Oct by Moath al-Amoudi — A youth movement emerges spontaneously to prevent the demolition of Tall al-Sakan, the oldest archaeological site in Gaza — Young people launched a trending hashtag to urge the Palestinian Council of Ministers in its Oct. 17 session to halt all forms of pre-construction work at the archaeological Tall es-Sakan site in the northern Gaza Strip. The young Palestinians launched an Arabic hashtag that translates as “Save Tall es-Sakan,” which went viral on social media and was highly covered by newspapers and news websites. On Oct. 13, a youth group gathered at the historical site of Tall es-Sakan and protested the ongoing soil-moving operations. The young men and women gathered at Tall es-Sakan and called on all parties to the Palestinian government, represented by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza, the Palestinian Land Authority (PLA), as well as history experts and professors, to stop the works at the oldest archaeological site in Gaza. Youth activist Ahmed Abdel-Al, one of the main organizers of this gathering, told Al-Monitor, “The invitation was open to everyone. The high turnout from young Gazans shows their interest in archaeological sites in Palestine. We only called for stopping the [pre-construction works] at Tall es-Sakan and all archaeological sites that prove our presence on this land. We will organize new youth movements and events to promote interest in archaeological sites.” He asserted that the movement was a nonpolitical one aimed to mobilize young people to act to preserve archaeological sites suffering neglect or looting….

Hamas backtracks on charter change
Al-Monitor 26 Oct by Shlomi Eldar — Bellicose statements by some Hamas leaders appear to suggest the organization’s new leadership is tossing aside recent changes to its charter — “The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades can fire [as many missiles] on Tel Aviv in 51 minutes as it fired in 51 days [in 2014],” proclaimed Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, on Oct. 24. Several days earlier, in a meeting with youths in Gaza, Sinwar had waxed enthusiastic, stating, “We are not discussing recognizing Israel, but destroying it and when that will happen.” A few hours after journalists disseminated his words, his bureau issued a clarification, saying that he had not actually meant “destruction.” Journalists who attended the meeting told Al-Monitor that Sinwar had indeed uttered those very words to the sound of audience applause. A Fatah member in Gaza told Al-Monitor that after Fatah and Hamas entered reconciliation talks, Hamas leaders began issuing frequent statements about their organization’s military strength. He cited two reasons for this. The first is to show Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas has no intention of disarming. The second is to prove to Iran that despite the reconciliation, they have no intention of relinquishing Hamas’ weapons of resistance, but instead just the opposite: They intend to strengthen Hamas militarily by equipping it with more technologically advanced weapons of their own making….

Gaza banks face uncertain future as reconciliation deal progresses
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 27 Oct by Ismail Abdel Hadi — Despite the efforts by Fatah and Hamas to seal the Palestinian reconciliation deal and the concessions offered by Hamas, some issues that went undiscussed during the Egyptian-sponsored rounds of dialogue in Cairo remain outstanding. After the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, two banks were established to jump-start the economy in the Gaza Strip and disburse the salaries to the employees of the de facto government in Gaza, accounting for around 45,000 civilian and military employees. The Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) — the Palestinian Authority’s central bank — refused to deal with the government in the Gaza Strip and still has yet to recognize the Palestinian Production Bank established on May 29, 2013, and the Islamic National Bank established on April 21, 2009. The banks were opened with contributions from Arab businessmen with the approval of the Hamas government. The Palestinian Production Bank was established with a capital of $20 million, far less than the amount required by the PMA, set at $60 million. That banks have not reached the agenda of the reconciliation dialogue has sparked fears and concerns among the Gaza Strip employees as well as among citizens and investors who depend on these banks, which are not legally recognized by the PMA…..

Saudi Arabia to treat conjoined Gaza twins
Times of Israel 26 Oct by Dov Lieber — Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it that would treat conjoined twins born in the Gaza Strip, after a Palestinian hospital official warned the infants face life-threatening danger if they do not receive treatment outside of the coastal enclave.  Gaza doctors familiar with their condition said there is a chance that “at least one” of the twins could be saved after surgery. The decision to treat the twins in Riyadh was made by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and was meant to show the kingdom’s commitment “to stand with the Palestinian people,” the supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah, said in comments carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. Al-Rabiah said doctors in Saudi Arabia would weigh whether it will be possible to separate the baby girls, who are joined at the abdomen and pelvis and share some internal organs. Shifa Hospital Neo-natal Care Director Alam Abu Hamda told The Times of Israel on Thursday that arrangements to bring the two baby girls, named Hanin and Farah, to the Gulf Kingdom would be made in the next few days. Hamda said it was likely one of the girls would survive. “Their case will be reevaluated in Saudi Arabia. We can save one baby at least,” he said. “There is one baby that is abnormal while the other one is fine.”….

Virtual museum brings world’s masterpieces to Gaza
Al-Monitor 26 Oct by Ali Dolah — Gaza’s new Digital Museum 360, a virtual museum established by the University of Palestine, has brought the masterpieces of the world to the residents of the Gaza Strip. Thanks to the museum’s augmented/virtual reality features, Gazans who find it hard to travel due to the Israeli blockade can take a close look at such iconic works as the Chinese Guanyin sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the bust of Queen Nefertiti at the Neues Museum in Berlin and the Statue of Liberty in New York. Open to the public since April, the Digital Museum 360 came to life when the University of Palestine began a project to create digital three-dimensional models of various artifacts, housed in a large hall on the university grounds….

What it’s like never to be allowed to leave your home
The Forward 26 Oct by Howard Kaplan — I mentor four writers in Gaza through We Are Not Numbers, a nonprofit organization founded in 2015 by an American journalist to pair Palestinians under 30 with international mentors. The goal is to help develop the English language skills of Palestinian youth and to educate Westerners about the complexity of life and identity in Gaza. All my mentees write autobiographical fiction, most of it in fact, memoir. I communicate with them on Facebook where we exchange drafts in Messenger. My most prolific student, Enas Fares Ghannam, 29, is a graduate of Al Azhar University and works as a translator in Gaza City. Her short story, ‘Always on the Inside Looking Out’ has taught me more about life in Gaza than anything else I’ve read. It begins with Enas surfing on Facebook, as she terms it, happening upon the photo album of a non-Palestinian friend. The cover photo overlooks a charming sea or lake, and she wonders where it is. The caption reads: Behind Me Is The Sea of Galilee. Next she finds photos of this friend and his friends smiling and snapping photos near the Dome of the Rock Mosque on The Temple Mount. Photos of Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Nazareth, Nablus and Jericho follow. The story picks up: “Suddenly my heart felt as if it wanted to leap out of my chest—to protest, explode and revolt. Hundreds of questions burst into my mind, but I couldn’t focus on any of them as they were popping and disappearing at the same time. Only one question emerged clearly: ‘Why can’t I go there? What or who gives him the right to go? I’m ok with not being able to visit any other country, but shouldn’t I be able to visit my own at least? I couldn’t help it. I cried.’”….

The Balfour Declaration

100 years on: The Balfour Declaration explained
Al Jazeera 29 Oct — This week, Palestinians around the world are marking 100 years since the Balfour Declaration was issued on November 2, 1917. The declaration turned the Zionist aim of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine into a reality when Britain publicly pledged to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” there. The pledge is generally viewed as one of the main catalysts of the Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 – and the conflict that ensued with the Zionist state of Israel. It is regarded as one of the most controversial and contested documents in the modern history of the Arab world and has puzzled historians for decades.
What is the Balfour Declaration? The Balfour Declaration (“Balfour’s promise” in Arabic) was a public pledge by Britain in 1917 declaring its aim to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. The statement came in the form of a letter from Britain’s then-foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, addressed to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a figurehead of the British Jewish community. It was made during World War I (1914-1918) and was included in the terms of the British Mandate for Palestine after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The so-called mandate system, set up by the Allied powers, was a thinly veiled form of colonialism and occupation. The system transferred rule from the territories that were previously controlled by the powers defeated in the war – Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria – to the victors. The declared aim of the mandate system was to allow the winners of the war to administer the newly emerging states until they could become independent. The case of Palestine, however, was unique. Unlike the rest of the post-war mandates, the main goal of the British Mandate there was to create the conditions for the establishment of a Jewish “national home” – where Jews constituted less than 10 percent of the population at the time. Upon the start of the mandate, the British began to facilitate the immigration of European Jews to Palestine. Between 1922 and 1935, the Jewish population rose from nine percent to nearly 27 percent of the total population. Though the Balfour Declaration included the caveat that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”, the British mandate was set up in a way to equip Jews with the tools to establish self-rule, at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs….

Balfour: UK government ‘should hang its head in shame’
Al Jazeera 29 Oct by Mersiha Gadzo — The Balfour Declaration is only 67 words long, yet it launched what is broadly seen today as the world’s most intractable conflict. The Israeli-Palestinian dispute remains an enduring crisis in the Middle East region 100 years after the declaration was signed on November 2, 1917. Former British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour issued the document to Lord Walter Rothschild, a British Zionist leader, to announce support for the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. Palestine was then part of the Ottoman Empire and home to a minority Jewish population of nine percent. Al Jazeera spoke with Avi Shlaim, a historian and professor emeritus of international relations at the University of Oxford, about the motivation behind the fateful document and its ongoing legacy. Al Jazeera: Many factors led to the creation of the Balfour Declaration – Zionist, Evangelical, colonial, even anti-Semitism from the British government. What do you think was the main motivation behind this declaration? Avi Shlaim: The school of thought to which I subscribe is the imperialist school of thought. According to this school of thought, the Balfour Declaration was inspired by British imperial considerations and self-interest. In 1917, Britain was engaged in a very tough war, and it wasn’t winning the war, so it desperately needed an ally – and in order to gain the support of the Zionists, it should issue a statement in support of a Jewish national home in Palestine … Arthur Balfour knew full well that his declaration contradicted the principle of national self-determination. In short, the Balfour Declaration was a classic colonial document, which completely disregarded the rights and aspirations of the people of the country. Britain had no moral or legal right to promise Palestine to the Jews as a national home. The concept “national home” does not exist under international law, and one Jewish writer, Arthur Koestler, summed it up by saying: One nation, Britain, promised the country of another people, the Palestinians, to a third people, the Jews….

British PM’s remarks on Balfour Declaration ‘offensive’ says Malki
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Oct — Foreign Minister Riyad Malki criticized, on Thursday, remarks British Prime Minister Theresa May made the day before regarding the centennial of the Balfour declaration, describing them as “offensive and unacceptable.” “Ms. May boasted about this declaration, which willfully and determinedly disregarded the existence of the Palestinian people and denied their national rights,” said Malki in a statement, WAFA reports. “Most disturbing is the British Prime Minister’s tone of condescension,” he said. “Even when attempting to sound mindful of what she called ‘sensitivities’, Ms. May failed to acknowledge the Palestinian people and their suffering or recognize their inalienable right to self-determination, which Israel continues to deny.” The Foreign Minister went on to say that “in line with the Balfour Declaration’s original racism and disdain for the Palestinian people, Ms. May glossed over the reality and facts and consciously chose to refrain from addressing the continued injustice that the Palestinian people suffer because of the chain of events that this declaration had set off.” Malki said that May’s eagerness to celebrate the declaration “is a testament to the colonial, racist mentality that exacted injustice and suffering on peoples around the world. That mentality rationalized Britain’s illegitimate gifting of another people’s homeland to a third group and simultaneously disregarded the indigenous people’s national identity and rights.” “If Prime Minister May wants to show British sensitivity to the ongoing pain and suffering of the Palestinian people, she should start out by acknowledging Britain’s culpability for this ongoing injustice and recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights. The legacy of injustice and suffering of the Balfour Declaration runs through the generations and has touched the lives of every Palestinian for the past hundred years. This is a shameful legacy; one that Britain must acknowledge and make right.”

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