Archive for July 30, 2013

July 30, 2013

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Video — Israeli settlers torch Hebron family’s property for eighth time
Hebron, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 29 July by Khalil Team — On Sunday, July 28, Israeli settlers severely burned land belonging to Hani Abu Haikel and his family in Hebron. Occupation soldiers, though at first trying to help stop the fire, ended up blocking the road so that Palestinian firefighters were delayed in reaching the scene. Several very old olive trees were destroyed in the fire which swept over immense swathes of land very quickly. In the video below, Hani Abu Haikel speaks about the incident and how Israeli settlers, soldiers and police work together to pressure Palestinian families to leave the Israeli-controlled H2 district of occupied Hebron … The only part of the Abu Haikel land that wasn’t completely scorched was the small plot cultivated by Israeli settlers. Hani Abu Haikel explained that this is the eighth time settlers have burned his property, including an incident ten years ago when they burned all of his trees, meaning that many of the trees that were burnt this time were very young. It has taken him these ten years to effectively replant his land again and now, again it will be years before his land is as it was before this crime.
link to palsolidarity.org

Images of Bedouin displacement foreshadow a ‘Nakba in the Negev’
972mag 29 July by Matt Surrusco — At a ‘Zochrot’ exhibition opening, compelling photography, first exhibited in the ‘unrecognized village’ of al-Araqib in 2012, documents home demolitions and Bedouin demonstrations against the Prawer Plan — The boy in the photograph is half-smiling because he saved his birds, said photographer Aiob Abo Madegam. In the image, behind the Palestinian Bedouin boy holding a blue crate containing chickens, at least a dozen Israeli policemen in full riot gear don’t notice Madegam’s camera. Israeli authorities had just demolished the village of al-Araqib in the Negev for the first time, on July 27, 2010, including the animal pens. This is one of 25 photographs of unrecognized villages in the Negev and their Bedouin residents taken by Madegam from 2010 to 2013, featured in his exhibition, “Baqon” (Remaining), which opened July 28 at Zochrot’s headquarters in Tel Aviv. The photographs include portraits of demonstrators, villagers and children, some one in the same, intimate scenes of village life and intense moments of confrontation between villagers and the authorities.
link to 972mag.com

Bedouin in the West Bank: Settler attacks, denial of water
Huwwara, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 31 July by Nablus Team — In Huwwara, 9km south of Nablus, there are two Bedouin families who have been living in tents with their animals since the start of June. They are usually camped near Hebron or in the Naqab desert, but for the summer they are based in Huwwara so the animals have room to move. They have had no problems thus far with the Israeli army from the neighbouring Huwwara military base or settlers whom drive up and down the road near their tents.
The other Bedouin living close by in Huwwara however were less fortunate — at the beginning of July they were attacked by settlers from the nearby illegal settlements of Itamar and Yitzhar. On Saturday the 6th of July about 50 settlers invaded the Bedouin camps attacking the residents and trying to steal the Bedouin’s sheep. The settlers damaged a tractor and private car and began to destroy plants and trees in the area until the District Coordination Office (liaison between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities) intervened and directed them to leave the area. These two families, however are denied access to water by Israel. They do not have water to drink, wash or provide to their animals. Thus they are forced to travel over 1km with the tank in tow to go and buy water.
link to palsolidarity.org

Israel approves a new settlement in occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC 30 July — Israeli TV, Channel 10, has reported that, despite an Israeli decision to release 104 Palestinian detainees and resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians, the Israeli Housing Ministry approved a new settlement “neighborhood” in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem. Channel 10 said that Israeli Housing Minister, Uri Ariel, approved the plan, and added that various Israeli political analysts believe this decision is a sharp blow to efforts to resume and maintain direct talks. The plan was first presented by the Israeli “Construction and Planning Committee” in 2004, but the application was voided because the planned constructions have high walls that violate the construction code of the Jerusalem City Council. Nevertheless, the plan was resubmitted and was approved by the City Council, and the constructions are planned to be built on five dunams of lands in the occupied city.
link to www.imemc.org

Settlements take in newcomers as peace talks resume
Ynet 29 July by Itamar Fleishman — Israel is about to resume negotiations with Palestinians, but construction in West Bank continues unabated as demand for housing rises. Yaacov and Rachel Cohen are about to move to settlement of Bat Ayin: future evacuation, they say, is not a consideration
link to www.ynetnews.com

Reason for panic in Jerusalem
Haaretz 29 July by Amira Hass — Can the new Interior Ministry regulations be considered innocent and well intentioned when they affect Palestinians in the capital? — Real panic seized the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem last week: People who renewed their ID cards at the Interior Ministry in East Jerusalem in July discovered that two new items had been added to the usual identification details. The first, ‘Status,’ next to which it says’ Permit for permanent resident’; and the second, ‘Valid until,’ and next to it a date 10 years from the day the document was printed. A photograph of the new ID card made the rounds on Facebook, and some people concluded that the expiration date relates to their status as permanent residents of Jerusalem.
So first of all an ‘all-clear’ signal: Those two additions appear not only on the new ID cards of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, but on every new ID card, due to new regulations that were passed in May 2012 and that took effect on July 1st of this year. They also require replacing the card if it is tattered or if there has been a change in the personal information. The expiration date has no connection to status. The status of a permanent resident, like that of a citizen, is not canceled when the ID card expires. That is what they promise at the Population, Immigration and Border Authority. They also explained that the addition of ‘Status’ on the ID card is directed ‘this time’ at temporary residents, and not at Palestinian permanent residents. In short, they said at the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, there’s no reason for panic. Really? The 46 years of ‘united Jerusalem’ prove that Palestinian residents of the city have every reason in the world to suspect any presumably innocent administrative or bureaucratic change?
link to www.haaretz.com

Timelines – HaMoked
[scroll down on this page to the timeline for ‘Residency in Jerusalem – 1967 until today’] Ever since Israel’s annexation of both the territory and the people of East Jerusalem, the laws and policies governing the city’s Palestinian population have been in a constant state of flux. The ever-changing policies and practices surrounding family unification, revocation of residency, and child registration create unseen barriers to everyday life for Palestinian permanent residents in Jerusalem. Click on timeline items for further information on the history and developments in laws, policies, and practices, including links to court documents, legislation, updates, and analyses from HaMoked’s website.
link to www.hamoked.org

Jewish settlers return to evacuated outpost
JENIN (PIC) 30 July — Jewish settlers returned to an evacuated settlement outpost near Sanur village, south of Jenin, on Monday night and pitched tents. Local sources said that the heavily armed settlers returned to the site of the evacuated settlement outpost and set up tents and caravans in addition to children’s games. They said that the settlers prevented landowners from entering the site and chanted racist slogans against Arabs and Muslims.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Israeli forces raid Cremisan Monastery in Bethlehem
IMEMC 30 July — Witnesses reported that Israeli forces raided the Cremisan Monastery in Bethlehem late on Sunday [July 28]. The witnesses told the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) that Israeli soldiers broke into the monastery, held the people who were inside, and inspected their personal documents. The raid was condemned as a violation of the sanctity of places of worship, and a violation of international law … The Cremisan Valley area has been a hotbed of resistance against Israel’s annexation wall, because the Salesian Sisters of Cremisan Convent and the Palestinians of Beit Jala will soon be the annexation wall’s latest victims. The planned route of the annexation wall will separate more than 50 Palestinian families of Beit Jala from their agricultural land, and they will have only limited access to the land via an agricultural gate. Furthermore, the wall will separate the Salesian Convent from 75% of its land. The convent’s land, along with the monastery, will be on the Israeli side, whereas the convent and primary school will be on the Palestinian side. To fight the planned annexation of their land, the Palestinians of Beit Jala and the Salesian Sisters of Cremisan launched a seven-year-long [but ultimately unsuccessful] legal appeal that was supported by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the archbishop of Westminster,
link to www.imemc.org

‘All I want is my land’
IMEMC 29 July by Ida Vanhainen — Abed Abed-Rabbeh is standing on the dirt road looking anxiously at the bulldozers further up the hill. The Israeli bulldozers are digging a sewer system for the nearby illegal settlement of Har Gilo. Everyday, the bulldozers get closer and closer to the land that has belonged to his family for generations. The Abed-Rabbeh family has been farming the land of Wallajah village since before anyone can remember … “My grandfather use to tell me that if you take good care of the land, it will take good care of you.”… Situated in a lush valley with access to numerous fresh water springs, it is easy to see why this was a prosperous place. Back then, the village consisted of more than one and a half thousand people, mostly farmers, on an area of almost 2000 dunums. Since then, everything has changed. After the Nakhba in 1948, the Green Line separating Israeli and Palestinian territory was drawn, cutting off about 70% of the old village. Even though a majority of Wallajah’s inhabitants, including the Rabbeh family, fled to live in nearby refugee camps, they kept returning by day to cultivate their land. “The soldiers used the hilltops as watchtowers back then, shooting at my grandparents harvesting, but they kept coming back,” Abed says laughing proudly. After the six-day-war in 1967, Israel seized the remains of the village and later started the construction of the illegal settlements Gilo and Har Gilo. Today, the Gilo Settlement houses more than 40,000 Israelis … After the Oslo accords I started to realise that [the Israelis] were taking my land away from me bit by bit,” he explains in a more grim tone. In 1999 Abed therefore made the decision to permanently move into a cave-like shelter to protect his land and his crops.
link to www.imemc.org

For Ethiopia’s Jews, a long journey is over, a new one begins
Haaretz 25 July — Ahead of the last Falashmura flight, Anshel Pfeffer joins new immigrants on their way to Israel. A first report in a series examining three decades of Ethiopian Aliyah — Friday, last week, 9 A.M., Jewish Agency Absorption Center, Kiryat Gat – For Melkamu and Wotetie Getnet and their two children, the journey ends in a one-bedroom apartment in the Kiryat Gat absorption center … For two years they will mainly study Hebrew, look for housing and undergo a conversion process (as Falashmura, they are not recognized as Jews, only as descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity, and thus full conversion is a condition for permanent citizenship). – Ten immigrants, ten stories.
link to www.haaretz.com

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Israeli forces detain 3 in West Bank arrest raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 July — Israeli forces arrested three people overnight Sunday, Israel’s army and locals said. Dozens of Israeli military vehicles surrounded the village of Tuqu‘, near Bethlehem, and arrested Odett Allah al-Amour, 17, locals said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said one person was detained in Tuqu‘ and two in the Ramallah-area village of al-Mughayyir.
link to www.maannews.net

IOF soldiers arrest 11 Palestinians in al-Khalil including children
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 29 July — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up 11 Palestinians including five children in Al-Khalil at dawn Monday after storming their homes. Local sources said that IOF soldiers arrested five children in ‘Arrub refugee camp two of them 14 years old and three 16 years old. Journalist Ala’a Al-Teeti said that the soldiers broke into his family home in the refugee camp and took away his 16-year-old brother. He said that the soldiers terrorized all members of the family and holed them [up] in one room before firing teargas at the house choking 20 members of the family including his pregnant sister. Teeti said that the soldiers severely beat up his brother Shamekh, 20, and hit his head several times into the wall.
IOF soldiers also rounded up three young men in Edhna village to the west of Al-Khalil after they stormed a number of suburbs in dozens of armored vehicles.
The soldiers arrested a young man in Al-Khalil city and a 35-year-old man in Beit Ummar village to the north of the city after summoning him to Etzion interrogation center.
The soldiers nabbed the night before yesterday an anti-settlement activist in Tel Rumaida in downtown Al-Khalil after he confronted Jewish settlers who tried to assault his family.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Israeli forces arrest Imam in Jenin refugee camp
JENIN (Ma‘an) 30 July — Israeli forces detained an Imam in Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday, locals said. Israeli military and intelligence officers entered the camp at dawn and arrested Sheikh Mohammad al-Shabrawi, locals said. Clashes broke out between camp residents and Israeli forces, with soldiers firing tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets. At least eight people were injured and transferred to local hospitals in Jenin.
link to www.maannews.net

PA security arrests, summonses Hamas supporters
SALFIT (PIC) 30 July — Palestinian Authority’s various security arms nabbed four Hamas supporters and summoned five others over the past 24 hours. Local sources said that two citizens were taken from their homes in Tulkarem city and nearby village of Deir Al-Ghusoon at the hands of PA preventive security. The same apparatus arrested a teacher in Qarawat Bani Hassan village in Salfit and a young man after returning from Jordan. The preventive security in Ramallah summoned four citizens including a lawyer and the 55-year-old father of Nasri Asy who is serving 18 life sentences in Israeli occupation jails. The two other summoned youths announced they would not obey the summons. PA security in Jenin summoned a liberated prisoner from Jaba‘ village in Jenin province, locals said, adding that he had served 13 years in Israeli occupation jails and was previously held by PA security apparatuses.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Blockaded Gaza

Gazan in Israeli custody was abducted in Egypt, Palestinians say
GAZA (Reuters) 30 July by Nidal al-Mughrabi — The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank released a report on Tuesday quoting a Palestinian held by Israel as saying he had been snatched while visiting Egypt’s Sinai region last month. The report by the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners could embarrass Israel and the Egyptian government, which is struggling to impose order in the lawless Sinai desert. The report said that Wael Abu Rida, who comes from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, told his lawyer while in Israeli custody that he had been in Egypt seeking medical treatment for his son in June when he received a call summoning him to Rafah, a town straddling the Egypt-Gaza border about 7 km (4 miles) from Israeli territory. The former Palestinian policeman departed for the rendezvous and disappeared, ending up in Israel, according to the report. Israel indicted Abu Rida on July 19 for attacks on Israeli citizens on behalf of Islamic Jihad and other Gaza-based armed factions. The Palestinian report quotes Abu Rida, 35, as saying a driver on the Sinai side of Rafah “set him up,” citing as its source Karim Ajwa, a Palestinian lawyer it said visited him in his Israeli jail … Abu Rida described going to the driver’s house in Sinai, where other men were present, and drinking a glass of juice that had apparently been laced with sedative, the report said. He then lost consciousness and woke up in an Israeli interrogation facility.
link to www.baltimoresun.com

Palestinian man shot near Bureij refugee camp in Gaza
IMEMC/PIC 29 July — The Palestinian Information Center (PIC) has reported that Israeli soldiers shot a 25-year-old Palestinian man east of Bureij refugee camp on Saturday [27 July] evening. Health ministry spokesman Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra told PIC that the victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds after Israeli soldiers opened fire shortly before Iftar, and he described the man’s condition as moderate. The Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza is located near the “access restricted area” (ARA) established by Israel along the perimeter fence that separates Gaza from Israel. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Occupied Palestinian Territory (OCHA OPT), up to 35% of Gaza’s agricultural land is affected by the access restricted area.
The UN notes that Israel’s enforcement of the ARA “places civilians at serious physical risk”
link to www.imemc.org

Israel to increase fuel, food supply to Gaza
Ynet 29 July by Yoav Zitun — Security official says ‘economic pressure and price hikes’ in Hamas-ruled territory call for additional aid — While the Egyptian army is destroying the underground tunnels used to smuggle goods and arms into the Gaza Strip, Israel is preparing to significantly increase its supply of food, fuel and construction material to the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave. A security official said Monday that “economic pressure is evident and prices have increased” in Gaza after the Egyptian army destroyed 80% of the tunnels over the past few weeks … The security official said that in the weeks after Morsi’s ouster, Israel increased the number of trucks carrying supplies to Gaza from an average of 250 a day to some 280. “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but we are preparing to expand the transfer of aid,” he said. “The cheap fuel is still being transferred to Gaza from Sinai, but only partially, so we are preparing to (increase the supply of fuel) as well.”
link to www.ynetnews.com

PCHR calls upon President Abbas to intervene to save lives of 36 patients suffering from leukemia in Gaza
PNN 30 July — In a press release issued Monday, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned over the lives of 36 patients, who suffer from leukemia in the Gaza Strip, due to not receiving the necessary treatment they need for 8 months. PCHR is concerned these patients may have serious complications leading to death if they do not receive their treatment immediately. PCHR calls upon President Mahmoud Abbass to promptly intervene to save the lives of these patients and to instruct the Ministry of Health in Ramallah to supply the medicine needed for these patients as soon as possible. According to PCHR’s follow-up, the suffering of the patients of leukemia, which is a serious cancerous disease that affects blood cells, started in December 2012 when the medicine (Glivec 400 mg tab) fully ran out in the blood section pharmacy at Shifa Hospital. As a result, the patients have not received their medical treatment since then.
link to english.pnn.ps

Gaza rocket hits Israel as talks resume
JERUSALEM (AFP) 30 July — A rocket fired from Gaza hit southern Israel Tuesday, causing no casualties, a police spokesman said, as a first full day of resumed Middle East peace talks was to open. “A rocket was fired from Gaza and exploded in a field in Israeli territory without causing any damage or casualties,” Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. The attack came as senior Israeli and Palestinian envoys were to hold a first full day of talks in Washington after their formal resumption on Monday ending a three-year hiatus. Gaza’s Hamas rulers, who are deeply opposed to the resumed talks, have observed an informal truce with Israel since November last year. But there has been sporadic rocket fire by other factions.
link to www.maannews.net

Hamas summons Ma‘an bureau chief in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 July — Hamas authorities in Gaza on Tuesday summoned the bureau chief of Ma‘an’s Gaza office for questioning and confiscated the keys to the office, a journalists’ union said. Abed al-Nasser al Najjar, chairman of the Palestinian Journalists’ Union, said that the group has filed a complaint against the office of Gaza’s public prosecutor for violating press freedoms and stifling freedom of expression. The closure of Ma‘an’s Gaza office, as ordered by Gaza’s prosecutor general on July 25, is a step to permanently taking control of the office, al-Najjar said.
link to www.maannews.net

Detainees / Court actions

Israeli court verdicts on Shafa Amr massacre raise ire of Arabs
NAZARETH (PIC) 30 July — Extreme anger has prevailed in the 1948 occupied lands after the Israeli district court in Haifa city issued verdicts against seven Palestinians charged with killing the Israeli terrorist who committed the Shafa Amr city massacre in 2005. Hundreds of Shafa Amr citizens and political activists participated in a rally outside the district court in Haifa city in protest at the ongoing prosecution of Palestinians for killing an Israeli terrorist named Eden Natan-Zada, the perpetrator of the Shafa Amr city massacre. Violent clashes broke out outside the court between the protestors and policemen. The district court acquitted seven Palestinians of intentional murder, but it convicted four of them of causing death and two others of causing serious injuries intentionally to the attacker.
In August 2005, Eden Natan-Zada opened fire from his automatic rifle on Palestinian passengers en route to Shafa Amr from Haifa. He killed the bus driver, Michel Bahus, and three passengers, Nader Hayek and two sisters, Hazar Turki and Dina Turki, and wounded 20 others. During his attack, he was restrained, disarmed and beaten to death by other Palestinians on the bus as he was trying to reload to prepare for another round of shooting.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Men convicted in Natan Zada lynch seek acquittal
Ynet 29 July — The six men convicted for their role in the lynch of Eden Natan Zada Monday swear that despite the court’s ruling, the story is far from over. “We’re looking for an acquittal,” said Basel Hatib, 20, one of the convicted men. The seven Shfaram residents were tried for beating Zada to death after the latter had killed four Shfaram residents on a bus in the city in August 2005 … Monday, the Haifa District convicted four out of seven defendants tried for the lynching of Zada — who had managed to kill four and wound 22 in a shooting rampage prior to his lynching — of attempted manslaughter. Two others were also convicted of aggravated battery and one defendant was acquitted altogether. Despite the ruling, the group continues to maintain its innocence.
link to www.ynetnews.com

14 prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 29 July — 14 Palestinian and Jordanian prisoners continue in their hunger strike in Israeli occupation jails protesting their detention for various periods. Local sources said that five of those prisoners were Jordanians who demand their transfer to their country to complete their sentences there. The remaining Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike in rejection of holding them in administrative detention, without trial or charge.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

IOA renews administrative detention of two MPs
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 29 July — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) renewed the administrative detention of two Palestinians MPs affiliated with the change and reform bloc. The IOA decided to renew the administrative detention, without trial or charge, of MPs Hatem Qufaisha and Ahmed Attoun, who was exiled from occupied Jerusalem, for six months. Wife of Qufaisha, from Al-Khalil, said that the Negev prison administration handed her husband the decision on Sunday night. She noted that her husband was supposed to be released next Thursday.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Group: Syria govt detains 2 Palestinian journalists
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 July — Syrian government forces arrested two Palestinian journalists in Syria on Tuesday, a Palestinian group said. Mahmud Nawara and Issa Dour were detained in Damascus by Syrian security forces, the Taskforce for Palestinians in Syria said. Both men work at the Freedom Newspaper, which is affiliated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The Syrian government is still blockading the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, the group added, with people prevented from entering or leaving.
link to www.maannews.net

Group: Palestinian refugee killed in Syria
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 July — A Palestinian refugee was killed on Sunday during clashes in Syria, a Palestinian group said. Abed al-Rahim al-Hanash, 55, was killed when a shell exploded in Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, the Taskforce for Palestinians in Syria said.
link to www.maannews.net

Israeli racism

The Israeli bank opens its doors to everyone – except Arabs

Haaretz 30 July by Sharon Shpurer — A startling conversation with a representative of Bank Mizrahi Tefahot in Kiryat Shmona sheds light on the obstacles faced by non-Jewish clientele . . . In early 2012 several Mizrahi call center reps referred Arabs looking to open an account to the branch in Kiryat Shmona. After a while the officer at the branch in charge of recruiting new clients – we’ll call her “L.” – phoned the call center with a request: Stop sending us Arab customers or you’ll receive a “negative denial.” What she meant was the referral of a client to a branch that didn’t result in an account being opened, something that would appear as a black mark on the rep’s record. L. knew that under Israeli law a client asking to open an account can’t be turned down, so she instructed phone reps to convince Arab callers to drop the idea
link to www.haaretz.com

Political news

US gave Israel, Palestinians letters of assurance in order to renew talks
Haaretz 31 July by Barak Ravid — The United States administration gave the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams on Tuesday letters of assurance which outlined the U.S. position vis-à-vis the peace talks, their conduct and their goals, in order to facilitate the renewal of peace talks, a senior Israeli official said. The content of the letters remains classified, yet it likely addresses the issues of borders and refugees. In the letters, the U.S. apparently clarifies to the Palestinians that the American position is that negotiations should be carried out on the basis of the 1967 line with land swaps, and makes clear to Israel the U.S. position is that the future borders will not be identical to the 1967 lines but include changes in accordance to the reality on the ground. Moreover, the letter to Israel apparently included an American declaration stating Israel is a Jewish state and that the U.S. position is that the Palestinian refugees should return to the future Palestinian state.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israel, Palestinians strive for peace deal within nine months
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 30 July — Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Tuesday gave themselves about nine months to try to reach an agreement on ending their conflict of more than six decades in U.S.-brokered peace talks. The two sides held their first peace negotiations in nearly three years in Washington on Monday and Tuesday, a diplomatic victory for Secretary of State John Kerry, but one that foreign policy analysts believe has low chances of success. Flanked by the chief negotiators for both sides, Kerry said he was well aware of the doubts but described the initial talks, which focused on process rather than substance, as “constructive and positive.” … Kerry said Israel had agreed to take unspecified steps to ease the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, which is ruled by a Palestinian Authority dominated by Abbas’ Fatah faction, and the Gaza Strip, where the Islamist Hamas group holds sway. Speaking to reporters later, a senior U.S. official declined to identify these but said they aimed to improve economic growth and added “it’s more than just removing roadblocks.” … U.S. officials declined to describe this week’s talks in any detail, saying secrecy was vital, and they said they did not yet know whether they would take part in the talks planned within two weeks in Israel or the Palestinian Territories.
link to www.reuters.com

PFLP rejects return to negotiations
RAMALLAH (AFP) 29 July — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine rejected new peace talks with Israel just hours before their scheduled resumption in Washington on Monday after a three-year break. The leftist PFLP, a major faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said that talks’ resumption was a unilateral move by President Mahmoud Abbas which did not have the backing of the PLO as a whole. “The PFLP is against a return to negotiations,” said one of the party’s leaders, Khalida Jarrar. “It is an individual move,” she said, in allusion to Abbas. “These talks will be presided over by the United States, just like Oslo 20 years ago,” she said of the negotiations that led up to the 1993 accords for limited self-rule. “We went to the UN precisely to take our case out of US hands.” The last was a reference to the PLO’s successful bid for upgraded status at the United Nations last November
link to www.maannews.net

133 Palestinian NGOs reject PA’s decision to restart talks with Israel
GAZA (PIC) 30 July — The Palestinian NGO network said it is deeply concerned about the Palestinian authority’s decision to return to the negotiation table with the Israeli occupation. In a press release on Monday, the network, which include 133 member organizations, stated that the gravity of such a decision that it was taken without any commitment to the minimum requirements, most importantly, the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and the termination of settlement activities. The network criticized the PA for its decision to backtrack on its intention to join international organizations including the international criminal court in exchange for its talks with the Israeli regime. It also expressed its fears that the PA-Israeli negotiations would undermine the boycott campaign against Israel, which started to bear fruit following the decision of the European union to ban dealing with settlements and Israeli companies operating within 1967 borders.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

PA police release 5 people detained at Ramallah demo
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 July — Palestinian Authority police released five people late Sunday who had been arrested at a Ramallah protest earlier in the day … All of the men are affiliates of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Four PA police officers and three protesters were injured when both sides clashed during the march, which was organized by the PFLP, a Ma’an reporter said.
link to www.maannews.net

PCHRO calls for police dismissals over Ramallah protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 July — The Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations on Monday called for the dismissal of Palestinian police who attacked protesters in Ramallah a day earlier … The PCHRO urged the PA premier to appoint an independent fact-finding commission to investigate police handling of the rally. Senior police who gave orders and those who carried out attacks on protesters must be questioned and tried in courts, the PCHRO said in a statement.
link to www.maannews.net

HRW: PA must investigate police brutality
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 July — The Palestinian Authority must order an investigation into allegations of police brutality and the arbitrary arrest of demonstrators at a Ramallah protest on Sunday, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. “The police beat protesters and then arrested injured people, some even from the hospital,” said Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “The Palestinian Authority needs to make clear to the police that this is no way to handle a demonstration.”
link to www.maannews.net

Dozens protest negotiations in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 July — Dozens of people protested the return to negotiations with Israel in Nablus on Tuesday. Protesters marched in the streets and chanted for the PA to pull out of the “futile” peace talks. The rallies were organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Palestinian People’s Party. President Abbas took the decision to return to negotiations without consulting other Palestinian factions, PFLP spokesman in Nablus Zaher al-Shashteeri told Ma‘an.
link to www.maannews.net

Abbas from Cairo: US is serious in solving the conflict
CAIRO (WAFA) 30 July – President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that the United States was serious in solving the Middle East conflict and that both US President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry have promised to support negotiations until there is a solution. Abbas made these statements to Egyptian journalists before leaving Cairo later that day following a short visit during which he met President Adli Mansour and other top Egyptian officials to discuss bilateral relations, the conflict with Israel, the situation in the Gaza Strip and reconciliation efforts between his Fatah movement and Hamas, which controls Gaza.
link to english.wafa.ps

Arrangements for prisoner release underway
Ynet 29 July by Aviel Magnezi — After the cabinet approved on Sunday the decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of the resumption of peace negotiations, it was reported Monday that the Israeli judicial system and the Justice Ministry have already set working orders in place with regards to the prisoners’ release, based on similar releases in the past, diplomatic attempts and peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
link to www.ynetnews.com

PA ministry: Palestinian prisoners are not terrorists
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 July — The Palestinian Authority on Monday slammed remarks by an Israeli minister who said Palestinian prisoners were “terrorists.” “Terrorists are those who occupy the lands of another people and displace them by force and settle in their place. Palestinian prisoners are strugglers for their freedom and not terrorists,” the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. The ministry was responding to remarks by Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who has protested the planned release of 104 long-serving Palestinian prisoners to coincide with the resumption of peace talks. Bennet, leader of the Jewish Home party, has called the proposed prisoner release a “disgrace” and said “terrorists should be eliminated, not freed.” The PA ministry responded that some Israeli officials were “terrorists.” “The definition of terrorism completely applies to many Israeli politicians who defame Palestinian prisoners especially those jailed before the Oslo Accords.”
link to www.maannews.net

The price of peace talks | Who are the 104 Palestinian prisoners Israel will free for peace talks?
Haaretz 29 July by Amira Hass — All told, the prisoners were responsible for the deaths of 55 civilians, 15 soldiers, one female tourist and dozens of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel; defense minister: Release of prisoners is strategically right — Of the prisoners, whose names appear in a list published by the Palestinian Prisoner Society, 25 are from the Gaza Strip, and will be returned there, 55 are from various cities and villages in the West Bank, 10 are residents of East Jerusalem, and 14 are Israeli citizens. The list of prisoners the Palestinians submitted to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry does not include all prisoners from the pre-Oslo era: Palestinian Authority and PLO representatives intentionally omitted all prisoners convicted of killing Israelis for criminal, non-nationalistic motives … Fares pointed to the differences between the prisoners on this list and those who were released as part of the Shalit deal, saying the latter included prisoners who were responsible for multiple attacks that killed numerous Israelis. Among the 104 prisoners due to be released are the killers of 15 security forces personnel, including soldiers, reserve officers, a Shin Bet agent and a border policeman.
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PA to send 61 million shekels to East Jerusalem hospitals
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 July — The Palestinian Authority will transfer funds to hospitals in East Jerusalem within 48 hours, the minister of health said Monday. The PA Ministry of Health will send 61 million shekels ($17.045 million) donated by the European Union to al-Maqasid Hospital, Augusta Victoria Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, St. George Hospital and Princess Basma Hospital, Jawad Awwad said in a statement. “The Palestinian government headed by Rami Hamdallah has received directives from the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to pay great attention to the medical organizations in the holy capital to support against the practices of Israeli occupation crippling different institutions in Jerusalem,” Awwad added. The funds will pay 68 percent of the ministry’s debt to East Jerusalem hospitals. The ministry refers patients from across the West Bank and Gaza to hospitals in East Jerusalem for specialist treatment.
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Elections commission completes revision of voter registry
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 July — The Central Elections Commission (CEC) has completed revising the voter registry, which included crossing off deaths from the roll, data validation and the addition of new registrants who registered during the second complementary local elections held in June, a CEC statement said Monday. The CEC is currently processing data in preparation for publishing the final registry at the end of next month, it added … If reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas succeed in reaching an agreement on a unity government by mid-August, as agreed between the two groups in May, President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to issue a decree setting a date for presidential and legislative elections in all the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, within three months
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