Somewhat more than 1,000 people are friends on the Hebrew-language Facebook page Nikmat Hayeudim (“Revenge of the Jews”). They receive daily photo updates on attacks against Palestinian property and people and on leftists. “What a picture, a real pleasure,” one of them wrote under a photo showing a person severely beaten around the head, blood running down his face, lying on a hospital bed. “That’s what should be done to all the Arabs,” another post added, and then continued with a coarse stream of invective including cursing Mohammad.
Another Facebook page, called “We’re all for death to terrorists,” has more than 60,000 followers. Next to a photo at a demonstration at the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh is the caption: “Female terrorist leftists clash with IDF and Border Police forces.” One post, which can be said to be typical, says: “May their name and memory be wiped out. Let them die, those leftists…kill them. They’re worse than Arabs!” Under the report of a rape in Tel Aviv, one member of the group wrote: “I swear an oath that tomorrow I’m going to go through the central bus station, call an Eritrean over to the car, close the window on his head and drag him all through south Tel Aviv.”
Official statistics from the Israeli government reflect what Palestinian negotiators have been complaining about for months: Israel has dramatically been expanding settlement construction since the peace talks began. Construction starts were up 123 percent in 2013 over the previous year, a huge amount despite the talk of a “partial settlement freeze.” Peace Now, the anti-settlement NGO, said the stats underscores Netanyahu’s government was committed to settlement expansion at the expense of everything else.
Israel is not seeing such a growth boom elsewhere. There was a 12 percent increase in construction in the Negev, but the massive city of Tel Aviv actually saw construction decline by 19 percent over 2012. The growth in settlement construction is likely a function of Netanyahu announcing more construction every time the peace talks hit any sort of milestone, nominally to placate the far-right members of his cabinet.
- Amnesty: pattern of Israeli “war crimes” in West Bank
- Clearing the fog on Israeli drone use in Gaza
- Israel’s Bennett: ‘Zero Tolerance’ for Israeli Arabs National Identity
- UN’s Falk accuses Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing’
- UN Official: Israel Guilty of ‘Inhuman’ and ‘Degrading’ Apartheid
- Stealing Land and Water in the West Bank
- The Truth About Cease-fire Violations Between Israel and Gaza
- AIPAC and Friends Explain Themselves
- Crisis over Crimea steals thunder from AIPAC conference
- Kerry at AIPAC: US Will Never Fail Israel
- Netanyahu: ‘I think it’s time to recognize a Jewish State. We’ve only been there 4000 years.’ (Video)
- Israel must make tough choices for peace, Obama says
- Mark Regev: ‘Israeli’s want peace more than anyone else’
- AIPAC divisions more pronounced than ever
- Israel Lobby AIPAC Down, But Not Out – Yet
- Zionist Movement: How AIPAC is severing its historical roots, and weakening its influence
- AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 (Video)
- Is Elliott Abrams Hoping to Succeed Abe Foxman at the ADL?
- ‘NY Times’ and ‘LA Times’ run op-eds by an AIPAC board member without telling readers
- The Illusion of AIPAC’s Invincibility
- Business boycott: Israelis feeling the pinch
- Sourcewatch: American Israel Public Affairs Committee
The film “Omar,” a thriller and love story by director Hany Abu-Assad, is only the third Palestinian film to be nominated for an Academy Award — the second for best picture in a foreign language — but what’s just as notable is that its nomination listed “Palestine” as the country of origin, a detail that attests to the struggles of a maturing film industry under military occupation. ”Omar” looks at the layers of betrayal among best friends, lovers and a Palestinian prisoner with an Israeli agent hoping to turn him into an informant. Abu-Assad’s earlier film “Paradise Now” was the first Palestinian feature film nominated for an Oscar, in 2006.
Both films directly address occupation as a theme — a reflection of not only the struggles of everyday life for Palestinians but also the struggle to make art in such handicapped circumstances. ”When you are under occupation, it is dominating your life whether you like it or not,” Abu-Assad told Al Jazeera. “It’s part of your life. If you want to make a film in Palestine, you can’t avoid the occupation.”
The movement to boycott Israeli goods linked to settlements has been boosted by “Scarlett syndrome”, say activists, after the high-profile controversy over the film star Scarlett Johansson‘s endorsement of SodaStream. Pro-boycott campaigners believe they will benefit from the celebrity furore, even though Johansson – faced with the incompatibility of sponsorship of SodaStream, which has a factory in an illegal settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and her role as a goodwill ambassador for Oxfam – broke links with the charity.
The row follows mounting pressure, especially from Europe, where NGOs, trade unions, churches and others are forcing their governments to take action. The number of European corporations who have severed or reviewed links with Israeli companies which operate in settlements is accelerating; the European Union is taking an increasingly tougher line; and the boycott movement is gaining traction in the United States, where it has previously struggled to win support.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is adding a fifth demand to his negotiations with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas: That the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.”
For Netanyahu’s demand to make any sense, he first has to define “Jewish.” “Jewish” has a number of possible meanings. It can mean “those recognized by Talmudic law as members of the Jewish ‘race’ via maternal descent.” The latter is the legal definition of Jewishness in Israeli law itself, and for this reason we must presume that it is what Netanyahu has in mind. It can also mean “adherents of the Judaic religion,” and we can explore those implications, as well.
Of the some 6 million self-identified Jews in Israel, about 300,000 are not recognized as “Jewish” by the Chief Rabbi and there is no prospect of them being recognized as Jewish any time soon. They were allowed to immigrate to Israel because they had at least one Jewish grandparent, but if their mother was not Jewish neither are they.
Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency claims planned suicide attack shows al-Qa’ida is taking root in Palestine
Israel says it has arrested two Palestinians from East Jerusalem who were planning to carry out attacks for al-Qa’ida with the help of foreign suicide bombers posing as Russian tourists.
The men were recruited by another al-Qa’ida agent in the Gaza Strip, said Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency – the second Israeli report in as many months suggesting the militant network was taking root among Palestinians.
Hamas Islamists governing Gaza rejected the spy agency’s account as “silly fabrications”, saying it was an attempt to justify Israeli military strikes in the territory.
Security experts say al-Qa’ida and its global agenda have for a long time had only a only fringe appeal among Palestinians as they pursue a more nationalist conflict with the Jewish state.
A Chilean football club has sparked debate over its new jerseys, in which the number “1” is replaced by an outline of pre-1948 Palestine, angering Israel which demanded the uniform’s removal, local media reported.
Club Deportivo Palestino, a first division football club created in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants, revealed on Saturday its 2014 uniform, on which the geographical outline of Palestine can be seen.
Chilean newspaper La Nacion reported on Tuesday that the Israeli foreign ministry had contacted the Chilean embassy to express its discontent over the football club’s move.
Israel has been poisoned by the psychosis of permanent war. It has been morally bankrupted by the sanctification of victimhood, which it uses to justify an occupation that rivals the brutality and racism of apartheid South Africa. Its democracy—which was always exclusively for Jews—has been hijacked by extremists who are pushing the country toward fascism. Many of Israel’s most enlightened and educated citizens—1 million of them—have left the country. Its most courageous human rights campaigners, intellectuals and journalists—Israeli and Palestinian—are subject to constant state surveillance, arbitrary arrests and government-run smear campaigns. Its educational system, starting in primary school, has become an indoctrination machine for the military. And the greed and corruption of its venal political and economic elite have created vast income disparities, a mirror of the decay within America’s democracy.
And yet, the hard truths about Israel remain largely unspoken. Liberal supporters of Israel decry its excesses. They wring their hands over the tragic necessity of airstrikes on Gaza or Lebanon or the demolition of Palestinian homes. They assure us that they respect human rights and want peace. But they react in inchoate fury when the reality of Israel is held up before them. This reality implodes the myth of the Jewish state. It exposes the cynicism of a state whose real goal is, and always has been, the transfer, forced immigration or utter subjugation and impoverishment of Palestinians inside Israel and the occupied territories. Reality shatters the fiction of a peace process. Reality lays bare the fact that Israel routinely has used deadly force against unarmed civilians, including children, to steal half the land on the West Bank and crowd forcibly displaced Palestinians into squalid, militarized ghettos while turning their land and homes over to Jewish settlers. Reality exposes the new racial laws adopted by Israel as those once advocated by the fanatic racist Meir Kahane. Reality unveils the Saharonim detention camp in the Negev Desert, the largest detention center in the world. Reality mocks the lie of open, democratic debate, including in the country’s parliament, the Knesset, where racist diatribes and physical threats, often enshrined into law, are used to silence and criminalize the few who attempt to promote a civil society. Liberal Jewish critics inside and outside Israel, however, desperately need the myth, not only to fetishize Israel but also to fetishize themselves. Strike at the myth and you unleash a savage vitriol, which in its fury exposes the self-adulation and latent racism that lie at the core of modern Zionism.
There is one picture of Palestinian children studying around a small table by the dim light of gas lamps in the Beach Camp in Gaza, and another of children peeking over a sandy dune, with rows of small, uniform shacks of a desolate refugee camp in the background. In a third, a family walks across the Allenby Bridge, the father carrying two bulging suitcases, a young son clutching a white ball, heading east over the Jordan River.
These are a few of the black and white images, many of them powerful and haunting, that will eventually constitute a digital archive compiled by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the first part of which was unveiled Thursday at a gallery in the Old City here. Together, they capture the Palestinian refugee experience from the 1948 war onward, giving form to a seminal chapter in Palestinian history, identity and collective memory.
For decades, about half a million negatives, prints, slides and various forms of film footage have been hidden away in the archive of UNRWA, the organization that assists Palestinian refugees. Stored in buildings in Gaza and Amman, Jordan, the materials had begun to grow moldy.
So officials started a preservation mission, digitizing the archive, which also documents the work of the agency. The exhibit that opened Thursday, called “The Long Journey,” will soon go on tour to large cities in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and possibly Syria, and will also be shown at cultural and political centers in Europe and North America. The images will also be made accessible to the general public on a special website.
- Kerry warns Israel of ‘third intifada’
- Israeli Commander: 100,000 Palestinians ‘Have a Score to Settle’ With Israel
- Palestinian villages subject to Israeli mock raids not told they are exercises
- Netanyahu Vows ‘Thousands More Homes’ in Settlements
- UN begins distributing fuel to combat Gaza crisis
- West Bank Palestinians lose water and land
- First planned Palestinian city is rising in the West Bank
- 125-year-old Palestinian man tells memories from peaceful days
- “5 Broken Cameras” wins Palestine’s first Emmy
- Israel to stop issuing birth certificates to babies born to foreigners
- Israeli poll from 2010: 75 percent favour deporting fellow citizens; Netanyahu favours birth control
While Israeli detention of children so young is infrequent, it is not unprecendented.
Last year, in the village of Kufr Qaddoum Israeli occupation forces attempted to arrest Mo’men Shtayeh who was two-and-a-half years old.
More often, occupation forces target children who are just a little bit older. A harrowing video of Israeli occupation forces arresting several boys in Hebron earlier this year gave a glimpse into the everyday violence faced by Palestinian children living under Israeli military rule.
And Muslim Odeh, profiled by The Electronic Intifada last year, had been arrested 10 times and physically abused by Israeli occupation forces.
His age? Twelve.
Human rights organizations, including B’Tselem, report that Palestinian children are routinely tortured and habitually threatened with rape by their Israeli captors, among other horrifying abuses.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given a thinly-veiled warning that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat could be targeted for assassination.
Mr Sharon told Israeli newspapers that both Mr Arafat and the leader of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah should not “feel immune”.
“Anyone who kills a Jew or harms an Israeli citizen, or sends people to kill Jews, is a marked man,” he said.
The security cabinet decided last year in principle to “remove” Mr Arafat.
The findings were far weaker than those of a Swiss laboratory announced with fanfare on Wednesday by Arafat’s widow and Qatar-based al-Jazeera television.
Palestinians remained unfazed by the results – which dampen but don’t definitely disprove the possibility of death by poisoning – and officials continue to blame Israel.
Samples were extracted from Arafat’s corpse last November by Swiss, French and Russian experts after an al-Jazeera documentary revealed unusually high amounts of the deadly Polonium isotope on his clothes.
The US has not paid its dues to UNESCO due to the decision by world governments to make Palestine a UNESCO member in 2011. Israel suspended its dues at the same time and also lost voting rights on Friday.
Under UNESCO rules, the US had until Friday morning to resume funding or explain itself, or it automatically loses its vote. A UNESCO official, who was not authorised to speak publicly about the issue, said nothing was received from either the US or Israel.
The first forensic tests on samples taken from Yasser Arafat‘s corpse have shown unexpectedly high levels of radioactive polonium-210, suggesting the Palestinian leader could have been poisoned with the rare and lethal substance.
The Swiss scientists who tested Arafat’s remains after the exhumation of his body in November 2012 discovered levels of polonium at least 18 times higher than usual in Arafat’s ribs, pelvis and in soil that absorbed his bodily fluids.
The Swiss forensic report was handed to representatives of Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, as well as representatives of the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday. A copy of the report was obtained exclusively by the al-Jazeera TV network, which shared it with the Guardian before publication.
The Swiss report said that even taking into account the eight years since Arafat’s death and the quality of specimens taken from bone fragments and tissue scraped from his body and shroud, the results “moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210″.
Suha Arafat said the evidence in the report suggested that her then healthy 75-year-old husband, who died in 2004 four weeks after he first fell ill following a meal, was almost certainly murdered by poisoning. She told al-Jazeera: “This is the crime of the century.”
The head of a Russian forensics agency said on Tuesday that samples from the body of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had revealed no traces of radioactive polonium, a Russian news agency reported.
However, the government scientific body later denied that it had made any official statement about the research, saying only that it had handed its results to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
If confirmed, the findings would deal a blow to Palestinian suspicions that Arafat was assassinated by Israel – a theory fuelled by a Swiss lab report last year which found unusual amounts of the deadly isotope polonium on his clothes.
One of the world’s leading medical journals has supported the possibility that Yasser Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader, was poisoned with the radioactive element polonium 210.
The British The Lancet journal has published a peer review of last year’s research by Swiss scientists on Arafat’s personal effects.
It endorsed their work, which found high levels of the highly radioactive element in blood, urine, and saliva stains on the Palestinian leader’s clothes and toothbrush.
The Egyptian army has established a precautionary plan for military intervention in the Gaza Strip if attacks on Egyptian troops in the Sinai Peninsula intensify, Egyptian security officials said Wednesday.
Officials told Ma’an that Egyptian reconnaissance planes had entered the Gaza Strip’s airspace and examined a number of locations in Rafah and Khan Younis to be targeted if military attacks against Egyptian troops intensify in Sinai.
Egyptian aircraft could also target vehicles which travel across the border area delivering smuggled goods, sources added. More smuggling tunnels could also be destroyed, and sources highlighted that “all options are open.”
According to Egyptian military sources, the ongoing attacks in Sinai are carried out by organizations based both in Sinai Peninsula and in the Gaza Strip.
RECENT SINAI/GAZA NEWS:
The so-called “renewed” Israel-Palestine peace process is turning out to be nothing more than an illusion, as many observers from across the political spectrum expected. But the United States is apparently intent on blowing more smoke to maintain that hallucination as long as possible. And the Palestinian Authority, typically, is falling into a trap.
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s idea to keep a tight lid on the proceedings was a good one if talks lead somewhere. If they don’t, the aggrieved side is likely to head to the media to air their grievances, feeling that the process is not getting them where they want and that public pressure is their only option. Doing so, however, will surely anger the United States and open the door for the party causing the leaks to end up with the lion’s share of the blame for the talks’ failure.
Amid reports of deep Palestinian dissatisfaction with the way the talks are going, the US seems to be offering the public the same long-view analysis that they did months ago. Not commenting on what is actually taking place between the Israelis and Palestinians in their discussions, a senior State Department official offered the view that the turmoil in Syria and Egypt is spurring the two sides toward compromise.
“Both sides have made clear to us and to each other that they do not want the turmoil to engulf them and that therefore it motivates them to try to resolve their conflict to prevent that from happening,” the official told reporters. This rationale was part of the explanation Kerry offered as he was bringing the sides together as to why this time would be different from previous rounds of talks. It fails, however, to address the matters that are bringing the talks crashing down, which are just like those problems from previous talks.
Palestinian negotiators have been telling reporters that Israel is insisting on a new interim agreement, where a provisional Palestinian state would be established on 60% of the West Bank and no settlements would be removed in the initial stage. That is a non-starter for Palestinians, and they were making that clear before the talks even resumed. For their part, the Israelis, and specifically Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have been making it equally clear that they will not use the 1967 borders as a reference and are not seeking anything more than establishing a new interim arrangement. So, the new impasse was entirely predictable. And this gives the US view the air of a performance, hiding the very real evidence that these talks were doomed from the first and the US should have, and may well have, known it.
- Interactive documentary explores the ‘broken hopes’ in the West Bank after the Oslo peace accords (Yahoo!)
- Former negotiator: 100,000 settlers need to be evacuated (Jerusalem Post)
- Israeli troops disciplined after partying with Palestinians (Ynet)
- Israeli court may suspend law used to take over Palestinian land in Jerusalem (Haaretz)
- Minister Sa’ar: Israel won’t return to 1967 lines (Ynet)
- Danon: Likud Will Kick Out Any Lawmaker Who Backs Interim Deal with Palestinians (PNN)
- Kerry urges EU to postpone funding ban in Israeli-occupied territories (Reuters)
- World’s literary stars sign Israeli petition against destruction of Palestinian villages (Haaretz)
- Gaza shortages worsen as Egyptian government destroys tunnels (LA Times)
- Why some Palestinians want to learn like Israelis (CS Monitor)
- Critics charge that Israeli labor bill for female settlers is a cover for creeping annexation (AP)
Palestinian officials say that they have cancelled a planned meeting, part of the nascent peace talks with Israel, after Israeli troops attacked a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
According to Israeli officials, troops entered the camp to capture a “suspect,” but wound up killing three people and wounding 16 others. One of the slain, Younis Jahjouh, had previously been released by Israel in a prisoner exchange.
Israel presented the killings as self defense, claiming they retaliated against “rioters.” The use of live ammunition against bystanders, however, has witnesses saying that the troops clearly came with an intent to cause casualties.
OTHER RECENT ISRAEL/PALESTINE NEWS:
- Israel Wants More US Aid, Citing US Sales to Arab Nations (Antiwar)
- While Officials Talk, Israelis Build (IPS)
- US on Israeli Settlements: A Policy Without A Policy (Jim Lobe)
- Israeli deputy minister: Demand for settlement freeze is anti-Semitic (Haaretz)
- Israel to turn mosque into synagogue (South Web)
- Palestinians warn they’ll turn to UN over settlement construction (Haaretz)
- Israel Announces More Settlement Expansion (Antiwar)
- PLO charges Israel with ‘war crimes, anti-human, racist acts’ (Jerusalem Post)
- Alice Walker disinvited from University of Michigan over ‘Israel comments’ (Electronic Intifada)
- Roger Waters asks musicians to boycott Israel (LA Times)
- European nations: Don’t do business in settlements (Ynet)
- EU enterprise chief seeks stronger ties with Israel’s war industry (Electronic Intifada)
- Israel apologizes to Japan over offensive Hiroshima comments on Facebook (Haaretz)
- Netanyahu snubs French minister – until Jewish leader steps in (Haaretz)
- IDF deploys sixth Iron Dome battery (Times of Israel)
- Venezuela to sell oil at ‘fair price’ to Palestinians (AFP)
- Archaeologists race to save Gaza’s ancient ruins (AP)
- Gaza Valley Faces Environmental Disaster (Al Monitor)
- Pressure Rises on Hamas as Patrons’ Support Fades (NY Times)
- Hamas official: Palestinian Tamarod group was trained by Egyptian intelligence (Jerusalem Post)
- Rights group urges Gaza’s Hamas to halt executions (AP)
- Palestinian children routinely tortured, some threatened with rape: Israel rights group (Electronic Intifada)
- Palestinian arrested for selling ‘Morsi perfume’ (Ynet)
- Soldiers violently attack and arrest peaceful protesters in Al-Masara (ISM)
- Israel Announces 1200 New Settlement Units On Eve Of Peace Talks (The Real News)
- Peace talks: The perfect alibi for settlement expansion (972 Mag)
- Kerry tells Netanyahu: Israel’s settlement activity violates terms of peace talks (Haaretz)
- Even worse odds than in 2008 for Mideast deal (AP)
- Israeli law will strip many Arab ‘absentees’ of land (The Independent)
- Israel encouraging preschool literacy – just not among Arabs (Haaretz)
- Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda (The Independent)
- Documenting a warped and psychotic society in Israel’s Wild West (Haaretz)
- Israel army publishes fake image of huge “Gaza shopping mall” (Electronic Intifada)
- Israel proudly displays separation fence to arriving tourists (972 Mag)
- Apartheid Train-Israel‘s multi-billion dollar railroad plan in the West Bank (Palestine Monitor)
Indyk has been around this peace talk track before.
He belongs to a small group of Jewish diplomats who have specialized in Middle East negotiations. The same names come up with every new effort to reconcile Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
[...] Indyk began his Washington career as an AIPAC staffer, served as executive director of an AIPAC think tank offshoot, the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, and then served two short terms as the first foreign-born U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
- Martin Indyk (Wikipedia)
- Why Kerry Will Fail in Israel-Palestine (Antiwar)
- Peace talks with Palestinians would take months: Israel official (Reuters)
- Hamas: No Negotiating with the ‘Occupation’ (INN)
- Israel to Release Longtime Prisoners Amid Palestine Talks (Newser)
- Palestinians say ’67 borders basis for talks (Houston Chronicle)
- Israel’s Netanyahu says talks with Palestinians ‘vital’ (BBC)
- Israeli-Palestinian peace talks’ resumption put in doubt by both sides (Guardian)
- Israel-Palestinian Talks Going Nowhere, Slowly (Antiwar)
- Arab League backs Palestinian stance in peace talks (Ynet)
- US Jews lend support to peace talks in new letter (Times of Israel)
- Netanyahu Rushes Referendum Requirement as Peace Talks Near (Antiwar)
As top Palestinian leaders discussed the possibility of new peace talks with Israel, Israeli and American officials suggested Thursday that no agreement has yet been reached to revive the stalled negotiations.
“There are currently no plans for an announcement on the resumption of peace talks,” State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told reporters traveling with Secretary of State John F. Kerry in Jordan.
Kerry extended his latest Middle East trip Thursday to await news of a possible breakthrough from the Palestinians, who have been reluctant to return to talks without first setting conditions, such as a ban on new Israeli settlement building on land that the Palestinians claim for a future state.
Kerry had hoped to restart talks in June and had said during his last visit to the region, late last month, that a deal to do so was within reach. But his efforts to offer Palestinians an incentive to bargain without meeting their long-standing demands appeared to have fallen short.
The Israeli government is currently examining the legality of a proposed bill that would enable Israeli prison authorities to force-feed hunger-striking prisoners, Israeli media outlets reported.
Israel’s Channel 2 News reported on Wednesday that the bill, set forth by the Israeli Justice Ministry, the Ministry of Internal Defense, the Shin Bet, the Prisons Authority, the IOF, and members of the Israeli National Security Council, is at its early stages of review and that the final outcome of which is expected in the upcoming weeks.
Israel has been forced to early release some of the Palestinian prisoners after it faced mounting challenges from hunger strikes as in the cases of some prisoners including Samer al-Issawi and Ayman al-Sharawneh. Their releases were approved despite the objections of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security organization, who recommended not to give in to their demands.
Israeli settlers have felled more than 1,000 olive and almond trees that have been cultivated for generations by Palestinians, say villagers in this verdant hamlet.
The destruction of trees in Awarta highlights the challenges faced by the roughly 80,000 Palestinian families living under Israeli occupation who depend on the olive industry for their livelihood.
“They’ve destroyed 150 of my olive trees and 300 of my almond trees,” said Fouzan Awwad, 53, a father of six and a member of one of the 23 families who have farmed this area in the West Bank hills east of Nablus. Some of the olive trees were more than a century old.
European governments including Britain have stepped up back-channel contacts with Hamas despite an official EU policy of political isolation, in an effort to understand and possibly influence debate in the Islamist group about its future direction, according to four senior Hamas officials.
Meetings between Hamas and European government representatives and intermediaries have taken place in Gaza, Cairo and European capitals over recent months, the officials said.
The EU banned contact between its member states and the Islamist organisation when the latter took over Gaza in 2007, and Hamas is classified as a terrorist organisation by Brussels.
The Hamas officials, who spoke to the Guardian over recent weeks, declined to give specific details of meetings. “These countries trust us not to disclose information about contacts,” said Ahmed Yousef, a member of Hamas’s decision-making body, the shura council, and a former deputy foreign minister.
by ASHER ZEIGER
Times of Israel
As attacks in the Sinai escalate, the military leadership in Egypt is reportedly seeking Israeli approval to launch a broad campaign to root out Islamic extremists in the largely wild peninsula.
The operation is expected to begin in the next several days, but Egyptian authorities need an okay from Jerusalem under the peace treaty between the countries, the Times of London reported Thursday.
There have been several attacks on Egyptian troops in the Sinai over the last several days, the army says, as jihadists, including Palestinians from Gaza according to some reports, have attempted to take advantage of a lack of stability since the ouster of president Mohammed Morsi in an army coup.
An Israeli army source told the British paper that Jerusalem saw no reason to decline Cairo’s request.
by KHALED ABU TOAMEH
The Jerusalem Post
The Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is now estimated at approximately 4 million, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
On the eve of International Population Day, the bureau published a statistical review that showed that the “total population of Palestine at mid- 2013 was about 4.42 million; 2.24 million males and 2.18 million females.” The estimated population of the West Bank was 2.72 million, while the estimated population of the Gaza Strip totaled 1.7 million, according to the review.
Data revealed that the Palestinian population is a young one; the percentage of individuals under the age of 14 constituted 40% of the total population at mid-2013.
People aged 65 or more constituted 2.9% of the total population – 3.2% in the West Bank and 2.4% in the Gaza Strip.