Archive for October 6th, 2011

Netanyahu Accuses Syria of Stoking Border Tension to Hide Domestic Turmoil

By Jonathan Ferziger and Calev Ben-David
Jun 6, 2011

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Syria of trying to “heat up the border” by enabling a violent confrontation between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli troops in the Golan Heights.

Israel will make a formal complaint to the United Nations that may be delivered as early as today in New York, following the clash in which Israeli forces fired on a crowd marking the anniversary of the 1967 Middle East War by trying to cross the frontier with Syria into Israel, according to Yigal Palmor, a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Syrian state television said 23 people were killed. UN observers are trying to confirm details of the incident, according to a statement from Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s office. The incident occurred as more than two months of protests within Syria against the government of President Bashar al-Assad have left more than 1,100 people dead, human rights groups say.

The Golan confrontation “was no accident,” Netanyahu said after addressing lawmakers from his Likud Party in Jerusalem, according to an e-mailed statement. “There is an attempt to heat up the border, to breach our borders. here is an attempt here to divert international attention away from what is happening within Syria.”

Clashes between protesters and Israeli forces on the frontiers with Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and West Bank left as many as nine dead on May 15, as Palestinians marked the anniversary of what they call the “Nakba,” Arabic for catastrophe, referring to their displacement in 1948 as a result of the creation of the state of Israel.

The Israeli-Syrian frontier has been largely quiet since the 1973 war, in which Syria tried to recapture the Golan Heights. Israel annexed the Golan in 1982 in a move that hasn’t been internationally recognized.

Source: Bloomberg.

Hamas suspends work at Rafah crossing

GAZA, June 5 (Xinhua) — Hamas authorities suspended working at Rafah crossing point Sunday until reaching an agreement with Egypt on resuming the movement of travelers, officials said.

The move was also to protest Egypt’s decision to close the crossing on Saturday. Egypt said renovation work was behind the closure of the crossing, a week after the Palestinians praised Egypt for deciding to open the crossing permanently for the first time in years.

Hamas’ foreign affairs ministry is holding contacts with Egypt over recent problems that prevented dozens of Palestinians from traveling, said Ayoub Abu Sha’ar, director of the Palestinian side at Rafah crossing.

He added that Hamas suspended the work “because the mechanisms of traveling in the Egyptian side are not clear.”

A week ago, Egypt said it opened the crossing, the only gate for Gazans to the world bypassing Israel, permanently and regularly.

Work went fine the first four days after the crossing was opened, but then Hamas said that the movement of travelers was ” almost paralyzed,” blaming Egypt for the slow work.

Egypt said there were technical problems that delayed the work and that these troubles can be resolved through coordination.

Since Hamas took over Gaza by force in 2007, the crossing had been closed for most of the time. In June 2010, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered the crossing to reopen on regular basis, but conditions for travel were still difficult.

Source: Xinhua.

Syrian opposition ready for bigger meeting after Turkish election

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Syrian opposition is planning another meeting in Turkey to follow its conference in Antalya, hoping to receive more open support from Ankara after the June 12 general elections.

“Until the elections we don’t want to put the Turkish government in a tough position,” Khaled Khoja, a Turkish-based member of the Damascus Declaration committee, a Syrian opposition group, told the Hürriyet Daily News over the weekend.

“We haven’t fixed the schedule of the next meeting yet, but we will announce it within a few weeks as we wait for the elections in Turkey to end, so that the Turkish government’s stance could be clearer,” he added.

Members of the Syrian opposition met in Antalya, a Turkish Mediterranean city, last week and in Brussels over the weekend. Organizers hope their next conference in Turkey will be a larger one, representing the opposition within Syria in addition to exiled dissidents, and that Ankara will support their fight against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian opposition has not yet been able to get the support it expected from the Turkish government, but its members believe this is because of the upcoming election in Turkey.

“Turkey is preparing for elections. That’s why we understand the position of the Turkish government, but we hope this attitude will be changing after the elections,” said Khoja.

The Turkish government has thus far refrained from vocal criticism of Syrian President Al-Assad, who is being held responsible for the killing of protesters during the ongoing uprising in his country. Turkey has instead pressed the Syrian leadership for more reforms. During private conversations, however, Ankara has been telling Assad, “Make reforms, otherwise we’ll support the reformists,” Turkish diplomatic sources told the Daily News.

PM pledges more focus on Syria after polls

In a televised interview over the weekend, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his government would place much focus on the developments in the Middle East and North Africa after the elections.

“We cannot repeat our previous performance during the election time. I am actually quite interested in Syria at this time … I talked on the phone with Mr. Bashar al-Assad,” he said.

The Syrian president is misinforming the Turkish government, according to the Syrian opposition.

“Al-Assad is sending some messages to satisfy the Turkish government that he is going on with new reforms but we don’t believe it at all. This is just to satisfy the public opinion in Turkey and in the international community,” Khoja said.

Asked if they had any contacts within the Turkish government, he said: “At the low level we have some contacts but at the high level, no.”

The planned meeting after the Turkish elections will be more important than the Antalya meeting “because a lot of committees from Syria will gather here,” Khoja said.

“Now they are preparing in Syria to send representatives, some of whom are from Damascus. This will represent the real movement in Syria,” he added. “The opposition outside Syria can only support the movement inside Syria but since the movement in Syria will represent itself at that upcoming meeting, it will be more important.”

Khoja said the group chose Turkey as a venue for its meetings “because Turkey is in the middle of the active countries and it’s so easy to gather here without any visas.” Turkey and Syria abolished visa requirements for travel in 2009.

4 Syrians hospitalized in Turkey

Four Syrians who were wounded in the government’s crackdown on anti-regime protesters in Syria were brought to Turkey on Saturday, the Anatolia news agency reported. Two families came to the Syrian-Turkish border and asked for help from Turkish authorities, who called an ambulance and took the four injured Syrians to a hospital.

The Turkish Red Crescent has increased the number of tents set up in the southern province of Hatay anticipating a further influx of people from Syria. An additional 41 Syrians crossed into Turkey through Hatay’s Altinozu town.

Source: Hürriyet.

Rallies highlight ‘inalienable right to return’

By Mohammad Ben Hussein

AMMAN – Scores of activists joined residents of Baqaa refugee camp in commemorating the 44th anniversary of the June 1967 war, dubbed Naksa, when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Participants in the rally chanted slogans against any possible deals that overlook their right to return to their homeland.

Organized by the Muslim Brotherhood movement, the rally kicked off in the central part of the camp, the largest in the country.

As protesters marched on the roads of the camp, they chanted pro-resistance slogans and denounced any attempts to settle them permanently in host countries.

“This is a day to remember the loss of Palestine, and to stress on our right to return,” said Ali Asmar, an activist from the Palestinian refugee camp.

Asmar called on the government to shoulder its responsibility of “protecting the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland.”

“We are being hosted by Jordan as refugees. Jordanian authorities have the responsibility to raise our case since we have become Jordanian citizens,” he said, expressing fear that a future agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel could lead to settling most refugees in host countries.

According to Mohammad Aqel, head of the Islamic Action Front (IAF) branch in Baqaa, the Palestinian Authority has no right to offer any compromise on the right of refugees to decide their destiny.

“People have been leading a difficult life for decades on hopes of returning to their homeland. They have suffered, sacrificed their blood and life for this cause. It is no one’s right to make a decision on their behalf,” he told The Jordan Times on the sideline of the protest.

Several groups in Jordan have joined others across the Arab region to voice concern over the future of refugees scattered in the Middle East.

Jordan hosts the highest number of Palestinian refugees who live in 13 refugee camps as well as in main cities, and the majority of them are Jordanian citizens.

Some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes after Israel was created on their land in 1948. About 4.5 million refugees and their descendants now live in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank.

Syria’s Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai desert were also occupied during the six-day 1967 war.

The Golan Heights and the West Bank remain under Israeli occupation 44 years later.

Also yesterday, dozens of people reportedly rallied at the village of Karamah in the Jordan Valley, which is near the borders with the occupied Palestinian territories, to commemorate the Naksa.

Participants, who carried Jordanian and Palestinian flags, stressed their right to return to Palestine, rejecting what they called the conspiracy of a substitute homeland, referring to a campaign by Israeli extremist politicians who look at Jordan as the future state of Palestinians.

In a related development, opposition parties in Jordan on Sunday called on the UN to respect the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

In a memorandum handed to the UN office in Amman on the occasion of the Naksa, the parties said Israel has violated all international resolutions and committed war crimes against Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza, demanding holding Israeli war “criminals” accountable for the crimes against Palestinians, Petra said.

The opposition parties also called for the immediate release of Jordanian, Palestinian and Arab prisoners of war in Israeli jails.

6 June 2011

Source: The Jordan Times.

Jordanian MB Forms Political Alliance to Fight Corruption

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Disregarding ideological differences, Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, the Islamic Action Front, and leftist parties formed a National Reform Front (NRF) to combat corruption.

According to PM Ahmed Obeidat, the coalition was formed to create a national reform strategy. He asserted that the NRF’s priority is to put the country on the right democratic track and to fight corruption and tyranny which are Jordan’s main problems. He added that fighting corruption starts with reforming the regime itself.

Mohammad Masri, a researcher at the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies stated that Jordan’s corruption was similar to the situation in the region, referring to Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, where corruption was a key element responsible for the uprisings.

Since January, Jordan has been facing a protest movement demanding political and economic reforms, and an end to corruption.

Source: Ikhwanweb.

Haneyya: Palestinians on Threshold of Promising Future

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prime Minister Ismail Haneyya said that Hamas had successfully merged between resistance of the Israeli occupation and governance and stressed that the Palestinians are on the “threshold of a new stage and promising future”.

The PM said so Friday evening to mark the grand opening of the Beisan tourist city in northern Gaza Strip.

“We have been able during the past years to combine between resistance and rule in parallel lines,” Haneyya said.

He pointed out that his government, run by Hamas for five years, has carefully selected its priorities in a way that has served the interests of the Palestinians and countered Israeli occupation policies.

“Priorities have gone parallel,” the Palestinian premier explained. “We gave precedence to the rifle when it had priority, and we gave precedence to liberation and then change. Today we give precedence to reconstruction.”

“This reconstruction [has been taking place] despite a lack of resources and the [Israeli] siege, but it offers a bright image of Islam and our Islamic civilization and government,” Haneyya said.

He also confirmed that the Palestinians are on the “threshold of a new stage and a promising future”, and stated that the recreational and tourist city would help serve the Palestinians.

Beisan is said to have been erected on a waste site that turned into a “green oasis”. It now includes various recreational facilities, such as sports fields, amusement parks, a zoo, beautiful landscape, and agricultural land.

Source: Ikhwanweb.