Archive for August 14th, 2012

Defected premier: Syrian regime near collapse

August 14, 2012

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Syria’s defected prime minister said Tuesday that Bashar Assad’s regime was near collapse and urged other political and military leaders to tip the scales and join the rebel side.

“The regime is on the verge of collapse morally and economically,” Riad Hijab told a news conference in his first public comments since leaving his post and fleeing to Jordan with his family last week. Hijab is the highest-ranking political figure to defect from Assad’s regime.

He said he felt “pain in his soul” over the regime’s shelling and other attacks on rebel strongholds as the government stepped up its military offensive. Activists say more than 20,000 people been killed in the struggle since March 2011.

“I was powerless to stop the injustice,” he said, speaking in front of the rebel flag. He called on “honorable leaders” in Syria to defect. “Syria is full of honorable officials and military leaders who are waiting for the chance to join the revolution,” he said.

“I urge the army to follow the example of Egypt’s and Tunisia’s armies — take the side of people,” he added. Hijab said he was now backing the rebels, but gave no clue on his plans. There had been speculation that he would travel to the Gulf nation of Qatar, which is one of the rebels’ main supporters.

Gaza: Egypt opening border ahead of Muslim holiday

August 14, 2012

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Egypt on Tuesday opened its border with Hamas-ruled Gaza for a three-day period ahead of a major Muslim holiday this weekend, but imposed tight restrictions on who can travel and did not say whether it would resume normal border operations.

The government in Cairo closed the border Aug. 5, shutting down the Rafah passenger terminal and — according to Egyptian security officials — sealing more than 100 cross-border smuggling tunnels. The move came after Islamic militants in Egypt’s Sinai desert near Gaza killed 16 Egyptian troops at a border post near Israel.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s government has suggested the assailants had help from Gaza, a claim Hamas denies. The Egyptian restrictions raised tensions between Morsi and Hamas, both members of the region-wide Muslim Brotherhood and presumably sympathetic to each other.

The Hamas interior minister, Fathi Hamad, has demanded that Morsi reopen the Rafah crossing quickly and suggested the new Egyptian president was acting like his predecessor, the staunchly anti-Hamas Hosni Mubarak who had backed Israel’s tight blockade of Gaza’s borders.

“We suffered from the unjust regime of Mubarak that participated in the Israeli blockade of Gaza,” Hamad wrote in comments posted on his ministry’s website. “Why should we suffer now, in the era of Egypt’s revolution and democracy?”

Addressing Egyptian leaders, Hamad called for a different policy. “Palestine should be considered a priority,” he wrote. “If you are not doing that, you have to correct your course.” Last week, Egypt began allowing stranded travelers to return to Gaza, and some 4,500 have so far made the trip, according to Gaza border officials. On Tuesday, Egypt for the first time allowed some border traffic from Gaza, but only for a select few — Gaza students registered at foreign universities, those with residency abroad and medical patients.

Gaza border official Maher Abu Sabha said two-way traffic will continue for three days, in the run-up to the weekend’s Eid el-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The limited opening is meant to relieve some of the pressure on Gaza, but also suggests that there is no imminent decision by Egypt to resume normal border traffic.

Amani Salman, 34, and her four sons were waiting on the Gaza side of the border, hoping to cross into Egypt en route to their home in Qatar. Salman said she had been scheduled to travel on the day after the attack and was forced to cancel her plane tickets, at a cost of $1,800.

She said she had hesitated for years to visit her family in Gaza because of the precarious border situation, but decided to risk the trip after the change of government in Egypt. “This year, I thought it will be better, but it was the same,” she said. “We love Egypt and we were very happy for their new president. We are not asking for much, just to be treated as humans … It’s a mistake to punish Gaza.”

Associated Press writer Ashraf Sweilam in El Arish, Egypt contributed reporting.

Abbas makes statehood bid at UN

Fri Sep 23, 2011

Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmud Abbas has officially submitted his bid for the UN recognition of a Palestinian state to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Abbas handed over the request in a folder adorned with the Palestinian eagle crest on the front to Ban Ki-moon on Friday shortly before addressing the UN General Assembly.

The UN secretary general opened the folder briefly to study it.

Addressing the General Assembly, Abbas said that he decided to request for UN membership of his state after Israel smashed all efforts to reach a peace through talks.

“All of these sincere efforts and endeavors undertaken by international parties were repeatedly smashed against the rocks of the positions of the Israeli government, which quickly dashed the hopes raised by the launch of negotiations last September,” he said.

He also described the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands as the main cause of the collapse of peace talks, adding that the PA is ready to return to negotiations if Tel Aviv halts its settlement activities.

Abbas received a standing ovation for his speech.

He also called on the Security Council to immediately approve full Palestinian membership at the UN, saying the time has come for Palestinians to be given the right to be called citizens of their own state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to address the UN General Assembly after Abbas.

Source: PressTV.

Jordanians to rally for Palestinian state

Fri Sep 23, 2011

Hundreds of Jordanians are set to hold a rally in the capital, Amman, to voice their support for the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

The demonstrators will also condemn the US for pledging to veto the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN Security Council.

Demonstration organizers, the National and Youth Movements, have also called on Jordanians to rally against what they called unfair and corrupt government, lack of political freedom and the slow pace of social reforms in the country.

Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmud Abbas is expected to submit the Palestinian request for membership to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after addressing the General Assembly on Friday.

If Ban decides the request is in order, the Security Council will examine and vote on the bid. In order to pass, the bid will need the backing of nine out of 15 council members, with no vetoes from permanent members.

The future Palestinian state would include the West Bank and Gaza, with East al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital. The PA says it believes that more than 130 countries would recognize the state of Palestine based on the pre-1967 borders.

Israel and the US strongly oppose the Palestinian move. Washington, which supports Tel Aviv’s position, claims that a Palestinian state can only be achieved through talks with Israel.

Some reports, however, suggest that Israel and the US are trying to turn Jordan into a homeland for Palestinian refugees, which has angered Jordanians.

On Thursday, Jordan’s parliament condemned remarks by an Israeli lawmaker proposing Jordan as an alternative homeland for Palestinian refugees and urged the government to officially protest to the Israeli ambassador over such “offence.”

In 1948, Israel expelled more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland, forcing them to flee to different neighboring countries.

Currently, there are an estimated total of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants dreaming of an eventual return to their ancestral homeland more than six decades later.

Jordan hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees.

Source: PressTV.

Turkey backs Palestine ‘unconditionally’

Fri Sep 23, 2011

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tells the United Nations General Assembly that Ankara will unconditionally support the Palestinians’ proposal for recognition by the UN.

“Turkish support for the recognition of the state of Palestine is unconditional,” Erdogan said on Thursday, addressing the General Assembly’s 66th annual session in New York, the Associated Press reported.

Turkey’s backing has come as a big boost for the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is planning to submit a formal bid for Palestine’s membership in the world body on Friday.

The Turkish premier also called on Israel to lift ‘the illegal blockade enforced against the people of Gaza.’ Israel laid the siege on Gaza in June 2007, starting to deprive some 1.5 million people in the coastal sliver of food, fuel, and other necessities.

Last year, Israeli commandos attacked Mavi Marmara, the flagship of the Freedom Flotilla, an aid fleet, which had set sail to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, in international waters and killed nine Turkish activists.

Erdogan used the speech to ask Tel Aviv again to make amends.

“Our demands from Israel are clear. Israel must apologize, pay compensation to the families of our martyrs, and lift the embargo, the blockade on Gaza. Until Israel meets these demands and takes steps in this direction, our position will not change.”

Turkey recently downgraded the bilateral diplomatic relations, expelled the Israeli ambassador from Ankara, and suspended all military ties with Israel.

Source: PressTV.

Kuwait, Bahrain, and UN experts call for creation of Palestinian State

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — Kuwait and Bahrain on Thursday called for the creation of a Palestinian State and an end to Israeli occupation of Arab territories at the United Nations’ (UN) General Assembly.

Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammad Al Ahmad Al Sabah in his speech to the Assembly’s general debate in New York said the UN still stands incapable of finding a solution to the Palestinian Question after 60 years, and has been unable to put end to the Israeli occupation of Arab territories.

Meanwhile, the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, told the Assembly that the creation of a Palestinian State would “end an era of bitter Arab-Israeli conflict, subject to Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories.”

Both leaders agreed that the creation of a Palestinian State would resolve conflict in the Middle East, as Sheikh Nasser expressed that “what really evokes concern is that the international community stands as a spectator of all those Israeli practices and policies, without opposing or deterring them, despite their clear contravention and violation of the most simple rules of international law and the resolution of international legitimacy.”

The Kuwaiti leader urged the international community to put pressure on Israel to withdrawal from Palestinian and other Arab territories so that Palestinians can achieve their right to self-determination and establish a State with Jerusalem as its capital.

“We wish to renew our full commitment and support to the bid of the Palestinian Authority and its endeavours to obtain membership of the United Nations as an independent and full Member State,” he added.

On Wednesday, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, in his address to the general debate, hailed calls for political reform in the Middle East and North Africa, saying the regions “abounded in great expectations.”

Sheikh Hamad underlined that Qatar has always had a clear policy on the rules governing Arab, regional and international relations, which he said was based on reconciliation and harmony among peoples and nations.

“On the other hand, we, as well as others, have been unable to turn a deaf ear or blind eye to the calls of the wounded seeking help from near and far, against an entrenched oppression,” he said.

On Monday, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting that he intended to submit an application this Friday for Palestine to become a UN Member State.

Also on Thursday, Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, called on Member States to recognize “the reality of Palestinian statehood,” and urged Israel to listen to the will of the millions of people who have suffered under its occupation.

Falk underlined the importance of the upcoming debate on Palestine’s initiative at the UN, which provides a “momentous occasion for the international community to respond to a legacy of injustice.”

“Palestine’s status as a State is not merely symbolic,” said Falk. “It empowers Palestine with rights and duties under international law, such as full jurisdiction over its territory, legal standing to defend itself from other States, and the capacity to join international treaties – including human rights treaties.”

In addition, Falk noted that for over 44 years, Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip have suffered under Israel’s “oppressive occupation.”

The UN expert continued by saying that Israel had steadily transferred its population into hundreds of settlements on Palestinian territory, while subjecting Palestinians to widespread and systematic violations of their basic human rights.

“I encourage Israel to heed calls throughout the region for governance based on the will of the people. The will of the Palestinian people must be respected too, starting this week at the United Nations and until Palestinians can enjoy the right they share with all other peoples of the world – the right to self-determination,” Falk stated.

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.