Archive for February 28th, 2014

ESCWA urges Egypt and Jordan to boycott Israeli settlement products

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Rima Khalaf, is urging both Egypt and Jordan to boycott Israeli settlement products. “Boycotting the settlement products will not hurt Arab countries, including the least advantaged like Egypt and Jordan,” Khalaf stated on Tuesday.

Speaking at a conference in Tunis, the UN official advised the Arab states, many of which are secretly importing goods from Israel, to at least boycott the settlement products, pointing out that “many European countries are already boycotting them.”

“The Israeli settlements are established on occupied Palestinian land and Israel encourages the Jewish population to settle there while depriving the original Palestinian owners of living there,” Khalaf added.

ESCWA presented its “Arab integration” report in Tunis on Tuesday, which experts took two years to prepare. The report calls to revive Arab integration based on the recommendations and proposals formulated during the Arab summits, starting with reducing the tariff for transporting goods by 50 per cent and boycotting the Israeli settlement products.

According to the report, 350 million people live in the Arab region, where a quarter of its young people and one fifth of women are unemployed, and about 50 million are suffering from malnutrition.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


SYRIA. Mujahideen unite their forces in battle for Aleppo. Assadites defeated in Quneitra

25 February 2014

Sources in Syria reported that units of Ahrar Sham, Islamic Front and Jabhat an-Nusrah had joined forces in the battle for Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Assad’s troops continue to try to advance in Aleppo region.

Assadites bombed apartment houses with barrel bombs from Russian-made helicopters. On February 23, such bombs were dropped on north-western suburbs of Aleppo, Hreitan and Al-Ansari. Bomber jets attacked the outlying airfield of Quieres where Mujahideen keep Assadites under siege.

In the area of Damascus, on the outskirts of the town of Yabrud, there has been an increase in fighting between Shiites from Hezbollah on the one side, and Mujahideen on the other. Assadites bombed the town from the air and also used artillery for shelling. Several clashes occurred west of Yabrud near Qalamoun.

Skirmishes also took place south of Mlehi near the location of an air defense brigade of Alawite troops and Shiite militants. Aviation of Assad bombed positions of the Mujahideen in town of Khan al-Shih.

Sources in Syria report that Mujahideen continue to attack Assadites in Quneitra. During a two-day assault operation, significant success has been achieved. This operation is aimed on a complete cut-off of supply routes for Assadites between Damascus and Quneitra.

Assadites suffered heavy losses in Quneitra – dozens of their soldiers were eliminated after the Mujahideen took the town of Masirah.

Battles are ongoing in Deir ez-Zor. Assadites tried to advance in the village of Al-Omal, but were repulsed, suffering losses. Assad’s aviation struck on villages of Al-Bolil and Al-Mreyya. Many civilians-mostly women and children-have been killed.

Heavy clashes took place in the vicinity of the military airport of Deir ez-Zor. Assadites tried to dislodge Mujahideen from their positions near the airfield, but were stopped.

In Deraa, Assad’s artillery has been shelling the cities of Nava and Naima. Meanwhile, Mujahideen of Jabhat an-Nusrah, Ahrar Sham, Ansar al-Sunna, Umar al-Khattab announced a new joint operation to liberate the rural province of Deraa.

Department of Monitoring

Kavkaz Center

Source: Kavkaz Center.


Gazans turn to solar power to face energy crisis

Wed Feb 26, 2014

Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip have turned to solar power as the Israeli-blockaded sliver is grappling with severe fuel and electricity shortage.

“We were forced to consider relying on solar power alone after the energy crisis that events in Egypt brought about,” AFP quoted Nabil al-Burqani, the director of Gaza City’s children’s hospital, as saying.

In recent months, fuel and electricity shortages in Gaza have worsened as the Egyptian military has blocked supply tunnels leading into the region. The tunnels were the only lifeline for Palestinians living under the Israeli siege.

“We need solar energy in order to keep up care for babies in the maternity ward,” said Burqani, adding, “If there’s just a minute-long cut to the electricity that runs the baby incubators, a child could die.”

The humanitarian crisis facing Gaza has escalated as the only power plant in the Palestinian territory has stopped working since November 1, 2013 due to severe fuel shortage.

Gaza has been under the Israeli siege since 2007, a situation that has made the Palestinians desperately dependent on goods coming through the tunnels.

The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), which represents more than 130 Palestinian civil society organizations, has called on the international community to end the continuous Israeli siege.

Several human rights organizations and civil groups have also criticized the Egyptian army for preventing the people in Gaza from accessing most of their basic goods like construction materials, food, and fuel.

Source: PressTV.


Palestine cleared for UNESCO seat vote

Thu Oct 6, 2011

Palestinians gain a breakthrough in their efforts to win UN recognition after UNESCO’s executive board has agreed to submit the Palestinian bid for full membership to member states for approval.

On Wednesday, Palestinians pressed ahead with their UNESCO membership motion before the body’s executive committee, defying fierce opposition by the United States and France, AFP reported. 

The board of the UN cultural agency passed the motion by 40 votes in favor to four votes against and 14 abstentions, agreeing to send the Palestinians’ request to a final vote in the 193-member UNESCO general assembly on October 25. 

The Palestinian delegation has held observer status at UNESCO since 1974. Two-thirds of the member states now need to approve the request to enable Palestine’s full membership. 

Washington’s envoy to the Paris-based body, David Killion, however, said that “granting the Palestinians full membership now in a specialized agency such as UNESCO is premature.” 

US Republican lawmaker, Kay Granger, who chairs the key subcommittee that disburses US sums for diplomatic purposes, had also threatened to back suspension of all the UNESCO-headed funds, if the body admitted Palestine as a state. 

France, which abstained on the motion, said earlier on Wednesday that “it was not the time” for Palestine to pursue UNESCO backing, calling instead on them to hold talks with Israel. 

The developments came after the acting Palestinian Authority Chief, Mahmoud Abbas, presented the Palestinians’ statehood request to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 23. 

The request is likely to be voted on in the coming weeks, while Washington has already threatened to veto the motion. 

The UNESCO membership would not only serve as a diplomatic achievement for the Palestinians, but would also allow them to apply to classify their monuments as World Heritage Sites.

Source: PressTV.


Palestinian prisoner dies of torture

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A Palestinian prisoner from Jerusalem who was assaulted by Israeli guards while detained at Beersheba prison died on Tuesday morning.

The Wadi Hilwa Center said that Jihad Taweel, a 47-year-old, went into coma for two weeks when Israeli guards attacked him and other inmates and brutally beat them and sprayed them with pepper gas.

Taweel was arrested for driving a vehicle without a license and sentenced to three months in Beersheba maximum security prison.

A resident of Ras Al-Amud neighborhood in Silwan, Jerusalem, Taweel has five children.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Jordanian parliament discusses annulling peace treaty with Israel

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Some 47 ministers have called for Jordan to cancel its peace treaty with Israel in response to Israel’s parliament debating sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque, which they considered a breach of the treaty, a newspaper reported today.

Al-Rai newspaper reported that “47 Ministers of Parliament suggested yesterday [Tuesday] at the House of Representatives to prepare a draft law to abolish the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty [Wadi Araba] with a proposal to give the sense of urgency.”

It explained that the proposal comes, according to the signatories of the memorandum, “given the state of play of the Zionist entity and their daily assaults and disregard of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

He said that the signatories believe “what Israel is doing in clear violation of the Treaty of Wadi Araba and an assault on the guardianship of Jordan on the holy sites in Jerusalem.”

Approximately one-third of the members of the House of Representatives of Jordan, which includes 150 members, signed the memorandum.

They allocated today’s parliamentary session to debate the repercussions of the Knesset discussions about canceling the sovereignty of Jordan over Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Israeli Knesset discussed the draft law suggested by the extremist member Moshe Viglin, member of Likud Party headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The discussion ended without being ratified and the Knesset agreed to resume discussion at a later date.

Earlier to this Knesset session, Netanyahu objected to such a law because it did not have enough support in Israel and it would arouse the anger of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinians, at a time when the US is working on reaching a peace agreement in the Middle East.

Israel signed the peace agreement with Jordan in 1994 and it accepted Jordanian guardianship on the Islamic sacred and religious places in Jerusalem.

Israel has been working on a massive network of tunnels beneath the mosque’s yard. The tunnels caused several holes in the yards and weakened the foundations of several of the buildings inside the parameters.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Jordan MPs urge scrapping peace treaty with Israel

Wed Feb 26, 2014

Dozens of Jordanian lawmakers have called on the Amman government to revoke a 1994 peace treaty with the Israeli regime amid a Knesset debate on a plan to annex the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Late on Tuesday, as many as 47 lawmakers signed a petition, urging the Jordanian government to freeze the 20-year-old treaty with Israel.

The al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Jordan is also the custodian of the holy site.

The lawmakers also criticized the government for failing to take a strong stand against Israel.

One of the lawmakers also called for expelling the Israeli ambassador.

The call for a freeze in the so-called peace deal came after a similar request by Jordan’s main opposition, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) on Tuesday.

“We urge the government to meet the demands of people who have repeatedly called for freezing and eventually cancelling the peace treaty,” said IAF on its website on Tuesday.

The IAF statement came after Israeli troops and police raided the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on Tuesday, and forcefully dispersed Palestinian worshipers and protesters.

In recent months, Israeli forces and settlers have stepped up their attacks on the mosque. This has led to violent confrontations between the two sides.

Earlier this month, clashes erupted between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli soldiers at the mosque. The clashes broke out when Israeli forces stormed the holy site during Friday prayer. At least 20 people, including children, were wounded in the violence.

The Palestinian Authority and the resistance movement of Hamas have also warned against Israeli plans to impose its “sovereignty” on the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Source: PressTV.


Spain supports Palestine’s statehood ambitions

Oct. 6, 2011

PARIS, Oct. 6 (UPI) — Spain said it backed the Palestinian initiative for statehood following a nod from UNESCO, though the effort is still up against Israeli allies in Washington.

The 58-nation executive board of the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization gave its initial approval on a 40-to-4 vote with 14 abstentions for Palestinian membership. Full membership must be approved by the 193-nation General Conference.

The Palestinian government has observer status and ambitions for full membership at the United Nations are part of a statehood initiative launched by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the U.N. General Assembly last month.

The European Parliament, in a September resolution, said lawmakers viewed the Palestinian bid for statehood as legitimate.

The Spanish government was quoted by The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London as saying it “anticipates” that it would vote in favor of Palestinian ambitions “if the vote takes place and no common European position has been reached.”

France, which abstained from the UNESCO vote, said now wasn’t the time for Palestinian to embark on its own, saying two-track negotiations with Israel were favored instead. Israel, for its part, said membership at UNESCO wouldn’t do the Palestinians any good.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a statement, called the action at UNESCO “confusing.” Washington spoke out strongly against Palestinian statehood.

Source: United Press International (UPI).


Luxembourg announces boycott of 8 Israeli companies, including 5 Banks

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Luxembourg’s general pension fund (FDC) has decided to boycott five Israeli banks due to their illegal activities in West Bank settlements.

The Israeli website Walla reported that the state-affiliated pension fund of Luxembourg has decided to boycott all major banks in Israel.

The website pointed out that despite the small size of the state of Luxembourg in Europe; it constitutes a major hub in the world’s investment and finance.

The FDC’s website published an “exclusion list” of about 60 companies around the world describing their practices as unethical. Among these companies are eight Israeli institutions, including Israel’s major banks – Israel Discount Bank, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, Bank Leumi and First International Bank of Israel.

Two companies are also on the list; Elbit Systems Ltd and Africa Israel Investments Ltd, both based in Jerusalem.

The FDC explained this boycott on the grounds that these companies “support the construction of illegal settlements in occupied territories.”

The European boycott campaign against Israel has been on the rise urging Israel to look at ways to combat it. Israel has demanded European countries enact laws prohibiting the boycott of Israel in the future.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Canada puts sanctions on Syrian oil

Oct. 5, 2011

OTTAWA, Oct. 5 (UPI) — Sanctions imposed against Syria by the Canadian government prohibit economic activity related to the country’s oil sector, the foreign minister said.

Syria is facing near-universal condemnation for its crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar Assad. The United Nations estimates around 3,000 people were killed during the unrest, which began in mid-March.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird announced sanctions on Assad’s regime that put travel bans and asset freezes on members and supporters of the regime. Additional measures ban the import, purchase, acquisition, carrying or shipment of petroleum or petroleum-related products from Syria.

“The push for political change has claimed thousands of lives with no sign the violence is letting up,” Baird said in a statement. “We are committed to working with our international partners to pressure President Assad to step aside.”

Syria had exported crude oil to European countries. The 150,000 barrels of crude exported each day provided Damascus with around 30 percent of its revenue.

The U.N. Security Council was unable to pass a resolution against Syria because of vetoes from China and Russia. The United States said, because of the veto, it was “quite a sad day.”

Source: United Press International (UPI).