Palestinian Government to Hold Weekly Session in Gaza

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will travel to Gaza on Monday as part of a fresh push to end a decade-long split between the Fatah and Hamas movements, his government announced.

“Hamdallah has decided after consulting with president Mahmoud Abbas that the government will hold its weekly meeting in Gaza next week,” government spokesman Yusuf Al Mahmoud said in a statement published by official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

“Hamdallah and members of the government will arrive in Gaza next Monday to start taking over government responsibilities after Hamas announced its agreement to dissolve the administrative committee and enable the government to assume its full responsibilities.”

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has made concessions after discussions with Egypt that has urged it to take steps towards reconciliation with Abbas’ Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank.

Hamas said a week ago that it had agreed to steps towards resolving the split with Fatah, announcing it would dissolve the administrative committee, a body seen as a rival government, and was ready to hold elections.

Hamdallah, who is not believed to have traveled to the enclave since 2015, also wrote about the visit on his Facebook page.

“I am heading to the beloved Gaza Strip next Monday with the government and all bodies, authorities and security services,” he wrote.

“We hope all parties and all Palestinians will focus on the national interest to enable the government to continue carrying out all of its functions in a way which serves the Palestinian citizens first.”
It remains unclear whether the steps will result in further concrete action towards ending the deep division between Fatah and Hamas.

Hamas-Fatah Reconciliation Faces Multifaceted Partisan Complexities

Hamas- Fatah

Ramallah- The Egyptian-Fatah-Hamas Declaration on brokering a new agreement between the two movements has not succeeded in removing doubts among Palestinians about the possibility of a genuine reconciliation.

Palestinians tested how both movements had previously established a comprehensive agreement, which subsequently needed multiple follow up agreements only to eventually fail. Later on, Hamas announced the formation of a management committee.

As a counteraction, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority imposed a series of sanctions. It is true that the new agreement ended with the dissolution of the administrative committee, and is supposed to reach a retreat from the sanctions, but ground implementation presents a real challenge.

The two big movements have many differences with no real agreement accompanied by effective solutions.

Security services along with the files of former Hamas government employees and the upcoming unity government program make up the main obstacles against forming a new comprehensive and detailed agreement.

Fatah’s Executive Committee member Jamal Moheisen made it clear that the issues concerning the upholding of security and the issue of Hamas employees are the two main obstacles to the reconciliation agreement.

Moheisen believes that in order to resolve challenges at hand this requires first “to show good intentions” and “to give priority to national interests above party interests, ending all division in the history of the Palestinian cause.”

During many years of division, both Fatah and Hamas have tightened their security grip; the first taking over the West Bank and the second over the Gaza Strip. Each employed tens of thousands of new men following a different security approach than the other.

While the two movements understand the importance of security for any system to be effective, a security partnership seems almost impossible within the near term.

Over the past few years, when this file was put forward during advanced negotiations Hamas required the simultaneous exchange of security arrangements.

In other words, the return of PA forces to Gaza requires the reintegration of Hamas into the security services in the West Bank.

In practical terms, Hamas elements cannot work in the West Bank security services. Fatah members cannot work in Hamas-run security services in Gaza because of the political, security and partisan complexities.

The PA will not be able to deploy thousands of new security forces that are added to other tens of thousands working in the West Bank.

Hamas is eyeing the deployment of some 9,000 new security elements of its own, which is absolutely rejected by the Palestinian Authority.

Fatah Condemns Granting Israeli Settlers Administrative Power in Khalil


Ramallah – The Palestinian Fatah movement condemned on Saturday the Israeli authorities’ granting of Israeli settlers administrative power to manage their own affairs in the al-Khalil area in the southern West Bank.

Spokesman for Fatah’s Shura council Oussam al-Qawasimi said described during a press conference Israel’s decision as “very dangerous.”

“This is a violation of all international agreements and an application of a discriminatory system,” he declared.

He said that the measure is aimed at separating al-Khalil city from its old town in an attempt to “Judaize” the old town.

He therefore demanded immediate and urgent official, popular, legal and diplomatic action against this move, “which paves the way for a real catastrophe against al-Khalil city, its residents and history,” reported the German Press Agency (dpa).

Qawasimi also urged the international community to “act immediately to thwart the discriminatory and destructive measures that violate international law and agreements.”

Some 800 settlers alongside 250,000 Palestinians reside in al-Khalil. Israeli authorities granted the settlers the rights to manage their municipal affairs.

The Israeli army explained in a statement that the settlers were managing their daily affairs through a local council that did not have legal status.

Through the latest decree, the settlers will be able to form a council that represents the Jewish settler quarter in al-Khalil.

International law bars settlement building in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

A Palestinian official deemed the latest Israeli measure as the “most dangerous one since 1967.”

Al-Khalil governor Kamil Hamid said that the procedure paves the way for establishing Israeli sovereignty in the area, which will ultimately hinder any settlement in the region.

“This violates everything that the peace process stands for and attempts to establish a Palestinian state,” he added.

He warned that the new power granted to the settlers will destabilize all districts in Palestinian territories.

Israel Shuts Down Radio Station in Khalil, Launches Wide Campaign of Arrests in West Bank

Ramallah- Israeli authorities raided and shut down a Palestinian radio station for six months for allegedly “inciting terrorist attacks” early on Thursday in the southern occupied West Bank.

Israeli soldiers raided Al-Hurriya (Freedom) Media Company and destroyed, damaged, and confiscated various equipment, according to Ayman al-Qawasmi, the head of the radio station.

“It is not the first time the radio is closed; but this time it was done in a barbaric way,” Qawasmi said, noting that the price of confiscated devices reached more than USD 400,000.

All employees and workers have been banned from entering the building until Feb. 14, 2018, according to local media.

“56 employees working in the radio and who support 56 families will not be able to work,” the head of the station stated.

The Palestinian Information Ministry expressed its strong rejection of the Occupation’s decisions and practices.

“The ministry will take all possible measures to stop Israeli crimes against our media institutions,” it said in a statement.

The ministry also called on the United Nations, UNESCO and the International Federation of Journalists to assume their responsibilities towards the Palestinian people by stopping Israeli practices that violate all international laws and conventions.

Earlier this week, Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian wedding band after it performed a song about an assailant who stabbed three Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian media said the band, led by singer Mohammed Al-Barghouti, had been arrested and sound recording devices and studio equipment have been confiscated from Barghouti’s house in the village of Kafr Ein, northwest of Ramallah.

Israel monitors all means of social communication and inspects government and private media, the Palestinian educational curricula, statements of officials, and even the names of institutions, centers and streets, always accusing the Palestinian Authority of incitement.

The closure of the radio station coincided with a wave of arrests in the West Bank on Thursday. An Israeli army statement said that 15 Palestinians were arrested, two from the town of Marka in Jenin district, one from Ya’bad, four from Nablus, one from Tulkarm, five from Ramallah and two from Bani Naim.

Netanyahu: ‘The Historical Coin is an Interesting Discovery’

Tel Aviv, London- An old coin promoted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as proof of the Jewish people’s connection to the Israeli-controlled West Bank has been found to be a souvenir reproduction.

Netanyahu commented on the coin issue on his page via Facebook using the biblical Hebrew term for the West Bank, and said: “this exciting discovery is additional evidence of the deep connection between the people of Israel and its land, to Jerusalem, to our temple, and to the communities in Judea and Samaria,” reported the German News Agency.

However, later, this “discovery,” first reported by Israeli media, turned out to be one of thousands of cheap souvenir coins minted by the Israel Museum.

“There is no chance that it is authentic; it is not an ancient coin. Even to call it a coin is to exaggerate what it is,” Haim Gitler, chief curator of archaeology and numismatics at the Israel Museum, told the Times of Israel.

The coin was found by an 8-year-old girl near the Israeli settlement of Neveh Tzuf in the West Bank in May.

Israel Prevents 10 Players of Gaza Football Team from Traveling to West Bank


Israeli authorities barred on Thursday ten players of a Palestinian youth football team from heading from al-Khalil to the West Bank to take part in the return leg of the Palestinian Cup.

Shabaab Rafah were set to travel from Gaza to Hebron to play against Ahly al-Khalil. Only 15 members of the team were allowed to travel, said club president Khaled Kwaik.

Those missing include a striker and two of the club’s three goalkeepers.

“Banning the goalkeepers will negatively affect the team’s performance in the event of an injury to the (remaining) keeper,” Kwaik told Agence France Presse.

Israeli authorities did not yet explain the reason for barring the players from travel.

Despite the bans, the second leg of the tie between teams from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will go ahead on Friday, the Palestinian Football Association said.

Shabaab Rafah are 2-0 up against Ahly al-Khalil.

West Bank and Gaza teams play in separate leagues, with the winners contesting the cup.

The two territories are separated by Israel and the Palestinians looking to travel between them must apply for permits from the Jewish state.

The Palestinian Cup was stopped for 15 years largely due to problems with Israeli permits, but restarted in 2015 after world football governing body FIFA intervened.

The Palestinian Authority Appeals to International Forces to Protect Jerusalem


Ramallah- The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Saturday appealed to world countries to aid in protecting Jerusalem and Palestinians amid rising tensions over Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli authorities had sent extra troops into the occupied West Bank as international concern mounted over the deadliest outbreak of violence between the two sides for years.

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah urged international forces and the United Nations to swiftly and actively intervene to protect Palestinians.

Hamdallah accused Israel for carrying out heinous killings and violence against Palestinians.

Palestinians in Jerusalem for the second week were refused access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, at the Israeli gates.

For the first time since the outbreak of the crisis, Israel has shown signs of a possible retreat. Israeli sources said Public Security Minister of Israel Gilad Erdan will discuss with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu possible alternatives to re-opening the site’s gates gates later.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai also announced that an Israeli technical committee would examine the possible security alternatives to the gates.

The signs of the Israeli withdrawal came “We’re willing to examine alternatives to the metal detectors as long as the solution of alternative ensures the prevention of the next attack,” the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, said Saturday.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said one Palestinian was killed during a separate clash outside the city, taking the death toll from the past two days to seven. It did not provide details of how he died.

Three Israelis were stabbed to death on Friday while eating dinner in a West Bank settlement.

Hours earlier, three Palestinians were killed in violence prompted by Israel’s installation of metal detectors at entry points to the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

Israel’s opposition leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni called for immediate solutions after clashes went on escalating.

Herzog said that all political and security means must be activated to restore calm and reduce violence before it further worsens He called for calmness and foresight in order to stop the bloodshed.

Israeli Forces Make 15 West Bank Arrests

Israeli occupation forces on Thursday arrested 15 Palestinians from various West Bank cities, according to a Palestinian source.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement that the occupation forces raided the cities of Hebron, Jenin, Tulkarem, Ramallah and Nablus and arrested 15 Palestinians.

The Israeli army launches arrest campaigns on a daily basis against dozens of Palestinians in various cities and villages of the West Bank under various pretexts, Jordan News Agency (Petra) reported.

The West Bank is a landlocked territory forming the bulk of territory under joint Israeli-Palestinian Authority control, but with consistent transgressions and violence carried out by Israeli authorities.

2 Palestinians Shot Dead by Israeli Army in Jenin Clashes

Two Palestinians were shot dead before dawn Wednesday during clashes with the Israeli army in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian medical and security sources said.

Official Palestinian news agency Wafa identified the dead as Saad Salah, 21, from the city of Jenin, and Aws Salame, 17, from the camp.

One of the two had been evacuated in serious condition and later succumbed to his wounds, medical sources said. 
A third Palestinian who was shot in the leg was in moderate condition, they added.

The Israeli army said soldiers shot toward “attackers” after “Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the forces and assailants hurled explosive devices at the forces” operating in the camp.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said none of their forces were wounded in the raid on the camp.

Camp residents made no mention of any Palestinian gunfire in their accounts of the raid in which they said rocks were thrown at the troops.

A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has claimed the lives of 277 Palestinians, 42 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an Agence France Presse toll.

Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

Others were shot dead in protests and clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
The violence has greatly subsided in recent months.

Gaza Faces Mounting Frustration as Hamas Marks a Decade of Independent Policy


Ramallah- Ten years into Hamas taking control over Gaza Strip, options have diminished over time to the extent that threats of going into a fourth war with Israel emerged.

Hamas, refusing to cooperate with the Palestinian Authorities, now confronts the building steam of Ramallah’s effort to retake Gaza.

Day after day Gaza residents sense a growing frustration and fears of a new war. Statistics show shocking figures, with almost a two million Palestinians are living below the line, with a staggering daily income averaging $2 dollars per worker.

In a move to take back the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authorities decided to continue pressuring Hamas so that the latter cooperates and returns to the umbrella of government.

President Mahmoud Abbas would go as far as cutting all communication lines with Hamas should they continue to block Ramallah plans for Palestinian unity.

Ramallah’s ruling party, Fatah, said that spilling Palestinian blood and polarizing the people is inexcusable and must be immediately halted. For its part, Hamas defended its actions saying that they were based on long-standing principals.

Sources said that Abbas has signed on a number of decisions, like the cutback on public sector paychecks, removing power and gas reimbursements, and taxes were reinstalled. These measures are considered to further add pressure on the Gaza ruling party, swaying them in to cooperate.

More so, the latest round of power cuts announced by Israel on June 11 restricting the electricity supply to between two and three hours a day, will have a disastrous impact on Hamas ruling party.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied territories, Robert Piper, warned the additional power cuts would have a disastrous effect.

“A further increase in the length of blackouts is likely to lead to a total collapse of basic services, including critical functions in the health, water and sanitation sectors,” Piper said in a statement.

“The people in Gaza should not be held hostage to this long-standing internal Palestinian dispute,” he said.

Fatah has officially demanded that Hamas takes on its share of national responsibilities, and end the ongoing crisis which has polarized the ranks of Palestinians since 2007.

The Fatah–Hamas conflict, also referred to as the Palestinian Civil War, resulted in the split of the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Fatah Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi said that in the tenth year of Hamas taking over the Gaza, pressure has only been building against the Palestinian cause.

“That should be a motive for Hamas to abandon partisan goals and put national interest first,” said Qawasimi.