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Middle East peace talks postponed, say officials

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GAZA: A meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed, an official said, after a fatal shooting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed on Palestinian leaders. 

But Palestinians said the postponement came at the behest of the Americans, and to give time for US envoy Martin Indyk to arrive in the region to attend. 

“The meeting that was planned for tonight between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams will not be taking place. It’s being postponed,” the Israeli official said on condition of anonymity. The official declined to explain the decision.

Palestinian officials said the meeting was being postponed to Thursday to allow for the arrival of Indyk to the region. 

“Today’s meeting was pushed back on a request from the Americans,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told journalists. 

Abu Rudeina added that Abbas had “condemned all violence” during a meeting with a delegation of Israeli opposition MPs in the West Bank administrative centre of Ramallah. 

“We’re against violence and a return to violence,” Abu Rudeina said. 

Palestine Liberation Organisation official Mohammed Al Madani urged the Israelis to adopt a similar stance.

“We hope also to hear from the Israeli side a condemnation of daily killings of Palestinians by the Israeli army,” said Madani. 

Abu Rudeina said the Palestinians were still demanding the freedom of 26 prisoners, a final batch of four whose release was agreed when talks began in July. 

“What’s needed now is Israel’s commitment on issues that could lead to an extension of talks. If they commit, we’re ready,” he said. The United States has been trying to extend talks beyond their April 29 deadline, so far with no apparent success. 

“An extension of talks is a matter that needs to be discussed. Meetings are ongoing,” Abu Rudeina said. 

Separately, an explosion in the Gaza Strip killed three Palestinians and wounded five on Wednesday, a medical official said, but the reason for the blast was unclear.

Meanwhile, Israeli police stormed a sensitive holy site in occupied Jerusalem on Wednesday and fired tear gas to disperse a riot by Palestinian worshippers, officials said. 

The three killed were already dead on their arrival at hospital, and all were in their 20s, Hamas’s health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al Qudra said.

(Source / 16.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

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Syrian activists report new poison gas attack

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Footage of four men being treated by medics was posted on the internet on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. 

Syrian opposition activists said Wednesday that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces used poison gas once again in the Damascus suburb of Harasta, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Footage of four men being treated by medics was posted on the internet. A voice off-screen gave the date and said Assad’s forces used “poison gas in Harasta.” It did not say if there were fatalities.

The face of one of the men appeared to be covered in vomit. He was shown shaking and moaning as doctors treated him. The voice off-screen said chemical weapons were also used in Harasta on Friday. said the chemical attack was the fourth that has been reported this month.

Last week, the Syrian opposition reported another attack in the Harasta neighborhood. The Shaam News Network said that at least 100 residents were in critical condition.

The opposition Syrian Coalition issued a statement condemning the alleged attack using “poison gas and highly concentrated pesticides.”

“Assad is dragging his feet over the elimination of the chemical weapons arsenal, missing a series of deadlines while at the same time spraying people with gas on a scale- he thinks- small enough to avoid world condemnation,” said Badr Jamous, Syrian Coalition Secretary General, in the statement.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. was working with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to check on whether the Syrian government was abiding to the 2013 deal on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

Members of the Syrian opposition have in recent months accused Assad’s regime of using chemical arms in a number of attacks including in the two Damascus suburbs of Harasta and Jobar.

U.S. and British officials are reportedly investigating claims that Assad’s forces have used chemical weapons in at least four attacks around Damascus between January and April.
A U.N. inquiry found in December that sarin gas had likely been used in Jobar in August and in several other locations, including in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta, where
hundreds of people were killed.

The inquiry was only looking at whether chemical weapons were used, not who used them. The Syrian government and the opposition have each accused the other of using chemical weapons during the three-year-old civil war. Both sides have denied it.

The Ghouta attack caused global outrage and a U.S. threat of military strikes, dropped after Assad pledged to destroy his chemical weapons arsenal.

But the Syrian government failed to meet the Feb. 5 deadline to move all of its declared chemical substances and precursors, some 1,300 tonnes, out of the country. Syria has since agreed to remove the weapons by late April.

(Source / 16.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 16, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Israeli forces injure 30 Palestinians in al-Aqsa

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Israeli forces have shot and wounded at least 30 Palestinians in the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Local sources said that clashes erupted between the Israeli forces and Palestinian worshippers in the mosque compound when Israeli settlers entered the holy site on Wednesday.

According to witnesses, Israeli troops raided the mosque to protect the settlers. They said the forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the worshippers.

“About 1,000 Israeli officers stormed the compound,” Palestinian Ma’an news agency quoted Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director-general of Muslim endowments and Al-Aqsa affairs, as saying.

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

On Sunday, clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound when Israeli police prevented Muslims from entering one of the gates of the compound.

Israeli forces used stun grenades to disperse protesters.

The Israeli regime has also imposed severe restrictions to stop Muslim worshippers from entering the mosque.

On February 25, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) discussed a plan to annex the compound.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has condemned the Knesset move as a “dangerous escalation,” calling it part of Israel’s goal to “Judaize Jerusalem.”

The al-Aqsa compound, which lies in the Israeli-occupied Old City of al-Quds, is a flashpoint. The compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount is Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

(Source / 16.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 16, 2014 at 9:23 pm

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Saudi Arabia jails lawyer and human rights activist in ongoing crackdown on dissent

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Waleed Abu al-Khair is the head of the Saudi Arabia Monitor of Human Rights, an independent organisation founded in 2008 ©Private.

Waleed Abu al-Khair is the head of the Saudi Arabia Monitor of Human Rights, an independent organisation founded in 2008

Authorities in Saudi Arabia are clearly punishing Waleed Abu al-Khair for his work protecting and defending human rights. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Boumedouha Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

Saudi Arabia must immediately release prominent human rights activist and lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, who was arrested following his fifth hearing at the Specialized Criminal Court on Tuesday and taken to al-Ha’ir prison without an explanation, said Amnesty International.

Waleed Abu al-Khair was detained in connection with his human rights work. He is now facing charges almost identical ones he was convicted of by another criminal court back in October 2013.

“Authorities in Saudi Arabia are clearly punishing Waleed Abu al-Khair for his work protecting and defending human rights. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Said Boumedouha Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“Waleed Abu al-Khair’s detention is a worrying example of how Saudi Arabian authorities are abusing the justice system to silence peaceful dissent. Nobody should be jailed for peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression.”

Waleed Abu al-Khair is among a dozen prominent activists who were all sentenced in 2013 to long prison terms based on trumped-up charges that the authorities resorted to after failing to silence them by other means, including the threat of prosecution and other extra-judicial means of intimidation.

He was brought before the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh on 6 October 2013, on charges that included, among other things, “breaking allegiance to and disobeying the ruler”, “disrespecting the authorities”, “offending the judiciary”, “inciting international organisations against the Kingdom” and “founding an unlicensed organization”.

Three weeks later, on 29 October 2013another criminal court in Jeddah sentenced him to three months in prison on similar charges related to ridiculing or offending the Saudi Arabian judiciary. The Court of Appeal upheld his conviction and sentence on 6 February 2014. In both court cases, evidence for all charges against Waleed Abu al-Khair seem to be based on his signing of a petition that criticized the heavy-handedness of the Saudi Arabian authorities in dealing with 16 reformists.

Waleed Abu al-Khair, head of the Saudi Arabia Monitor of Human Rights, an independent human rights organization founded in 2008, has faced persecution from the Saudi Arabian state before and has been banned from traveling since March 2012.

“Independent activists in Saudi Arabia who dare to peacefully voice their opinions are forced to pay a heavy price. Waleed Abu al-Khair is the latest in a long list of human rights activists who have been harassed, intimidated and imprisoned by the authorities in recent months” said Said Boumedouha.

Speaking earlier this year, Waleed Abu al-Khair told Amnesty International that he, like other activists, had often been pressured to stop their work.

“This is a campaign that affects all human right defenders in Saudi Arabia, the option is either for the activist to sign a pledge to stop his activism and apologize, or to bear the heavy consequences for refusing to do so: prison, travel ban and deprivation of livelihood,” he said.

Despite continued pressure, he has refused to renege on his human rights work.

“I am pleased with what I did, and until now, despite all the harassment, I do not regret my choices. I am still on the right path. If you have a goal to live for, things become easier. My goals are justice, rights, freedom of expression and to be able to stand up and say that the regime is unfair,” he told Amnesty International.

Waleed Abu al-Khair has represented many victims of human rights violations. Amongst his former clients is Raif Badawi, a well-known Saudi Arabian blogger who was sentenced in July 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. One of the charges levelled against Raif Badawi was insulting religious authorities by creating and managing a website.

(Source / 16.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 16, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Revolution Saudi

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Jewish state in Saudi Arabia proposed in 1917

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Jewish state in Saudi Arabia proposed in 1917

A Russian Jewish doctor in Paris asked the British government to gather an army to seize eastern Arabia land for a Jewish national home, a month before Balfour declaration backed the idea.

A letter to the British ambassador to France in 1917 proposed a Jewish state in modern-day Saudi Arabia, documents released by the British Library show.

Dr. M. L. Rothstein, a self-described ‘Russian medical doctor’ of Jewish origin based in Paris, wrote to Ambassador Francis Bertie on September 12 ‘for the conquest of the Turkish province of El Hassa (Hasa)’.

Al-Hasa is an oasis region in eastern Arabia.

Bertie explained to then Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour that Rothstein proposed the Entente Powers (Russia, France and the UK) should organize an army to carve out ‘a Jewish State on the Persian Gulf’.

Rothstein was serious about his proposal and laid out his action plan in the letter.

‘I undertake to assemble, for next spring, a Jewish fighting troop, a force of 120,000 strong men’ which would double ‘in cooperation… with the troops of the Entente,’ he said.

The troops would concentrate in Bahrain and once they reached 30,000, a ‘coup de main’ (swift attack) would follow, taking the ‘Turkish province of Al Hassa, near the Persian Gulf.’

It would then ‘become a Jewish State (un État juif)’, Rothstein suggested.

He predicted a ‘state of war’ with Turkey due to the invasion and said that ‘the Jewish troops will immediately enter into a campaign… until the final victory of the Entente or until their destruction.’


Little is known about the Russian doctor. He started his letter with his family’s ‘moral qualities’, an explanation of his roots in Jewish patriotism.

Thomas Holderness of the British Library’s India Office said Al-Hasa had ceased to be a Turkish province when Rothstein wrote the letter, suggesting he might be out of touch with the realities on the ground.

A response letter by Balfour’s assistant in October showed that the British government rejected the proposal outright.

‘His Majesty’s government regret that they cannot give effect to his proposals,”said the reply.

A month later, Balfour issued his now-famed declaration that threw the Kingdom’s support for the idea of establishing a ‘national home for the Jewish people in what was Palestine.

The documents are from the India Office Records held at the British Library. They are being digitized, along with others relating to the history of the Gulf, as part of the Library’s partnership with the Qatar Foundation.

(Source / 16.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 16, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Posted in History

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Nabi Saleh breaks the military siege

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Once again, however, the adverse conditions didn’t break the willingness of the residents to act. On Monday 14th of April, the Popular Struggle Committee of Nabi Saleh called for a demonstration in order to end the siege. Activists from all over the West Bank went to the village to give significant support to the action.

For three days, a small village in the West Bank, Nabi Saleh, was subjected to a military siege imposed by the Israeli Occupation Forces as a form of collective punishment. On Saturday 12th of April, the IOF imposed the blockade after declaring it to be a “closed military area”. All the main entrances to Nabi Saleh were closed and anyone who attempted to enter or leave the village was attacked, regardless of the threat they represented. Just before the siege, Sarak, the Israeli military unit in position and known for its ruthlessness, announced its intention to “impose law and order by suppressing any form of terrorism”. This was a senseless statement considering the fact that since 2009 Nabi Saleh has witnessed non-violent action against the Israeli occupation in all its facets. A strategic choice that has encouraged support for the Palestinian cause, the tactics adopted in Nabi Saleh have collected various victories which are now obviously perceived as a threat by the Zionist oppressors, given the over-reaction and the excessive army brutality against the residents.One young man, Odai Tamimi, was shot in the face and chest by soldiers using live ammunition. Wijdan Tamimi, a 45 year-old woman, was beaten and detained by the soldiers in front of her 4 year-old nephew. Faysal Nakhla was attacked physically and prevented from reaching his house just 5 metres from the village entrance.

It appears clear that such a siege was forced on the village as a collective punishment in the Israelis’ attempt to break the firm popular struggle and weaken the whole non-violent protest movement. In fact, Nabi Saleh is very well known as one of the most active peaceful resistance villages in the West Bank. Every Friday it stages non-violent demonstrations against the land confiscation and the theft of the only natural spring source of water in the area carried out by the settlers from the nearby Halamish illegal settlement. In the last month, the village has endured an escalation of repression and arrests culminating in the blockade.

Once again, however, the adverse conditions didn’t break the willingness of the residents to act. On Monday 14th of April, the Popular Struggle Committee of Nabi Saleh called for a demonstration in order to end the siege. Activists from all over the West Bank went to the village to give significant support to the action. Many mobile army checkpoints were set up on the way from Ramallah in an attempt to stem the flow but they failed to have a major impact on the effectiveness of the event, which was a massive success.

As soon as the march reached the main road, the IOF started firing tear gas and sound grenades. Nevertheless, the march proceeded united towards the checkpoint where it refused to move until the gate was opened and the siege lifted. Although the spirit of the demonstration was peaceful, the army used uncontrolled violence, especially towards the women who were beaten, pushed and tossed to the ground several times. After an hour or so, the army decided to withdraw and the demonstrators managed to open the main road as well as the eastern gate that has been closed for 12 years.

Nabi Saleh has proven that the use of non-violence isn’t a passive way to pursue the struggle; it’s a strategic option that threatens the status-quo, allowing the participants to advance their objectives and achieve them.

This episode was also an occasion to remind the world that the Palestinians are subjected continuously to mobility restrictions and controls due to the policy of territorial fragmentation carried out by the state of Israel. Such limitations manifest themselves through a system of checkpoints, settler-only apartheid roads and the infamous Apartheid Wall.

(Source / 16.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 16, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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3 Palestinians killed, 11 wounded in Khan Younis explosion

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KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)– Three Palestinian civilians were killed and eleven others were severely injured on Wednesday morning following an internal explosion at a Palestinian resistance site in al-Manara quarter south of the Gaza Strip.

PIC news reporter quoted Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra as saying that three bodies and eleven injured Palestinians, all unidentified, were transferred to the European Gaza hospital in the aftermath of a mysterious explosion.

Local sources further confirmed to PIC news reporter that another explosion rocked the area during the evacuation mission, leading to more casualties, including civil defense personnel.

Iyad al-Bazm, Interior Ministry’s spokesman, documented the severe injury of four civil defense personnel while they were trying to evacuate the wounded civilians. One among the civil defense crew was seriously wounded and is in critical condition.

Special security forces are encircling the area, where an investigation procedure has already been initiated, as further maintained by al-Bazm.

(Source / 16.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 16, 2014 at 8:58 pm

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