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12 Gazans injured by Israeli drone missile

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Photos of the children injured in an Israeli drone attack on a Palestinian motocycle in northern Gaza strip, (Al Ray Photo: April 23. 2014)

Photos of the children injured in an Israeli drone attack on a Palestinian motocycle in northern Gaza strip,

Gaza, Al Ray – 12 Palestinian citizens have been injured on Wednesday evening in an Israeli drone’s targeting of a motorcycle in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya, Al Ray correspondent reported.

Shortly later the health ministry spokesman, Dr Ashraf al-Qidra, confired that the number of the wounded rose to 12.

The drone missile was aimed at the biker, but he survived, and other passers-by, including two children, were wounded, the correspondent said.

Most of the wounded were taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital in the north and one to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City due to his serious injury.

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(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Terrorism

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Another stillborn Palestinian “reconciliation”

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Leaders of Hamas and members of a PLO delegation celebrate yet another “reconciliation” deal in Gaza City today.

Alongside the endless and sterile Palestinian-Israeli “peace process” is another long-running saga: the “peace process” between the main Palestinian factions Hamas andFatah.

Hamas runs the wing of the Palestinian Authority besieged and isolated in the Gaza Strip, while Fatah, with full support from the United States, the European Union, Israel and Arab regimes, runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Today, with much fanfare, leaders of Hamas and the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a “reconciliation” agreement in Gaza.

Its terms include forming a “national unity government” headed by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas within five weeks and elections in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank within six months.

Not so fast

“This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over,” Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas-run wing of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, said at the press conference announcing the deal.

The excitement with which many Palestinians have greeted the deal reflects real public frustration with the long-running division and yearning for a truly national leadership.

But Haniyeh’s declaration is more than a little premature. This “reconciliation” is not going to be any more successful than previous deals signed in Cairo in 2011, in Doha in 2012and again in Cairo in 2012.

Fundamental differences

The reasons are straightforward: the differences between Fatah and Hamas are fundamental and have not changed.

Hamas, although it is currently observing a November 2012 ceasefire it negotiated with Israel, remains committed to military resistance. Abbas remains committed to active collaboration – politely termed “security coordination” – aimed at dismantling all Palestinian capacity for military resistance to Israel.

There is no middle ground between these positions and no trust on the ground between the US-supervised, Abbas-run security forces and Hamas’ own police and military forces.

Good relations with occupation

Just yesterday the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Abbas reaffirmed that “as far as he was concerned the security coordination with Israel would continue as long as he remains in office.”

“It is a duty, not a choice,” Abbas said. “Even when there was no negotiation we continued the security coordination in order to prevent bloodshed and chaos. Our relationship with the [Israeli] military and security ranks is good, and we are interested in maintaining it.”

Following the last West Bank-Gaza elections in 2006, Abbas’ authority conspired with Israel, Egypt and the United States to undermine the national unity government of the time. The US-backed coup plot led to a brief and bloody Palestinian civil war and the current political division between the West Bank and Gaza.

Abbas: Israel’s unshakable ally

Abbas has remained one of Israel’s most formidable allies in its war against resistance in general and Hamas in particular. Israel gave Abbas advance warning of its 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza. Yet Abbas did nothing to warn Palestinians and spare the lives of the 1,400 mostly civilians Israel killed.

Abbas associates have consistently pressed for Israel’s devastating siege on Gaza to be tightened.

In 2011 alone, according to Israeli sources, Israeli occupation forces and the Palestinian Authority held 764 “joint security meetings” aimed at preventing Palestinian resistance to the occupation.

And as recently as 2012, Abbas publicly begged Israel for weapons which he said he would he would use to ensure Israel’s “security.”

The Abbas-run Palestinian Authority plays precisely the same role as the collaborationist “South Lebanon Army” Israel armed and financed during its 22-year-long occupation of southern Lebanon.

It is simply absurd to imagine a “national unity government” in which one party supports armed resistance and the other side remains fully committed to serving as the Israeli occupation’s native enforcers.

Doomed to fail

It took only hours for Israel and its sponsor the United States to announce their opposition to the latest reconciliation deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would convene his “security cabinet” to discuss the matter, and declared that Abbas could choose between “peace” with Israel or peace with Hamas, but not both.

The US State Department announced – laughably – that the deal could “complicate” nonexistent peace efforts.

The bottom line is this: the Abbas-run PA exists and functions solely at the discretion of Israel and the United States. Israel will not allow a “reconciliation” or elections to proceed if it deems otherwise.

Abbas is permitted no room for maneuver by his handlers. The US recently warned him sternly against dissolving the Palestinian Authority, and now it is once again objecting to reconciliation. Israel and the US want the Palestinian Authority to remain precisely as it is, capable only of serving Israel’s needs.

So why sign the deal?

If there’s no chance of success, why would Hamas and Fatah sign yet another reconciliation deal? For Hamas, it is a move of desperation, isolated as it is in Gaza by the Israeli siege and the US-supported Egyptian coup regime.

For Abbas it is a win-win. He is using Hamas to get back at the US and Israel over the failed negotiations, much the same way as his recent signing of a number of UN treaties. At the same time he knows the deal will go nowhere because Israel and the US will not allow it.

But by signing (another) reconciliation he boosts his own position, washes away his own complicity in Israel’s crimes and – with the blessing of Hamas – cements his image as a legitimate “national leader.”

Palestinians should make no mistake: any reconciliation that leaves a collaborationist PA regime still functioning as Israel’s enforcer can never produce the united leadership capable of standing up to Israel that they yearn for.

While it may serve the short-term political interests of factions, such a deal would only further compromise the rights of the Palestinian people and damage their struggle for liberation.

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Posted in Opinion others

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AFTER ELECTION ANNOUNCEMENT, OPPONENTS SUGGEST HELPFUL ASSAD CAMPAIGN SLOGANS SUCH AS “VOTE FOR THE BLOOD BA’ATH”

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By Peter Clifford                       ©           (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3)


http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3

Following the announcement of a presidential election in Syria on June 3rd, condemnation has come from the UN, the USA, the UK and other western allies.

Jay Carney speaking for the White House called it a “parody of democracy which would have no legitimacy inside or outside Syria”.

With almost half of Syria’s population displaced and millions living in refugee camps and in other countries, no real vote can take place, though those who have access to a Syrian embassy abroad will be allowed to vote on May 28th.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

A spokesman for the Syrian Government has made it clear that there will be no voting in areas controlled by “gunmen”. Effectively then this only leaves voting within Syria in areas controlled by Assad where the vast majority are his supporters.

The Syrian Opposition has described the planned vote, which will predictably return Bashar Al-Assad as President for another 7 year term, as “a farce”.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, speaking on behalf of the General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon and UN Special Envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said. “We have repeatedly warned that the holding of elections in the current circumstances, amid the ongoing conflict and massive displacement, will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for a political solution that the country so urgently needs.”

The BBC has a video report.

After appearing in person at the Christian town of Ma’aloula on Sunday, Assad’s election campaign appears to have kicked off in earnest yesterday at Homs – a city he has starved and bombed into submission – with the appearance of pro-Assad posters with his image saying, ironically, “Hand in hand to build Syria”!

In counterpoint Assad’s opponents have launched a Twitter hashtag campaign, #AssadCampaignSlogans, offering alternative slogans that he might like to use.

Classic offerings so far include: “Vote for the blood Ba’ath” : “Don’t Throw Assad out with the Ba’ath water” : “Harnessing chemicals to build a brighter future” : “My family has megatons of experience” : “Putting laughter in Manslaughter since 2011″ : “Keep the Homs Fires Burning” : I will rebuild Syria from the ashes (as soon as I finish burning it completely)”, and many more.

You can follow the latest suggestions at @noneinhere ‘s website, HERE:

This afternoon, Wednesday, it has also been announced in Damascus that Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar MP is to run for president as well. Al-Hajjar represents Aleppo in Parliament and is part of the internal and allowed opposition (EDITOR: Clearly a man who doesn’t mind wasting his time).

CHLORINE GAS NOW ASSAD’S WEAPON OF CHOICE, DESPITE ALMOST 90% OF SYRIA’S CHEMICAL WEAPONS REMOVED:

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said yesterday that the 17th consignment of Syria’s chemical weapons had been delivered to the port in Latakia for transshipment, bringing to 86.5% the total of agreed stocks to be removed, including 88.7% of the most dangerous compounds, known as Priority 1 chemicals.

However, what seems to have slipped through the net is chlorine gas, an industrial compound, not included in the agreement, but banned as a weapon of war by international treaty after World War 1.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

Reports this morning suggest that chlorine gas has been dropped 6 times on Opposition-held areas in April alone, twice on the village of Kafr Zita in Hama province (scroll down – see below), twice near Talmenes in Idlib province – where those injured now exceeds 130 – and more recently on Harasta and Daraya in the suburbs of Damascus.

In the Daraya incident, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) discovered a 70 metre long tunnel being used by Hezbollah and the Syrian Army on the north side of the district to bring in troops and weapons into the area. As they were investigating it, Daraya was hit by a toxic gas, HERE:

Fighting continues to rage in Eastern Ghouta in the Damascus countryside where the Syrian Army launched a campaign to oust Opposition fighters a few days ago, HERE: and heavy bombing continues on Mlieha, HERE:

From Latakia province recent reports say that fighting is continuing with the Opposition making a number of gains.

Clearly Observatory Tower 45 has changed hands yet again with the Oppposition targeting it with a 120mm mortar, HERE:

However, south of Kessab there has been a fierce battle for Mt.Chalma, HERE:

Apparently, according to Opposition sources, as many as 50 pro-Assad fighters were killed and wounded by 15 planted IEDs and the Opposition are now in full control.

Even further south, the Assad regime is also reported to have suffered heavy losses on Mount al-Nisr and additionally there is a report that Hossam Khadra, leader of “Special Assignments” for Assad’s Baath-party in Latakia, has been killed in the Kessab area.

Yesterday, Tuesday, Opposition fighters claimed to have killed 30 of Assad’s forces in the outskirts of Mork (Morek) in Hama province and destroyed both a tank and a BMP armoured vehicle.

In Idlib province Opposition fighters also took over the Mosbah (pool) Barrier south of Khan Shikhoun, currently a heavily contested area, HERE:

In Aleppo, the Assad regime have been able partly to re-open the ring road into west Aleppo and some supplies have been reported to have got through, though the power supply has been off for 4 days. There are however, also reports that some of Assad’s troops have defected at the frontline on the Sheikh Najjar industrial area to the north-east.

WHILE HOMS FIGHTERS CONTINUE TO HOLD OUT AGAINST REGIME, UN REPORTS SERIOUS LACK OF AID SUPPORT:

In Homs, there have been no further reports of advances on either side, but even Opposition diehards expect that eventually the remaining Opposition areas will fall to regime attack or starvation.

Around 1,000 Opposition fighters remain, but morale after such a long campaign has been weakened, and while some would be prepared to surrender, others are still committed to fighting until the end. You can read more,HERE:

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

In Saudia Arabia yesterday, Tuesday, Ahmed Jarba, head of the Opposition National Coalition, met with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal to request more assistance. “The talks focused on continuing the Saudi aid and on the need to strengthen the capacities of the Free Syrian Army [FSA],” said a spokesman.

Meanwhile, the heads of five UN agencies have made a call to both sides in Syria’s conflict to allow aid deliveries countrywide, end siege warfare and halt indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

In Aleppo alone now they estimate there are 1 million in need of assistance and just 40 doctors for a total population of 2.5 million. Previously, prior to 2011, there were 2,000.

The last UN appeal for $6.5 billion in emergency funding for 2014 has largely been ignored with only $1.2 billion pledged so far.

From Paris the sad story of 150 Syrian penniless refugees who, after wandering the world, have ended up in a small park in a suburb of the French capital, HERE:

And lastly, a full list of the expected presidential candidates for the 2014 Election in Syria:

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Peter Clifford

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Israel attacks Gaza after Palestinian factions announce unity pact

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Palestinians wave their national flag as they demonstrate outside the home of Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister in the Gaza Strip prior to his meeting with members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) delegation and leaders of Palestinian factions in Gaza City on April 22, 2014.

Updated 5:58 pm: Seven people, including a 50-year-old man and his two daughters, were injured after an Israeli warplane rocketed northern Gaza, only moments after rival Palestinian factions announced a reconciliation effort, local media reported.

Gaza’s health minister was cited by Palestinian news agency Ma’an as saying that the sisters and their father suffered moderate wounds after an Israeli missile landed near a motorcycle traveling down a road in the town of Beit Lahiya.

It was unclear if the family was traveling on the motorbike, or if they were bystanders. No details were immediately known of the other four casualties.

Hamas officials cited by AFP put the injured toll at six, including one in critical condition.

The raid came as thousands took to the streets of Gaza City to celebrate the announcement by Hamas and the PLO of an agreement to form a unity government to end seven years of divided administration.

The agreement envisions forming a unity government within five weeks and holding national elections six months after a vote of confidence by the Palestinian parliament.

“This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over,” Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh told Palestinian reporters to loud applause at a press conference.

The agreement was reached following talks in Gaza City which began on Tuesday evening, a member of the PLO who wished to remain anonymous told AFP.

“There has also been progress on the holding of future elections and the composition of the PLO,” said the Palestinian official without giving further details.

A Palestinian official who attended Tuesday’s meeting said there had been an “agreement in principle” on forming a “government of experts” – or a cabinet staffed by technocrats rather than politicians.

It is not the first time that a national unity government has been announced by the rival factions, and on several previous occasions attempts to form an administration have collapsed.

Fatah, the PLO’s main component, and Hamas signed a reconciliation accord in Cairo in 2011 aimed at ending the political divide between Gaza and the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank.

But deadlines have come and gone without any progress in implementing provisions of the accord.

Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior figure in president Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, led the team which were greeted by Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and the movement’s deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuq.

Haniyeh on Tuesday had earlier called for cementing Palestinian reconciliation “in order to form one government, one political system and one national program.”

Ahmad said: “I am happy that the time has come to end divisions.”

An agreement, paving the way for elections and a national strategy towards Israel, could not only give Abbas a measure of sovereignty in Gaza but also help the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, hemmed in by a stringent Israeli-Egyptian blockade, become less isolated.

The latest announcement of a deal comes as US-brokered peace talks with Israel teeter on the edge of collapse.

The Palestinians met just a week before the end of a nine-month target originally set for an Israeli-Palestinian deal.

Hamas is strongly opposed to the Palestinian negotiations with Israel.

At the same time, the Palestinians refloated and then played down a threat to dismantle the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is Israel’s negotiating partner, if their peace talks remain deadlocked.

“No Palestinian is speaking of an initiative to dismantle the Palestinian Authority,” chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said on Tuesday.

“But Israel’s actions have annulled all the legal, political, security, economic and operational aspects of the prerogatives of the Palestinian Authority.”

The PA was set up under the 1993 Oslo accords and has won widespread international recognition but is fully dependent on foreign aid for its administration of autonomous areas of the West Bank.

Palestinian negotiators have warned they may hand responsibility for governing the occupied territories back to Israel, a senior Palestinian official said on Sunday.

He said the Palestinians had told US peace envoy Martin Indyk that unless Israel releases Palestinian prisoners as agreed and freezes settlement building, they could dismantle the Authority.

US State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki criticized the threat as “extreme” and warned that any such move would affect American aid to the Palestinians.

On the Israeli side, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the PA of endangering the peace process.

“They need to decide… Do they want to dismantle themselves or to unite with Hamas? When they want peace (with Israel), they should let us know,” he said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Abbas’s signature on a unity accord with Hamas would be tantamount to “signing the termination of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeineh, said Palestinian unity was an internal matter.

“Abbas chooses peace and the unity of the Palestinian people,” Abu Rdeineh said. “The choice of unifying the Palestinian people enforces peace, and there is no contradiction whatsoever between reconciliation and negotiations.”

The rival Palestinian sides also met Indyk on Tuesday in Jerusalem in a fresh bid to salvage the negotiations.

As the meeting got underway, Abbas told Israeli journalists he was willing to extend the negotiations beyond April 29 if Israel frees a batch of prisoners previously earmarked for release, freezes settlement building and agrees to discuss the borders of a future Palestinian state.

Israel has taken a string of hostile steps since the Jewish state refused last month to release the fourth and last group of Palestinian prisoners in line with an earlier agreement. The PA responded by signing 15 international treaties, some of which may lay the ground for international legal action against Israel.

A senior Israeli government official rejected Abbas’s terms.

“He who makes such conditions does not want peace,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 8:08 pm

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800 dead from hunger, illness inside besieged Aleppo prison

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“Death surrounds us,” says a prisoner inside Aleppo’s Central Prison.

Smoke rises from Aleppo’s central prison following a reported air strike by Syrian government forces

At least 800 prisoners, trapped in a Syrian jail for more than a year as army officers inside and surrounding rebels battle, have died as a result of starvation and illness, according to a former prisoner, a current prisoner and an organization documenting the prison’s conditions.

An estimated 2,400 prisoners – including women and children – remain in the Central Aleppo Prison in which guards intentionally withhold food and medicine, according to the prisoners and a spokesman for the Damascus-based Violations Documentation Center.

“Death surrounds us,” Mohammed, a current prisoner who says he bought a phone from a guard and asked only to be identified by his first name, told the MEE. “And fear, and hunger, and cold, and illness and darkness and our unknown fate.”

Though independently unverifiable, Mohammed’s claims are supported by a Violations Documentation Center report on the prison scheduled to be released this week and a UN official who asked to remain anonymous.

An estimated 250,000 Syrians currently live under siege and have been cut off from regular supplies of electricity, food and medicine for more than a year and a half, according to an Amnesty International report released in March.

Government forces have imposed a majority of the sieges, but there are at least two villages west of Aleppo which are under rebel sieges, according the report.

Despite a UN Security Council resolution in February which called for the immediate cessation of the sieges, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, in a report to the council on 23 March, said no new ceasefires had been brokered since the vote and there had been breaches of existing ceasefires.

Reports emerging from the prison paint a dark picture of an increasingly stalemated battle as the country enters a fourth year of civil war.

Since April 2013, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham rebels have surrounded the cement complex, trying to free prisoners, many of whom entered before the civil war began and have since finished their sentences, according to Maher Isbar, a former prisoner.

During the past year of siege, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) has delivered food and medicine, according to Vivian Tou’meh, SARC Communications Coordinator.

But Isbar and Mohammed, the current prisoner, say that police and army officers have regularly withheld the Red Crescent’s supplies from the prisoners. Some prisoners, however, have been able to obtain food, medicine and sundries by having their families pay the families of prison guards, he said. A kilo of rice is 15,000 Syrian liras ($103) and a kilo of sugar is 20,000 liras ($138).

 

In addition to starvation, Mohammed said, frostbite and illnesses including tuberculosis and more minor ailments, like diarrhea and gastroenteritis, have killed many of the 800 prisoners who were left to die in rooms by themselves before burial in the prison’s eastern courtyard, now a make-shift graveyard.

Starvation, said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, has become a deliberate policy and weapon of war used by the Syrian government.

“It’s probably the crudest and cheapest form of attacking a population completely indiscriminately,” Sammonds said.

Isbar, the former prisoner, said he is now acting as a de factor mediator to end the siege. A month ago, he said, communications with United Nations Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s office, who Isbar said were helping to facilitate negotiations between the government and rebels, “went cold”.

After 18 March, when the Syrian army took back Yabroud, a Lebanese border town through which rebel forces had been smuggling arms, Isbar said he learned that the government no longer sought to negotiate.

Yet according to both Isbar and Mohammed, the 300 police and army officers inside the prison, many of whom are from villages in northern Syria where rebels has wrested control over the past week, want to end the crisis. More than half, they said, are injured.

Farhan Haq, a Deputy Spokesman for the UN Security-General who said he was in touch with Brahimi’s team, said the Joint Special Representative has played a role in mediating ceasefires locally in Syria, but was not involved in the Aleppo prison negotiations.

The Syrian government did not respond to a request for comment.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on 1 April that 150,000 Syrians have been killed since the conflict began in 2011.

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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PLO and Hamas agree landmark pact

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Move announced at joint news conference by both sides has aim of forming unity government within five weeks
Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas agreed to implement a unity pact, with the aim of forming a government within five weeks.

The two main rival Palestinian factions have signed an accord designed to end seven years of sometimes violent division, paving the way for elections later in the year and the formation of a unity government within weeks.

The move, after a day of talks between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza that lasted until three in the morning, comes less than a week before the expiry of the deadline for US-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on 29 April and is certain to complicate US efforts to seek another nine-month extension to those talks.

Israel immediately responded by saying the Palestinian president,Mahmoud Abbas, was moving to peace with Hamas instead of peace with Israel. “He has to choose,” said the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. “Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace, so far he hasn’t done so.”

After the agreement was announced, Israel cancelled a planned session of peace negotiations with the Palestinians. It also launched an air strike on a site in the north of the Gaza Strip, wounding 12 people including children, which underscored the deep mutual suspicion and hostility that persists.

Speaking in Ramallah in the West Bank, Abbas said in his view the pact with Hamas did not contradict the peace talks he was pursuing with Israel, adding that an independent state living peacefully alongside Israel remained his goal.

The agreement, signed in Gaza City on Wednesday by Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of Hamas, and a senior Palestinian Liberation Organisation delegation dispatched by Abbas marks the latest attempt in three years of efforts to end the discord between the two factions.

A packed news conference in Gaza in a hall adjoining Haniyeh’s home in Beach refugee camp cheered as he announced the deal to end the split between the two groups and between Gaza and the West Bank. “This is the good news we have to tell the people: the era of discord is ended,” Haniyeh said.

Although there have been failed attempts to end the rift before, this agreement comes with both factions facing internal problems. Hamas has become ever more isolated internationally, particularly since the like-minded Muslim Brotherhood was ousted in Egypt last year. The new military-led authorities in Cairo have cracked down on the smuggling tunnels into Gaza.

Fatah and Abbas have been damaged by the failure of peace negotiations to deliver results amid continuing Israeli settlement building, all of which has pushed the issue of reconciliation up the agenda.

Despite talk before the announcement about the quick formation of a national unity government and a decree for elections, the wording of the agreement was less cut and dried – suggesting a possible timing for elections in at “least six months” after talks to try to form a new government by agreement.

The statement was also not clear whether Hamas figures would be represented in any new government – which could lead to a cut in EU and US funding. Sceptics, however, noted that similar agreements between the two sides – under Arab sponsorship – have been reached in the past but never implemented.

In Washington state department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the US was troubled by the announcement, which “could seriously complicate” negotiations to extend peace negotiations.

“This certainly is disappointing and raises concerns about our efforts to extend the negotiations,” she said.

“It is hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that doesn’t believe in its right to exist.” She also indicated there could be broader implications for an array of US policies towards Palestine, including aid, should Hamas enter into government without abiding a set of principles, including recognition of Israel, agreement to previous agreements, and a commitment to non-violence, dictated by Washington.

Secretary of state John Kerry spoke on the phone with Netanyahu on Tuesday, while other senior US diplomats on the ground have spoken with Mahmoud Abbas.

The root of recent conflict between the two largest Palestinian movements follows the 2006 elections which Hamas won but the west, Israel and Abbas largely refused to recognise.

Hamas asserted its control of Gaza in 2007 leaving Abbas in charge of only parts of the West Bank. Since then both sides have become entrenched in their territories, setting up respective governments and their own security forces, and arresting their rivals.

Key stumbling blocks in previous attempts at reconciliation have been focused on security forces and on the Palestinian Authority’s security co-operation arrangements on the West Bank that have seen the authority arrest and jail members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

There was no mention in the announcement that security co-operation with Israel would change.

Despite Netanyahu’s comments, later in the day a senior Israeli official was more cautious about the implications of the Gaza deal. “The agreement is vague on details and the prime minister’s office is consulting tonight the meaning of it. It does not bode well but for the moment the policy is wait and see.”

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Israeli troops shower Bethlehem-area village with tear gas

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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided a village in the southern West Bank overnight and fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades, locals said Tuesday.

Witnesses told Ma’an that two Israeli military vehicles entered the village of Tuqu near Bethlehem and fired tear gas and stun grenades without being provoked.

The tear gas canisters and stun grenades smashed through the windows of several houses in the village, causing a small fire to break out in one of them, locals added.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said that the army conducted “a routine patrol” in the village, and that a group of Palestinians hurled rocks.

Israeli troops responded with “riot dispersal means,” she said.

(Source / 22.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 22, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Posted in Terrorism

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