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Infuriated Israel reacts to Palestinian unity deal

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Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (R) meets with a delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Azzam al-Ahmad (L) in Gaza City on April 23, 2014.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (R) meets with a delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Azzam al-Ahmad (L) in Gaza City on April 23, 2014.

A Palestinian unity deal has irked the Israeli regime, with Tel Aviv canceling a scheduled meeting with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

“Israel cancelled the negotiations meeting that was supposed to take place this evening,” Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said on his Twitter feed on Wednesday.

The decision came after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) pledged to form a joint government.

Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erakat, however, told reporters that no meeting with the Israelis had been planned.

Erakat blamed Netanyahu for sabotaging the so-called peace talks by persisting in the continued expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“Netanyahu stopped the negotiations a long time ago,” he said. “He chose the settlements instead of the peace. He is demolishing the peace process.”

The PA official also stressed that the Palestinians would meet bilaterally with US envoy Martin Indyk in Ramallah on Thursday.

Meanwhile, acting PA chief Mahmoud Abbas said the deal between Hamas and the PLO, which includes his Fatah party, does not contradict the negotiations he is pursuing with Israel.

In a statement, Abbas emphasized that an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel remains his goal.

At a news conference earlier in the besieged Gaza Strip, Hamas and the PLO announced the deal for a coalition government to end seven years of separate administrations in the West Bank and Gaza.

Under the long-awaited deal, the rival Palestinian factions are to form a unity government within five weeks and hold national elections six months later.

The rival Hamas and Fatah parties signed a reconciliation agreement in Egypt in 2011, which was not implemented due to some differences.

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Posted in Terrorism

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No victor in Lebanon presidential elections

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BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Parliament failed to elect a new president on Wednesday, with no candidate securing the two-thirds of the votes needed to win and many lawmakers leaving their ballots blank.

With the Parliament divided between two powerful blocs, one centered around the Hezbollah movement and the other opposed to it, the outcome had been expected. The Parliament will now hold a second vote on April 30, in which the winning candidate will need only a simple majority of 65 votes.
On Wednesday, 124 of the Parliament’s 128 members were present, with 48 casting their ballots for Samir Geagea, the candidate backed by the March 14 movement that opposes Hezbollah. Observers had predicted Geagea would fail to win the two-thirds majority required because of his fierce anti-Hezbollah stance.
But speaking after the vote, he said he would not drop out of the race. “I will continue with my candidacy. We are not going to compromise, and the other party must name a candidate so there can be democratic elections,” Geagea said.
Members of the rival March 8 bloc centerd around the powerful Shiite Hezbollah movement have not officially backed a candidate, and most of its members appeared to have submitted blank ballot papers — 52 in total.

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Revolution Lebanon

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Israelis Allowed in Tunisia, Prime Minister Announces

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Tourists at the el Ghriba synagogue in Djerba. Image credit: Tunisia Live

Tourists at the el Ghriba synagogue in Djerba. 

Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said Tuesday his government has decided to allow Israeli citizens to enter the country despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties with Israel.

The announcement came in response to a request by National Constituent Assembly (NCA) members to hold a hearing on the subject.

Jomaa said the decision reflected the government’s desire for the upcoming Jewish pilgrimage to the Ghriba synagogue on the southeast island of Djerba to be a success.

“This is a known tradition for us,” Jomaa said, according to a video of his remarks posted by radio station Mosaique FM, referring to the annual Jewish pilgrimage.

“We’ve met with tourism professionals, they tell us, in order for the tourism season to succeed, the Ghriba date must succeed,” he said.

Over 80 NCA members have signed a petition demanding Minister of Tourism Amel Karboul and Deputy Minister of Interior Ridha Sfar appear before the assembly for questioning on the government’s policy on the entry of Israeli tourists.

It is unclear whether Israeli tourists have already been allowed into the country.

Samia Abbou, an NCA member elected with the Congress for the Republic party, is one of the members who demanded a hearing.

“The [initial] purpose of this petition was to verify the fact that Israelis entered the country,” she told Tunisia Live, explaining that it was started before Jomaa’s remarks Tuesday, which she added caught members off-guard.

“We were surprised,” she said, that the prime minister would overtly say Israelis would be allowed to travel to Tunisia.

“The fact that Israelis with Israeli passports entered the country is recognition of the Israeli state and this is normalization,” Abbou said. “This is a red line.”

“We have vengeance with [Israelis]. They killed our children,” Abbou said, referring to the 1985 Israeli bombing of the Palestinian Liberation headquarters in Hammam Chott, 25 kilometers southeast of Tunis.

During the drafting process for Tunisia’s post-revolutionary constitution, a clause forbidding “normalization,” meaning the recognition of the state of Israel and the extension of diplomatic ties, was discussed but not adopted. Israel is not mentioned in the charter, which does refer to Tunisia’s support for Palestine.

Mehdi Jomaa at CSIS in Washington, DC. Image credit: Prime Ministry Facebook page

Mehdi Jomaa at CSIS in Washington, DC.

Abbou referred to a trip Karboul took to Israel prior to joining the government. Karboul has acknowledged the trip and says she was interrogated at Tel Aviv airport.

“She [Karboul] knows normalization is a crime,” Abbou said.

Karboul refused to comment to Tunisia Live, saying she would wait for the hearing.

On Tuesday, Jomaa defended his government’s decision.

“[The Ghriba pilgrimage] has inherited procedures that have been employed for years,” he said, arguing his government’s decision was only to make the existing procedures more transparent.

“We will not normalize relations,” he said.

Jomaa, Abbou said, does not have the right to speak about the issue. Jomaa is an unelected caretaker prime minister selected through talks between political parties and civil society groups.

“He should work and shut up,” Abbou said.

Israeli citizens were permitted to enter the country under former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the country during the 2011 revolution.

In March, Yigal Palmor, spokesperson for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Tunisia Live Israeli travel to Tunisia under Ben Ali was “very regular.”

A group of Israeli citizens on a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship were refused entry during a port call in La Goulette in early March. Norwegian Cruise Lines canceled service to Tunisia after the incident.

Israeli visitors to Tunisia need to arrange their trip through a travel agent as a group with a specific purpose, such as a conference, and receive special permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which issues visas, Karboul told Tunisia Live earlier this month. Individual Israelis wishing to travel to Tunisia will not be issued visas.

Visitors to Ghriba for the pilgrimage are allowed in under special circumstances.

While over 80 assembly members signed the petition calling for the hearing, it is not clear how much support it holds in the 217-member NCA.

Osama al-Saghir from the Islamist Ennahdha party, which controls a plurality of the assembly’s seats, told Tunisia Live there was no official party position on the issue and that he did not sign the petition.

“It’s not the time to do something like this,” he said.

“We have a technocrat government, we should let them work and we should finish our work and move to elections.”

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Revolution Tunisia

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Israel cancels peace talks meeting after unity deal announced

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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a planned session of peace talks with Palestinian negotiators on Wednesday after news of a unity deal between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas was announced.

“Israel has canceled a negotiations meeting that was expected to be held this evening,” a statement released by the prime minister’s office on Wednesday said, without further explanation, according to Reuters.

The cancellation comes hours after top Palestinian political leaders from the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hamas announced a reconciliation deal after more than seven years of political division.

Israeli officials lambasted the deal, with economy minister and chairman of the “Jewish Home” party Naftali Bennett saying: “The Palestinian Authority has become the world’s largest terror organization; we have entered a new political era in the Mideast,” according to Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post.

Bennett added that just as the US does not talk with al-Qaeda, Israel should not negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, who he called “killers.”

The unity deal authorized the Palestinian president to set a date for new elections and signaled a potentially historic reconciliation between the two major Palestinian political factions, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas-ruled government in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier, Palestinian officials announced that they had agreed to form a unity government within five weeks that will be headed by either President Mahmoud Abbas or former Deputy Prime Minister of the 2006 unity government Nasser al-Din al-Shaer, who is a member of Hamas.

The parties also agreed that both Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the occupied West Bank would release prisoners detained for their political affiliation.

The unity deal comes amid a major impasse in ongoing US-backed peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, which were re-activated in July.

Israel has announced plans to build thousands of settlement homes across the occupied West Bank since the start of talks, angering the Palestinians.

In late March, meanwhile, Israel refused to release the final round of Palestinian veteran prisoners that it had promised to release as part of a trust-building measure, participating the current crisis.

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 9:11 pm

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Islamic Jihad: 5 week waiting period could hinder reconciliation

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GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A senior official of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said on Wednesday that the five-week period set by parties to form a national unity government had the potential to derail the agreement.

Senior member of Islamic Jihad Khalid al-Batsh warned on his Facebook page that the five-week period could lead to another freeze in the implementation of the reconciliation agreement.

“This period will give a chance for anyone who does not want the achievement of reconciliation to take negative steps and steps that would hinder reconciliation,” he said.

He said that these obstructions could come from a number of sources, including “American pressure or Israeli actions against our people,” or by “those who benefit from the continuing division in Gaza and the West Bank.”

He called on the two sides to “immediately start the implementation and reconsider the five-week period and to consider the two governments interim until the unity government and all other reconciliation files are completed.”

Al-Batsh’s statements come hours after the Fatah-led Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas announced a national reconciliation deal that could potentially end seven years of political division between the largest Palestinian parties.

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Mursi trial hears Hamas, Hezbollah attacked Egypt jails

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The prosecution presented three witnesses in Wednesday’s hearing, two of whom described how jails were attacked during the uprising. 

Prosecution witnesses in the jailbreak trial of Egypt’s ousted president Mohammad Mursi on Wednesday accused members of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah of attacking Egyptian prisons during the 2011 uprising.

The trial, one of three against Mursi, is part of a government crackdown that has targeted him and his Muslim Brotherhood movement since his ouster by the army in July.

In the jailbreak case, Mursi and 130 other defendants including Palestinian and Lebanese militants are charged with organising attempts to spring prisoners from jails and attacking police stations during the uprising that ousted longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The prosecution presented three witnesses in Wednesday’s hearing, two of whom described how jails were attacked during the uprising, before the trial was postponed until April 30.

Mursi, dressed in white prison uniform, appeared in a caged dock as his co-defendants sat with their backs to the judges in a separate enclosure, an AFP journalist said.

Former interior minister Mahmoud Wagdi told the court members of “Hamas, (Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine) al-Qassam Brigades, (Palestinian Islamists) the Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah … entered Egypt through the border with the Gaza Strip helped by Bedouins from Sinai” on January 28, 2011.

Wagdi was named interior minister three days after the militants are alleged to have entered Egypt.

He said that after crossing the border, they “destroyed” several police installations in the Sinai, before attacking “the prisons of Abu Zaabal, Al-Marg and Wadi Natrun that had political elements from Hamas and Hezbollah,” Wagdi said.

Prosecutors charge the attacks on police stations and the jailbreaks, in which Mursi and other political prisoners escaped, were a Muslim Brotherhood-led conspiracy aimed at sowing chaos during the 2011 revolt.

Nearly 850 people died during the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak, most of them on January 28, 2011, when protesters battled police.

At Wednesday’s hearing, prosecution’s other witness Atef Sherif Abdel Salam, who was prison chief at the time, said the prisons were attacked by “elements from Sinai Bedouins”.

“The prisons where the jailbreak succeeded were prisons that had political elements in them,” he said.

“The first prison to be attacked was the Abu Zaabal prison at 10 in the morning on January 29 … it had elements from Al-Qaeda and Sinai Bedouins.”

He said the authorities later found “spent ammunition … that was not used by Egyptian police or military” at Abu Zabaal prison.

Abdel Salam also said Wadi Natrum jail had around 30 leaders from the Muslim Brotherhood when it came under attack.

Mursi is also on trial over the killing of protesters during his presidency, and in an espionage trial where he is accused of conspiring with foreign powers, Hamas and Shiite Iran to destabilise Egypt.

A government crackdown targeting Mursi and his supporters has killed more than 1,400 people and jailed thousands.

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Posted in Revolution Egypt

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Saudi arrests two women trying to join al-Qaeda in Yemen

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The two women had reportedly collected sums of money, as well as quantities of gold and silver in the central region of al-Qassim. 

Two Saudi women were arrested while trying to smuggle six children, including four of their own, across the southern border to join al-Qaeda in Yemen, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Wednesday.

Two Yemeni smugglers who accompanied the women and children were also arrested, as the group attempted to cross into Yemen from Jazan, in the southwest corner of Saudi Arabia.

The women were trying to smuggles six children into Yemen.

 

The two women had reportedly collected sums of money, as well as quantities of gold and silver in the central region of al-Qassim, before taking the six children.

Al-Watan newspaper, quoting sources, reported Wednesday that the six children were all related.

Two Yemeni smugglers who accompanied the women and children were also arrested.

 

On Twitter, a man alleging to be the uncle of one the children, expressed shock when learning of the incident.

“I had the shock of my life when I got a phone call informing me that my nephew had been found with other children and two women as they were being smuggled out of the kingdom to join the ranks of Al Qaeda,” Abu Saleh, the uncle, said in a number of tweets Monday, under the account name @abosalah1388.

Riyadh journalist Mohammad al-Zayyad told Al Arabiya Wednesday this was not the first time al-Qaeda had tried to recruit Saudi women.

 

Further, Riyadh journalist Mohammad al-Zayyad told Al Arabiya Wednesday this was not the first time al-Qaeda had tried to recruit Saudi women.

“Over the last couple of years, al-Qaeda has tried to exploit women, whether in the countries that it targets, like Saudi Arabia,and take advantage of women and children, and also blackmail states in order to put pressure on them, or for money to fund the organization,” he said.

Al-Zayyad said the husband of one of the women was an ISIS fighter in Syria.

 

“[They might] also use the women for logistical reasons, since the countries they enter, like Yemen or Syria, where they join groups such as the Nusra Front or the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syriam,” he added.

Referring to the arrests of the two women, Al-Zayyad said the husband of one of the women was an ISIS fighter in Syria, while the husband of the other woman was in prison for terrorism-related offenses.

Al-Zayyad said the husband of one of the women was in prison for terrorism-related offenses.

 

“The women were active in supporting Al-Qaeda, as well as inciting or attempting to create sympathy with the organization,” he said.

A private plane carrying relatives of the women and the children, as well as religious scholars and human rights activists, was dispatched by the interior minister to Jazan to reason with them, according to officials.

(Source / 23.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 23, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Revolution Saudi

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