Archive for the 'Palestine' Category

 The Inside Story on Our UN Report Calling Israel an Apartheid State

Richard Falk
Source: The Nation

 A Palestinian woman argues with Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint south of Hebron on August 16, 2016. (Reuters / Mussa Qawasma)

 A Palestinian woman argues with Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint south of Hebron on August 16, 2016. (Reuters / Mussa Qawasma)

 Six months ago, the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) asked Virginia Tilley and me to write a study examining the applicability of the international criminal law concept of apartheid to Israel’s policies and practices toward the Palestinian people. We were glad to accept the assignment, and conceived of our role as engaging in an academic undertaking. ESCWA, one of several UN regional commissions, requested the study as a result of an uncontested motion adopted by its 18 Arab member governments.

Almost within hours of its release on March 15, our report was greeted by what can only be described as hysteria. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, denounced it and demanded that the UN repudiate it. The newly elected secretary general, António Guterres, quickly and publicly called for ESCWA to withdraw the report from its website, and when Rima Khalaf, the head of the commission, resisted, Guterres insisted. Rather than comply, Khalaf resigned. Soon thereafter, the report was withdrawn from the commission’s website, despite its having been published with a disclaimer noting that it represents the views of its authors and not necessarily that of ESCWA or the UN.

What is striking about this response, which resembles in many respects the US government response to the Goldstone Report (the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict of 2008-9), is the degree to which Israel’s supporters, in response to criticism, have sought to discredit the messenger rather than address the message.

 Tilley, a professor of political science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and I, as well as ESCWA, would welcome substantive discussion of and critical feedback on our report, and we had hoped that our analysis and conclusions would provide the basis for dialogue and further consideration of the recommendations appended at the end. ESCWA, for its part, took steps to ensure that the report lived up to scholarly standards, submitting the draft text to three prominent international jurists, who anonymously submitted strong positive appraisals along with some suggestions for revision, which we gratefully incorporated before the final text was released. For government officials and others to dismiss our report as a biased polemic is irresponsible, with respect both to the authority of the UN and to international law. Read more »

Text of Resignation Letter by ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf

The following text is the resignation letter submitted by Rima Khalaf in response to the formal request by UN Secretary General that ESCWA withdraw the publication of a report that asserts Israel is committing Apartheid.

Click here to access the full ESCWA report, which has since been removed from the UN website.

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Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

I have carefully considered your message conveyed through the Chef de Cabinet and assure you that at no point have I questioned your right to order the withdrawal of the report from our website or the fact that all of us working in the Secretariat are subject to the authority of its Secretary-General. Nor do I have any doubts regarding your commitment to human rights in general, or your firm position regarding the rights of the Palestinian people. I also understand the concerns that you have, particularly in these difficult times that leave you little choice.

I am not oblivious to the vicious attacks and threats the UN and you personally were subjected to from powerful Member States as a result of the publication of the ESCWA report “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”. I do not find it surprising that such Member States, who now have governments with little regard for international norms and values of human rights, will resort to intimidation when they find it hard to defend their unlawful policies and practices. It is only normal for criminals to pressure and attack those who advocate the cause of their victims. I cannot submit to such pressure.

Not by virtue of my being an international official, but simply by virtue of being a decent human being, I believe, like you, in the universal values and principles that have always been the driving force for good in human history, and on which this organization of ours, the United Nations is founded. Like you, I believe that discrimination against anyone due to their religion, skin color, sex or ethnic origin is unacceptable, and that such discrimination cannot be rendered acceptable by the calculations of political expediency or power politics. I also believe people should not only have the freedom to speak truth to power, but they have the duty to do so.

In the space of two months you have instructed me to withdraw two reports produced by ESCWA, not due to any fault found in the reports and probably not because you disagreed with their content, but due to the political pressure by member states who gravely violate the rights of the people of the region.

You have seen first hand that the people of this region are going through a period of suffering unparalleled in their modern history; and that the overwhelming flood of catastrophes today is the result of a stream of injustices that were either ignored, plastered over, or openly endorsed by powerful governments inside and outside the region. Those same governments are the ones pressuring you to silence the voice of truth and the call for justice represented in these reports.

Given the above, I cannot but stand by the findings of ESCWA’s report that Israel has established an apartheid regime that seeks the domination of one racial group over another. The evidence provided by this report drafted by renowned experts is overwhelming. Suffice it to say that none of those who attacked the report had a word to say about its content. I feel it my duty to shed light on the legally inadmissible and morally indefensible fact that an apartheid regime still exists in the 21st century rather than suppressing the evidence. In saying this I claim no moral superiority nor ownership of a more prescient vision. My position might be informed by a lifetime of experiencing the dire consequences of blocking peaceful channels to addressing people’s grievances in our region.

After giving the matter due consideration, I realized that I too have little choice. I cannot withdraw yet another well-researched, well-documented UN work on grave violations of human rights, yet I know that clear instructions by the Secretary-General will have to be implemented promptly. A dilemma that can only be resolved by my stepping down to allow someone else to deliver what I am unable to deliver in good conscience. I know that I have only two more weeks to serve; my resignation is therefore not intended for political pressure. It is simply because I feel it my duty towards the people we serve, towards the UN and towards myself, not to withdraw an honest testimony about an ongoing crime that is at the root of so much human suffering. Therefore, I hereby submit to you my resignation from the United Nations.

Respectfully

Rima Khalaf

ADDAMEER AND CODEPINK: 55 PALESTINIAN WOMEN AND GIRLS IN ISRAELI PRISONS ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

PRESS RELEASE
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

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This International Women’s Day, there are 55 Palestinian females held in Israeli prisons and detention centers, including 12 female children and 2 administrative detainees held without charge or trial. Among these female prisoners and detainees, 16 are mothers of 58 children. In total, 42 are held in HaSharon Prison and 13 are held in Damon Prison. Both of these prisons are located inside Israel in contravention with the Forth Geneva Convention which prohibits the transfer of the population from the occupied territory.

ARREST AND DETENTION OF PALESTINIAN WOMEN AND GIRLS

Since the beginning of the occupation 50 years ago in 1967, over 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and detained by Israeli occupation forces. In 2017, Palestinian women and girls are routinely arrested from the streets, Israeli military checkpoints, and during violent night raids on their homes during military incursions accompanied with the presence of Israeli soldiers, intelligence officers, and police dogs, during which destruction of household items and property damage takes place. They are blindfolded and their hands are tied, and are forcibly taken to a military jeep. Read more »

Basil of Al-Walaja: RIP

Mazin Qumsiyeh

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My encounter with the Al-Araj family began in 2009, the year I met Basil and Shireen and started joining them in demonstrations in Al-Walaja village. On 6 March 2017, Basil was murdered by the Israeli army. He was 31 years old. Others will speak of his martyrdom, I will speak of his life and what he told me. Basil would have wanted it told this way. I learned intimate details about Basil and his family life the third time we were detained together. He was 24 years old, I was twice his age. This was in what Basil accurately described as “a holding pen not fit for animals” which I and many Palestinian males shared with one Palestinian female, my friend and Basil’s aunt Shireen Al-Araj. I had been “taken” twice before with Basil and once with Shireen before this particular incident (and more after). It was these arrests that deepened my high regard for the family. Beyond their decency and honest dealings were acts of self-sacrifice that earned the family the respect of their entire village of Al-Walaja and I dare to say all of Palestine. This is similar to Al-Tamimi family of Nebi Saleh and it was no coincidence that Basem Tamimi was there with us in Al-Walaja the day after Basil’s murder. Here I am not telling you the story of Basil but I am recounting what Basil told me and I had written down in 2014 (was planning to publish inspirational Palestinian stories in a book). I merely now edited it to a) add this introduction) b) change to past tense instead of present tense (‘Basil says or relays’ now becomes ‘Basil said or relayed’), and c) I added a brief ending with his last words. Read more »

Netanyahu and Trump

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Opinion

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Benjamin Netanyahu just met Donald Trump and they are very friendly. Both are liars. War criminal Netanyahu’s prerequisites for peace are that:
1) Palestinians recognize the colonial state as a Jewish state – which is like South Africa saying the prerequisite for peace is to recognize it as a white state; and
2) the “Jewish state” retain control over the whole area – again, like the white South African government saying that they want to control the whole area.

Trump said that Palestinians are taught to hate and must stop hating Israelis. Netanyahu claimed that just like Chinese come from China, Jews come from Judea and so are not colonizers!

He also claims Iran writes on their missiles in Hebrew that Israel must be destroyed!

These two lies – and many more – are typical of congenital liars like Netanyahu.

Sorry, but “The Jews” (nor “The Christian” or “The Muslims”) do NOT come from our country (Palestine is its geographic name, for those who do not know). The myth that they do is a myth of “Jewish biology” that is actually based on Nazi racist myths, themselves stoked by Zionist myths.

A minority of people from those religions actually originate from Palestine – less than 3% of each adherent of any of these religions come from here, including Netanyahu himself. Read more »

Israel’s Legalizes Settlement Options as a Prelude to the Netanyahu Visit to Trumpland

Richard Falk

Cartoon: Amos Biderman

Cartoon: Amos Biderman

Responses to four questions posed by Rodrigo Craveiro, a journalist from the Brazilian newspaper Correio Braziliense

1- How do you see the decision of the Knesset taken last night about legalizing settlement outposts and what are the likely consequences of this legislative initiative?

It is one more act of defiance by Israel that is both a repudiation of international law relating to settlements in Occupied Palestine and of the UNSC, which in December passed Resolution 2334 condemning settlement expansion and reaffirming their illegality. Whether Israel experiences adverse consequences depends especially on the reaction of European governments and of civil society. Israel expects that Trump’s presidency will insulate the country from any show of real pressure at the UN or via sanctions, but there are mixed signals as usual emanating from the White House. The Knesset’s provocative move of legalizing the 50 or so settlement ‘outposts’ that were previously illegal even under Israeli law, an internationally controversial move that may in due course be nullified by Israel’s judiciary. Actually, the move was not so radical as the Israel state had long accommodated the outposts by providing them with subsidies and security, and overlooking their formally unlawful status in domestic law.

2– Do you believe Israel is interested in annexing West Bank? Why?
Read more »

PHROC Calls for Immediate Action by International Community on Israel’s “Regularization” Law

PRESS RELEASE
Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council

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The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) strongly condemns the Israeli Knesset’s passage of the “Regularization Law,” which legalizes 4,000 housing units in 55 colonial outposts, built on private Palestinian land. While Israel’s appropriation of Palestinian land has been a cornerstone of government policy since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, the law is another brazen tool for Israel to confiscate privately held and registered Palestinian property for its illegal settlement enterprise. Read more »

Over 250 European organisations call for end of European complicity in occupation of Palestine

PRESS STATEMENT
Justice for Palestine

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Justice for Palestine now – end EUROPEAN complicity!

A call from organizations throughout Europe.

2017 marks:

– 100 years since the « Balfour Declaration » of 1917, through which the British government unilaterally promised the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine;

– 70 years since the partition plan of Palestine, adopted by the UN in 1947, which resulted in the 1948 Nakba, the demolition of more than 530 Palestinian villages and the expulsion of 750 000 Palestinians from their homeland, thus a process of ethnic cleansing;

– 50 years since the beginning of Israel’s occupation in 1967 of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, and an ongoing process of colonization and prolonged occupation by the State of Israel.

The continued dispossession of Palestinians of their land and their livelihood, including house demolition, land confiscation and apartheid wall; the denial of their culture and memory; the ten-year Gaza blockade creating severe inhuman conditions along with the recurrent military attacks on its population; the constant repression, resulting presently in over 7000 prisoners including more than 400 children held in military detention; the disastrous plight of Palestinian refugees further worsened by the war in Syria; and the draconian discriminatory laws in Israel itself: these facts, the fruits of over 100 years of denial of the rights of the Palestinian people, can no longer be accepted.

The anniversaries marked by the year 2017 remind us of the degree to which the colonial mindset, the denial of the rights of the Palestinian people, and the refusal to apply international law and UN resolutions lead to disaster. Read more »

Work for the future

Mazin Qumsiyeh

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First the positive news: Large demonstrations last Monday in front of 10 Downing street for the Theresa May-Benjamin Netanuyahu visit. The demonstration was a mixture of people of all religions, skin colors, and backgrounds.

By contrast, the much smaller group of paid Zionist elites was very homogeneous (Jewish white Ashkenazi). Let us hope for an even larger demonstration for Netanyahu’s visit to Trump on February 15.

Locally, Israel is proceeding with more colonial settlements hoping that if they saturate the landscape, we native Palestinians will leave and they can have their racist Jewish state. But people are not leaving and much of the world now sees that there was never a “two state solution” to a colonial anti-coloniial struggle.

The best scenario forward is like in most postcolonial countries, such as South and Central America and much of SE Asia.

We are working on that with Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and other colleagues here – some of them also hold “Israeli” citizenship.

We are collectively building things on the ground, not leaving, and resisting daily (yes sometimes injured, sometimes killed, sometimes jailed, sometimes arrested…). Read more »

2017: Palestine’s Three Dark Commemorations

Richard Falk

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Increasingly, Palestinians seem doomed to become subjects, or at best second-class citizens, in their homeland. Israeli expansionism, United States unconditional support, and UN impotence. These factors are combining to create dismal prospects for Palestinian self-determination and for a negotiated peace that is sensitive to the rights and grievances of both Palestinians and Jews.

Recalling three notable commemorations to be observed in 2017 may help us understand better how this distressing Palestinian narrative unfolded over the course of the past hundred years. Perhaps, such remembrances might even encourage the rectification of past failures, and encourage flagging national and international efforts to find a way forward even at this belated hour. The most promising initiatives are now associated with a growing global solidarity movement dedicated to achieving a just peace for both peoples. For now, neither the United Nations nor traditional diplomacy seem to have much leverage over the play of social and political forces that lies at the core of the Palestinian struggle. Only the nonviolent resistance of Palestinians to their prolonged ordeal of occupation and transnational civil society militancy seem to have any capacity to exert positive leverage over the status quo and to sustain hope. Read more »

Israeli delegation of Intellectuals, former Ambassadors submit “Petition of 1200,” Call To Recognize Palestine Now

Press Release
Policy Working Group
Peace NGO Forum

On Thursday January 12, 2017 a delegation of Israeli intellectuals and former ambassadors will meet with Helene Le Gal, Ambassador of France to Israel, in order to present a petition of support for the French initiative to organize a Peace Conference in Paris on Sunday January 15.

In recent days, some 1200 Israeli citizens signed that petition in support of the French Initiative. The conference aims to provide a broad international base of support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The conference will convene on Sunday, 15 January 2017. Foreign ministers from approximately 70 countries are expected to attend. The conference will signal that the world expects to see an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement based on two states for two peoples – Israel and Palestine – that will maintain mutual relations based on peace and security. Read more »

ConSiences of Humanity

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

John Kerry is delusional if he thinks he can temporarily curb the appetite of those who believe in an ideology of conquest, subjugation and exceptionalism (“chosen people”) to save “Zionism”.

His claim that Shimon Peres told him that 78% of Palestine is enough, and that they should let the Palestinians have the other 22%, is simply not believable. Shimon Peres never changed his views from his youth as a disciple of Ben Gurion (Rabin and the two of them masterminded the ethnic cleansing and destruction of 500 towns and villages between 1948 and 1950).

To his last breath Peres was a racist, a bigot, and an unrepentant war criminal – not to mention his build-up of Israel’s arsenal of WMD. He always believed Jews are smarter, chosen, and are entitled to rule over greater Israel and like his mentor, he thought a two-state support is mostly for propaganda. Read more »

UN rights experts: Human rights defenders under growing legal pressure in the OPT

PRESS STATEMENT
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Photo: Electronic Intifada

Photo: Electronic Intifada

GENEVA (16 December 2016) – Human rights activists working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory face daily violations of some of the most fundamental protections afforded by international human rights and humanitarian laws, two United Nations independent experts said today.

“We have received a worrying number of complaints in recent months regarding human rights defenders who are arrested and, in many cases, arbitrarily detained, often apparently as a direct result of their important work in their communities,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the OPT, Michael Lynk, and the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Michel Forst.

“Human rights work is critical to creating a just society and maintaining peace and security. These are the goals all parties ultimately share,” the experts stressed. “However, it appears that rights defenders are facing ever greater challenges in the OPT.”

The Special Rapporteurs drew special attention to the cases against Issa Amro, founder of the Hebron-based group Youth Against Settlements, and Farid al-Atrash, a lawyer from Hebron, who were arrested due to their participation in a peaceful protest in February of this year. Mr. Amro is currently facing trial in an Israeli military court on 18 charges dating back to 2010, including participation in a rally without a permit. Read more »

Shabaka Roundtable: Palestinian Democracy Denied

Mouin Rabbani, Basem Ezbidi, Tariq Dana, Amal Ahmad

APA Images

APA Images

Overview

The potential of Palestinian democracy has been greatly weakened by Israel and its military occupation, Palestinian actors such as Fatah and Hamas, and key members of the donor community. Such a situation sustains the dysfunctional nature of the Palestinian political system and the unelected, unrepresentative status of the political actors who dominate the lives of the Palestinian people. The recent, heavily politicized failure of the attempt to conduct elections for local councils in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and the just concluded Fatah conference, which largely reaffirmed a moribund status quo, are cases in point.

In this roundtable, Al-Shabaka analysts examine the notion of democracy under occupation so as to understand what it entails and how it can be expressed. All agree that democracy is severely curtailed under the present circumstances. Mouin Rabbani argues that Palestinian elections since Oslo have contributed to the fragmentation of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian political system, shoring up a status quo in which Israel retains indefinite control. Basem Ezbidi, through the lens of the 1996, 2005, and 2006 elections, explores this detrimental fragmentation. Tariq Dana writes of the problem of divisions within the Palestinian National Movement, while Amal Ahmad highlights constraints on democracy caused by the economic conditions of occupation. Al-Shabaka Program Director Alaa Tartir facilitated the roundtable. Read more »

Holiday message from Palestine Museum of Natural History

Mazin, Jessie, Elias, Mohammad N, Mohammad A, Zuhair, Manal, Khawla, Reena, Mubarak, and all other volunteers
Palestine Museum of Natural History

The Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) and Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) at Bethlehem University wish you a great holiday season and wishing you and yours a wonderful new year. May 2017 be a year of progress towards peace and sustainability for our planet.

Thanks to your partnership and donations, PMNH/PIBS had a tremendous success in 2016 fulfilling our mission to research, educate about, and conserve our natural world, culture and heritage and use knowledge to promote responsible human interactions with our environment. We are now going to a higher level and ask you for your
donations, in-kind support, and volunteerism. Visit this link to donate, and this link to volunteer.

With your support, we did much already:

a) Published two dozen papers in areas ranging from taxonomic studies to biodiversity to environmental pollution to museology
b) Held workshops and other educational events that benefited over 3,000 individuals.
c) Developed a webpage and social media accounts and reached out via the internet to tens of thousands of people
d) Established mobile conservation projects in remote and underprivileged communities.
e) Improved science education at both school and university level benefiting hundreds of students via hands-on workshops and creation of environmental clubs.
f) Developed an environmental impact assessment (EIA) unit and contributed to a management plan for the first OPT protected area.
g) Provided consultancy services to the nascent Palestinian governmental agencies (e.g. Ministry of Health, Environmental Quality Authority, Ministry of Tourism, and Ministry of Agriculture).
h) Transformed a neglected 12 dunum area (part of the Bethlehem University Mar Andrea Campus) into a nascent botanical garden and permaculture facility (including bee-keeping, aquaponics, and aquaculture). This site was used to develop ideas which are now being transferred to farmers and other members of the community (e.g. green walls and composting). Read more »

Proposed Israel law “gives green light to theft of Palestinian land” – UN expert

Press Release
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Amona outpost. (Picture: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

Amona outpost. (Picture: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

GENEVA (21 November 2016) – A proposed Israeli law enabling the confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land would deal another severe blow to hopes of a lasting peace, a United Nations human rights expert has warned.

Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk said he was deeply concerned at the proposal to legalize more than 100 illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank, which passed its first reading in the Knesset on 16 November.

“Unauthorized outposts, most of which have been established on private Palestinian land and are located deep within the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under Israeli domestic law. Their retroactive ‘legalization’ will be another nail in the coffin for the two-state solution,” said Mr. Lynk.

“These outposts undermine the Palestinian right to self-determination, violate their rights to property, freedom of movement and development, and continue to confine the Palestinians into smaller and smaller cantons of non-contiguous lands within their own territory.” Read more »

The Balfour and Cambon Declarations

Mazin Qumsiyeh
From: Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle (2004)

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The events leading up to the support of Britain and France for Zionist aspirations have received little historical discussion. In examining historical documents of powerful nations like France and Britain, we find these nations issuing declarations to support the Zionist aspirations. This came in France first with a letter sent from Jules Cambon, Secretary General of the French Foreign Ministry to Nahum Sokolow (at the time head of the political wing of the World Zionist Organization based in London) dated June 4, 1917: Read more »

Palestine-Israel: Obama’s Final Days

Tareq Baconi
Al-Shabaka Policy Briefing

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American presidents have more than once used their final days in office to make crucial decisions regarding Israel/Palestine. Ronald Reagan recognized the PLO in 1988. Bill Clinton issued the Clinton Parameters in 2000.

If President Barack Obama intends to salvage some of his legacy as power transitions from the Democrats to the Republicans, he has a number of options.

The simplest, most powerful, and least destructive measure would be an explicit reaffirmation of the illegality of any form of Israeli sovereignty beyond the 1967 line, including East Jerusalem. Read more »

President-Elect Donald Trump must ensure continued efforts toward a Palestinian state

American Muslims for Palestine
Press Release

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(WASHINGTON DC 11/10/2016) – The American Muslims for Palestine, a national education organization advocating for Palestinian human rights, expresses deep concern over President-Elect Trump’s potential plans for U.S. policy in the Middle East. Though it is still unclear what Mr. Trump will do as president, AMP’s concerns stem from comments and promises he made during his campaign.

Specifically, AMP asserts the status of Jerusalem has not been resolved and supports Palestinians’ rights to Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. AMP rejects the promises Mr. Trump made to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September to declare Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of Israel.” AMP strongly opposes moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and also is deeply troubled by comments suggesting a Trump administration would forgo the idea of a Palestinian state. Read more »

Meshaal: no stability in the area without Palestinians getting their rights

Hamas

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Chairman of Hamas political bureau Khaled Meshaal has urged the president-elect of the United States Donald Trump to revise his country’s foreign policy and bring U.S. support of the Israeli occupation to an end.

“The Palestinian people have been wronged by the biased U.S. policies that favor Israel,” Meshaal said in a speech he delivered during the 11th Youth for Jerusalem Conference in Istanbul on Thursday, stressing that there will not be stability in the area without the Palestinians getting their rights.

He asserted the Palestinians’ total adherence to the liberation of Jerusalem and the entire land of Palestine.

“Jerusalem is the icon and heart of Palestine’s struggle and we will not cede an inch of it,” he said.

“Jerusalem is the key to war and peace in the region,” he added, calling on Arab states to assume their roles towards protecting the holy city from Israel’s schemes.

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