Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Obama rejects Palestinian statehood bid and backs Israeli occupiers instead

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian officials and analysts were left disappointed by US President Barack Obama's speech to the United Nations on Wednesday, viewing the address as a clear indication of support for Israeli interests.

President Obama rejected Palestinian plans to seek a UN blessing for statehood and urged a return to peace talks with Israel.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the Palestinian presidential spokesman, responded to Obama's speech by saying the Palestinians are ready for negotiations with Israel as long as it halts illegal settlement building and agrees to 1967 borders.

Ahmed Yousef, a deputy in the Hamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Obama is trying to avoid the UN bid and his statements offered nothing new.

He told Ma'an that the speech showed clear bias towards Israel and was an attempt to run away from the UN bid in an effort to avoid embarrassment for the United States.

There is no use in continuing with negotiations if the US can not put enough pressure on Israel to stop illegal settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, he added. more

Abbas may submit 'request' but no vote on statehood as he buckles under pressure from West

Abbas caves in to US and European pressure?
International efforts to forestall a showdown in the UN security council over the declaration of a Palestinian state are solidifying around a plan for the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to submit a request for recognition but for a vote on the issue to be put on hold while a new round of peace talks is launched.

The deal is being pushed by the Middle East "Quartet" of the UN, EU, US and Russia, which is attempting to persuade Abbas to back away from a diplomatic confrontation with Washington, which says it will veto the Palestinian bid.

The US president Barack Obama is expected to meet the Palestinian leader at the UN on Wednesday as Abbas comes under intense pressure from the US and Europe to compromise.

Diplomats said the proposed compromise would see Abbas submit his letter to the security council, which would then defer action. In parallel, the Quartet would issue the framework for renewed negotiations that would include a timeline for the birth of a Palestinian state.

The deal is intended to permit Abbas to follow through on his commitment to Palestinians to seek recognition for an independent state at the security council, a pledge he could not abandon entirely without considerable damage to his already battered leadership. more

Two teenagers die from injuries sustained during Gaza tunnel collapse on Monday

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinian teenagers have died from injuries sustained when a smuggling tunnel under Gaza's border with Egypt collapsed on Monday, medics said.

Ashraf Al-Qarra, 17, died on Monday afternoon and Haytham Abu Radwan, also 17, died on Tuesday morning, the ambulance and emergencies committee in Gaza said in a statement.

The teenagers were injured when a gas canister exploded in the tunnel they were in. more

Jewish activist who heckled Netanyahu at US Congress sues guards who attacked and injured her

(pic: Rachel Abileah in the hospital after being injured at her protest - image by Al-Manar)

IMEMC - A Jewish human rights activist who stood up to challenge the Israeli Prime Minister's address to the US Congress this spring and call for equal rights for Palestinians has filed charges against four security officers who she says tackled and injured her.

Rachel Abileah, a California-based human rights activist and organizer with CodePink for Peace, is seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages for assault, battery and false imprisonment.

During Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress, Abileah stood up and began shouting "End the Occupation! Equal Rights for Palestinians!". She had been allowed into the talk as a guest of a member of Congress, because she had been attending the American Israel Public Affairs Committee convention.

Four security guards jumped on Abileah and tried to gag her, to stop any further outburst. She alleges that the guards snapped her neck back, injuring it, then pushed and pulled her in an attempt to remove her from the premises.

She told reporters that the incident "caused her to suffer severe emotional distress, including trouble sleeping, nightmares, a heightened emotional state, increased stress, fear and anxiety, especially when around large groups of people."

Abileah filed her lawsuit against the officers in DC Circuit Court. more