Friday, 23 November 2012

France indicates support for Palestinian UN vote

PARIS (Reuters) -- France on Thursday indicated it would support Palestinian efforts to secure a diplomatic upgrade at the United Nations, a decision likely to boost the PLO as it seeks greater international recognition.

Frustrated that a bid for full UN membership last year failed amid US opposition in the UN Security Council, the PLO has launched a watered-down bid for recognition as a non-member state, similar to the Vatican's UN status.

Without specifically saying which way France would vote at the UN General Assembly, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hinted that Paris would support the bid.

"I can indicate which direction we may take and one that has been taken by previous French political parties (and) under previous governments," Fabius told members of the French Senate.

"As far as this current government goes, I would like to remind you of the campaign pledge number 59 of the (presidential) candidate, now President Francois Hollande, which said that there would be an international recognition of a Palestinian state."

The proposal, which is due to be put to the vote in the General Assembly later this month, would implicitly recognize Palestinian statehood and could also grant access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where Palestine could file complaints against Israel. more

Settlers uproot 400 olive trees in Yatta village, Hebron

On Friday 23rd November, Settlers uprooted 400 olive trees east of Yatta village, south of Hebron, which belonged to Palestinian Abu Iyad Hoshiya.

Hoshiya said that he went to his land in the morning and saw that 400 olive trees were uprooted by settlers from Karma'il settlement, constructed on the lands of Yatta village.

Hoshiya confirmed that settlers spray-painted racist slogans on the ground and the uprooted trees and one of the slogans was: "This is a revenge for Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva that were hit by rocket attack." more

Medics: Man killed by Israeli fire near Gaza border

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces killed a 20-year-old Palestinian man near the Israeli border in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday morning, medical officials said.

Medics said Anwar Abdul Hadi Qudaih, 20, was hit in the head with a live bullet east of Khan Younis.

Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said 19 others were wounded by Israeli fire in the border area.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of violating the Egypt-mediated truce and said the group would complain to Cairo. "We will contact the Egyptian mediator to discuss the incident," he said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army was checking reports of the incident.

Witnesses told Ma'an a group of citizens were gathering to perform Friday prayer on their land near the border.

A relative of the dead man, who was at the scene, told Reuters that Qudaih had been trying to place a Hamas flag on the fence. He added that an Israeli soldier had fired into the air three times before Qdeih was hit in the head by a bullet. more

Activists occupy roof of Scottish Parliament to condemn weak stance on Gaza, demand sanctions

Activists from the We Are All Hana Shalabi network today scaled and occupied the roof of the Scottish Parliament to protest the Scottish government’s failure to condemn Israel’s attack on Gaza and to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel.

The campaigners scaled the parliament roof at about 11:30am this morning and were on top of the £414 million ($660 million) building for more than two hours before being removed by police. All of the participants were arrested and are still in police custody at the time of writing.

Before taking office, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond described Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara as an “atrocity on the high seas” and argued that “you can’t have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in.” The action was timed to coincide with Salmond’s weekly question and answer appearance before the parliament.

Although most foreign policy issues are still controlled by the UK government in Westminster, activists point out that there is a great deal more that the Scottish government could be doing to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people. The Palestine solidarity movement is very well supported in Scotland and an Israeli diplomat recently told Haaretz that ”every appearance by an official Israeli representative in Scotland is like a visit to enemy territory.”

The We Are All Hana Shalabi network, which formed to organize student and youth solidarity with the mass Palestinian prisoner hunger strike that took place earlier this year, is named after the Palestinian prisoner who was freed after a 43 day hunger strike. The network is one of the organizers of a march through Glasgow taking place on Sunday. more

From under the bombs: our catastrophe and our hope in Gaza

Since the beginning of Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Defence,” the number of Palestinians killed or injured has risen dramatically. How harsh, I feel, to use the word “number” since we are not actually mere numbers, but very tragic, heartbreaking and harrowing stories.

My aunt lives in al-Bureij refugee camp in the center of the Gaza Strip, not far away from where I live in Deir al-Balah. Her house was bombed many times during Israel’s 2008-09 attacks on Gaza and is still a very possible target for the Israeli air strikes.

The actual target is her brother-in-law who now has taken Ahmad Jabari’s place as a new commander in Hamas’s military wing. For the sake of their target, Israeli F-16s couldn’t care less when they kill children, women or the elderly or to destroy a five-story building even if they know that “the wanted man” doesn’t stay with his wife and children in this home.

We heard a very loud explosion in al-Bureij and swiftly we called my aunt who was barely able to speak to check on her safety. The blast was in her neighbour’s house and the victim this time is a one-year-old baby Eyad Abu Khusa. Though she has refused to leave her house since the start of this ongoing assault, she, along with her two sons, came today to stay with us after the repeated bombardment of al-Bureij. more