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CIR: US Ambassador statements on West Bank new crime against Palestinians

Council on International Relations considered the statements of the US ambassador “Israel” on the West Bank a crime and a new aggression added to the ongoing American administration’s crimes against the Palestinian people.

The Council said in a statement issued Thursday that Friedman statements reflect the US administration’s continued hostility to the Palestinians and support for the presence of the Israeli occupation on their land, and contradicts the administration’s commitment to adhere to international laws.

In its statement, the council called on the international community to break the silence it controls over the Trump administration’s actions, calling on the world to recognize the Palestinian state and its sovereignty over all Palestinian lands.

The Council made a special appeal to the Democratic Party of the United States to publicly condemn these steps and press through Congress for the American administration to retract this racist policy against our people, and to work immediately to enact laws and legislation to support our people’s struggle for freedom and stability.

These Israeli plans to annex the remainder of our lands, supported by an extremist American administration, threaten any hope for stability in an explosive region boiled by conflicts, the Council stressed in its statement.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said yesterday that America’s next step, after recognising Jerusalem as “Israel”’s capital and “Israel”’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, is the annexation of the occupied West Bank.

How Western media bias allows Israel to getaway with murder in Gaza

Ramzy Baroud

November 16, 2019

An Israeli attack on Gaza was imminent, and not because of any provocations by Palestinian groups in the besieged, impoverished Gaza Strip. The Israeli military escalation was foreseeable because it factors neatly in Israel’s contentious political scene. The war was not a question of “if”, but “when”.

The answer came on November 12, when the Israeli military launched a major strike against Gaza, killing an Islamic Jihad Commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata, along with his wife Asma.

More strikes followed, targeting what the Israeli military described as Islamic Jihad installations. However, the identities of the victims, along with damning social media footage, pictures, and eyewitness accounts indicate that civilians and civilian infrastructure were bombed and destroyed as well

As of November 14, when a truce was announced, 32 Palestinians have been killed and over 80 wounded in the Israeli aggression.

What truly frustrates any meaningful discussion on the horrific situation in Gaza is the feeble response, whether by international organisations that exist with the sole purpose of ensuring world peace or by Western mainstream media, that ceaselessly celebrates its own accuracy and impartiality.

A most disappointing response to the Israeli violence was offered by Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Mladenov, whose job should have long been deemed pointless considering that no “peace process” actually exists, expressed his “concern” about the “ongoing and serious escalation between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel”.

Not only Mladenov’s statement creates a moral equivalence between an occupying power, which instigated the war in the first place, and a small group of a few hundred armed men, it is also dishonest.

“The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centres is absolutely unacceptable and must stop immediately,” Mladenov elaborated, putting great emphasis on the fact that, “there can be no justification for any attacks against civilians”.

Shockingly, Mladenov was referring to Israeli, not Palestinian civilians. At the time that his statement was released to the media, there were already dozens of Palestinian civilians that had been killed and wounded, while Israeli media reports spoke of few Israelis who had been treated for “anxiety”.

The European Union did not fare any better. The EU parroted the same American knee-jerk response by condemning “the barrage of rocket attacks reaching deep into Israel”.

“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” a statement by the European bloc read.

Is it not possible that Mladenov and top EU foreign policymakers do not truly comprehend the political context of the latest Israeli onslaught  –  that embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using military escalation as a way of fortifying his weakening grip on power.

Considering this, what is one to make of the poor media coverage, the inept analyses and the absence of balanced reports in major Western news media?

In a report published by the BBC on November 13, the British broadcaster referred to “cross-border violence between Israel and militants in Gaza”.

But Gaza is not an independent country and, per international law, it is still under Israeli occupation. Israel declared Gaza a “hostile territory” in September 2007, arbitrarily establishing a “border” between it and the besieged Palestinian territory. For some reason, the BBC finds this designation acceptable.

CNN, on the other hand, reported on November 13 that “Israel’s military campaign against Islamic Jihad” is entering its second day, while emphasizing the UN condemnation of the rocket attacks.

CNN, like most of its American mainstream counterparts, reports on Israeli military campaigns as a part and parcel of some imagined “war on terror”. Therefore, analyzing the language of US mainstream media with the purpose of underlining and emphasizing its failures and biases, is a useless exercise.

Sadly, US bias regarding Palestine has extended to mainstream media in European countries that were, to some degree, fairer, if not somewhat sympathetic, with the Palestinian peoples’ situation.

El Mundo of Spain, for example, spoke of a number of Palestinians – making sure to emphasize that they were “mostly militants”, – who “died” as opposed to “were killed” by the Israeli military.

 

“The escalation followed the death of Gaza’s armed branch leader,” El Mundo reported, failing once more to pinpoint the culprits in these seemingly mysterious deaths.

La Repubblica, which is perceived in Italy as a “leftist” outlet, sounded more like a rightwing Israeli newspaper, in its description of the events that led to the death and wounding of many Palestinians. The Italian newspaper used a fabricated timeline that only exists in the mind of Israeli military and decision-makers.

“Violence continued. Several rockets were thrown towards Israel by Gaza’s Islamic Jihad (militants), breaking the brief truce, according to (rightwing Israeli newspaper) The Jerusalem Post and to the Israeli army”.

It remains unclear what “truce” La Repubblica was referring to.

France’s Le Monde followed suit, reporting the same deceptive and cliched Israeli lines and emphasizing statements by the Israeli military and government. Interestingly, the death and wounding of many Palestinians in Gaza did not deserve a place on the French newspaper’s homepage. Instead, it chose to highlight a comparatively irrelevant news item where Israel denounced the labeling of illegal settlement products as “discriminatory”.

Maybe, one could have excused these across-the-board journalistic and moral failings if it were not for the fact that the Gaza story has been one of the most covered news topics anywhere in the world for over a decade.

It is obvious that the West’s “newspapers of record” have maintained their blindspot on fairly reporting on Gaza and intentionally kept the truth from their readers for many years so as not to offend the sensibilities of the Israeli government and its powerful allies and lobbies.

While one cannot help but bemoan the death of good journalism in the West, it is also important to acknowledge with much appreciation the courage and sacrifices of Gaza’s young journalists and bloggers who, at times, are targeted and killed by the Israeli army for conveying the truth on the plight of the besieged but tenacious Strip.

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CIR: extending UNRWA mandate victory for refugee issue, slap to Washington and occupation

Council on International Relations – Palestine, praised the decision of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday to extend the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), considering it a victory for the Palestinian cause and a slap to Washington and the Israeli occupation.

The council considered in a statement issued on Saturday that the resolution is a failure for the Israeli occupation diplomacy, which has worked hard during the past period to liquidate and marginalize the refugee issue.

“The General Assembly’s decision is a slap to Trump and his administration, which attacked the agency with unfair measures to liquidate it, cutting off funding and seeking to redefine the refugee,” the statement said.

The CIR thanked the countries that voted in favor of the resolution, noting that this absolute majority is evidence that the world still believes that the Palestinian issue is a just cause and that Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their homes.

Based on this resolution, the Council called on the international community to continue to support UNRWA to cover the deficits left by attempts to liquidate them, as well as to pressure the occupation to allow refugees to return to their homes.

Contrary to what “Israel” and the administration of US President Donald Trump had hoped, the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to renew the mandate of UNRWA until 2023, with 170 countries voting in favor, two against the United States and “Israel”, and seven abstaining.

CIR visits AlDameer to discuss prospects of cooperation

A delegation from Council on International Relations – Palestine “CIR” Monday visited the headquarter of AlDameer Association for Human Rights in Gaza to discuss the prospects of cooperation.

The delegation, that included head of the council Dr. Basem Naim, and members of the board of director, was received by the Director of AlDameer Hala Alqishawi.

Naim reviewed the “CIR” activities and sections, referring that the visit that comes within the framework of the Council’s plan to communicate and cooperate with the human rights organizations.

On her part, Al-Qishawi thanked the delegation for the visit and for the Council’s interests in the field of International Relations, asserting the need for attention to communicating with the outside world, pointing on some of the Association activities.

The two parties discussed ways of cooperation, especially providing training to the youth group affiliated to the council in the field of legal, human rights and advocacy to be more able to face the propaganda that undermines the Palestinian issue.

Palestinian Experts warn of American efforts to Arabize, undermine UNRWA

Gaza Experts warned of US and Israeli efforts to Arabize and weaken UNRWA by pushing donors to stop their financial aid.

This came during a political meeting entitled “UNRWA: to where in the light of the financial crisis and corruption investigations?”, organized by Council on International Relations -Palestine in Gaza City, attended representatives of Palestinian factions and political analysts.

“UNRWA is not going through a financial crisis only but a political one, made by the US administration, in preparation for implementing “the Deal of the Century”, liquidating the refugees’ issue and ending the UNRWA’s work “, the attendants said.

Dr. Basem Naim, head of the Council, said there is a consensus that the real crisis is political, and reflects the Zionist-American conspiracy to end the UNRWA and to pave the way to end the Palestinian refugees’ issue.

For his part, Dr. Samir Abu Modallalah, a researcher at the Refugee Centre for Community Development, said the financial crisis has been inherent to UNRWA since its establishment, but with the signing of the Oslo Agreement in 1993, attempts were clear to end the Agency and throw it into the lap of Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority.

Abu Modallala said: “the core of the UNRWA crisis is political because “ending UNRWA will end the refugee’s issue.”

He explained that UNRWA is a temporary institution ad defined by the United Nations, and is renewed every three years. That leads us to wonder why its budget is not as permanent as UNESCO and FAO?!

He added, “We need to work on two levels: First, how to reduce UNRWA’s financial expenses in return for increasing services for refugees. Second, to move politically and reduce the pressure on the Agency, for fear that UNRWA becomes an Arab institution that is thrown into the Arab’s lap.

Huwaidi stressed that the US administration and the Israeli Occupation do not hesitate to seize any opportunity to pressure the United Nations to reduce moral and financial support to UNRWA.

“the fastest the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry declared, the better for the donors to keep supporting the agency,” Hwaidi said in terms of corruption investigations in UNRWA.

Mandate renewal

UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said that UNRWA does not have the authority to renew its mandate, a vote of the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly does.

He said that UNRWA has been facing financial challenges since 2018 when the United States decided to reduce its aid from $360 million annual budget to only $60 million.

“We faced a large deficit of $446 million which is an existential deficit. Any organization that loses 40% of its budget is exposed to collapse. However, UNRWA was able to fill this gap ”, Abu Hasna added.

“Before UNRWA’s new mandate, are we optimistic or pessimistic?” Abu Hasna said, “We fear the nature of the region and events, but there is a great support for UNRWA and its role in the new mandate,” he said.

Regarding the Agency’s corruption investigations, Abu Hasna said some allegations are being investigated by a UN team, no conclusions are reached to date.

He explained that UNRWA is not only the only organization with allegations and investigations; “But as soon as these allegations came out, we were surprised that Israeli and US officials demanded the liquidation of UNRWA, including US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt,” he said.

CIR: UN should take practical steps to punish “Israel” for its crimes against Palestinian children

Council on International Relations – Palestine called on the United Nations to take practical steps to punish the Israeli occupation for its crimes and to go beyond characterizing and criticizing the situation.

The Council appreciated in a statement issued on Monday the report of the United Nations, which criticized “Israel” after it killed and wounded last year the highest number of Palestinian children since 2014.

In its statement, the Council noted that the United Nations, as an international body that includes all countries of the world, should go beyond criticizing and penalize “Israel” that violates the human rights and commits crimes on a daily basis without fear of international punishment.

The CIR called on the United Nations and the international community to impose a comprehensive ban on the Israeli occupation, as was the case with South Africa’s apartheid regime, to prohibit arm sales to it and to call on all countries to boycott it.

Reuters reported that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterich’s report said the number of Palestinian children killed or wounded last year by Israeli forces was the highest since 2014.

The report found that last year 56 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces. The report found as well that 2,674 Palestinian children were injured by Israeli forces “in the context of demonstrations, clashes, searches and arrests.”

 

CIR Condemns handing over of Ashqar by American authorities to Israeli occupation

Council on International Relations – Palestine (CIR) condemned the American authorities handing over the Palestinian scholar and former presidential candidate Abdelhaleem Ashqar to the Israeli occupation authorities.

The council said in a statement issued Thursday that the US authorities bear full responsibility for Ashqar, whose fate is now in the hands of the criminal Israeli occupation.

This American step emphasizes the hostile policy of the American administration toward the Palestinian people, stability and peace in the region through its blatant bias towards the unjust occupation and its ongoing crimes, the council noted.

The CIR said that the American administration had unfairly sentenced Ashqar to 11 years in prison after being abducted and placed under house arrest for nearly two years, in a charge not exceeding six months in prison, in clear reference to the targeting of Palestinian activists and scientists by the US authorities.

The council called on the international community, human rights groups and organizations around the world to press for the release of Ashqar, stressing the need for the US administration to review its policies in the region that contradict its claim to be an honest broker to achieve the peace process.

Palestinian scholar and former presidential candidate Abdelhaleem Ashqar was reportedly delivered on Wednesday night by the US authorities to the Israeli occupation, after serving 11 years inside the US prisons.

CIR welcomes HRC adoption of report accusing Israeli occupation of war crimes

Council on International Relations – Palestine welcomed the Human Rights Council adoption of a report issued by an international commission of inquiry accusing the Israeli occupation of war crimes against peaceful demonstrators in Gaza.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the council thanked the countries that voted for the report of the commission of inquiry on the Great Return Marches, stressing that the report constitutes an important document in the context of holding the Israeli occupation accountable for its ongoing and systematic crimes against the Palestinians.

The Council expressed disappointment with the countries that voted against the report or those who abstained. “Your negative vote or abstention was a surprise for us. We hope you will review your position and we look forward to your stand with the just causes and against war crimes committed everywhere”, the CIR added.

The Council called upon the international community to examine all means necessary to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, including the lifting of the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip 12 years ago, and the stopping of the use of force against peaceful demonstrators in the Great Return Marches.

The UN Human Rights Council adopted a report on Friday morning condemning Israel’s “apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against civilian protesters in Gaza.

The vote follows a UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report that claims 183 Palestinians were killed by “Israel”, including 35 children. The commission determined that the majority of protesters killed by Israeli forces – 154 out of the 183 – had been unarmed.

CIR appreciates Corbyn call to freeze arm sales to Israeli occupation

Council of International Relations – Palestine appreciated the call by the British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to freeze arm sales to the Israeli occupation.

The call came after UN said Israel’s killings at Gaza protests may amount to war crimes.

The Council said in a statement issued on Saturday that the position of Mr. Corbyn is a great and courageous attitude towards the crimes of the occupation, and comes in light of the fierce campaign by his opponents.

“We call on all States that have relations with the criminal Israeli occupation to boycott it and to comply with the principles of international law that calls for the prosecution and punishment of war criminals.”, the council added.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on the British government to condemn Israel’s killings and demanded a freeze on arms sales to Israel.

Corbyn tweeted: ” The UN says Israel’s killings of demonstrators in Gaza – including children, paramedics and journalists – may constitute “war crimes or crimes against humanity, The UK government must unequivocally condemn the killings and freeze arms sales to Israel. “

CIR welcomes UN report, calls for holding the occupation accountable for war crimes

Council on International Relations – Palestine (CIR) welcomed the report issued today by The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which referred to the Israeli occupation forces committing war crimes against peaceful protesters in the Great Return Marches.

The council said in a statement Thursday that the report indicates beyond any doubt that the Israeli occupation has committed clear war crimes against the Palestinians who came out to protest peacefully to demand the right of return and lift the siege.

The Council said that despite all obstacles by the occupation to halt the Commission work, it was able insistently to communicate with all citizens and officials concerned, and come out with an important report.

The Council called upon the international community to hold the Israeli occupation accountable for the war crimes that it continues to commit against the Palestinians, calling for taking the recommendations came in the report and completing the procedures against the occupation criminals.

According to the United Nations report, there is evidence that Israel committed crimes against humanity in responding to 2018 protests in Gaza, as snipers targeted people clearly identifiable as children, health workers and journalists.

“Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity,” the chair of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Santiago Canton, said in a statement on Thursday.