Hanan Ashrawi meets Swedish Consul – both stress the need for Palestinian elections

Israeli forces clash with Palestinians in the West Bank as they seek to seize their land in order to build an illegal settlement

MEMBER of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation Hanan Ashrawi has met the Swedish Consul-General to Palestine, Jessica Olausson, in Ramallah.

The two leaders stressed the need to conduct comprehensive elections while defying all obstacles – including Israeli obstructions – in occupied Jerusalem.
She briefed the Swedish diplomat on the latest political developments and exchanged views on recent international political developments that impact on Palestine and on prospects of peace.
Ashrawi commended Sweden’s firm and just position on Palestine, and reiterated how deeply the Palestinian people value the special relationship between the two states.
They also discussed the need to reform institutions while strengthening the rule of law and empowering women, youth and civil society bodies in order to revitalise the internal political system.

  • Meanwhile on Thursday, Israeli forces detained thirteen Palestinians, including minors, across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS).

It said that seven Palestinians were detained in multiple raids across Ramallah and al-Bireh district – including a 16-year-old boy.
In Jenin district, PPS said the Israeli military detained three Palestinians, including a former prisoner. Another Palestinian from Qalqilya was detained in the north of the West Bank, and one from Beit Kahil in the Hebron district in the south of the West Bank.
PPS added that Israeli forces raided the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya and detained a minor, identified as Ahmad Abu Roumi, after brutally beating him up.
Also on Thursday, in Hebron, dozens of Palestinian refugees suffered from tear-gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli soldiers at Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron in the southern West Bank, according to local sources.
They said soldiers posted at the camp’s entrance provoked its residents, who threw rocks at them. The soldiers responded by firing a barrage of tear-gas canisters at the residents, causing many suffocation cases treated at the location.
The soldiers also detained one person, said the sources.
On Thursday Israeli settlers uprooted hundreds of olive trees in the southern West Bank town of al-Khader, near Bethlehem, according to the owner of the trees, Hisham Barmil.
He told WAFA that settlers from the illegal Sidi Boaz settlement outpost, built on expropriated al-Khader land, uprooted 300 olive trees and stole them.
He said the settlers trespassed on his 30-dunum plot of land and uprooted the trees, adding that settlers had committed the same vandalism two months ago against his trees and land.
He said the settlers do not want him to develop his land in the hope that they will take it over to expand their settlement.

  • The Popular Front has said that the wide targeting campaign against its leaders and cadres will not affect its coherent organisational structure.

‘We hold the Zionist occupation fully responsible for the life of our hunger-striking companion, Ahmed Zahran,’ the Front added, commenting on the campaign of arrests by the occupation forces which has remanded dozens of its militants in the West Bank.
This came in a press conference held by the Front in Gaza on Thursday, in conjunction with a session for the captive Zahran in the Israeli figurative courts – where the speech was made by the member of the Front general committee responsible for the prisoners committee, Allam Kaabi.
He stressed that ‘standing next to Zahran and all the prisoners in the occupation prisons, an escalation of the open engagement with the enemy is required, and an intensive national and popular struggle programme is formulated.’
He continued: ‘If the enemy thinks that his own war he declared against the leaders and cadres of the Front in the West Bank and prisons is able to stop the flame of the resistance inside the Front or weaken it, then it is a delusion.
‘He must return to his bitter experience with the Popular Front, to realise again that the targets and strikes … will increase its strength, not weaken it. The coming days will confirm the enemy’s failure.
‘In this context, the Front has nothing to say about the occupation’s announcement of revealing a cell that carried out a series of operations, and giving it a dramatic character.
‘But it has done what it will do to respond to this occupation attack against its leaders and cadres.’
He went on to stress that ‘the continued isolation by the Zionist occupation of prisoners, especially patients and administrators, again raises questions about the role assumed by international institutions, particularly the Red Cross, to expose this occupation attack on prisoners and expose the policy of administrative detention.
‘This silence is a clear collusion, and reinforces convictions that these institutions are a burden on the captive movement.’
He continued: ‘The escalation of the heinous attack against the captive movement requires the official institutions to urgently internationalise the file of the prisoners, document these crimes and refer them to the International Criminal Court.
‘It is unacceptable if these institutions are reluctant to take such an important step.’
The press conference concluded by stressing that ‘the massive attack against it will only increase it, insisting on moving forward on the path of struggle and resistance, the only path capable of achieving our desired goals of return, freedom and independence.
‘Neither the occupation’s methods nor its war nor its arrests will terrorise us, because the Front remains strong and majestic and will remain a permanent thorn in the enemy’s throat.’
In the meantime, Israel Today newspaper said that this year – 2019 – recorded a significant decrease in the number of operational deaths, as well as in the implementation of attacks against Israelis.
It added that five Israelis were killed in attacks during 2019, compared to thirteen killed last year, and that this does not mean that the motivations of the Palestinian factions operating in the West Bank to plan large attacks are low.
The newspaper attributed the decrease in operations to the arrests in the ranks of Hamas and the Popular Front, especially after the Ain Bunin operation last August, which was carried out by four of the Front.
In a report issued by the Shin Bet, it revealed that the operation arrested 50 activists from the Front for allegedly trying to carry out operations in the West Bank.