‘Israel trying to take advantage of gas forum’ says Palestinian leadership

Hamas delegation with Ismail Haniyeh at a meeting in Lebanon

NOT PARTICIPATING in the signing ceremony of the agreement to launch the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) on Tuesday does not mean withdrawing from the forum, which Palestine has participated in its establishment, said Omar Awadallah on Wednesday, the head of the United Nations General Administration and its Specialised Organisations at the Palestinian Foreign Ministry.

He told Voice of Palestine radio that the State of Palestine is committed to the EMGF, which includes, in addition to Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Greece, Italy and Cyprus, and that the signing can take place at any time, explaining that Israel tried to take advantage of this forum by stripping Palestine of the title of ‘state’ and calling it a ‘Palestinian authority’.
Awadallah indicated that Palestine was the one that worked on establishing this forum because it has a direct interest in it, especially since Palestine has a large area in the strategic region in the Gaza Strip where gas is found, which will return to the region part of the rights that were taken away from it, including Palestine’s right to the gas.
He said that the Palestinian leadership decided that this is not the time to be present at this festive event for many reasons and that this agreement should not be signed at the present time, noting that the State of Palestine is keen and it is a national strategy to join all international and regional Organisations.
He said that Palestine is going to hold meetings with a number of member states in the forum and that what governs this agreement and the establishment of the forum are United Nations resolutions, including the Law of the Sea Convention and international laws that protect Palestine’s rights to the gas.

  • Israeli forces on Wednesday infiltrated Gaza’s frontier to the east of al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central besieged enclave, according to a WAFA correspondent.

He said that a number of Israeli military vehicles infiltrated for several dozens of metres to the east of the camp, as they opened fire and razed the borderline farmlands.
Local witnesses said that farmers tending to their farmlands had to flee the scene in fear of getting hurt amidst all the shooting and razing operations.
Fourteen years following the Israeli ‘disengagement’ from Gaza, Israel has not actually disengaged from Gaza; it still maintains control of its land borders, access to the sea and airspace.
Two million Palestinians live the Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to a punishing and crippling Israeli blockade for 12 years and repeated onslaughts that have heavily damaged much of the enclave’s infrastructure.
Gaza’s 2-million population remains under ‘remote control’ occupation and a strict siege, which has destroyed the local economy, strangled Palestinian livelihoods, plunged them into unprecedented rates of unemployment and poverty, and cut them off from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories and the wider world.
Gaza remains occupied territory, having no control over its borders, territorial waters or airspace. Meanwhile, Israel upholds very few of its responsibilities as the occupying power, failing to provide for the basic needs of Palestinian civilians living in the territory.
Every two in three Palestinians in Gaza is a refugee from lands inside what is now Israel. That government forbids them from exercising their right to return as enshrined in international law because they are not Jews.

  • Israeli forces on Wednesday morning demolished an agricultural wall in Ni’lin town, west of Ramallah city, according to sources.

Mayor of Ni’lin Emad al-Khawaja told WAFA that a unit of Israeli forces raided the town and tore down a wall surrounding a one-donum plot of agricultural land belonging to Hussein al-Khawaja in the early morning hours.
The landowner explained the Israeli authorities ordered him a month ago to halt the construction of the wall purportedly for being close to the section of Israel’s apartheid wall, built on land seized from the town, without allowing him sufficient time to appeal the decision in Israeli courts.
Located 18 kilometres to the northwest of Ramallah city, Ni’lin has a population of some 5,900 and occupies a total area of 15,228 dunams. Since the start of the Israeli occupation in June 1967, like so many other villages in Palestine, Ni’lin has been subjected to almost continual land theft for Israeli colonial settlements, bypass roads, and military installations.
Under the Oslo Accords, an agreement made 25 years ago that was supposed to last just five years towards a self-governing country alongside Israel, the villagers were allowed to build in only 750 dunams, accounting for 5 per cent of their land.
The Palestinian Authority was given limited control over a small pocket of land occupying 1,123 dunams, including the built-up area, accounting for almost 7 per cent of the village’s total area. In contrast, Israel maintains control over the remainder, classified as Area C.
Israel has constructed a section of the apartheid wall, confiscating and isolating some 5,600 dunams of fertile land for colonial settlement activities and pushing the villagers into a crowded enclave, a ghetto, surrounded by walls, settlements and military installations.
Israel has established three colonial settlements, namely Hashmona’im, Mattityahu and Modi’in Illit on 2,340 dunams of lands confiscated from the village.
The ‘Civil Administration’ is the name Israel gives to the body administering its military occupation of the West Bank.
Soldiers in the oxymoronically named Civil Administration determine where Palestinians may live, where and when they may travel (including to other parts of the occupied territories like Gaza and East Jerusalem), whether they can build or expand homes on their own land, whether they own that land at all, whether an Israeli settler can take over that land among others.

  • The head of Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied by a delegation of senior officials, has rounded off a three-week visit to Lebanon.

Haniyeh had met with a number of Lebanese popular, factional, and intellectual officials during his visit.
During the meetings, Haniyeh voiced his support for Lebanon’s unity, security, and stability, lauding the close relationship between Lebanon and Palestine.
As he hailed Lebanon for its historic position in support of the Palestinian people and their just cause and for hosting Palestinian refugees, Haniyeh restated his movement’s commitment to the right to return for Palestinian refugees and rejection of all proposals aimed at displacing or resettling the Palestinian refugees.
Haniyeh also praised the Lebanese resistance movements for forcing the Israeli occupation to withdraw its armed forces from vast tracts of their territory in southern Lebanon in 2000 and defeating the Israeli occupation army in 2006.
The Hamas chief attended a meeting of Palestinian secretaries-general held in Beirut and Ramallah on 3 September.
In addition, Haniyeh met with leaders of Palestinian factions outside of Palestine.
Stressing that Palestinian unity is a cornerstone in facing off the serious challenges posed to the Palestinian cause, Haniyeh called for cementing the intra-Palestinian relations, restructuring the Palestinian House and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) by selecting a new National Council at home and abroad and setting up a unified strategy to fight off the Israeli occupation and all plots intended to liquidate the Palestinian cause, particularly the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, Israeli annexation plans, and the normalisation process.
During a visit to Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon, Haniyeh met with popular delegations and representatives of Palestinian refugees and was informed of their harsh living conditions and suffering in the camp.
Haniyeh reiterated the necessity to activate the role of Palestinian refugees in the diaspora, calling for providing them a decent life until they return to their homes and lands from which they were forced out in 1948 by Zionist gangs.
The top Hamas official urged the Lebanese government to grant Palestinian refugees their humanitarian and social rights, improve their living conditions, and find a way out of their suffering.