PALESTINIAN Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announced on Monday that his government is preparing for new national and presidential elections in Palestine.
‘The Cabinet looks forward to President Mahmoud Abbas issuing the decrees that will specify the dates for the elections in order to begin all necessary preparations for the success of the democratic process,’ Shtayyeh said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting held in Ramallah.
‘We are happy with the positive atmosphere surrounding the elections, which we want to be a gateway to renewing our democratic life and uniting the nation on the basis of right, freedom, social justice, equality and national partnership.
‘The elections should set the foundation for a new phase.’
The Prime Minister also called on the United Nations and Europe to pressure Israel to allow Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem to take part in the elections, whether as candidates or by voting, ‘because this is their right on the one hand, and because it is stipulated in the agreements on the other.’
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to issue decrees for holding the first legislative elections, to be followed by presidential elections, before January 20 following an agreement reached with the Hamas movement and after the meeting last week with the head of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission.
The last legislative elections were held in 2006, while the presidential elections that brought Abbas to power were held a year earlier.
Meanwhile, Israeli raids continued across the West Bank.
Israeli occupation forces on Monday detained 22 Palestinians in multiple raids across the occupied territories, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) and security sources.
The PPS said Israeli forces rounded up four Palestinians after ransacking their families’ homes in a raid that triggered confrontations in Qabatia town, south of Jenin city.
Another Qabatia resident was detained as he attempted to cross a military checkpoint north of Bethlehem.
In Nablus district, the PPS said that an Israeli military raid into Sebastia town near Nablus, resulted in the detention of four others.
In Ramallah district, Israeli military vehicles raided the Jalazone refugee camp, which is north of the city, and soldiers detained three people.
In Bethlehem district, they stormed into the Aida refugee camp, north of the city, and chased and seized a 16-year-old inside a local shop.
The other eight detainees were rounded up from other parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In a collective punishment move, Israeli occupation forces have sealed off the entrances to a Ramallah-district village for five days now.
They sealed off the two main entrances to al-Mughayyir village, northeast of Ramallah city making the movement of residents in and out of the village very difficult.
The Mayor of al-Mughayyir, Amin Abu Alia, told Palestine News Agency WAFA that the Israeli forces closed the entrances of the village using earth mounds and cement blocks, preventing the villagers from entering and leaving it and forcing them to take long detours to reach their workplaces.
Two days earlier, scores of the villagers suffocated from tear gas as the Israeli forces cracked down on a rally against the ongoing closure.
The village has become the scene of weekly protests against the Israeli occupation authorities’ plan to seize lands in the Ras al-Tin area to make room for the construction of a new Israeli colonial settlement outpost.
Many Palestinians have been injured in the ensuing confrontations.
Israeli settlers have recently commenced the construction of a new colonial settlement outpost in Ras al-Tin and prevented the villagers and shepherds from reaching the area.
On December 4th, 14-year-old Ali Abu Alia died of his wounds when he was hit by Israeli military gunfire during clashes between soldiers and protesters in the village.
Six Palestinian workers attempting to reach their workplaces inside Israel were shot and injured on Monday morning by Israeli army gunfire at a gate in the apartheid barrier separating the West Bank from Israel near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm.
The Ministry of Health said that six Palestinians were brought into hospital in Tulkarm with gun wounds to their legs.
Their injuries were reported to be light, but the hospital director said two suffered broken bones and needed medical attention.
Local witnesses said that the soldiers opened fire on the workers near the gate where they’d gathered in an effort to cross the barrier and reach their workplaces inside Israel, injuring six, all said to be in their 20s.
Israel started building the barrier, most of it a concrete wall, in 2002 to separate the West Bank from Israel even though a large part of it was built deep inside the occupied territories and on Palestinian agricultural land.
In 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that stated that the wall contradicts international law and should be removed.
The International Court of Justice also issued in July 2004 an advisory opinion stating that the barrier is a violation of international law and that it should be removed.
Also on Monday, Israeli settlers uprooted and stole about 60 olive saplings from land in the village of Jaloud, which is just south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.
Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, told WAFA that a number of Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Ahiya uprooted and stole the olive saplings from a plot of land in the village.
He added that this is the second time Israeli settlers have uprooted olive trees in the same village in a matter of few days.
On Sunday, a group of settlers from an illegal settlement, sneaked into the eastern part of the village of Qusra, south of Nablus, where they uprooted and stole another 130 olive saplings belonging to four local Palestinian landowners.
Just days before that Israeli soldiers had uprooted 3,000 olive trees in the village of Deir Ballout, also in the north of the West Bank.
Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.
Over 700,000 Israeli settlers live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.
- The Israeli navy on Monday opened fire on Palestinian fishermen in the sea opposite the northern Gaza shore.
At the same time, more soldiers diretly targeted farmers working in their lands to the south of the Gaza Strip.
A WAFA correspondent reported that the Israeli navy opened fire on the fishing boats as they were sailing within three nautical miles off the Sudaniya coast, northwest of the city of Gaza, forcing them to leave the area and return to shore to avoid being hit and their boats damaged.
Also, Israeli forces stationed at military sites behind the border to the east of the city of Khan Younis, opened fire at farmers as they were ploughing their lands. Shepherds were also targeted although no casualties have been reported.
Israeli occupation forces target Gaza fishermen, farmers and shepherds on a daily basis.