‘The US administration is subsuming Palestine under Israel’ warns Ashrawi


ON THE eve of the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said: ‘The Trump Administration is intent on leaving no room for doubt about its hostility towards the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights, as well as its abject disregard for international law and its obligations under the law.’

As the US Consulate in Jerusalem prepares to ‘merge’ with the US Embassy to Israel – illegally situated in Jerusalem – Ashrawi issued a statement on behalf of the PLO Executive Committee stating that this ‘merger’ is not a simple administrative decision as claimed.

‘It is an act of political assault on Palestinian rights and identity and a negation of the Consulate’s historic status and function, dating back nearly two hundred years,’ the statement said, continuing:

‘The US administration is subsuming Palestine under Israel and aligning itself with the racist Israeli right, which negates Palestinian identity, history, narrative, and national rights.

‘It is positioning itself with rogue states that have no regard for international law or respect for the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, a founding principle of the international order as we know it.

‘As such, this merger is as much an affront to the international community and the principles of the United Nations Charter as it is an offensive political assault on the Palestinian people, motivated by racism and hostility and driven by a policy of omission and negation of historical and political truths.

‘The Palestinian leadership condemns this action unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms, said the statement.

‘We consider this a wilful reinforcement of an irresponsible and hostile US policy that aims to undermine and negate Palestinian national rights and identity by way of political bullying and aggression.

‘These destabilising actions and policies preclude any possible positive role for the current US administration in seeking peace and stability.’

Ashrawi continued: ‘While the Trump administration is taking concerted steps to deny the United States a positive role in international politics, especially in relation to Palestine, the rest of the international community is taking steps to counter these destructive tendencies, including the near unanimous rejection and condemnation of the illegal US embassy move to Jerusalem.

‘In this regard, the Palestinian leadership welcomes the recent announcement by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation of setting up an endowment to ensure the sustainable funding of UNRWA, a United Nations organisation the Trump administration has attempted to terminate by cutting its funding.

‘The policies of the US administration against Palestine and Palestinian rights constitute a threat to international peace security and undermine the standing of the international order.

‘We call on all responsible states and actors to rise to the serious challenge posed by these policies. Defending Palestinian rights, as enshrined and affirmed by international law, is part and parcel of defending the moral, legal, and political standing of international politics. It is a global responsibility,’ the PLO statement concluded.

  • Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting two resistance sites belonging to the Hamas movement late on Saturday, in the southern and central besieged Gaza Strip.

No injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians arrived at the eastern borders of southern Gaza to participate in ‘Night Confusion’ protests against the nearly 12-year Israeli siege.

Sources added that protesters set dozens of rubber tyres on fire near the Israel-Gaza electric security fence.

According to Hebrew-language news outlets, loud explosions were heard by residents in the Israeli settlements surrounding Gaza, which they said were explosive devices thrown by Palestinians at Israeli forces situated along the border.

For several weeks, hundreds of Palestinian protesters, have been organising, as well as participating in night protests, during which they set tyres on fire and chant slogans through loud speakers, while marching towards the border with Israel. These protesters are also known as the ‘Night Confusion’ unit.

  • Prime Minister of the caretaker Palestinian government, Rami Hamdallah, said on Sunday that the government is determined to pay the full salaries of the Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israeli jails, and to the families of those killed by Israeli forces.

But, he added, the government would only be able to pay a portion of the monthly salaries of the civil servants for February, in light of the financial crisis that has affected the PA because of Israel’s withholding Palestinian tax revenues.

Two weeks ago, the Israeli government withheld around $138 million in tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo agreement.

The amount is equivalent to the salaries paid by the PA Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the families of those killed by Israeli forces.

President Mahmoud Abbas has responded to the withholding by saying that he will not accept the tax revenues if they were short by one penny.

Under the interim Paris Economic Protocol of 1994, Israel collects customs duties on goods imported by Palestinians and destined to the occupied Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza) that go through Israeli ports since the Palestinian borders are all under Israeli control.

  • Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy leader of the Fatah movement headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said on Saturday that there is a real threat to Palestinian existence, and this requires joint action to protect the Palestinian people and confront the Israeli occupation and the US administration.

Speaking to reporters in Ramallah, Aloul said that Israel is trying to exploit the current situation in order to convince the world that it is not the enemy.

In practice, he claimed, with the help of the US, a comfortable atmosphere has been created for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his extreme rightist government to commit their crimes against the Palestinian people by killing, seizing land, attacking holy sites and establishing ‘facts on the ground’ i.e. illegal settlements.

He added that the Trump administration’s position on the Palestinian issue was clear. ‘The Americans,’ said Aloul, ‘are only interested in the Palestinians renouncing their national positions and accepting the “Deal of the Century”,’– the American ‘peace initiative’ to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Aloul said this means that ‘the US is not suitable to be a sponsor of the peace process,’ and that ‘a battle with the strongest force in the world is required because the United States has left the Palestinians with no other option.’

He also said that the US administration has tried to influence the Palestinian position through the civil service institutions, but all the Palestinian elements, without exception, have rejected the ‘Deal of the Century’.

Like Abbas, he also stressed the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to continue to provide financial aid to the families of the “martyrs” and the wounded, regardless of the political price that will be collected from the PA.

  • President Abbas has  made a phone call to Palestinian lawmaker and prominent human rights defender Khalida Jarrar to congratulate her on her release from Israeli jails.

Israeli authorities have released Jarrar, 56, after spending 20 months in Israeli jails under administrative detention, without charge or trial.