|The News Line: Feature
Friday, 1 March 2019
President Abbas will meet with Netanyahu ‘If President Putin calls for one’
THE SPOKESMAN for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said last Wednesday that the President ‘is ready for a three-way meeting with Israel in Moscow if Russian President Vladimir Putin calls for one.’
|Demonstration in Ramallah against the cut by the US to UNWRA funding
Abu Rudeineh was responding to statements by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who had said on the eve of his trip to Moscow and meeting with Putin that he is ‘ready for a meeting if there is a Palestinian leader to meet with.’ ‘This is not true at all,’ said Abu Rudeineh in his statement. ‘President Putin had previously arranged a meeting with Netanyahu in Moscow, and the president has agreed to attend but Netanyahu evaded it,’ he said.
He went on to explain: ‘President Abbas is always ready to accept President Putin’s call for such a meeting at any time, with the current premier or any other future Israeli prime minister who will assume that post after the elections, in order to achieve the just and lasting peace.’
At the same time it was reported that the European Union representative Ralph Tarraf, and the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Pierre Krahenbuhl, ‘signed, on Wednesday, at UNRWA headquarters in East Jerusalem, the EU-UNRWA contribution agreement in support of the Agency’s 2019 Program Budget’, according to an UNRWA press release.
From Bethlehem it was reported at the same time that ‘Under this agreement, the EU provides a vital contribution of 82 million euros in support of the human development work of UNRWA for this year. ‘In light of the Agency’s ongoing financial challenges, the EU has agreed to provide the totality of its funding immediately upon the signature of the agreement,’ said the press release.
The statement also said that the ‘new contribution will help preserve access to education for 532,000 children, provide primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients and assistance to over 250,000 acutely vulnerable Palestine refugees, as well as a multitude of other services, at a time of extreme instability across the Middle East region.’
It continued: ‘For over four decades, the EU has established itself as a key strategic partner for the Agency, supporting UNRWA in its efforts to help Palestine refugees achieve their full potential in human development despite their difficult circumstances.
‘In 2018, as the Agency faced its most significant financial shortfall since its inception, the EU emerged as the Agency’s largest donor. Building on decades of commitment and partnership, the EU has maintained its generous level of support to assist Palestine refugees.
Krahenbuhl said: ‘We greatly value the outstanding commitment shown by the European Union to preserving the dignity and addressing the needs of Palestine refugees. ‘The generosity and consistency of the EU’s cooperation deserves the highest recognition. It allowed UNRWA to open its schools on time for the 2018-2019 scholastic year and was a major factor in last year’s successful campaign to overcome our existential funding crisis.
‘We are proud of this partnership and look forward to developing it further at this critical time.’ The EU Representative in Jerusalem, Ralph Tarraf, said, ‘On a daily basis, UNRWA provides Palestine refugees with essential services including education, health and relief assistance, while promoting socio-economic development and stability in the Middle East.
‘The EU and its member states are proud to support UNRWA’s work in providing these services to Palestine refugees, which should be seen as an inseparable part of the EU’s efforts to reach a negotiated two-state solution and a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
‘Supporting UNRWA will remain one of the pillars of our Middle East peace policy. ‘The EU’s commitment to Palestine refugees includes unprecedented support for the Agency’s education program through its Healthy Living, Healthy Spaces campaign. In 2018 alone, the EU rehabilitated some 65 UNRWA installations, including schools and health centres across the Middle East.’
At the same time on Wednesday, in Ramallah, the Palestinian Presidency ‘condemned the ongoing raids by Jewish Israeli fanatics into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The latest (was) led by extremist lawmaker Yehuda Glick. ‘The Presidency also condemned the deduction of the allowances allocated to the families of the prisoners and those killed by Israel from the Palestinian tax revenues and the arrest of Palestinian leaders such as Adnan Ghaith, the Palestinian Authority’s governor of Jerusalem, and member of Fatah Revolutionary Council, Zakaria Zubaidi, as well as the raids into several areas – the latest … in Ramallah, Birzeit and Abu Qash and the arrest of several people.’
It said this Israeli policy ‘will not affect the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and their adherence to their national constants, particularly in Jerusalem and its holy places,’ pointing out that ‘the continuation of these attacks, as happened today in Ramallah, confirms that this Israeli government is continuing in its policy of rejecting all the signed agreements and all laws and international legitimacy.’
The Presidency also warned of ‘the danger of bringing any harm to Al-Aqsa Mosque, which will be considered as crossing all red lines and will lead to serious consequences that cannot be controlled.’ It called on Arab and Islamic countries, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the international community, to ‘intervene immediately to stop these ongoing Israeli attacks, which will lead the region to an unwarranted religious strife.’
One day earlier, on Tuesday, February 26th, the Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Uri Ariel, and a group of extremist Jewish settlers were reportedly seen storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds.
The report stated: ‘Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel has stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds, together with a group of extremist settlers amid an escalation of acts of violence by Israeli forces and settlers against the Palestinian people.
‘Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson of the Islamic Waqf (Endowment) organisation which manages the compound’s affairs, said the 66-year-old right-wing politician and a number of settlers forced their way into the holy site through the Moroccan Gate under (the) tight protection of several groups of Israeli soldiers and special police forces.
‘Dibs pointed out that Ariel took footage of the al-Rahma Gate (Gate of Mercy) prayer area that was opened recently. ‘The Prayer area of the al-Rahma Gate was closed on Monday evening upon an order by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and reopened the following day.
‘Israel had closed the gate that leads to the prayer space in Al-Aqsa Mosque since 2003 in the face of the Second Intifada (uprising) against the regime’s occupation. ‘Last Friday, however, the Waqf council decided to re-open the prayer space at the Bab al-Rahma Gate in defiance of Israel’s 16-year-old ban. Hundreds of worshippers, led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Quds Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, entered the area for the first time since 2003 for Friday prayers.
‘Angered by the move, the Tel Aviv regime launched an arrest campaign against Palestinians. ‘The arrests drew criticisms from Palestinians and Jordan, which is the custodian of the holy sites in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.
‘The Islamic Waqf organisations and Palestinian institutions have insisted on keeping the Bab al-Rahma prayer area open for Muslim worship. ‘Palestinians have repeatedly warned of Israeli attempts to change the status quo of the Al-Aqsa compound, the third holiest site in Islam.’
Another report related to the incident stated: ‘An Israeli legislator and over 100 settlers have stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. ‘The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed new tensions ever since US President Donald Trump announced his decision on December 6, 2017 to recognise Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.
‘On December 21, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favour of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israeli “capital.”
‘In an attempt to prevent the passing of the resolution, Trump threatened reprisals against countries that backed the measure, which had earlier faced a US veto at the UN Security Council. ‘Israel, however, rejected the world body’s resolution while thanking Trump for his decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds.’
• Israel is concealing 300,000 documents about Palestinian massacres, an article published just one day prior to these events has also reported. The 300,000 documents, about its massacres of Palestinians date back to the 1800s, says a report in +972 Magazine. Israel’s ‘State Archives’ declassified secret documents last summer, but some 300,000 documents which antedate the 1948 establishment of the regime, remain classified.
‘The very existence of the 300,000 classified files – their names, dates, and origin within the state bureaucracy – had been kept a secret, until now. One-fifth of the files, deemed too sensitive still by the regime, were excluded from the disclosure,’ the report by Israeli Jewish journalist Asaf Shalev said.
‘There were many people who were concerned about the opening of this catalogue,’ Israel’s State Archivist Yaacov Lozowick was quoted by the website as saying in a statement accompanying the release.
Some of the files, which were kept secret, reportedly date back to 1821, while 125 of them date back to the 19th century and nearly 2,000 papers predate the Nakba (Catastrophe Day). Files on the two most notorious Israeli massacres of Deir Yassin and Kafr Qasim are among the hidden documents, the website said.
The Kafr Qasim massacre took place on October 29, 1956 – the first day of the Suez war – when Israeli forces killed residents of the village who returned from their nearby agricultural lands. Deir Yassin has long remained a symbol of Israeli violence against Palestinians due to the particularly gruesome nature of the 1948 slaughter, which targeted men, women, children, and the elderly in the tiny village.
That massacre, which was carried out on April 9, 1948, was led by the Irgun militia group, whose head was future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, with support from fellow Zionist militiamen affiliated with Haganah and Lehi groups.
According to the report, the massacre was one of the first in what would become a long line of attacks in a number of Palestinian villages, part of a broader strategy called Plan Dalet by Zionist groups to scare Palestinians in the hope that the terror would lead to an Arab exodus. Around 750,000 Palestinians took refuge abroad in the face of the massacres.
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