Daily Political Update, Wednesday 1 May 2019

General situation/ highlights

“Quiet Egyptian” attempt to push reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas:  Senior Fatah officials confirmed that Egypt has been working quietly behind the scenes to reconcile Fatah and Hamas. For more details, please see below under Political Dynamics.

PM Shtayyeh called to pressure Israel: For more details, please see below under Political statements.

Israeli municipality issued two demolition orders inside Shufat camp. For more details, please see below under other developments

Islamic Jihad behind firing rockets towards the sea: For more details, please see below under Gaza related reports

PA officials dismiss al Akhbar news report on position of KSA: PA officials dismissed as fabricated the news report published yesterday by the Lebanon based al Akhbar newspaper. For more details, please see under public statements.

Political dynamics / developments

“Quiet Egyptian” attempt to push reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas:  Senior Fatah officials confirmed that Egypt has been working quietly behind the scenes topush reconciliationFatah and Hamas. The Fatah officials told Horizon Center that Egyptian intelligence officials proposed to create a unified political platform to confront the US deal of the century. The Fatah officials said that two senior Fatah officials including Azam al Ahamd and Rawhi Fatouh had visited Cairo recently. The two officials met with senior Egyptian intelligence official Ahamd Abdel Khaleq who proposed a new vision for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. The new vision / approach entails formulating a political platform whereby both Hamas and Fatah would express rejection to the US deal of the century in a unified fashion. The approach also entails forming a national unity government, and organizing general election which would include presidential and parliamentary elections. The Fatah officials said that the Egyptians are waiting for an official response from Fatah to this new approach. In the meantime, Fatah dismissed Hamas for creating a national commission to confront the deal of the century without waiting for Fatah’s response to the Egypt approach. The Fatah officials also said that Hamas’s position and attitudes indicate clearly that Hamas is not genuine in responding to any new initiatives. The Fatah officials stressed that there is nothing new in Hamas’s attitudes and stressed that Fatah does not accept Hamas’s attempts to bypass the role and stand of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The Fatah officials said that as stated publicly in the past few days, Fatah calls on Hamas to implement the 2017 agreement without reservations.  The Fatah officials also said that an official response from Fatah to Egypt will be delivered in the next few days following internal consultations.

Political statements

PM Shtayyeh called to pressure Israel: Press published excerpts from Shtayyeh’s remarks at the AHLC donor meeting in Brussels. The highlights of his remarks indicate that he called on the donor countries to come out with recommendations condemning Israel’s continuing violations of international law and signed agreements and to take measures to pressure it to free the withheld Palestinian funds.  Shtayyeh called for pressure on Israel and to intervene to have international auditors monitor the bills Israel is illegally deducting from the Palestinian clearance funds. He briefed the meeting on the Palestinian economic and political situation, stressing that the United States and Israel are waging a financial war on the Palestinians for political purpose, which is to force it to surrender and to sign on what does not meet the minimum of the Palestinian rights, which he said is impossible to do. He said “the Palestinian refusal to receive the clearing funds deducted from it the salaries of prisoners and martyrs, and despite the suffocating crisis, has political, nationalist and legal reasons.” He said accepting the incomplete funds means recognition of the Israeli claim that these funds are paid to finance terrorism, which will bring legal consequences to the PA and the Palestinian banking system.” He said “some blame us for rejecting the so-called deal of the century before even seeing it. Yet, we have seen measures that go beyond any script. The US shut down the PLO office in Washington and dried up the financial resources of UNRWA. It has also moved its embassy to Jerusalem and recognized it as the capital of Israel”. He said that the PLO’s Central Council is going to convene next month and it will review the details of the political process as a whole in light of Israel’s destruction of the possibility of implementing the two-state solution with its settlements, annexation of land, siege of Gaza and other measures.”

PA officials dismiss al Akhbar news report on position of KSA: PA officials dismissed as fabricated the news report published yesterday by the Lebanon based al Akhbar newspaper. The said report quoted PA officials in conversations with the Jordanian representative to the PA. Among other issues, the report says that KSA pressed the PA with 9 billion US dollars to accept the US deal of the century. The PA officials said these reports are simply fabricated. In the meantime, the PA Ambassador to KSA released a statement reaffirming what he described as the firm position of KSA supporting the alienable rights of the Palestinian people. The ambassador indicated that KSA’s positions are reflected in all official statements and in the Arab Summit resolutions taken in al Dhahran summit in 2017. 

Other developments/ Security incidents

Israeli municipality issued two demolition orders inside Shufat camp: Local sources said that the municipality served two buildings in Shufat refugee camp in East Jerusalem with demolition orders under the pretext of construction without permit. Local sources said that the Israeli police accompanied municipality staff who presented the camp’s popular committee members with the demolition orders against a vocational training center and an all-purpose hall that was under construction. The municipality said the two buildings were not licensed even though construction is within the boundaries of a refugee camps which is run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Local sources said that the Israeli municipality has since late 2017 been working to exercise control over all activities inside the boundaries of the Shufat refugee camp.

Unemployment rate increased in 2018 to reach about 31% of the labor force: the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) marking International Labor Day released a report saying that unemployment rate increased in 2018 to reach about 31% in Palestine. The report noted that the unemployment stood at 28% in 2017, where the number of unemployed individuals increased from 377,000 in 2017 to 426,000 in 2018. For more details, please see full statement at: http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/pcbs_2012/PressEn.aspx

Hamas student bloc at al Najah University condemns the PASF: Hamas student bloc commended what it described as brutal and immoral behavior of PASF.  The student bloc particularly condemned the PA for the continued incarceration of head of the Hamas student bloc Ibrahim Shalhab.  In a press release, the Islamic Bloc said that Shalhab is still held in detention by PSO in Tulkarem in spite of the release verdict issued by a Palestinian court on 11 April 2019.

Gaza related reports

Islamic Jihad behind firing rockets towards the sea: Senior PA security officials said that the Islamic Jihad was behind firing rockets towards the sea over the weekend. The PA officials said that this action prompted Israel to cancel the previously agreed understanding through Egypt of expanding the fishing zone to 15 miles.

At least one fisherman was wounded lightly when IDF opened fire towards freshmen boats across the Gaza shores. The Israeli navy / coast guards opened fire towards Gaza fishermen as they were sailing within the range of six miles.  Gaza sources said that Israel as such isolated the understandings reached with Egypt lately expanding the fishing zone from 5-15 miles.  Israel had cancelled the expansion following reports that rockets were fired from Gaza towards the sea over the weekend.

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