Political Update Monday 2 September 2019

General Highlights

Local government ministry circular on Area C: PA Minister of local Government issued a circular informing all Local Councils in the West Bank over the weekend that the PA government no longer recognizes the demarcations A, B and C. More details on this item and PA Comment under political/security dynamics.

PA/PLO/Hamas condemn Netanyahu statement on annexing West Bank settlements:  Presidential Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh slammed Netanyahu’s remarks vowing to annex West Bank settlements.  More on these statements under political/ security dynamics below.

Haniyeh clarifies reports on Qatar cutting funding to industrial fuel: Chief of Hamas office released statement clarifying Qatar position on covering the cost of industrial fuel to Gaza. More details on this item, under Gaza related reports.

Suspected honor killing case in Bet Sahour: PM Shtayyeh issued a statement Saturday saying that the death of Isra Gharib, 21, from Beit Sahour has become a public issue that demands from the government to issue laws to protect women, hinting that her death might have been on “honor killing grounds.” More details and comments on this item, under public statements/ reports below.

The Journalists Syndicate condemned the Israeli forces’ arrest of Widad Barghouti, a media lecturer at Birzeit University, after raiding and searching her home in the village of Kubar, northwest of Ramallah Sunday morning.  More details on this item and related comments, under Other developments below.

Two prisoners are in life threatening situation: The PLO commissioner of the PLO department Qadri Abu Baker said that this morning that two prisoners Bassam al Sayeh, and Sami Abu Diak are in life threatening situation. More details on this report, under Other developments/ reports.

PM Shtayyeh condemned the opening of a Honduran diplomatic mission to Israel. For more details on this statement, please see under public statements/ reports.

Political / security dynamics

Local government ministry circular on Area C: PA Minister of local Government issued a circular informing all Local Councils in the West Bank over the weekend that the PA government no longer recognizes the demarcations A, B and C. The circular also says that the PA intends to impose its “sovereignty” on all West Bank territories. The circular specifically instructs the local councils to extend its boundaries in all land blocs around it regardless of the A.B and C demarcations. Comment: by issuing this circular, the local government ministry is seeking to encourage local councils in the West Bank to exercise civil authorities on lands in terms of zoning and planning.  PA officials told Horizon Center that at a later stage, the ministry could start issuing building permits in Area C especially those away from settlements and military installations. However the officials noted that this circular has nothing to do with security services and does not entail instructions to the security services to deploy or to operate in those areas. The officials admitted however that the Israeli authorities including COGAT will not recognize the Palestinian decision and therefore, it is more likely that this circular will remain theoretical. The officials also admitted that in practice, however, average people would not rely on PA issued permits to construct houses or other installations in Area C.  The officials said that PM Shtayyeh and the PA government mean to take a political step / declaration facing the Israeli practices in Area C and the general political impasse.  In addition, the PA officials predicted that any possible local councils’ possible work on land blocs in area C will be blocked by the Israeli COGAT. 

PA/PLO/Hamas condemn Netanyahu statement on annexing West Bank settlements:  Presidential Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh slammed Netanyahu’s remarks vowing to annex West Bank settlements.  Abu Rudeineh said that the Israeli government continues to pursue this approach, which he stressed is not a solution, by reiterating its calls for the annexation of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. He slammed such move as a continuation of attempts to impose a fait accompli which is unacceptable and would not lead to any peace, security, or stability. Abu Rudeineh said that settlement policies, attempts at normalization that are contrary to the Arab peace initiative as well as attempts to erode the two-state solution, are rejected and condemned. He stressed that such measures would not lead to a third option; either peace to the satisfaction of the Palestinian people, or no immunity for anyone or any decision or position that contradict with the resolutions of national and Arab councils and international legitimacy.  Speaking at a ceremony for the opening of the new school year in the settlement of Elkana in the West Bank, Netanyahu said “he will not uproot any settler from West Bank settlements, pledging to impose sovereignty on all settlements as part of the State of Israel”.  On his part, the Hamas spokesman Qasem Al Qanou; explained that Netanyahu’s remarks in which he vowed that there “will be no more displacements” of Israeli Jewish settlers from the West Bank settlement, illegal under international law, would not dissuade the Palestinian people from continuing their struggle until ending the Israeli occupation to the Palestinian territories. Qasem added that Netanyahu’s pledge highlighted that it is necessary for the Palestinian factions to demand the Palestinian Authority to halt security collaboration with the Israeli occupation and to take practical steps in this regard. The Hamas spokesperson stressed that the Palestinian people are determined to end the occupation to their homeland. In a press release on Sunday, Netanyahu vowed to “apply Jewish sovereignty on all the settlements,” as part of the Israeli occupation.”

Public statements / reports

Suspected honor killing case in Bet Sahour: PM Shtayyeh issued a statement Saturday saying that the death of Isra Gharib, 21, from Beit Sahour has become a public issue that demands from the government to issue laws to protect women, hinting that her death might have been on “honor killing grounds.” The statement said  “with our full commitment to the provisions of the Palestinian law and the confidentiality of investigations and not to rush in prejudging what happened in respect to the deceased woman and the feelings of her family, we nevertheless are required to strengthen the system of legislation protecting Palestinian women, the defender or our national project who are our mothers and sisters and our partners in the struggle and building without whom we would not be a community”. He also said “with our deep belief that no one has the right to take the law into his hand, we will take all necessary legal action to prosecute to the maximum penalty anyone involved in the murder of any person as we await the results of the investigation into the case of Isra.” Minister of women affairs, Amal Hamad, said in a statement on Gharib’s death that there is a rise in the cases of violence against and murder of women in Palestine the last of which was the murder of Gharib, stressing that the murderer will be punished. “It is our responsibility to review all mechanisms related to cases of violence (against women), not only to punish the perpetrators, but to protect society from these crimes,” she said making reference to the need to change laws that would not prosecute the perpetrator on the grounds of defending family honor or to get a lenient sentence or even get an opportunity to commute his sentence.  Gharib died on 22 August in circumstances that are still under investigation. Comment: Isra’ Ghreib death quickly turned into a suspected honor killing case. Social media was filled with condemnations against the family members including the father and brothers who reportedly beat Isra Ghreib to death suspecting her of having an affair with a young man who had proposed to marry her. Friends of Ghreib leaked recordings of Ghreib defending herself against accusations made by her cousin who was accusing her of immoral acts with the young man. Ghreib posted on her snap chat a photo showing her with the young man and his sister. Social media was filled over the weekend with voices calling to hold the family members accountable. Ghreib was reportedly admitted to hospital two weeks ago suffering from fractures in the spinal cord as a result of beatings. After having been discharged earlier, Isra was brought to hospital on 22 August and was pronounced dead on arrival as a result of “a stroke”. The PA Attorney General opened an investigation Sunday suspecting the case to be killing on honor grounds.

PM Shtayyeh condemned the opening of a Honduran diplomatic mission to Israel in Jerusalem, and considered it a crime against international law and the two-state solution.  Shtayyeh also called upon Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández to cancel his scheduled visit to Israel, in which he is expected to inaugurate the diplomatic mission in occupied Jerusalem. “The right of Palestinians to Jerusalem as the capital of their independent state is a sacred right. It is unacceptable [that Jerusalem] be used for gaining or selling political positions in favor of the United States or Israel”. He said President Abbas has been closely following up on this matter, and has given instructions to deal with it. “The government has put in place a set of steps to confront Honduras’ decision in international forums, including filing a complaint against it with the UN Secretary General, and submitting a draft resolution against in the UN General Assembly, as the decision violates the UN Security Council resolutions condemning and preventing recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Other developments/ security incidents

Two prisoners are in life threatening situation: The PLO commissioner of the PLO department Qadri Abu Baker said that this morning that two prisoners Bassam al Sayeh, and Sami Abu Diak are in life threatening situation. He said that Al Sayeh is in a terminal stages of cancer. He noted that several petitions have been lodged to free him in order to get proper medical treatment. He however said that all these petitions have been turned down. As for the Sami Abu Diak., Abu Baker noted that he has been on hunger strike for more than 60 days and warned that his health is deteriorating rapidly. Abu Baker said that it is expected that one or both could pass way any minute.

Israeli settlers attacked with stones Palestinian vehicles passing near the Israeli settlement of ‘Kokhav HaShahar’ northeast of Ramallah, causing damages to some.  PA sources said Sunday that at least one village was damaged badly while no injuries were reported. In addition, a Palestinian farmer sustained injuries in the head Saturday when he was assaulted by extremist Israeli settlers near the village of Artas, south of Bethlehem. PA sources reported that settlers from the Israeli settlement bloc of Gush Etzion reportedly broke into the farm of Ayman Khalil Sa’ad, who comes from Artas, while working in the farm near the village. He was moved of moderate injuries to a nearby emergency center for treatment.

Israeli police raided Burj al-Laqlaq community club in Jerusalem’s Old City and ordered it shut down to prevent holding a football tournament for Palestinian families from Jerusalem.  Police had earlier raided the club on Saturday and detained two of its officers before returning in the afternoon, post an order to shut it down and detained its manager Mutasem Idkedik.  The police posted an order preventing the families from holding the football tournament which was supposed to kick off today with the participation of 10 families from the occupied city.  Israel claims the tournament is financed by the PA while Burj al-Laqlaq management insists it is financed by a local Palestinian businessman and they have the proof for it. A few staffers and volunteers were detained but were later released.

The Journalists Syndicate condemned the Israeli forces’ arrest of Widad Barghouti, a media lecturer at Birzeit University, after raiding and searching her home in the village of Kubar, northwest of Ramallah Sunday morning.  The syndicate called on all international human rights and humanitarian institutions, particularly the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), to pressure the Israeli occupation authorities to immediately release all journalists detained in Israeli jails under false pretexts and to halt all flagrant violations against them.  The syndicate expressed its utmost concern over the escalated crimes and violations of the Israeli occupation with its various branches of the rights of Journalists, which it stressed contradicts with the most fundamental International legal norms and covenants that guarantee the right of journalist to carry out their work and criminalize attacks on journalists and violations of freedom of the press. Comment: Widad Bargouthi is the mother of two youth from al Bargouthi family who were arrested last week. The arrests were made in the village of Kubar following the attack near Dolev settlement two weeks ago in which an Israeli teen was killed.

Gaza related reports

Haniyeh clarifies reports on Qatar cutting funding to industrial fuel: Chief of Hamas office released statement clarifying Qatar position on covering the cost of industrial fuel to Gaza. The statement indicated that Qatar Amadi explained that Qatar did in fact cut funding to industrial fuel in half. The Qatari ambassador however noted that the measure was taken last week in response to the Israeli decision to supply Gaza half of the daily need. The Qatari ambassador according to the Hamas statement was temporary and impacts only last week’s supply. The Qatari envoy reiterated the standing Qatar position to cover the daily supply of industrial fuel. The statement also noted that Israel revoked its decision to cut in half the supply of industrial fuel.

A Palestinian youth died Saturday from wounds sustained by Israeli gunfire during the protests at Gaza border Friday. Gaza sources reported that Badr Eddin Musa, 25, was shot and critically injured by Israeli soldiers east of Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip, and was moved to Gaza European Hospital where he died of his wounds. At least 75 protesters were injured by Israeli forces, some of them by live shots, while taking part in the border protests on Friday.

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