Political Update Wednesday 16 July 2019

General Situation/ Highlights

Fatah and Hamas core difference over reconciliation: senior Fatah official told Horizon Center that Hamas’s position on reconciliation is tactically positive but strategically inflexible. For more clarity on reconciliation efforts, please see under Political dynamics below.

Fatah Revolutionary council meeting on Saturday: Senior Fatah officials said that the ordinary meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary council will discuss several issues. In addition, to the political file including the PA efforts to counter the US Deal of the Century, and the Israeli practices, the council will discuss possible amendments to the Fatah internal bylaws. For more details on this item, please see under Political Dynamics.

OIC extraordinary meeting at foreign ministers level: The PA foreign minister Riad al Malki said that an Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) will hold an extraordinary meeting in Jeddah today.  More under political dynamics. 

PLO, and other officials condemn Israel for death of detainee/ investigation initiated:   PLO official Hanan Ashrawi issued a statement condemning Israel for the death of Nasser Taqatqa, a prisoner under interrogation. For more on this statement, and other related developments, please see under public statements.

PA delegation concludes visit to Iraq/ sign MOUs: PA officials said that the PA delegation headed by PM Mohamed Shtayyeh concluded their visit to Iraq.  Comment: Senior PA officials said that in order to implement most if not all of these MOUs with Iraq and recently with Jordan, the PA will have to raise these with the Israeli COGAT. The PA officials said that Jordan has also vowed to raise these issues in bilateral meetings with Israel. Among other issues, the PA intends to import Iraqi oil through Jordan. More details under political dynamics.

The PLO Executive Committee will hold a meeting today. The meeting will be chaired by President Abbas in Muqtaa. The PLO executive committee had been holding “consultative meetings” but not formal ones lately. PLO officials told Horizon Center that the PLO executive committee will be briefed among other things on the latest Egyptian efforts on reconciliation, ceasefire arrangements in Gaza, and the political developments.

Press prominently covered EU local statement on Wadi al Hummus: more details on the statement under public statements.

A high-level delegation from the Hamas in Moscow: The delegation arrived on Monday in Moscow in response to an official invitation. 

Political dynamics/ developments

Fatah and Hamas core difference over reconciliation: senior Fatah official told Horizon Center that Hamas’s position on reconciliation is tactically positive but strategically inflexible. The senior Fatah official explained that Hamas refuses to hand over control over Gaza to the current PA government. The Fatah official said that albeit Hamas had passes its consent to holding general elections i.e. presidential and parliamentary elections in a consecutive manner, they continue to refuse to give up control over Gaza to the PA government. The Fatah official said that Hamas has blocked the recent reconciliation efforts by Egypt. The official however said that Fatah will continue working with the Egyptians to ensure smooth implementation of the agreement. The Fatah official accused Hamas of procrastination. The Fatah official claimed that Hamas wants to wait for the outcome of the Israeli elections and move forward on implementing the ceasefire deal with Israel.  The Fatah officials said that this and not reconciliation seem to be Hamas’s priority at this stage. On the other hand, Hamas controlled newspaper al Risala dismissed Fatah position on reconciliation. In an exclusive report, al Risala reported that Fatah insists on implementing the 2017 agreement which calls for handing over control over Gaza to the PA government. The report notes that Hamas views this agreement as “dead” following the dismissal of the national consensus government headed formerly by PM Rami Hamdallah. The report noted that Hamas believes that by dismissing this government, the 2017 agreement is no longer valid. However, Fatah insists as conveyed through the Egyptian security delegating that moving forward towards reconciliation will only be possible once Hamas agrees to implement this agreement.  In addition, Hamas calls for implementing the 2011 Cairo agreement particularly the provision over holding a meeting of the PLO Reform Committee (Interim Leadership Structure which consists of all factions including Hamas and PIJ).  

Fatah Revolutionary council meeting on Saturday: Senior Fatah officials said that the ordinary meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary council will discuss several issues. In addition, to the political file including the PA efforts to counter the US Deal of the Century, and the Israeli practices, the council will discuss possible amendments to the Fatah internal bylaws. The Fatah officials said that the old Fatah bylaws fail to address among other things, the event of vacancy in the event of death or incapacitation of Fatah general commander/ Fatah chief. The Fatah officials said that the discussions in Fatah central committee on this issue ended inconclusively. The Fatah officials said that the FRC was supposed to discuss this specific issue last fall, but it was deferred for unspecified date due to the sensitivity of the topic. However, the Fatah officials said that during the three day session starting Saturday, FRC secretariat will call for a discussion and will distribute a copy of the bylaws.

PA delegation concludes visit to Iraq/ signs MOUs: PA officials said that the PA delegation headed by PM Mohamed Shtayyeh concluded their visit to Iraq.  The visit was concluded by a meeting between PM Shtayyeh and the Iraqi President Saleh Barham where they discussed the latest political developments.  PM Shtayyeh said “we want to implement the memorandums of understanding and agreements between our two countries and put them into effect, particularly in the fields of agriculture, industry and trade, in line with the government’s strategy and its decision to gradually break away from the occupying power by opening up to international markets, especially Arab countries, and bolstering the Palestinian product and marketing it worldwide”. Comment: Senior PA officials said that in order to implement most if not all of MOUs with Iraq and recently with Jordan, the PA will have to raise these with the Israeli COGAT. The PA officials said that Jordan has also vowed to raise these issues in bilateral meetings with Israel.

OIC extraordinary meeting at foreign ministers level: The PA foreign minister Riad al Malki said that an Organization of Islamic Countries OIC will hold an extraordinary meeting in Jeddah today.  Al Malki said that the meeting which will be convened at the foreign ministers level will be held upon a request from the State of Palestine. He said that the meeting will primarily discuss US policies against the Palestinians including the participation of US officials in digging a tunnel south of al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem recently. He said that the meeting will also discuss the recent Israeli practices in Jerusalem including the destruction of houses, including in Wadi al Hummus in Sur Baher. Al Malki said that the OIC meeting will demand immediate intervention to stop the unprecedented Israeli practices including the increasing flow of Israeli right wing settlers to the Aqsa Mosque.

Public statements

PLO, and other officials condemn Israel for death of detainee/ investigation initiated:   PLO official Hanan Ashrawi issued a statement condemning Israel for the death of Nasser Taqatqa, a prisoner under interrogation. She said that the Palestinian leadership holds Israel legally and morally responsible for Taqatqa’s death. She also indicated that “over the past five decades, international human rights organizations have thoroughly documented Israel’s systematic and widespread human rights violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including the use of torture, physical and psychological abuse. She noted that collectively, Palestinian prisoners are the victims of a racist, colonial machine designed and maintained to ensure the oppression and subjugation of the Palestinian people through the use of mass incarceration”. She noted that the death of Mr. Taqatqa, the number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees who died or were executed while detained by Israeli rises to 220”.  PLO prisoners’ commission indicated that Israel has agreed to initiate an investigation into the exact circumstances of Taqata’q death. Last night in Ramallah, a number of activists held a protest and mourned the death of Taqatqa. Prisoners support groups indicated that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have been in a state or outrage and prepared for any confrontation with the Israel Prison Service (IPS) after the announcement of the death of fellow detainee Nassar Taqatqa, 31, while in solitary confinement at Nitzan (Ramla).  The Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said that the prisoners closed all the sections and informed the prisons administration that they would not receive the meals.

Press prominently covered EU local statement on Wadi al Hummus: local press prominentlycovered the European Union local statement on Wadi al Hummus house demolitions. The statement indicated that the EU expressed concern over Israeli demolition orders against Palestinian homes in Wadi al-Hummos area of Sur Baher, an East Jerusalem suburb, and the eviction of a Palestinian family from its home in Silwan neighborhood for the benefit of Israeli settlers.  “The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah note with concern the stated intention of the Israeli authorities to proceed with the demolition of 10 Palestinian buildings, containing some 70 apartments, which would put at risk of displacement 3 households comprising 17 people, including 9 children, in the Wadi al Hummos neighborhood. The majority of the buildings are located in Area A and B of the West Bank, under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, according to the Oslo Accords, while 2 buildings are in Area C”.  The statement went on to say “The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah express also concern about the eviction on 10 July of the Siam family in Silwan, a neighborhood of East Jerusalem where several other families from the vulnerable community of Wadi Yasul have received demolition orders, with some 50 cases currently at the Jerusalem District Court.”  The EU statement added: “In line with the EU’s long-standing position on Israel’s settlement policy, illegal under international law and actions taken in that context, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes, the EU expects the Israeli authorities to reconsider the execution of the intended demolitions and of the eviction.” It reiterated the EU’s “strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, including evictions and demolitions.”  It said, “The continuation of this policy undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace and seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States.”

Gaza related reports

A high-level delegation from the Hamas in Moscow: The delegation arrived on Monday in Moscow in response to an official invitation.  In a press release, senior Hamas official Husam Badran said that a delegation led by member of Hamas’s political bureau Mousa Abu Marzouq visited Moscow to meet with Russian officials. Badran said the visit was aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between the Movement and the Russian government and had nothing to do with the issue of the inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

Other developments/ Security incidents

Israeli forces demolished a pool used for irrigation in Wad al-Ghroos, an area close to the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba east of Hebron. Local sources said that a large unit of Israeli forces, accompanied by bulldozers and other heavy machinery, raided the area and demolished the 4500 cubic meter pool owned by local resident Ziad Jaabari and used for the irrigation of area fields and crops under the pretext that it was built in Area C of West Bank, which is under full Israeli military rule.  He added that Israeli forces verbally insulted and physically attacked residents, journalists and activists while they were at the scene.

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