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Mahmoud Abbas resigns from PLO leadership position

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Ramallaha:  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that he resigned as the chairman of Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) executive committee to reactivate the organisation. Abbas and nine PLO executive committee members resigned on Saturday and called for an emergency meeting of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the parliament in exile, to convene and elect new PLO members, Xinhua reported. According to the Palestinian law, the PNC has to convene within 30 working days in case more than one third of the PLO executive committee’s 18 members resign.

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Abbas told reporters that the executive committee is the government of the state of Palestine, and that it represents the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories and in the Diaspora. “We are passing through hard circumstances and what we need is to reactivate the PLO executive committee; therefore I resigned together with nine other members,” Abbas said, adding that within one month, the PNC should convene and a new PLO executive committee has to be elected.
The Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, slammed on Sunday the resignations of Abbas and nine other members. Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zhuri, said that the resignation “is a unilateral call for holding the Palestinian National Council. it is a retreat on reconciliation. “The call to convene the PNC to elect new executive committee shows a total ignorance, unilateralism and an absence to real intentions for achieving a real internal reconciliation,” he said.

(IANS)

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India-Palestine aim to bolster economic ties

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Sushma Swaraj

Palestine: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said here on Sunday that India was working towards closer political interaction with Palestine. It also intends for deeper economic engagement with them.

“We have also started to put in motion the framework suggested by our president for the future of our partnership during his visit,” she said referring to President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Palestine in October last year.

“Accordingly, we are working for closer political interaction and deeper economic engagement with Palestine,” she said while inaugurating the India-Palestine Digital Learning and Innovation Centre at the campus of the Al Quds University here. The centre is part of India’s capacity-building efforts in Palestine.

“We are also looking at ways and means to further increase academic collaboration between India and Palestine,” the minister said.

Elated at the centre’s inauguration, she said this was yet “another example of India’s commitment to helping its brothers and sisters in Palestine”.

Sushma Swaraj, who held bilateral talks with her Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al Maliki and called on President Mahmoud Abbas earlier in the day, said her talks with the two leaders were “fruitful”.

“I am coming here after fruitful discussions with President Abbas and Foreign Minister Riyad Al Malki on a wide range of bilateral, multilateral and regional issues,” she said.

“In my meetings, I was happy to see that we have shared views on issues and there is great warmth in our friendship.

“We also discussed India’s capacity building assistance to the people of Palestine of which this Center is a shining example.”

Sushma Swaraj mentioned this was her first visit abroad in 2016 and Palestine her first destination.

“This in itself reflects the importance Palestine holds for India.”

She said the fact that her visit was taking place shortly after President Mukherjee’s visit “also reflects our keen interest in further deepening the very rich and historic relationship that we have with Palestine”.

“India’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its principled support to the Palestinian cause is rooted in our own freedom struggle,” she said.

According to the minister, India’s approach to Palestine has crystallised into a policy with three core dimensions — solidarity with the Palestinian people; support to the Palestinian cause; and support to Palestine’s nation-building and capacity-building efforts.

“The entire Indian political leadership remains steadfastly committed to these policies,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj said India’s strengths in IT and IT-enabled services could immensely benefit the Palestinian economy and society.

“We are ready to assist Palestine in IT, as well as other sectors, as much as we can,” she said adding that India would build another centre for excellence in ICT and innovation in Gaza city.

“We are also developing a techno-park in Ramallah. President Abbas views the techno-park as a transformative project,” she said.

She said India’s empathy with the Palestinian cause and the friendship with the Palestinian people remained undiluted.

“This is an integral part of our foreign policy,” she said.

“We will also continue to support the developmental aspirations of the Palestinian people by all possible mean at our disposal.”

Earlier on Sunday, apart from her meetings with Al Maliki and Abbas, who hosted a lunch in her honour, she paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at his bust, which is placed at the Garden of Nations here.

She also paid tributes at the mausoleum of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat here.

Sushma Swaraj, who landed in Tel Aviv late on Saturday, reached Ramallah, the administrative capital of Palestine, on Sunday morning.

Later in the day, she proceeded to Israel where she will meet the top Israeli leadership. (IANS)

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Israeli occupation of Palestine: Retracing the organized subversion of human rights

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By Gaurav Sharma

What began as an extensive persecution of Jews in the Middle Ages in the form raging anti-semitism has now transformed into a morbid crackdown on Palestinians.

Palestine represents the world’s largest refugee population, most of whom are poor, powerless, and homeless. Unemployment is rampant, with a record 67 percent of the youth population without a job to provide for their basic needs. Homes lie in shambles, bombed by the incessant flow of missiles fired from Israel-occupied regions in the West Bank.

To aggravate the situation, most of the promised $3.5 billion foreign aid does not reach the target audience (almost three-fourth of the amount is diverted to the Palestinian Authority, a puppet regime in West Bank).

Jewish uprising

The crisis which has snowballed into flagrant human rights abuses by the Israeli regime traces it roots to the resurgence of Zionism in the early 20th Century, in line with the long-standing demands of a ‘return to Zion.’

Zionism began as Jewish nationalist movement under the vision of Theodor Herzl, an Austrian-Jewish journalist who galvanized the brewing jingoism into a mass movement in 1896.

By organizing meetings and penning down vocal essays, Herzl was able to magnetize Jews living in Europe to what now stands as Israel / Palestine. To escape the jaws of European persecution, the Jews heeded Herzl’s clarion calls for a national homeland and migrated to what was then an Arab and Muslim dominated territory under the control of the Ottoman empire (which was later transferred to the British).

Through a heady mix of anti-semitism and religious nationalism, the Jewish population in Israel/Palestine sharply escalated between 1896 and 1948. The Arabs saw the mass immigration of Jews as a European colonial movement and a war soon ensued.

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Theodor Herzl, father of modern political Zionism

Division of state

Unable to stymie the violence, Britain devised a partition policy wherein Palestine would control West Bank and the Gaza strip and the rest of the land would be transferred to Israel.

While the Jewish population accepted the deal, Arabs viewed the agreement as an insidious plan to displace them from their rightful land. Subsequently in 1967, the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq launched a war against Israel, though not before terming it as an aggressor.

Israel, on its part, asserted that it had launched the attack as a pre-emptive measure. During the Six Day war (as it is popularly known), Israel crushed the Arab powers and assumed control of West Bank and East Jerusalem. More than 77 percent of the land came under the territory of Israel. In the aftermath of the sinister battle, a massive 700,000 Palestinian civilians transfigured into refugees.

To address grievances of the displaced populace, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 242, asking Israel to withdraw from ‘the territories’ (French translation) occupied. The US and Israel used instead the English translation of the text to argue that withdrawal from some, and not all the usurped area would suffice.

Meanwhile, to govern the Palestinian population in West Bank and Gaza, Israel organized a military establishment through which civil rights and political liberties such as freedom of speech and expression, press, and association were denied to the Palestinians.

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Six Day War: June 5-10, 1967

Intifida and Human rights abuse

Following the subversion and criminalization of Palestinian nationalism, an Intifida (shaking off) movement was mobilized by the Palestinian community. During the mass unrest, Israel arrested people by the dozen. (Israel had the highest per-capita prison population in the world)

A secret policy of targeted killing was undertaken by Israel. Violence within the Palestinian community also escalated, with the rift between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO, the official representative of the Palestinians) and Hamas (an Islamist organization deemed as a terrorist group) spilling out in the open.

Despite the 1993 Oslo 2 agreements dividing the West Bank into a shared territory (besides giving complete control of one area to Israel), Israel has launched sweeping offensives in the Gaza strip, killing thousands of Palestinians. Hamas has retaliated with much less fire-power.

As of now, the Gaza strip is under the control of Hamas and the West Bank is ruled by the mainstream Fateh faction of the PLO.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the apathy of diplomatic amnesia, refugees which include young children, helpless women, and old residents have been subjected to barbaric human rights abuse.

Human Rights Watch, a global human rights advocacy group, has documented cases where boys belonging to the tender age group of 10-15 years were threatened, mercilessly beaten-up, stripped, and jailed. (a gross violation of Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights ratified by Israel in 1991)

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‘Mowing the lawn,’ an euphemism for Israeli oppression in Palestine

A Unicef report further underscores the plight of the refugees in a 2013 report wherein the uncertainty and instability of the future of Palestinian children is highlighted.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer prize-winning author, calls the peace process a ‘sham’ and defines Israel as a ‘corrupt oligarchic regime for whom war has become a lucrative business.’

The allegations are not far-fetched keeping in mind the 390,000 tank shells, 5 million bullets, and 35,000 artillery shells that were blasted by Israel during the 51-day Gaza siege in 2014.

More recently, a one-and-a-half-year old Palestinian infant was charred to death in what has been defined as a clear case of Jewish terrorism. The brutal episode is however not an isolated case of brazen violence.

Following the execution of three Jewish students in West Bank, Israel launched a full-scale invasion of Gaza and administered an even more sinister campaign to blockade food deliveries, thereby ensuring the survival of Palestinians just above starvation levels. The periodic rocket shelling which has shattered the lives of the Palestinians is meanwhile callously dubbed as ‘mowing the lawn.

As far as counter-charges of Hamas wreaking havoc in Israel go, the disparity in the efficacy of attacks is precociously prominent. Compared to the 20-40 tonnes of firepower that Hamas used through its widely inaccurate missile strikes, Israel pummelled 20,000 tonnes of explosives in Gaza.

The only feasible way to prevent Israel from continuing the horrific hounding of Palestinians is through imposition of sanctions, such as those that brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa.

However, with the US backing Israeli-occupation of Palestine, it is highly unlikely that the BDS movement, a global campaign to exert political and economic pressure on Israel to leave Palestinian land, would succeed.

And yet, there is no other way to arrest the fall of the Palestinian people.

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After abstaining in anti-Israel vote, Indian official on Palestine visit

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

 New Delhi: Days after India abstained in a UNHRC vote against Israel over the 2014 Gaza conflict, a top Indian official visited Palestine during which he met President Mahmoud Abbas.

Anil Wadhwa, secretary (East) in the external affairs ministry, was on a two-day official visit to Palestine on July 8-9.

On Wednesday evening, Wadhwa called on Abbas and discussed bilateral relations and issues relating to the West Asia and the stalled Middle East Peace Process.

Wadhwa also met officials in the ministry of foreign affairs of Palestine, said an official statement on Thursday.

Wadhwa will call on Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian prime minister, on Thursday.

He is also to inaugurate the Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary School for Girls in Asera Al-Shamalyeh.

The project is a gift from the government and people of India to Palestine. The school is one of the Indian projects in Palestine and a part of India’s capacity building initiatives in Palestine, said the statement.

The other ongoing projects of the Indian government in Palestine include the Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary Boys School in Abu Dees, setting up of the India-Palestine Centre for Excellence in ICT and Digital Learning and Innovation Centre in Al Quds University (with a satellite centre in Ramallah) and supply of technical and vocational education training equipment and training services to seven vocational training centres in Palestine.

On July 3, marking a significant change in stance, India had abstained on a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning Israel over a UN report into the alleged war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza conflict. But India stated that “there is no change in New Delhi’s long-standing position on support to the Palestinian cause”.

India has in the past voted in favour of anti-Israel resolutions in the UN.

India was among five countries that abstained in the vote against Israel.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit Israel, Palestine and Jordan this year, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also to visit Israel this year.

(IANS)