Archive for April 2, 2019

Hamas gives Israel demands for security prisoners on eve of hunger strike

April 2, 2019
Terms passed via Egypt include restoring visits, ending policy of jamming cell phones, improving conditions in prisons; conditions presented as part of agreement to restore calm in Gaza after tensions spiked
https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5488430,00.html

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday that his organization has given Israel a series of demands regarding its security prisoners who are set to begin a hunger strike next week.

The demands were passed to Israel by the Egyptian delegation currently trying to mediate an end to Gaza hostilities between the two sides.

Israeli prison guards (Photo: Israel Prison Service)
Israeli prison guards (Photo: Israel Prison Service)

 

Hamas’ demands for Israel:

1. Removing the cell phone jamming device

2. Lifting recent sanctions on the prisoners

3. Restoring visits for prisoners

4. Improving prison conditions

 

According to Hamas, some of the understandings with Israel will be implemented before the elections on April 9, and some afterwards.

The understandings that will be implemented before the elections are the simpler ones, such as expanding the fishing area off the Gaza coast (already done); easing restrictions on exported goods from Gaza; improving the electricity supply by operating the turbines at the power plant; and beginning projects that will provide temporary employment.

Guards search the cells of Hamas prisoners at Ketziot Prison (Photo: IPS)

Guards search the cells of Hamas prisoners at Ketziot Prison (Photo: IPS)

The understandings that will be implemented after the elections include the construction of another power line from Israel to Gaza within six months and the construction of a gas pipeline to the Gaza power plant within a year. In addition, the Palestinians are demanding the establishment of infrastructure and alternative energy projects.

The timetables will be presented to representatives of the Palestinian factions in Gaza, who will announce whether they accept or reject them.

Last week, the Israel Prison Service announced that it would charge the Hamas prisoners in Ramon Prison NIS 250,000 ($70,000) after they set fire to the mattresses in their cells last week.

The arson took place in the wing where mobile phones are being jammed by the IPS, which expressed concern that such a move would lead to attacks on prison guards, damage to prison property and riots.

A few days earlier, a prison guard at Ketziot Prison was stabbed in the neck by two security prisoners in the neck during a search of the site.

 

 

Russia in the Middle East – Jerusalem Studio 410

April 2, 2019

 

 

Led by Saudis, Arab leaders unite against Trump’s recognition of Golan Heights 

April 2, 2019

Source: Led by Saudis, Arab leaders unite against Trump’s recognition of Golan Heights | The Times of Israel

22-member league — minus Syria — condemns US president’s policies favoring Israel, but is not expected to take further action

Arab leaders pose for the camera, ahead of the 30th Arab Summit in Tunis, Tunisia, March 31, 2019. (Zoubeir Souissi, Pool photo via AP)

Arab leaders pose for the camera, ahead of the 30th Arab Summit in Tunis, Tunisia, March 31, 2019. (Zoubeir Souissi, Pool photo via AP)

TUNIS, Tunisia — Leaders meeting in Tunisia for the annual Arab League summit on Sunday were united in their condemnation of Trump administration policies seen as unfairly biased toward Israel but divided on a host of other issues, including whether to readmit founding member Syria.

Representatives from the 22-member league — minus Syria — aim to jointly condemn US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli control over the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war, and Trump’s decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

At the opening of the summit, King Salman said Saudi Arabia “absolutely rejects any measures undermining Syria’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights” and supports the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

He added that Iran’s meddling was to blame for instability in the region.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz attends the opening session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (Fethi Belaid/Pool/AFP)

One of the few things that have united the Arab League over the last 50 years is the rejection of Israel’s control of the Golan Heights as well as East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which Israel also gained control of in the 1967 war and which the Palestinians want for a future state.

The international community, including the United States, largely shared that position until Trump upended decades of US policy by moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem last year and recognizing Israel’s 1981 extension of Israeli law to the strategic Golan plateau earlier this month.

The Arab leaders meeting in Tunisia are expected to issue a statement condemning those moves but are unlikely to take any further action.

That’s in part because regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have cultivated close ties with the Trump administration, viewing it as a key ally against their main rival, Iran. Both face Western pressure over their devastating three-year war with Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Riyadh is still grappling with the fallout from the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents last year.

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Saturday that Arab ministers had voiced support in a preparatory meeting for a declaration that Trump’s Golan move violates the UN Charter, which prohibits acquiring territories by force.

In Syria, small protests against Trump’s Golan move were held in different parts of the country and state media criticized the Arab summit. “The Golan is not awaiting support from the Arabs, and not a statement to condemn what Trump has done,” the Thawra newspaper said in an editorial that accused Arab leaders of taking their orders from the US and Israel.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attends the opening of the 30th Arab Summit in Tunis, Tunisia, March 31, 2019. (Fethi Belaid/ Pool photo via AP)

This year’s summit comes against a backdrop of ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen, rival authorities in Libya and a lingering boycott of Qatar by four fellow League members. Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir skipped the meeting as they contend with mass protests against their long reigns.

The Arab League is expected to consider readmitting Syria, a founding member that was expelled in the early days of the 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad. But officials speaking ahead of the meeting said it was unlikely Syria would be welcomed back anytime soon.

The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus last year, and other Arab states have expressed support for restoring relations. But Saudi Arabia and Qatar have actively supported the rebels trying to overthrow Assad, and many other states view his government as an Iranian proxy that should continue to be shunned.

In a rare sign of easing tensions across another regional rift, King Salman and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sat at the same sprawling table when the heads of delegations met Sunday. It was the first time the two leaders have appeared in the same room since Saudi Arabia led the boycott of Qatar nearly two years ago over Doha’s ties to Iran and its support for regional Islamist groups.

 

Netanyahu to meet Putin in Moscow five days before elections

April 2, 2019

Source: Netanyahu to meet Putin in Moscow five days before elections | The Times of Israel

Iran’s efforts to entrench itself in Syria, US Golan declaration likely to dominate ‘brief’ discussion between PM and Russian leader, their second in five weeks

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 27, 2019. (MAXIM SHEMETOV / POOL / AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 27, 2019. (MAXIM SHEMETOV / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this week, his office announced on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not provide further details about the meeting, which is set to take place Thursday in the Kremlin — five days before Israel’s Knesset elections.

Russia confirmed the meeting.

“An agreement has been reached that on April 4 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will fly to Moscow for a brief working visit. On April 4 such brief working talks will be held and the sides will synchronize their watches,” according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

Putin and Netanyahu spoke on the phone on Monday and discussed “regional issues,” the PMO said that day, without elaborating.

Netanyahu has boasted of his close personal ties to world leaders, including Putin, during the current election campaign, arguing that his diplomatic skills are unrivaled.

The last meeting of the two leaders took place in late February in the Russian capital, and marked the first significant encounter between the two since a major spat developed over a downed Russian spy plane in September. Even though the plane was shot down by Syrian air defense while aiming at an Israeli jet that was targeting an alleged Iranian installation, Moscow blamed Israel, saying the IAF used the Russian aircraft as cover and did not give the Russians proper warning of its planned strike in Syria.

Israel denies both charges.

At the time, Netanyahu stressed Israel’s absolute commitment to continue to act to thwart Iran’s efforts to military entrench itself in Syria. Tehran and Damascus are close allies of Moscow.

“The greatest threat to stability and security in the region comes from Iran and its proxies,” Netanyahu told Putin in February 27. “We are determined to continue our aggressive activity against Iran, which calls for our destruction, and against its attempts to establish itself militarily in Syria.”

Syria is likely to dominate Thursday’s talks as well, including the matter of the US administration’s recognition last week of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Moscow condemned the decision, reiterating that it considers the territory part of Syria.

Netanyahu had credited his close ties with Putin for the success of a system allowing Israel to carry out strikes in Syria without becoming entangled with Russia, which is allied with Syria’s President Bashar Assad, but those ties reportedly took a hit in the wake of the spy plane incident.

After the February meeting, a minor disagreement over Moscow’s offer to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks ensued. The Russian embassy in Tel Aviv said that the issue had been raised during the trip, but an Israeli official later denied this.

Quoting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the embassy’s statement said that “during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow, the situation in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement was discussed. We reaffirmed our position on Russia’s interest in overcoming the deadlock in this matter as soon as possible.

“Our proposal to host leaders of Israel and Palestine remains relevant. We believe that it would be at least a very important step in restoring confidence. Without this, it is impossible to count on further progress in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement,” it  said.

Russia🇷🇺 in Israel

@israel_mid_ru

During PM ‘s visit to (27/02) the situation in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement was discussed. We reaffirmed our position on ‘s interest in overcoming the deadlock in this matter as soon as possible, said. https://bit.ly/2tXs1hj  -1/3-

But in response, a senior Israeli diplomatic official told Hebrew media that “the issue was never discussed.”

During the public part of the February meeting, Putin welcomed his Israeli guest, but did not specifically mention Iran or Syria in his remarks. “It is very important that we continue to cooperate. Russia was a supporter of the establishment of Israel. We are happy to talk about the situation in the region and the security issue,” he said.

Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.