EU boosts ties with Israel, ignores settlements and occupation

BRUSSELS (IPS) - Diplomats representing the European Union (EU) have drawn up a new plan for strengthening their relations with Israel despite the expansion of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Spain, the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, is eager that work proceeds on formally upgrading the Union’s political and commercial ties with Israel over the next few months. 

DFLP's Saleh Zeidan: Obama's speech should become action

Saleh Zeidan, Gaza-based leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), spoke to The Electronic Intifada correspondent Rami Almeghari about chances for peace in the region following the latest failures and setbacks in United States peace initiatives. This is part of an occasional series of interviews with various political figures and factions in Palestine. 

Palestinian women become breadwinners under occupation

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, with its ubiquitous closures, checkpoints, military raids and arrests, has decimated the Palestinian economy in the West Bank and Gaza. The World Bank warned over a year ago that unless Israel eased its restrictions on movement and access in the West Bank the Palestinian economy would further deteriorate. 

Nightmares continue to plague Gaza children

OCCUPIED GAZA STRIP (IRIN) - Mona al-Samouni, 12, is depressed and has nightmares about the day — just more than a year ago — when she witnessed her parents and a number of relatives being shot by Israeli soldiers in their home in Zeitoun, southeast of Gaza City. Like a number of other children who witnessed horrific events during last year’s 23-day Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, Mona has become increasingly withdrawn and silent — common ways of coping with tragedies, doctors say. 

Hamas parliamentarian: "We accept existence of Israel within 1967 borders"

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Palestinian politics are at an impasse. The four-year term of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) ended on 25 January with no new elections planned. Presidential elections, meant to be held last year, were also postponed indefinitely. IPS spoke with Dr. Mahmoud Ramahi, a neurosurgeon and secretary-general of the PLC, on the political deadlock. 

Palestinian refugees in Jordan stuck in a no man's land

AMMAN (IPS) - According to the records of the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), Jordan is home to 1.9 million displaced Palestinians. “Jordan hosts about 42 percent of the total refugee population,” says Mattar Sakr, director of public relations for UNRWA in Jordan. Sakr adds that most refugees reside in 13 camps, three of them considered unofficial dwellings because they were not assigned by the government. 

Palestine refugees face service cuts due to UNRWA financial crisis

The United Nations agency Palestine refugees (UNRWA) faces a severe deficit that could lead to cuts of essential services to more than 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. According to UNRWA, the agency’s 2009 funds are already exhausted and it faces a shortfall of US $140 million for 2010. Rami Almeghari reports from the occupied Gaza Strip.