Khalid Amayreh

Rice in talks with Palestinian leaders

In talks scheduled with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will seek to obtain assurances that Israel will stick to the peace plan. Rice met Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, together with several Palestinian cabinet ministers on Saturday, at the start of a day-long series of talks. Later she was to meet President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Interior Minister Nasser Yousef, who is responsible for the Palestinian security forces, amid signs the Palestinians were buckling under heavy Israeli and US pressure to clamp down on resistance groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. 

Hamas: "We are committed to ceasefire"

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance group, Hamas, says it remains committed to observing the ceasefire, despite the assassination by Israel of at least eight of its resistance cadres. Israeli warplanes on Friday carried out two pinpoint missile attacks on two Palestinian vehicles in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, killing at least eight Hamas resistance activists. “We are still committed to the ceasefire. We are not interested in any escalation. However, if Israel continues these acts of extrajudicial executions of our people, then we will most certainly defend ourselves,” said Hasan Yousuf, Hamas’s spokesman in the West Bank. 

Fatah meet a damp squib

Despite its high-profile, the Fatah central committee meeting in Amman earlier this week seems to have failed to resolve the internal crises and divisions afflicting the movement. Veteran Fatah leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Fatah chief Farouq Qaddumi voiced satisfaction at the decisions adopted by the movement’s top brass, especially an invitation to Hamas to join a possible government of national unity. The top Fatah leadership also reasserted its rejection of the concept of a state with interim borders as proposed by some in Israel and the US

Israel accused of covering up murders

The Israeli human rights organisation, B’tselem, has accused the Israeli occupation army of whitewashing the murders of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians. The organisation, which monitors Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories, described Monday’s conviction of an Israeli soldier for the killing of British photographer and activist Tom Hurndall as an “exception than the norm”. “It is obvious that the prosecution and conviction of Tom Hurndall’s killer represents the exception, not the norm, as it is amply clear that the Israeli army refrains from investigating most cases involving the killing of Palestinians civilians by the Israeli army,” said a report released by B’tselem on Monday. 

Outrage greets Israeli military chief

The appointment of Dan Halutz as the Israeli military’s new Chief of Staff has infuriated many Palestinians who consider the former Commander of the Israeli Air Force a criminal. During his tenure as Air Force Commander between 2000-2004, Halutz approved and oversaw operations that caused the death of many Palestinian civilians, including numerous children. In July 2002, Halutz ordered the Israeli air force to drop a one-tonne bomb on a Gaza apartment complex, killing 14 civilians, including at least 10 children. Halutz took over as the 18th Chief of Staff on Wednesday. 

Jewish state idea mired in confusion

Since the collapse of the Oslo accords nearly five years ago, Israeli leaders have been demanding that the Palestinian Authority recognise Israel as a Jewish state in any prospective settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, have even used the concept of “state of the Jewish people”, with the connotation that Israel belongs not only to its citizens, but to Jews all over the world, including potential future converts. The idea, Israeli academics and intellectuals say, occupies “centre-stage” in Israel’s Zionist collective thinking. 

Hamas: EU, US want to talk

Hamas says it is being approached by European representatives seeking dialogue on the resistance movement’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Under heavy Israeli and American pressure, Hamas, including its political wing, was placed on the EU list of terrorist groups two years ago. The US had classified Hamas as a “terrorist group” several years earlier, citing resistance attacks, including suicide bombings, by Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, against Israeli civilian and military targets. However, the growing popularity of Hamas, which found expression in recent elections in the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has prompted European policy planners to have second thoughts. 

Israeli army kills more Palestinians

Israeli occupation soldiers have shot and killed a Palestinian man in the southern West Bank town of Hebron, hours after the killing of another Palestinian near the northern city of Jenin. Palestinian sources and witnesses said Israeli soldiers patrolling the streets of Hebron’s old town on Sunday killed Omar Mahmoud al-Ghafi Hoshiyeh, 200 metres from the Ibrahimi Mosque. Palestinian witnesses told there was a verbal confrontation between the victim and one of the Israeli occupation soldiers, after which the soldier shot him seven times. However, an Israeli army spokesman said Hoshiyeh tried to stab a soldier. 

Palestinian teachers union calls for Sari Nusseibeh's dismissal

A Palestinian teachers union has called for the dismissal of Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh for “normalising ties with Israel” and “serving Israeli propaganda interests”. A statement by the Palestinian Union of University Teachers and Employees (PUUTE), published on the front page of the Ramallah-based daily Al-Ayyam, on Monday accused Nussaibeh of “normalising relations with the Sharon government” despite the Israeli prime minister’s policy of “bullying the Palestinians and stealing their land”. “This constitutes a strong blow to the Palestinian national consensus against normalisation with Israel,” said the statement. 

Palestinians mark day of catastrophe

Palestinians have observed the blackest day in their history with warnings that there will be no Middle East peace until they get independence and the plight of their refugees is solved. Millions of Palestinians at home and in the diaspora on Sunday commemorated the 57th anniversary of the Nakba (catastrophe). The term denotes the loss of Palestine to Zionism, the creation of Israel and the expulsion of most of the Palestinian people from their historical homeland. Sirens were sounded throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians were asked to stand silent for a minute in memory of the anniversary. Marches and rallies were organised throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, with speakers reasserting commitment to the right of return.