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Israeli Government Decides, US Follows With Pressure, PA Complies to Cut Monthly Payments to Families of Palestinian Political Prisoners

PIC, June 14, 2017

Children of Palestinian prisoners protest against the PA compliance with the Israeli-US pressure to cut off monthly payments to prisoners and families of martyrs, pic, June 14, 2017 Children of Palestinian prisoners protest against the PA compliance with the Israeli-US pressure to cut off monthly payments to prisoners and families of martyrs, pic, June 14, 2017


Israeli so-called parliament approved the first reading of a bill to deduct the Palestinian prisoners' allowances from the tax revenues going to the Palestinian Authority

June 14, 2017


The Israeli so-called parliament (Knesset) Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved on Sunday the first reading of a bill to deduct the Palestinian prisoners' allowances from the tax revenues going to the Palestinian Authority, according to Hebrew media sources.

The Hebrew sources reported that the ratification came despite the objection of the government's Attorney General, but a consensus was reached not to put the bill vote in the three readings because it will be merged later with a government bill related to the matter.

Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said that the bill, initiated by MK Elazar Stern for Yesh Atid party, provides for deducting the prisoners' salaries from the tax revenues transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority.

In conjunction with the vote on the law, 180 Israeli families, whose soldiers were killed in resistance operations, filed a petition to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding him to work to pass the law.

US Secretary of State Rex says the Palestinian Authority (PA) is serious about its promise to “cease the payments” to Palestinian prisoners’ families

June 14, 2017


The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday during a hearing on Capitol Hill before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the State Department’s budget that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is serious about its promise to “cease the payments” to Palestinian prisoners’ families.

“They have changed that policy, and their intent is to cease the payments to the families of those who have committed murder or violence against others,” Tillerson reassured the Senate committee.

“We have been very clear with them that this is simply not acceptable to us,” he added.

The PA has earlier decided to stop paying salaries to some 250 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails.

Palestinians protest against the PA yielding to Israeli-US pressure to stop monthly payments to families of martyrs and political prisoners

June 14, 2017

GAZA, (PIC) + -

The Hamas Movement has reiterated its condemnation of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) compliance with the Israeli-US request to cut off monthly payments to prisoners and families of martyrs.

In Facebook remarks, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said that “PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s submission to the Israeli-US demands calling to discontinue paying salaries to prisoners and families of martyrs means that he is persistent in liquidating all components of the Palestinian cause and destroying the foundations of the national work.”

Qasem accused the PA leaders of going too far in making concessions at the expense of the Palestinian cause in order to ensure continuity of the privileges provided for them by Washington and Tel Aviv.

Addressing the Senate on Tuesday, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said that Abbas would stop the policy of providing the Palestinian families of those who attacked or killed Israelis as well as the prisoners in Israeli jails with monthly financial support.

This came after Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government pressed recently the Trump administration to cut off aid to the PA unless such payments stop.

New Israeli sanctions on Palestinian prisoners, contrary to the agreement to end their hunger strike

June 14, 2017


The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies said on Wednesday that the harsh Israeli measures and sanctions imposed on the Palestinian female prisoners recently are contrary to the agreement reached to end the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike.

Spokesman of the Center, Riyad al-Ashqar, said that many of those in charge of the prisoners' file affirmed that the majority of the prisoners' humanitarian and living demands were achieved following the 40-day hunger strike.

He added that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has escalated its arbitrary measures against the Palestinian female prisoners since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan in violation of what was agreed upon between the negotiating committee and the IPS.

These arbitrary measures included raising the prices of the products in the prison's canteen, including the handicraft tools which the IPS prohibited their entry through family visits, in addition to ignoring the prisoners' complaints about the overcrowded cells, the continued humiliation, strip searches and ill treatment, according to Ashqar.

Ashqar pointed out that the female prisoners launched several protest steps to stop these violations including returning the meals provided to them and refusing to go out to the prison yard and threatened to escalate the protest unless the IPS stopped its violations.

The Center called on the organizations that sponsored the agreement between the prisoners and the IPS to follow up the strike's achievements and ensure that the IPS meets the demands agreed upon.


Hamas and the Palestinian Cause Are at the Heart of the Gulf Storm

By Said Al-Haj

June 14, 2017

GAZA, (PIC) + -

It is still not clear how difficult the Gulf crisis will be now that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have started their boycott of Qatar, but it is clear that developments are unprecedented, rolling and open to all scenarios. It is also clear that Hamas and the Palestinian cause are at the heart of the storm.

All of the justifications presented by these countries for their move, and the media escalation that preceded them, do not measure up to be the real motives and reasons for the dramatic developments. Most of them range between allegations, claims and exaggeration, with some other regular issues that are not supposed to be such a big deal.

The events preceding or coinciding with the crisis suggest the real reasons behind it. This is especially so with regard to Trump’s visit to the region and the declaration of the “Middle East Alliance” to confront terrorism and extremism; the establishment of the “moderate” centre; and the research and media campaign in the US against Qatar in particular, which went on to include Turkey.

The most logical reasons pop up in the UAE’s competition with Qatar; the anger at Doha’s foreign policies, particularly with regards to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood; Saudi Arabia’s succession issue; and the talk about “deal of the century” whose details are still vague.

As for the language used in the announcements of Arab states boycotting Qatar, which appear to be closer to declarations of war than political statements, it tells us that the story is short; the disreputable axis of Arab moderation is rearranging its cards, portfolios and priorities with all folly. So, where do Hamas and the Palestinian cause stand in this unprecedented storm and what awaits them?

Palestinians still remember the pain of the repercussions of the Second Gulf War as an Arab-Arab conflict for which the entire Arab world paid the price, and still does. The Palestinian cause had its share in a path that began in Madrid and continued in Oslo and has not ended yet, but it seems that the repercussions for Hamas, Gaza and the Palestinian issue today are more critical and dangerous.

In the light of the recent crisis and the previous developments, there are several challenges facing Hamas in particular and the Palestinian resistance in general, and inevitably the Palestinian issue in the coming period.

First up is the worsening of financial distress affecting Hamas due to the crises in the region as well as internationally-imposed restrictions. The centre of “moderation” will focus on following up what will be considered “extremism” and not just those organisations listed as “terrorist entities”, according to the US and Trump definition as announced at the summit in Riyadh. Hamas is designated as a “terrorist” group and will thus face further restrictions, especially from the Gulf States. Of course, it is no secret that the continuation of the financial crisis will mean yet more deterioration in the living conditions in the Gaza Strip, which is something that several parties will seek to exploit to turn things against Hamas in the besieged territory.

What’s more, a new Israeli offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will be more likely than ever as the winds of the Arab revolutions weaken; the Arab axis of moderation continues with its policies; counter-revolutions develop; and as long as there is both tacit and open approval by some Palestinian factions and individuals. Not only that, but also because the Arab world will be too busy with the Gulf-Gulf crisis, and Arab regimes are crumbling, which means that even the minimum level of verbal and political denunciation and condemnation of Israel and its occupation won’t be available.

In addition, we will see the activation of Trump’s so-called “deal of the century”, with Al-Sisi and others “solving” the Palestinian issue — for which read “liquidating” it — by proposing a weak political solution accepted by some Palestinians. Its opponents won’t find any regional or international support to stop it, not least because all we know about this deal is its title, while its goals, timetable, gains and losses are not clear at all.

Furthermore, we are seeing the potential loss of the regional incubator in Qatar and Turkey, which are two countries with a known policy of supporting Hamas, the resistance against the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian cause. Although their role is limited to the media, politics and aid, they are being required to curtail and stop it. This will mean the possible repositioning of some Hamas leaders currently in exile in Doha until and unless the crisis passes. Hamas’s ability to withstand united Gulf pressure, with implicit US backing, is weak, and so all it can do is bend with the wind and let the storm pass, if possible.

The problem with this, of course, is its complexity. The exiles whom Qatar may not be able to host during the crisis may not be able to be hosted by Turkey either. This means greater fragmentation for the new Hamas leadership and more challenges in the new countries in which they find refuge, including political and security issues.

Finally, there is a threat to the future of the movement and its political programme and rhetoric; it’s a long-term challenge with the least likelihood, but it remains a possibility. Trump’s speech, the Riyadh summit and then all of the current developments came after the announcement of a new “flexible” policy by Hamas. This means that the plan is to use more of the stick and not the carrot against the movement, placing further restrictions on it financially, politically, militarily and geographically. It is expected that this will be used to push for even more “flexibility” to be demanded from Hamas, which has to be aware of this.

What options, therefore, does Hamas have? I think that they are limited. Naturally, the movement has to deal with the crisis. This requires trying to ease the pressure on its Qatari friends while searching for interim and long-term solutions. This might include concentrating the leadership in the Gaza Strip, or turning toward Tehran once again.

However, rapprochement with Iran is not necessarily a wise option to take and cannot be a solution to the problem. It would have the effect of increasing restrictions on the movement, clearly categorising it regionally and internationally according to circumstance that have no guaranteed repercussions or consequences. In addition, Tehran no longer has the same desire to resume its relations with, and support, for Hamas.

This is bigger than a Gulf-Gulf crisis; its causes are more complex and its consequences are more dangerous than can be covered in a brief article. The only constant is that this snowball has started its descent and it is hard to stop; it will be difficult if not impossible to restore relations and conditions without significant concessions, or profound transformations, both of which are very damaging to the Palestinian cause. It is ironic that this should now be suffering from a degree of Arab unity and a crack that has appeared in the apparently once-unified Arab edifice.


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