Meeting cancelled. Gabriel said this was “regrettable”. Germany warns against new wave of Middle East violence

Germany warns against new wave of Middle East violence

Image of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Berlin, Germany on March 8, 2017 [Ayhan Şimşek/Anadolu Agency]

Image of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Berlin, Germany on March 8, 2017 [Ayhan Şimşek/Anadolu Agency]
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German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned that a new wave of violence might erupt in the Middle East unless the Israeli and Palestinian sides return to the peace process soon.

Gabriel is on a three-day visit to the Middle East, starting with Amman, Jordan, on Sunday. He arrived in Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday.

Read: Corruption in Israel would abolish Germany military deal

“Waiting too long will open up a new field of play to the terror organisations of this world,” he was quoted by Deutsche Welle as saying in Amman.

If we neglect this conflict, it could cause a new series of violence in the region of a kind we have not yet seen in the past few years.

Gabriel also noted that conflict should become central to international politics once again, and it should not be dealt with as “secondary” in the war against terror, adding that Germany can play an “active role” in resolving conflict, although he pointed to the key role played by the United States in this regard.

His visit to Israel has been met with controversy as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to cancel a meeting between the two officials if Gabriel meetings with human rights groups including Breaking the Silence during his trip. Gabriel said this was “regrettable”.


Official: Fatah refused to take control of Gaza from Hamas

Image of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on February 13, 2017 [Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency]

Image of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on February 13, 2017 [Issam Rimawi /Anadolu Agency]
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Hamas was willing to hand over the crossings and government of the Gaza Strip however Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refuse, a senior Hamas member said today.

Speaking to writers and analysts, Salah Bardawil said: “Our people have many strong cards in the international arena, but President Mahmoud Abbas is ignoring them.”

“Abbas is going to Washington without having conferred with anyone,” he added, noting that there is no other Palestinian institution that represents the Palestinian people other than the president.

What is yet to come is harder, and the things that will be offered to Abbas will be difficult on the cause

he said, stressing that the measures Abbas has taken against Gaza are a result of political pressure.

US President Trump does not have a clear or complete vision to resolve the Palestinian cause, and the US wants to liquidate the issue. There will be serious pressure put on the Palestinian president and people to agree to the American vision for the solution.

“We as a people, have strong playing cards and we will not surrender to such an impasse. We will support all those who support the intifada in the West Bank and if the enemy thinks of attacking us, we will teach them a hard lesson.”

He called on Fatah to work hand in hand, along with all the factions, to combat the conspiracy against the Palestinians, adding that Hamas will be knocking on Egypt’s door, as well as the Arab League countries’ to ensure they fulfil their obligations.

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That barbecue outside a hunger strike prison exposes Israeli settlers’ blind hatred

Settlers set up barbeques outside Ofer Prison while Palestinian prisoners held inside continue the fourth day of their hunger strike to demand their basic rights on 20 April 2017 [Joe Dyke/Twitter]

Settlers set up barbeques outside Ofer Prison while Palestinian prisoners held inside continue the fourth day of their hunger strike to demand their basic rights on 20 April 2017 [Joe Dyke/Twitter]
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In their blind hatred, some Israelis have a tendency to score some spectacular own goals and I’d like to bet that the bizarre barbecue held outside a prison where Palestinian political prisoners are on hunger strike is one of them. Members of the far right party National Union said that the purpose of their rather pathetic stunt on Thursday was to taunt Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. It seems odd that grown men would invest so much of their time and energy to do this but those taking part said they wanted to “celebrate the hunger strike” and “break the spirit” of the strikers, in the hope that the smell of the meat would waft into the prison. Did they honestly think that prisoners who have taken the huge decision to go on hunger strike would abandon their protest just because they could smell some kosher lamb chops being done to a turn on the other side of the prison wall?

My guess is that the settlers’ efforts would simply have made the hunger strikers more determined in their heroic food boycott behind bars, which was clearly having the desired effect on their gaolers. As anyone who has ever organised a campaign knows, as far as an activist is concerned, the worst reaction towards their activism is complete indifference, so it is obvious to anyone watching that the hunger strike called and led by popular Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi is having a serious psychological impact on Israeli society.

VIDEO: Settlers set up barbeques outside prison to taunt Palestinian hunger strikers

The hunger strike has received widespread coverage within Palestine and around the world, with demonstrations and rallies of support. Lawyers acting for the Palestinian prisoners have also decided to suspend professional appearances in front of Israel’s military courts in solidarity with their clients.

International support for Palestinians is already increasing because of the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which started with a 2005 call by Palestinian academics. Israel has poured millions of dollars and a huge amount of political capital into trying to crush BDS, but many of the western democracies targeted by the Israeli counter-campaign believe that its strong-arm tactics are designed to limit freedom of expression. It’s another epic fail by Israel.

Nevertheless, the right-wing Israeli activists went ahead and set up their portable grills outside the Ofer Prison to the west of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and issued a press statement. Their barbecue, they declared pompously, would break the will of the prisoners as they breathed in the “smoke and suffer from the smell of the meat, and [we will] show them that we will not give in to their whims.”

Perhaps they should have invested more of their misspent youth reading Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra than frying chops, sausages and burgers. The men (and it was all men involved) might have realised that the stench of their hate revealed a lot about them and their mindset. “In time we hate that which we often fear,” says Cleopatra’s main lady-in-waiting Charmian in Act 1, Scene 3.

#StrikeDay5

In other words, the settlers’ barbecue was a clear demonstration that what the Israelis really fear is that the Palestinians are right about the injustice and primitive nature of their treatment in the Zionist state’s prison system, which is part of the inhumane apparatus of Israel’s military occupation. The hunger strike is a protest against Israel’s indefinite detention of Palestinians with neither charge nor trial, under the British Mandate-era “administrative detention” law. This abuse of international law and human rights has been exposed yet again.

And that’s not all. Thousands of prisoners are denied visitors on security grounds. The ban includes parents, wives and other close relatives. There are also serious concerns about medical facilities, or the lack thereof, with prisoners being denied adequate diagnoses and potentially life-saving treatment. Palestinian prisoners are not allowed access to public telephones in prison; in fact, there are none in the prisons where they are held, so they can’t even communicate with their lawyers, never mind their relatives. Basic human rights afforded to most prisoners in the civilised world are denied to Palestinians detained by Israel. The political prisoners have also asked for educational courses to be reinstated and have called for a halt to the mistreatment and abuse of all Palestinian detainees, men, women and children; yes, Israel is holding at least 300 minors.

Read: Israeli minister calls for execution of Palestinian prisoners

People around the world are learning about Israel’s inhumane treatment of Palestinian prisoners and, thanks to the burning meat outside the brutal Ofer, we can also witness the burning hatred that some Israelis have for their fellow human beings purely because they are Palestinians. This sort of thing used to be called racism and was totally unacceptable. It still is in most parts of the world, except in Israel.

As the late, great Maya Angelou once observed, “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Now there’s some real food for thought instead of the ersatz barbecue meat served up by Jewish settlers. If their spiteful juvenile prank encourages anything at all, it will be more non-violent resistance which reminds the world of the continued brutal Zionist occupation of Palestinian lands and people.

Such heroic resistance is now burning bright inside Israeli jails with 1,500 of the 7,000 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. They now know that Amnesty International is supporting their demands by calling on Israel to end its “unlawful and cruel” policies. If the knowledge that death awaits long-term hunger strikers doesn’t deter such brave souls, how could those settlers think for one moment that barbecue smells would? Their hatred deludes them, and now the whole world knows it.

Israel puts at least six hunger-strikers in solitary confinement

Image of a solitary confinement unit [PRODanny Bradury/Flcikr]


NAFTALI BENNETT

MIDDLE EAST MONITOR 

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