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ICC Prosecutor Bensouda ‘Biased In Favour Of Israel – Unwilling to Deliver Justice for Palestine’

By Iqbal Jassat | Media Review Network | December 17, 2019

Whoever has any suspicion that the ICC’s reluctance to prosecute Israel for war crimes is due to pro-Israel bias by its prosecutor, have been spot on.

In a timely intervention, South Africa’s highly respected jurist Professor John Dugard, has called for an urgent investigation into the fitness of Fatou Bensouda to continue holding her position as the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Speaking at an event at an Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute, The Hague, Dugard raised a number of crucial concerns about Bensouda’s pro-Israeli bias.

Dugard is no push over. As Emeritus Professor of Law at the universities of Leiden and the Witwatersrand he served as Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, from 2001 to 2008. And as a former Judge ad hoc at the International Court of Justice; and a member of the Advisory Board of The Rights Forum, his opinions are highly regarded.

In his presentation, Dugard said it’s become abundantly clear that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is determined not to open an investigation into crimes committed by Israel in Palestine and against the Palestinian people.

He pointed out that despite ten years of preliminary examinations and overwhelming evidence, he found it strange that Bensouda has found no basis to proceed to the next stage of the investigation.

Dugard alluded to the fact that Bensouda refused to do so in the midst of four Human Rights Council’s independent fact-finding mission reports, an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly, numerous Israeli, Palestinian and international NGO reports, extensive TV coverage and video recordings depicting and testifying to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Shockingly, despite overwhelming grounds for prosecution, Bensouda in her latest report, fails to give a straight and reasoned explanation for her failure to commence an investigation. Though her persistent refusal to proceed makes no sense, Dugard is satisfied that there is more than sufficient evidence to support a finding that Israel has committed war crimes by using excessive and disproportionate force and violence against civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.

In his submission, Dugard said he is convinced the evidence is clear that Israel’s settlement enterprise constitutes apartheid and has resulted in the forcible displacement and transfer of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, meaning that it “has committed crimes against humanity”.

He explained that the law is clear on the crime of the transfer by an Occupying Power – Israel – of parts of its civilian population into the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. He emphatically insisted that due to both the law and facts being clear, there existed no possibility whatsoever of dispute or debate.

Dugard spelled out the relevant imperatives of the Rome Statute which render Israel’s conduct as war crimes. In addition he cited articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as provisions of customary international law. And in setting out the facts, Dugard reminded his audience that 700,000 Jewish Israeli settlers live in about 130 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These settlements are clearly within Occupied Palestinian Territory – as held by the International Court of Justice.

Thus if the evidence clearly provides a reasonable basis to believe that a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court has been committed, “culpable failure to take steps to suppress a crime when under a duty to do so makes the Prosecutor complicit in the commission of the crime”, claimed Dugard. “There is overwhelming authoritative support for the conclusion that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law.”

The International Court of Justice unanimously held the settlements have been established in breach of international law. Likewise the UN Security Council has condemned settlements as illegal, most recently in 2016 in Resolution 2334. And Dugard reiterated that even Israel’s own legal adviser Theodor Meron advised that they were illegal when Israel embarked upon this colonial enterprise.

The conclusion drawn by Dugard on why Besouda refuses to indict Israel is that non-legal, political factors have guided her decision. Clearly a stinking rebuke and damning indictment of the OTP, unambiguously accusing Bensouda of ignoring legal imperatives.

Why would Fatou Bensouda be in dereliction of her duty?

In his own words Dugard explained as follows:

“As I see it, there are two possibilities: a deliberate collective decision by the Prosecutor, her deputy and senior officers not to prosecute; or in articulated factors that have led the Prosecutor and her staff to a bias in favour of Israel.”

And unsurprisingly the most likely reason for it would be fear of retaliation from Israel and the United States. Or as Dugard further explained, it might be sensitivity to the widespread view prevalent among European states that the ICC is too fragile an institution to withstand the backlash that might follow such an investigation.

In an interesting background check on Bensouda, Dugard advanced additional factors in what he referred to as her “life-history, particularly in The Gambia” to provide some indication of unarticulated reasons for her decision to protect Israel. During the repressive reign of Yahya Jammeh in The Gambia, Bensouda served as Minister of Justice.

“Repression was the order of the day as human rights vigorously suppressed. The Minister of Justice (Bensouda) could not remain aloof from this. That she was involved in this process of repression has become clear from evidence before The Gambian Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission.”

These shocking facts certainly make a compelling case to have Bensouda removed from her position. Its unimaginable to have the ICC tainted by having its Prosecutor implicated in torture, detention without trial and denial of legal representation during her term in the cabinet of Gambia’s brutal dictator.

It is inexplicable that the world has been silent on the extremely compromised position of Bensouda, limiting her ability to deliver justice for the Palestinian people. Her failure to do so is a tragic reflection of the pervasive levels of injustice that have polluted not only the ICC but most if not all international platforms entrusted to dispense justice.

Iqbal Jassat

Exec Member

Media Review Network


South Africa

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Czech think tank funded by NATO govts calls for EU BLANKET BAN on Russian outlets like RT

‘European values’?

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | December 17, 2019

A pro-NATO Czech think tank has another piece of unsolicited advice for Western governments. Now they should refuse to give access or interviews to Russian media, who are ”not real journalists”, according to the ”wise censor”.

At first blush, the ‘Kremlin Watch Strategy’ paper published last week by the Prague-based ‘European Values Center for Security Policy’ sounds like another self-serving attempt to cash in on the anti-Russian hysteria that has gripped many a Western capital for the past several years.

There are some two dozen mentions of “funding,” mostly in the context of urging the European Union to spend more money on “independent” NGOs – such as themselves, obviously – to battle “hostile Russian interference” the authors see under every bed. There is even a proposal for every EU government to conduct its own version of the Mueller probe – which famously found zero evidence of “collusion” between US President Donald Trump and Russia, and its evidence of Russian “meddling” amounted to unsubstantiated assertions from indictments, as its lawyers had to admit in court.

So far, so laughable, right? Except the NGO argues that all European countries should:

“stop legitimising Russian disinformation tools posing as “journalistic platforms”. Communication channels effectively run by the Russian government, be it RT, Sputnik, or Russian state-run TV channels, do not represent journalism, they merely pretend to.”

Since ‘Russians’ are not free media, argues ‘European Values,’ the EU countries should “ban them from press conferences and not give access that is granted only to journalists, which they are not.”

This is not the first time that EV has tried to urge a ban and boycott of “Russian” outlets. In fact, it first emerged from obscurity in 2017, when it compiled an (error-riddled) blacklist of 2,327 “useful idiots” who had appeared on RT, in an effort to intimidate others.

A mere month later, the same outfit sponsored something called the “Prague Declaration,” which was signed by a who’s who of the most prominent Russiagate conspiracy-pushers, along with someone named “Bumfrey McDoogle.”

While it is tempting to dismiss the call for censorship on account that it originates from a low-rent Czech think-tank with an embarrassing history, doing so might be premature. EV gets much of its funding from NATO governments – Dutch, British, German and American, as of 2018. Indeed, they openly admit that London has been “a clear European leader in responding” to the so-called Russin threat, mobilizing the EU “response” and funding “much of the European civil society.”

Could it be mere coincidence that EV’s “new” censorship proposal sounds much like the one formerly peddled by the Institute for Statecraft, a sock-puppet project of the British government that was “burned” at the end of last year, following public exposure??

Far more sinister is that this “recommendation” has already been implemented to some extent. The US government withdrew RT America’s credentials in 2017, after forcing the outlet to register as a “foreign agent.” French President Emmanuel Macron has refused to talk to or accredit RT or Sputnik. The British government canceled RT’s credentials to a press freedom conference in July this year.

In February, Canada refused Sputnik credentials to report from the Lima Group meeting on Venezuela, devoted to US-backed regime change in Caracas. RT Spanish has been taken off air in Ecuador, after reporting on anti-austerity protests – and soon thereafter in Bolivia, by the US-backed unelected government that had violently ousted elected president Evo Morales to praise from Washington.

Last month, Ukrainian activists tried to shout down RT’s head of communications Anna Belkina as she spoke about freedom of the press in Strasbourg. Just like EV, they chanted “propaganda, not journalism.”

Once is a coincidence. Twice is happenstance. This many times is enemy action. Which raises the question of whether free speech really is a “liberal European” value – or do ‘European Values’ and their paymasters actually believe these values only apply to them, and not Others?

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | 3 Comments

An economy under occupation | Palestine Files

PTV – December 16, 2019

Press TV interviewed Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, about Israel’s occupation of Palestine and control of the Palestinian economy last night.

“Israel consistently uses Palestinians as a captive, colonial market, to buy its goods, to work in its factories, and denies Palestinians the right to economic independence and self-determination, just as much as it has denied Palestinians the right to political independence and self-determination,” she said.

“And breaking that economic control is central to any movement to end the occupation.”

“During the first Intifada, Palestinians organized themselves to boycott Israeli goods, boycott Israeli taxes, and develop Palestinian self-determination, collectively develop, and build a Palestinian economy that was outside the framework of the Israeli occupation,” she added.

“In a lot of ways, the Oslo Accords were a big setback to that independent development. There’s a long history in Palestine of resistance to Israeli occupation through boycott, and through fostering economic independence. Really, all of these actions are absolutely critical. This is one reason why it’s also so important that people around the world support the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanactions against apartheid Israel.”

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Gorbachev Blasts US for ‘Striving for Military Supremacy’ Amid INF Treaty Debacle

By Lilia Dergacheva – Sputnik – 17.12.2019

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty effectively put an end to the Cold War US-USSR tensions, becoming one of the key security pillars in the nuclear post-war world. However, with the fate of the treaty in jeopardy, the world may slide into a new arms race – something that Mikhail Gorbachev believes is grave and fatal.

Speaking to the Japanese newspaper Asahi, former and only USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev has accused the US of striving for military supremacy.

“What’s behind the United States’ decision to withdraw from the INF is their striving to free themselves of any obligations with respect to weapons and obtain absolute military supremacy”, he explained at length.The politician, who served as general secretary of the former Soviet Union and played a key role in bringing the Cold War to an end by reaching accords with the US on the reduction of nuclear weapons, considers such an aim to be dangerous and unattainable.

“That is an illusory aim, an unfulfilled hope. Hegemony by one single country is not possible in today’s world. The result would be destabilisation of the global strategic situation, a new arms race and all the randomness and unpredictability of global politics”, 88-year-old Gorbachev told the newspaper in an interview in Moscow, shortly after the US announced its intention to backtrack on the deal.

“The main thing is to act so as not to allow the world to slide towards an arms race, to a confrontation, and to hostility”, Gorbachev said.

“We have to stop working on pipe dreams, and engage with realpolitik. We don’t need an apocalypse! We need peace!” he exclaimed emotionally.”Despite everything, I believe that this is still within our capabilities”, he expressed his fervent hope, adding that otherwise, the security of every country, “including the US”, is at stake.

He reminded the interviewers about the two sides’ work on the INF Treaty, bringing up what the US and the Soviet Union agreed on during their first meeting in Geneva – that “a nuclear war is not acceptable and there will be no winners in a nuclear war”.

“We announced that we had to get rid of nuclear weapons. This is something I am still praying for”, stressed Gorbachev, having earlier expressed his concerns to Wall Street Journal reporters about the pitfalls of nukes, stressing that they may be launched by mistake or end up in terrorists’ hands.The politician lamented that out of the three major pillars of global strategic stability – the ABMT, INF, and START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) – only one is left, “but even the fate of the New START, which was signed in 2010, is becoming unclear”, Gorbachev stressed.

On Thursday, the United States successfully tested an INF-banned ground-based intermediate-range missile in California. According to the Defence Department, the missile flew more than 498 kilometres (310 miles) before it was downed just over the ocean.

The INF Treaty, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, was terminated on 2 August 2019, at the US’ initiative, with America having formally suspended its obligations under the deal six months prior. The treaty will expire in February 2021, but its extension is strongly doubted due to the US’ position on the matter.

Russia and the United States have traded barbs, accusing each other of violating the 1987 deal, which barred any ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,417 miles).

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

What Everyone is Missing About the Afghanistan Papers

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | The Mind Unleashed | December 13, 2019

If you need more proof that lawmakers in the U.S. couldn’t care less about America’s woeful commitment to human rights abroad—or even care about the public who vote them into office—look no further than the recent Afghanistan papers and the reaction to the publications from Congress.

According to the Washington Post, the outlet had obtained 2,000 pages of notes from interviews with more than 400 generals, diplomats, and other officials directly involved in the war. The documents showed that U.S. officials were lying about the progress being made in Afghanistan, lacked a basic understanding of Afghanistan, were hiding unmistakable evidence that the war had become unwinnable, and wasted close to $1 trillion in the process.

Barely a few hours following the Post’s publication, Congress rewarded the Pentagon for its stellar efforts with a $22 billion budget increase. How can we as a society justify this?

One stand-out statistic—among the many concerning ones—is the fact that before the U.S. invasion the Taliban had almost completely put to bed Afghanistan’s illicit opium trade. Since the U.S. invasion, combined with $9 billion in U.S. funding for anti-opium programs, the Taliban is not only stronger than it ever was but sits cemented in a country that now supplies 80 percent of the world’s opium.

I can’t help but think this was done on purpose.

Still, it would be worth re-thinking our outrage over the Afghanistan papers and determining what exactly it is we are outraged about. Are we simply angry because top U.S. officials lied to us about the fact they weren’t winning the war, making it a less worthwhile venture? If the U.S. were winning the war, spending $1 trillion in the process, killing record numbers of civilians, ramping up night raids to terrorize local populations, committing war crimes left right and center, would that suddenly make it all okay? As long as the war is being won, right?

The truth is, like most wars the U.S. finds itself prosecuting; this was yet another war based entirely on lies and misconceptions—right from the outset. As Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild famously said:

“The UN Charter is a treaty ratified by the United States and thus part of U.S. law. Under the charter, a country can use armed force against another country only in self-defense or when the Security Council approves. Neither of those conditions was met before the United States invaded Afghanistan. The Taliban did not attack us on 9/11. Nineteen men—15 from Saudi Arabia—did, and there was no imminent threat that Afghanistan would attack the U.S. or another UN member country. The council did not authorize the United States or any other country to use military force against Afghanistan. The U.S. war in Afghanistan is illegal.”

If that was the case in 2001, how this war has continued for close to another two decades begins to beggar belief. In that time, the consequences for the Afghan civilian population has been catastrophic.

In February of 2010, a NATO night raid conducted in a village in the Paktia province of Afghanistan left seven civilians dead, including two pregnant women. NATO tried to spin the raid as an attack on a compound festering with “militant activity,” but this quickly fell apart thanks to a British reporter, Jerome Starkey, who had already reported that this was a false narrative.

The compound actually belonged to an anti-Taliban policeman trained by the United States. At the time, the family had gathered to celebrate the naming of a newborn son. In order to cover the tracks of their reckless decision to execute unarmed civilians, the American troops used knives to dig out the bullets from the bodies of the pregnant women killed.

This is the kind of activity that trillions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money has been paying for on a regular basis. More than 775,000 troops have served in Afghanistan, with 2,300 U.S. personnel deaths. Not to mention that the U.S. has not been fighting there alone, and has had assistance not just from NATO, but from so-called peaceful states like New Zealand as well (who have been accused of committing war crimes, too).

Yes, we should be outraged that officials lied about the prospects of success. But we should primarily be disturbed that they first and foremost lie in order to push our countries into these wars in the first place, killing countless innocent civilians over and over again.

We can’t let this recent publication obscure itself into nothingness. The recent reaction from Congress is a giant middle finger designed to tell you that (a) there will never be anything you can do about it and (b) they simply don’t care how you feel. Democracy at its finest from the world’s leading propagator of democratic values.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia reads the riot act to Imran Khan

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | December 17, 2019

The Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 hosted by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on December 18-21 was originally conceived as a landmark event in the politics of the Muslim world. It still is, albeit on a wet wicket struggling to tackle a nasty googly that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan threw at the event at the last minute.  

To recap, the idea of the KL Summit was born out of a trilateral pow-vow between Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed and Pakistan’s Imran Khan in September on the sidelines of the UN GA session in New York.

The common perception of the three countries was that the Muslim World failed to react forcefully enough to the emergent situation affecting the Kashmiri Muslims. Pakistan actively promoted the perception that the leadership of the ummah was not reacting forcefully enough over Muslim issues such as Kashmir.

On November 23, while announcing his decision to host the KL Summit, Mahathir said that the new platform hoped to bring together Islamic leaders, scholars and clerics who would propose solutions to the many problems facing the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims. He disclosed that dignitaries attending the KL Summit would include Erdogan, the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Imran Khan.

The role of politics in development, food security, preserving national identity, and redistributing wealth were listed as other topics to be discussed, alongside the expulsion of Muslims from their homelands and the categorisation of Islam as the “religion of terrorism”.

In poignant remarks, Mahathir bemoaned that no Muslim country was fully developed, and that some Islamic nations were “failed states”. He said,

“Why is there this problem? There must be a reason behind this. We can only know the reason if we get the thinkers, the scholars, and the leaders to give their observations and viewpoints.

“Perhaps we can take that first step … to help Muslims recover their past glories, or at least to help them avoid the kind of humiliation and oppression that we see around the world today.”

Importantly, Mahathir described the summit as a meeting of minds that had the “same perception of Islam and the problems faced by the Muslims”.

From among the list of invitees, it now turns out that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be attending tomorrow’s summit, but King Salman of Saudi Arabia has regretted that the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) is being bypassed.

Mahathir disclosed that King Salman  conveyed to him in a phone conversation that it was better that the Muslim issues were discussed in a full-fledged OIC meeting. Mahathir said laconically,

“He (King Salman) wanted to tell me the reasons why he couldn’t make it. He’s afraid that something not good will happen to the Muslims. He has a different opinion from us. He feels that matters like these (Muslim issues) shouldn’t just be discussed by two or three countries, and there should be an OIC meeting and I agreed with him.”

The testy exchange signalled that the Saudi regime sees the KL Summit as a calculated challenge to its leadership of the ummah and as an initiative about laying the foundations for an Islamic alliance.

Mahathir is outspoken but what is less noticed is that his positions actually align closely with those of Turkey and Pakistan. These include the Palestinian question, the situation in Jammu & Kashmir and the persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar.

According to the Malaysian news agency Bernama, the KL Summit “aims to revive Islamic civilization, deliberate (over) and find new and workable solutions for problems afflicting the Muslim world, contribute (to) the improvement of the state of affairs among Muslims and Muslim nations, and form a global network between Islamic leaders, intellectuals, scholars, and thinkers.”

In sheer brain power, Saudi Arabia cannot match such an agenda. A sense of frustration has been building up over the past decade or so among the Muslim countries that the OIC is reduced to an appendage of the Saudi foreign policies. Saudi Arabia’s rift with Qatar, its rivalries with Iran, the brutal war in Yemen, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, etc.  also seriously dented Riyadh’s image in the most recent years.

Of course, Saudis hold a big purse and that still translates as influence but the new Islamic forum is poised to move in a direction that is progressive and far more inspiring, with plans to pursue joint projects, including, eventually, the introduction of a common currency.

Mahathir is on record that this mini-Islamic conference could turn into a much grander initiative down the road. Such optimism cannot be disregarded since a growing number of Muslim-majority countries harbour great unease over the near-term prospect of the ascendancy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the Saudi king and the next Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Saudi Arabia, anticipating the gambit being thrown down by Mahathir has reacted viciously to undercut the KL Summit. It tore into the summit’s ‘soft underbelly’ by reading the riot act to Imran Khan,  which put the fear of god into Imran Khan and how it happened we do not know, but the great cricketer panicked and has since called Mahathir to regret that he cannot attend the KL Summit.

No doubt, it is a big insult to Mahathir’s personal prestige but as the old adage says, beggars cannot be choosers and Imran Khan is left with no choice but to obey the Saudi diktat like a vassal.

With Imran Khan staying away, Mahathir is left to host his counterparts from Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Indonesia. The fizz has gone out of the KL Summit. Nonetheless, Mahathir is not the type of person to forget and forgive. His initial reaction to Imran Khan’s cowardly behaviour shows studied indifference, betraying his sense of hurt.

Pakistan is ultimately the loser here, as its credibility has been seriously dented. Imran Khan was the original promoter of the idea of the three-way axis of Turkey-Pakistan-Malaysia. But to be fair, his modest agenda was to create an exclusive India-baiting regional forum that he can use at will, whereas Mahathir turned it into an unprecedented Islamic forum that is independent of Saudi influence. Perhaps, Mahathir can only blame himself for the overreach.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

UN Security Council Meeting on Kashmir at China’s Request Postponed Indefinitely

Sputnik – December 17, 2019

A crucial closed-door meeting at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the Kashmir issue has been postponed for a month at least.

The meeting was scheduled on Tuesday to discuss the humanitarian situation in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Previously, a first such meeting was held in August this year in the aftermath of India’s decision to revoke the seven decades old special status of Kashmir on 5 August. However, the provisional schedule and daily meetings of the UNSC don’t mention the consultative meeting on Kashmir.

In its August programming schedule, the UNSC clearly mentioned the closed door consultation on India and Pakistan. But in December’s schedule no such meeting is planned. Two diplomats have also confirmed the development.

Currently, the decision to postpone the meeting on Kashmir came ahead of crucial boundary dispute talks between India and China.

India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi are expected to meet on 20-21 December to stabilise relations and discuss the contentious boundary issues between the two nations during Special Representatives-level talks.

The boundary discussion was stalled for months due to strained relations between the two Asian giants over Kashmir. Beijing termed the Indian decision to revoke the special status of Kashmir as unilateral and impinged upon the sovereignty of China.

The last time the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was on the UNSC agenda was during a meeting on 21 December 1971. It was followed by the adoption of a resolution calling for a durable ceasefire, the halt of all hostilities in conflict areas, and the provision of international assistance to refugees impacted by the territorial dispute.

In a related development, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has also cancelled his scheduled visit to Malaysia to participate in a meeting on Kashmir.The development comes two days after Khan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in Riyadh, during which matters related to bilateral relations were discussed.

A summit of Muslim leaders is expected to deliberate upon a shared agenda of Islamic countries and their collective challenges in a highly interconnected world.

India and Pakistan have contended for the Kashmir region, the southern part of which lies in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state (now a union territory), since the end of British rule in 1947. Despite a ceasefire being reached in 2003 following several armed conflicts, instability has continued, leading to the emergence of various extremist groups.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Rouhani: US sanctions unsustainable, world wants ties with Iran

Press TV – December 17, 2019

President Hassan Rouhani says the United States’ “cruel and unlawful” sanctions against Iran will not be sustainable, and that all countries are want to foster close and friendly relations with the Islamic Republic.

“The conditions caused by the cruel pressure and illegal US sanctions will not be sustainable. All countries want to have close relations with Iran, especially the ones with whom we have traditionally enjoyed good relations,” Rouhani said on Tuesday.

The Iranian president made the remarks before departing Tehran for the Malaysian capital to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit, which is set to take place from December 18 to 21.

The event, themed “The Role of Development in Achieving National Security,” will gather around 450 leaders, scholars, clerics, and thinkers from 52 countries including Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Qatar, and Turkey.

Fifty-two countries have confirmed their participation in the event, which will seek solutions to problems afflicting the Muslim world.

“The Muslim world has vast potential when it comes to geography, energy, population, industry and culture, but it is unfortunately grappling with problems such as armed conflicts and terrorism” in addition to foreign intervention, Rouhani said.

He said Iran and Malaysia share “common views” regarding the developments in the region and the Muslim world, describing diplomacy as the sole way to resolve the issues.

Rouhani said he would highlight Iran’s peace initiative for the Persian Gulf region at the Kuala Lumpur meeting.

He initially introduced the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) in September at a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

President Rouhani also said he would hold multilateral meetings with senior Malaysian officials as well as leaders from different participating countries on the sidelines of the event.

Wrapping up his three-day stay in Malaysia, Rouhani will then head to Tokyo for a visit upon an official invitation by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

On visit to Japan

Regarding his upcoming visit to Japan, Rouhani said he would discuss mutual Tehran-Tokyo ties as well issues related to regional security, particularly for shipping lines, during his meeting with Abe.

Hailing economic ties between Iran and Japan, Rouhani said Japanese companies made sizeable economic investment in Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and “currently, we are in close talks on environmental issues.”

He said the current decline in Iran-Japan relations is temporary and a by-product of Washington’s “illegal and cruel” sanctions.

Rouhani will be the first Iranian president to visit the Asian country since 2000. The visit comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US.

Back in June, Abe traveled to Iran on a first visit by a Japanese premier in more than 40 years.

Abe said in his meetings with Iranian officials that Japan sought to play a maximum role in preventing tensions.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , | 1 Comment

Palestinian Foreign Ministry: Settlers Involved in Attacks Against Palestinians Must be Added to Terrorist List

IMEMC & Agencies – December 17, 2019

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry, on Monday, called on world governments to place Israeli settlers involved in attacking and terrorizing the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied territories on their terrorist lists and ban them entry into their countries, the Palestinian News and Info Agency reported.

In a statement, it said that settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the West Bank have multiplied in recent years, describing the groups that carry them out, namely the Price Tag and Youth of the Hills groups as “organized terrorism.”

It said the attacks include cutting and torching trees, seizure of land by force, slashing car tires, violent attacks of homes with the intent to hurt their occupants, vandalism of structures and equipment, destroying water networks and roads, hurling stones at cars driving on West Bank roads near the settlements, shooting at people, particularly at checkpoints.

Israeli reports documented 256 attacks against Palestinians in the occupied territories since the start of 2019, while many other attacks remain undocumented, explained the statement.

“The Ministry condemns in the strongest terms terrorism in all its forms and holds the Israeli government and its various arms, fully and directly responsible for this dangerous escalation in the attacks by settler organizations and their armed terrorist militias. The occupation forces support, train and protect the settlers as they carry out violent attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property, and even attack and repress the Palestinians to prevent them from defending themselves and confronting settler attacks,” it said, adding, “the occupier’s military and judicial agencies provide impunity for the settlers involved in committing these crimes. Rarely are settler terrorists arrested, especially in the Yitzhar settlement outpost, and if they are arrested, they will soon be released under various pretexts, or face bogus trials, which also end with their release and acquittal in order to continue their sabotage operations.”

Edited for IMEMC: Ali Salam

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Bars Entry of Winter Clothing as Palestinian Detainees Suffer Harsh Winter Conditions

IMEMC News & Agencies – December 17, 2019

The Palestine Prisoners Centre for Studies has called on international humanitarian and human rights institutions, foremost of which is the Red Cross, to exert pressure on Israeli Prison Services (IPS) to provide winter clothing and covers desperately needed during the severe cold season.

The spokesperson for the Centre, Riyad Al-Ashqar, explained that Palestinian detainees in all facilities suffer harsh conditions in the winter season, due to acute shortage of clothes, winter blankets, and heating devices, especially in prisons located in the desert areas — namely the Negev, Nafha, Beersheba, and Rimon. This is in addition to the fact that some sections in a number of prisons are composed of tents that do not protect from the cold, many of which are old and worn out, allowing rain water to enter.

Al-Ashqar noted that IPS does not allow the entry of blankets and winter clothing for detainees, except in very limited quantities which are insufficient for cover. It also banned certain items from the canteen, and those which are available have a very high price. Additionally noted was the presence of a large number of recently jailed detainees who lack resources, due to their inability to visit in the first six months of detention.

He also explained that the extreme cold in the Negev leads to the freezing of limbs, with no means of heat, in addition to the lack of a permanent hot water supply. These cold climates will continue for several months, affecting many detainees with various diseases, especially of the bone, in addition to rheumatism, arthritis, back pain, and chest diseases, with a lack of medical care and medications needed for treatment.

He added, according to Al Ray, that IPS intends to increase the suffering of the detainees, in winter, through many repressive practices, foremost of which involves the storming of rooms and tents, justifying the practice of taking them out to open places, late at night, where they sit in open areas for long hours, in freezing cold and rain. They are additionally forced to stand for the daily count in the very early morning or evening, in the cold or rain.

The Centre has called for urgent intervention, by human rights institutions, to provide all the necessary items to protect them from cold, rain, and diseases.

(edited for the IMEMC by c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g)

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 4 Comments

Sudan closing Hamas, Hezbollah offices to rebuild US ties

MEMO | December 17, 2019

In an attempt to re-establish ties with the US and to lift sanctions imposed on it, Sudan is set to shut the offices of the Hamas and Hezbollah resistance movements in the country, both defined as terrorist organisations by America, according to a source cited by Middle East Eye (MEE).

The decision follows Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok’s visit to Washington earlier in the month. Hamdok became the first leader of Sudan to visit America since 1985 and he held talks aimed at bridging the relationship between the two states after years of sanctions and international isolation, especially with Sudan being placed on the US list of states sponsors of terrorism after hosting former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the nineties.

Post-revolutionary Sudan witnessed the ousting of long-term President Omar Al-Bashir who is currently serving a two-year sentence on charges of corruption, and the inauguration of the country’s first civilian prime minister in three decades. Hamdok has argued for the necessity of Sudan being removed from the US’ blacklist citing the need to improve the economic situation, which is edging towards hyperinflation leaving Sudan among the countries with the highest inflation in the world. The economic crisis is primarily what brought protestors out onto the streets last year. Addressing the UN General Assembly in September, Hamdok said that the revolution aimed at ending Sudan’s pariah status, reiterating that Sudan inherited international sanctions and that “it was the former regime that supported terrorism”, not Sudan’s people.

The Sudanese source who spoke to MEE said: “The government will close the offices of Hamas and Hezbollah and any other Islamic groups designated as terrorist groups that has presence in Sudan, because Sudan has nothing actually to do with these groups and the interests of Sudan are above everything.”

However, the office closures are likely symbolic in nature, said Cameron Hudson, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Africa Centre, given that operations of both organisations have been dormant in the country for years. “The announcement that they are formally closing the offices suggests to me that they were essentially dormant, although not formally closed,” he said.

Nevertheless, the move is interpreted by some as a gradual alignment of Khartoum with the interests of the US and its regional allies. In 2016 Sudan ended diplomatic ties with Iran in the wake of the attacks by protestors on the Saudi embassy in Tehran which was in response to the execution of the Saudi Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr. Two months prior to the severing of ties with Tehran, Sudan reportedly received $2.2 billion for taking part in the Saudi and UAE-led coalition in Yemen, although Sudan is now scaling back its military involvement in the conflict.

Israel for its part had accused Sudan of channelling arms from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip via Egypt’s Sinai desert and is alleged to have bombed Sudanese munitions warehouses and factories in the past.

Sudan has also sought Qatar’s support in its efforts to be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, which it expressed at a reception hosted by Qatar’s Ambassador to Khartoum, ahead of Qatar’s National Day.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s peace plan calls for a ‘New Palestine’ in Gaza

MEMO | December 17, 2019

Details of US President Donald Trump’s peace deal for the Middle East, dubbed the “deal of the century”, have allegedly been obtained by Lebanese TV station Al-Mayadeen.

While the report has not been officially confirmed, the draft specifies the timetable and methods of the plan and discusses a trilateral peace agreement between the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post.

A state named “New Palestine” will be established in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, except for the territories already occupied by Israel. This will force Palestine to pay Israel for protection against international aggression.

Jerusalem will not be divided in the agreement and will instead be shared by Israel and “New Palestine” with Arab residents of Jerusalem registered as residents of the new Palestinian state and not of Israel.

The process of the so-called “deal of the century” project announced by the Trump administration to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict began with the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s office in Washington and US recognition of Jerusalem as the “unified capital” of the state of Israel.

And which has since seen the US embassy moved to Jerusalem; acceptance of the “legitimacy” of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories; recognising Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights; efforts to have UNRWA closed down; and recognition of the “Jewishness” of the state.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently administered by the Islamic Waqf, an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, but secured by Israeli police. According to the reported draft, the responsibility for Al-Aqsa Mosque will be put in the hands of Saudi Arabia.

Israeli settlers seen in the the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, on 17 October 2019 [Kudüs İslami Vakıflar İdaresi/Handout/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli settlers seen in the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, on 17 October 2019 [Kudüs İslami Vakıflar İdaresi/Handout/Anadolu Agency]

The Jerusalem Municipality would become responsible for the entire city of Jerusalem, but the Palestinian state would be responsible for education and would pay the Israeli municipality taxes and utilities, which means, Jerusalem will remain united under mostly Israeli control, reported the Jerusalem Post.

The project, which demands immediate demilitarisation of Hamas, as the “New Palestine” will be banned from having an army, has already been approved by the US, the European Union and Gulf states, according to Al-Mayadeen.

Within five years, a seaport and airport will be created for the Palestinian state, and until then, Palestinians will be able to use Israeli ports.

The US, EU and Gulf states, will shoulder the financial burden of the plan, which is expected to cost about $30 billion over a five-year period, the ultra-Orthodox Hamodia newspaper reported.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 3 Comments