Palestine to Apply For Full Membership at UN, Says Minister

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister will apply for Palestine's status as a full member of the United Nations. 

Palestinian Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister Riyad Malki announced Wednesday that the occupied country would initiate an application to gain full membership at the United Nations.

RELATED: UN: Palestinians Must Have Control Over Natural Resources

Malki said that he would initiate an application seeking to upgrade Palestine’s status from an observer state to a full member state.

He will submit the application to the U.N. Security Council during an upcoming visit to New York in January.

Malki is scheduled to make his visit to take on the role of Palestine’s position as chair of the Group of 77 developing countries and China for 2019.

To obtain a full member position, Palestine needs the votes of 15 member countries of the U.N. Security Council. But if one of the permanent members of the Security Council, namely, the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and China use their veto power, then the application will be rejected. The veto power can be used by the strongly pro-Israel U.S. administration which moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem earlier this year.

Malki will also highlight the increase in illegal expansion of Israel in the occupied West Bank where violent episodes have led to the deaths of four Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers.

Malki will demand that the U.N. Security Council implement Resolution 2334 and ask the International Criminal Court to start an investigation into Israel’s illegal settlement expansion.

The resolution says that the U.N. Secretary-General has to present a progress report on Israeli settlement activities every three months to the Security Council.

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UN set to leave half of Gaza and West Bank hungry, as food programme feels a lack of US money

The UN’s World Food Programme is cutting food aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, putting some 190,000 impoverished people at risk. The lack of US funding, stopped in September, is being acutely felt by aid workers.

Come January, 27,000 people in the West Bank will have their food assistance cut off, and 165,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza will have their food aid cut by 20 percent.

“WFP has been forced, unfortunately, to make drastic cuts to the number of people that we support across Palestine, both in Gaza and the West Bank,” Stephen Kearney, WFP country director in the Palestinian Territories, told Reuters.

US cuts to UN refugee agency are an ‘attack on Palestinians & intl law’ – Palestinian FM

Humanitarian groups working with Palestinians have seen record low funding levels this year, largely as a result of the US’s decision to end its $300 million support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian (UNRWA) in September.

UN’s Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Jamie McGoldrick, this week issued an appeal for $350 million to help the people in Palestine, particularly in Gaza which has experienced “serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation,” as a result of an “enormous rise” in casualties at the March of Return protests, outbreaks of violence and an economy that is in “freefall.” 

 Also on rt.com ‘Force, intimidation & tear gas’: IDF raids Palestinian news agency to ‘grab CCTV footage’

“Our plan for 2019 prioritizes assistance for people assessed as being most in need of protection, food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation,” McGoldrick said on Monday. “It enables us to maximize limited funding. But much more is needed, and we stand ready to do more, if funding and operational space are improved.”

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Israeli Defence Minister Lieberman Resigns, Hamas Responds

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation early Wednesday after a disagreement over the Gaza ceasefire deal, reports AP. 

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced early Wednesday that he was resigning from the conservative coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a disagreement over the Gaza ceasefire deal, reports AP.

RELATED: Israel and Hamas Agree to Ceasefire in the Besieged Gaza Strip

Announcing his decision, which takes effect 48 hours after he puts it in writing, Lieberman deemed Tuesday’s Egyptian-mediated deal with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas “a capitulation to terror.”

In a statement, Lieberman said, "I didn't look for reasons to quit. I tried to remain a loyal government member, in the cabinet, keep differences internal even at an electoral cost."

The two turning points, he said, were the millions of dollars in cash delivered from Qatar to Gaza, and the cease-fire Israel reached with Hamas on Tuesday, reports Israeil news agency Haaretz.

In a press release sent out immediately after Lieberman's decision, Hamas celebrated, saying they rejoice at Lieberman's resignation, "This is a political victory for Gaza, which has succeeded in causing a political earthquake for the occupation."

Elhanan Miller @ElhananMiller

Hamas rejoices at Lieberman resignation: "This is a political victory for , which has succeeded in causing a political earthquake for the occupation."

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Israeli fighter jets striking Gaza after massive mortar fire from the strip - IDF

Israeli fighter jets have pounded the Gaza strip, after mortar fire from inside the Palestinian-controlled strip hit a bus in the Israeli side of the border, the Israel Defense Forces have said.

The airstrikes are the latest escalation in several days of reciprocal attacks between Israel and the Palestinian territories. Earlier on Monday, a barrage of mortar fire from Gaza hit an Israeli bus, wounding at least one person, Reuters reported.

Video from the scene showed Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepting some of the incoming projectiles.

@AmichaiStein1 : IDF: 80 launches in 40 minutes; Hamae claims over a 100 https://twitter.com/AmichaiStein1/status/1062000239207428102 

@AmichaiStein1 : More then 20 morters launched from Gaza towards Israel; Direct hit at an Israeli bus (Credit: Rotternik network)

That attack was itself a response to an Israeli special forces raid in the Gaza strip on Sunday night that saw at least two Hamas commanders and four other Palestinians killed. One Israeli soldier was also killed, and another wounded. Israeli warplanes reportedly lobbed missiles at the area after the raid, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut his visit to Paris short to return, in light of the “security incidents.”

The IDF claims 80 mortars were fired into Israel in less than 40 minutes on Monday, while Hamas claims to have launched 100. Sirens wailed across southern Israel as the Iron Dome struggled to intercept the incoming firestorm.

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Top Palestinian body suspends Israel recognition until it recognizes Palestine

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s decision-making body has ruled to suspend its recognition of the state of Israel until Tel Aviv formally recognizes a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Noting Israel’s continued disregard of signed international agreements, the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) on Monday has decided to “suspend recognition of the State of Israel until its recognition of the State of Palestine on the June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Following a two day meeting in Ramallah, the PCC also agreed to “end security coordination in all its forms” with Israel, and “disengage economically” from its neighbor, WAFA news agency reports, citing the final communiqué.

 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 14, 2018 © Mohamad Torokman

Furthermore, the decision-making body established the PLO to be the sole “legitimate representative” of all the Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, slamming Hamas for failing to implement the agreements it signed with Fatah over the last decade, ever since the Sunni organization assumed control of Gaza in 2007.

Urging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to implement the Council's non-binding decisions, the PCC stressed that it continues to remain opposed to Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” aimed at solving the decades-old animosity between the neighboring nations. In wake of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the Council called on the Arab states to “sever all diplomatic relations” with the US and any state that follows its example.

The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a controversial issue, as Palestinians continue to claim East Jerusalem as their capital. Abbas repeatedly vowed to oppose any purported peace initiatives by Trump, whose relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognition of the city as Israel’s capital marked the first time the president of the US has departed from established policy, which saw the issue of Jerusalem kept off the table.

Speaking to PCC delegates on Sunday, the 82-year-old leader reiterated that Palestine and Jerusalem are “not for sale or bargaining.”

READ MORE: Paraguay cancels embassy move to Jerusalem, Israel responds by closing its embassy in Paraguay

“East Jerusalem is the capital of our state. We will not accept a capital in Jerusalem or the capital of two states because they are fooling us,” Abbas said on Sunday. “Jerusalem, which was occupied in 1967, is our capital, every meter and centimeter of it.”

 

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Palestinian groups vow response to Israeli airstrikes

Resistance groups in Palestine won't remain silent to Israel's killing of civilians, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement said early Saturday.

The movement said resistance groups had warned Israel not to kill innocents, but occupation forces continue to do so under the Gaza Strip’s blockade.

It added that the groups' hands “won't be tied” over the killings.

Israel launched airstrikes early Saturday against several targets in the Gaza Strip in response to over a dozen rockets it said were fired toward the country.

Fighter jets and helicopters pounded targets in Gaza for more than two hours, including Hamas sites, the Israeli army said in a press release.

The army said on its Twitter account that 14 rockets had been fired from Gaza towards Israel since late Friday, but eight were intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defense system.

There have been no deaths from the airstrikes, according to Palestinian medical sources in Gaza.

The latest developments come after five Palestinians were killed and 85 others injured by Israeli army gunfire during demonstrations Friday along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Hundreds of Palestinians had converged along the zone as part of ongoing demonstrations against Israel’s decades-long occupation.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more injured by Israeli troops deployed near the buffer zone since such rallies began on March 30.

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5 times Israel ‘had no choice’ and went to war

Israel has no other option but to launch a "war" against Hamas, the Israeli defense minister has recently claimed, calling it the last resort. Modern history shows, however, that Israel has resorted to force quite frequently.

"Wars are only conducted when there is no choice, and now there is no choice," Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Israeli Parliament on Tuesday. But it looks like Israel believed many times that it severely lacked options throughout the last two decades, as it has launched more than half a dozen major military operations since the beginning of the 21st century.

Largest incursion into West Bank since the Six-Day War

In 2002, a suicide bombing carried out by the Hamas militant group over the course of the Second Intifada, which resulted in the deaths of 30 Israelis, provoked an IDF operation called 'Defensive Shield'. It's the largest one in the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Between March and May 2002, tens of thousands of Israeli troops invaded the six largest cities of the West Bank and imposed strict curfews and restrictions on locals as well as foreigners working in the area.

The Israeli measures resulted in a partial ban on humanitarian aid and medical personnel entering the West Bank. Thirty Israelis and almost 500 Palestinians were killed, while 7,000 Palestinians were detained, according to the UN.

2004 invasions of Gaza

In 2004, the Israeli forces conducted two major operations in Gaza. The first, called 'Operation Rainbow', was carried out in May and was in response to Palestinian attacks in which 11 IDF soldiers were killed. Israel invaded Gaza's southern city of Rafah, razed around 300 homes and expanded the buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt in what it called a push to destroy Palestinian smuggling tunnels. Almost 60 Palestinians, including 11 minors, were killed in less than two weeks of the military campaign, according to Human Rights Watch.

Four months later, Israel invaded Gaza again after two children were killed as a Palestinian-launched rocket hit the Israeli town of Sderot. The Israeli operation, called 'Days of Penitence', targeted northern Gaza to prevent further rocket launches and claimed 129 Palestinian lives, including between 50 and 87 militants, and one Israeli soldier, according to the Israeli media.

2006 Lebanon War

In 2006, a cross-border raid by the Hezbollah militants has led to a 34-day war between Israel and its neighbor, Lebanon. Hezbollah launched rocket strikes against Israeli border towns and ambushed a military patrol, killing three soldiers. Two more were abducted, as militants sought to exchange them for Lebanese prisoners held by Israel. Tel Aviv responded with air strikes and artillery fire, targeting Hezbollah positions and Lebanese civilian infrastructure alike.

Israel imposed an air and naval blockade and invaded southern Lebanon. The conflict led to the deaths of more than 1,100 Lebanese people and 165 Israelis, including soldiers. It also displaced about a million Lebanese and over 300,000 Israelis.

Operation Cast Lead

In December 2008, Israel once again invaded Gaza with the stated goal of stopping indiscriminate rocket fire into Israeli territory. The Palestinian Hamas group said at the time that the rocket launches were a response to Israel's violation of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire reached six months earlier.

During the operation, called 'Cast Lead', the IDF struck the densely populated cities of Gaza, Khan Yunis, and Rafah. The military campaign, which lasted until January 18, 2009, claimed the lives of more than 1,400 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, according to Palestinian sources. An Israeli NGO put the number of civilian deaths at 759, while the IDF put it at 295.

The operation became known as the Gaza War, and is sometimes even referred to as the Gaza Massacre. Israel lost 10 soldiers and three civilians during the campaign. 

Operation Protective Edge

The latest large-scale IDF military campaign in Gaza – 'Operation Protective Edge' – took place in 2014. It was carried out in response to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by alleged members of Hamas' military wing.

READ MORE: We come in peace, really: ‘Operation Olive Branch’ and other ridiculously named military campaigns

After Israel conducted an operation to arrest Hamas military leaders, Hamas responded with rocket attacks. The Israeli airstrikes and ground campaign to put an end to Palestinian rocket attacks resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, the vast majority of them Gazans. During the 51-day assault, over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, with another 10,000 injured. The Israeli actions provoked worldwide protests and were slammed by human rights groups over the disproportionate use of force.

Israel lost 66 of its soldiers and five civilians from Hamas rocket fire. Another 469 IDF soldiers and 261 Israeli civilians were injured.

Even though Israel has not conducted any major military operations against Palestinians since 2014, its violent crackdown on Palestinian protesters in Gaza continues to take its toll. Over 200 Palestinians have been killed, including medics and journalists, and more than 22,000 injured since border protests – the Great March of Return – began in March.

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‘New reality’? Israel may increasingly use F-35s in Syria raids after Russia’s S-300 delivery

The IAF must increasingly rely on the futuristic stealth capabilities of the troubled F-35 jet if it’s to continue its raids with impunity, after Syria’s air-defenses were boosted with S-300 systems, Israeli army radio reports.

Tel Aviv's self-reserved right to freely strike ‘Iranian targets’ anywhere inside or outside Syria was severely undermined by Moscow’s transfer of S-300 air defense systems and accompanying hardware to Damascus. The surface-to-air interceptors delivered to the Syrian Arab Army, as well as Moscow's resolve to jam the radar, navigation, and communications systems on any aircraft attacking targets in Syria via the Mediterranean coast might complicate missions for Israeli F-15s and F-16s. So, to avert potential threats to their fighter planes, Israel will rely more on the F-35 to carry out its missions in Syria, Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) reported.

 
© Russian Defence Ministry

“The coming attacks won't be the first, but they will be safer for the pilots in light of the new reality in Syria's skies,” a source within IAF told the radio station, also emphasizing that Israel has every intention to use this “most expensive weapon in the world.”

In recent years, Tel Aviv purchased 50 F-35 units, known in Israel by their Hebrew name, the ‘Adir,’ from Lockheed Martin, at the cost of $125 million each. Eight of the planes have already been transferred to Israel, while 33 more are expected to arrive by 2021, an IAF source said.

Russia’s S-300: Here’s what you need to know about the missile system

According to the technical characteristics of the US-made jets, the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system should, in theory, allow the jet to operate undetected inside enemy territory and to evade advanced missile defense systems such as the S-300 by suppressing its signals. Whether or not the F-35’s ‘stealth’ capabilities will be effective in real battle conditions is yet to be seen as, in the past, the aircraft, on top of hundreds of bugs and glitches in its systems, was experiencing radar problems.

READ MORE: Pentagon hiding ‘life-threatening’ F-35 design flaws to meet deadline – watchdog

Russia’s move to secure the Syrian airspace with S-300 complexes follows the downing of the Il-20 reconnaissance plane over Syria by Damascus’ dated air defense system. Moscow pinned the blame for the death of the 15 servicemen on Tel Aviv, asserting that the tragedy occurred because four Israeli F-16 jets used the Russian plane as a cover during an air raid in the Latakia province.

@RT_com Netanyahu has said Israel will continue to strike Iranian targets in Syria despite Russia's S-300 anti-missile systems

Tel Aviv denied responsibility, shifting the blame on Damascus and Tehran, and stressing that it will continue to strike ‘Iranian targets’ in Syria. Israel, however, pledged to boost coordination between the IDF and the Russian militaries, to avoid any further unfortunate incidents in the Syrian skies.

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