Thousands of Palestinians hold protests against Deal of the Century


Thousands of Palestinians held numerous demonstrations on the first Friday following the announcement of the so-called "Deal of the Century" promoted by the U.S. President Donald Trump.

From Gaza to the West Bank, people protested energetically against what they called "an apartheid proposal" that will not resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the streets of Aman, the capital of Jordan, the "Deal of the Century Disaster" also generated vehement protests in front of the U.S. embassy, ​​where protesters said Palestine is a religious and historical heritage, which cannot be canceled by agreements among politicians.

In Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, thousands of outraged people took to the streets to denounce that some Arab countries collaborated with the United States and Israel in the elaboration of a plan aimed at depriving Palestinians of their fundamental rights.

Through its "peace proposal," the U.S. expects other countries to recognize Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, all of which are illegal under international law.  Also, Trump's idea seeks to prevent the return of Palestinian refugees to currently occupied territories.

On Friday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whipped some Arab countries for keeping silent about the supposed "peace plan" and said they betray their own people and all humanity.

"Saudi Arabia is silent.  When will you make your voice heard?  Oman, Bahrain -- the same.  The Abu Dhabi government applauds.  Shame!  Shame!,” he said and asked the Christian world to confront the U.S. plan because "Christians are also entitled to Jerusalem."

The proposal to leave this holy city “to the bloody clutches of Israel is not just oppression for Muslims and Christians who live there.  It is also the greatest evil that can be done to humankind.”  On Wednesday, Erdogan said that Trump's plan will not serve for peace. Besides legitimizing the Israeli occupation, it does not take into account the rights of the Palestinian population.​​​​​​​

Historically, Palestine has aspired to have its capital in East Jerusalem.  According to the current US proposal, however, such capital would be located only in a part of East Jerusalem, which would be in the area east and north of the current security barrier.

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FIDE Grand Prix Jerusalem: Pairings announced

The fourth and final leg of FIDE Grand Prix 2019 took off in Jerusalem today. The event stretching over twelve days will decide two players qualifying for the Candidates Tournament that is scheduled for the spring of 2020 in Yekaterinburg.

First round pairings:

Veselin Topalov - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Radoslaw Wojtaszek - Dmitry Andreikin
Yu Yangyi - Wesley So
Yan Nepomniachtchi - Boris Gelfand
Wei Yi - Anish Giri
Pentala Harikrishna - Sergey Karjakin
David Navara - Wang Hao
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov - Dmitry Jakovenko


Currently, the list of front-runners for two slots in Yekaterinburg includes four players: Alexander Grischuk, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and Yan Nepomniachtchi. Alexander is not playing in Jerusalem but with a 7-point margin over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, he can feel relatively safe. Actually, the one and only scenario in which Grischuk would not qualify for the Candidates Tournament is that Mamedyarov takes down Vachiev-Lagrave in the final after the Frenchman's winning his three first matches without tiebreaks, whereas the Azerbaijanian scores at least 20 Grand Prix points total (10 in Jerusalem only). All these considerations will make the battles in Jerusalem even more exciting.

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Archaeologists uncover 2,000-year-old street in Jerusalem built by Pontius Pilate

An ancient walkway most likely used by pilgrims as they made their way to worship at the Temple Mount has been uncovered in the "City of David" in the Jerusalem Walls National Park.

In a new study published in Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, researchers at the Israel Antiquities Authority detail finding over 100 coins beneath the paving stones that date the street to approximately 31 CE. The finding provides strong evidence that the street was commissioned by Pontius Pilate.

After six years of extensive archaeological excavations, researchers from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University have uncovered a 220-meter-long section of an ancient street first discovered by British archaeologists in 1894. The walkway ascends from the Pool of Siloam in the south to the Temple Mount.

Both monuments are hugely significant to followers of Judaism and Christianity. The Temple Mount, located within the Old City of Jerusalem, has been venerated as a holy site for thousands of years. At the time of the street's construction, it is where Jesus is said to have cured a man's blindness by sending him to wash in the Siloam Pool.

The excavation revealed over 100 coins trapped beneath paving stones. The latest coins were dated between 17 CE to 31 CE, which provides firm evidence that work began and was completed during the time that Pontius Pilate governed Judea.

"Dating using coins is very exact," says Dr Donald T. Ariel, an archaeologist and coin expert with the Israel Antiquities Authority, and one of the co-authors of the article. "As some coins have the year in which they were minted on them, what that means is that if a coin with the date 30 CE on it is found beneath the street, the street had to be built in the same year or after that coin had been minted, so any time after 30 CE."

"However, our study goes further, because statistically, coins minted some 10 years later are the most common coins in Jerusalem, so not having them beneath the street means the street was built before their appearance, in other words only in the time of Pilate."

The magnificent street -- 600 meters long and approximately 8 meters wide -- was paved with large stone slabs, as was customary throughout the Roman Empire. The researchers estimate that some 10,000 tons of quarried limestone rock was used in its construction, which would have required considerable skill.

The opulent and grand nature of the street coupled with the fact that it links two of the most important spots in Jerusalem -- the Siloam Pool and Temple Mount -- is strong evidence that the street acted as a pilgrim's route.

"If this was a simple walkway connecting point A to point B, there would be no need to build such a grand street," says Dr Joe Uziel and Moran Hagbi, archaeologists at the Israel Antiquities Authority, co-authors of the study. "At its minimum it is 8 meters wide. This, coupled with its finely carved stone and ornate 'furnishings' like a stepped podium along the street, all indicate that this was a special street."

"Part of it may have been to appease the residents of Jerusalem, part of it may have been about the way Jerusalem would fit in the Roman world, and part of it may have been to aggrandize his name through major building projects," says author Nahshon Szanton.

The paving stones of the street were found hidden beneath layers of rubble, thought to be from when the Romans captured and destroyed the city in 70 CE. The rubble contained weapons such as arrowheads and sling stones, remains of burnt trees, and collapsed stones from the buildings along its edge.

It is possible that he had the street constructed to reduce tensions with the Jewish population. "We can't know for sure? although all these reasons do find support in the historical documents, and it is likely that it was some combination of the three."


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US envoy smashes wall dug under Palestinian homes in E. Jerusalem with SLEDGEHAMMER

Top US diplomats, one responsible for Middle East peace efforts, were filmed frantically hammering a wall to finish a controversial Israeli tunnel running close to the most divisive holy sites in annexed East Jerusalem.

Ambassador David Friedman and Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, showed up on Sunday at the unveiling of what the Israelis call an underground “pilgrimage road” located right next to the contested Temple Mount.

The tunnel, excavated beneath the mostly Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, was officially opened with the ceremonial smashing of a brick wall which served to replace the traditional ribbon-cutting. US ambassador Israel Friedman swung the first hammer.

President Trump's envoys "burst the way" to the historic site in Jerusalem...

 

Digging of the 350-meter “pilgrimage road,” promoted and funded by a local rightwing group, occurred disturbingly close to a highly-sensitive area of East Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, which houses a number of Jewish sites but also the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.

The dig had also started without the permission of the Silwan residents living overhead. It has been reported that some Palestinian families even had to leave their houses because of cracks and destruction caused by the excavations.

READ MORE: Israel could annex parts of West Bank in coming years – Netanyahu

Naturally, Palestinians have fiercely criticized the symbolism behind a US ambassador swinging a sledgehammer as an endorsement of occupation and colonial practices. That aside, the presence of the American officials at the bizarre ceremony raised suspicions that the US is helping Israel “Judaize” East Jerusalem.

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat, called it a “disgrace” to US diplomacy and compared the American delegation to “extremist fanatic Israeli settlers.”

Greenblatt and Friedman are doing everything that would bring prosperity to the apartheid colonial settlement.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry claimed that Friedman and Greenblatt were “faking history” for “colonial purpose.” The American actions are “blatant aggression against international law,” Chief Justice Mahmoud al-Habash said in a separate statement, calling on the international community to preserve the Palestinian heritage of the city.

Meanwhile, Greenblatt hit back at the “ludicrous” accusations, claiming on Twitter that archaeology has proven that Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people: “We can’t ‘Judaize’ what history/archaeology show.”

Israel invaded and seized East Jerusalem – which was once under Jordanian custodianship – during the 1967 Six-Day War. The subsequent annexation wasn’t recognized by most countries, with the UN referring to East Jerusalem as an “Israeli-occupied territory.”

The status of East Jerusalem has been at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. Recently, the US added more fuel to the frequent flashpoint of violence by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, triggering a wave of massive Palestinian protests in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

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Muslim countries back Palestinians ahead of 'deal of the century'

An influential summit of Muslim countries has backed the Palestinians ahead of the United States' unveiling of a peace plan that is expected to dismiss their political aspirations.

Meeting in Mecca, the 57-country Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) denounced on Saturday the controversial US move to transfer its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem and urged its members to "boycott" those countries that have opened embassies in the disputed city, whose eastern part is regarded by Palestinians as the capital of their future state.

The OIC summit also reaffirmed its opposition to illegal Israeli measures aimed at changing facts in occupied Palestinian territories and refused to recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

"The Palestinian people have the right to achieve their inalienable national rights, including their right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State," the OIC said in a joint statement.

It came as Jared Kushner,  Donald Trump's son-in-law, readies a long-awaited Middle East peace plan whose economic aspects are set to be rolled out at a conference in Bahrain later this month.

Dubbed the "deal of the century," the plan has already been rejected by the Palestinians, who expect it to be skewed in Israel's favour.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency on Friday, a senior Palestinian official said that "the plan doesn't give justice to the Palestinians".

"The Palestinian cause is being liquidated - no Jerusalem [as capital], no right of return for refugees, no sovereign state. That is why this American project is dangerous," the official said.

The plan has reportedly been thrown into disarray by the uncertainty over the future of key-US ally Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was forced on Wednesday to call fresh elections after failing to form a government after April elections.

Kushner, who was in Jerusalem on Friday on the last leg of a regional tour aimed at selling the plan, had looked to an alliance with Saudi Arabia against Iran as a way to gain Arab support.

But Saudi King Salman told leaders of the OIC countries gathered at the summit: "The Palestinian cause is the cornerstone of the works of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and is the focus of our attention until the brotherly Palestinian people get all their legitimate rights.

"We reaffirm our unequivocal rejection of any measures that would prejudice the historical and legal status of Quds [Jerusalem]."

Saudi Arabia last month said it would attend an economic conference in Bahrain that the US intends to be the jumping-off point for the "deal of the century".

The gulf kingdom also received backing amid escalating tensions with Iran, as King Salman warned against "terrorist" attacks in the region following alleged sabotage attacks on two Saudi oil tankers.

"We confirm that terrorist actions not only target the kingdom and the Gulf region, but also target the safety of navigation and world oil supplies," the king told Muslim leaders.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani was not present at the conference, nor was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The OIC comprises Muslim-majority countries and those with a sizeable Muslim population, such as Uganda and Guyana, and has a collective population of 1.9bn.

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Palestine Sues United States Over Embassy Move to Jerusalem

The International Court of Justice said it received a complaint from Palestine of violation of international law.

Palestine has filed a complaint against the United States at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague over Washington’s illegal decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reports the Ramallah-based foreign ministry.

RELATED: Palestinian President Slams Israeli Colonial Expansion at UNGA

The ICJ reported in a statement on Friday that Palestine was appealing on the grounds of the 1961 Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations, which states that a host country must locate foreign embassies in their territory.

Even though Israel controls Jerusalem militarily, after occupying the eastern part of the city during the 1967 war, it officially enjoys international special status and ownership is disputed.

Palestine requested the court declare the move illegal and “order the United States of America to withdraw (its) diplomatic mission from the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki told news agency Wafa the complaint aims to preserve the holy city character of Jerusalem, with its spiritual, religious and cultural dimensions, in line with foreign policy.

“We defend our rights and our people,” said Malki, “and reject all forms of political and financial extortion.”

In order to proceed, the ICJ first has to rule if Palestine is considered a nation-state, even though it’s been recognized by the UN General Assembly as a non-member state since 2012.

Rulings by the ICJ are legally binding, but it has no means to enforce its decisions. Countries such as the United States, for example, are known for ignoring it.

In a controversial decision that sparked international rejection, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem. Guatemala and Paraguay followed the decision shortly after, but the latter then moved back to Tel Aviv after a change of government.

Trials at the ICJ can last for years and no hearing has yet been scheduled.

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Ahed Tamimi: Girl in Shackles

A piece of news from EFE agency notified this Thursday that the Palestinian heroine, 17 years old, Ahed Tamimi received an 8-month sentence at a penitentiary in the United States.

The young woman went to Court escorted by a guard from Penitentiary Institutions that brought her in handcuffs that kept her restrained.

On top of that she got a fine for 1,168 Euros because she slapped one of the Israelis soldiers that occupy by force the territory of her homeland.

Earlier in her life when she was only 12 years old she responded to the threat of a soldier of Tel Aviv in her town Nabi Saleh, Jordan.

The teenager served preventive prison since last December and the Military Office for Israel has promised her release next July.

Tamimi, attended the Court based in the Israeli prison of Ófer, Jordan occupied territory and, after hearing the final verdict, she affirmed: “there is no justice under the Israeli occupation".

The verdict also extends to her mother Narima, sentenced to other eight months and a fine of 1.400 Euros for appearing in the video next to her daughter.

The pretext of her arrest took place when she participated in a manifestation against the order passed by Donald Trump of imposing the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Do you so-called human-rights defenders know this history?

They almost made it to the pages in newspapers, news reels and digital media.

Have they said something on Ahed Tamimi case?

When they do they will begin to inspire an atom of respect.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

US strangling Palestinians & trying to make them submit’

US policy on Israel-Palestine is almost entirely controlled by two elements in Washington – the pro-Israeli lobby and the arms industry, Max Blumenthal, a senior writer for AlterNet, told RT.

President Trump said the US might decrease aid to Palestine during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

When they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support, tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands – that money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace," Trump said.

“And they [Palestinians] are going to have to want to make peace too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer,” he added.

 
An Israeli flag is seen near the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem's Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount. © Ammar Awad

Earlier in the week, a brawl erupted in Israel's Knesset after Arab lawmakers protested US Vice President Mike Pence's speech. The MPs – who were holding signs which read "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine" – were removed from the building.

AlterNet senior writer Max Blumenthal called Pence’s speech “deeply offensive” to Palestinians.

Mike Pence was the first vice president to visit the Israeli Knesset. He is a Christian Evangelical who pounded the Bible before the Knesset, essentially staking Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem on the Bible, which is even from Biblical historical perspectives false,” he told RT.

Earlier, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas branded Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “the slap of the century.

According to Blumenthal, this move signaled a “break with decades of American policy and an explosion, a detonation of the two-state solution.” It is natural that Abbas responded this way and refused to meet with Pence, he added. 

In Blumenthal’s view, the real reason why Trump threatened to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority “is because he is being controlled by his son-in-law, the ‘American Crown Prince’ Jared Kushner.” He added that Kushner’s family has a deep relationship with Israeli PM Netanyahu.

Their family foundation has donated to Israeli settlements, they are very pro-Israel,” the writer told RT.

 
US President Donald Trump walks in a corridor after a meeting during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018© Denis Balibouse

Blumenthal cited a diplomat he interviewed who attended meetings with the Trump administration on Palestine. “Kushner is seeking to withhold funding to the Palestinians and drain the main Palestinian refugee aid agency ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) in order to force the Palestinians into a deal, in which they would essentially give up Palestinian statehood, give up the refugee question, and allow Israel to consolidate its permanent control over the West Bank."

So that is really what’s happening here – they are strangling the Palestinians and trying to make them say uncle.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinians through Abbas are looking for other partners in Russia, China and Europe, Blumenthal told RT, adding that “the US has lost its influence.”

According to the journalist, “for anyone who believes in peace in the Holy Land, removing the US or weakening its role in negotiations should be a goal.”

In Blumenthal’s opinion, the US and its policy on Israel-Palestine is almost entirely controlled by two elements in Washington – the pro-Israeli lobby and the arms industry, “which sells billions and billions of weapons to Israel in the form of US loans.” 

The US role in Palestine has basically been as the kind of puppeteer of colonization, of moving 350,000 settlers into the West Bank, walling off the Gaza Strip and now transforming Jerusalem – as an  international city – into Israel’s capital,” he told RT.

 
© Andrew Parsons / Global Look Press

Unfortunately the US dictates what happens on the ground,” Blumenthal told RT. 

Commenting on how the situation may develop further, the writer said that there are many possible nightmare scenarios.

One is that Israel attempts to push the Palestinians to violence in order to further entrench its control in the West Bank,” Blumenthal said. 

Another possible scenario, according to Blumenthal, would be a war on Israel’s northern border with Hezbollah, “which is something that the Saudi, Israeli, United Arab Emirates (UAE) axis along with Trump and Kushner have been trying to provoke.”

Blumenthal argues that “could expand into Gaza, where Hamas – which is an ally of Iran and Hezbollah – is in control.” “You could see mass deaths in the besieged Gaza Strip, which is experiencing the worst conditions ever along with unprecedented destruction and destabilization in Lebanon,” he added.

According to Blumenthal, the Israeli defense chief and some senior Israeli military intelligence officials “threaten to completely level Beirut if there is an escalation with Hezbollah.

He also told RT that Hezbollah had become stronger after the experience it gained in Syria.

We’re looking at a tinderbox with the Trump administration not doing anything to put red lines on Israeli activity in the West Bank or Israel’s bellicose threats towards Lebanon and the Gaza Strip,” he warned.     

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