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JfJfP comments


2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

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Posts

First small, symbolic, step to unity

1) Al Jazeera, 2) Reuters; 3) Ma’an news


The hut for Hamas border guards is removed as the PNA assumed control over the Erez border crossing. Photo by Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Hamas hands over Gaza border crossings

By Linah Alsaafin, Al Jazeera
November 01, 2017

Hamas has handed over administrative control of five border crossings in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority.

Wednesday’s handover, the first in over a decade, is part of a deal agreed on in the latest round of Egypt-brokered reconciliation talks between Hamas and the PA-ruled Fatah political party in Cairo on October 12.

Fatah spokesperson Osama Qawasmeh told Al Jazeera that no conditions were set by Fatah or Hamas for the handover.

“The issue is simply a matter of restoring the status quo back under the Palestinian Authority’s control, as was the case before the 2007 split,” he said, referring to the political schism that ended with Hamas taking over the Gaza Strip after an attempted coup by US-backed Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan.


Palestinian Authority staff work at the Erez crossing with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, November 1, 2017. Reuters photo via cgtn.com

The PA will take administrative charge of the three cargo crossings including the Karam Abu Salem crossing on the Egyptian border, as well as the Rafah and Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossings – the latter which is controlled by Israel in the north of the Strip.

How Gaza was made into an unlivable place

In a statement on Tuesday, the PA minister of civil affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh, said the national unity government is prepared to work closely with Egyptian authorities to prepare the Rafah border crossing for operation by November 15, as specified by the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access.

Rafah, the main border crossing in the south of the Gaza Strip, has been largely closed to Gaza’s population of two million since Hamas took over.

The other crossing, Erez, is located in the north of the strip and is run by Israel.

The PA will also be in charge of the three cargo crossing points of Karni, Kerem Shalom (Karem Abu Salem) and Sufa.

‘Better quality of life’

Qawasmeh said that this handover would make the lives of Palestinians in Gaza “much easier”.

“This will no doubt help enable a huge part of people’s lives to travel outside the Gaza Strip for whatever reason such as seeking medical treatment, undertaking a scholarship in a university, and leisurely travel,” he said.

“The movement of products will be facilitated quicker and will make it easier for import and export trade,” he added.

Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesperson, echoed his counterpart.

“We hope that handing over control would lead to a better quality of life for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” he told Al Jazeera.

He stressed that handing over control was not a security issue, but rather a logistical one.

Governing the ‘mega-prison’

However, Alaa Tartir, the programme director of the Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka, said that the transfer of administrative border control “does not necessarily translate into a meaningful national reconciliation and unity”. Tartir said,

“Assuming that the mere replacement of personnel at the borders and crossings will lift the siege on Gaza is a naive and dangerous assumption”

“It is a test to examine the fragility or durability of the recent reconciliation agreement.”

“It is crucial to acknowledge that Israel, as an occupying power, will remain the de facto holder of power over borders and crossings,” he continued.

“This will only change when the Israeli occupation ends. The Hamas-Fatah infighting about who will ‘manage’ the borders and crossings is merely a fight about who will ‘govern’ the mega-prison.”

Since Hamas took over in 2007, Israel has imposed an air, naval and land blockade on the Gaza Strip, a stretch of land measuring 51km in length and 11km in width. Earlier this year, the PA added pressure on Hamas’ government by requesting Israel to cut off its electricity supply to Gaza.

A matter of protocol

Qawasmeh said that the closure of the border crossings was due to the absence of a “legitimate government” and that things are finally “going back to normal”.

He also said that the actual transfer of border control would not have much pomp and fanfare.

“The process of handing over control is just a matter of protocol,” Qawasmeh said. “The real case is the decision of Hamas – which up until now has been positive – to completely transfer all powers to the national unity government as was stipulated in the latest reconciliation agreement.”

The next round of reconciliation talks will take place in Cairo on November 21, where Qassem and Qawasmeh said the discussion would focus on logistics of administration and security of the Gaza Strip.

Additional reporting by Farah Najjar


Hamas cedes Gaza border crossings to Palestinian Authority control

By Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters
November 01, 2017

GAZA – The Islamist group Hamas began ceding control of the Gaza Strip’s border crossings with Israel and Egypt to U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday under an agreement brokered by Cairo to end a decade of internal schism.

The move marked the most concrete implementation of the Oct. 11 reconciliation deal that Palestinians hope will ease economic restrictions on Gaza and enable more fruitful negotiations on their goal of setting up an independent state.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah said in a statement that taking charge of the crossings would help Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) fulfil its duty “to improve the living conditions of our people”.

Israel and the United States have reservations about the intra-Palestinian pact, however, given refusals by Hamas – which has fought three wars with Israel since seizing control of Gaza in 2007 from forces loyal to Abbas – to relinquish its rockets and other arms.

Witnesses said PA employees moved into Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings on the Israeli border and Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border, as Hamas counterparts packed up equipment and departed on trucks.

“We have handed over the crossings with honesty and responsibility, without bargaining and unconditionally,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a video address.

Citing security concerns, Israel maintains tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods at its crossings with the Gaza Strip, including an almost blanket ban on exports from the territory.

COGAT, the Israeli military-run authority that supervises Erez and Kerem Shalom, said a meeting would be held with a PA representative to define joint working protocols and Israeli security conditions, including “the complete absence of any Hamas member or representative” at or near the crossings.

Egypt, which in the past has accused Hamas of aiding an Islamist insurgency in its Sinai peninsula bordering Gaza, has kept Rafah largely closed. Hamas denies the allegations and has stepped up security along the frontier.

U.N. OFFICIAL HAILS CROSSINGS’ TRANSFER

Nickolay Mladenov, U.N. special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said transfer of the crossings was a “landmark development” in the reconciliation process, and he called in a statement for “the positive momentum to be maintained”.


Posters of Palestinian National Authority leaders were hung up at the border crossings after Hamas handed over control. Photo by Mahmud Hams/AFP

PNA ministers have begun gradually to assume their duties in Gaza in past weeks and on Tuesday took over the revenue accounts of the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings, officials said.

Hamas had used those revenues – taxes and fees collected from merchants and passengers – as part of its Gaza budget, to pay salaries of the 40,000 to 50,000 employees it has hired since 2007. Those wages will now be paid by the PNA, under the Cairo agreement.

Hamas also maintains an armed wing, which analysts say has at least 25,000 well-equipped fighters. It remains the dominant force in Gaza, an enclave of two million people.

The Palestinian National Authority will begin operating the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings immediately, officials said, while in Rafah the operation will await further security arrangements such as deploying a force from Abbas’s presidential guards and Cairo completing innovations on its side of the facility.


PNA officially takes control of Gaza borders from Hamas

By Ma’an news
November 01/02, 2017

GAZA CITY — The Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority (PNA) officially took over administrative control from Hamas of the border crossings in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday, as part of the continued transfer of power from Hamas to the Palestinian unity government.

Both the Palestinian and Egyptian national anthems were played during the handover ceremony at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

An Egyptian security delegation, PNA Minister of Public Works Mufid al-Hasayna, General Director of Crossings and Borders Nathmi Muhanna, and several PNA ministers and officials took part in the ceremony.

Pictures of President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi were hung side by side on buildings for the first time since division [above, photo by Ma’an images].

Al-Hasayna said in a press conference held after the ceremony that the transition of power at the crossings marked “a true lead on the road for reconciliation and ending division.”

In the reconciliation agreement signed last month by Hamas and Fatah, it was reportedlty agreed that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza would be operated by PNA presidential guards by November 1.

After the reconciliation deal was signed, the Egyptian government called for a meeting between the factions in Cairo on November 21 to discuss the next steps in implementing the agreement.

According to Israeli news daily Haaretz, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that “the next phase of reconciliation will be a meeting of representatives of all the Palestinian factions in Cairo to discuss the major national issues – such as Hamas’s military wing, the issue of weapons and political positions.”

Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since they came into violent conflict in 2007.

In addition to resolving the issue of public employees and Hamas’ military wing, Hamas and Fatah plan to pave the way for legislative elections for the unity government that would rule both the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

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