Tag Archives: Gaza

Gaza: Hamas inside AP building

Brussels 16.05.2021 Israel shared intelligence with the US showing how Hamas operated inside the same building with Associated Press and Al-Jazeera in Gaza, officials in Jerusalem said on Sunday, 16 May.

Officials in more than one government office confirmed that US President Joe Biden’s phone call to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, May 15, was, in part, about the bombing of the building, and that Israel showed Biden and American officials the intelligence behind the action.

We showed them the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building,” a source close to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said. “I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.”

Another senior Israeli official admitted that the fact that the bombing took place two days after a tweet by the IDF misled some foreign media into reporting that ground troops had entered Gaza made the situation more difficult, from a public diplomacy perspective.

GAZA: EU diplomacy urgent meeting

16.05.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has announced an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign ministers of the bloc to discuss the ways of contributing to the de-escalation of the situation in Gaza. The gathering of the top diplomats will take place via Video-Tele-Conferencing (TVC) on Tuesday 18 May.

“In view of the ongoing escalation between Israel and Palestine and the unacceptable number of civilian casualties, I am convening an extraordinary VTC of the EU Foreign Ministers on Tuesday. We will coordinate and discuss how the EU can best contribute to end the current violence” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Palestine is a beneficiary of the European Peacebuilding Initiative together with Israel and Jordan.. Its overall objective is to facilitate the peace process by supporting a solid foundation at civil society level for a fair and lasting settlement in the Middle East. The programme distributes €5 million per year to Civil Society Organisations promoting links across the political divide in Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

Other regional programmes include actions in the area of Political and Social Development, Trade and Economic Development.

The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) is the main EU financing instrument for Palestine. EU funding is allocated in line with the multi-annual European Joint Strategy in support of Palestine 2017-2020 – Towards a democratic and accountable Palestinian State. The Strategy sets out targeted and shared priorities of the EU and the EU Member States. It is aligned with the Palestine National Policy Agenda 2017-2022, adopted by the Palestinian Authority in December 2016.

The multi-annual financial allocation for Palestine under the ENI for 2017-2020 amounts to €1.28 billion.

For the period 2017-2020, the EU’s bilateral assistance to Palestine under the ENI focuses on the following priority sectors:

Governance Reform, Fiscal Consolidation and Policy;
Rule of Law, Justice, Citizen Safety and Human Rights;
Sustainable Service Delivery;
Access to Self-Sufficient Water and Energy Services;
Sustainable Economic Development.
The EU’s cooperation portfolio in Palestine focuses on:

i) Direct Financial Support
The EU is helping the Palestinian Authority meet its recurrent expenditure by contributing to the payment of salaries and pensions of a number of civil servants in the West Bank. It also provides assistance to the most vulnerable Palestinian families and helps pay for health referrals to the East Jerusalem hospitals. This support is channelled through the PEGASE instrument (Mécanisme Palestino-européen de Gestion de l’Aide Socio-économique). It is accompanied by a policy dialogue aimed at encouraging reforms, which includes an incentive-based framework that links part of this support to reforms in key sectors.

In 2020, the total EU contribution to PEGASE amounts to €159.05 million of which €85 million for salaries and pensions, €22,5 million to support the response of the East Jerusalem Hospitals to COVID-19 and €45 million to support the incomes of the most vulnerable households.

ii) Support to Palestine refugees
The EU with its Member States is by far the largest provider of assistance to Palestine refugees. The EU’s funding is used to ensure that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’s (UNRWA) is able to provide health, education and social services, including salaries for teachers, doctors and social workers active in refugee camps.

The total EU contribution to UNRWA in 2018,2019 and 2020 was €395.6 million including ENI contributions to the programme budget, contributions from the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis, EU humanitarian aid, the food security programme under the Development Cooperation Instrument and the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace.

iii) Development programmes
EU-funded development programmes in Palestine focus on job creation and access to water and energy. It is also used to support cooperation between Israel and Palestine, notably on energy and water, working with the Office of the Quartet. The Gaza Central Desalination Plant is a flagship programme supported by the EU, in cooperation with Arab donors via the Islamic Development Bank. It aims to ensure that the Gazan population has access to clean drinking water by providing a minimum of 55 million m3 of safe and clean drinking water per year. Parts of the Associated Works have already started in 2019.

In 2019 the first twinning project started in Palestine in the field of customs. Palestine benefited from 17 TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument) events in 2019. In addition, €12 million are allocated each year to projects in East Jerusalem, which is a key priority to keep the negotiated two-state solution alive, and to resolve “the status of Jerusalem as the capital of both states” as reflected in the EU Council Conclusions of 22 July 2014.

Gaza: EU engaged in de-escalation efforts

Brussels 15.05.2021 The European Union is actively engaged in diplomatic efforts to contribute to defusing the ongoing violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Over the past days, High Representative for foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell has been continuing his outreach to support efforts to de-escalate the extremely worrying situation in the region, especially in and around Gaza. In all his contacts, High Representative Borrell condemned Hamas’ and other groups’ indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian targets in Israel. The High Representative stressed that while Israel has the right to protect its population from these kind of attacks, it must act proportionately and avoid civilian casualties.

In reaching out to his interlocutors, HRVP Borrell has consistently underlined the need to immediately end the grave escalation of violence, prevent its further spillover and ensure that civilians on all sides are protected. He has also called for full respect for international humanitarian law and for full humanitarian access to be granted to those most in need in Gaza.

Root causes that have led to this situation must be addressed. The status quo of the holy sites needs to be respected and any acts of incitement around them avoided, as the HRVP underlined during his contacts. He also recalled the EU’s long-standing position on the need to cease settlement activities, demolitions and evictions, including in East Jerusalem.

The EU top diplomat held discussions earlier this week with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. HRVP Borrell also exchanged views with key regional players, including Foreign Minister of Egypt Sameh Shoukry, Foreign Minister of Jordan Ayman Safadi and Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. At the same time, the HRVP remains in close contact with Foreign Ministers of EU Member States in order to coordinate and discuss how the EU can best contribute to ending the current violence.

The HRVP has instructed the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Sven Koopmans, to work actively with other envoys from the Middle East Quartet to address the crisis. On the ground, the EU Delegation in Tel Aviv and the EU Representation in Jerusalem are also engaging with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and with Member States representatives.

The EU’s priority and message in this context remains clear: violence must end now. There is an urgent need to address the root causes of the conflict and to find a political pathway, which allows for a return to meaningful negotiations towards a two-state solution based on the internationally agreed parameters. Both Israelis and Palestinians alike have the right to live in safety and security, freedom and democracy. These constant cycles of violence must be brought to an end.

EU: Gaza violence must stop

Brussels 13.05.2021 “The grave escalation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the major upsurge in violence in and around Gaza, must stop. This follows days of tension and clashes in Jerusalem, including at the holy sites and increasing violence in towns in Israel and the West Bank.

“The EU is dismayed at the large numbers of civilian deaths and injuries, including children. The priority must be to protect civilians. All efforts should be directed at avoiding civilian casualties, and supporting de-escalation.

“The indiscriminate launching of rockets from Hamas and other groups towards Israeli civilians is unacceptable.

“While recognising Israel’s legitimate need to protect its civilian population, this response needs to be proportionate and with maximum restraint in the use of force.

“The EU calls for an immediate end to the ongoing violence. Everything must be done to prevent a broader conflict, which will, first and foremost, affect the civilian populations on both sides. In Jerusalem, the status quo at the holy sites must be respected and freedom of worship guaranteed.

“I am in contact with the relevant parties in the region and with the international community, including through the Middle East Quartet, to de-escalate the situation as a matter of priority and to support efforts aimed at ending further violence”.

Iranian nuclear deal in focus of EU foreign ministers

The Foreign Affairs Council (28/05/2018) will start with a discussion on current affairs, allowing ministers to review pressing issues on the international agenda.

The High Representative Federica Mogherini and ministers may refer to the Sofia Summit (17 May), recent developments related to North Korea and the situation in Yemen.

Iran

Foreign ministers will continue to discuss Iran and the nuclear deal (#JCPOA) in light of the latest developments, in particular after the US decision to withdraw from the agreement.

This follows the discussion by EU leaders at their meeting in Sofia on 16 May. At this meeting, they agreed unanimously that the EU will stay in the agreement as long as Iran remains fully committed to it.

Venezuela

Foreign ministers will exchange views on the political situation in Venezuela, after the presidential election of 20 May. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on Venezuela.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Council will discuss the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following up on the Council conclusions of 11 December 2017 and in view of the foreseen elections at the end of the year.

Gaza

Over lunch, foreign ministers will discuss the situation in Gaza following recent developments, including in relation to the move of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

African, Caribbean and Pacific countries

The Council is expected to discuss the negotiating mandate for the future agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, also known as the Cotonou Agreement, will expire in February 2020.

Foreign ministers had an initial discussion during January’s Foreign Affairs Council. Development ministers had a discussion on 22 May 2018.

EU calls Hamas for non-violent expression

“Dozens of Palestinians, including children, have been killed and hundreds injured from Israeli fire today, during ongoing mass protests near the Gaza fence. We expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life. Israel must respect the right to peaceful protest and the principle of proportionality in the use of force. Hamas and those leading the demonstrations in Gaza must ensure that they remain strictly non-violent and must not exploit them for other means” – the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said in a statement, addressing the eruption of violence in Gaza, related to the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

“During these days, both Israelis and Palestinians are commemorating defining moments for their nations. Each side in this conflict has legitimate claims and aspirations which need to be mutually acknowledged”

“Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Muslims and Christians. The ties of the Jewish people to Jerusalem are irrefutable, and must not be denied. And the same is true for the ties of the Palestinian people to the city”

“Any further escalation of an already extremely tense and complex situation would cause again further unspeakable sufferings to both peoples, and will make the perspective of peace and security even more remote. In this moment, wisdom and courage would be needed to go back to negotiations for a political solution, for the sake both of the Israeli and the Palestinian people, and the entire region. Only a two state solution will realistically allow both sides to fulfil their aspirations, put an end to the conflict, and achieve the just and lasting peace that Israelis and Palestinians long for and deserve”

“The EU remains firmly committed to continue working with both parties and with its partners in the international community towards a resumption of meaningful negotiations aimed at a two-state solution, based on the 4 june 1967 lines and with Jerusalem as capital of both”

“The European Union has a clear, consolidated position on Jerusalem, which was reaffirmed in numerous Foreign Affairs Council conclusions. The EU will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem embodied in, inter alia, UN Security Council Resolution 478, including on the location of diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved” – the statement concludes.

 

Pontifex calls for peace ending conflicts and “carnage”

Pope Francis, in his traditional Easter address called for peace in the Holy Land two days after 15 Palestinians were killed on the Israeli-Gaza border, saying the conflict there “does not spare the defenseless”.

Pontifex made his appeal in his “Urbi et Orbi” – to the city and the world – message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to believers in the flower-bedecked square below where he earlier celebrated a Mass.

Further in his speech he also appealed for an end to the “carnage” in Syria, calling for humanitarian aid to be allowed to enter, and for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Pope Francis led an Easter vigil service, baptizing eight adults, including a undocumented Nigerian migrant beggar who came into public eye when he disarmed an Italian thief wielding a cleaver.

The baptism took place during a long Holy Saturday, or Easter eve, Mass for some 10,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica.

 

Abbas welcomes Hamas reconciliation move

Hamas has agreed to dissolve the administration running Gaza, it said, a major step towards handing control of the enclave to a Palestinian unity government after a decade of bitter rivalry with President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Islamist group, which has ruled Gaza since a brief Palestinian civil war in 2007, said it had taken “a courageous, serious and patriotic decision to dissolve the administrative committee” that runs the territory of 2 million people, and hand power to some form of unity government.

Abbas welcomed Hamas’ move – a result of talks mediated by Egypt – and said he would convene the Palestinian leadership for discussions upon his return from New York where he was attending the U.N. General Assembly.

The development would “enable the formation of a national reconciliation government to work in the Gaza Strip and hold … elections,” he said in a statement on official news agency WAFA.