The United States is making it clear to the
Palestinians that the resignation of Prime Minister
Salaam Fayyad is not an option. On April 12, US
Secretary of State John Kerry called up President
Mahmoud Abbas to talk about his recent shuttle visit to
the region aimed at jumpstarting negotiations between
Palestinians and Israel, and also to reportedly
‘persuade” him to patch things up with his premier.
Fayyad has said he would resign, most likely over the
spat between himself and President Abbas following the
resignation of finance minister Nabil Kassis early last
month. While Fayyad immediately accepted the
resignation, Abbas felt he had gone over his head with
a decision that should ultimately be the president’s.
Abbas and Fayyad are scheduled to meet today in
Ramallah, to “talk things over.”
Kerry’s visit to the region this week during which he
met with both Palestinian and Israeli officials yielded
an announcement by the Secretary of State that the US
would soon be announcing a plan to boost the
Palestinian economy. This was not, however, an
alternative to a political path, which Kerry says he is
still trying to get back on track. Israel and the
Palestinians have so far refused to return to the
negotiating table, with each side saying the other had
to make the first step. Palestinians remain adamant
that Israel must halt settlement activity, offer a map
of borders for the future Palestinian state and release
at least the 123 prisoners arrested before the Oslo
Accords were signed before they return to the table.
While the Israeli press said this week that Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may accept a limited
release of prisoners, nothing has yet been officially
Meanwhile, the Palestinians are angry with Canada. On
April 12, the PLO lodged an official complaint with
Canada after its foreign minister, John Baird attended
meeting with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni at
her office in occupied east Jerusalem.
"Your recent meeting with Israeli officials in East
Jerusalem has the effect of attempting to legitimize
the illegal situation on the ground and may be deemed
as aiding, abetting or otherwise assisting illegal
Israeli policies," PLO Executive Committee member Saeb
Erekat wrote in the message to Canada's representative
"As such, Canada’s actions are tantamount to complicity
in ongoing Israeli violations of the international laws
of war. ... these violations are being (perpetrated)
not only against the State of Palestine and the
Palestinian people, but against the international
community as a whole."
In London, Baird rejected the criticism.
“I’m just not interested in getting into the semantic
argument about whether you have a meeting with one
person on one side of the street (and) it’s OK, and you
have a meeting on the other side of street and it’s
not,” he said.
“We’re focused on trying to have an impact on the
difficult and serious challenges, that being security
for Israelis, an end to the conflict and the legitimate
aspirations for a state from those in the Palestinian
It may be difficult to realize Palestinian aspirations,
especially in Gaza, according to the United Nations on
April 10. UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Gaza, James
Rawley said, “Recent restrictions imposed by Israel on
the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza are
undermining the livelihoods and rights of many
vulnerable people in the territory,” adding that if the
restrictions continued, the effect on the population
will be serious.
Rawley said that in recent weeks, Israel has announced
a series of heightened restrictions on the movement of
people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip, including
closures of the Kerem Shalom crossing, “resulting in
the depletion of stocks of essential items, including
basic foodstuffs and cooking gas."
In the West Bank, Palestinians continue to show concern
for their prisoners in Israeli jails, namely long-
standing hunger striker Samer Issawi. Today, Issawi is
in dire condition, with damaged heart muscles and at a
high risk for stroke. Israel, on April 12, offered to
deport Issawi to a UN member country as a deal to break
his strike. According to Ofir Gendelman, spokesman for
the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, "the EU and UN who
demanded his release declined to find a country that
will accept him. Palestinians have been pressuring the
EU and the UN to intervene to save Issawi’s life.
However, Issawi insists he will not break his strike
unless he is released and allowed to return to his
hometown of Essawiyeh in Jerusalem.
However, in spite of Israel’s claims about the EU, an
EU spokesman told AFP that "Israel has not formally
approached the EU on this subject."
A day earlier on April 11, Physicians for Human Rights-
Israel said human rights violations by medics working
for Israel's prison service are endangering the lives
of both Israeli and Palestinian inmates, especially
The NGO strongly urged the transfer of responsibility
for prisoners' health from the Israel Prisons Service
to the health ministry in order to ensure detainees'
health was put ahead of "security considerations".
"Medical ethics and human rights violations carried out
by the IPS, specifically by prison medical
practitioners... endangered the lives of prisoners and
detainees on hunger strike," PHR said in a report.
The abuses it cited included "preventing independent
physicians from examining and monitoring the medical
condition of hunger strikers... and blocking the
transfer of prisoners on hunger strike to civilian
Also on April 11, Israeli forces shot and injured a
disabled Palestinian in Hebron. Motaz Ibedo, who has
been confined to a wheelchair after being shot two
years ago, was critically injured and transferred to an
Israeli hospital for treatment, according to a
statement issued by the Palestinian Prisoners Society.
On the same day, Jewish settlers attacked 60-year-old
Palestinian judge Ahmad al-Zir as he worked on his land
near Ramallah. Al Zir sustained multiple injuries,
including head wounds, and was left unconscious in the
attack. Clashes ensured between Israeli forces and
Palestinians, resulting in the injury of a 16-year-old
Palestinian was shot in the chest and the arm with
plastic-coated bullets. Settlers also attacked
Palestinian land in Thahiriyeh, near Hebron, cutting
down 350 olive and almond trees.
Israeli guards at the Rimon prison attacked Abdul-
Rahman Karajah, fracturing his hand after he climbed a
roof with barbed wires and lowered the Israeli flag,"
according to his lawyer. Karajeh was taking part of
protests against the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, the
high-profile prisoner with cancer who died in prison
two weeks ago.
On the internal front, Palestinian officials took part
in a ceremony on April 11 to lay the cornerstone for a
new museum of Palestinian culture, history and society
in the Ramallah-area town of Birzeit.
Organizers said the museum, which will be built in two
stages, would provide Palestinians with "a valuable
source of information on Palestine and its history".
"The museum will not only be for Palestinians but will
reach out to the whole world through an advanced
digital network," project manager Omar al-Qattan said
during the ceremony.
"It will be more than a traditional building with
archaeological relics. We are looking at an institution
that will transcend all boundaries -- geographical and
political," he added.
Finally, on April 10, head of the Central Elections
Committee Hanna Nasser said voter registration had been
completed and the data entered and analyzed, adding
that the CEC was ready for upcoming presidential and
legislative elections. This, however, will not happen
until Palestinian reconciliation is achieved, something
which Hamas and Fatah have failed to reach so far.