Abbas demands international protection from Israeli tyranny

Updated 15 July 2014
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Abbas demands international protection from Israeli tyranny

Saudi Arabia has criticized the UN Security Council for not taking effective action to prevent the Israeli military aggression against Gaza. “The Security Council statement on Israel’s attack on the Gazans was not up to the expectations of its members and the stature of the international body,” said Abdullah Al-Muallami, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN.
Al-Muallami, who is also head of the OIC group at the UN, said the Security Council statement had not denounced the Israeli aggression that killed over 160 Palestinians in four days.
“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation had called for setting up a neutral committee to probe the Israeli aggression, especially the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
“The OIC had also called for providing international protection for the Palestinians,” Al-Muallami said. He expressed hope that Israel would heed the international call for ending its military operation. “If this is not happening, we will again ask the Security Council to adopt more effective measures on the issue,” he said.
Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour accused the council of dragging its feet and said Saturday’s statement had only been agreed after the Arab Group, the OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement threatened to push for a resolution on the issue.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to ask the UN to put the state of Palestine under “international protection” due to the worsening violence in Gaza, the PLO said Sunday.
Abbas would present a letter to this effect to the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, it said in a statement. Abbas also wants a commission of inquiry into Israel’s relentless air bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Abbas is “undertaking several steps and measures to deal with the horrific situation in Gaza,” senior Palestine Liberation Organization member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement after a meeting of the PLO executive.
Abbas has asked Switzerland, the depository of the fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in wartime, to ask signatories to place sanctions on Israel which, as the occupying power, is responsible for the safety of civilians. Its recognition by the UN as a non-member state has allowed Palestine to sign several international conventions, including the Geneva Conventions.
When Arab League foreign ministers meet in Cairo on Monday to discuss the Gaza crisis Palestine would ask them to “adopt a draft resolution at the ministerial level” to be presented to the UN Security Council.
The Palestinians would also seek an emergency meeting of the UN Human Rights Council “to deal with the grave conditions in Gaza and hold Israel to account for its violations of international law and international humanitarian law.”

— With input from agencies


Holy Land churches cry foul over Israeli legislation on lands

Updated 48 min 23 sec ago
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Holy Land churches cry foul over Israeli legislation on lands

  • In their letter to Netanyahu, the Christian leaders slammed the “scandalous bill,” accusing its backers of an “unprecedented attack against the Christians of the Land.”
  • Large swathes of Jerusalem are owned by various churches, which in many cases reached long-term leasing agreements with the state.

JERUSALEM: Three major Holy Land churches implored Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to prevent the advancement of a draft bill they said was aimed at expropriating their lands.
Heads of the Armenian, Greek Orthodox and Catholic churches in Jerusalem also accused the Israeli authorities of failing to keep a committment made just a few months ago that brought an end to a major crisis between the sides.
In February, the Jerusalem municipality began enforcing tax collection on church property, while separately lawmakers in the parliament worked on advancing a law that would allow expropriation of church property.
The church leaders in protest closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site in Jerusalem where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried, following which Israeli authorities froze both the tax measures and the legislation, committing to a dialogue with the Christians over the issues.
Rachel Azaria, a lawmaker with the centrist coalition party Kulanu, recently renewed work on a slightly revised bill that does not mention churches but would let the state expropriate the rights over lands sold by such bodies in Jerusalem, while offering compensation.
In their Monday letter to Netanyahu, the Christian leaders slammed the “scandalous bill,” accusing its backers of an “unprecedented attack against the Christians of the Land.”
“Certain elements in the government of Israel are still attempting to promote divisive, racist and subversive agendas, thereby undermining the Status Quo and targeting the Christian community on the basis of extraneous and populist considerations,” they said.
The church leaders also said that despite the Israeli committment to communicate on these issues via a specially appointed committee headed by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, “no dialogue whatsoever has taken place with us” since the end of February.
“We view such conduct, from those who promote the bill, as a flagrant violation and undermining of Your Excellency’s commitment and of the basic and fundamental freedom of worship,” the church leaders said.
They urged Netanyahu to swiftly “block the bill whose unilateral promotion will compel the Churches to reciprocate.”
Large swathes of Jerusalem are owned by various churches, which in many cases reached long-term leasing agreements with the state.
Residents living in homes on such lands fear the churches could sell the lands to private developers, who would be free to do as they wish with their property, including raising rents or razing existing structures.
Azaria said her bill did not single out churches, and was aimed at solving the problem of “thousands of Jerusalem residents who could lose their homes due to the demands of developers.”
There was no immediate comment from Netanyahu’s office while Hanegbi refused to comment.
A spokeswoman for Azaria told AFP the bill was coordinated with Netanyahu and Hanegbi.