SPEECH BY DR. RIAD MALKI, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE STATE OF PALESTINE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE SIGNING OF A COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE STATE OF PALESTINE AND THE HOLY SEE

Your Excellency Archbishop Gallagher,
Esteemed members of the delegations of the Holy See and the State of Palestine,

We are pleased and honored to have officially signed the Comprehensive Agreement between the State of Palestine and the Holy See, following a number of years of intensive negotiations in a spirit of partnership. This agreement is a historic agreement. It would have not been possible without the support and personal dedication of President Abbas, and the blessing of His Holiness, Pope Francis, to our efforts in this regard.

This agreement builds on the special relations between the State of Palestine and the Holy See, and expands further on the Basic Agreement signed between the PLO and the Holy See in the year 2000.

The agreement is comprehensive. Its provisions span the shared vision of the two Parties for peace and justice in the region, the protection of fundamental freedoms, the status and protection of Holy Sites, and the means of enhancing and furthering the presence and activities of the Roman Catholic Church in the State of Palestine.

For the first time, the Agreement includes an official recognition by the Holy See of Palestine as a State, in recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, freedom and dignity in an independent state of their own, free from the shackles of occupation. It also supports the vision for peace and justice in the region in accordance with international law and based on two states, living side by side in peace and security, on the basis of the 1967 borders.

The agreement reinforces our bond with new and unprecedented provisions related to the special status of Palestine as the birthplace of Christianity and as the cradle of monolithic religions. It embodies our shared values of freedom, dignity, tolerance, co-existence, and equality of all. This comes at a time when extremism, barbaric violence, and ignorance threaten the social fabric and cultural identity of the region and indeed of human heritage. At this backdrop, the State of Palestine reiterates its commitment to combat extremism, and to promote tolerance, freedom of consciousness and religion, and to equally safeguard the rights of all its citizens. These are the values and principles that reflect the beliefs and aspirations of the Palestinian people and its leadership, and they are the pillars upon which we continue to endeavor to establish our independent and democratic State.

This agreement consolidates and improves the current state of affairs, in which the Roman Catholic Church enjoys rights, privileges, immunities, and free access. It upholds the Church’s standing as an important contributor to the lives of many Palestinians.

This Agreement is the product of a number of years of detailed and exhaustive negotiations between both of our teams, in a spirit of friendship and partnership. I would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks and appreciation to them and to all others who contributed to this effort, for their hard work and commitment. In particular to the members of the Palestinian team composed of Ambassador Rawan Sulaiman, Ambassador Issa Kassissieh, Ammar Hijazi and Azem Bishara, and to the team of the Holy See, in particular Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Archbishop Antonio Franco, Msgr. Alberto Ortega, and Fr. Emil Salayta.

On behalf of President Abbas and the Palestinian leadership, I wish to reiterate the commitment of the State of Palestine to implement this historic agreement, in both letter and spirit, and to further deepen our partnership.

Congratulations and thank you.

THE SWEDISH FLOTILLA IS A REMINDER TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ABOUT THEIR OBLIGATIONS TOWARDS PALESTINE

“Palestine welcomes any peaceful effort by the international solidarity movement to break the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza and reach the 1.8 million Palestinians sitting in Israel open-air prison,” said Dr. Saeb Erakat, Member of the PLO Executive Committee in a statement regarding the “Swedish Flotilla” on Wednesday.

“This is a reminder to the world that the flotilla is coming to Palestine and any attempt by Israel to obstruct its movement is considered a violation of international law. It’s also a reminder of the bloody and violent act of Israel in 2010 against the unarmed civilian activists who were on foreign vessels while sailing in international waters toward the shores of Gaza. On July 8th, Palestinians will commemorate Israel’s assault on Gaza last summer which led to the massive destruction and killings of over 2200 Palestinians. We call on the international community to take swift and appropriate action before it is too late and history repeats itself at the hands of Israel.”

Questions and Answers Palestine’s First Communication of Information to the International Criminal Court Regarding Violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law

On June 25th, 2015, the State of Palestine will officially present an initial batch of information to the International Criminal Court in order to assist with its preliminary examination into crimes committed on the territory of the occupied State, including East Jerusalem, since June 13 2014. The delivery of this information is considered a fundamental step in the process of ending Israeli impunity and bringing justice to the Palestinian people.

Is this communication a referral?

No. The communication focuses on providing information to the ICC Prosecutor so as to supplement a preliminary examination in advance of an official investigation. If the Prosecutor finds that the information reaches the threshold required for an investigation, she will proceed with the investigation. Palestine is simply contributing information to facilitate the preliminary examination initiated 16 of January 2015

Will Palestine make specific referrals to the ICC?

As a State Party to the Rome Statute, the State of Palestine may make referrals to the Court and may choose to do so at a later stage if it deems necessary. This will depend upon how the preliminary investigation progresses.

What does this communication reflect?

The communication reflects the strong consensus amongst the Palestinian people that we seek accountability and the prevention of crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute was the outcome of a long process of internal discussion between the PLO, political parties, civil society and other actors within Palestinian society, reaching the consensus that Palestine should be a State Party to the ICC. In effect, this submission reflects the State and its institutions’ willingness to assist the Office of the Prosecutor by providing information relevant to her preliminary examination of the crimes committed in our territory.

What will this communication include?

The files to be presented to the court refer to war crimes and crimes committed by individuals of the Israeli leadership. It will focus primarily on providing the context within which a pattern of systematic interrelated crimes have been committed within and throughout the Palestinian state, including through the Israeli settlement regime, and the blockade and attacks against the Gaza Strip and civilian population.

The information contained in the communication aims to demonstrate that there are practices and policies which either triggered the commission of these crimes, or which are criminal in and of themselves, or both. The files include statistics on settlements, prisoners, as well as statistics on Israel’s aggression and attack on Gaza 2014

The communication will highlight the context within which a widespread and systematic attack by Israeli leaders and agents is continually being perpetrated against the Palestinian people. As a whole, the communication confirms that the absence of accountability has lead to the recurrence of violations and crimes and will continue to do so if gone unchecked.

What territory and which period of time does the communication include?

The State of Palestine, as recognized by the United Nations, includes all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza governorates.

The communication is in line with the declaration lodged by the State of Palestine on 1 January 2015 under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute in which Palestine accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC. Consistent with the Rome Statute, the communication outlines crimes committed in the occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, since 13 June 2014.

Who prepared the files to be submitted?

The Higher National Committee prepared the communication file for the ICC. This committee includes members of the PLO Executive Committee, ministers and relevant ministerial bodies, and representatives of all political parties, security forces and professional unions.

By joining the court, Palestine seeks accountability for the widespread and blatant criminality which persists against it in hopes that this will provide a measure of protection by deterring future crime.

“It is time to put an end to the Palestinian tragedy by ensuring the rights of Palestinians under international law”

H.E President Mahmoud Abbas, May 2015.

The Higher Presidential Committee of Churches affairs in Palestine Condemns the terrorist attack against a Church in Tabgha in the Galilee

Israeli attacks on Christian and Muslim holy sites have continued and increased under the watch of the new, right-wing Israeli Government.

The Church of Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish was set on fire and its walls spray painted with hate speech on Thursday June 18th by Israeli terrorists. The historical church, known as the site where Jesus Christ multiplied fish and loaves of bread, was torched in a vicious attack as a direct consequence of the calls for recognition of Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ and Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people. The culture of impunity that has been granted to Israel has allowed Israeli extremists to escalate their racist attacks against Palestinians and degrade our holy sites without any legal accountability.

The Presidential Committee calls upon the international community to take series of actions to immediately stop the systematic attacks against our holy sites.

Soldiers Expel Palestinians from Pool in Area A to Enable Settlers to Bathe

20150407_birkat_al_karmel

during Passover holidays, a group of hundreds of settlers accompanied by Israeli security forces came to  a natural pool close to the village of al-Karmil, in the southern Hebron Hills within Area A. In 2011, Yatta Municipality renovated the site, creating a park there and restoring an ancient pool at its center.

Hundreds of settlers arrived at the pool accompanied by dozens of soldiers, Border Police, and representatives of the Civil Administration (CA). The security forces ordered the Palestinian bathers to leave the pool and remain on the edge of the park. They allowed the settlers, however, free and exclusive use of the rest of the park.

According to testimonies , when the settlers arrived at the pool there were almost 200 Palestinians there. Some were bathing in the pool, while others were relaxing in the park. Muhammad Mahaniyah, 20, a resident of Yatta, said:

A Border Police officer ordered me to get out of the water quickly. At first I refused and told him that I wanted to be in the pool and had a right to be there. I said that I had no problem with the settlers swimming along with me. He threatened to use force if I didn’t get out of the water quickly, so my friends and I had no choice but to get out. The soldiers ordered the Palestinians who were around the pool to move back to the edge of the park, to stay there, and not to approach the settlers.

This incident is yet another example of how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank. Almost any desire expressed by settlers, however capricious, is automatically facilitated at the expense of the Palestinian population. In this case, the military used its force and authority solely in order to allow settlers the pleasure of bathing at that particular location. This purpose is unjustified in its own right, and certainly cannot justify the entry of soldiers into Area A or any disruption to Palestinians’ lives.

Journalism Student, Activist And Folk Dancer, Lina Khattab, Released

It was a great joy, for all of us at the Diplomatic Mission of Palestine in Portugal, to learn that the Palestinian 18 years old, journalist students and folk dancer Lina Khattab, was released from the Israeli occupying  prisons:

http://www.imemc.org/article/71911

We are sure that it will be greater joy for us and for all peace lovers when all political prisoners are released.

More than 6 thousands Palestinian political prisoners are held unfairly in the occupying prisons  for years (some more than 20 years) for the crime of being freedom fighters.

 

 

UK’S NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS VOTES TO JOINS BDS BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL

The UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) has voted to align itself with the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel movement.

In a 19-4 vote with one abstention, the confederation of 600 student unions across the United Kingdom passed the pro-BDS boycott of Israel proposal last Tuesday at a meeting of its National Executive Council. UK student leaders have indicated that this BDS boycott of Israel victory “signals that the argument for BDS has become normalized within the student movement, as ‘common sense solidarity’…this vote represents a long battle being won, with credit due to years of work by activists on the ground.”

In 2011 South Africa’s largest and oldest student movement, the South African Students Congress (SASCO) as well as the South African Union of Students (SAUS), which represents Student Representative Council (SRCs) at all SA Universities, also lent its support for the BDS boycott of Israel campaign. Subsequently various South African SRC student government bodies have endorsed specific academic boycott of Israel resolutions. South African Government Minister for Higher Education and SACP General Secretary Dr Blade Nzimande has also been a vocal supporter of the BDS movement and Palestinian struggle against Israeli oppression and occupation.

Statement by PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Saeb Erekat on UN Decision to exclude Israel from the list of countries that commit grave violations against children in armed conflict

We are extremely disappointed by the decision of the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon to exclude Israel from the list of countries that commit grave violations against children in armed conflict. Israel’s belligerent military occupation in Palestine, has shown through the years, a total disregard for the lives and rights of our people, including children.

We don’t have to remind the Secretary General of the reports made by several UN organizations on the matter, just as those made by Palestinian, Israeli and other international human rights organizations thoroughly outlining Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians, including children. By excluding Tel Aviv from the list, Israel, the occupying power, is now encouraged to continue its ongoing violations against the Palestinian people under occupation and particularly against children.

Israel arrests children as young as 5 years old, subjects them to various forms of psychological and physical torture. Since 2000, more than 8000 children have been arrested by Israeli forces. In 2014, Israel has killed more than 500 minors in its assault on Gaza, accentuating the dire situation of this particularly vulnerable group under a brutal and belligerent occupation.

Only today, occupation forces killed Ezzeddine Bhani Ghara, 20 years old, at the Jenin Refugee Camp in a new Israeli military aggression. Since the beginning of the year 18 Palestinians have been killed by the action of Israel. At the same time 521 Palestinians have been injured and 2107 arrested. Since January 2015 Israeli Forces have conducted 2418 military raids in the occupied State of Palestine and demolished 48 Palestinian homes.

The decision of UN Secretary General is wrong, tasteless and unperceptive. The international community must cease avoiding its responsibilities in holding Israel accountable. Only justice will bring about a just and lasting peace.

For the sins of occupation, boycotts are a light punishment

By: Gideon Levy
Haaretz, 07.06.2015

Orange or SodaStream, academic or artistic boycott, the penalties will grow worse the longer Israel persists in settling, exploiting and stealing Palestinian land.

What are you defending? What are you fighting for? Over what are Israelis entrenching themselves now, with the assaults of the nationalist politicians and the populist media fulminating against the world. Why are they patriotically covering up the orange flags of Orange with the blue-and-white national flag? Has anybody asked why? Why is the boycott starting to gnaw at Israel now, and is this all worth it?
As usual, there are questions that are not even asked. Soul-searching, after all, is a clear sign of weakness. And so an explanation has been invented that absolves us of responsibility: The boycott fell out of the sky, an unavoidable force majeure of Israel hatred, and the only way to fight it is to fight right back at them. Israel always has an abundance of fitting (and sometimes violent) Zionist responses, but it’s always about the outcome, never about the reasons. That’s how was with terror, that’s how it was with the position of the world that Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog, of all Israeli ultranationalists, rushed to label with the ridiculous name “terror of a new kind” (referring to the statements by Orange SA CEO Stephane Richard). Never give in. That’s fine, but why? We are fighting the boycott, but why did it break out?
Israel is now defending the preservation of the status quo. It is fighting against the whole world to preserve its advanced school of brutality and cruelty, in which it is educating generations of young people to act brutishly toward human beings, old people and children, to tyrannize them, to bark at them, to crush and humiliate them, only because they are Palestinians.
Israel is defending the continuation of apartheid in the occupied territories, in which two peoples live, one of them without any rights. It is defending its entire system of justification for this — a combination of Bible stories, messianism and victimhood, accompanied by lies. It is defending “united Jerusalem,” which is nothing but a territorial monster where separation also exists. It is fighting for its right to destroy the Gaza Strip for as long as it cares to do so, to maintain it as a ghetto and to be the warden of the biggest prison in the world.
The Israelis are fighting for their right to persist in settling, exploiting and stealing land; to continue breaking international law that prohibits settlement, to continue to thumb its nose at the whole world, which does not recognize any settlements. They are now defending their right to shoot children who throw stones and helpless fishermen pursuing the crumbs of a livelihood in the sea off the coast of Gaza, their right to continue snatching people from their beds in the middle of the night in the West Bank; they are fighting for the right to detain hundreds of people without trial, to hold political prisoners, to abuse them.
That is what they are protecting, that is what they are fighting for — for an area that most of them have not been to for years, and don’t care what happens there, for conduct that is shameful even to some of them. These are the sins and this is the punishment. Does anyone think that Israel can go on without being punished? Without being ostracized? And to tell the truth, doesn’t Israel deserve to be punished? Hasn’t the world been unbelievably tolerant so far?
Orange or SodaStream, academic boycott or artistic boycott, these are light punishments. The penalties will grow worse the longer Israel avoids drawing the necessary conclusions. As opposed to attempts by Israel and the Jewish establishment to divert the discussion, at its heart is not anti-Semitism. At its heart is the occupation. That is the source of the delegitimization.
The nation can fight against the position of the whole world. It can stand up for its rights (which are not its rights) and think that it is fighting for its survival. But do the Israelis know what they are defending now? What they are not willing to surrender? Is all this worth it to them? That discussion has not even begun here.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.659952