Ali Abunimah will be here for Sunday’s FDL Book Salon!

The Palestinians are making progress towards unity between themselves…

Palestinian factions start talks on forming joint government

Officials from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the rival Islamist Hamas group met in Gaza on Tuesday to discuss the make-up of a unity government they hope will end a seven-year schism.

Officials from the two groups said they planned to propose non-politically affiliated candidates for seats in a unity cabinet which will be tasked with preparing presidential and parliamentary elections after six months.

Azzam Al-Ahmed, the senior Fatah official sent by Western-backed Abbas from the West Bank, led the talks with Hamas’s delegation, headed by exiled Islamist leader Moussa Abu Marzouk.

Abbas announced plans for a unity government as a step towards Palestinian elections on April 23. Many past attempts to heal the rift between Fatah, that dominates the Palestinian Authority-run West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have failed.

Palestinian sources in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas’s administration, said they wanted the list of names to be ready by Thursday when he meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in London to discuss the stalled peace talks with Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel is stymieing their efforts…

Israel accused of cracking down on lawyers

Accusations of torture and mistreatment abound as several Palestinian lawyers are arrested by Israeli authorities.

A Ramallah-based rights group is accusing Israeli authorities of cracking down on Palestinian lawyers, following a series of indictments and arrests of attorneys based on charges of passing information between Hamas members in and outside Israeli prisons.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society said the moves against the lawyers were ‘dangerous’ and ‘unprecedented.’ ‘It’s a scare tactic to instil fear into those who are working hard to provide the basic levels of protection for Palestinian detainees,’ said Qaddura Fares, the group’s head.

Fares was referring to the recent indictment of a 42-year-old Palestinian-Israeli lawyer, and the arrest of six people, five of them lawyers, from East Jerusalem.

Mohammad Abed, a Galilee native, was indicted last month on charges of passing messages between detainees and the Hamas leadership, and receiving approximately one million shekels ($288,800) for his alleged services. Abed was arrested along with four others who worked for the Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

This was a shocker…

I totally concur with this excellent +972 Mag article…

Ehud Olmert is going to jail for the wrong crimes

During his premiership, Ehud Olmert was responsible for two of the most horrific military operations of the past decade. More than a thousands Lebanese, a third of them civilians, and 165 Israelis, a quarter of them civilians, were killed in the Second Lebanon War.

In the wake of the war, the IDF developed the Dahiya doctrine, by which the army deliberately targets civilian infrastructure as a means of inducing suffering for the civilian population in ‘enemy cities.’ Not three years had gone by and Olmert sent the army to implement the new doctrine in Gaza. Operation Cast Lead took the lives of nearly 1,400 Palestinians, more than half of whom were civilians, and nine Israelis, of whom three were civilians (these statistics do not include Palestinians and Israelis killed by friendly fire).

The IDF stated that each military operation is taken under serious consideration and implemented with utmost care. And yet, somehow, in the operations that followed, the army was somehow able to show more restraint and decrease the number of deaths, especially among non-combatants.

Ehud Olmert is responsible for both of these terrible events. He has blood on his hands. The blood of over 2,000 people. Today he was sent to jail for six years for accepting bribes in order to build some ugly buildings in Jerusalem. When will he be put on trial for the serious crimes he committed?


Ex-intel chief: Israel should punish Assad for killing civilians

Moral considerations for military intervention should be weighed alongside strategic ones, says Amos Yadlin, also calling for NATO-led no-fly zone

Now, speaking of war crimes, I wonder if anybody in the MSM will mention this little bombshell…

ICC Prosecutor to re-open initial examination of alleged British crimes in Iraq

Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), on Tuesday said she decided to re-open the preliminary examination of allegations that British troops committed war crimes in Iraq from 2003 to 2008.

She told a press conference that her decision was based on ‘substantial information, much more than what we had in 2006.’ The ICC has jurisdiction over crimes that are committed on the territory of a state party or by nationals of a state party to the ICC’s Rome Statute. The UK is a state party.

Iraq is a not a State Party, but the ICC has jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed on the Iraqi territory by nationals of States Parties, in this case Britain.

She explained that she cannot go after American forces who allegedly committed war crimes in Iraq during the same period, because the US is not party to the Rome Statute.

She stressed that preliminary examination is ‘not an investigation. It is rather a process whereby we check whether the crimes have been committed and who is responsible for those crimes, whether the national jurisdiction is doing anything to address those crimes, and whether it will be in the interest of justice to carry on with the preliminary examination.’ There is no timeline, she indicated. ‘We continue to analyze the information and at some point we come to a decision whether to open an investigation or not. This is what we will do at this current stage.’ She added that her office will not say whether it will go after the military or the politicians in the UK. ‘We will just be looking at the persons, whoever they are, who bear responsibility for those crimes if we are going to investigate.’

It should be noted that Israel is also not a party to the Rome Statute…!

Meanwhile, Israel continues attempts to prevent Western agreement on Iranian nuclear weapons

Interestingly, the House of Saud is making overtures…

Some more interesting articles…

Saudi Arabia would ‘supply oil’ if Ukraine tensions rise

Isil slams Al Qaida chief, refuses to quit Syria

U.N.’s chief negotiator on Syria resigns

Russia Holds “De-Dollarization Meeting”: China, Iran Willing To Drop USD From Bilateral Trade

In wrapping up…

Death toll in Turkey’s coal mine disaster jumps to 157 – local mayor

The death toll in a mine explosion in western Turkey jumped to 157, a provincial mayor told CNN Turk news channel on Tuesday, citing health officials at the entrance of the mine.

Cengiz Ergun, mayor of Manisa, said nearly 600 workers were trapped at the time of the explosion. Ergun’s figures are yet to be confirmed by Turkey’s disaster response unit (AFAD) which had put the death toll at 17 earlier.