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Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

New hope for a lasting solution

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2013

The international group of donors to Palestine has expressed its strong support for the new round of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians 20 years after the Oslo Accords. “The donors want to contribute, but it is the Palestinian and Israeli leaders who are responsible for ensuring that this opportunity is not lost,” said Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

On 25 September, Mr Eide chaired the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Assistance to the Palestinians (AHLC) in New York. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the meeting, and the parties were represented by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Israeli Prime Minister Yuval Steinitz.

“It’s extremely good news that a political process is once again underway. At the same time, we know that reaching a solution will be challenging. President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu have taken courageous steps. Time is running out for a two-state solution. This is why everyone must help to ensure that the negotiations reach a successful conclusion,” said Mr Eide.

At the meeting, Palestine reported on the status of the peace talks to US Secretary of State John Kerry. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, Quartet representative Tony Blair, and numerous ministers from the other donor countries gave their support to the current process.

Steps to ease the closure regime in areas occupied by Israel, Palestinian state-building, private-sector driven economic growth and a political solution to the conflict must be seen as interrelated. The meeting also underlined the importance of making process along all these tracks.

“A peace agreement will be in the fundamental interests of both Israel and Palestine. The donors are prepared to make an extra effort to support the political process. But unless the parties reach agreement this time, the donors will not be able to continue as before. The parties are aware of this fact,” said Mr Eide.



source mfa.norway

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Norway welcomes planned resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians

Posted by African Press International on July 22, 2013

“I welcome the news that negotiations between Israel and the PLO may be resumed. A resolution to this conflict is urgently needed,” commented Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

US Secretary of State John Kerry believes that, since his visit to the region, there is a basis for bringing the Israelis and Palestinians together for renewed negotiations in the very near future. As chair of the international donor group for the Palestinians (AHLC), Mr Eide has urged both parties to resume direct talks and has been in contact with Mr Kerry throughout the process. Norway has emphasised that this may be the last chance for the parties to realise a two-state solution.

“I congratulate Secretary of State John Kerry, and commend the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for taking this important step. They face major challenges in the negotiations. It will be important to build on the legal and political basis established by the international community for the mandate and framework for a future solution. It is in the interests of both parties to move forward, and they will receive a great deal of support from the international community. We must be realistic, and we must be patient. As a friend of both peoples, and chair of the AHLC, Norway is prepared to contribute to this process,” said Mr Eide.

Little is known about the exact content of the talks Mr Kerry has had or what the parties have agreed. But there are major difficult issues that have to be resolved, and the two parties have conflicting views in many of them. Among the most difficult issues are the borders between the two states, the role of Jerusalem as capital for both states, the situation of the refugees, and arrangements to ensure safe access to the holy sites of all three religions.




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Kenya :Fish Production has reduced drastically due to excess fishing pressure

Posted by African Press International on June 10, 2013


Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Felix Koskei yesterday said fish production has reduced drastically due to excess fishing pressure in the country.

Koskei said the production has reduced from 220,000 in the year 2000 to 130,000 metric tons in 2012.

He stated that Lake Victoria has been a major contributor of fisheries resource in Kenya, accounting for 85 percent of the fish production in the country.

According to Koskei the current fish demands cannot be achieved as the lake can no longer support any more fishing pressure.

This, he said called for immediate action and asked for cooperation from all stakeholders to observe the Dagaa (“Omena”) closed season to enable fish to mature. Fish harvesting demonstration in Kolwa Sub-location, Kisumu County. (photo by Mr Alal) Fish harvesting demonstration in Kolwa Sub-location, Kisumu County. (photo by Mr Alal)

“The demand for “Omena” for animal feed industry poses challenge in as far as availability of fish for human consumption is concerned,” he said adding that anyone found breaching the ban will face full force of the law.

Koskei further urged stakeholders to make concerted efforts to ensure sustainable utilization of fisheries resources to reduce post harvest loses and increase production from aquaculture to meet the increasing fish demand.

In a speech read on his behalf by Permanent Secretary Prof Micheni Ntiba during fish farming projects tour in Kisumu County, he called small scale fish farmers to take advantage of Trilateral Tilapia Cooperation and do fish farming as a business.

The Trilateral Cooperation is funded by Kenya, German and Israel governments at a tune of Ksh 262.2M. The project is to enhance suitable ways of protecting the Lake Victoria environment by creating alternative livelihood for the community living along the lake.

Through the program a total of 132 extension officers out of the targeted 130 and 58 farmers out of 300 fish farmers have been trained.

Currently the government has already invested a lot in aquaculture sector by financing the establishment of a bout 40,000 fish ponds across the country through Economic Stimulus Program.

However, the German Ambassador Margit Hellwing-Boette and her Israel counterpart Gil Haskelat said the program is to reduce excess fishing pressure adding that the projected started in June 2012 and will end by June 2014.  Left,Permanent Secretary Prof Micheni Ntima with German Ambassador Margit Hellwing-Boette and Israel Ambassador Gil Haskelat during fish farming projects tour in Kisumu County. Left,Permanent Secretary Prof Micheni Ntima with German Ambassador Margit Hellwing-Boette and Israel Ambassador Gil Haskelat during fish farming projects tour in Kisumu County. (photo by Mr Alal)

They also said fish project is to improve tilapia aquaculture in Western and Nyanza regions saying Kenya contributed Ksh. 7.98M, German Ksh. 159.6M and Israel 2.3M.





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Palestinians seek safety in Israeli citizenship

Posted by African Press International on June 6, 2013

East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM,  – Braving social stigma, many Palestinians in East Jerusalem have in recent years applied for Israeli citizenship to escape insecurity and the endangered status of their residency under Israeli occupation. But citizenship alone does not always save them from inequality and uncertainty.

“Look around you, this city will remain under Israeli control as long as I live,” said 40-year-old Anwar*, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem who acquired Israeli citizenship. “As Palestinians in Jerusalem, we are facing discrimination in all fields. Israeli citizenship is the only chance available.”

According to data the International Crisis Group (ICG) obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Interior, some 7,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem applied for Israeli citizenship between 2001 and 2010, two-thirds of them between 2008 and 2010 alone.

According to a December 2012 ICG report, a total of 13,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem have Israeli citizenship, although this number likely includes residents who came into town from other parts of Israel.

The major reasons behind the citizenship applications are fears of losing residency or access to Jerusalem, the wish to travel more easily and the desire to grant a better future for one’s children, according to Palestinians interviewed, a community activist and the ICG report.

“Most Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, regardless of whether they approve or disapprove of the trend, believe that the numbers applying for citizenship are likely to grow,” ICG writes, noting that other researchers have reported much higher numbers from the Ministry of the Interior. (For instance, journalist Danny Rubinstein was told that 12,000 Jerusalemites had applied for citizenship in 2008-2009 alone, ICG said.)

An Israeli foreign ministry spokeswoman, Ilana Stein, said that everyone who meets the criteria – being a documented permanent resident of Jerusalem with no criminal record – can apply for citizenship, but that “security concerns can arise on individual cases”. According to the ICG report, about one-third of applicants were rejected.

Insecure status

Palestinians’ permanent residency status in Israel is conditional on proving their “center of life” lies within the Israeli-defined municipal boundary of Jerusalem, a precarious status that can be revoked under many circumstances, including living outside the municipal boundary for extended periods of time. Between 1995 and 2000, Israel revoked the residency status of some 3,000 East Jerusalem Palestinians in what the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs called “quiet deportation”. It revoked another 7,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites’ IDs between 2006 and 2011, which contributed to the subsequent upsurge in applications for citizenship.

In addition, some 50,000 Palestinians live inside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem but are cut off from the city by the separation barrier. Becoming an Israeli citizen often calms their fears that they may lose access to the city altogether should Israel decide to redraw the municipal boundaries along the route of the barrier.

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat expressed sympathy for such a plan in 2011, suggesting that parts of municipal Jerusalem that lie on the Palestinian side of the security barrier should fall under the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction rather than that of the municipality.

A young man carrying a new born child and his wife climb around the barrier in East Jerusalem (file photo)

A 2011 survey by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that nearly half of East Jerusalemites would prefer to become citizens of Israel rather than a new Palestinian state, “casting fresh doubts on the official Palestinian claim to the city”. “Even more remarkably”, the survey found, 42 percent said they would actually move to a different neighborhood if necessary to remain under Israeli rather than Palestinian authority. However, observers say such data should be treated with caution, given that Palestinian applicants may fear losing their residency if they do not show support for Israel, and given the overall low, if increasing, number of applicants.

Anwar’s choice remains a taboo for most Palestinians.

“When I applied some 10 years ago, some of my relatives cut all relations with me,” he said, lowering his voice whenever speaking directly about his application during an interview in a restaurant in East Jerusalem. “My uncle got angry and asked, ‘Did you forget to love your city and your country?’”

“Some people believe that in order to stay in their city, it is safer to get Israeli citizenship,” said Xavier Abo Eid, a spokesman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in the West Bank’s capital Ramallah, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). “But Israel aims at turning occupation into effective annexation, and that includes the people living in it,” he protested. “And Israel is doing everything possible to push Palestinians outside Jerusalem. They have suffered from Israeli policies of ID revocations, home demolitions, evictions and settlement construction.”

“If things don’t change soon, going abroad will be the only option left”

Israel officially considers Jerusalem its “united capital” and regularly denies the discriminatory impact of its policies concerning the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem. Jerusalem mayor Barkat said in 2010, a year after the wave of ID revocations: “Never was Jerusalem as open for people to practice their religion freely as it is today.”

The PLO has produced an internal policy paper on the citizenship applications, but has not released it publically.

No silver bullet

Anwar said he used to face time-consuming visa procedures every time he wanted to visit family abroad using his Israeli travel permit. Before he was granted citizenship, he had to submit employment records and official invitations before every trip. “Now, I just get on the plane.”

But becoming an Israeli citizen has not protected him from discrimination. The Israeli passport may make it easier to travel, Anwar said, but “I am still treated as a potential terrorist, while Jewish citizens just pass.”

Despite the citizenship, he still has not succeeded in getting a permit to build new rooms in his home. Rights groups say those Palestinians living in in East Jerusalem struggle to get building permits, while Jewish settlements on the perimeter of the city are growing, cutting Palestinian East Jerusalem off from the rest of the West Bank. One such settlement is Giv’at HaMatos; its build-up would cut off Arab neighbourhoods in southern Jerusalem, like Beit Safafa and Sharafat, rendering them “Palestinian enclaves”, the ICG said, surrounded by settlements that, according to an international fact-finding mission commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, adversely affect Palestinians’ freedom of movement, natural resources and safety.

Inequalities between Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel span many fields of public life, and are enshrined in parts of the legal system and government practices. Some 30 Israeli laws specifically privilege Jewish over Arab Israeli citizens in immigration rights, naturalization, and access to land and employment, among other things.

The inequality has even driven some Palestinians in Israel – including some with Israeli citizenship – to leave for Ramallah, often in search of an Arab-speaking, culturally Palestinian environment.

“If things don’t change soon, going abroad will be the only option left,” Anwar said.

*not a real name

ah/ha/rz source

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