PLO official: US administration is 'working against us'

By Laith al-Junidi

AMMAN (AA) – The U.S. administration is “targeting” the Palestinians, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Executive Committee, said Wednesday.

"U.S. President Donald Trump is targeting the Palestinians, accusing them of ‘making problems’ because we rejected his decision on Jerusalem," Erekat said during a speech he delivered at the University of Jordan in Amman.

Last year, Trump sparked world outcry after announcing plans to move Washington’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital, both of which he did earlier this year.

"The U.S. president told us he wouldn’t make any decision on Jerusalem, but what’s happening only confirms that he’s working against us," Erekat said.

He added: "The whole world calls Jerusalem a ‘red line’. What is the [Trump] administration basing its decisions on?"

Since Trump’s controversial Jerusalem move, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah has rejected any mediating role by the U.S. in the Middle East peace process.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the perennial Mideast conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since 1967 — might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

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Israel approves 640 new settler units in East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (AA) – The Israeli authorities on Wednesday approved construction of hundreds of new Jewish-only housing units in occupied East Jerusalem, according to Israeli media reports.

"Jerusalem’s district committee has approved the construction of 640 new housing units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement near the Bit Hanina neighborhood,” Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

“Most of the housing units will be built on Palestinian-owned land,” the newspaper added.

According to Haaretz, the committee rejected objections raised earlier by anti-settlement groups.

“This decision constitutes more proof that Israel’s control of East Jerusalem is based on a discriminatory regime,” anti-settlement groups said in a joint Wednesday statement.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) says Israel stepped up settlement construction in East Jerusalem after U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this year.

The PA further accuses the U.S. administration of failing to criticize Israeli settlement activity since Trump won the White House in late 2016.

Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live on more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians want these territories — along with the Gaza Strip — for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there as illegal.

UPDATE – Israeli forces raid Jerusalem governor’s office

*UPDATES WITH PALESTINIAN GOV’T REACTION

By Qais Abu Samra

AL-RAM, Palestine (AA) – Israeli forces on Sunday raided the Jerusalem governor’s office in the occupied West Bank, according to local residents.

“An Israeli force stormed the governor’s office in the town of al-Ram, northeast of Jerusalem, and searched it,” a local resident told Anadolu Agency.

He said Israeli soldiers assaulted a number of employees inside the office.

According to Palestinian medical sources, three people suffered temporary asphyxiation from teargas canisters fired by Israeli forces and were treated on the spot.

The Israeli raid was quickly condemned by the Ramallah-based Palestinian government.

In a statement, government spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud described the raid as a “dangerous escalation and a flagrant violation of all agreements and international law”.

The spokesman went on to hold the Israeli government responsible for “the repercussions of these assaults”.

There was no comment from the Israeli army on the report.

Last month, Israeli police detained Jerusalem governor Adnan Ghaith and released him two days later.

Last week, Ghaith was again briefly detained by Israeli forces.

Israeli forces raid Jerusalem governor’s office

By Qais Abu Samra

AL-RAM, Palestine (AA) – Israeli forces on Sunday raided the Jerusalem governor’s office in the occupied West Bank, according to local residents.

“An Israeli force stormed the governor’s office in the town of al-Ram, northeast of Jerusalem, and searched it,” a local resident told Anadolu Agency.

He said Israeli soldiers assaulted a number of employees inside the office.

According to Palestinian medical sources, three people suffered temporary asphyxiation from teargas canisters fired by Israeli forces and were treated on the spot.

There was no comment from the Israeli army on the report.

Last month, Israeli police detained Jerusalem governor Adnan Ghaith and released him two days later.

Last week, Ghaith was again briefly detained by Israeli forces.

OIC slams Brazil decision to move embassy to Jerusalem

CAIRO (AA) – The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has denounced as “illegal” a decision by Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro to relocate his country's embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city of Jerusalem.

"The declaration was a flagrant violation of international law and of all relevant UN resolutions," the OIC said in a statement on Saturday.

The pan-Muslim body called on Brazil to embrace positions that support chances of making peace under the two-state solution.

On Friday, the Arab League called on Bolsonaro to revoke his decision to relocate the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Bolsonaro on Thursday announced his intention to relocate his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem once he formally assumes the presidency.

U.S. President Donald Trump sparked a world outcry last December after announcing plans to move Washington’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital (which he did earlier this year).

Since then, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah has rejected any mediating role by the U.S. in the moribund Middle East peace process.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since 1967 — might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Arab League urges Brazil to reverse Jerusalem decision

CAIRO (AA) – The Arab League on Friday called on Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro to revoke his decision to relocate the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

In a statement, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul-Gheit said that Arabs had been “alarmed” by remarks attributed to Bolsonaro regarding his stated intention to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Abul-Gheit said Brazil had a “good reputation” for respecting international law and enjoyed good relations with most Arab states based on mutual respect and cooperation.

He added: “The relocation of the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem would constitute a flagrant and regrettable violation of international law and [UN] Security Council resolutions that consider Jerusalem an occupied city.”

Bolsonaro on Thursday announced his intention to relocate his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem once he formally assumes the presidency.

U.S. President Donald Trump sparked a world outcry last December after announcing plans to move Washington’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital (which he did earlier this year).

Since then, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah has rejected any mediating role by the U.S. in the moribund Middle East peace process.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since 1967 — might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Palestinians in East Jerusalem boycott Israeli polls

By Esat Firat

JERUSALEM (AA) – Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem generally boycotted Israel’s municipal elections Tuesday, with turnout only around 2-5 percent, local media reported.

Jerusalem had the lowest turnout of the elections overall, with only 32 percent of residents heading to the polls.

Meanwhile, Israeli police arrested four Palestinians who attempted to block the installation of polling boxes in East Jerusalem.

More than 6.6 million Israelis were eligible to vote in the elections.

According to the Israeli Interior Ministry, around 11,000 polling stations opened in 251 municipalities across the country for the vote.

A total of 863 candidates vied for some 251 city, town and regional councils nationwide.

Local elections are held every four years in Israel amid partisan rivalries.

Like every year, attention is drawn to the Israeli-occupied city of East Jerusalem, where the vast majority of Palestinians have boycotted the vote since Israel captured the city during the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinians, who are considered "permanent residents" under Israeli law, are entitled to cast a ballot but not to run in the elections.

According to Israeli official figures, Palestinians make up around 40 percent of Jerusalem's population in both its eastern and western parts.

In recent weeks, Palestinian religious figures have urged Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to boycott the vote.

Palestinians view participation in Israeli elections as an endorsement of the Israeli occupation of the holy city.

Israel ‘distorting’ curricula in East Jerusalem schools

By Qays Abu Samra

RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – Palestinian Education Minister Sabri Saidam on Thursday accused Israel of “distorting” the curricula used at Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem.

"The Israeli authorities have printed and distributed distorted versions of the curricula used at schools overseen by Israel’s Jerusalem municipality," Saidam said at a press conference held at the ministry's Ramallah headquarters.

"The [Israeli] occupation authorities have deleted Palestinian symbols — including the flag — from all the textbooks,” the minister said.

"They also deleted much of the text, replacing it with material that supports a pro-Israel historical narrative," he added.

At Thursday’s press conference, Saidam also announced the launch of a national campaign aimed at combating Israeli attempts to distort Palestinian school curricula.

Israel, which has occupied East Jerusalem since 1967, has been accused in the past of seeking to impose its own educational curricula on Palestinian schools in the occupied territories.

Israel teargasses Palestinian protestors near Jerusalem

By Lubaba Zukan

RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – Near Jerusalem on Wednesday dozens of peaceful Palestinian protestors suffered suffocation by teargas bombs lobbed by Israeli soldiers, according to eyewitnesses.

Israeli forces, the eyewitnesses said, threw teargas bombs at the protestors, leaving dozens of them suffocated, including reporters.

The protestors, who were demonstrating in solidarity with the residents of the Palestinian Khan al-Ahmar community, launched a peaceful march from the village of Abu Dis near Jerusalem towards the “Jerusalem Gate” village, which Israel established as an alternative for Palestinian residents of Khan Al-Ahmar in preparation for their forcible displacement.

According to the eyewitnesses, the Palestinian protestors had managed to enter the Jerusalem Gate village, and spray-painted and chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation and the eviction of Khan al-Ahmar.

On Sept. 5, Israel’s Supreme Court approved the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and the eviction of its inhabitants.

Israel seeks to expel some 10,000 Bedouin residents of what is known as the E1 Zone, which sits on 15 square kilometers of land (5.8 square miles) in eastern Jerusalem.

The planned demolition is meant to make way for a series of Jewish-only housing units linking Jerusalem to the Maale Adumim settlement.

If carried out, the plan would effectively cut the West Bank in two, preempting the possibility of a territorially contiguous Palestinian state.

Israeli court conditionally releases Jerusalem governor

By Abdul Raouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) – An Israeli court on Monday ruled to conditionally release Jerusalem’s Palestinian governor, Adnan Ghaith, who was detained without explanation on Saturday, according to a legal source.

In a statement, Mohamed Mahmoud, a lawyer for the Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Former Detainees, said Jerusalem’s District Court had accepted Ghaith’s appeal against the court’s earlier request to prolong his detention.

The court, however, has yet to issue a final release order so as to give prosecutors a chance to challenge the decision, Mahmoud said.

On Saturday, the Israeli authorities detained Ghaith — without explanation — in Jerusalem’s northern Beit Hanina district.

The following day, Jerusalem’s Magistrate's Court requested that Ghaith's detention be extended for another three days.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appointed Ghaith as Jerusalem governor — a largely symbolic position — in August.