Tag Archives: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas: No Israeli Settlers, Soldiers in Palestinian State

By Rob Quinn

As his top aides and their Israeli counterparts sat down in Washington for the first direct peace talks in years , Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made it clear that he had not softened his stance on the presence of Israeli settlers and border forces in a future Palestinian state. ” In a… …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Newser – Home

Kerry flying to West Bank to pursue peace talks

A U.S. official says Secretary of State John Kerry will fly to the West Bank to press his effort for a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The extra stop indicates a possibility of success in Kerry’s sixth trip to the region this year, despite deep differences between the two sides.

The official said Kerry will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The secretary had a two-hour session with the chief Palestinian negotiator in Amman on Friday morning.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

After Palestinian leaders demanded further guarantees before restarting talks with Israel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed his ideas with the chief Palestinian negotiator in Amman on Friday.

A stormy, high-level meeting of senior Palestinian leaders called to discuss Kerry’s latest peace proposal ended with a decision early Friday to demand that Israel agree on the general border of a future Palestinian state, officials said.

The demand casts a cloud of uncertainty over months of U.S. mediation efforts because Israel rejects preconditions.

Hoping to push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks, President Barack Obama asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to work with Kerry “to resume negotiations with Palestinians as soon as possible,” according to a statement released by the White House late Thursday.

No details were immediately available about Kerry’s meeting with Erekat. The talks lasted more than two hours with a short break in the middle, possibly for consultations.

The Palestinians demand that the starting point for border talks must be the cease-fire line that held from 1949 until the 1967 war, when Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Palestinians claim those territories for their future state, with modifications reached through agreed land swaps that could allow major Jewish settlement blocs built in the West Bank becoming part of Israel proper, in exchange for territories in Israel.

Previous Israeli governments twice negotiated on the basis of the 1967 lines, but no peace accord was …read more

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Palestinian leaders discussing Kerry proposal

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is discussing U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest efforts to relaunch peace talks with Israel.

Kerry has not publicized his plan to restart the talks, but a decision by the Arab League to support his proposals has raised speculation that the Palestinians will agree.

An announcement was expected later Thursday.

Kerry has been shuttling for months in search of a formula to allow resumption of talks after a nearly five-year break. Kerry, who is in neighboring Jordan, had a lengthy meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week.

Abbas was briefing top officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization Thursday on the latest proposals, the PLO said.

…read more

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Palestinian leaders discuss Kerry's proposal to relaunch peace talks with Israel

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is discussing U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest efforts to relaunch peace talks with Israel.

Kerry has not publicized his plan to restart the talks, but a decision by the Arab League to support his proposals has raised speculation that the Palestinians will agree.

An announcement was expected later Thursday.

Kerry has been shuttling for months in search of a formula to allow resumption of talks after a nearly five-year break. Kerry, who is in neighboring Jordan, had a lengthy meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week.

Abbas was briefing top officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization Thursday on the latest proposals, the PLO said.

…read more

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Kuwait hosts 1st Palestinian leader since Gulf War

Kuwait says it has hosted a Palestinian leader for the first time in more than 20 years after ties were broken over the 1990 Iraq invasion of the Gulf state.

At the time, then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was perceived as sympathetic to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and opposed to the U.S.-led invasion to oust Iraqi forces.

The official Kuwait News Agency said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended a ceremony Monday to open a Palestinian Embassy in Kuwait City.

After Iraqi forces were driven from Kuwait in 1991, the Gulf state’s rulers expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers. Palestinians began working to restore ties with Kuwait more than a decade ago.

From: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/world/~3/vSxoFOUsPAU/

Kerry meets Israeli leaders to push Mideast peace

Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior Israeli and Palestinian officials amid talk of reviving a decade-old Arab plan for Mideast peace.

Kerry spent the morning of Israel‘s Holocaust memorial day visiting Yad Vashem. He was to meet later Monday with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Kerry then has a dinner with Netanyahu; he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday.

Kerry is trying to end a 4½-year Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.

He hasn’t publicly outlined a new plan.

But Palestinian and Arab officials say he wants to modify the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that offered peace with Israel for a pullout from territories captured in 1967.

Officials say Kerry seeks Arab-Israeli security commitments and softer language on borders.

…read more

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Gaza premier elected as No. 2 in Hamas leadership

Hamas says it has elected Gaza’s prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, as the deputy leader of the Islamic militant group.

Senior Hamas figures this week re-elected longtime leader Khaled Mashaal to another four-year term. On Wednesday, the group announced it had elected Haniyeh, 50, as Mashaal’s deputy.

Hamas, founded in Gaza in 1987, also has branches in the West Bank and outside the Palestinian territories.

Haniyeh’s election signals a shift in the group’s center of gravity toward Gaza, the territory the group has ruled since a violent takeover in 2007. Traditionally, top Hamas leaders have been exiles. Haniyeh is the first Gazan to rise to the No. 2 spot.

Last year, Hamas hard-liners in Gaza balked at Mashaal’s attempt to reconcile with his political rival, West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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Khaled Meshaal Re-Elected Leader Of Hamas

By The Huffington Post News Editors

(Corrects third paragraph to show Meshaal’s visit to Gaza in December was his first)
* Egypt and Qatar lobbied on Meshaal’s behalf
* Once a hardliner, Meshaal increasingly seen as a moderate
GAZA, April 2 (Reuters) – Hamas re-elected Khaled Meshaal on Tuesday as the Islamist group’s leader, at a marathon overnight closed-door meeting held in Cairo, an official with the organisation said.
Once reviled as a hardliner but now seen increasingly in the Arab world and by some Westerners as a moderate, Meshaal, 56, has headed the movement that rejects Israel‘s existence and controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza, since 2004.
Born near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Meshaal steered Hamas through the upheaval unleashed by the Arab Spring uprisings. He spent decades in exile and visited Gaza for the first time ever in December.
Meshaal left Syria about a year ago after ties ruptured with President Bashar al-Assad over the bloody civil war there.
Building on relations with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, said to be an old friend, Meshaal moved on to win a delicate truce with arch-enemy Israel in November and has also sought to heal a rift with rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian officials and analysts said Meshaal, dogged by Gaza critics of his ceasefire with Israel and efforts to reconcile with Abbas, had to be persuaded to continue as Hamas’s leader for another term.
“Meshaal was re-elected,” a Hamas official said, reporting in a terse statement on Tuesday on the results of a meeting that began in the Egyptian capital on Monday. The official gave no other details of the vote by which about 60 top officials of the group had reaffirmed Meshaal anew as Hamas’s political leader.
Both Egypt and powerful Gulf emirate Qatar also lobbied strongly on Meshaal’s behalf, a diplomat in the region told Reuters.
“They saw Meshaal as a moderate and …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Huffington Post

Hamas says it's in final round of leadership vote

Two Hamas officials say senior figures in the Palestinian militant movement have gathered in Cairo for the last stage of internal elections to determine the group’s new leader.

Khaled Mashaal, the Qatar-based chief of the Islamic movement since 1996, is the front-runner for the post.

The officials said the vote was likely to be held later Monday in Cairo. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the secret procedure.

Mashaal has pushed for reconciliation with Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but has encountered resistance from Hamas hardliners in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, leaving him in charge of only parts of the West Bank. Reconciliation between the two territories has since been elusive.

Hamas has repeatedly postponed the voting.

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John Kerry To Meet With Netanyahu, Abbas Following Obama Middle East Trip

By The Huffington Post News Editors

AMMAN, Jordan — U.S Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders to further explore options for relaunching stalled peace talks after President Barack Obama‘s Mideast trip this week.

Following up on Obama‘s visits to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the State Department said Kerry would see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Saturday. After that meeting, Kerry will return to Jerusalem to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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More on Israel

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Huffington Post

AP Analysis: In Mideast, partial deal tantalizes

As the U.S. president prepares to reinsert himself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his best hope may be to set aside grand hopes for a final agreement and make do with a partial deal.

An interim settlement would leave neither side with full satisfaction, and the Palestinians in particular strongly oppose it for fear that it will become permanent. But with gaps seemingly unbridgeable on the same key issues that have scuttled all previous peace efforts, a piecemeal approach may be just enough to yield a sovereign Palestinian state, albeit an imperfect one.

Barack Obama heads to the region Wednesday in a long-awaited trip whose agenda includes hopes of restarting negotiations. The White House has been careful to lower expectations, saying Obama will mainly listen and learn as he speaks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

But U.S. officials confirm the idea of an interim agreement, while not their preference, has been under consideration. One U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said new Secretary of State John Kerry “is looking for options on a way forward” and that an interim arrangement has been among several ideas being explored.

“The challenge of diplomacy is to try and find areas where progress can be made, and not always try and seek a complete solution when one is not in the cards at present,” said Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.N. who has served as an informal adviser to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s new government, which was inaugurated this week, includes key moderate partners that want movement on the Palestinian front and can bring down the government if they choose.

The Palestinians will be a hard sell. They want a state in all of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. From their perspective to suffice with that territory — leaving Israel with over three-quarters of what was British-ruled Palestine until 1948 — is compromise enough.

“If Israel was serious it would have offered a solution based on the two states, but Israel wants to annex Jerusalem and large parts of the West Bank by such an offer,” said Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Previous peace talks under more dovish …read more
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Palestinian students attack British diplomat before university speech

Dozens of Palestinian students swarmed around a senior British diplomat on Tuesday, leaping on his vehicle and trying to attack him in a show of rage over a British policy and a century-old promise to Jews.

The outburst forced the British consul general, Sir Vincent Fean, to cancel a speech at a Palestinian university.

Fean was not hurt, although an Associated Press photographer saw one student kicking him in the shins.

Student activists said they were protesting decades of British policy toward Palestinians.

They said their chief grievance was Britain’s support for a Jewish homeland in what was then British-ruled Palestine in a letter known as the “Balfour Declaration,” issued in 1917. The letter also said “nothing shall be done” that would prejudice the civil rights of non-Jews. Israel gained independence in 1948.

Britain is an ally of Israel but has been highly critical of its policies toward the Palestinians, especially settlement construction in the West Bank.

In recent days tensions have risen in the West Bank, with demonstrations, some of them violent, in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons. Some have predicted that the protests could escalate into a full-scale uprising.

“We asked the university to cancel his visit because Britain is the cause of the Palestinian tragedy,” said Taha Afghani, student leader of the Palestinian Fatah group, one of several political factions that organized the protest. Fatah is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Fean was returning to his vehicle after meeting with Birzeit University officials when the incident erupted.

The administration decided to cancel Fean’s lecture after dozens of students, some waving Palestinian flags and signs, gathered outside the office.

Fean emerged, surrounded by security and university staff, and was escorted to his car. Shouting students tried to approach him. Fean was quickly pushed into his waiting vehicle, and some students began kicking the car. Student leader Afghani said they also hurled rocks at the vehicle.

“Get out of Birzeit!” they yelled in English. “Occupation is your shame!” they shouted, in reference to Israel‘s occupation of Palestinian territories.

In a statement, the British Foreign Office said that Fean had hoped “to engage in an open dialogue” about Britain’s policies in the Middle East. “Sadly, such a dialogue was not possible on this occasion.” As consul general in Jerusalem, Fean serves as Britain’s envoy to the Palestinians.

Abbas’ government has good relations with the West, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars a year in financial assistance from the U.S. and European Union. But the Palestinian public is often critical of the West, particularly the U.S., accusing it of bias toward Israel.

Birzeit University condemned Tuesday’s incident in a statement.

“We believe it would have been much more useful if the students had a dialogue with the guest and expressed their political views in a peaceful way,” it said.

The Palestinian government and Abbas’ office had no additional comment, saying they were satisfied with the university’s statement.

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Palestinians bury man who died in Israeli custody

Thousands have joined the funeral procession in the West Bank for a 30-year-old Palestinian who died under disputed circumstances in Israeli custody.

Palestinian officials say autopsy results show Arafat Jaradat was tortured by Israeli interrogators. Israeli officials say there’s no conclusive cause of death and that more tests are needed.

His death comes at a time of rising tensions in the West Bank. It has stoked Israeli fears of a third Palestinian uprising.

Palestinian police kept order as Jaradat’s funeral got under way in his village of Saeer on Monday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli officials traded accusations, each side saying the other is provoking violence for political gains.

Abbas says Palestinians want peace and won’t be provoked, despite what he says are more lethal tactics by Israeli troops.

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Barcelona to play game with Israelis, Palestinians

Barcelona is trying to organize a soccer match against a combined team of Palestinians and Israelis to promote peace.

Club President Sandro Rosell began putting the plan in motion with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday. He is to discuss the game with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Friday.

The venue and date weren’t disclosed, but Israeli media reported the exhibition game will take place July 31, possibly at Ramat Gan Stadium near Tel Aviv.

Rosell says Barcelona aims “to strengthen the bridges of peace and dialogue” between Israelis and Palestinians. Peres says soccer “brings down barriers.”

Barcelona’s fans in Gaza were angered last year when the team gave freed Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit a complimentary ticket. Schalit was held captive for five years by the militant Hamas, which rules Gaza.

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Palestinian sentenced for cursing president

A Palestinian court has sentenced a West Bank man to a year in jail for “cursing the president” on Facebook.

The Magistrates Court of the city of Nablus sentenced Anas Awwad, 26, on Thursday.

His father says Awwad is being punished for a comment he made about a picture of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas kicking a soccer ball taken during his visit to Barcelona Football Club in 2011.

Awwad wrote “The new striker in Real Madrid.” His lawyer says he is appealing the decision.

Another Palestinian is on trial for the same charge. Nizar Banat, 33, posted: “I curse the president on every occasion for political reasons.”

Human Rights lawyer Fareed Al-Atrash said the Palestinian judiciary applied a Jordanian law that criminalizes cursing the King.

Abbas’s office declined to comment.

…read more
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Oops! Palestinian President Mixes Up Morsi, Mubarak

Awkward. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas mixed up the names of Egypt‘s democratically elected president and his ousted authoritarian predecessor when he tried to thank his hosts at an Islamic summit in Cairo today. Abbas intended to thank Egypt for supporting the Palestinian cause. He began by saying “President Mohamed Hosni”… …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Newser – Home

Palestinian leader mistakes Morsi for Mubarak


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas mixed up the names of Egypt‘s democratically elected president and his ousted authoritarian predecessor when he tried to thank his hosts at an Islamic summit in Cairo on Wednesday.

Abbas intended to thank Egypt for supporting the Palestinian cause. He began by saying “President Mohammed Hosni” then stopped short and corrected himself to say “Mohammed Morsi.” Morsi remained mostly stone faced during the gaffe except for a slight movement of the mouth that hinted at disapproval.

Morsi frequently mentions that he is Egypt‘s first freely elected leader after the 2011 uprising that ended nearly three decades of Hosni Mubarak‘s authoritarian rule.

…read more
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Hamas says 20 of its members arrested by Israel

The Palestinian militant group Hamas says Israel has arrested 20 of its members, including three lawmakers, in a West Bank raid.

Several Hamas officials say the arrests took place early Monday across the territory. They say three of those arrested are Hamas lawmakers. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

Palestinians have been deeply divided since Hamas overran Gaza in 2007, ousting forces from the secular Fatah party led by the Western backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas lawmakers have been subject to arrests by Israel since the group defeated Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election.

Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization because it has carried out scores of deadly attacks against civilians.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the arrests.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Refugees again, Palestinians flee Syria's war

When Syrian warplanes bombed a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus last December, Umm Sami rounded up her three sons, shut the windows and locked the doors so they could neither hear nor heed the call to arms by rebels and pro-government gunmen fighting in the streets.

Then she told her sons they were leaving their home in the Yarmouk refugee camp in the Syrian capital for neighboring Lebanon, where they would wait out Syria‘s civil war.

“There will be no more martyrs for Palestine in my family,” the 45-year-old widow said. “This war is a Syrian problem.”

Now safe in Lebanon, Umm Sami and her family have joined thousands of other Palestinian refugees who have found shelter in the country since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted nearly two years ago. The conflict has left more than 2 million people internally displaced, and pushed 650,000 more to seek refuge abroad.

Umm Sami‘s resolve to keep her sons out of the fight in Syria ties into a deep-rooted sentiment among a generation of Palestinian refugees who say they are fed up with being dragged into the region’s conflicts on a promise of getting their own state.

The Palestinian exodus from Syria has also revived a decades-old debate over the refugees’ right of return to their homes that are now in Israel. That has added another layer of complexity to a conflict already loaded with sectarian and ethnic overtones that have spilled over into neighboring countries, raising fears of a regional war.

Palestinians living in Arab countries — including the half-million refugees in Syria — are descendants of the hundreds of thousands who fled or were driven from their homes in the war that followed Israel‘s creation in 1948. Having scattered across the Middle East since then, Palestinians consistently have found themselves in the middle of the region’s conflicts.

After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein, hundreds of Palestinians were killed as the Sunni and Shiite militias fought for dominance of the country. Iraq‘s Shiite majority saw Saddam, who like most Palestinians was a Sunni Muslim, as a patron of the stateless Palestinians, granting them rights the dictator denied his own citizens because they were of the rival sect.

About 1,000 Palestinians fled the 2004-07 sectarian bloodshed in Baghdad, living in a refugee camp near the Syrian border before being resettled in third countries.

During Lebanon‘s 1975-1990 civil war, Palestinians played a major role, fighting alongside Muslim militiamen against Christian forces.

Umm Sami, who was born in a refugee camp in Lebanon before the war, was twice forced to flee the fighting, most notably in 1982 when her family escaped the Sabra and Chatilla camps during the notorious massacre of Palestinians there by Christian militias.

She would eventually bury her father, two brothers and her husband — all fallen fighters — before leaving for Syria and settling with her four sons in Yarmouk, one of nine Palestinian camps in Syria.

Her youngest son died in a traffic accident while serving in the Palestinian unit of the Syrian army just weeks before the anti-Assad revolt started in March 2011. None of her other sons joined the revolution, she said, because “they don’t want to die.”

Unlike in Lebanon, where Palestinians are cramped into notoriously lawless camps, banned from all but the most menial professions and barred from owning property, Palestinians in Syria are well integrated and enjoy full citizenship rights, except for the right to vote.

But when the uprising against Assad erupted in the southern province of Daraa in March 2011, some Palestinians living in a camp there joined in the peaceful protests. When the fighting spread to the northern city of Aleppo in last summer, some took up arms against the regime.

In Damascus, most stayed on the sidelines, but as the civil war reached Yarmouk late last year, a densely populated residential area just 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the heart of the capital, most residents backed the rebels. Some groups, however, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, opted to fight alongside Assad’s troops.

Palestinian officials say more than 700 Palestinians have been killed in the Yarmouk fighting. Most of the camp’s 150,000 inhabitants have fled, according to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. Some of them have found safe haven in areas of Damascus and other Syrian cities, but most have escaped to camps in Lebanon.

“We go from catastrophe to catastrophe, from refugee camp to refugee camp, but at least we are alive,” Umm Sami said in Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon‘s largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern port city of Sidon. She and her sons, who are all in their 20s and university graduates, fled Yarmouk with only the clothes on their backs, leaving behind a two-bedroom apartment and jobs that paid the bills.

Now, they are jobless in Lebanon, officially barred from legal employment, and left to live off help from relatives and handouts from the camp’s mosques.

Ein en-Hilweh normally houses 65,000 people, but since mid-December, when a flood of refugees from Yarmouk started arriving, the population has steadily grown by several hundred a day, putting a further strain on resources.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he asked U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon last month to seek Israeli permission to bring Palestinians caught in Syria‘s civil war to their homeland. Last week, he said that Israel agreed to allow 150,000 Palestinians refugees from Syrian into the West Bank and Gaza — as long as they relinquished the right of return to what is now Israel. Abbas said he refused.

With no end to the Syria conflict in sight, residents of Ein el-Hilweh have started building a camp within a refugee camp for their compatriots escaping the violence across the border.

They’ve converted the camp’s children’s library into housing for dozens of families. Reading rooms, offices, hallways and even bathrooms have been partitioned with makeshift walls, boards and even blankets as families try to carve out space to cook, eat and sleep.

In the library’s front yard, a new structure is being built to house at least 10 more families.

“We do what we can to help and find them a home, because they are not going back to Syria soon,” said Sheik Jamal Khatab, who oversees the registration of refugees and distribution of aid.

The biggest challenge facing the Palestinian refugees, Khatab said, is not to be dragged into the Syrian civil war — on either side. He also warned that the hardship awaiting Palestinians after the war ends will be tougher than the one they have been living as stateless people.

“It’s in our interest not to interfere in this conflict, even though the Syrian regime is a tyrannical regime,” he said. “We are not Syrians, and any side that will win this war will consider us enemies.”


Associated Press writers Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, and Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad contributed to this report.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

US protests "State of Palestine" placard in UN

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice objected Wednesday to the Palestinians’ latest bid to capitalize on their upgraded U.N. status when their foreign minister spoke at Security Council while seated behind a nameplate that read “State of Palestine.”

It was the first Palestinian address to the Security Council since the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Nov. 29 to upgrade the Palestinians from U.N. observer to non-voting member state.

Rice said that the United States does not recognize the General Assembly vote in November “as bestowing Palestinian ‘statehood’ or recognition.”

“Only direct negotiations to settle final status issues will lead to this outcome,” Rice said.

“Therefore, in our view, any reference to the ‘State of Palestine‘ in the United Nations, including the use of the term ‘State of Palestine‘ on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term ‘State of Palestine‘ in the invitation to this meeting or other arrangements for participation in this meeting, do not reflect acquiescence that ‘Palestine‘ is a state,” she added.

The U.N. General Assembly vote to upgrade the Palestinians’ status was important because it gave sweeping international backing to their demands for sovereignty over lands Israel occupied in 1967, including east Jerusalem. But it did not actually grant independence to the 4.3 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

In his speech to the Security Council, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki reiterated the Palestinian position that a two-state solution be based on the pre-1967 borders.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took another symbolic step to capitalize on the U.N. status two weeks ago, proclaiming that letterhead and signs would bear the name “State of Palestine.”

Robert Serry, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told reporters that the nameplate read “state of Palestine” because the U.N. Secretariat “is guided by the membership, which has pronounced itself on this issue” in the November General Assembly vote.

“At the same time, member-states have their rights to reserve their opinion” on U.N. decisions, he said. “That resolution does not diminish the need for negotiations to actually arrive at a two-state solution.”

Israeli U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor told the council that “the major obstacle to the two-state solution is the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to speak to their own people about the true parameters of a two-state solution.”

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