‘I trust the vaccine’ – Palestinians line up for shots to work in Israel

Palestinians on receiving the coronavirus vaccines needed to be able to cross and work in Israel.

Hiyi Ouanina did not want to infect her elderly mother with COVID-19, so she was grateful to be one of the 120,000 Palestinian workers whom Israel plans to inoculate against the virus over the next two weeks.
“I don’t want to make other people sick,” Ouanina told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday as she sat in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, recovering briefly from the quick injection of a Moderna vaccine.
She was among the first 21,000 Palestinians to receive the vaccine in a joint operation run by the Office of the Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Health Ministry and Magen David Adom that began Monday.
The mother of four with an easy smile, who spoke English from her school days, said many Palestinians are fearful of the vaccination, and their comments “made me afraid.”
She was grateful to receive a vaccine offered to her by Israel rather than the Palestinian Authority and felt safer when she received the shot.
“I trust it [the Israeli vaccine] more,” said Ouanina, a resident of the nearby village of Battir.
As she sat on a white plastic chair in a large bare room at the bottom of a small commercial center, Ouanina said she was lucky to have been inoculated thanks to her work as a housekeeper in nearby Neveh Daniel.
The PA has done little to help its people receive a vaccine, she said, adding that its best advice was for people to refrain from going to work and to “just stay home.”
Israel has vaccinated more than five million of its citizens. The number of infections has started to drop, and the country has begun to reopen for business.
The PA is relying on a lockdown strategy as it scrambles to acquire vaccines. So far, only 22,000 vaccines have entered the Gaza Strip, and another 10,000 have gone to the West Bank.
The program to vaccinate Palestinians who have work permits to enter Israel, including the settlements, represents the best chance Palestinians have to receive the vaccine.
Israel has been under fire for prioritizing its citizens first in the vaccination process. Critics believe Israel should have distributed the first 10 million doses, enough for five million people, it received from Pfizer equitably between Israeli citizens and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel plans to prioritize the Palestinians once its own vaccination program is completed. It has argued that under the Oslo Accords, the PA is responsible for the healthcare of its citizens. In addition to the workers’ program, it also gave the Palestinians 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and pledged an additional 3,000.
Col. Eyal Zevi, COGAT’s head of Operational Department, spoke of the importance of vaccinating Palestinians on Monday, when the IDF opened eight vaccination centers at the crossings into Israel.
“The virus knows no geographical borders, and therefore, the vaccination of the Palestinian workers is a common interest for both parties,” he said.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein visited Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria to make the opening of its vaccination center for the Palestinians who jointly work with Israelis in the factories located there. Both he and Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan congratulated the first Palestinian worker who was vaccinated at the site.

Edelstein then traveled to the nearby city of Ariel to inaugurate another vaccination center with Mayor Eli Shaviro.

At both locations, Edelstein spoke of the importance of coexistence with the Palestinians as exhibited in the joint industrial areas of Barkan and Ariel.
This is what the future should look like, he said, adding: “This is the future. This is peace. This is coexistence.”
Efrat Regional Council head Oded Ravivi said: “Coronavirus teaches us how important good neighborliness is; how good relations between settlers and Palestinians can be when we cooperate.”
But for the Palestinians who walked to the small stone vaccination center, with its Arabic signs and Arabic-speaking staff, the vaccine was less about coexistence and more about safety and work.
Hanadi Abdo, a cashier at the Rami Levy supermarket near Gush Etzion junction, said inoculation was a work requirement, but she was glad for the option because she is exposed daily to a constant stream of people.
“We need this,” she said, adding that luckily, her two adult daughters are college students and were also able to receive vaccines.
“I wanted to get vaccinated. I don’t want corona,” Abdo said, adding that she also had a 13-year-old daughter whose safety she had to think of.
Walid Ahmad Abu Swai, a plumber from Bethlehem and a father of four, was in Efrat with his son, who also received the vaccine. His other son was also able to get vaccinated, but his two daughters and his wife were not.
Mahmoud Zohada, the head of a construction team in Efrat, said his father had already been stricken and recovered from the disease.
“I was in isolation for five weeks,” the father of four said, adding that he convinced those who work for him to get vaccinated.
Zohada is waiting for the second vaccine, which will be available to the 120,000 workers in a month.
But a number of Palestinians interviewed by the Post said the vaccine made them nervous and that they had agreed to be vaccinated because it was a work requirement.
Eyad Abu Hammad said if it were up to him, he would ward off COVID-19 with hot water, lemon and garlic rather than risk taking the vaccine.
“I know many people who have had COVID-19 and were fine,” he said, so when push came to shove, he was more concerned about the inoculation than the disease.
“I was afraid because I don’t know enough about the vaccine,” Abu Hammad said, adding that there were still many unanswered questions about the long-term impact of vaccination.
Still, the father of five from the West Bank village of Wadi an Nis, southwest of Bethlehem, found himself in the unique position of being the only one in his family of seven with the option to receive the vaccine.
Abu Hammad said he did not have a choice. His employer in Neveh Daniel said he could only come to work if was vaccinated.
After receiving his shot, the IDF gave him a vaccination certificate on a small white piece of paper, and his friend took a photo of the moment.
Afterward, all he felt was a small headache, he said.
With the shot and without the shot, “I’m leaving my fate in God’s hand,” Abu Hammad said.•

Netherlands cuts aid to Palestinian Authority over terrorist salaries

Dutch government, which gives several millions of dollars a year to PA, says talks to end wages to those who carried out attacks on Israelis ‘did not lead to the desired outcome”

The Dutch government has cut funding for the Palestinian Authority over its salaries to terrorists serving time in Israeli jails.

The aid ministry announced the move Wednesday during annual budget talks.

In 2017, the Palestinian Authority paid about $198 million to a fund for the families of terrorists killed during their attacks and about $160 million to Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, according to Israeli Defense Ministry figures.

The Netherlands spends several million dollars each year on aid to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian populations elsewhere in the Middle East but most of that money is given to agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

The country had given about $1.6 million directly to the Palestinian Authority annually to pay the salaries of justice ministry employees.

The aid ministry said that talks with the Palestinian body “did not lead to the desired outcome.”

Israel has long complained that the salaries encourage terror attacks.

The article was published on The Times of Israel


Dutch parliament adopts motion to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority as long as it rewards terrorists

THE HAGUE—The Dutch Parliament has voted a motion calling on the government to cut 7% of Dutch funding to the Palestinian Authority.

MP Kees van der Staaij, from the Christian Reformed Political Party (SGP), had submitted a proposal to stop the financial contributions to the Palestinian Authority (PA), as long as it continues to reward terrorists.

The cut of 7% was chosen after monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) provided the parliament with documentation showing that the PA spends 7% of its budget on payments to terrorists in jail and to families of killed terrorists (“Martyrs”).

The Dutch motion is binding unless the PA stops these payments.

Van der Staaij came to this motion after a conversation with terror survivor Kay Wilson. She pointed out that the Palestinian Authority indoctrinates Palestinians with hatred and that terrorists are rewarded by the PA for their crimes.

The PA recently added four new families of terrorists to its growing terror rewards payroll. One terrorist shot a pregnant woman, forcing an emergency delivery, but the newborn son died a few days later. Another terrorist murdered two of his Israeli coworkers. The other two terrorists were killed while attempting to kill Israelis. The families of the four terrorists will now receive monthly allowances for life.

In July 2014 following a previous presentation by PMW to Dutch MPs, the parliament voted 148-2 to cut funding to the PA if it continued paying salaries to terrorists. However, the cut never happened because the PA deceived Western donors by closing the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs and claiming the payments were made by the PLO from non-donor money.

When PMW exposed the PA fraud, in 2016, the international community was outraged. This led to the US Taylor Force Act, in March 2018, which conditions most of US aid to the PA, and to the Australian government’s decision, in July 2018, to cut all its direct aid to the PA. This is the first time since PMW exposed the PA’s deception in 2016 that a European country has legislated to cut funding because of the PA’s payments to terrorists.

The article was published on EJP


P.M.: EUROPE APPEASING, NOT FIGHTING, IRANIAN TERRORISM

Netanyahu took European leaders to task for “appeasing Iran,” something he said “helps the unending attack on the values and security of free societies.”

As the world marks 17 years since the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the time has come for Western governments to join in “the strong and clear effort by the Trump administration against the terrorist regime in Tehran,”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu took European leaders to task for “appeasing Iran,” something he said “helps the relentless assault on the values and security of free societies.”

Netanyahu again noted the irony that during the same week in June when an Iranian terrorist cell tried to carry out an attack against an Iranian opposition group in Paris – an attack that Israeli intelligence helped to thwart – European leaders were trying to “appease” Iran and looking for ways to reconcile with it, and soften the fallout from the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.

Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks, has “passed the torch” of radical Sunni terrorism on to Islamic State, while the radical Shia variety of terrorism is being led by Iran, the premier said.

“They both have the same goals: to eliminate the free societies as we know them, to eliminate Israel, and also in the end to eliminate the West and others. The time has come for the world to unite in the fight against the terrorist organizations.

It is doing so to a certain degree against Islamic State, but it is not doing so against Iran – the opposite is the case,” he said.

Netanyahu also used the start of the weekly cabinet meeting to once again praise the Trump administration for its decision on Monday to close the PLO office in Washington.

Netanyahu called this the “correct decision,” saying that at a time when the Palestinians refuse to negotiate with Israel and are attacking it with false claims in international forums, Israel “very much appreciates” American actions designed to make clear to the Palestinians that their tactics not only fail to promote peace, “but are also certainly not making things better for the Palestinians.”

The article was published on The JPost


Israeli government and Palestinian Authority agree to strengthen economic ties

Israel agrees to open Allenby Crossing for 24 hours a day, used by some 2.3 million people per year

The Israeli Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah agreed on Tuesday to strengthen economic ties between Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel.

Kahlon, along with the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of the Government’s Activities in the Territories Major General Yoav Mordechai, held a meeting with Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah in order to lay out a plan for economic and civil partnership.

During the meeting, which was the latest of a series of meetings between the two parties, Israel agreed to allow for the opening of Allenby Crossing on the Jordan-West Bank border for 24 hours a day within the coming months and, after 2018, for the crossing to be open permanently.

The opening of Allenby Crossing, which is controlled by the Israeli Airport Authority, will impact the some 2.3 million people who use the crossing each year, mostly Palestinians. The crossing is the only exit point for Palestinians between the West Bank and Jordan and is also used for the transfer of merchandise. Allenby Crossing is currently open on weekdays from 7:30am to 1:30am and on weekends, from 7:30am to 3:00pm.

Israel also agreed to allow the establishment of an industrial zone near the Tarqumiya crossing.

Both sides agreed to strengthen economic cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government moving forward. The meeting was conducted with the knowledge of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

The article was posted on I24news


Israel Releases Footage of Palestinian Hunger Strike Leader Barghouti Eating in His Prison Cell

Marwan Barghouti seen eating cookies and a candy bar on two occasions. Sources in the prison service admit he was set up

Israel Prison Service released footage of Marwan Barghouti, one of the leaders of the hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, eating in his cell. (you can watch the video HERE)

The prison service says Barghouti, who serves multiple life sentences for his role in the killing of Israelis during the second intifada, has twice been filmed eating since the strike began. The first time, on April 27, the footage shows him eating cookies. He removed the cookies from a hiding place in his bathroom, looked around to see that nobody was watching and then ate them. He then tried to conceal the evidence by hiding the wrapping and washing his hands and face.
The second time, on May 5, he employed the same technique. This time, he was filmed eating candy bar. At the end, he was also seen eating salt.

The Israel Prison Service didn’t say how Barghouti obtained the food, but sources in the organization confirmed that they set him up in an attempt to see p whether Barghouti was really sticking to the hunger strike.

Barghouti’s lawyer, attorney Elias Sabbagh, said in response to the video that, “This was expected as part of the psychological and media war the Israel Prison Service is conducting against the prisoners. We can’t address the content of the clip so long as they don’t let us meet with Marwan. Let us visit him and then we will check the claims with him.”

The footage was allegedly filmed in the Kishon Prison, to which Barghouti was transferred after the strike began.

“As we’ve said all along, the terrorists’ hunger strike isn’t about their prison conditions, but only about Barghouti’s desire to bolster his status in preparation for the day after Abu Mazen,” said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by his nickname. “Barghouti is cynically exploiting the terrorists for a hunger strike for which they are paying and will pay a heavy price, while he himself can’t restrain his own appetites.”

Barghouti was sentenced in 2004 to five life sentences after being convicted of murder.

The article was published on Haaretz website