Archive for Jewish settlers

US and Israel seek settlements plan

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, History, International community, Israel, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, Peace process, USA foreign policy, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 27/08/2009 by 3071km

Date Published: 27 August 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English
_____

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has said progress is being made towards restarting peace talks with the Palestinians.

His comments came after talks in London with George Mitchell, the Obama administration’s Middle East envoy, which both described as “very productive”.

During four hours of talks the two discussed the issue of Israeli settlements as a major hurdle to the peace process.

A joint statement released after the meeting said an Israeli delegation would visit the US next week to follow up on the talks, although it did not elaborate on any measures Mitchell and Netanyahu may have agreed to.

According to the statement the two parties “agreed on the importance of restarting meaningful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and working toward a comprehensive peace, and that all sides need to take concrete steps toward peace.”

However, Israel has resisted calls from Barack Obama, the US president, to freeze settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

A freeze is key to the resumption of peace talks, and Israel’s reluctance to budge on the issue has led to a rare rift in US-Israeli relations.

Iran ‘deal’

Mitchell has been pressing Israel to halt construction as a confidence-building gesture to the Palestinians.

According to some media reports he was expected to offer Netanyahu a tougher US line on Iran’s nuclear programme in return for Israel partially freezing settlement building.

Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported that the US, along with Britain and France, is planning to push the UN to include Iran’s oil and gas industry in sanctions against the country, a move that could cripple its economy.

An Israeli delegation is due to meet Mitchell next week in the US to continue the talks.

Alastair Crooke, a Middle East analyst who has worked with Mitchell, told Al Jazeera: “I’m sure that Mitchell doesn’t want to get stuck in this single issue for the next month, because the Americans have a deadline.

“They are really keen to get progress on the Palestinian issue before they leave Iraq in the interests of Israeli security.”

After meeting Mitchell in London, Netanyahu, who is on a four-day European tour, flew to Berlin where he met Horst Koehler, the German president, ahead of talks with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

Abbas ‘meeting’

Following the talks in London, Mark Regev, an Israeli spokesman, said an agreement with Washington which would allow peace talks to resume could come within weeks.

“The goal is to find common ground with the American administration … on a framework that will allow the restarting of an energised peace process,” he said.

“For that process to be meaningful, the Arab world has to be part of it.”

Israeli media reports have suggested that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, will meet Netanyahu on the sidelines of next month’s meeting of the United Nations in New York.

In Jerusalem, a senior Palestinian official, said: “No one, neither from the Israelis nor from the United States contacted us for such a meeting but it could happen as a meeting but not as holding negotiations.

“What counts is to hold negotiations.”

Peace talks

Settlements in the West Bank, which Palestinians want for a future state, are home to 300,000 Israelis, and around 2.5million Palestinians.

Obama has said he opposes all settlement construction, while Abbas has staunchly refused to reopen peace talks until Netanyahu halts all settlement activity.

A survey released on Wednesday showed freezing settlements would be an unpopular move among Jewish Israelis, with almost two-thirds of those questioned by the Maagar Mohot polling company saying they opposed the move.

Netanyahu has said he sees the emphasis on settlements as unfair, and insisted conflict in the Middle East is rooted in Arab enmity towards Israel.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said that a settlement agreement is indispensible to a peace deal because it prevents a “Palestinian independent contiguous state from emerging”.

However, he said that there had been little progress in Wednesday’s meeting.

“After nine months of telling Israel that they must stop the settlements, an entire government telling the American envoy in London today that they won’t stop the settlement building within the settlements. That is a failure of a meeting.”

On Tuesday, Netanyahu said that his government was unwilling to negotiate on the status of Jerusalem as a joint Israel-Palestinian capital.

Speaking in London at his meeting with Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, he had also said that any peace talks with the Palestinians would have to cover the issue of a “demilitarised Palestine”, as well as illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Advertisements

Israeli settlements: a new reality, brick by brick

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, History, Israel, Israel's separation wall, Israeli occupation, Palestine, West Bank with tags , , on 25/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 24 August 2009

Source: The Guardian

_____

Check this map if you want to see the Israeli expansion in the West Bank since 1967.

Netanyahu urges Palestinian ‘courage’

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, International community, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Pictures, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 25/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 25 August 2009

Source: The Guardian

_____

Brown upbeat on Middle East peace prospects after Netanyahu talks

• PM ‘as realistic as ever but more optimistic than before’
• Brown reiterates call for end to Jewish settlement buildin

Benjamin Netanyahu and Gordon Brown at Downing Street

Gordon Brown said today he was “increasingly confident” that Israel was willing to end settlement activity in the Palestinian territories.

After talks with his Israeli counterpart, Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister said he was “as realistic as ever but more optimistic than before” about peace in the Middle East.

“We share a vision of a secure and confident Israel accepted and welcomed by its neighbour alongside – after decades of waiting – a secure and viable Palestine in a region at peace with itself,” he said.

Speaking alongside Netanyahu in Downing Street, Brown said he had reiterated his call for an end to Jewish settlement building on Palestinian land.

“I made clear that settlement activity was a barrier to a two-state solution,” he said. “I’m increasingly confident, however, that there is a genuine will to make progress, that a freeze in such activity would result in meaningful steps towards normalisation from Arab states.”

Netanyahu, who faces the same demands from the US president, Barack Obama, said he had made clear Israel would not build new settlements or “expropriate additional land”. But he stressed there was a need for facilities to enable “normal life” for Jewish settlers already in the West Bank. “This is very different from grabbing land,” he told reporters.

He said Britain and Israel had “common hopes and common challenges”, but stressed the threat from Iran and the need for Palestinians to recognise Israel.

Netanyahu said Israel had already moved to improve access to the West Bank. With the territory enjoying a period of calm, some Israeli military checkpoints have been lifted and permits for importing raw materials are being granted.

“We have moved, we expect similar movement from the Palestinian Authority and there has not been that movement. That’s an understatement,” he said. “But there has to be that movement. There has to be not merely a partner on the other side, there has to be a courageous partner.”

“They have to say unequivocally ‘it’s over, we are going to make a real peace, it will be a final peace that ends all claims to further conflict’.”

Brown said he deplored Iran’s aggressive comments about Israel. “Such diatribe has no place in a civilised world,” he said. “We also share Israel’s concerns over Iranian ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon.

“Iran needs to co-operate with the international community, to take up President Obama’s unprecedented offer of engagement. Until then, the international community will continue to view Iranian ambitions with suspicion.”

Netanyahu is due to meet the US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, tomorrow, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Berlin on Thursday. While Netanyahu will want to emphasise the potential threat from Iran if it acquires nuclear weapons, European leaders are expected to underline their concerns about the spread of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

In Washington the state department spokesman, Ian Kelly, said the US and Israel were “getting closer” to agreement on the resumption of talks. “I don’t want to go into the details of exactly why, but just to say that we’re hopeful that we can resume very soon,” Kelly said.

Hefetz said Israel believed talks could be resumed within two months. Israeli government officials say a compromise under discussion could see Israel freeze building for nine to 12 months, but this will not include East Jerusalem or building that has already begun.

The halt in approvals for new building was dismissed by Netanyahu’s critics. The settlement watchdog group Peace Now said there had been no real slowdown in construction and that settlers could keep building indefinitely, using plans that had already been approved. In a new report, Peace Now said Israeli defence ministry figures showed existing government approval to build more than 40,000 housing units in West Bank settlements.

In his meeting with Mitchell, Netanyahu is expected to stress that Israel will not accept limits on its sovereignty in Jerusalem, in particular in relation to building new housing units in the city, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has said he would resume peace talks with Israel, suspended since December, on condition of a freeze on settlement activity. Some 500,000 Jews live in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, territory that Israel captured in the 1967 war and which is home to 2.5 million Palestinians.

“Severe violations of Human Rights in Occupied Palestinian Territories,” reports UN Committee on Israeli Practices

Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, International community, Israeli occupation, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, War crimes, West Bank with tags , , , , , , on 15/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 14th August 2009

Source: United Nations Office of the High Comissioner for Human Rights

_____

GENEVA – DAMASCUS: “Violations of the international humanitarian law during the operation Cast Lead, in particular the targeting of civilian population and wanton destruction of property and religious and cultural objects”, will be reported to the United Nations General Assembly by the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

At the end of a ten-day field mission to three Middle Eastern countries, the Special Committee expressed “particular concern for an increasing number of incidents of violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinian population in the West Bank in the presence of Israeli army and police.”

The three-member panel has also recorded the pressure on human rights defenders, both Israeli and Palestinians working to alleviate the suffering in occupied territories.

Furthermore, at the General Assembly 64th session this year, the Committee will be noting “continuous and in some cases worsening violations of economic and cultural rights, in particular the right to education and health, further restrictions of movement and attacks on and destruction of Palestinian farmlands and orchards.”

Since its establishment in 1968, the Special Committee has repeatedly been denied cooperation by the Government of Israel or access to the OPT.

The Special Committee began its mission in Egypt on 04 August from where it traveled to Jordan and, finally, Syria, where it recorded the testimonies of witnesses and non-governmental organizations of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and occupied Golan.

The panel met the foreign ministers in Egypt, Jordan and Syria, as well as members of the League of Arab States, government officials, activists and representatives of Palestinian and Israeli non-governmental organizations. The Committee visited the Palestinian Hospital in Cairo where it heard about the difficulties in accessing health care and obtaining needed medications in the Gaza Strip.

On its last day in Syria, the Committee visited Quneitra and received testimonies pertaining to the discrimination in access to health services in occupied Golan, restrictions of family visits and other violations of civil, political, economic and cultural rights of Palestinians and Arab populations.

In its report to the General Assembly, the Committee will draw on exhaustive interviews and testimonies taken during its visits to Cairo, Amman and Damascus, as well as numerous reports by experts including the reports by the High Commissioner of Human Rights, special rapporteurs and many national and international non-governmental organizations. The Committee focused its investigation on the situation in occupied Gaza, West Bank, East Jerusalem and the occupied Golan.

The Special Committee is composed of three Member States: Sri Lanka (Chairman), Malaysia and Senegal. Ambassador Ali currently chairs the Special Committee, due to the absence of the Sri Lankan Ambassador. Senegal is represented by Ambassador Babacar Mbaye, Permanent Representative of that country to the UN in Geneva, while Ms. Samantha Jayasuriya, counsellor at the Sri Lankan Mission to the UN in New York, is representing her country.

Under varying membership,The Special Committee has existed since 1968 when it was established by the General Assembly. Its mandate was most recently renewed on 18 December 2008, in a resolution A/RES/63/95 referring to the principles of international humanitarian law, in particular to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and to international standards of human rights, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights.

Israel PM vows no settler evictions

Posted in Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, Siege, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 10th August 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

_____


Netanyahu said  the eviction of Jewish settlers
from Gaza had failed to bring peace [AFP]

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has vowed that he will never evict Jewish settlers from occupied Palestinian land as Israel did in 2005 in the Gaza Strip.

Addressing his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said that removing settlers from Gaza in 2005, was a “mistake” that Israel will not repeat.

“The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip brought us neither peace nor security. The territory has become a base for the pro-Iranian Hamas movement and we will never make the same mistake again,” Netanyahu said.

“We will not evict any more people from their homes.”

It was not immediately clear whether his remarks included the estimated 100 so-called settler outposts, which are often little more than trailers and have been set up without the approval of the Israeli authorities.

Hundreds of thouysands of Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank, most of them in the about 120 official settlements that fall under the direct control of the government.

‘Strategic damage’

In September 2005, the government of Ariel Sharon, then prime minister, unilaterally removed all Jewish settlements from Gaza in a move aimed at ending Israel’s costly 38-year military presence in the Gaza Strip.

Sharon had said he would follow up that withdrawal with further pullbacks from the West Bank, but a massive stroke incapacitated him, and Ehud Olmert, his successor, abandoned the policy.The issue of settlements is threatening to develop into a rift between Israel and its longtime ally the United States, with Israel refusing to heed Washington’s calls to freeze the building of settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

Netanyahu’s comments come as Israel summoned one of its diplomats from the US after he circulated a memorandum accusing Netanyahu’s government of doing “strategic damage” to Israel’s ties with Washington.

A brief intended for internal circulation was leaked to Israel’s Channel 10 television, which quoted Nadav Tamir, Israel’s consul in Boston, as saying differences with Washington over Jewish settlements had hurt relations.

Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, said a disciplinary measure was being taken.

Israel condemned over evictions

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, History, International community, Israel, Israeli occupation, Pictures, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , on 02/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 2nd August 2009

Source: BBC News

_____

Protester is removed by police from a demonstration outside the homes 2/8/09

The evictions by Israel sparked protests at the scene

The US has led international condemnation of Israel after it evicted nine Palestinian families living in two houses in occupied East Jerusalem.

Washington said the action was not in keeping with Israel’s obligations under the so-called “road map” to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Jewish settlers moved into the houses almost immediately.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, a move not recognised by the world community.

The removal of the 53 people was also condemned by the United Nations, the Palestinians and the UK government.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said he was outraged at the action.

“Israel is once again showing its utter failure to respect international law,” he said.

“New settlers from abroad are accommodating themselves and their belongings in the Palestinian houses and 19 newly homeless children will have nowhere to sleep.”

‘Deplorable’

The operation to evict the Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah district of the city was carried out before dawn on Sunday by police clad in black riot gear.

It followed a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court that Jewish families owned the land. Israel wants to build a block of 20 apartments in the area.

The families' belongings were put on the street - 2/08/09

The families’ belongings were put on the street

“I deplore today’s totally unacceptable actions by Israel,” the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert H Serry said.

“These actions are contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions related to occupied territory.

“These actions heighten tensions and undermine international efforts to create conditions for fruitful negotiations to achieve peace.”

The UK government said the Israeli action was “incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace”.

“We urge Israel not to allow the extremists to set the agenda,” the British Consulate in East Jerusalem said.

Sovereignty ‘unquestionable’

Israel considers a united Jerusalem to be the capital of the state of Israel.

“Our sovereignty over it is unquestionable,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month.

“We cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and buy [homes] anywhere in Jerusalem.”

The BBC’s Tim Franks in Jerusalem says the houses are in what is probably the most contested city on earth and the diplomatic ripples from the evictions will spread.

There are an estimated 250,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and 200,000 Jews.

Settlement tourism takes root in West Bank

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, History, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Videos, West Bank with tags , , on 16/07/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 16th July 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

_____

Thousands of tourists visiting the Middle East each year have plenty of reasons to travel to the region.

But for a small minority the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a draw, prompting enterprising tour operators to organise trips to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin reports.