Archive for West Bank

Easing the siege or passing the buck?

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, Pictures, Siege with tags , , , , , , , on 29/05/2011 by 3071km

Written by: Sherine Tadros

Date published: 29th May 2011

Source: Al Jazeera English

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The image of Palestinians crossing Rafah on Saturday was heart warming. Not only did it signal the release of Gazans from their mental and physical prison, but also Egyptians from a moral responsibility they have evaded for four years.

Israel’s response has been much like a disappointed parent – shaking its head at Egyptian officials and warning of what’s to come from their foolishness.

Israel is worried. Not so much about the opening of Rafah but because in so doing Egypt did what they promised they wouldn’t and Israel feared they would – they went back on a previous agreement. For years, Israel handled former president Hosni Mubarak, now it has to handle 80 million Egyptians.

The Gaza end game

Since the start of the siege, analysts have written about Israel’s strategy in Gaza – pushing it towards Egypt in hope of washing its hands of the territory. The West Bank is useful, symbolic, resourceful, key for the settlers and Israel’s security. Gaza is a pain Israel can do without.

So for the past four years, Israel has been increasing its buffer zone area on the border (for “security reasons”) effectively squeezing Gaza. That has meant that the most fertile land in the Strip has been taken away; instead Gazans were pushed southwards. Israel systematically deprived Gaza of electricity, which made the Strip’s residents have to increasingly rely on Egypt as a power source.

As the siege tightened, Egypt was forced into the position of either helping Gaza or being complicit in the siege. At first it did a little of both, turning a blind eye to the hundreds of tunnels being built underground connecting the Strip to Egypt while keeping the Rafah crossing closed.

The result of tunnel trade is the creation of an Egyptian economy in the Strip. Egyptian cigarettes, coke, detergent, fridges – all smuggled in…even the Egyptian pound is used in some places in southern Gaza.

Gaza has been turning lock stock and barrel into an extension of Egypt.

The Israelis didn’t mind. Egypt did. There is no economic or strategic benefit to annexing Gaza right now.

Opening Rafah may end up completing a process that has been taking place for years. Egypt is right to open its gates to Gazans, but this does not absolve Israel of its legal responsibility towards the people they are occupying.

A window has been opened to the outside world, but the door is still locked and only Israel holds the key.

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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

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

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

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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.

Fatah holds key party congress

Posted in Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Pictures, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , on 04/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 4th August 2009

Source: BBC News

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Fatah leaders at the congress in Bethlehem

Thousands of delegates are in Bethlehem for the congress

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction has begun a congress – its first in 20 years.

Speaking at the congress, Mr Abbas said Palestinians sought peace with Israel but “resistance” remained an option.

Fatah is widely seen as corrupt and ineffective, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Tim Franks says.

Our correspondent says there will be close interest in who is elected to the faction’s main internal positions of power.

Some 2,000 delegates are convening for Fatah’s three-day congress in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

An estimated 400 Fatah delegates who live in the Gaza Strip were banned from travelling to Bethlehem for the conference by the territory’s rulers, Hamas.

The Palestinians of course are committed to a peaceful solution, however, we maintain the right for armed struggle when it is necessary and as an option
Mahmoud Abbas

Israel had allowed about 500 delegates who live abroad to travel to the congress.

“Having the conference at all is a miracle, and having it in the homeland is another miracle,” Mr Abbas said on Tuesday.

Commenting on the conference, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev, said: “Israel seeks peace and reconciliation with our Palestinian neighbours – reconciliation that must be based on both sides recognising the rights of the other: Israel recognising that the Palestinians have national rights, and the Palestinians recognising that Jews have national rights too.”

Renewal

The congress will be discussing a new platform that seeks to rejuvenate the movement.

Another key test will be whether the conference alters the wording of Fatah’s charter, which refers to eradicating Israel.

Palestinians install a poster bearing a portrait of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Bethlehem

The draft document proposes to keep the option of “armed struggle” if peace talks with Israel fail.

It also says that an Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank is a precondition for any further talks with Israel.

The congress comes as the US is hoping to broker a new round of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Maybe more important is the issue of who the delegates elect to the internal positions of power, our correspondent says.

He adds that – in the words of one reformer – the current leaders are like princes in the Gulf.

Opinion polls still suggest that Fatah is currently more popular than its main rival – the Islamist Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip.

But without a strong infusion of freshness, in the long-term Palestinians say that Fatah will only decline, our correspondent says.

Israel urged to commit to Arab plan

Posted in Gaza, History, International community, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Peace process, Pictures, USA foreign policy, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 03/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 3rd August 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Al-Sabah, left, told Obama that Israel must commit
to the Arab plan in order to secure peace [EPA]

Arab states will adhere to their Middle East peace initiative only when Israel also abides by its terms, Kuwait’s emir has said in talks with the US president.

“It is in our interest that peace be brought about [between Israel and the Arab world]” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah said as he met Barack Obama at the White House on Monday.

“We will implement this peace initiative when Israel implements and fulfills its obligations,” he said, referring to the Arab Peace Initiative, which was presented by Saudi Arabia in 2002.

Under the terms of the Arab proposals, which were re-adopted at an Arab League summit in Lebanon in 2007, Israel would be granted a full normalisation of relations if it withdraws from Arab land occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The initiative calls for the creation of a viable Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

It also seeks a “just solution” to the long-term future of Palestinian refugees under the terms of UN General Assembly resolution 194.

The Israeli government has repeatedly rejected calls for Palestinians who fled or were forced out of their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war to return to areas in what is now Israel.

About 4.6 million Palestinian refugees are living outside their ancestral lands in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.