guardian.co.uk | Thursday 29 July 2010 | 17.15 BST
Israeli settlers took over a Palestinian home in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City today, evicting about 45 members of an extended family which has occupied the building for more than 70 years. The settlers claimed to have documentation to prove they had purchased the building from the owners. The Palestinian tenants, who have been fighting attempts to evict them for many years, were challenging the takeover in court. A police spokesman said the Israelis had entered the home "based on documents claiming that they owned the property".
According to Mohammed Kirresh, 22, a member of the Palestinian family, "Jewish people and Israeli soldiers with weapons" came at 2am, when most of the family was at a wedding. He said the family, which had rented the property since 1936, had won two previous court cases challenging eviction orders. He claimed the Israelis had broken furniture and damaged belongings. "Everything we own is inside – our money, ID papers, clothes, food," he said. Armed police were guarding the entrance to the house. Around 20 members of the Kirresh family pledged to stay on the narrow street outside the house. "We are staying here," said Mohammed Kirresh. "We hope the court will rule in our favour."
Monthly Review (MRZine) | 24/05/2010
Ousama Hamdan is the top Hamas leader in Lebanon and a member of the Hamas politburo.
(Manuela Paraipan is an independent foreign policy analyst. This interview was first published in “openDemocracy” on 24 May 2010 under a Creative Commons license).
Manuela Paraipan: How do you see European engagement in the area and what do you think are the main challenges for the international community in dealing with the region?
Ousama Hamdan: Most of the time, Europeans support American policies, although I believe they understand the region better than the Americans. And that is important. If you want to deal with the region you have to understand it. There is a difference between dealing with the facts as they are and dealing with them as you might wish them to be — or, to put it from a political perspective, attempting to divide the region before dealing with it. That can only create more problems, including breakdowns in communication.
Some look to the Arab ‘moderate countries’. . . . I don’t believe in ‘moderate’ or ‘hardline stances’ in politics. Every nation is out for its own benefits. What is moderate for me is hardline for others. And vice versa. The issue is, how to deal with other people? If you want to control them — that instigates new problems. Now, if you want to deal with them in order to create stability in the region, then you have to treat them as part of the region, and understand what they need and what they want. This is one of the major challenges that the peace process faces.
Until now, no one has asked the Palestinians what they want. Throughout its period as negotiators, the PLO accepted the conditions laid down, and faithfully implemented what was dictated to them by the international community — in fact mainly the United States, especially after the demise of the USSR. But what happened? Nothing. They found themselves confronted by more problems than ever before.
BBC News | Friday, 2 April 2010 01:49 | 00:49 GMT
Israeli planes have carried out 13 air strikes on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources have told the BBC. Four of the strikes took place near the town of Khan Younis, where two Israeli soldiers were killed in clashes with Palestinian fighters last week. The Israeli military has told the BBC the operation was targeting four weapons factories. The strikes are the most serious for more than a year, says the BBC’s Jon Donnison from Jerusalem. The director of ambulance and emergency in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Dr Muawiya Hassanein, said that three children including an infant were slightly injured by flying debris. Witnesses and Hamas officials said the Israeli raids targeted metal workshops, farms, a milk factory and small sites belonging to the military wing of Hamas.
"Israel will not tolerate terroristic activity inside Gaza that threatens Israeli citizens," the Israeli military said in a statement released to the BBC. Palestinian news agencies reported that Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over parts of Gaza on Thursday warning residents of retaliation for last Friday’s killings of the soldiers in Khan Younis. They were the first Israeli soldiers to be killed in hostile fire in Gaza in over a year. The military wing of Hamas claim responsibility for those attacks. Hamas said police stations and training facilities were among the targets of Israel’s overnight raids.
Tensions in the region are running high after a recent Israeli government announcement of plans to build 1,600 new homes for Jewish people in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as a capital of a future state. Militants in the Gaza Strip have recently stepped up rocket fire directed at Israel. On Wednesday, they fired a rocket into an empty field in southern Israel, but there were no reports of casualties or damage, military sources said.
BBC NEWS | 2010/03/26 | 10:36:32 GMT
The Israeli prime minister says his policy on Jerusalem will not change – a sign that a row with the US over settlement building remains unresolved. Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement came as he was due to brief cabinet colleagues on talks with President Barack Obama. The US says some progress was made. The row is over Israeli plans to build 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians want their capital. After the announcement they pulled out of planned US-mediated peace talks. Israel insists the Jerusalem will remain its undivided capital. Nearly half a million Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.
The row over Israel’s plans for homes in East Jerusalem has caused one of the worst crises in US-Israeli ties for decades. Israel unveiled the plans to build in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo during a visit by US Vice-President Joe Biden – a move which Washington initially branded an insult. Hours before Mr Netanyahu’s meeting with Mr Obama on Tuesday, it emerged that the Jerusalem municipal government had approved another development in occupied East Jerusalem. The White House has been trying to persuade Mr Netanyahu to commit to several trust-building measures to revive hopes for indirect "proximity talks" between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israeli media reports say Mr Netanyahu told the US president he needed to consult with his cabinet, which includes far-right wingers who are strongly opposed to the division of Jerusalem, before reaching agreement. "The prime minister’s position is that there is no change in Israel’s
Reuters Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:46am IST
Declaring "Jerusalem is not a settlement," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a defiant note on Monday after new US criticism of Jewish home construction in disputed territory in and around the city. His speech in Washington to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, an influential pro-Israel lobby group, contrasted sharply with an address Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made at the same forum hours earlier. Clinton, who followed up her speech with low-profile talks with Netanyahu, said Israeli settlement policy in East Jerusalem and the West Bank endangered peace talks with the Palestinians, an argument the prime minister dismissed. "The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It’s our capital," Netanyahu said. Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the West Bank in a 1967 war, as the capital of a future state.
The United States and Israel have clashed since Netanyahu’s coalition government announced plans this month to build 1,600 homes for Jews near East Jerusalem. Netanyahu began a three-day visit to Washington on Monday, hoping to repair relations with President Barack Obama, whom he meets at the White House on Tuesday. Announcement of the housing project coincided with a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden — Netanyahu said he was blindsided by bureaucrats — and prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to delay the start of indirect, US-mediated peace talks. Pointing to what he has described as a national consensus in Israel over its claim to all of Jerusalem, Netanyahu told AIPAC that all Israeli governments had carried out construction in what he termed the city’s "Jewish neighborhoods" since 1967.
Reuters | Mon Mar 22, 2010 | 7:13pm IST
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that Israel faces "difficult but necessary choices" on Mideast peace and pledged to push for biting sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Clinton, speaking to the influential pro-Israel AIPAC lobby group after a turbulent stretch in US-Israel relations, said the Obama administration had a "rock solid" commitment to Israel’s peace and security. But she singled out Israel’s policy of expanding Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as an obstacle to progress which could imperil US efforts to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. "New construction in East Jerusalem or the West Bank undermines mutual trust and endangers the proximity talks that are the first step toward the full negotiations that both sides want and need," Clinton said. "It exposes daylight between Israel and the United States that others in the region could hope to exploit. And it undermines America’s unique ability to play a role — an essential role, I might add — in the peace process."
The issue of Jewish settlements has soured US ties with its closest Mideast ally as Israel approved new construction in East Jerusalem during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, spurring Palestinians to say they would pull out of the indirect talks that Washington only just managed to launch. Clinton is due to meet visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later on Monday and US Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell is in the region seeking to get the talks back on track. Netanyahu, who arrived in Washington earlier on Monday, has proposed a set of confidence-building measures following the settlement fracas, but said on Sunday Israel would not give up its right to build Jewish settlements around Jerusalem.
BBC News | 11:26 GMT | Sunday, 21 March 2010
The UN chief has said Israel’s blockade of Gaza is causing "unacceptable suffering," during a Middle East visit to reinvigorate the peace process. Ban Ki-moon told Gazans that "we stand with you" as he visited an area damaged by Israel’s offensive 14 months ago. His visit to the region comes amid tension over Israel’s plans to build more settlements in East Jerusalem. Rebuilding is difficult due to a lack of building materials during the three-year blockade. Israel imposed a tightened blockade after the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in June 2007.
Speaking in Gaza, Mr Ban said families were living under "unacceptable, unsustainable conditions". Mr Ban said it was "distressing" for him to see damage to housing remaining, with no reconstruction possible under the blockade. The blockade has prevented the UN from completing housing projects, but Mr Ban pledged to continue providing aid to Gazans. "My message to people of Gaza is this: the United Nations will stand with you through this ordeal," he said.
‘Path of non-violence’
Among a list of criticisms of the blockade by Israel and Egypt, Mr Ban said the blockade was counter-productive as it prevented legitimate commerce and encouraged smuggling and extremism. Mr Ban urged all Gazans to "choose the path of non-violence, Palestinian unity and international legitimacy". He also called for a prisoner exchange involving Palestinian prisoners and Israeli soldier Gilat Shilad
Day after Palestinian militants fired deadly rocket
msnbc.com | 8:40 pm ET | March 18, 2010
Israeli aircraft struck two targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday a day after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave killed a Thai worker in Israel, Hamas security officials and witnesses said. There were no reported injuries in either strike. In one, missiles struck an open area near the town of Khan Younis. Another, near Gaza City, it a metal foundry. The Israeli military had no immediate comment. Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom had said Israel would make a strong response to what was the first deadly rocket fire from Hamas-ruled Gaza at Israel in more than a year. Israel also sent a letter of complaint to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is due to visit Israel over the weekend, and the UN Security Council.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev urged Ban to call for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Gaza militants in 2006. Hamas has demanded Israel free hundreds of the thousands of militants in its jails in exchange for the soldier. The EU’s top diplomat Briton Catherine Ashton had crossed into the Gaza Strip from Israel about an hour before the attack on Israel Thursday, the first to result in a fatality since the end in January 2009 of Israel’s Gaza war. It came a day before the international Quartet of Middle East peace mediators was to meet in Moscow to discuss ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks. A small Islamist faction calling itself Ansar al-Sunna claimed responsibility for the attack. Similar hardline groups, which are inspired by al-Qaida’s radical ideology and see Gaza’s Hamas rulers as too moderate, have been responsible for most of the attacks since the end of the war in Gaza. A second group, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, also later claimed responsibility.
Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU’s new foreign policy chief, is due to arrive shortly in the Gaza Strip. Baroness Ashton will be one of the most senior Western political figures to visit Gaza since Hamas took power. Her arrival in the Palestinian territory comes amid a new push by the EU and US to revive stalled Middle East peace talks. She will later head to Moscow for a meeting of the Middle East Quartet, made up of the EU, US, UN and Russia. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in the Russian capital for the talks. The meeting will "demonstrate international support" for indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians, said US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley. The EU is the largest contributor of aid to the Palestinians, delivering 1bn Euros a year ($1.4bn; £890m).
Baroness Ashton said she wanted to see for herself the impact the EU’s aid has on the ground. During her Middle East tour, she is also scheduled to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli President Shimon Peres. But it is her visit to Gaza which is arousing the most interest, says Jon Donnison, the BBC’s Gaza correspondent. Only two European foreign ministers have come to Gaza in the past year, our correspondent notes. Foreign officials are often refused entry by Israel, or their governments choose not to come because they do not recognise Hamas. The visit has been welcomed by the United Nations, which says the blockade of Gaza has left hundreds of thousands in Gaza living in poverty. The head of the UN’s refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, John Ging, said the people of Gaza were hoping for a single outcome from Baroness Ashton’s visit – a lifting of the Israeli siege.
AP | 10:09 am ET | March 16, 2010
A US envoy’s postponement of his Mideast trip appeared Tuesday to deepen one of the worst US-Israeli feuds in memory — even as Israel’s foreign minister signaled his government had no intention of curtailing the contentious construction at the heart of the row. Hundreds of Palestinians hurled rocks at police and set tires and garbage bins ablaze across the holy city’s volatile eastern sector, where the construction is planned. Plumes of black smoke billowed and the air reeked of tear gas in the heaviest clashes in the city in months. Youths in one east Jerusalem neighborhood hoisted a giant Palestinian flag and shouted, "We’ll die in Palestine, Palestine will live." Thousands of police, including anti-riot units armed with assault rifles, stun grenades and batons, were deployed across east Jerusalem to stifle the unrest. No serious injuries were reported.
The diplomatic crisis erupted last week after Israel announced during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden that it would build 1,600 apartments for Jews in disputed east Jerusalem, the sector of the holy city that the Palestinians claim for a future capital. The announcement enraged Palestinians, who have threatened to bow out of US-brokered peace talks that were supposed to begin in the coming days. The Obama administration, fuming over what it called the "insulting" Israeli conduct, has demanded that Israel call off the project. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio that demands to halt Israeli construction there "are unreasonable" and predicted the row with the US would blow over,
BBC News | Tuesday, 9 March 2010 | 14:27 GMT
US Vice-President Joe Biden has said there is a "moment of real opportunity" for peace between the Palestinians and Israel during a visit to the region. Mr Biden welcomed the two sides’ recent agreement to start indirect talks, saying the US would back those who "took risks for peace". He said the US was committed to Israeli security and determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed US attempts to boost sanctions on Iran. Mr Biden is the most senior member of the administration of US President Barack Obama to visit Jerusalem. At a joint news conference after talks with Mr Netanyahu, Mr Biden said there was "no space" between the US and Israel on Israel’s security.
Mr Biden said the cornerstone of Washington’s relationship with Israel was an "absolute, total, unvarnished" commitment to its security. He called on Iran to "meet its international obligations" over its nuclear programme. Tehran says it is purely for civilian use. Mr Biden said the best long-term guarantee for Israel’s security was a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbours. Mr Netanyahu said Israel would continue to support the US push for stronger sanctions against Iran, and that he was pleased its efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were "beginning to bear fruit". He said the goal of
BBC NEWS | Tuesday, 9 March 2010 | 04:29 GMT
US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Israel to promote a new round of Middle East peace talks more than a year after they stalled. Mr Biden will meet both Palestinian and Israeli leaders during the highest-level visit to the region yet by an Obama administration official. Iran’s nuclear programme is expected to be at the top of Israel’s agenda. Hours before Mr Biden landed, Israel enraged Palestinians by approving 112 new homes in the occupied West Bank. Mr Biden will try to reassure Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that plans for tougher sanctions against Iran are serious, says the BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen. The US does not want Israel to take military action against Iran, which is much talked about here, our correspondent reports from Jerusalem.
Mr Biden is due to hold talks with Mr Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Tzipi Livni later on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he will meet Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to meet Mr Netanyahu because of Israel’s refusal to put a complete stop to building Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. But after US pressure, President Abbas agreed on Monday to four months of indirect, so-called "proximity talks". The discussions would mark the first time the Palestinians and Israelis have come together in any form for more than a year. Mr Netanyahu said on Monday: "Our security is to prevent… missiles, rockets, terror and these are things that I intend to insist upon in order to get an arrangement that will last generations, this is achievable."
Reuters | 03/03/2010
Dubai’s police chief plans to seek the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the head of Israel’s spy agency over the killing of a Hamas leader in the emirate, Al Jazeera television reported. Dahi Khalfan Tamim "said he would ask the Dubai prosecutor to issue arrest warrants for … Netanyahu and the head of Mossad," the television said. It did not give details. Tamim has said he is "almost certain" Israeli agents were involved in the killing of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh at a Dubai hotel in January, calling for Mossad’s boss, Meir Dagan, to be arrested if it is proved responsible. Tamim said on Monday Mossad had "insulted" Dubai and Western countries whose fraudulent passports were used by suspects in the assassination.
Dubai has asked the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into prepaid cards issued by the Meta Financial Group’s MetaBank which the suspects used, a United Arab Emirates newspaper said. Citing an FBI source, The National newspaper said the investigation would look into any Israeli involvement in the killing. "Thirteen of the 27 suspects used prepaid MasterCards issued by MetaBank, a regional American bank, to purchase plane tickets and book hotel rooms," the newspaper said, quoting Dubai police. MetaBank said it followed proper procedures when it issued the cards. Authorities told the bank that the suspects appeared to have used stolen passports to get
BBC News | Sunday, 28 February 2010 | 13:36 GMT
A Hamas commander who was killed in his Dubai hotel room was drugged and then suffocated, according to results of forensic tests released by police. Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s killers used a quick-acting muscle relaxant to help make the death seem “natural”, a senior Dubai police officer said. Israel’s secret service has been widely blamed for the killing. However Israel has said there is no evidence it was behind the death on 20 January. It has accused Mabhouh of smuggling arms into Gaza and killing two Israeli soldiers.
“The killers used the drug succinylcholine to sedate Mabhouh before they suffocated him,” Maj Gen Khamis Mattar al-Mazeina, deputy commander of Dubai’s police, said. “The assassins used this method so that it would seem that his death was natural,” AFP news agency quoted him as saying. The agency said succinylcholine is favoured by anaesthetists and emergency doctors because of its rapid onset. Some previous reports on Mabhouh’s death have suggested he was electrocuted and suffocated. Continue reading
BBC News | 13:13 GMT | Thursday, 25 February 2010
Australia has summoned the Israeli ambassador to explain why three new suspects over the Dubai killing of a Hamas leader used Australian passports. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Canberra would “not be silent on the matter”. Dubai police think Israeli agents were involved in Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s death but Israel says there is no proof. The police say they have identified 15 more suspects – using British, French, Irish and Australian documents – taking the total to 26.
‘No minor matter’
Mr. Rudd said Canberra would retaliate against any country found to be involved in forging its passports. He said that Australia would first try to establish the facts, but that this was not “a minor matter”. “It is not something you just push to one side. It is of the deepest concern,” he added. According to a preliminary investigation by the Australian federal police, the three – two men and one woman – have been victims of identity fraud. One passport is alleged to have belonged to Adam Marcus Korman, a 34-year-old Australian living in Tel Aviv, where he sells musical instruments. “I am shocked, it’s identity theft – simply unbelievable,” he told Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, adding that although he had travelled all over the world, he had never visited Dubai or any of the other emirates in the UAE. Continue reading