BBC NEWS | 2010/01/09 | 03:17:03 GMT
WEST BANK SETTLEMENTS
- Construction of settlements began in 1967, shortly after the Middle East War
- Some 280,000 Israelis now live in the 121 officially-recognised settlements in the West Bank
- A further 190,000 Israelis live in settlements in Palestinian East Jerusalem
- The largest West Bank settlement is Maale Adumim, where more than 30,000 people were living in 2005
- There are a further 102 unauthorised outposts in the West Bank which are not officially recognised by Israel
- The population of West Bank settlements has been growing at a rate of 5-6% since 2001
- Source: Peace Now
The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Palestinians and Israelis to resume peace talks as soon as possible and without preconditions. The call comes as the Israeli prime minister held talks in Egypt, and the Saudi foreign minister was in Syria. Mrs Clinton said that if the border issues for a Palestinian state were resolved, that would iron out differences over Israeli settlements. Her comments came after talks with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. Mrs Clinton also met Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmad Abulgheith in Washington. Following the meetings, she gave some details about how the US administration views a peace agreement. She called for a viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, the year Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. This is a crucial starting point for the Palestinians. She said Israel should have a secure Jewish state that reflects subsequent developments. In other words, some Israeli settlements on occupied land will remain, a key Israeli demand. Continue reading
BBC News | 2010/01/03 | 16:46 GMT
Israel’s hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has told Israeli ambassadors to stop “grovelling” and defend their national honour. He told a shocked audience of some 150 envoys in Jerusalem to “stop turning the other cheek” whenever Israel was insulted, Israeli media report. The envoys were reportedly given no right of reply at the conference. “We received a monologue without being able to hold a discussion,” one unnamed ambassador told Haaretz newspaper.
‘A response to everything’
Israel’s top diplomat, who worked as a nightclub bouncer in his youth in the USSR, is known for his abrasive style. He famously once said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could “go to hell.” “I have seen that some ambassadors identify themselves with the other side to such an extent that they are all the time trying to justify and explain,” he told the ambassadors meeting at the foreign ministry, according to several reports of the event. “Terms like ‘national honour’ have value in the Middle East,” he was reported to have said. “There must not be an attitude of obsequiousness and self-deprecation, and the need to always justify the other side. This is the wrong approach. “We will not turn the other cheek. There will be a response to everything,” the reports quoted him as saying. In an editorial, the liberal Haaretz condemned Mr. Lieberman’s “shamefully bullying approach” and called for him to be sacked.
Reuters | RAMALLAH (West Bank) | Tue Dec 15, 2009 | 7:20pm IST
President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday the Palestinians would only resume peace talks if Israel fully halted settlement building in the occupied West Bank, but ruled out any return to violence. Addressing a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s central council, which is expected to extend his term as president, Abbas dismissed Israel’s partial settlement freeze and said the Israelis did not want negotiations.
Abbas, who is under pressure from the United States and the European Union to resume talks that have been frozen for the past year, said he was not setting terms but simply reiterating Israel’s obligations under the “road map” agreement for talks. “When Israel stops settlement activity for a specific period and when it recognises the borders we are calling for, and these are the legal borders, there would be nothing to prevent us from going to negotiations,” Abbas told the PLO meeting in Ramallah.
Expressing frustration over what he said was Israel’s failure to carry out its obligations, Abbas said: “Where do they want to take us? What is required of us? There is one thing I will not accept: a return to violence.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Palestinians of delaying talks. Abbas, who replaced the late Yasser Arafat as Palestinian leader in 2004, said Israel was simply deflecting the blame. “It does not want negotiations,” he said. Continue reading
Reuters Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:19pm IST
The Islamist movement Hamas served notice on Monday that it would ignore any decisions by the Palestine Liberation Organisation this week about future leadership and peace talks with Israel. “Hamas will not retreat from Jihad and resistance until it achieves freedom and independence for our people,” Gaza Strip Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told a huge rally. “We will not recognise Israel and we will not abandon resistance.” he said. In a speech underlining the split in Palestinian ranks between his movement and the secular Fatah group, the Hamas leader in Gaza said any decisions taken by the PLO Central Council meeting in the West Bank would be unconstitutional. “We say to PLO Central Council members who will meet tomorrow in Ramallah that any decision that contradicts the constitution and contradicts the will of the people, will not be binding,” he told tens of thousands of supporters. Hamas rules the cramped Mediterranean enclave, which was hammered by an Israeli military offensive a year ago. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and after driving out the mainstream Fatah movement in 2007, Hamas took full power.
Fatah said in a statement that the speech showed Hamas wanted to entrench the Palestinian division. Hamas had closed the door on Egyptian reconciliation efforts, it added. As supporters celebrated the anniversary of the foundation of Hamas 22 years ago, Haniyeh promised no wavering from the goal of “a Palestine from the sea to the river (Jordan), a land of Islamic Waqf (religious endowment)”. Hamas does not recognise Israel’s right to exist and opposes the Fatah strategy pursued by President Mahmoud Abbas of seeking to negotiate a permanent peace deal. Continue reading
Press release, Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, 10 December 2009
As part of a recent escalation of political arrests in the West Bank village of Bilin, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and coordinator of the Bilin Popular Committee, was arrested by Israeli soldiers.
At exactly 2am last night, seven Israeli military jeeps pulled over at Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s residence in the city of Ramallah. Soldiers raided the house and arrested Abu Rahmah from his bed in the presence of his wife and children. Abu Rahmah is a high school teacher in the Latin Patriarchate School in Birzeit near Ramallah and is the coordinator of the Bilin Popular Committee against the wall and settlements. A previous raid targeting Abu Rahmah was executed with such exceptional violence on 15 September 2009 that a soldier was subsequently indicted for assault.
Abu Rahmah’s arrest is part of an escalation in the Israeli military’s attempts to break the spirit of the people of Bilin, their popular leadership and the popular struggle as a whole — aimed at crushing demonstrations against the wall. Recently, advocate Gaby Lasky, who represents many of Bilin’s detainees, was informed by the military prosecution that the army intends to use legal measures as a means of ending the demonstrations. Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2009/12/11 | 11:18:35 GMT
Jewish settlers are suspected of being behind an attack on a mosque in the north of the occupied West Bank. Attackers set fire to bookshelves and a large area of carpet in the mosque, and sprayed graffiti in Hebrew on a wall. Palestinian residents of the village of Yasuf clashed briefly with Israeli soldiers investigating the attack. Attacks on Palestinians by settlers are increasing. A number of incidents have been captured on video and received wide publicity. Israeli human rights groups have accused the police and army of running inadequate investigations into such incidents. One group reported that nine out of 10 investigations into alleged attacks on Palestinians by settlers end without anyone being charged.
Some hard-line settlers advocate a “price tag” policy under which they attack Palestinians in retaliation for any Israeli government measure they see as threatening Jewish settlements. One of the slogans sprayed on the wall of the mosque in Yasuf read: “Get ready to pay the price,” Israeli public radio reported. Another read: “We will burn you all.” The village is located near the Jewish settlement of Tappuah. In a statement, the Israeli military said it “views the incident gravely” and that security forces are working to locate the perpetrators. But the local Palestinian governor, Munir Abushi, accused the Israeli security forces of doing too little to protect Palestinians from settler attacks. Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2009/12/03 | 11:29:45 GMT
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is meeting Jewish West Bank settlers to reassure them restrictions on building are only temporary. Mr. Netanyahu was expected to promise settlers that they will be able to continue building after the 10 month suspension ends. He is expected to offer more funding for schools and other services in return for the settler’s support. Restrictions on minor work to existing houses were also reportedly lifted. Tax breaks for settlers were also reported to be among the items Mr. Netanyahu was considering. The meeting in Tel Aviv comes as settlers again said they would not abide by the new limits.
The Palestinian Authority has refused to resume peace talks with Israel unless it completely halts all settlement construction on occupied territory including East Jerusalem, where they want to locate the capital of their future state. On Wednesday, the mayor of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank was arrested after protesters tried to stop Israeli authorities enforcing the restrictions. Avi Naim was apprehended on suspicion of disrupting police, who were trying to enter Beit Arieh to hand out orders to stop unauthorised construction work. Israel’s government declared last week it would restrict residential building in the West Bank for 10 months. But settlers vowed to defy the policy. Palestinians say the restrictions do not go far enough, particularly because they do not include East Jerusalem.