Netanyahu To Build New Settler Homes In Sensitive West Bank Corridor

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) checks the area map during a visit to the Israeli settlement of Ariel in the occupied West Bank on February 24, 2020. Sebastian Scheiner / POOL / AFP


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Tuesday to build 3,500 new settler homes in a super-sensitive area of the occupied West Bank, just a week before a tight general election.

Netanyahu’s controversial statement is the latest in a string of election promises on settlement construction as the premier faces not only a general election but the beginning of a corruption trial.

“I gave immediate instructions for a permit to deposit (plans) for the construction of 3,500 units in E1,” Netanyahu said.

The international community has warned repeatedly that Jewish settlement construction in the E1 corridor, which passes from Jerusalem to Jericho, would slice the West Bank in two and compromise the contiguity of a future Palestinian state.

“We are building Jerusalem and Jerusalem’s outskirts,” Netanyahu said at a conference in remarks relayed by a spokesman.

In 2013, Netanyahu vetoed construction in the E1 corridor in the face of pressure from the United Nations, the European Union and the United States.

The move to advance new homes, which would constitute a new neighbourhood of Maale Adumim, a nearby settlement town, were praised by the Yesha Council, a settler lobby group, which noted that plans for homes there have existed since 2004.

“Advancing the issue will enable broad and strategic construction between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem,” Yesha Council head David Elhayani said in a statement.

But Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, co-director of Jahalin Solidarity, an NGO working to prevent the displacement of Palestinian Bedouin living in the E1 area, said the construction could mean their forced expulsion and constitute a “war crime”.

“If allowed to go ahead, this move will end the potential for a viable, sustainable Palestinian state, and is yet another example of how desperate Bibi (Netanyahu) is to buy votes so as to stay out of prison at the expense of our future,” she said.

On Thursday, Netanyahu announced plans for thousands of new homes for Israelis in annexed east Jerusalem, with critics calling the move a last-minute incentive to nationalist voters ahead of next week’s election.

On Monday, Israeli authorities moved ahead with those plans, inviting tenders for 1,077 housing units for Givat Hamatos, which would be a new settlement neighbourhood.

Settlement watchdog Peace Now said the Givat Hamatos area was “the last point enabling territorial continuity between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem,” saying that the plan to build there was proof Netanyahu was “doing everything to prevent peace”.

Israel seized east Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank are considered illegal by the United Nations and most foreign governments.

Netanyahu, 70, will stand trial next month after being indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

He denies wrongdoing but the indictment has complicated his bid to extend his tenure as Israel’s longest serving prime minister.

Two elections in April and September last year failed to produce a clear winner.

Recent polls are forecasting another tight race between Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud and the centrist Blue and White party led by former armed forces chief Benny Gantz.


UN Fumes Over Israel’s Plan To Annex West Bank

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel speaks at the United Nations during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.  Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP


The United Nations on Tuesday warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his plan to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected would have no “international legal effect.”

Netanyahu issued the deeply controversial pledge as he gears up for September 17 elections. He also said Israel would move to annex Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank.

Such moves could effectively kill any remaining hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, long the focus of international diplomacy.

“The secretary-general’s position has always been clear: unilateral actions are not helpful in the peace process,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“Any Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdictions and administration in the occupied West Bank is without any international legal effect,” the spokesman added.

“Such a prospect would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace, and the very essence of a two-state solution.”

The Jordan Valley accounts for around one-third of the West Bank, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War — a move never recognized by the international community.


Abbas Condemns Israeli Ruling Party Vote For West Bank Annexation

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (C) looks on after laying wreath of flowers on the tomb of the late President Yasser Arafat during a celebration marking the fifty-third anniversary of the creation of the Fatah movement in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 31, 2017.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Monday harshly condemned a vote by Israel’s ruling party in support of annexing large parts of the West Bank and criticised the United States for its silence.

Abbas said the non-binding vote by the central committee of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party on Sunday “could not be taken without the full support of the US administration.”

He said in a statement that the White House “has refused to condemn Israeli colonial settlements as well as the systematic attacks and crimes of the Israeli occupation against the people of Palestine.”

“We hope that this vote serves as a reminder for the international community that the Israeli government, with the full support of the US administration, is not interested in a just and lasting peace,” Abbas said.

“Rather its main goal is the consolidation of an apartheid regime in all of historic Palestine.”

The Likud central committee backed a resolution urging Israel to extend sovereignty over all settlement areas in the West Bank and called for unlimited settlement construction.

Netanyahu, who is a member of the central committee, was not present for the vote.

Taking such a measure could effectively end hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as there would be little area left for a Palestinian state.

But a significant number of members of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition say that is precisely what they are seeking and openly oppose a Palestinian state.

The prime minister says he still supports a two-state solution with the Palestinians, although he has also pushed for Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank, which has been under Israeli occupation for more than 50 years.

Palestinian anger at the US is already high after President Donald Trump last month tore up decades of careful policy to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.


Israeli Police Arrest Palestinian With Explosive Device

Israeli police on Sunday arrested a Palestinian carrying an explosive device as he approached a military court in the occupied West Bank, security officials said.

Specialists examined the device, which did not explode, the Israeli police said, without providing further details.

Local media said the military court was located in the Nablus area in the north of the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israeli public radio said the Palestinian hailed from the Jenin refugee camp further north in the West Bank.

A second explosive device was discovered inside his coat, the radio added, but there was no confirmation of this from the Israeli police.

Tensions have been high in the Palestinian territories since US President Donald Trump on December 6 recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

On Saturday, thousands of Palestinians took part in funerals for four men killed Friday in clashes with Israeli forces during protests against the decision in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah faction has called for massive protests on Wednesday against a visit to Jerusalem by US Vice President Mike Pence.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel seized control of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and sees the whole of Jerusalem as its undivided capital.

The Palestinians view the east as the capital of their future state.


Israeli Forces kill Palestinian Who Stabbed Soldier – Army

isrealiIsraeli forces shot dead a Palestinian who stabbed and wounded a soldier in the West Bank on Saturday, the military said, as a flare-up of a nearly year-old wave of Palestinian street attacks entered a second day.

The soldier was taken to hospital for treatment, the military said.

With most anti-Israeli assaults carried out since October by individuals without any central guiding hand, it was difficult to gauge why violence had surged in the past 24 hours.

The frequency of what had been near-daily attacks had slowed in recent months.

On Friday, Israeli forces shot dead three Arab assailants in separate incidents in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said of Saturday’s attack that during a “routine security check” in the West Bank city of Hebron, an “assailant armed with a knife stabbed an (Israeli) soldier.”

“In response to the immediate threat forces at the scene shot the assailant, resulting in his death,” the spokeswoman said.

Palestinian officials had no immediate comment on the incident.

At least 215 Palestinians have died in violent incidents since October in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Of them, 144 were identified by authorities as assailants while others were killed during clashes and protests.

Palestinians, many of them acting alone and with rudimentary weapons, have killed at least 33 Israelis and two visiting Americans in attacks that have waned in recent months.

Palestinians have accused Israel of using excessive force and say some of those killed posed no threat or had no intention of attacking anyone. In some cases, Israel has opened investigations into whether excessive force was used.

Tel Aviv Shooting: Four Killed, Palestinians’ Permits To Israel Revoked

Tel-Aviv-ShootingFour people have been identified dead after Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a popular open-air shopping mall and restaurant in central Tel Aviv.

The Israel Police have confirmed the details of the deceased which include, two women namely Ilana Nave, 39, and Mila Mishayev, 32 – and two men – Ido Ben Aryeh, 42, and Michael Feige, 58.

Authorities said that the attacks took place in two locations in Sarona market, close to Israel’s Defence Ministry and main Army Headquarters.

The attackers came from near Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, dressed in suits and ties and posed as customers at an upmarket restaurant before pulling out automatic weapons and opening fire, sending diners fleeing in panic.

Police say the gunmen who have both been apprehended, were from Yatta, a Palestinian village near the west bank town of Hebron. One of them is undergoing surgery in hospital.

Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the scene of the attack called the attack “a savage crime of murder and terrorism”.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault by the two Palestinian gunmen, but Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups were quick to praise it.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Military on Thursday cancelled permits for more than 80,000 Palestinians to visit Israel during the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan after the attack.

The attack, as families were enjoying a pleasant evening out at the open-air Sarona complex, was the deadliest in the country’s business and entertainment capital since a wave of Palestinian violence erupted in October last year.

Israeli Jets Hit Targets In Gaza

Israeli Jets Hit TargetsThe Israeli Military says its jets have hit two targets in the Gaza strip described as Hamas weapon manufacturing facilities.

The strikes were said to be in response to two rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Sunday.

Palestinian Officials claimed a pregnant woman and her young daughter were killed in a nearby house.

Israeli Police in the West Bank also said that a Palestinian female suicide bomber blew up her car at a checkpoint.

She was stopped by police while driving on Sunday morning near the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim.

According to a police spokeswoman, the woman escaped death, but is in critical condition, while a policeman was slightly wounded.

“She shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) and detonated an explosive device”, the police spokeswoman said.

There have been weeks of tension over access to a site in East Jerusalem sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Two Israelis Killed In Jerusalem, Palestinians Banned

jerusalemPolice have banned Palestinians from East Jerusalem from entering the Old City for two days, after violence erupted following the stabbing of an Israeli couple in the West Bank.

Two Israelis were killed and three others injured during separate attacks in Jerusalem by Palestinians, who were then shot dead by Police.

The restrictions will stop Palestinians from entering the Old City unless they live there, but Israeli local business owners and school children will be allowed in.

The first stabbing incident took place on Saturday, just after the end of the Jewish Sabbath, close to Lion’s Gate in the Old City.

The victims were said to have been passing near the entrance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, en route to the Western Wall.

Palestinian Unity Government ‘To Resign Over Gaza Row’

palestinianPalestine’s President, Mahmoud Abbas, has announced that the Palestinian authority’s unity Government will resign.

At a meeting with his Fatah faction, President Abbas Sayid the cabinet has to be dissolved because the rival Hamas Movement will not allow it to operate in Gaza, which it dominates.

However, a Hamas spokesman said it rejected any unilateral dissolution.

The technocratic cabinet which comprise 17 independent ministers, was sworn in a year ago, in order to end a long-running rift between Fatah and Hamas.

The two factions had governed separately since Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in 2006, ousted Fatah from Gaza in 2007, leaving the PA governing just parts of the West Bank.

Hamas also expressed surprise at the President’s announcement as a spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, said ”Hamas rejects any one-sided change in the government without the agreement of all parties.

”No-one told us anything about any decision to change and no one consulted with us about any change in the unity government. Fatah acted on its own in all regards.”

Palestinian Stabs At Least 7 Passengers On Israel Bus

TOPSHOTS-ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-CONFLICT-STABBING-TEL AVIVA Palestinian stabbed and wounded at least seven people on a Tel Aviv commuter bus during the morning rush hour on Wednesday before he was shot in the leg by a security officer as he fled, police and emergency services said.

Israeli authorities said the man was a 23-year-old from Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank, and had entered Israel without a work visa.

The incident occurred on Maariv bridge where the suspect attacked people both on and outside the bus, police said.

Police say they are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

Three of the victims were in a serious condition, with four others in a moderate condition and three lightly wounded, according to the ambulance services.

“The terrorist had murder in his eyes,” one passenger, identified only as Orly said on Israel Radio.

Also a prisons’ service officer told army radio how the attack unfolded.

“We saw the bus swerve to the side… then stop at a green light,” the officer, identified only as Benny, said.

“Suddenly we saw people running out of the bus and when we saw them shouting for help, we jumped out… and started running after the terrorist. At first we fired in the air, then at his legs.”

As screaming passengers spilled out of the bus, prison officers in another vehicle at one of Tel Aviv’s busiest intersections saw the suspected attacker trying to flee and gave chase.

“The terrorist stabbed the bus driver several times but the driver fought back until he [the suspect] fled on foot and was neutralised by a guard from the prisons’ service,” a police statement said.

A senior official with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Izzat Risheq,  has praised the stabbing attack.

Late last year, a number of Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinians using weapons including knives and even vehicles to run down pedestrians.

Falana Asks UK To Facilitate Referral Of Israel To ICC Over Gaza

Femi-FalanaHuman rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, has written to British Prime Minister, David Cameron, seeking the investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court for unlawful killings and destruction of civilian property in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Falana urged Prime Minister Cameron to use the Kingdom’s position as President of the United Nation’s Security Council for the month f August, to refer Israel to the court.

“I am writing to request that you use your good offices and position to urgently facilitate the referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order for the court to investigate allegations of the unlawful killings and destruction of property perpetrated by Israel against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and West Bank” he said.

Falana further noted that since Israel “ has not ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the only way the court will be able to exercise jurisdiction over Israel is by a referral by the Security Council, pursuant to article 13, paragraph (b) of the Rome Statute”.

In a letter made available to Channels Television, Mr Falana further noted that “this referral will also provide an important opportunity for the court to investigate any allegations of international crimes committed by all parties—whether involved directly or indirectly—in the ongoing armed conflict” adding that he  has “followed very closely the conflict and has no doubt that international humanitarian law, which aims principally to protect civilian population is breached with an almost absolute impunity by Israel”.

The letter noted that “the breach of international humanitarian law is illustrated by the failure to differentiate between military targets and civilians and civilian structures, and the clear intentional and deliberate attacks on civilians or civilian objects in particular, homes, medical facilities, and schools. I should mention that so far there is no evidence that such homes, medical facilities and schools are being used for military purposes. Therefore, there cannot be any justifications for such attacks including the wanton killing of children.

“I therefore urge you to urgently work with other members of the Security Council to ensure referral of Israel to the ICC over alleged international crimes as outlined above. In the meantime, the UK will do well to suspend all transfers of weapons, munitions and other military equipment and technology to Israel so it is not used to continue to perpetrate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law”, he said.

He also drew the attention of the British government to the fact that “leaders of some African countries who did not commit such grave crimes against humanity were indicted by the International Criminal Court”, insisting that it will be “in the best interest of justice and international accountability that the UK exercises strong leadership to end the vicious cycle of violence and impunity of perpetrators in the Gaza Strip and West Bank”, he added.

Diplomats Seek To End Bloodshed Between Israel And Palestines

Palestinian medic inspects a damaged room at Al-Aqsa hospital, which witnesses said was damaged in Israeli shelling on Monday, in Deir El-Balah in the central Gaza Strip Israeli forces pounded multiple sites across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, including the enclave’s sole power plant, and said it was meeting stiff resistance from Hamas Islamists, as diplomats sought to end the bloodshed.

In a blow to Israel’s economy, U.S. and European air carriers halted flights in and out of Tel Aviv citing security worries after a militant rocket from Gaza hit a house near the airport. Israel urged a re-think, saying its airspace was safe.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Egypt and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Israel, spearheading international efforts to secure a ceasefire. Hamas ally Qatar was also working in the background to seek a solution.

Israel launched its offensive on July 8 to halt missile salvoes by Hamas Islamists, which was angered by a crackdown on its supporters in the nearby occupied West Bank and suffering economic hardship because of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

After failing to halt the militant barrage through days of aerial bombardment, Israel sent ground troops into Gaza last Thursday, looking to knock out Hamas’s missile stores and destroy a vast, underground network of tunnels.

Some 630 Palestinians, many of them children and civilians have died in the conflagration, including a seven-year-old hit by a shell in southern Gaza early on Wednesday, a medic said.

Some 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed, including a tank officer who was shot by a Palestinian sniper overnight. Two civilians have been slain by rocket fire. The military says one of its soldiers is also missing and believes he might be dead. Hamas says it has seized him, but has not released his picture.

Clouds of black smoke hung over the densely populated Mediterranean enclave, with the regular thud of artillery and tank shells filling the air.

“We are meeting resistance around the tunnels … they are constantly trying to attack us around and in the tunnels. That is the trend,” said Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner.

He said 30 militant gunmen had been killed overnight, bringing the total to 210 since the offensive started.

Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam, said its fighters had detonated an anti-personnel bomb as an Israeli army patrol passed, killing several troops. There was no immediate confirmation from Israel.

There was also violence in the occupied West Bank, where a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops near Bethlehem. The army said soldiers fired a rubber bullet at him during clashes with Palestinians hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails.