Posts Tagged ‘settlements’
Jonathan Cook for the UAE’s National:
A rabbi from one of the most violent settlements in the West Bank was questioned on suspicion of incitement last week as Israeli police stepped up their investigation into a book in which he sanctions the killing of non-Jews, including children and babies.
Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira is one of the leading ideologues of the extreme wing of the religious settler movement. He is known to be a champion of the “price tag” policy of reprisal attacks on Palestinians, including punishing them for attempts by officials to enforce Israeli law against the settlements.
So far the policy has chiefly involved violent harassment of Palestinians, with settlers inflicting beatings, attacking homes, throwing stones, burning fields, killing livestock, and poisoning wells.
It is feared, however, that Shapira’s book The King’s Torah, published last year, is intended to offer ideological justifications for widening the scope of such attacks to include killing Palestinians, even children.
AJE’s Inside Story had a discussion about the book last year:
… The book offers a theological backing to Jews killing those perceived to be violating Jewish commandments or threatening the Jewish nation.
Are such calls harmless or do they drive official policy and manipulate the masses?
And what about Palestinian extremist rhetoric, what harm does it cause?
We discuss religious extremism among the occupier and the occupied, and the damage done to peace prospects.
Inside Story discusses with guests Lamis Andoni, a Middle East analyst, Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann, from Rabbis for human rights, and Gerald Steinberg, a chair of political studies and director of the conflict resolution program at Bar Ilan University.
NYT columnist Nicholas D. Kristof‘s video report on the living conditions of Bedouins who live under Israeli control in the Southern Hebron Hills in the West Bank.
AJE’s Inside Story:
It is the annual conference of the pro-Israel lobby in the US (AIPAC), where Israel and the US have been keen to take the heat off the settlement dispute and re-emphasising their friendship.
Earlier this month Joe Biden, the US vice-president, was in Israel – attempting to restart the indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace effort. But just after he had arrived, the right-wing interior ministry released plans for 1,600 new settler homes in East Jerusalem. The announcement was called insulting to the US and an obstacle to attempts at peace.
But soon after, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said that the bonds between the US and Israel were “unshakeable.” Both emphasised their friendship but speeches given by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, and Hillary Clinton at the AIPAC summit, show that on the fundamentals of the issue, they are far apart.
Can these differences be reconciled, will Israel take the US advice or will it impose its will? And how powerful is the Israeli lobby?
Joining the programme are Meagan Buren, the director of research and training at the Israel Project, John Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, and Ali Abunimah, the co-founder of the website electronicintifada.net.
The Israeli Government has just announced that it has approved the building of another 112 housing units at Beitar Illit. This is the illegal settlement that regularly releases its sewage on to farmers’ fields in Wadi Fuqeen.
Israel authorized the construction of 112 new apartments in the West Bank despite a pledge to slowdown settlement building, the government disclosed Monday — a decision that enraged the Palestinians a day after they reluctantly agreed to resume peace talks.
Word of the new construction in the Beitar Illit settlement came amid a flurry of activity by the U.S. to try to salvage peacemaking.
Vice President Joseph Biden is due to land later Monday on the highest-level visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by an Obama administration official. Washington’s special envoy to the Mideast, George Mitchell, is also meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. – Read more…
BBC News reports:
The US has said Israel’s authorisation of new building in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank does not violate a recently announced moratorium.
But a state department spokesman said it was “the kind of thing that both sides need to be cautious of”.
Israel has promised a 10-month pause in settlement building in the West Bank, though not in East Jerusalem.
It says the 112 new apartments in Beitar Illit settlement were approved ahead of the moratorium being declared.
Redress.cc reports that Israel is to be accepted into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):
Israel has been told that its accession to an exclusive club of the world’s most developed economies is all but assured when the 30 member states meet in May.
But a draft report of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), seen by The National, concedes that Israel has breached one of the organisation’s key requirements on providing accurate and transparent data on its economic activity.
The information supplied by Israel, the report notes, includes not only the economic activity of its citizens inside its recognised borders but also Jewish settlers who live in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan in violation of international law.
Israel’s accession to the OECD on such terms threatens to severely embarrass many of the organisation’s member states, especially those in the European Union that are publicly committed to avoiding collusion with the occupation.
The OECD report proposes that these legal difficulties may be circumvented by asking Israel to produce new statistics within a year of its accession excluding the settler population – even though, an OECD official has admitted, Israel would have the power to veto such a demand after it becomes a member.
“The OECD seems to be so determined to get Israel through its door that it is prepared to cover up the crimes of the occupation,” said Shir Hever, a Jerusalem-based economist.
The Israeli cabinet has decided to include some West Bank settlements in a national scheme that will entitle them to millions of dollars’ worth of funds.
They are being designated as national priority zones, meaning they will qualify for grants, tax benefits, and other forms of aid.
The move comes amid anger by Jewish settlers at a government-imposed curb on new building in settlements.
The Labour Party leader warned some of the new money might go to extremists.
On Friday a mosque in the West Bank was set on fire, and sprayed with Hebrew graffiti.
Labour leader Ehud Barak said: “I don’t think that we need to award them a prize in the form of including them in the national priority map.”
His five ministers in the coalition government voted against the plan. The other three right-wing parties in the coalition – Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas – voted for it.
Saeb Erekat says it is a “moment of truth ” for President Abbas
Palestinians might have to abandon the goal of an independent state if Israel continues to expand Jewish settlements, the chief Palestinian negotiator said. At a news conference in the West Bank, Saeb Erekat said it was a “moment of truth” for President Mahmoud Abbas.
He said it might be time for Mr Abbas to “tell the truth” that a two-state solution “is no longer an option”. But Israel rejects a one-state solution as a demographic time-bomb that would make Jews a minority in the country. It may be time for President Abbas to “tell his people the truth, that with the continuation of settlement activities, the two-state solution is no longer an option”, Mr Erekat said in Ramallah.
His comments came as the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, sought to defuse Arab anger after she praised Israel at the weekend for making “unprecedented” concessions on settlement-building in the occupied West Bank.
Clinton tries to keep peace alive
Speaking in Cairo after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Mrs Clinton reiterated Washington’s call for an end to Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank. She had earlier praised the Israeli offer to temporarily limit construction in West Bank settlements to 3,000 additional housing units.
But Mr Erekat dismissed the offer, saying it only opened the door to more settlements in the next two years. “Israel has the choice, settlements or peace,” he said. Mr Erekat said Palestinians had made a mistake in the last round of talks by agreeing to negotiate without insisting that Israel settlement building be stopped, but he said this time would be different.
The alternative left for Palestinians was to “refocus their attention on the one-state solution where Muslims, Christians and Jews can live as equals”, he said.
He suggested that President Abbas might not stand for re-election if the two-state solution were no longer an option, the BBC’s Bethany Bell reports from Ramallah. In its push to restart peace talks, US President Barack Obama’s administration initially demanded a complete freeze on Israeli settlement building. But Israel has refused a total halt, particularly in East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians want to locate the capital of a future state.
In September Washington changed tack, pushing for a resumption of negotiations and saying it demanded no preconditions for the talks – a move which disappointed the Palestinians. After meeting Mrs Clinton, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit appeared to have softened his stance on the settlements issue.
Despite backing the Palestinians’ demand for a total freeze last week, he called for a resumption of talks.
“We have to concentrate on the end game and we must not waste time adhering to this issue or that as a start for the negotiations,” he said.