Israel to build 3,000 settler homes after UN vote
Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:37 PM
Israel has authorised the construction of 3,000 more housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to Israeli officials.
It is also speeding up the processing of 1,000 planning permissions.
The Palestinian Authority has said it will not return to peace talks without a freeze in settlement building.
The decision comes a day after a vote at the UN General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians' status at the UN to that of non-member observer state.
According to the Israeli Haaretz newspaper, some of the new units will be between Jerusalem and the settlement of Maaleh Adumim.
Plans to build settlements in the area, known as E1, are strongly opposed by Palestinians, who say the development will cut the West Bank in two, preventing the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.
The move is a first indication of Israeli anger, less than 24 hours after the vote on Palestinian status was held at the UN, the BBC's Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem reports.
The Palestinians may well have been expecting this - or something like it - but it is a reminder that the gulf between the two on the settlement issue remains huge, our correspondent adds.
Earlier this month, a paper by the Israeli foreign ministry described the Palestinians' pushing for the vote as "crossing a red line that will require the harshest Israeli response".
About 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
Earlier on Friday, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the UN vote was "negative political theatre" that would "hurt peace".
The General Assembly voted by 138-9 to recognise the Palestinians as a non-member observer state, with 41 states abstaining.
The Palestinians can now take part in UN debates and potentially join bodies like the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was the "last chance to save the two-state solution" with Israel.
Two decades of on-off negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank have failed to produce a permanent settlement, with the latest round of direct negotiations breaking down in 2010.
In January, several months of indirect "proximity talks" ended without any progress.
Palestinian negotiators insist that the building of Jewish settlements on occupied land must stop before
they agree to resume direct talks.
Their Israeli counterparts say there can be no preconditions.
Mr Abbas was much criticised by many Palestinians for remaining on the sidelines of the conflict between the militant Hamas movement and Israel earlier this month in Gaza.
Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:42 PM
Why does Israel even bother pretending it's interested in a peaceful solution when it pulls shit like this?
This topic is way to volatile, I do not know enough and not going to start researching this.
I worry about our unwavering support of Israel and that dragging us into another Middle East war.
Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:54 PM
Britain summoned Israel's ambassador on Monday over Israel's decision to build thousands of new homes in occupied territory, calling it "deplorable" and saying it threatens a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Foreign Office said.
It is the latest fallout after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized planning to begin for the new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a move widely viewed as retaliatory after the Palestinian Authority won a U.N. bid to be recognized as a "non-member observer state."
Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub has been formally summoned by Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt, who will spell out British concerns, the Foreign Office said in a news release.
"Any decision about any other measures the UK might take will depend on the outcome of our discussions with the Israeli government and with international partners including the U.S. and the European Union," the release said.
The United States and a number of European nations called on Israel to roll back the settlement plan.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the latest to add her voice to the growing chorus, saying her government is "worried" about Israel's settlement plans for the West Bank, the chancellor's spokeswoman said.
The chancellor's comments come ahead of a scheduled meeting Monday between Merkel and Netanyahu in Berlin.
Israeli settlements are widely considered illegal under international law; Israel insists they are not.
Posted 03 December 2012 - 03:23 PM
Here in Washington, negative reactions to the United Nations' vote to admit Palestine as a non-member state have ranged from silly and infuriating to downright dangerous. The hysteria surrounding this UN vote may seem strange, even bizarre, to outsiders, but here in Washington it was expected.
The rhetoric was harsh and the actions proposed by lawmakers were extreme and, if passed, could prove dangerous. But why all the panic? Instead of simply shrugging off their responses as "business as usual," it is useful to examine the unspoken assumptions that underlie these reactions.
Here's one example: the "news crawl" running on one of the networks during the UN debate read "U.S. aid threatened by UN vote," as if the statement were logical and complete in itself, requiring no further explanation. Unstated, but taken as a "given," was the connection between the "aid" and the "vote," and that is the hold that pro-Israeli hardliners have over appropriations in the U.S. Congress.
As if to make this point, in the days and hours leading up to the vote, several U.S. Senators leapt into the fray. First on board were a group of Republicans who offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would not only cut U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) by 50 percent should they seek to change their status at the U.N., it would also cut by 20 percent U.S. assistance to any nation that voted for the Palestinian resolution. This measure is dangerous and could threaten U.S. relations with many important allies around the world. It is also silly and poorly drafted, since as our friends at Americans for Peace Now point out, it is not the PA that is moving to change their status at the UN. The PLO is the group that has brought the resolution to the international body. And the PLO is not a recipient of any U.S. aid. There is another Republican amendment that proposes to cut all U.S. support to the UN should that body vote to change the status of the Palestinians.
Finally, there is a bipartisan amendment that would ban U.S. aid to the Palestinians should they become involved in any action before the International Criminal Court. This is an obvious and ham-fisted attempt to shield Israel from any action by the Court. A second provision in the same amendment would order the closure of Washington's PLO mission unless the president, on a regular basis, is able to certify to Congress that the Palestinians are engaged in "meaningful negotiations" with Israel, without ever defining what is meant by "meaningful."
"Expert" commentators have also reacted to the UN vote, largely indulging in banal expressions of what has come to be accepted "conventional wisdom." On the one hand, they have pointed out the obvious -- that the "vote will change nothing on the ground" or that "peace will only come through negotiations." They have also issued warnings against the Palestinians taking "unilateral actions," cautioning that passage of the statehood measure would have "dire consequences," "risk exacerbating tensions" with Israel, and "create an impediment to the peace process." I am tempted to digress and ask "what about Israeli unilateral actions?" or "what peace process?" All these warnings take for granted the unstated but accepted assumption that any Israeli reaction to the vote must be seen a logical consequence of any Palestinian assertion of their rights.
The most infuriating comment came from the Israelis in reaction to the announcement that France and other European nations would vote for Palestine. This they lamented would deny Israel the support of what they termed "the moral majority" -- by which they meant "white," "Western" nations. The racism suggested in this formulation is so obvious and disturbing, and yet was reported without comment in The New York Times.
As all of this was playing out this week, my mind hearkened back 24 years ago, when working with the Jesse Jackson for President campaign I had the opportunity to lead the first ever debate on Palestinian rights at a political convention. In the lead up to the debate, the party leadership did everything they could to block our effort. I was warned "if you persist, you will destroy the Democratic Party" and "you will never have a place in this party again." One prominent pro-Israel Democrat actually said "I'm scared. Nothing like this has ever happened before."
Their hysteria and fear were real. But what troubled me most was that my opponents would never verbalize or admit the source of their panic and fear. It was, in my way of thinking, irrational. To them it was perfectly rational -- but because it sounded so awful, they would never verbalize the reasons for their panic. Some were motivated by the crass political calculation that anything that demonstrated their less than total support, not for Israel, but for whatever the most hard-line pro-Israel voices wanted, would somehow compromise them, causing them to suffer unspoken harsh consequences. For others, it was an issue of power and control -- as in, "how dare the Arabs assert themselves and demand equal treatment and the right to speak without first seeking our approval?"
This same "logic" played out at the UN this week, to the same effect. The world spoke, but the U.S. proved itself incapable not only of acting in concert with the world, but of admitting the reasons why it could not. All of this, sadly, makes clear the fact that when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian peace, the U.S. remains the critical player, but because of the constraints our deformed politics has imposed on this and past Administrations, Washington appears incapable of fulfilling that role.
And so the vote happened. The U.S. and Israel self-isolated. The Palestinians win, but nothing changes -- because the U.S. has not yet changed or been able to break the hold of its still unacknowledged bonds.
Posted 05 December 2012 - 05:14 PM
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat took a swipe at the Obama administration Wednesday amid criticism over plans for a new housing settlement in the area known as "E-1."
Speaking at a conference on affordable housing, Barkat reportedly said, "We need to connect the E-1 area to Jerusalem without any reservations at all, even with the world pressuring us not to do so. ... I don't know of any city in the world whose regulator is the U.S. president."
The Obama administration chided Israel Monday over its push for E-1 construction, urging its top ally in the Middle East to "reconsider" the project.
"We urge Israeli leaders to reconsider these unilateral decisions and exercise restraint, as these actions are counterproductive," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
An Israeli military planning committee formally presented plans to develop E-1 at a meeting Wednesday. There is now a 60-day period for public objections, according to the Associated Press.
The project envisions construction of 3,000 new homes in a strategic corridor near Jerusalem. Construction would be years away.
Israel had frozen E-1 construction plans under pressure from successive U.S. administrations.
Israel's government revived them last week, after the U.N. General Assembly accepted Palestine as a non-member observer state.
A West Bank official says the Palestinians will ask the U.N. Security Council to halt the Israeli settlement projects that he warns will destroy last hopes for a Mideast peace deal.
Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said Wednesday the Palestinians are asking the Security Council to block construction because otherwise "the idea of peace ... will disappear."
He says the U.S. must halt construction itself if it wants to avoid casting a veto at the council, as in 2011.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.c.../#ixzz2ECNXmRQT