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Posts tagged ‘West Bank’

Palestinian Spokesman: ‘Arab States Will Never Accept Jewish State’.


Image: Palestinian Spokesman: 'Arab States Will Never Accept Jewish State'Palestinian women shout slogans during a protest against the resumption of peace talks with Israel on Jan. 14 in Gaza City.

By Elliot Jager

The top foreign policy spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, Riyadh al-Malki, told Radio Palestine that “The Arab states will never recognize the Jewish state,” Israel Radio reported.
According to al-Malki, Arab League foreign ministers told Secretary of State John Kerry in the course of weekend meetings in Paris that this was the united Arab stance.
Kerry has been trying to get support for a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel from the Arab foreign ministers, Arutz 7 reported.
The League of Arab States is comprised of 22 members all of whom are also constituents of the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference — countries which officially identify themselves as Muslim.
The Arab position is that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state would waive the claim that Arab refugees from 1948, when Israel was created, and their descendants, now numbering roughly five million, should always have the right to live in Israel.
The long-standing Israeli position is that should a peace accord be signed Arab refugees ought to be resettled in the State of Palestine or in the surrounding Arab countries where they live.
In addition to Palestinian claims that their refugees be allowed to re-settle in Israel proper, other stumbling blocks to an accord include Palestinian insistence that there be no Israeli presence — civilian settlements or military outposts — in the strategic West Bank, and that east Jerusalem along with its surrounding neighborhoods be declared the capital of Palestine.

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© 2014 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Dead.


JERUSALEM — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the trailblazing warrior-statesman who transformed the region and was reviled by Arab foes, died on Saturday at the age of 85 and after eight years in a coma caused by a stroke.

The Sheba Medical Center that has been treating Sharon said last week that his health has been declining. Sharon had been suffered from failure vital organs including his kidneys shortly before his death.

The Associated Press reported that his son, Gilad Sharon, said: “He has gone. He went when he decided to go.”

Sharon’s nurse, Marina Lifschitz, said he had not suffered while lying comatose, though he had at times given basic responses to stimuli. She recalled at one point holding up a picture of his late wife, Lily, for him to view.”And suddenly I saw a tear simply rolling out of his eye. That is very difficult to forget,” Lifschitz told reporters.

A maverick in war and politics, Sharon reshaped the Middle East in a career marked by adventurism and disgrace, dramatic reversals and stunning rebounds.

“Arik was a valorous soldier and a bold statesman who contributed much to the security and building up of the State of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres, a former political ally of Sharon and, with the ex-premier’s death, the last of the Jewish state’s founders still in public life.

“Arik loved his people, and his people loved him,” Peres said, using the nickname of Sharon, a famously burly and blunt figure with a prizefighter’s rolling gait.
“He knew no fear and never feared pursuing a vision.”
Officials said Sharon, who took power in 2001 soon after the start of a second Palestinian uprising that raged until 2005, would be given a state funeral.

One official said Sharon’s remains would lie in state in parliament in Jerusalem on Sunday. A memorial service will be held there on Monday morning, followed by an afternoon funeral near Sycamore Farm, Sharon’s residence in southern Israel.Among foreign dignitaries expected to attend are U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former British prime minister Tony Blair, the official said.

Loathed by many Arabs and a divisive figure within Israel, Sharon left his mark on the region as perhaps no other through military invasion, Jewish settlement building on captured land and a shock decision to pull out of Gaza.
“The nation of Israel has today lost a dear man, a great leader and a bold warrior,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment on the death from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom Sharon’s Likud party successor, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been holding U.S.-sponsored peace talks.
But in Gaza, the Hamas Islamists whose political fortunes rose with the Israeli withdrawal savored Sharon’s demise.
“We have become more confident in victory with the departure of this tyrant,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zurhi, whose movement preaches the destruction of the Jewish state.
“Our people today feel extreme happiness at the death and departure of this criminal whose hands were smeared with the blood of our people and the blood of our leaders here and in exile.”
A commander in the army from the birth of Israel in 1948, he went on to hold many of the top offices of state, surviving fierce debate over his role in refugee camp massacres in the 1982 Lebanon war to be elected prime minister in 2001.
Famously overweight, he suffered a stroke that put him into a coma in 2006, when he was at the height of his power, and died on Saturday without ever apparently regaining consciousness.
Some diplomats believed that had he remained in good health, he would have secured peace with the Palestinians after overcoming domestic critics to force through the withdrawal of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
“As one who fought in all of Israel’s wars, and learned from personal experience that without proper force, we do not have a chance of surviving in this region . . . I have also learned from experience that the sword alone cannot decide this bitter dispute in this land,” Sharon said in 2004, explaining his move.
But critics said the unilateralism he favored helped discredit diplomacy and embolden ideological hardliners.
As prime minister, Sharon presided over some of the most turbulent times in Israeli-Palestinian history, a Palestinian uprising that erupted in 2000 and an Israeli military crackdown after peace talks collapsed. As Israel’s leader, he besieged his arch-nemesis Yasser Arafat with tanks after suicide bombers flooded Israel from the occupied West Bank.
Long a champion of Jewish settlement on land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, Sharon, serving in 1998 as foreign minister, urged settlers in the West Bank to “run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge settlements, because everything we take now will stay ours.”
He said the contested decision to quit the Gaza Strip, which pulled apart his Likud party and persuaded him to form a new political force, would enable Israel to strengthen its hold over “territory which is essential to our existence.”
It was a reference to the West Bank, where his government began the construction of a massive barrier during the Palestinian uprising. Israel called it a security measure – Palestinians condemned the project as a land grab.
Sharon dominated Israel to a degree not seen since the era of its founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.
Like many native Israeli leaders, Sharon, born in British-mandated Palestine, grew up in a farming community. He later lived in a sprawling ranch in southern Israel, and was often photographed lumbering through its fields.
Sharon joined the pre-state Haganah Jewish underground at the age of 14.
Wounded as a young officer in the 1948 war of Israel’s founding, he went on to lead key commando units and crafted a policy of reprisals – even at the cost of innocent lives – for cross-border Palestinian guerrilla raids.
Along with a reputation in the military for recklessness and disobeying orders, Sharon was hailed for daring operations that brought victories on the battlefield. He retired a major-general.
“It was he who set out the principle that no one who attacked our troops or civilians would be immune, no matter where they were,” said ex-Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai.
Passed over for chief-of-staff, Sharon left the military in the summer of 1973. Three months after he quit, he was back as a reservist-general, commanding troops that launched a counter-offensive that helped rout Egyptian forces in the Yom Kippur 1973 Middle East war.
A photo of Sharon in the desert, in battle fatigues and with his head bandaged, became an iconic image of the conflict.
He helped form the Likud party, which courted Israel’s underclass of Jews of Middle Eastern descent and rose to power in the 1977 election, ending the dominance of the “European” Labor Party.
Appointed agriculture minister, Sharon used that post and his chairmanship of a ministerial settlements committee to break ground on new settlements – helping to earn him the nickname “Bulldozer.”
As defense minister under Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Sharon masterminded the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, one of Israel’s most divisive campaigns.
What started as a stab against Palestinian guerrillas on the border evolved into a murky and costly bid to install a government more friendly to Israel in Beirut.
Arab hatred of Sharon crested with the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila by Israeli-allied Christian militiamen.

Sharon denied wrongdoing but was eventually forced to resign as defense chief in 1983 after an Israeli probe said he bore “personal responsibility” for not preventing the bloodshed.

Sharon described those findings as a “mark of Cain”, and many thought that his political career was finished. But after holding a series of cabinet posts, he was elected as the head of the Likud in 1999 and prime minister in 2001, serving until his stroke five years later.
As a cabinet minister, he visited Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound in 2000, the third holiest place in Islam, which is also revered by Jews as the site of the Biblical Jewish Temples.
The visit, in a part of Jerusalem that Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed in a move that has never won international recognition, was widely seen as a spark for the second Palestinian uprising.
During the subsequent tsunami of violence, the respected Palestinian-American academic Edward Said called Sharon a “homicidal prime minister” who deployed “systematic barbarity” against the Palestinians throughout his career.
“Isn’t it clear that Sharon is bent not only on breaking the Palestinians but on trying to eliminate them as a people with national institutions?” Said wrote in The Nation newspaper in 2002, a year before his death.
Known in Israel by his popular nickname “Arik”, Sharon could charm with a grandfatherly glint in his eye and a jocular laugh. He could also flash disapproval with a cold, steely stare. He had a penchant for Broadway musicals and copious amounts of food.
Sharon was married twice. His first wife, Margalit, died in a car accident in 1962. They had one son, who was killed in 1967 when a friend accidentally shot him while playing with a rifle. In 1963, Sharon married Margalit’s sister, Lily, who died of cancer in 2000. They had two sons.
“Sharon was a mass of contradictions – a peerless cynic and a proven patriot, a man who built up the Likud and then walked out on it, who mixed up Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank while pulling out of Gaza,” said Uzi Benziman, author of “Sharon: An Israeli Caesar.”
He noted the varying theories about what motivated the Gaza withdrawal, including that it aimed to distract from corruption allegations at the time that dogged Sharon and his sons.
“Whatever the truth, it cannot be denied that Sharon’s legacy was to convey to Israelis that holding on to all of the (Palestinian) territories would not last,” Benziman said. “He was the last of the real leaders.”

© 2014 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

By Newsmax Wires

Population Swap Idea Angers Israel’s Arab Minority.


TAYBEH, Israel — Israel’s powerful and outspoken Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has enraged the country’s Arab minority by proposing that some of its towns and villages be handed over to a future Palestine in exchange for parts of the West Bank where Jewish settlers live.

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The proposal, rejected by both Palestinians and other Israeli leaders, nonetheless has deepened Arab fears that they are not welcome in the Jewish state and leaves them in the awkward position of insisting on staying Israeli.

They say that their solidarity with their Palestinian brethren does not mean they are disloyal to their own country and should not be treated as second-class citizens.

“I didn’t come to Israel, Israel came to me. . . . They can’t take away my rights,” said Abdul Rahman Haj Yahiya, 79, an eighth-generation resident of Taybeh. “If Israelis can identify with Jews around the world, why can’t I identify with Arabs too?”

A town like Taybeh, home to some 40,000 people and only a mile away from the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, likely would be a prime target under Lieberman’s plan.

Lieberman, a leading voice in Israel’s so-called nationalist camp, has long been a skeptic of peace efforts with the Palestinians and is a frequent critic of Israel’s Arab minority.

His latest proposal appears to be aimed at complicating Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace efforts as much as it is at unnerving Israeli Arabs.

Israel’s Arabs make up about 20 percent of the country’s 8 million citizens. They descend from those who decided to stay in the country upon Israel’s establishment in 1948, in contrast to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven away.

While they freely identify with their Palestinian counterparts, there are also key differences. They have become fluent in Hebrew. Although they generally suffer from second-class status in Israel, they hold full citizenship rights and enjoy a higher standard of living and more civil liberties than in other Arab countries — a reality they say they are loath to swap for life under Palestinian rule.

At the same time, Arabs do not serve in the military like Jewish citizens. With many siding openly with the Palestinians — and a small number even charged with spying for Israel’s enemies — they have also drawn accusations of being a disloyal fifth column.

Lieberman’s hard-line nationalist party, Yisrael Beitenu, or “Israel is our Home,” has long called for aggressive action and pushed for legislation that would have required a loyalty oath to Israel as a Jewish state and stripping citizenship to those who refuse.

The Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, but would accept minor land swaps to allow Israel to keep some Jewish settlements blocs. Lieberman unveiled his swap idea this week.

Lieberman said no one would be uprooted from their homes. Instead, the border would merely be adjusted to place Arab towns inside Palestinian territory. He also said he would not support any peace agreement brokered by Kerry that does not include his demand.

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most important political partner, Lieberman has enough sway to bring down the governing coalition, a scenario that would throw peace talks into disarray. Dovish opposition parties have said they would fill any void left by defecting hard-liners, though it remains unclear whether their support would be enough.

Lieberman’s plan has been roundly rejected by Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and even mainstream Israelis. It also faces many challenges under international law.

While there is a precedent for citizens being swapped between countries following World War II, the only way for it to happen today would require a mutual agreement between two sovereign nations, an endorsement from the international community and the agreement of the citizens themselves, said Emmanuel Gross, a legal expert at Haifa University.

“You can’t draw a border that harms your own citizens and it can’t be done unilaterally,” Gross said.

Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi said the mere suggestion of such a plan reeked of racism and discrimination. “Citizens are not chess pieces to be moved around at will and this just heightens our sense of estrangement from the state,” he said.

Tibi, a Taybeh resident and former adviser to Yasser Arafat, said he has been assured by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the issue has not some up in peace talks and would be immediately rejected if it did.

Mohammad al-Madani, a member of Abbas’ Fatah party, said that while the movement represents Palestinians all over the world, Israeli Arabs were “a special case.”

“They are citizens of Israel and stayed in their historical home land and no one has the right to change their reality,” he said. “The right wing Israeli wants to get rid of those people just because they are Arabs.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres has rejected the plan, as has Interior Minister Gideon Saar, a stalwart in the ruling Likud Party, and others in Israel’s national camp. Neither Netanyahu nor Kerry has commented publicly on the plan.

In Taybeh, it is hard to find anyone open to the concept. The streets of this middle-class town are lined with shops and mosques just like any Arab village. Graffiti bearing the Palestinian flag can be found easily.

But highlighting its duality it is also deeply influenced by a proximity to nearby Jewish towns, whose residents frequent Taybeh’s stores, auto shops and restaurants.

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“You can’t uproot someone from their home. I was born here. I am Israeli,” said Nasser Saadat, 36. “We live with our Jewish neighbors, just like the Prophet Muhammad did. How can we go to another country?”

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.c

Nearly 50 Percent of Freed Palestinian Terrorists Return to Fight.


Although nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists Israel has released since 1985 have returned to the battlefield, Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing Israel to free more imprisoned militants in the hope of bolstering Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, Israel Hayom reported.
Israeli authorities say the high terrorist recidivism rate is because many of those released have long had a strong ideological belief in violence, and that this is reinforced by a culture of officially sanctioned anti-Israel incitement in both the West Bank and Gaza.
Earlier this month, for example, terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis received certificates of citation at a cultural event hosted by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.They were released from prison several months ago, according to veteran Israeli journalist Nadav Shragai, author of the Israel Hayom piece.

Footage of the event depicts a gun battle in which members of Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah organization unite to kill a group of “Israelis” opposing them.
Many Israelis who oppose further prisoner releases cite the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner deal in which a kidnapped Israeli soldier was freed in exchange for about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
During the last two years, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency has intercepted at least 80 attempted terrorist attacks in the West Bank that were masterminded by Gaza-based Hamas operatives freed in the Shalit deal.
One individual involved in these operations was Omar Abu-Sneina,  who mailed a computer disk drive from Gaza to his family in the West Bank with detailed instructions on carrying out a kidnapping.
The Shin Bet intercepted the mailing.
Even as Washington has urged Israel to free additional prisoners with Israeli blood on their hands, it unsuccessfully opposed the Israeli government’s decision to release Othman Omar Mustafa, a Palestinian convicted of the 1989 murder of Frederick Steven Rosenfeld, a former Marine and U.S. citizen, according to Israel Hayom.

Rosenfeld was stabbed to death by Mustafa and two other men who befriended him as he hiked near the West Bank settlement of Ariel, the Daily Beast reported.

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© 2013 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

By Joel Himelfarb

Kerry’s MidEast Peace Plan Will Destroy Israel Piece By Piece.


Secretary of State, John Kerry is reportedly making offers, promises and guarantees in the Middle East. Media reports indicate that “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly shot down a proposal by US Secretary of State John Kerry to maintain Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley for ten years following the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.” Kerry, is reportedly promising the Palestinians the Jordan valley, and “invisible” Israeli presence at the border crossings between the West Bank and Jordan. John Kerry offered and promised what? Does Kerry own the Jordan Valley?

In November, John Kerry visited Israel and pressured Israel, and encouraged the Arabs to commit violence on Israel asking, “I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?” Tantamount to encouraging Israel to negotiate with a gun to their head, Kerry said Israel’s “isolation” would be their own fault if a peace deal with the Palestinians falls through. Kerry further warned the Israelis that “the alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos,” and continued, “There will be an increasing campaign of delegitimization of Israel [that] has been taking place in an international basis.”

Given the Obama Administrations track record in the Middle East, Israel (and the Palestinians) would be better off without Kerry’s visits to the region. John Kerry should spend less time pressuring Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East. Kerry’s focus on the Middle East can be working to catch the people in Libya (around the corner from Israel), where the Ambassador was lynched. Since Kerry claims to have stopped Iran so skillfully, after that he can focus on Egypt which is in chaos after America chased out Mubarak who was previously a staunch American ally. Just around the corner, Kerry can visit Syria, where Assad, Syria’s dictator remains in power thanks to Putin’s protection. In Syria, over 100,000 people have been slaughtered in the last two years, including more than 5,000 children under the age of 16. There are hundreds of thousands dead already in the Middle East thanks to this administrations’ horrid foreign policies.

While America wrongly shows restraint with dictators, they must understand Israel lives in a very dangerous neighborhood and has life or death concerns when it comes to adapting these policies. The Obama Administration wrongly accuses and blames Israel rather than the terrorists who work to destroy Israel piece by piece, in false pursuit peace. They seek to destroy Israel piece by piece – from the “West Bank” to Jordan Valley to Eastern Jerusalem.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a Zionist visionary who is the spiritual father of the Likud Party (the ruling party of the state of Israel, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu) wrote many years ago of the need to stand up against people those who don’t have the best interests of the Jewish people at heart: “Instead of excessive apology and instead of turning our backs to the accusers — as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to — it is long overdue to respond to all current and future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly, coldly and calmly answer, ‘Go to Hell!’

“Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over the entire people where the sentence is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. The situation that has been created as a result, tragically confirms a well known saying: ‘Qui s’excuse s’accuse’ (He who apologizes condemns himself).

“We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are — we do not have anything to hide! This is a terrible mistake. The real gentlemen are the people that will not allow anyone for any reason to search their apartments, their pockets or their souls. Only a person under surveillance is ready for a search at every moment. This is the only inevitable conclusion from our maniacal reaction to every reproach, to accept responsibility as a people for every action of a Jew, and to make excuses in front of everybody.

“I consider this system to be false at its very root. We are hated not because we are blamed for everything, but we are blamed for everything because we are not loved. We do not have to apologize for anything. We are a people as all other peoples; we do not have any intentions to be better than the rest. We do not have to account to anybody; we are not to sit for anybody’s examination and nobody is old enough to call on us to answer. We came before them. We are what we are, we are good for ourselves, we will not change and we do not want to. We are hated not because we are blamed for everything, but we are blamed for everything because we are not loved. We do not have to apologize for anything.”

As Esquire magazine noted some months ago about Kerry’s trips to Israel, “There is nothing he could be doing that would be a bigger waste of his time, including windsurfing.” Leave Israel alone. As Benjamin Netanyahu said: ‘If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.”

Ronn Torossian is a New York based Public Relations executive and author.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Ronn Torossian

Palestinian Ambassador in Prague Killed in Blast at Home.


PRAGUE – The Palestinian ambassador to Prague was killed in an explosion at his residence on Wednesday that Czech authorities believe was probably an accident.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said ambassador Jamal al-Jamal had been trying to open a safe that was recently moved to his new home and a Czech government source told Reuters that the explosion was probably caused by a security device on the unit.

It was unclear what that was. Some safes can be fitted with mechanisms designed to destroy secret documents in the event of the lock being tampered with. The Czech source said the government did not believe it was a terrorist attack.

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Czech police said the ambassador died of his injuries in hospital after the explosion on the morning of New Year’s Day in the two-story suburban residence. No one else was injured, police said, although Jamal’s family was at home at the time.

No signs of damage to the house was visible from the street.

“There has been a detonation of a so far unidentified explosive mixture,” police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova said. “The ambassador was … taken to hospital with serious injuries.”

She later said he had died.

A Palestinian official told Reuters in the West Bank administrative center Ramallah: “This explosion happened at his house. He recently moved there.”

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA, citing a Foreign Ministry statement, said the blast happened when Jamal tried to open a safe that had been moved from the embassy’s old offices.

Police cordoned off part of the street and a half dozen police vehicles, firetrucks and two ambulances were there.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it would send a delegation to Prague “to help with the investigation.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Poll: Israelis, Palestinians Back Two-State Deal.


RAMALLAH, West Bank — A poll suggests a majority of Israelis and Palestinians supports the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but remains suspicious of the other side.

The survey was released Wednesday, hours before Secretary of State John Kerry‘s return to the region. Kerry is trying to forge agreement on the outlines of a peace deal, but gaps remain.

In the poll, 63 percent of 601 Israelis and 53 percent of 1,270 Palestinians surveyed said they back a two-state solution. Support dropped to 54 percent and 46 percent, respectively, when respondents were asked about specifics of a two-state deal.

The Israeli poll, by an Israeli university, had an error margin of 4.5 percentage points. The Palestinian survey, by a West Bank think tank, had an error margin of 3 percentage points.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Israeli Ministers Endorse Legislation to Annex Part of West Bank.


JERUSALEM — A panel of Israeli Cabinet ministers endorsed proposed legislation on Sunday to annex an area of the occupied West Bank likely to be the eastern border of a future Palestinian state.

The move, pushed by far-right members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s Likud party, could weigh on troubled U.S.-brokered peace negotiations several days before another visit to the region by Secretary of State John Kerry.

But centrist Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who also heads Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinians, immediately challenged the motion, and said she would use her powers to block the legislation from being voted on in the Israeli Knesset, or parliament.

Peace talks have shown few signs of progress since Kerry oversaw their renewal in July after a three-year deadlock.

The target is to reach an agreement by April towards achieving a “two-state solution” in which Israel and a new Palestinian state would co-exist side by side.

The Jordan Valley region of the West Bank which Israel captured in a 1967 war and Palestinians seek as part of their future state, has been a focus of recent disagreement. Palestinians reject Israel’s demand to maintain a security presence there.

Kerry said in Washington earlier this month that the need to resolve the dispute over the Jordan Valley was “a critical threading of a needle that has to happen in order to achieve an agreement.” He said he was coordinating with Jordan as well.

The Israeli proposal to incorporate the Jordan Valley within its borders, endorsed by the Cabinet’s legislative committee, was the first Israeli step in years to annex any territory captured in 1967.

Shortly after that war, in a move not recognized internationally, Israel annexed east Jerusalem and added some adjoining West Bank land to the city, which it regards as its capital.

The last time Israel annexed any land captured in the 1967 war was in 1981 when it applied its law to Syria’s Golan Heights, a strategic plateau that lies to the north.

The proposed legislation came up two days before Israel said it would free 26 Palestinian prisoners, the third of four groups of prisoners being released as an agreed confidence-building measure since peace negotiations resumed.

The prisoners had been jailed for deadly violence committed before a 1993 Israeli-Palestinian interim peace accord.

Also expected to weigh on Kerry’s visit this week is an Israeli plan to build 1,400 homes in Jewish settlements, which Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said would “destroy the peace process” and could be met with retaliation.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Kerry Reportedly Willing to Free Pollard in Palestinian Prisoner Swap.


Secretary of State John Kerry may be willing to free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard as part of a deal to free Palestinian prisoners, according to multiple Israeli press reports.

Kerry arrives in Israel during the first week of 2014, his 10th visit to the Middle East in less than a year on the job.

Israel’s Channel 10 was the first to report the possible deal that would free Pollard, who pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing U.S. national defense information to the Israeli government. He is serving a life sentence.

But the report also noted that Pollard’s release isn’t likely since the deal has not been approved by President Barack ObamaFox News reports, however, that a source says Pollard is, indeed, part of a possible deal.

Fox noted, though, that it is unclear what price Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu might be asked to pay for Pollard’s release and whether he would even be willing to do so.

Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have in the past called for Pollard’s release.

Kerry’s arrival will come amid stepped up attacks by Palestinian groups amid peace talks between Israel and Palestinian leaders that began in July. He plans to meet with both Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

One symbolic sign of movement would be a face-to-face meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders as Kerry seeks to narrow differences – over borders, security, the rights of refugees and the status of Jerusalem – that have confounded U.S.-led efforts at mediation for years.

While Israel is in negotiations with leaders in the West Bank, the picture is different in Palestinian-occupied Gaza. There, Islamic Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and calls for its destruction.

A poll released this month by the West Bank-based Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip expect the Kerry-led talks to fail.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Palestinians Urge US to Block New Israel Settlements.


JERUSALEM — A senior negotiator says the Palestinian president has appealed to the United States to block plans by Israel to announce new settlement construction.

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said President Mahmoud Abbas voiced his plea at a late-night meeting with senior U.S. officials Thursday in West Bank.

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Abbas “asked for U.S. intervention to stop the Israeli government from issuing new settlement decisions in order to save the peace process and the American efforts,” Erekat said Friday.

An Israeli official said the government is expected to announce new settlement construction next week.

Channel 2 TV reported the plan will include hundreds of new homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — captured territories claimed by the Palestinians.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

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