15 December 2017

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Jewish settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem hindering Israeli-Palestinian talks

Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to leave negotiations if settlement activity does not stop. Freeze on new construction is set to expire in ten days. Netanyahu refuses to extend freeze, claiming security is Israel’s top priority.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The construction of 2,000 new housing units for Jews in the West Bank and East Jerusalem could once again derail peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians currently underway in Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday threatened to walk away from the negotiating table if Israel does not extend its settlement freeze for another three months as proposed recently by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who met the Palestinian leader today in Ramallah.

Agreed in 2009, the freeze was theoretically meant to last for ten months and is now set to expire on 26 September.

Despite US pressures, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would not extend the freeze any further; he did however state that he would cut the number of new housing units. Security, he said, is Israel’s priority at present.

For now, differences between the parties will not stop talks, at least until next week.

In the meantime, clashes continue in the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian died near Rafah (south of Gaza) yesterday after Israeli forces launched a raid against a tunnel used to smuggle goods into the territory. The action came in the wake of two rockets fired by Hamas into Israeli territory.

After 20 months of stalemate, the latest round of peace talks began on 2 September, with the two sides currently meeting in Jerusalem, the first time since Israeli rightwing leader Benjamin Netanyahu came to power.

See also

23/04/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE – US
Uncertainty surrounds Mitchell’s mission
The US Mideast envoy has a difficult job ahead. He is in Jerusalem to jumpstart peace talks. The Palestinians demand a settlement freeze; Netanyahu responds that they will not stop in Jerusalem; the State Department notes, “We don't go to meet just to meet.”

Settlements hastening the fusion of Israel and Palestine into a single state
Renewed settlement activities in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, are a sign of Netanyahu’s impotence, Mahmoud Abbas’ fragility and Obama’s weakness. Every square foot that goes for Jewish settlements makes the birth of a Palestinian state impossible, but it also undermines the idea of Israel as a “home for the Jewish people”. The future could be that of a state for both Arabs and Jews, but Arabs have a higher birth rate.

In 20 years of violence, 7398 Palestinians and 1483 Israelis killed
The data revealed by an Israeli human rights organisation. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calls on Israel to revoke the permit system, which in practice prevents Palestinians the use of 60% of their territory.

19/02/2007 ISRAEL – PALESTINE – US
Olmert, Abbas and Rice to meet again soon
Jerusalem meeting ends with parties agreeing to continue talks. But US and Israel do not clarify their position on new Palestinian national unity government. Fatah lawmaker says meeting was a good step but warns it was not enough. Hamas should act on the Makkah agreement and the international community must see the value of it.

Scepticism over "direct" dialogue between Israel and Palestine
Although Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to meet next on Sept. 2, problems seem insurmountable settlements, Jerusalem, return of refugees. Hamas is sceptical, but also moderate Palestinian and Israeli figures. AsiaNews sources: Enough with palliative care. A large international initiative is needed.

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