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Israel-Palestine Live Coverage (6 November): Moves by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority Before a UN Vote

1920 GMT: Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor wrote a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon critical of three tanks crossed into the demilitarized zone between Syria and Israel last week and of Syrian gunfire hit an Israeli military jeep on Monday.

1830 GMT: Fatah central committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said they are committed to go to the UN. He continued:

We know there is an Israeli ministerial committee to discuss the issue and to start setting punishments on use but we have decided and it's not over, we're going despite the results.

1800 GMT: After Israeli decision to construct new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem and in Ariel in the West Bank, PLO leader Hanan Ashrawi said:

Such organized efforts to construct more units in the illegal settlements of Pisgat Zeev, Ramot, and Ariel are a deliberate attempt to breach international law and to destroy all chances for peace.

With today’s announcement, it is obvious that such actions are in response to our decision to go to the United Nations, which serves to rescue the failed peace process and end the illegal occupation. 

As such, this sends a clear message to both the international community and to the Palestinians that Israel is more committed to annexing Palestinian land than committing to any peace resolution with the Palestinian people.

1740 GMT: It is reported that the increasing debt of the Palestinian Authority is putting the healthcare of thousands of Palestinian patients coming from the West Bank and Gaza to six hospitals of East Jerusalem in jeopardy. 

1705 GMT: The immigration process of the Bnei Menashe, a tribal group based in north-eastern India and in Burma that claims descent from the lost tribe of Menashe, has been continuing. Army Radio reported that a flight of 274 new immigrants are coming within a few weeks.

About 1,700 members of the tribe already reside in the country, mostly in West Bank settlements, especially in Kiryat Arba. There are an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 Bnei Menashe remaining in India and Burma. 

Those who want to migrate must undergo a conversion process to be eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return.

1645 GMT: The protest organized by women's organizations including the general union of Palestinian women was not allowed by security officers in Gaza. A video clip is showing policemen beating women outside the parliament building.

1610 GMT: Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrow has expressed Moscow's support for the Palestinian bid to become an observer state at the UN.

1525 GMT: President Shimon Peres is departing for his official visit to Moscow. Peres is expected to talk the Iranian issue with his counterpart Vladimir Putin. However, given the recent Russian remarks on Hamas's role in the region, it is very likely that the Israeli leader will assess Moscow's position in the wake of a likely UN vote this month.

1445 GMT: It is reported that Israel's Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan asked Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday to authorize Israeli action in "Areas B" under civilian Palestinian Authority control, against charcoal production sites. Edan, therefore, wants the security cabinet to define the situatuon as a "security threat" in order to pave the way for an intervention.

1400 GMT: In response to the expected Palestinian move at the UNGA in the latter half of this month, Israeli officials have stated that they will push forward with construction of more than 1,200 new homes in East Jerusalem neighbourds of Ramot and Pisgat Zeev. The construction of these houses were ordered last year, following UNESCO's granting full membership to Palestine. 

West Jerusalem also reopened bidding for 72 homes in Ariel, deep inside the West Bank.

1240 GMT: Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon tells the Israel Radio that Israel is indifferent to the outcome of the US presidential election as the state will continue to enjoy bipartisan American support irrespective of who wins. 

1200 GMT: Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor responds to Turkey's Mavi Marmara trial:

This is not a trial but a show trial and has nothing to do with law and justice. The so-called accused have not been notified or informed in any way that they are going to face charges or what the nature of the charges is. They haven't been given even a symbolic chance to have legal representation.

It's a propaganda showcase. The government of Turkey, if it really wanted to do something about this issue, would engage with Israel.

1110 GMT: After Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's announcement that he plans to hold an urgent meeting of Israeli ambassadors to European countries in Vienna on Thursday over the Palestinian bid, PM Netanyahu is to hold a meeting with his 8 senior minister today to revise possible unilateral actions that could be taken against Ramallah. 

According to an Army Radio report, in addition to freezing the distribution of funds to the PA and lifting the privileges of senior Palestinian leaders, the Levy Report could be adopted by the government. Teh report simply states that all the settlements beyind the Green Line are in harmony with the international law, unlike the International Court of Justice's 2004 decision.

1040 GMT: Three Israeli soldiers were wounded in an explosion while on patrol on the border with Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces released a statement immediately:

Terror organizations continue their relentless attempts to harm Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers by using the area adjacent to the security fence for laying explosive devices and attempting to carry out terror attacks.

1000 GMT: Turkey is putting four former Israeli military commanders --- former Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former Navy Commander Eliezer Marom, former Air Force Commander Amos Yadlin and former head of Air Force intelligence Avishay Levi --- on trial  in absentia for the killing of nine Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship in May 2010.

Russia's Interest in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Palestinian issue must remain a top priority and should not be neglected as a result of the upheavals of the "Arab Spring". Lavrov, stressing the importance of the Palestinian unity, added that Hamas could play a vital role in advancing the Palestinian issue. 

For Moscow, the likely United Nations General Assembly vote on upgrading the status of Palestine from an observer to a Non-State Member could be a turning point in bilateral relations between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority's rule. So this is a clear message from Russia to Ramallah to open its doors to Hamas officials. If this does not happen, the Russians will tell the region: "Hamas is not alone",

It is not only Russia that is publicly supporting Hamas. Sudan, blaming Israel for carrying out air strikes at its arms factory last month, declares that it will not stop backing Hamas despite Israeli "aggression". 

"Real Partner" Discussions

Last week, the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke to Israel's Channel 2 TV to clear the air with the Israeli public before the United Nations vote in November.

Without explicitly renouncing the "right of return", Abbas said that personally he had no intention to live in his birthplace, Safed, which is now in Israeli terroritory. He said, "We want pre-1967 borders for Palestine", and added that there would be no third intifada as long as he was in power.

Interpretation? Abbas is looking for conciliation with West Jerusalem, but if Israel presses with unilateral action, possibly annexing Palestinian lands, the Palestinian Authority leader is warning that he will not be responsible for the third intifada.

In response, Israeli President Shimon Peres praised Abbas and called him as a "real partner for peace":

Abu Mazen [Abbas] has proven through his deeds and his words that Israel has a real partner for peace. Abu Mazen rejects terrorism, guarantees that under his leadership he won’t allow the outbreak of a violent third intifada, understands that the solution to the Palestinian refugee issue cannot be in Israel’s territory and to the detriment of Israel’s character, and stretches out his hand to Israel to restart negotiations.

Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, facing elections, had a far different response,  dismissing the interview:

Abbas had refused to restart negotiations with Israel for four years despite a series of steps taken by the prime minister to resume them — such as an unprecedented construction freeze in the West Bank. In addition, Abbas refuses to discuss security arrangements that are necessary to protect Israeli citizens. 

Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, unlikely to be part of a Netanyahu Government after the January vote,  criticised the Prime Minister:

The last government should have done much more to advance the peace process vis-a-vis [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas.

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