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Entries in East Jerusalem (12)


Israel-Palestine Special: Why More Settlements Are Vital to West Jerusalem's Long-Term Strategy

On Monday, Israeli authorities authorised plans to expand the Ramat Shlomo settlement, located on Palestinian territory, with 1500 housing units. Reports followed that a total of an additional 6500 apartments across the 1967 Green Line will be approved this week.

The latest steps have received some international attention, with the US State Department criticising Israel's "pattern of provocation".

But here is the important question: does anyone recognise Israel's long-term agenda behind the "pattern"? These settlements are not just being established as a short-term extension of Israel --- they will be maintained as a "natural" and "inalienable" development, given the Palestinian "failure" to meet West Jerusalem's essential need for "security". These apartments are not being built to derail a would-be negotiation process; they are part of the attempt at Israel's perpetual superiority over the Palestinians.

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Israel-Palestine Latest: Quartet Pushes Israel as Netanyahu Pushes Economic Plans

UPDATE 1830 GMT: Britain's Defense Secretary Liam Fox has underlined the importance of such a peace between Israel and Palestine in deflecting Iran's potential nuclear power, "an existential threat". Fox said:

The United Kingdom is pushing for stronger sanctions to influence Iran, but the importance of the Middle East peace process should not be overlooked.

Progress towards a two-state solution -- a secure and universally recognized Israel alongside a viable and contiguous Palestinian state -- is important for defusing the malign political influence of Iran in the region.

After the Quartet's meeting, German Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said:

Those who want to support moderate forces in the Middle East, those who want to support constructive forces in the Middle East, are well advised to press for progress in the Middle East peace process

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Israel Snapshot: Netanyahu's Lesson from Tunisia --- Security, Security, and Security

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Israeli Cabinet about the lesson of the developments in Tunisia: "If there is one conclusion, one clear lesson that arises from all that we see around us, it is that we need to lay the foundations of security in any agreement that we make.  We cannot simply say 'We are signing a peace agreement', close our eyes and say 'We did it' because we do not know with any clarity that the peace will indeed be honored."

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Israel-Palestine Analysis: Secret Talks in Israel But Confusion over Trip to US

On Saturday, the Israeli Prime Minister's office issued a statement that Israeli negotiator "Yitzhak Molcho and a Palestinian representative will travel to Washington next week with the aim of advancing the diplomatic process". Ramallah said they were unaware that any Palestinian official was going to the US.

On the eve of the departure to hear “new American ideas”, Palestinian top negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Tuesday that the peace talks with the Israeli government have ended and it is time for his side to make decisions. He reiterated Ramallah's position that there will be no negotiations until Israel agrees to halt all construction activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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Israel Analysis: Defying Obama, Defying Netanyahu --- The Latest on Settlement Expansion

Israel's envoy to the UN, Meron Reuben, told Palestianian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, "It takes two to tango, Israel cannot reach peace on its own." That statement can be taken a step further: within Israel, Netanyahu "cannot reach peace" on his own. Facing the resistance both at local level and within the Cabinet, he is dancing with himself.

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Israel: Knesset Makes Referendum Essential for Withdrawal from East Jerusalem

On Monday a law, proposed by the Likud Party, mandating a referendum before any decision to withdraw from sovereign Israeli territory was adopted 65-33 in the 120-member Knesset.

Because of the reference to "sovereign Israeli territory", there is no need for a referendum to withdraw from the West Bank. However, because the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem were annexed by the Knesset, a referendum will be required unless withdrawal is approved by a two-thirds majority of the legislators

Having strengthened its position vis-a-vis the Palestinians on the negotiation table, having passed the loyalty bill requiring new immigrants to pledge loyalty to the "Jewish and democratic" state, the Knesset is now purusing the "eternal and indivisible capital".

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Israel Analysis: A 90-Day Agreement on Settlements with the US?

According to officials, the draft of the agreement with Washington commits Israel to halting all building in the West Bank and coordinating any plans for East Jerusalem construction with the US over the three months. This likley means that construction will continue only in the Jewish quarter of the Old City, as Israel agrees to discussing the status of borders with the Palestinians.

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Israel-Palestine Latest: A "48-Hour Window" for West Jerusalem's Decision on US Incentives

On Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised West Jerusalem's willingness to embrace Washington's package of incentives: "This is a very promising development and a serious effort by Prime Minister Netanyahu."

Meanwhile, a diplomat familiar with the details of the US offer, which hopes to bring a resumption of direct Israel-Palestine talks, said Israel would be allowed to finish hundreds of apartments already under construction in West Bank settlements.

Still, opposition continues in Israel.

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Israel-US Analysis: West Jerusalem Runs Settlement Circles Around Washington

The responses came quickly to Israel's announcement on Monday that 1,300 Jewish homes had been approved for construction beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem and another 800 homes had been endorsed in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

The State Department conveyed its "disappointment". The European Union urged Israel to reconsider its decision, and President Obama warned that the construction  in East Jerusalem could obstruct the pursuit of peace in the Middle East: "This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations."

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Israel-Palestine Summary: Reactions to Netanyahu's Extension of Settlements

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approving plans to build 238 new homes in East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank, French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s initiative for direct Israel-Palestine talks has fallen through. The planned peace summit, due to be held Friday, is indefinitely postponed. "We are looking for a new date that works for everybody, although there is nothing firm scheduled yet," an Israeli government official told Reuters.

Washington and Paris said that they were “disappointed” by the decision. In response, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said: “We have already said in the past that there is no longer a settlement freeze in Jerusalem. Regarding the relationship with the United States, they received notification of the plan [for the new homes] before we announced it.”

Moroccan King Mohammed VI wrote Israeli President Shimon Peres, was supposed to represent Israel in World Economic Forum, that their meeting was impossible at the moment. So Peres has canceled his trip.

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