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Entries in Settlements (12)


Israel Video and Analysis: President Obama's Speech in Jerusalem

President Obama spoke in Jerusalem, to a largely-student audience, on Thursday.

Perhaps in line with my cynicism about any substance on this trip to Israel and Palestine, I was not moved as I heard the speech. But perhaps I am being harsh --- many others saw this as a forthright speech, asking the Israeli people to press their leaders for movement on the Palestine issued.

In particular, this passage raised attention, as a sign that Obama will push the Israeli leadership to act on the Jewish settlements and military occupation that are blocking progress:

the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes – look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day. It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.

See full transcript of Obama speech

I am still withholding judgement. Attention to this section overlooks other parts of the Obama speech, including one which effectively told the Palestinians that they cannot press their case outside a US-supported "peace process". Signficantly, the President slapped down the successful Palestinian attempt to get Observer State recogntion at the UN: "The United States will oppose unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the United Nations."

Yet, at the same, time, Obama's Secretary of State John Kerry let it be known that Washington will not lead any attempt to revive that peace process.

So how will Obama's words be translated into meaningful action after he leaves Israel and Palestine today?


Israel (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Pressure Builds Over Settlements

Settlement at Modi'in Illit in West Bank (Photo: AP)

Syria Live Coverage: The Fighting Near Aleppo's Historic Mosque
Tuesday's Israel (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 1st Rocket Fired from Gaza Since November's War

2004 GMT: Egypt. Ahram Online's summary of clashes in Mansoura, with dozens injured since Monday, since protesters called for a campaign of civil disobedience:

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Israel, Palestine (and Beyond) Live Coverage: UN Criticises West Jerusalem's Settlement Expansion

See also Syria Live Coverage: The Humanitarian Crisis
Wednesday's Israel, Palestine (and Beyond) Live Coverage: US Criticises Israeli "Pattern of Provocation" Over Settlements

2123 GMT: Mali. The United Nations Security Council has unanimously authorised an African-led military force to try and oust Islamist insurgents from northern Mali.

The Council gave the force an initial one-year mandate to use "all necessary measures" to help Mali recover the north of the country from "terrorist, extremist. and armed groups". The resolution authorises the European Union and other UN member states to help rebuild Malian security forces.

Insurgents took control of northern Mali after a military coup in March and established Islamic law.

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) says it has 3,300 troops ready to deploy, although an operation is not expected to begin before September 2013.

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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 Feature: As World Worries About Iran, Netanyahu Expands Settlements (Lynfield)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is moving to expand Israeli settlements in the West Bank at a time when international attention is focused elsewhere, with President Obama gearing up for reelection and the West targeting Iran's nuclear program.

Last week, the Netanyahu government took a variety of steps that, taken together, amount to a significant strengthening of Israel's hold in the West Bank, the biblically resonant territory occupied in 1967, which Palestinians claim as the heartland for their future state.

For Netanyahu, who heads a right-wing coalition with a strong pro-settler contingent, it was a delicate dance of one small step back and six larger steps forward for settlements.

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Israel-Palestine Analysis: The Wishful Thinking Beyond Washington's Bribe to West Jerusalem

Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, has criticised both West Jerusalem and Washington over the recent US package of "incentives" to Israel in exchange for a 90-day freeze on West Bank settlement construction.

Is the package a bad idea? Possibly, but if you do not have an alternative of showing progress with the Netanyahu Government, then you either offer the carrot or wield the stick. Perhaps the Obama Administration could have challenged the "security-first" approach which Israel perpetually re-produces to impede a two-state solution. But it did not so, leaving the "bribe" as the only option. Kurtzer's argument may have intellectual merit, but in this context, it is just wishful thinking.

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Israel-Palestine Analysis: More US "Incentives" to Netanyahu; Little Cost to West Jerusalem

So Netanyahu continues to pile up Israel's possible victories. Washington has put even more goodies on the table for the limited step of a limited restriction on new Israeli settlements. Moreover, Netanyahu still has the "recognition of Israel as a Jewish State" card in his hand --- if the Palestinians will not make this commitment in advance of negotiations, the Israeli Prime Minister may say with regret that honest talks cannot resume.

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Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu Approves New Homes in East Jerusalem (Haaretz)

Amidst Israel-Palestine talks and the tension of the issue of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Haaretz reports:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved tenders for the construction of 240 new housing units in areas of Jerusalem across the Green Line, Israeli media sources reported on Friday.

The Housing and Construction Ministry, along with the Israel Lands Administration, released its list of 3,500 newly approved tenders set for construction across the country.

The list includes residential buildings in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze'ev and Ramot. While both neighborhoods are technically set in the northern part of the city, they are considered East Jerusalem due to their location east of the Green Line.

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Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu's Deal --- A Settlement Freeze in Exchange for a "Jewish State"

As Israel's Knesset reconvened after a three-month break, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered this proposal to the Palestinians: Israel is ready to extend the moratorium on settlement expansion in return for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state". 

The Palestinian response was clear: "the issue of the Jewishness of the state has nothing to do with the matter."

And the Americans? From thousands of miles away, they could only give a general, somewhat tangled response: "U.S. policy has been consistent. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton are committed to Israel’s democracy as a Jewish state," a State Department official told Haaretz.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, less than 72 hours after his Cabinet mandated a loyalty oath for non-Jews who want to be Israeli citizens, both plays to his domestic gallery and puts the onus back on the Palestinian Authority. The prime issue is no longer Jewish settlements; instead, it is this challenge: you want limits on our expansion in the West Bank, then you must declare, "We Accept Israel as a Jewish State."

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Following Up EA's Stories: Strikes on Pakistan, Flotilla Raid, US Military v. Obama, Israel's Settlements, Twitter and Activism

Putting this week's stories on EA WorldView into context....

The Strikes on Pakistan: On Tuesday, we considered, "Stepping Up the Drone Killings (And How to Accept Them)".

The political tensions continue to increase. Dr Zalmai Rassoul, the Afghan foreign minister, has issued a pointed warning: "On many occasions from this podium, the Afghan delegation has drawn the attention of the global community to the reality that terrorism and the ideologies of extremism and radicalism are spawned beyond the borders of Afghanistan." 

Rassoul said that, as long as" certain state and non-state actors" provide Al Qaeda and its affiliated individuals and entities with sanctuary, arms and financing, they would remain formidable and murderous adversaries.

Yesterday Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari said to members of his party that "international forces were whipping up a storm against the government" and pledged not to bow to the pressure.

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