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October 25, 2015

John Kerry announces agreements to maintain status quo in Alaqsa

John Kerry announces agreements to maintain status quo in Alaqsa

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

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United States Secretary of State John Kerry announced Saturday that understandings have been reached regarding the status quo in the Al-Aqsa mosque. The understandings between Jordan, the Palestinian National Authority, and Israel, drawn to end the current surge in violence, include a pledge of coordination and cooperation, as well as practical and technological measures that will allow monitoring the area.

The understandings regarding Al-Aqsa were declared following Kerry’s meetings on Saturday in Amman, Jordan with the Palestinian President Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah II. The understandings were based a comprehensive diplomatic move by the United States, which included a meeting in Berlin between Kerry Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Among the steps to be taken, surveillance cameras shall be placed to monitor the compound 24/7 ensuring that all sides abide by their obligations.

After Kerry’s announcement, the Israeli Prime Minister reiterated Israel’s commitment to maintain the status quo in the Al-Aqsa mosque, and proclaimed that Israel does not intend to divide the mosque. Furthermore, Israel vowed to strengthen its cooperation with representatives of the Jordanian Wakf and the Islamic officials in the mosque, in order to maintain security in the area and calm things down. As part of this resolution, Israel pledged to uphold the convention according to which only Muslims shall be allowed to pray in the compound, while others may only visit.

The understandings convey the leaders’ hope to restore the calm and put an end to the recent surge in violence surrounding the issues of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque, which caused the death of 50 Palestinians and 10 Israelis.



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October 13, 2015

A wave of violence still surges over Jerusalem

A wave of violence still surges over Jerusalem

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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This morning, October 13th, 2 Israelis were killed and 16 were injured as a result of an attack on a bus in Jerusalem. This is but one of the several violent occurrences from this morning, as a part of the recent surge of violence in the region.

The Israeli police stated that among the 16 injured this morning during the attack on the bus in Jerusalem, some had been severely hurt. The police also said that the two Palestinian assailants opened fire and stabbed the passengers on the bus. Israeli forces arrived at the location and neutralized the attackers, one of whom was killed.

Earlier this morning, several other attacks on Israeli territory, committed by Palestinians, have been reported. One Israeli citizen was killed and more were injured during knife and vehicle attacks in major Israeli cities such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Raanana. In most cases the assailants were shot down by Israeli security forces or citizens.

These events follow a seemingly endless surge of violence afflicting Israel and the Palestinian National Authority this past month. The violence spreading through Israel and the West Bank originated from a struggle over the holy sites in Jerusalem. So far 30 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds were wounded during recent events, whereas 7 Israelis were killed and dozens were wounded.



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March 13, 2010

Fearing protests, Israel seals off West Bank

Filed under: Israel,Middle East,Politics and conflicts,West Bank — admin @ 5:00 am

Fearing protests, Israel seals off West Bank

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

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Fearing fresh protests from Palestinians, Israeli forces have moved to close the West Bank for 48 hours, preventing Palestinians from entering.

West Bank
Image: Abnn.

The protests have been sparked by a recent decision to include the Al-Aqsa mosque as an Israeli heritage site, as well as a plan by Israel to add up to 1,600 settlement homes in the West Bank.

The Al-Aqsa mosque is a holy site for both Muslims and Jews, however Muslims fear that along with the rest of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa is to be annexed and claimed by Israel. It has been a flash point for conflict during the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, sparking the Second Intifada in 2000. Only worshipers with an Israeli identity card and age 50 or over were allowed to pray today at the mosque. In response, Palestinian youths have reportedly thrown rocks at Israeli soldiers, and several Palestinians have been badly wounded.

Some 3,000 Israeli soldiers and policemen are patrolling East Jerusalem, checking ID cards and positioning themselves on rooftops.



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November 25, 2009

Israel announces 10 month halt to settlement construction in West Bank

Israel announces 10 month halt to settlement construction in West Bank

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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The prime minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, told a news conference earlier today that there will be a ten-month stop in the construction of new settlement housing in the West Bank. The Israeli cabinet approved the move by a margin of eleven to one.

File photo of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“We have been told by our friends that once Israel takes the first meaningful steps towards peace, the Arab world and the Palestinians will follow,” said Netanyahu following the cabinet’s endorsement of the move. “Well, the government of Israel has taken a very big step towards peace today, and I hope the Palestinian and the Arab world will work with us to forge a new beginning for our children and theirs.”

The freeze was made “out of broad national interests with the aim of encouraging negotiations with our Palestinian neighbours,” he continued. “When the period of freeze ends my government will return to the previous policy of building in Judea and Samaria [the Jewish name for the West Bank].”

“This is a far-reaching and painful step […] We hope that this decision will help launch meaningful negotiations to reach an historic peace agreement that will finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” Netanyahu later said.

Under the plan, construction permits for new residential buildings would be put on hold for ten months. The government said that “natural growth” — characterised by the construction of homes by young people, who were raised in the settlements and want to build houses for their own families — would be exempt from the freeze. Parts of the West Bank that Israel annexed to the Jerusalem municipality would also be excluded from the freeze. The building of schools and places of worship, which will enable settlers to live what Netanyahu described as “normal lives”, will also continue.

“We will not halt existing construction and we will continue to build synagogues, schools, kindergartens and public buildings essential for normal life in the settlements,” he commented.

The prime minister added that there would be no change to Israel’s existing policy on the issue of Jerusalem. “Regarding Jerusalem, our sovereign capital, our position is well-known. We do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital,” he said.

Several members of the Israeli cabinet expressed their disapproval at the proposal, with the conservative, ultra-Orthodox Shas party boycotting the cabinet meetings.

“I think it’s a complete crumbling of Netanyahu’s position and is contrary to all of his electoral promises. He promised an end to unilateral steps, and here we see him after only a few months in office giving up, even though there is no reciprocity from the Palestinians,” said the head of the main settler lobby, Danny Dayan, to the Christian Science Monitor. We are 300,000 citizens, living in 150 communities. It is impossible to freeze us. I don’t how it will happen, but we will break this freeze.”

Many Palestinians also criticised the proposal, mainly because East Jerusalem was not included in the settlement freeze. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a Palestinian spokesman, said to the Wafa news agency that Palestine “rejects returning to peace talks without the complete cessation of settlement activities in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad also rejected the plan. “The exclusion of east Jerusalem is a very, very serious problem for us. We are not looking for the resumption of the process just for the sake of it, for it to falter a week or two down the road,”

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordanian control, following Israel’s victory in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. The Jewish state annexed that part of the city in a move that was not recognized by the international community.

Earlier this week, on a visit to Argentina, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stepped up his campaign to put international pressure on Israel to stop building on lands that Palestinians say are their own. Abbas urged US president Barack Obama, as well as leaders of other nations that support Israel, to press the Jewish state to end its construction of settlements on occupied lands.

Netanyahu has in the past offered to restrain settlement growth, but today’s announcement was the first time that he set a clear timeframe.



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November 17, 2009

Israel announces settlement expansion plans

Israel announces settlement expansion plans

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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The Gilo settlement

The Israeli Interior Ministry has announced today that 900 new housing units are slated to be built by Israeli officials at the Gilo settlement located in East Jerusalem.

A press release by the Interior Ministry read, “The planning and construction committee has authorised the construction of 900 housing units in the Gilo neighbourhood in Jerusalem.” Annexed after the 1967 war, East Jerusalem is what Palestinians still hope to make the capital of their future state. However, the current Israeli government has made claim to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and will remain as such,” said government spokesman Mark Regev.

Earlier this month the Palestinian Authority insisted that all negotiations with Israel would be put permanently on hold until settlement expansion and home demolitions were halted. The UN reports that 1,500 home demolition orders in East Jerusalem are currently pending in Israeli courts. At least 600 Palestinians have been displaced from their homes in East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year. Nearly 500,000 Israelis live in more than 100 different settlements located in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

U.S envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, asked President Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel settlement expansion plans, however his request went unheeded. Settlement expansion has soured relations between the U.S and Israel, however Israel is still the largest recipient of U.S aid annually. Responding to requests by the U.S government that settlement expansion be halted Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that he, “strongly objects to the American demand to halt construction in Jerusalem and will allow construction for Jews, Muslims, and Christians in any part of Jerusalem without prejudice. The demand to halt construction by religion is not legal in the United States or in any other free place in the world.”

Under international law building settlements in occupied territory is illegal. The UN has deemed Israeli settlements to be a violation of the Geneva Convention.


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November 5, 2009

Palestinian president Abbas has \”no desire\” to seek reelection

Filed under: Israel,Jerusalem,Middle East,Palestine,West Bank — admin @ 5:00 am

Palestinian president Abbas has “no desire” to seek reelection

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he has “no desire” of running for re-election in a presidential vote he has called for January.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at the 2007 World Economic Forum

In a televised address on Thursday, Abbas said his declaration is not up for debate or bargaining. Senior members of Abbas’ Fatah party have been trying to persuade him to change his mind and take part in the election.

“I have told our brethren in the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organisation] … that I have no desire to run in the forthcoming election,” he said. “This decision is not a kind of compromise or a manoeuvre.”

Abbas expressed frustration with the lack of progress in the peace process with Israel. He has threatened to step down in the past as a negotiating tactic. The Palestinian president said his goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict faces serious problems, but added he believed that it still remains possible.

Abbas has called for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in the West Bank, where he is based, and in the Gaza Strip. But it not clear if the elections can proceed without the cooperation of Hamas, which is in control of Gaza.

“Since Oslo agreements in 1993, all these agreements are based on land and on peace and an end to Israel occupation of 1967. We’ve pledged with Israel to reach a two-state solution but month after month we’ve seen nothing but complacency and procrastination,” he said.

In his address, Abbas criticised Hamas for refusing to sign a reconciliation agreement with Fatah mediated by Egypt. He called on the group to act in the national interest. Hamas won parliamentary elections in Gaza in 2006, and seized control of the territory a year later.

Palestinian officials said Mr. Abbas is upset with Washington for not putting more pressure on Israel to freeze Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The Palestinians want the land for a future state.



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September 13, 2009

Israeli F-16 fighter jet crashes, pilot killed

Israeli F-16 fighter jet crashes, pilot killed

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

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Assaf Ramon, the pilot of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet, was killed on Sunday after his plane crashed in the West Bank, according to officials.

Ramon was the eldest son of Israel’s astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was one of six people killed in the February 2003 Columbia space shuttle explosion.

The pilot’s plane smashed into a hilly area near the city of Hebron, the Israeli military said, adding that the accident happened during a routine part of an advanced pilot course. Search and rescue have been dispatched to the area.

It was not immediately known what caused the jet to crash.



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June 6, 2009

Palestinian protester killed by Israeli soldiers

Palestinian protester killed by Israeli soldiers

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

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A Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces today while protesting the separation wall in the West Bank village of Nilin. Another protester, who is 15, was wounded.

Aqel Srur, who was 35, died in an ambulance while en route to a local hospital. He had been fatally shot once in the heart. Palestinians were fired upon by Israeli forces after they began to throw stones at the soldiers. Palestinian officials say Srur was shot once with a single round of live ammunition, something an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spokesperson could not confirm.

According to the spokesperson, the IDF used “riot dispersal means,” which included metal bullets coated with rubber and tear gas.

Srur was protesting Israel’s separation barrier, which spans 723km and surrounds West Bank cities, separating them from one another. Israel says the separation walls are needed for security reasons, but Palestinians say it turns their villages into prisons.

Palestinian and international activists have gathered almost every Friday for the last two years to protest the separation barrier in Nilin. In many cases the protests end with violence. In April, Basem Abu Rahmeh, age 30 was shot and killed by Israeli forces, also while protesting the Israeli separation wall in Bilin.

Construction of the wall began in 2002 and is set to surround the West Bank which was annexed by Israel in 1967. In 2004 it was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice.



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February 20, 2009

Israel seizes West Bank land

Israel seizes West Bank land – Wikinews, the free news source

Israel seizes West Bank land

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Israel has seized 425 acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank in order to build 2,500 new settlement homes according to Israeli officials. This comes after United States Special Envoy George Mitchell asked for a freeze on settlement expansion which is deemed illegal under international law.

The seized land will be integrated into the Israeli city of Efrat, a city which is to house 30,000 people according to the mayor of Efrat.

Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni has stated that in order to make peace, settlement expansion must stop and furthermore Israeli settlers should leave lands already settled in. Livni’s party, Kadima, beat the right wing Likud party in elections last week by one parliament seat, not enough to form the required majority. Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that he firmly supports settlement expansion and has said that peace talks with Palestinians are a waste of time.

Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president in the West Bank, has previously stated that there will be no negotiations as long as settlement expansion continues. “We oppose settlement activity in principle, and if the settlement activity doesn’t stop, any meetings (with the Israelis) will be worthless,” Abbas said Monday.

Israeli human rights group Yesh Din has stated that these settlements are a violation of international law, saying that the occupying power is supposed to work for the benefit of the people being occupied. The United Nations agrees saying that the settlements are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international law.



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January 9, 2009

United Nations suspends operations in Gaza after schools and trucks are hit by Israeli forces

United Nations suspends operations in Gaza after schools and trucks are hit by Israeli forces

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Friday, January 9, 2009

The United Nations (UN) suspended all of its operations in Gaza from yesterday, after the bombing of a convoy of UN aid trucks which killed one Palestinian driver, and wounded three others. Thursday was the second day of attacks on UN targets after three UN schools housing refugees were bombed on Tuesday, killing over 50 civilians.

“UNRWA decided to suspend all its operations in the Gaza Strip because of the increasing hostile actions against its premises and personnel,” Adnan Abu Hasna, a Gaza-based spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said yesterday. Richard Miron, spokesman for the UN said that the Israeli military had been notified in advance of the coordinates of the relief trucks saying, “This underlines the fundamental insecurity inside Gaza at a time when we are trying to address the dire humanitarian needs of the population there.”

The bombing of the UN trucks was the last straw for the UN, already angered after Israeli tanks fired on a UN school housing refugees killing 50 including an entire family of seven young children. The UN said that they had given Israel the GPS coordinates of their schools, and demanded accountability for the attacks. Israel’s government says it is investigating the incidents.

More schools were attacked including the al-Fakhora School killing 40 people, many of them women and children. Hours before the attack on the al-Fakhora School was an attack on Asma Elementary School which killed three Palestinian cousins. The cousin’s father said the bodies were so mangled he couldn’t tell the bodies apart, “We came to the school when the Israelis warned us to leave,” he said. “We hoped it would be safe. We were 20 in one room. We had no electricity, no blankets, no food. “Suddenly we heard a bomb that shook the school. Windows smashed. Children started to scream. A relative came and told me one of my sons was killed. I found my son’s body with his two cousins. They were cut into pieces by the shell.” Like al-Fakhora, Asma Elementary is an UNRWA school.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on yesterday that they were trying for four days to get their ambulances to a Gaza neighborhood before being allowed to by Israeli military forces. After getting there, they said, they found four starving children sitting next to the bodies of their dead mothers.

“This is a shocking incident,” said Pierre Wettach, ICRC chief for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. “The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestinian Red Crescent to assist the wounded.”

Israel granted a three-hour ceasefire yesterday that they gave for aid workers to enter areas that they had closed off. 50 bodies were recovered during the ceasefire, raising the death toll to 763, including more than 200 children, since air raids first began on December 27. 3,121 people have also been wounded. Eight Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died in the same period. Israeli forces also shot a Palestinian man in the West Bank during a protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza. Yesterday, a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli forces after a confrontation in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma’ale Adumim near Jerusalem.



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