Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel-Palestine News January 7th - 13th 2017
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Purpose: to provide a varied selection of articles from Arabic, Hebrew and English mainstream media outlets so readers get a flavour of what is being read by the general public about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from different perspectives. The aim is to shine a spotlight for readers on the polarised narratives and constant one-sided messaging that appears in the media of each society, and often also in the international media. Solutions Not Sides makes no attempt to reconcile or support any of these narratives, but we believe it is important to understand each side’s perspective and the way that their society presents events if a negotiated solution is to be reached. 

We do not currently have the capacity to provide translations of actual Hebrew and Arabic media, so bear in mind that news agencies that issue articles in those languages may not produce the same content as the English versions of their outlets provided here (e.g. Aljazeera Arabic and Aljazeera English do not simply produce the same content in both languages). The content and opinions of these articles do not reflect our aims or opinions. Our main educational point about media sources on this issue is that they are almost always biased and should never be trusted in isolation. Please BE RESOURCEFUL and research for yourself a diversity of sources for everything you read or hear about Israel-Palestine. 

Arab News Sources
Middle East Eye: Palestinians in Jerusalem warn of 'Intifada' over US embassy plan
Palestinians living in Jerusalem have warned of the possibility of an "Intifada", or uprising, if Donald Trump moves the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city. Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital but most of the international community refuses to recognise any part of Jerusalem as Israeli territory and considers East Jerusalem to be part of the illegally occupied Palestinian territories. The proposed move has sparked widespread concern among Palestinians, with protests taking place last week in the occupied West Bank. Sheikh Ikrima Said Sabri, the head of the Supreme Islamic Council, is a former grand mufti of Jerusalem and all of Palestine: “The transfer of the embassy will give rise to another eruption in the region: continuous pressure will ultimately lead to an explosion. We cannot accurately predict what the world will see on the Palestinian streets, but the world must know that anger and rejection is brimming.” Um Kamel al-Kurd, who has become a symbol of the Palestinian struggle in Palestine, said: “The transfer of the embassy will cause a huge clash and outbreak, not only in Palestine, but also across the world. It will certainly create a negative impression of the US. Moving the embassy is terrorism on a mass scale against the Palestinian people, and if the transfer goes ahead, a third Intifada will erupt, which will extend into the Arab and Muslim world.”
Al Jazeera: UN condemns huge Israeli settlement plan:
The United Nations has denounced recent Israeli initiatives to accelerate settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territory, stressing that "unilateral actions" are an obstacle to peace based on a two-state solution. Palestinian officials condemned the latest announcement. A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it dealt a new blow to attempts to bring peace to the region and that it would promote "extremism". Nabil Abu Rdeineh said the decision "disregards" international opposition to the settlements and he called on the international community to take a "real and serious position" against Israel. Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from East Jerusalem, noted that the Israeli defence ministry's statement said that 100 of the new settler homes would be built in Beit El, a settlement bloc "that is deep within the Palestinian territory". On Tuesday, Trump's chief spokesman refrained from stating a position on the settlement announcement but said the two leaders would discuss settlements when they meet in Washington next month. Meir Turgeman, Jerusalem's deputy mayor, told the AFP news agency: "The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump's arrival as president, we no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build."
English PNN: A Settler Living in an Illegal Outpost Issue Orders to Demolish Palestinian Homes
The racism in Israel is mostly reflected in every aspect of their life, the last of which came within the context of disclosing that Head of the Regional Unit to enforce the laws of planning and building at the Israeli Ministry of Finance, Adv. Avi Cohen, who is in charge of implementing the law of demolishing Palestinian homes, is living in an unlicensed building in the illegal Bilgi Mime outpost, built in 1984, on lands belonging to Qaryout, Saweiya and Al-Luban in Nablus Governorate, under a government resolution. Cohen was appointed 2 years ago as a Head of the Regional Unit to enforce the laws of planning and building, also called Regional Unit for Monitoring the Building.  Moreover, the Unit has the powers and authority to follow-up everything related to construction in cooperation with all planning institutions. At the same time, the Israeli occupation government continues to defy the international community and refuses to comply with the UN resolution 2334 that criminalized the settlement, and demanded the Israeli government to halt its settlement activities, as the occupation government expands the settlement and land confiscation activities, following the Knesset has approved a draft law in 2nd and 3rd readings for recognizing the military occupation court’s resolutions in the West Bank as acceptable evidences in the civil proceedings at the Israeli courts, despite the the Israeli Attorney General’s prior warnings and international consequences if the law is passed.
Ma’an News Agency: Hamas chief heads to Cairo to discuss bilateral ties, Palestinian reconciliation
Hamas deputy chief Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Sunday to hold meetings with Egyptian political and security officials regarding future relations between the country and the Palestinian movement. An Egyptian security official said that Haniyeh would meet with the head of Egyptian intelligence agency, Khalid Fawzi, to discuss the possibility of reopening the Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt permanently, and the security situation near the border between Egypt and Gaza. The Egyptian security source said that relations between Egypt and Hamas had recently improved, particularly due to Hamas’ willingness to cooperate with Egypt regarding security measures at the border. The security official said that the meetings would also address the reconciliation process between Hamas, which is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank, by offering to host talks between the two sides in Cairo. They added that Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi had given Egyptian officials the “green light” to strengthen the country’s relationship with all Palestinian factions in order to help achieve Palestinian unity, and had contacted newly instated US President Donald Trump to express Egypt’s opposition to the United States possibly moving its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Hebrew News Sources
The Times of Israel: Senior Palestinian official: Moving US embassy ‘a declaration of war’ on Muslims
“In our opinion moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war against Muslims,” Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub, who also presides over the Palestinian soccer association, told The Times of Israel in an interview. He went on to say: “it is not inconceivable that the United States will give the Jews the keys to the holy sites in Jerusalem – sites also holy to both Christians and Muslims. If someone among you [Israelis] thinks there won’t be consequences, he is making a grave mistake.” On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said talks had begun on moving the embassy, but seemed to indicate an actual move could be a long time away. Rajoub’s comments echoed statements made by other officials in the PA and Fatah, as well as declarations by leaders in the Arab world, including in states that are considered moderate and have relations with Israel. One such country, Jordan, a key player in the saga over the potential embassy move, has already said such a step would be “crossing a red line.” A Palestinian official told Israel Radio after the meeting that if Trump gives the go-ahead to the embassy move, the PA will turn to the United Nations General Assembly to request a suspension of Israel’s UN membership. According to the officials, the leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization has already decided that if the move goes through it will renounce its recognition of Israel, as well as in practice its recognition of the Oslo Accords.
Jerusalem Post: 350% Spike in Palestinian Petitions to Halt Demolitions
High Court of Justice petitions to halt IDF demolitions of illegal Palestinian structures have increased by 350% in the last six years, the Civil Administration said in Thursday. Its representatives provided the data to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee subgroup on Judea and Samaria. The parliamentarians spent the day in the West Bank to examine illegal Palestinian construction, and enforcement issues, particularly near Ma’aleh Adumim and in the Jordan Valley. “The numbers of petitions are unprecedented and impact the policy of enforcement,” said a Civil Administration representative. “There is no day in which a petition is not filed,” he said, adding that it could reach up to 14 or 15 a week. “The Palestinians know that these petitions tie our hands for a long time, and that is what they want to achieve,” he said. “It is not just about illegal structures, it could also be agriculture,” he added, as he recalled an instance in which they had planted 2,000 saplings in a firing zone. If there were about 50 petitions in 2010, last year there were 224, two Civil Administration officials explained. It’s an approximately 350% increase. Jordan Valley Regional Council head Dudu Elhayani urged the Civil Administration to give his council the authority to deal with both planning for Palestinian building and for enforcement. Some members of the group [Jordan Valley Regional Council] said the best resolution would be for the Civil Administration to issue building permits for the Palestinians, given that very few are handed out. Other MKs put the issue in the context of the larger struggle between for Area C, noting that the Palestinians deliberately place illegal structures on state land to create facts on the ground. Elhayani and MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi), who chairs the subgroup, said if the area was under full Israeli law, instead of military rule, it would be easier to deal with building issues.
Ynet News: Lieberman: 'In the next conflict—we will not stop until a white flag is raised'
At a conference held by the Institute for National Security Studies on Tuesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the IDF's orders are to "go in full force." "If the other side doesn't yield and raise a white flag, we don't stop." Lieberman criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud "Abu Mazen" Abbas, saying, "There is no one there to actually sign a dramatic agreement with that would change reality. We need a powerful leadership with sway in the field, but Abu Mazen is not a legitimate leader." He continued to say that "there is no Palestinian Authority. It doesn't exist. We keep forgetting the fact that the Gaza strip is ruled by Hamas and not by the PA. There were many good people who worked on an agreement. Why couldn't they work out the problem? It would be impossible to offer Abu Mazen more than what Olmert offered him in Annapolis, including dividing Jerusalem, rehashing the refugee issue, and the evacuation of the West Bank—everything. And what did we end up getting? A no.",7340,L-4912293,00.html
Haaretz: Shootings by Palestinians Main Threat in West Bank, Israeli Officer Says
The main security threat in the West Bank is shooting attacks, particularly on highways, a senior Israeli army officer in the territories told military reporters Thursday, summing up events in 2016. He noted that the number of knifing attacks, car-rammings and shootings had declined last year compared with 2015. More specifically, the number of shootings at soldiers and the Border Police declined, but the number of such attacks on civilians remained unchanged at 18 incidents. He said many shootings stemmed from copycat attempts after attacks that reaped significant casualties. Late this week there have been three shooting incidents in the West Bank. The army said soldiers were fired on Wednesday near the West Bank village of Abud, near the settlement of Halamish. Soldiers later searched the area. Army figures show that in 2016, equipment was confiscated at 43 workshops, with 445 weapons seized. Of these, 100 were Carl Gustavs and 40 were standard M16s, which cost between 50,000 and 60,000 shekels each. “We’ve caught fewer than 500 guns, which is negligible compared to what’s out there, estimated to be in the many thousands,” the officer said.

BBC: UN condemns Israel's West Bank settlement plans
A UN spokesman said "unilateral actions" were an obstacle to peace based on a two-state solution. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would build 2,500 more homes in Jewish settlements "in response to housing needs". It is the second such announcement by the Israeli authorities since US President Donald Trump took office. Palestinian officials said the plans undermined peace hopes by building on land they want for a future state. Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, said: "For the secretary general there is no Plan B for the two-states solution. "There is a need for the two parties to engage in a bona fide negotiation to reach the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, two states for two people." Most of the new homes approved on Tuesday will be built in existing West Bank settlement blocs, including 902 in Ariel and 652 in Givat Zeev. One hundred will be constructed in Beit El, a settlement near Ramallah that reportedly has received funding from a foundation run by the family of Mr Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
Time: President Trump Hasn't Decided on Israeli Embassy Move, Despite Campaign Pledge
Despite public commitments to move the U.S. embassy to Israel during the presidential campaign, President Donald Trump has not decided on the move, the White House said Monday. After reports suggesting the move of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could come as soon as this week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the Administration is only beginning to consider the relocation. “We are at the early stages of this decision making process," Spicer told reporters. When pressed if he could commit that at the end of Trump's first term that the embassy would be moved, Spicer replied, "If it was already a decision, we wouldn't be going through a process." While a presidential candidate last March, Trump indicated, however, that he was already set on the idea, saying he would move the embassy to Jerusalem. "Fairly quickly," he told CNN. "I mean, it's a process, but fairly quickly. I mean, the fact is, I would like to see it moved, and I would like to see it in Jerusalem." The announcement from Spicer comes barely 24 hours after Trump spoke with Netanyahu on Sunday for the first time as President. Trump faces a June 1 deadline to weigh in formally on the subject when the final six-month Obama waiver of the Jerusalem Embassy Act expires.
i24 News: Israel Supreme Court halts Amona relocation after new Palestine petition
Israel's Supreme Court on Monday froze relocation plans for the residents of the wildcat Amona outpost in the West Bank, as Palestinian landowners filed a petition against the plan. Amona, home to about 40 families, was built on lands privately owned by Palestinians, who successfully petitioned Israeli courts for the outpost's removalResidents in December agree to a compromise offered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which some families would be moved to an adjacent plot of land and the rest set up in nearby Ofra in exchange for committing to peacefully leave their current homes. “The lack of a clear solution has once again raised the possibility of a forced evacuation of the Amona settlers by the Israeli government and fears that violence could result. An initial deadline of December 25, 2016 was given for the outpost to be removed.The court then granted an extension of the deadline to February 8 when the residents promised to relocate peacefully. All Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, but Israel differentiates between those it has approved and those it has not. Settlements such as Amona are called outposts -- those that Israel has not approved.
The Independent: Donald Trump 'freezes Barack Obama's last minute $221m aid package to Palestinian Authority'
The Trump administration has reportedly frozen a multimillion dollar aid package granted to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the final hours of Barack Obama’s presidency. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was told by US officials not to expect the $220 million payout earlier this week, the Times of Israel reported, citing a senior PA source.  Mr Obama had overruled Congress to make the decision, with the money intended to support good governance and humanitarian aid. But the State Department is now reviewing the payment and may make changes so it "aligns with the priorities" of the Trump administration. Congress had approved previous donations to the PA – it received $250 million in aid from the US in 2016 to support humanitarian costs, hospitals and buying fuel from Israel, according to the source. But Republican politicians placed a hold on the most recent payment, which Mr Obama then forced through, ignoring the norm of respecting congressional decisions.
Haaretz: Is Trump Already Walking Back His Jerusalem Embassy Promise? Let’s Hope He Is
In its first days in office, the Trump administration has started to push back against the president’s loud and reiterated campaign promises to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer now says "there's no decision” about the move and fudged any immediate expectations of a timeline by adding, "We're at the very early stages of that decision making process." Hopefully this abrupt change in tone is a result of the administration’s post-inauguration meet-up with Middle East realities: that the embassy move has potentially dangerous political consequences both for Israel and for the U.S. itself, and a high potential cost in terms of human lives. Trump’s pro-move campaign promises were received with joy by top Israeli ministers and right-wing politicians. The Mayor of Jerusalem even launched a public campaign thanking President Trump and encouraging him to follow through on his commitment on the topic. It is not by chance that, as of today, not a single country has an embassy in Jerusalem. Since legislation passed in 1995, every six months – in June and in December, the U.S. President, whether Democrat or Republican, has signed a waiver postponing the implementation of the bill on the grounds of U.S. national security considerations. President Obama did so for the last time in early December 2016. Among the reasons leading to the signing of these waivers was the concern that relocating the embassy would jeopardize the ability of the U.S. to serve as an honest broker and as a credible negotiator between Israel and the Arab world. Any American decision to reverse this long-standing policy and relocate the embassy will certainly backfire.
Al-Jazeera: In the US, we need a Muslim-Jewish alliance
Since the election of Donald Trump, there has been a renewed interest across the country in Muslim-Jewish partnership. Trump's ascension to power on a platform of racism and xenophobia has caused many to fear what lies ahead. From potential policy measures, such as a Muslim registry and the intensification of the Countering Violent Extremism Initiative, to the emboldening of white supremacist groups bent on causing physical harm to both Muslims and Jews, there is an urgent sense that we all need to come together to weather this fascist storm. Today, many of the groups eager to rush to the frontlines of Muslim-Jewish partnership after Trump's election - groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) - have for decades been complicit in helping create the climate of Islamophobia they claim to abhor. Far too often, interfaith partnerships with groups like the ADL and AJC create pressure on Muslim organisations to remain silent on Israel/Palestine, or to attack the movement for Palestinian rights, out of fear of being accused of anti-Semitism. In too many interfaith partnerships, Muslims are required to put "relationships before politics" and the "local over international", effectively stifling their political agency. We urge American Muslim groups not to partner with organisations like the ADL and the AJC, so long as they continue to limit discourse on Israel/Palestine and to oppose the demands of Palestinians for justice and freedom. Then, and only then, can relationships of mutual respect and cooperation come to fruition and have the capacity, structure and commitment to work towards transformative change here in the US and globally.
RT: Is Trump about to spark a Third Intifada in Palestine?
If reports are to be believed President Trump is planning to relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it will almost certainly be the catalyst for the explosion of a Third Intifada. The 45th President has made no secret of his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, designed to prevent the Iranians developing a nuclear weapon in return for the lifting of international sanctions. Negotiated between the Iranian government and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (p5+1) in 2015, the agreement counts as one of the Obama administration’s few foreign policy successes. The key point is that despite Trump’s bluster about Iran and the Iran deal, the alternative to it is war. To remind both him and those of the same mind, such a war would make the current chaos and conflict in the region tame by comparison. The two states in the Middle East most responsible for creating instability and conflict in the region over its recent history are Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both were founded and exist on a sectarian basis, and both have regional hegemonic agendas. Both also view Iran as the greatest obstacle when it comes to achieving those plans. When it comes to Palestine only the most deluded or dishonest still regards the prospect of a two-state solution possible. It is hard to know if Trump and his team are aware of the consequences if the US becomes the only country to locate its embassy in Jerusalem, or if they know full well what the consequences will be and don’t care. Regardless, those consequences will be to unite the Palestinians in resistance to the move and to the Netanyahu government such as they have not been united since the First Intifada of 1987-1993.


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