Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel-Palestine News 13th -19th August 2016
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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 said about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from different perspectives. 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. Please BE RESOURCEFUL and research for yourself a diversity of sources for everything you read or hear about Israel-Palestine. 
Arabic News Sources (English versions)
PNN: Palestinian teen killed and dozens injured by Israeli army
The Israeli army on Tuesday has shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian teen in Al-Fawwar refugee camp during clashes that broke out during an Israeli raid raid on the camp, in addition to injuring dozens of others with teargas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. The teen was identified as Mohammed Hashhash. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, he was shot with live ammunition in the heart. Abu Hashhash he became the 218th Palestinian to have been killed by Israelis since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the West Bank and Israel in October. At least half of those who have been killed since October died during protests and clashes and were not armed. In July, Israeli rights group Adalah revealed that Israeli police had unveiled new regulations which permit Israeli officers to use live ammunition on Palestinian protesters and stone throwers before trying any non-lethal option.

Al Arabiya: Israel arrests Hamas election committee member
Israeli troops arrested the Hamas representative on the organizing committee for October Palestinian municipal elections Wednesday, the Islamist movement said. Hamas condemned what it called an “attempt to influence” the outcome of the elections, the first in the Palestinian territories since 2012. “We condemn the arrest of Sheikh Hussein Abu Kweik,” a Hamas statement said, adding that he had been detained in the early morning in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army confirmed the arrest, accusing Abu Kweik of involvement in “Hamas terrorist activity” without giving details. The October 8 vote will be only the third Palestinian municipal elections since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993. Hamas has agreed to field candidates this time after boycotting the last elections in 2012. Registration began Tuesday. There have been no Palestinian parliamentary elections since 2006 when Hamas won by a landslide. The following year conflict broke out between Hamas and the rival Fatah faction of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, leading to the ouster of his loyalists from Gaza and the formation of rival administrations. Repeated attempts at forming a unity government to rule both Gaza and the West Bank have all failed.

Middle East Eye: Israel plans new building projects for South Hebron Hills
Israel is planning a number of large construction projects in the Occupied West Bank, amid fraught ties with the United States and European Union over expanding illegal settlements. Israel’s Civil Administration for the West Bank has a “strategic plan” to build industrial parks, a medical centre, and houses in the South Hebron Hills region, according to a document seen by Haaretz and reported on Monday. The document was sent in January from the then head of civil administration, Brigadier General David Menachem, to the head of the Har Hebron Regional Council, Yochai Damari. The civil administration told Haaretz that the slated construction projects have not advanced since the plan was formulated in January. “No plans for building these centres have been submitted to the planning agencies,” the administration said. The document did not state how many new homes are planned to be built in the South Hebron Hills region, but it added that any new plans would have to be approved by the government. The South Hebron Hills region has hit the headlines in recent months over the planned demolition of the Palestinian village of Susiya. Inhabitants of Susiya, a small village of 500 people who live in tents and makeshift structures, were forced out of their homes in 1986. They now live opposite a settlement of the same name and complain of regular violence carried out by Israeli soldiers. American and European Union officials have warned Israel not to demolish Susiya. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is yet to issue his opinion on whether the village is to be demolished or not.

Ma’an News Agency: Scottish football club fans wave Palestinian flags during match with Israeli team
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Fans of the Scottish Celtic Football Club waved Palestinian flags during an international playoff game for qualification for the UEFA Champions League tournament against the Israeli Hapoel Beersheba club on Wednesday. Entire sections of Celtic supporters brought Palestinian flags to the Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow, in spite of threats of arrest by Scottish police should it deem that flags and banners displayed at the match constitute “criminality.” “When someone is representing Israeli state institutions, it is sadly never merely a game,” a statement by the group Celtic Fans for Palestine, which organized the event on social media, read ahead of the game. “Football, UEFA and Celtic F.C. are being used to whitewash Israel's true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until its impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached.” “Until there is end to the brutal occupation and medieval siege of the West Bank and Gaza, until the Palestinian citizens of current day Israel have the chains of apartheid lifted from them and until all Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to their homeland, we will always be visually and openly in support of the Palestinians and opposed to their Israeli colonizers and oppressors,” the statement added. “We are with you Palestine. You will never walk alone.” Celtic F.C. won the match 5 to 2. It remained unclear on Thursday whether police had effectively detained supporters, although local media reported that the Celtic club could risk its stadium being closed to UEFA matches going forward. Celtic F.C. fans had previously waved Palestinian flags during a match against Iceland's KR Reykjavik club in 2014. The UEFA at the time had fined the club some $18,000 for violating its rules prohibiting political expression.

Al Jazeera: Israel to demolish Bedouin school near Jerusalem
A protest is due to take place outside a school in Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, after Israeli authorities ordered it be shut down and demolished.  The solidarity protest, organised by the Palestinian Ministry of Education, was staged after village residents and the Italian ambassador were informed in writing on Monday of Israel's decision to shut the school, which accommodates 170 students from five Bedouin communities in the region, community spokesman Eid Abo Khamis told Al Jazeera.  Italian aid organisation Vento Di Terra helped the Jahalin Bedouin community residing in al-Khan al-Ahmar to build the school in 2009 to serve as an alternative to distant schools, the routes to which are both risky and expensive.  Shlomo Lecker, the attorney representing the Jerusalem-based Bedouin community, told Al Jazeera that the Italian ambassador had been summoned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the matter. “I spoke to the Italian ambassador several days ago after his meeting with Netanyahu,” Lecker told Al Jazeera, adding that the ambassador was informed that an official order was going to be issued to close the school down. "In response to these orders, the Palestinian Ministry of Education decided to open the school a week earlier than originally planned. This might make any plans of closure more difficult to carry out." Starting the school year earlier than scheduled ensures that students are in regular attendance inside the premises, which makes it less likely for Israeli authorities to permanently close the school down.  According to a report released by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the Israeli Civil Administration, the governing body of Israel's occupation in the West Bank, issued a demolition order one month after the school had been opened in 2009, because it was built near a road to which expansion plans had already been approved. Nearby Israeli settlements and the Israeli NGO Regavi have petitioned the Supreme Court three times since then, demanding the demolition of the encampments in Khan al-Ahmar, which are home to some 100 families.

Hebrew News Sources (English versions)
The Jerusalem Post, IDF seizes weapons, terror funds overnight in the West Bank
In an operation to confiscate terrorist funds and illegal weapons in the West Bank overnight Wednesday, IDF forces, in cooperation with the Israel Civil Administration and police, arrested five wanted Palestinians. Two suspects were arrested when a search of their home turned up ammunition and an improvised grenade. Additionally, in a weapons detection operation in the village of Jab'a, the IDF seized a shotgun-type weapon, ammunition and military equipment. Further arrests included one suspect who was allegedly involved in terrorism, mass disturbances and violence towards civilians and security forces. Thousands of shekels in terror funds were also seized. This year has seen a large-scale security operation by the IDF aimed at halting the illegal manufacturing of deadly weapons throughout the restive territory.  Since the beginning of 2016, over 19 weapons manufacturing facilities have been seized along with 200 firearms, according to a previous statement by the IDF.

Israel Hayom, Defense minister seeks direct dialogue with Palestinian public
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met Wednesday with top officers in the IDF General Staff in Tel Aviv and presented them with the principles of his plan to fight terrorism across Judea and Samaria. Dubbing the measures "carrots, sticks and strikes," Lieberman said he plans to pursue measures that would undercut Palestinians involved in terrorist activity while offering benefits to those who reject terrorism. "The Palestinians have to understand that those willing to pursue coexistence will benefit, and those who take part in terrorist attacks will only lose," Lieberman said. The cost of the plan is estimated at 400 million shekels ($105 million). Lieberman presented the General Staff with a map dividing Judea and Samaria into "hot zones": Areas known as hotbeds of terrorism were marked in red or yellow, while areas where terrorist activity is minimal or nonexistent were colored in shades of green. According to Lieberman's plan, "green" Palestinian communities will receive incentives in the form of improved residential infrastructure, increases in the number of work permits for residents, upgrades to checkpoints, and the promotion of zoning and building plans. Palestinian towns that are "red" and "yellow," however, would see an increase in the number of military raids, the razing of terrorists' homes, more frequent vehicles searches, the seizing of assets used to fund terrorist activity, and increased enforcement against incitement. Known "red" Palestinian communities are located in the greater Hebron area, the towns surrounding Bethlehem, and the Dheisheh and Qalandiya refugee camps. The defense minister also announced a series of steps to forge a direct line of communication with the Palestinian population, in what Lieberman called a path meant to "bypass" Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "We have to eliminate the need for mediators when addressing those who truly seek to pursue coexistence," Lieberman said. "Just as Abbas holds a direct dialogue with the Israeli public, I want to hold a direct dialogue with the Palestinian public. Abbas is an obstacle, and he refuses to reach a [peace] deal. I want to talk with those who do want a deal, to talk about social and economic issues. We have to live with each other, so we have to find a way to talk."

Haaretz, Ehud Barak: Netanyahu's Poor Judgment, Rocky Relations With Obama Damaged Israel's Security
Former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at a conference on Wednesday that a series of events in recent months caused damage to Israel's security as a result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's mistaken judgment and his rocky relations with U.S. President Barack Obama. Barak noted in his speech that he could give no further details as to the incident because of its sensitivity. Speaking at a conference of the Darkenu movement in Rishon Letzion, Barak said that "there's also a heavy price in another incident in which, again, [there was a] worrying mix of inability to judge deep security interests and the priorities they dictate alongside a lack of internalization of the potential of cooperation with the United States, as well as careless operational behavior." "All these led to a most worrisome exposure of Israel to a central security challenge. Due to the sensitivity of the matter I won't be able to clarify further," he said. Senior officials from the Prime Minister's Bureau told Haaretz that they don’t know which "security incident" Barak was referring to. "We examined the issue. There's no such thing. Period," his bureau said.  Barak also mentioned in his speech that damage to Israel's security was also caused on the issue of the military aid agreement with the United States as a result of "his reckless gamble… in conducting relations with the White House" regarding the nuclear agreement with Iran. Barak claimed that instead of receiving 4.5 billion dollars a year as was expected and practical right after the signing of the agreement in Vienna in July 2015, Israel will receive only 3.8 billion dollars a year and will commit to not demanding additional aid from Congress. According to Barak, as a result of Netanyahu's conduct Israel was forced to gradually give up on the possibility to use the American aid money for procurement in the Israeli military industries, which according to him means a direct damage of 3 billion shekels a year. "It means that vital projects will be stopped or canceled and thousands of [people] dismissed in the military industries," Barak said. "Or, alternatively, cuts of another 3 billion shekels a year in budgets for education, society and infrastructure."

The Jerusalem Post: PLO’s Erekat lashes out at Europe for not supporting Israel boycott
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat expressed dismay at the European Union for failing to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel on Tuesday. In an op-ed penned for Newsweek, Erekat said that the Palestinians had been "astonished" to see official EU representation at two recent anti-BDS conferences. Erekat claimed that the EU representative to Israel had both praised the Jewish state for its human rights record and stated that "settlement products are welcome in European markets.” Erekat called on EU representatives, such as foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, to reverse statements to the effect that "no concrete actions" would be taken against Israeli "violations" of international law. Singling out the UK's decision to criminalize boycott campaigns against Israel, Erekat said that the Palestinians would no longer accept empty statements of support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "while granting immunity to Israeli crimes and systematic violations of international law." The PLO official spoke against "the latest Israeli announcement to deport or deny entry to foreign passport holders that are involved in peaceful campaigns against the Israeli occupation," an apparent reference to the government task force announced by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Deri earlier this month that will work to deport activists calling to boycott Israel. "The least we could expect from the international community, particularly Europe, is to take an active role in supporting the right to take peaceful action against human rights violations, rather than supporting, either directly or indirectly, the attempts to criminalize such actions," Erekat said. According to Erdan and Deri, dozens of organizations in Israel collect information and use it to promote boycotts against Israel and make it more isolated. BDS activists, the ministers said, visit the West Bank to provoke Palestinian violence and obstruct soldiers and Border Police. Erdan, who is also strategic affairs and public diplomacy minister, said the task force “is a necessary step in light of the malicious intentions of delegitimization activists who act to spread lies and twist the reality in our region.

The Times of Israel: Co-founder of Hamas military wing issues startling apology to Palestinians
A Palestinian terrorist who co-founded Hamas’s notorious military wing in 1991 and was directly involved in the killing of Israeli soldiers, published a startling Facebook post in which he apologized to fellow Palestinians for his activities. He also indicated that he now considers the Islamist terror group, which he did not mention by name, to be “the devil,” sowing hatred and bringing destruction to the Palestinian people. He made no apology for terrorism and violence directed against Israel. Muhammad Nazami Nasser was one of the founders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which has been responsible for years of terrorism against Israel and is headed by terror chief Mohammed Deif. In 1989, Nasser was one of the Hamas team that kidnapped and murdered Israeli soldiers Avi Sasportas and Ilan Saadon. Those attacks marked the first time Hamas had kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers. Nasser was known to be close to Mahmoud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas military commander and weapons importer to Hamas-run Gaza, who was assassinated in Dubai in 2010, in an operation widely attributed to Israel’s Mossad. Mabhouh was also part of the 1989 Hamas squad that kidnapped and killed the Israeli soldiers. In an emotional, fierce and at times incoherent Facebook post on Wednesday, Nasser apologized for his activities to nearly all of the various factions of the Palestinian people by name, including “Palestinians within and outside [of Palestine],” “the immortal Palestinian president Yasser Arafat,” Fatah, the PFLP, the DFLP and many others. The terror group Islamic Jihad – another militant Islamist group that sometimes cooperates with Hamas – was not included. Nasser said he was sorry for the “horror of hatred that lived within me toward you [i.e., the political factions],” and for his “relentless work so that you would not have a geographical or political place on the national map.” “I apologize to you for my biggest dream,” he continued, “that you would all be buried beneath the ground, dead and motionless.”

US-UK News Sources
The Guardian: Egyptian judoka sent home for refusing to shake Israeli opponent's hand
Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby has been sent home from the Rio Olympics after refusing to shake the hand of his Israeli opponent, Or Sasson, at the end of their bout, the International Olympic Committee said on Monday. El Shehaby, who was sent home by his own team, lost the fight on Friday and was reprimanded by the IOC for his actions. The IOC acknowledged that the rules of judo do not oblige players to shake hands but said El Shehaby’s behaviour went against the Games’ “rules of fair play” and “spirit of friendship”. “The Egyptian Olympic Committee has also strongly condemned the actions of Mr Islam El Shehaby and has sent him home,” the IOC said in a statement. “The President of the National Olympic Committee issued a statement saying they respected all athletes and all nations at the Olympic Games.” After Sasson defeated El Shehaby and the pair retook their places in front of the referee, the Egyptian backed away when Sasson bowed and approached him to shake hands. When called back by the referee to bow, El Shehaby gave a quick nod before walking off amid loud boos from the crowd. “The Disciplinary Commission [DC] considered that his behaviour at the end of the competition was contrary to the rules of fair play and against the spirit of friendship embodied in the Olympic Values,” the IOC said. “The DC issued a ‘severe reprimand for inappropriate behaviour’ to the athlete. It noted ... the shaking of hands after a match is not in the competition rules of the International Judo Federation.” “As well as a severe reprimand, the DC has asked the Egyptian Olympic Committee to ensure in future that all their athletes receive proper education on the Olympic Values before coming to the Olympic Games,” the IOC said.  El Shehaby, 32, had reportedly been pressured by fans on social media not to show up for the match with his Israeli opponent, who went on to win bronze in the +100kg category, because it would reflect badly on Islam. “Shaking the hand of your opponent is not an obligation written in the judo rules. It happens between friends and he’s not my friend,” El Shehaby said after the bout. “I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religion or different beliefs. But for personal reasons, you can’t ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this state, especially in front of the whole world,” he said. Egypt was the first Arab power to make peace with Israel, in 1979, but the treaty remains unpopular among many Egyptians.

Fox News: Israel punishes troops filmed attacking hookah smokers
JERUSALEM –  The Israeli military has sentenced a platoon sergeant to 10 days in jail and disciplined two other soldiers after video emerged of them shooting a stun grenade at Palestinian men smoking a water pipe in the northern West Bank. In the video, captured by a security camera, an Israeli military jeep pulls up to the four Palestinians, stops briefly, then drives away as a soldier tosses a stun grenade and sends the Palestinians fleeing. Stun grenades are not lethal but produce bright light and loud noise. The military said Thursday the troops were disciplined for acting "contrary to military standards." Earlier this month, another video showed Israeli forces seizing and destroying a Palestinian girl's bicycle. The Justice Ministry said the incident was unprofessional but did not warrant criminal proceedings.

New York Times: Fatah makes incendiary Facebook claim of killing 11,000 Israelis
JERUSALEM — In an effort to appeal to Palestinians ahead of hotly contested elections, the party of President Mahmoud Abbas listed one of its main achievements as having “killed 11,000 Israelis.” The party, Fatah, made the incendiary claim on Tuesday in an Arabic-language post on one of its official Facebook pages. “For the argumentative … the ignorant … And for those who do not know history,” begins the Facebook post, “The Fatah movement killed 11,000 Israelis.” Fatah also claimed to have “offered 170,000 martyrs,” and hundreds of its followers, it said, were in “Israeli occupation jails.” By Thursday the post had been shared 30 times and liked 163 times. The post garnered additional attention after it was translated into English by Palestinian Media Watch, an organization that monitors anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements in the Arab news media. The website noted that it was the second time Fatah had made the inaccurate claim. The first was in August 2014. Israelis and Palestinians have long accused each other of incitement to violence. But in Israeli eyes, Palestinian leaders starting with Yasir Arafat, the father of Palestinian nationalism who helped found Fatah in 1959, have had a habit of saying one thing in Arabic and another in English. In the early 2000s, at the height of the second Palestinian uprising, Mr. Arafat led crowds in the West Bank city of Ramallah in a chant of “To Jerusalem, we are going, martyrs in the millions!” days after writing an Op-Ed article in The New York Times about the Palestinian vision of peace. Mr. Abbas, who succeeded Mr. Arafat, has repeatedly said he supports nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation. But Fatah has historically championed armed resistance as a central tenet of its doctrine for the liberation of the Palestinian people. Fatah is now a large and unwieldy movement, and its activists often make statements that do not reflect Mr. Abbas’s position. “President Abbas’s party boasts about committing mass murder and yet it is called ‘moderate’ by many,” said David Keyes, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. “Imagine if Palestinian leaders spent their time praising coexistence instead of terror.” Husam Zomlot, the strategic affairs adviser to Mr. Abbas, first questioned whether the Facebook page was official, and then said it was probably the work of some “hot-blooded youths.” Mr. Zomlot said that Israeli officials frequently wrote incendiary Facebook posts, and that Fatah’s concerns were elsewhere. “I’m from Fatah and one of its leaders,” he said. “We present a complete political platform, and the most important thing is to end the Israeli occupation.” The comments on the official Fatah Facebook page came in the context of coming local and municipal elections that are expected to be held on Oct. 8.

BBC: Israel to reinforce West Bank barrier
Israel began building its controversial separation barrier in 2002 after a wave of suicide bombings. Just over 60% of it is complete and after recent attacks on Israelis by Palestinians, Israel has promised to reinforce areas and make it harder for people to cross. Katy Watson reports.

The Guardian: Human rights activists are being portrayed as terrorists and foreign puppets
In this article, the author points to the recent accusations against Mohammad Halabi, who was charged by the Israeli authorities with channelling millions of dollars of charitable funds to Hamas.  In Sriskandarajah’s view, although ‘some will argue that this as an example of civil society organisations (CSOs) being vulnerable to corruption and political capture’, it is in reality ‘yet another example of states cracking down on civic space.’ In this case, World Vision says ‘they are yet to see any evidence of Halabi’s alleged wrongdoing and have pointed out discrepancies between the amount of funds he is accused of channelling to Hamas and the charity’s actual budget year on year.’ Moreover, Sriskandarajah points to his witnessing ‘first-hand’ of the effort that ‘organisations like World Vision take to demonstrate their accountability’, through initiatives like the INGO Accountability Charter. In the author’s view, this recent case is emblematic of a broader trend, namely, the ‘systematic efforts by Israeli authorities to intimidate and undermine civil society’. He states, ‘Halabi’s arrest – and another arrest of a UN development programme staff member on similar charges – comes against a backdrop of ongoing intimidation by the Israeli state of international NGOs and UN agencies working in Palestine. In July this year, the Israeli parliament (the Knesset) passed a so-called transparency law restricting the activities of all CSOs that receive more than 50% of their funding from international sources.’ Many see this law as a ‘blatant attempt to target CSOs uncovering human rights violations committed by the authorities.’ He then recounts, as an example, the experience of his colleagues at CIVICUS, which recorded serious violations of civic space in 109 countries, stating that organisations like these that are ‘working to question the power of political and economic elites, to expose poor governance or to advocate for the rights of excluded groups, are facing the most severe restrictions’. The author ends by stating that although he has ‘no idea whether Mohammad Halabi is innocent or guilty as charged’, the recent accusations ‘forms part of a much more complex ongoing narrative, in which civil society activists are routinely being cast as terrorists, traitors, foreign puppets or members of a disconnected elite.’

The Jerusalem Post: Two kinds of peace
The author of this article advocates a ‘bottom-up’ approach to solving the Israel-Palestine conflict, which begins with ‘the people’, committed to the idea that ‘only when both Israelis and Palestinians accept the notion that their societies are inexorably tied to one another will it be possible to realize peace.’ In effect, Israelis and Palestinians ‘need to internalize the idea that relations cannot be reduced to a zero-sum game in which one side must lose and the other must win’, recognising that ‘they share the same geographic area; that their economies are intertwined in deep and intricate ways; that the environmental negligence of one people has ramifications for the other; and that [they] must learn to communicate with one another for the betterment of both peoples.’  The author then points to the opening of a recent mall in Gush Etzion, which ‘caters to both Israelis and Palestinians living in the area’, during which ‘Muslim women wearing hijabs and traditional dress could be seen shopping alongside religious Jewish women in skirts, and scarves tied over their hair’, citing this as an example of ‘coexistence in action.’ Another mall planned for next year takes this one step further, ‘the first Israeli- Palestinian mall’ near Ramallah in which both Israeli and Palestinian shop owners will rent space.’ The author notes, ‘daily interactions are not only inevitable, but potentially rewarding and mutually beneficial. If Palestinians and Israelis can do business together and interact on a daily basis in other constructive ways, maybe they will be able to cooperate politically and diplomatically as well.’ Yet, the author also identifies that ‘The bottom-up approach must be complemented by a top-down plan – malls and joint ventures must be backed by political leaders and diplomatic arrangements.’ Both Palestinian and Israeli politicians must recognise that ‘peace is an imperative’, demonstrating ‘a willingness to compromise on Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugee problem, settlements, borders, and military cooperation, and…to make painful concessions.’ The ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ approach are jointly necessary, for diplomatic gestures are ‘meaningless’ if not accompanied by ‘substantive business and social ties’ between Palestinians and Israelis, and ‘improved economic ties’ will not bring peace until politicians prepare their people for ‘peace’ and a ‘direction forward’.

Al Jazeera: Israeli settlement expansion ‘a war on the mind’
Sheren Khalel, in this article, narrates the experience of Omar Halajay, a resident of Walaja, a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank. Khalel notes, ‘Walaja is a quiet village, apart from the rumblings and bangings of the much larger Gilo settlement expanding on its eastern side - disruptions that are expected to intensify after Israel's announcement to build 770 new settler units. As parts of both the Har Gilo and Gilo settlements are built on Walaja's land, residents believe that their further expansion solidifies the confiscation of land that previously belonged to the village, removing any hope that residents could one day get their land back.’ For the past six years, Halajay has been ‘fighting for his right to keep the home and land passed down to him from his father’, a third of which has been cut off by various Israeli barriers. The Israeli government has tried to confiscate Halajay's land and home on several occasions, but he took the orders to court and won the right to remain. In Halajay’s view, the expansion of settlements marks the end of hope: in his own words, ‘"When there are no settlements on a piece of land that has been taken, there is hope that we can get it back, but the second they start building on it, that's it - we know it's gone for good. Walaja will not get any of that land back once the new settlement homes are built on it.”  Khalel reports, ‘physically watching the settlement expansion day after day has had a negative psychological effect on his family, Halajay said - particularly on his three young children, who "can't see anything good in their future" as long as the occupation continues.’ Halajay continues: "It's a war on the mind, hearing them building all the time and knowing that that is our land they are building on. We know now we will never get it back. Soon we will be completely surrounded by the wall and the settlements will be built right up on the edge of it," he said. "And then all this space you see in al-Walaja will be gone ... They will want more security for their bigger settlement, and it is the Palestinians that will deal will the checkpoints and stops. More settlements will for sure mean more violence against our community."

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