March 20, 2010


1000 Days to the Israeli Blockade of Gaza:

Somebody tell O’Bummer!

Help to stop the next war! Support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of the Israeli regime

Support Palestinian universities – spread the BDS campaign – it is what people under the Israeli jackboot ask you to do

Any army fighting against children, has already lost!

Israeli War Criminals – to the International Criminal Court, NOW!

Make Zionism History!

One year since the Gaza Carnage by Israel’s murderers! We shall

not forget!

Demand the destruction of Israeli WMDs NOW!

Israel’s U.S. envoy: ‘No one can force us to make peace': Haaretz

Any outside attempt to impose a deal would be like ‘forcing somebody to fall in love’, says ambassador.
Outsiders cannot force peace on the Middle East and any final settlement will have to be initiated by the Israelis and Palestinians themselves, Israel’s Washington envoy said on Saturday.
In an interview with U.S. television station PBS, Ambassador Michael Oren said that any attempt by the United States to impose a peace deal would be like “forcing somebody to fall in love”.
Asked if Israel wanted the Washington to present its own peace plan, Oren said:

“No. I think peace has to be made between two people sitting opposite a table. America can help facilitate that interaction. But at the end of the day, no one can force parties in any conflict in the world to make peace. It’s like forcing somebody to fall in love. We have to sit down and thresh it out between us.”
Oren added: “If we arrive at points where we can’t agree, we can’t close the gap between us, then we – both the Israelis and the Palestinians as well – are willing to look at various bridging formulas.”
“But America is not in a position where it’s going to come in and impose a plan. I don’t think that’s to anybody’s benefit. And I’m sure parties on all sides of this conflict understand that.”

Relations between the United States and Israel have suffered a turbulent fortnight after President Barack Obama’s administration reacted angrily to news of Israeli plans to expand Jewish housing beyond the Green Line in east Jerusalem, announced during a visit to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the move, which frustrated American plans to mediate renewed talks betweem Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Palestinians, as an “insult”.
But Oren said that Netanyahu had no advanced warning of the decision and was “blindsided” by the resulting high profile row between the allies.

Asked if Netanyahu knew of the building plans, Oren said:
“Categorically no. I was with him. I was with the vice president. We were blindsided by it. It was made by a mid-level bureaucrat in the interior ministry. It wasn’t made by a senior official.”
Low-level officials had done no more than to announce an interim stage of a planning program that was would take several years to complete, Oren said.
“We were shocked. We were shocked. We were dismayed,” he said. “We immediately apologized to the vice president and his staff. We discussed with the vice president and his staff ways that we could ameliorate the situation. And we worked very hard to do that.”

The diplomatic storm peaked on Thursday when Clinton rebuked Netanyahu during a 43-minute telephone call, reportedly demanding that Israel revoke its recent building decision, roll back plans for new Jewish homes and make goodwill gestures such as releasing Palestinian prisoners and lifting some West Bank roadblocks.
Senior U.S. officials in Washington said on Saturday that Netanyahu had put in writing pledges he made to Clinton during their conversation.

Netanyahu bows to U.S. demands ahead of Washington trip: Haaretz

PM agrees to suspend building in east Jerusalem as aides scramble to arrange Obama meeting.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has bowed to U.S demands and promised goodwill gestures toward the Palestinian Authority ahead of his departure for Washington Sunday night, Haaretz has learned.
While Netanyahu has not agreed to stop building in east Jerusalem, he has promised to suspend it.
Other gestures include alleviating the blockade on the Gaza Strip for the first time since last winter’s military offensive.
Netanyahu also agreed to discuss the core issues in the dispute – including borders, refugees, Jerusalem, security arrangements, water and settlements – in revived U.S.-mediated talks.

The prime minister was responding to demands made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a telephone call on Thursday night. Clinton said on Friday that Netanyahu’s reply “was useful and productive, and we’re continuing our discussions with him and his government”.
Netanyahu refused to revoke a controversial building project in Ramat Shlomo or freeze construction in east Jerusalem. However, sources in Jerusalem said he would keep the plan “on hold” – at least until a construction freeze in the rest of the West Bank comes to end in September.
He also promised a better oversight system to prevent embarrassing incidents such as the announcement of plans for 1,600 new Jewish homes beyond the Green Line in east Jerusalem, which triggered the crisis with the U.S. during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel two weeks ago.
Sources in Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister’s gestures include allowing the UN to transport construction materials to Gaza to rebuild sewerage systems, a flour mill and 150 apartments in Khan Yunis.

Netanyahu also agreed to release hundreds of Fatah-affiliated prisoners as a gesture to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Netanyahu is scheduled to leave for Washington Sunday night with Defense Minister Ehud Barak to attend the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington. Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni and Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau will also attend the convention.
Netanyahu is slated to address the convention tomorrow at 7 P.M. (Israel time), then meet Clinton, who is also to speak at the AIPAC gathering. No meeting has been set yet between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, but officials believe such a meeting will take place on Tuesday in the White House.

Israel’s Washington envoy Michael Oren said yesterday that outsiders cannot force peace on the Middle East, and any final settlement will have to be initiated by the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.
In an interview with U.S. television station PBS, Oren said Israel was not interested in having the White House present its own peace plan. Any attempt by the United States to impose a peace deal would be like “forcing somebody to fall in love,” he said.
Asked if Israel wanted Washington to present its own peace plan, Oren said:
“No. I think peace has to be made between two people sitting across a table. America can help facilitate that interaction.”

Meanwhile, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said yesterday after getting a closer look at Israeli enclaves in the West Bank that Israeli settlement building anywhere on occupied land is illegal and must be stopped.
“The world has condemned Israel’s settlement plans in East Jerusalem,” Ban told a news conference after his brief tour.
“Let us be clear. All settlement activity is illegal anywhere in occupied territory and must be stopped.”

EDITOR: Sea change? It is quite possible

I have written yesterday about an international sea chnge towards Palestine and Israel. It took 43 years of occupation and its iniquities, the Lebanon 2006 and the Gaza 2009 massacres and massive, wanton destruction, for the international community to real;ise this cannot and should not go on. Now the politicians are catching up, it seems.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon starts Mid-East peace push: BBC

Ban Ki-Moon condemned the settlement plan
The UN secretary general is meeting Palestinian leaders at the beginning of a mission to press for a resumption of talks between them and the Israelis.
Ban Ki-Moon’s first stop was in the West Bank town of Ramallah, where he met PM Salam Fayyad. He is to see the Israeli president Shimon Peres later.
Israel’s controversial plan to build 1,600 more homes in East Jerusalem has provoked the latest round of diplomacy.
The Palestinian leadership has said the plan is an obstacle to resuming talks.
It has been strongly criticised by the Quartet of the US, Russia, the EU and the UN.
Israel announced last week it had granted permission for the new homes in the Ramat Shlomo area of East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967.
Speaking before his arrival on Saturday, Mr Ban said: “Recalling that the annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognised by the international community, the Quartet… condemns the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem.”
Mr Ban stated the goal of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement – including a Palestinian state – within two years.
The last time Mr Ban came to Israel was in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s military operation against Gaza 14 months ago.
Weekend diplomacy
Then he did not hide his anger over the high human cost of that operation, and there may be strong words from Mr Ban this time over Israel’s refusal to halt the construction of settlements, the BBC’s Jonathan Head says in Jerusalem.

About 11 Palestinians were injured in the strikes

On Sunday the US special representative George Mitchell will also visit the region to try to get the so-called proximity talks going between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to travel to Washington where he is expected to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and possibly President Barack Obama.
Speaking to the BBC earlier, Mrs Clinton indicated that hardening the tone with Israel had paid off, with talks now back in prospect.
“I think we are going to see the resumption of the negotiating track, and that means that is paying off, because that is our goal,” she said.
Israeli strikes
The diplomatic efforts come as at least 11 people were injured by Israeli air strikes targeting Gaza’s airport, Palestinian officials say.
The Israeli military confirmed the missile strikes near Rafah, in southern Gaza, which it said targeted militants.
It was the second night of Israeli raids since a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip killed a worker on an Israeli farm on Thursday.
Friday’s missiles hit Gaza’s long disused international airport and tunnels dug by militants near the border with Israel.
On Thursday, Israeli missiles hit smuggling tunnels and a metal workshop in Gaza, but there were no reports of serious injuries.
An Israeli military spokesman said the strikes were a response to five rockets fired at Israel from Gaza in the past two days – including one that killed a farm worker from Thailand in a kibbutz in southern Israel.
He was the first person to be killed by rocket fire in southern Israel since the Israeli campaign in Gaza last year.

EDITOR: Meanwhile, in Jerusalem…

While it looks like an effort is made to gently bring Israel to the negotiating table, only four decades too late, in Jerusalem itself all is continuing as normal, meaning as brutally as ever. The demonstrations continue, and the courageous and resourceful demonstrators keep this place on the map, at enormous cost to themselves. We should all do all we can to support them in whatever way possible:

Sheikh Jarrah Speaker Breaks it Down Further: The only democracy?

March 20th, 2010, By Sara Benninga
I am a Jerusalemite, and have been involved in the struggle to free Sheikh-Jarrah. Sheikh-Jarrah is a neighborhood in East-Jerusalem, beyond the ‘67 lines. Until recently it was a Palestinian neighborhood. Palestinian refugees from the ‘48 war, who owned property in Israel (Jaffa, Zriffin, and in several neighborhoods of West-Jerusalem such as Talbiya and Katamon) were settled there, then a mostly empty plot, by the Jordanian government and UNRWA. The Palestinians who are protesting with us have been living in houses built by their grandparents in the 50’s.
During the 70’s a Jewish organization claimed ownership of the land of many of the houses in Sheikh-Jarrah, saying that Jews had owned this land before 48’. The Israeli law recognizes Jewish property claims from before 48’, it does no such thing for Palestinians claims.This first Jewish organization sold “their” rights to a different Jewish settler organization, which are now “reclaiming” the houses of Sheikh-Jarrah (there are many juridical problems with this reclamation, including problematic documentation) . Four families have already been evicted from their houses, and now live on the sidewalks near their former houses, while young Jewish settlers move in. The next evictions are in line, the final plan being to take over 28 houses, build 200 units for Jews only, and turn Sheikh-Jarrah into a Jewish neighborhood.
This situation has brought about a weekly protest which is growing from week to week, comprising both Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinian. We have been demonstrating every Friday for the past few months. The police and higher Israeli officials do not like our protest, and have tried to crush it by arresting more than 100 protestors over the past months, many of them being held in jail over the weekend and having indictments filed against them. I myself have been arrested twice, and have two such indictments. The violence used by the police to disperse the demonstrations is far beyond proportion, seeing as we are committed to a non-violent struggle. A struggle for justice.

Saturday, March 6th, we held a large demonstration. Between 3000 and 5000 people attended, both Arab and Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian. It was amazing to see such a huge crowd of people who came together, for the first time in many years, to protest injustice and support a joint struggle for justice, freedom and peace. In Israel’s ongoing state of occupation people have become indifferent and apathetic to the reality we live in. Daily injustices are being committed, but as a Jew it is easy enough to lead a normal life and ignore what is being done in our name. This evening it became clear that at least a few are ready to say “enough”, “no more”.
Sheikh-Jarrah is in a way a microcosm of the occupation’s modus operandi. It starts with one house being taken over by settlers and soon enough there are groups of settlers roaming through a once Palestinian neighborhood, making racist remarks and creating violence and hate. They are supported by the government and by the municipality. The courage to stand up to this institutionalized occupation which keeps eating away at Israeli society is what we need. Saturday night proved that there are some who have this courage, but we will need many more if we want to change life here. The excitement of seeing so many on Saturday spurs the hope that perhaps there is a way out of the horrible state we have come to. Perhaps there is hope to end injustice and create a just and equal society for both Jews and Arabs, Palestinians and Israelis.

Sara Benninga was born in 1982 in Jerusalem. She has an M.A. in art history from the Hebrew University. She is currently an art student, teaching art history, and active with Ta’ayush. She gave the speech representing Israeli activists at the large Sheikh Jarrah demonstration.

EDITOR: The article below is given here in its entirety, but to watch the attache videos, please use the link below.

More Context on Sheikh Jarrah and the “New” Israeli Left: The Only Democracy?

March 16th, 2010, by Rebecca Kirzner
The reflection from Rebecca Kirzner, below, puts the large demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah last weekend in context—both politically, and by reminding us that it was just one demonstration among many.  Much of the coverage of the protest spoke of the rise of a “new Israeli left” that had “never been seen before.”  This is not quite true, and dismisses the ongoing and super-important contributions of  groups like Ta’ayush, Anarchists Against the Wall, and Rabbis for Human Rights, among others, that have been active, day in and day out, for years.   For example, who has been going to Bil’in in solidarity for all these years, every week?  This is not a new movement–this is the growth of a small and stubborn movement that has been dogged and active for years, that is *hopefully* catching on, not the spontaneous combustion of a “new left.”–Rebecca Vilkomerson.

VIdeo clip played at protest, the song title means “A Call to You All” to join the struggle.

Dear Reader. Perhaps you have been hearing about the large protest event in Sheikh Jarrah Saturday, March 6th. Your enthusiasm is justified. It brought together thousands of people, Israeli and Palestinian, for a common cause of restoring justice to the Palestinian families in the neighborhood who lost their homes to settlers. It generated a huge amount of attention, both within and without the country, and of course, in the blogging world. Perhaps you will hold it up as a shining example of how a small group of activists can create a movement – of what can happen when we Israelis, Palestinians, and the international community, stand together for change.

Here’s videos of these settlers praising mass murderer Baruch Goldstein.

This would be a slightly skewed view of the event that Saturday night. The demonstration was not the first time that Israelis and Palestinians stood together to protest the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, nor will it be the last. Saturday’s mega-event was not the culminating goal of the struggle – justice is. Peace is. And although some of the speakers united the crowd of 3,000 with messages of solidarity, justice, and change, others, with divisive words, isolated the Israeli left which had never before come out this strongly in support of their neighbors in Sheikh Jarrah.
So please, reader. Do not dwell too long on that Saturday’s protest. It was monumental. (And major KUDOS to the organizers!) But it should not be the focus.
When speaking about recent events in Sheikh Jarrah, it is important to contextualize them within the greater situation in Jerusalem within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian neighborhood just north of the Old City of Jerusalem, and as such, is part of the “historic basin” area. It lies over the Green Line, in East Jerusalem, meaning that while some consider it a neighborhood in Israel’s capital city, others consider it part of the West Bank, which should be returned to Palestinian control.
In a two-state solution, the future of Jerusalem remains highly contested. Many factors complicate a division of the city, with the western part remaining the capital of Israel, and the eastern part becoming the capital of a future Palestinian state. These factors include, but are not limited to, the existence of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, and access to the Old City. Many proposed solutions, however, are demographically based, incorporating Jewish neighborhoods into Israel and Palestinian ones into Palestinian control.

Video from the most recent protest March 12, soundtrack mostly in Hebrew.

In these solutions, Sheikh Jarrah is no longer part of Israeli Jerusalem (as it has been since it was annexed into the city in 1967). This fact is very threatening to much of Israeli society who believe that the area is and should remain legally part of Jerusalem, and also worry about whether its proximity to the Old City would pose security issues for the State or limit access to Jewish holy sites in the area.
The home evictions in this area as well as the efforts of Nahalat Shimon International to build a settlement there, are part of a greater attempt to “Jew-ify” the historic basin of East Jerusalem. Doing so would put a wrench in demographically-based proposals leading to a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not only does such activity make the city nearly impossible to divide along demographic lines, it also creates a ring of Jewish settlement around the Old City, disrupting the contiguity between Palestinian neighborhoods, and making a clear statement that the entire area should be in Israeli control. In addition, the legal precedent being set for the home evictions is one of recognizing pre-1948 ownership rights for Jews – imagine the chaos that would ensue if the Palestinians demanded the same rights to return to their homes in Israel! But then again, they probably wouldn’t be able to… creating yet another discriminatory system.
Here’s videos of these settlers praising mass murderer Baruch Goldstein.

Problematic, huh? That these settler groups, with support from the Israeli government, could effectively thwart the entire two-state solution? Now, that’s something to protest!
I am proud to say that I have attended almost every single protest in Sheikh Jarrah since their inception. I remember when they consisted of a tiny group of 30 people marching down Ben Yehuda Street to the neighborhood to protest in front of the houses, now occupied by settlers, with their Palestinian owners living in tents in the street in protest. I remember the really violent weeks, when the police tried to quash the protest by arresting large groups of non-violent advocates for justice. I remember the protest growing to fifty people. To one hundred people. To two hundred people. And more. I am so proud to say that I stand next to truly the most inspirational people in the world – those who are not afraid to speak out against their government, and demand peace and justice, in any type of physical or political climate, even in the face of arrests and violence from police and settlers.

So, please, Reader. Realize something here. Whether you were inspired by the speeches last week or turned away from them… whether you recognized your own voice and opinions in the slogans of the chanting masses, or whether they seemed too radical, the protests are a desperate cry from those who see in these home evictions a threat to peace in the region, to justice and values that both Jews and Muslims share, to safety and security, and to a viable future for the city of Jerusalem and the two nations that lay claim to it.

JNews: a potential voice for peace: The Guardian CiF

To win moral authority in the Jewish community, the new website must apply its critical perspective evenly on Israel-Palestine
One might think there were already too many writing outlets on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the newly launched UK website JNews has too much potential to be dismissed.

In a piece on this site earlier this week, director Miri Weingarten explained that JNews will provide “information, views and comment from alternative Jewish sources, which will demonstrate that it is perfectly possible to maintain a critical Jewish perspective, but one that arises out of deep empathy for both Israelis and Palestinians”. This is an ambitious mission, and one fraught with complications.

Although the project is not aimed exclusively at Jews, its ability to reach a Jewish audience is clearly central to its success. There is certainly a growing concern within sections of the Jewish community at the direction Israel has taken (and not just among the usual suspects of secular Jewish intellectuals). Further, the Jewish Chronicle, while it does allow some critical voices, is dominated by a narrowly conceived pro-Israel agenda. Conversely, some sections of the British Jewish population that are otherwise critical of Israeli actions are also suspicious of the pro-Palestinian movement and elements of the non-Jewish press. So JNews could be an important conduit of information to British Jews who would respond positively to a Jewish-filtered, critical perspective on Israel.

Can JNews cater to this putative constituency? It’s early days, but it does seem like JNews will publicise the work of Israeli peace activists and campaigners. Indeed, Miri Weingarten has herself been an activist in the Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights. Israeli activist groups are often marginalised in the UK both by the Jewish community and by pro-Palestinian campaigners, so anything that can increase their visibility is a positive step.

Yet, there are also more ominous signs that JNews may struggle to break out of the minority of UK Jewish peace activism. Many – but by no means all – of the key Jewish figures in the formation of JNews are involved in groups – such as Independent Jewish Voices and Jews for Justice for Palestinians – that have been the subject of opprobrium within the Jewish community. In particular, Tony Lerman, the chair of JNews, has (disgracefully) come to be treated as something of a pariah within the mainstream Jewish community.

It is likely, therefore, that JNews will be the object of much knee-jerk hostility, simply due to who is involved in it. Finding a way to overcome at least some of the suspicion will be a crucial task.

The Jewish peace camp in the UK needs to reach out to Jews who are more involved in the mainstream Jewish community, and the recruitment of Rabbis Alexandra Wright and Danny Rich as JNews patrons is an important step in this regard. It is also important to reach out to younger Jews and here the lack of Facebook and Twitter on the website is somewhat worrying.

Outreach could also be assisted through broadening the content of the site. Aside from providing an outlet for the Israeli peace camp, JNews needs to pay attention to Palestinian affairs and to be unafraid of criticism of Palestinian injustices as well as Israeli ones. This is not to provide an illusory “balance”, but to reflect the simple fact that Israel is not the only actor of this conflict, and that Palestinians have some agency and concomitant responsibilities. Further, recognising that antisemitism can infect pro-Palestinian discourse would also be welcome.

JNews has the potential to catalyse a British Jewish peace camp. The broader the coalition it can speak to, the more effective it will be; the wider its critical perspective is applied, the greater its moral authority will be.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is heavily covered and commented on in the media. The resulting debates are often characterised by the bitter repetition of fixed positions. To make a difference, JNews needs to try and break out of these stale verbal wars and cultivate a novel and principled form of Jewish discourse on Israel.

I wish it good luck in doing so, but with no little foreboding at difficulty of the task ahead.

East Jerusalem: One bit of land, two opposing communities: The Guardian

Ultra-orthodox Jews in the religious neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo. Photograph: David Silverman/Getty Images
On a quiet hillside, where streets are named after rabbis and lined with synagogues and yeshivas, the residents are indifferent to the diplomatic storm. God rules; everything else is inconsequential. “In contrast to settlers, we did not move here for ideological reasons,” said Mordechai Arazi, selling kosher-for-passover food at a yeshiva, or school on the edge of the Ramat Shlomo neighbourhood. “We just need housing.”

The community of ultra-orthodox Jews settled in 1996 after approval from the government, which was keen to build across the Green Line in Arab East Jerusalem. The 2,300 units quickly filled up. Now young couples live in illegal underground apartments.
The overcrowding is not disputed, but this is East Jerusalem, occupied and later annexed in 1967. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state; the Israelis claim all of what they call the “indivisible” city as their own.
The 1,600 homes approved by Israel last week would be built, along with a new road, close to the nearby Palestinian area of Shuafat.

“Shuafat is a very nice neighbourhood,” said Arazi. “They are professional people: judges, lawyers, doctors. They drive BMWs and Mercs. They are Christians.” He added: “They don’t oppose the construction.”
Residents have a different story. “Nobody Palestinian wants this road,” said one man who wouldn’t give his name. “Road for what? Road for them. For their convenience.”
Pointing to a grove, he traced with his finger the path the road would take. “These trees are 400 years old,” he said. “They are going to smash them. That’s the occupation.”
The land of Ramat Shlomo belonged to Shuafat, he said. “The military delivers letters to the families that own the land, and then it confiscates the land.”

Pointing to the field near the yeshiva, he said: “If I go there with my sheep, they throw stones at me.”
Back in Ramat Shlomo, Rabbi Moshe Frank, who pioneered the settlement back in 1990, said he was no Zionist. But now there is no trust between Arabs and Jews, and the wheel cannot be turned back.

“I have no doubt they’ll build here,” he said. “God is running things.”

Palestinians: Netanyahu will build secretly: Ynet

Chief negotiator Erekat welcomes Quartet’s call for end to Israeli construction, but demands international supervision
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat demanded Saturday that the international community send inspectors to the territories and east Jerusalem in order to guarantee that the Israeli construction would be completely halted.
Erekat welcomed the statement issued Friday by the International Quartet on the Middle East (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations) following a meeting in Moscow, which called on Israel to freeze all settlements.

He told the London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, “We welcome the announcement, but we say to the Quartet that they must move from a position of issuing statements to a position of execution.”
Erekat said, “We demand that the Quarter turn its statements into systems which will force Israel to implement its commitments on the ground, and particularly in terms of halting construction in the settlements, in all the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem.”
He also demanded that inspection teams would be stationed on the ground in order to ensure that the building freeze was being implemented.

Erekat accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of provoking the international community. “How can he be trusted, after saying today that he will not announce any construction in the settlements?” he asked. “This means he will continue doing so secretly.”
“Therefore, we are saying that there must be systems obligating Israel to stop building in the settlements completely, including the natural growth in all Palestinian territories in the West Bank and occupied east Jerusalem,” Erekat said.

He also called for “an end to the occupation in the territories, an implementation of the two-state principle and no recognition of Jerusalem’s annexation.”
According to the statement made in Moscow on Friday, “The Quartet urges the government of Israel to freeze all settlement activities … and to refrain from demolitions and evictions.” The statement, read by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “condemns the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in east Jerusalem.”

UN Chief in Ramallah: Settlements undermine peace efforts: Haaretz

Israeli settlement building anywhere on occupied land is illegal and must be stopped, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Saturday, after getting a closer look at some of the Israeli enclaves scattered across Palestinian-claimed territories.

From a hilltop observation post on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Ramallah, the UN secretary-general saw the sprawling West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev, home to 11,000 Israelis who live in rows of red-roofed houses.
The panorama included Jewish neighborhoods in traditionally Arab east Jerusalem, the Israeli-annexed sector of the city that Palestinians claim as a future capital.
The brief geography lesson came a day after Ban, U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton and other major Mideast mediators – known as the
Quartet – met in Moscow to try to find a way to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The mediators urged Israel to halt all settlement construction, which has
emerged as a key obstacle to renewing talks. Israel has agreed to curb settlement construction in the West Bank, but not in east Jerusalem, claiming the entire city as Israel’s eternal capital.
On Saturday, Ban rejected Israel’s distinction between east Jerusalem and the West Bank, noting that both are occupied lands.
“The world has condemned Israel’s settlement plans in east Jerusalem,” Ban told a news conference after his brief tour.
“Let us be clear. All settlement activity is illegal anywhere in occupied territory and must be stopped.”

The UN chief reassured his Palestinian hosts that the international community supports the establishment of a Palestinian state, and also expressed concern about what he said was a worsening humanitarian situation in blockaded Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Earlier this month, Israelis and Palestinians had agreed to indirect talks, with U.S. envoy George Mitchell to shuttle between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
However, the indirect talks were put on hold after Israel announced plans to build 1,600 new houses for Jews in east Jerusalem.
The announcement, which came during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden,
sparked a major diplomatic row between Israel and the U.S., though Clinton suggested Friday that a way could be found to renew negotiations.

Clinton has asked Netanyahu for specific gestures, including canceling the most recent housing plan, and is to hear from the Israeli leader in a meeting in Washington early next week.
Meanwhile, Mitchell is returning to the region over the weekend and is planning to brief Abbas on U.S. efforts. Abbas has said he will not negotiate with Israel directly unless it freezes all settlement construction, including in east Jerusalem.

Ban said Saturday that he hopes the indirect talks will be launched very soon.
On Sunday, Ban is to visit Gaza. Israel and Egypt imposed a border blockade after Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007. The closure, including the ban on the import of building materials, has prevented reconstruction of thousands of apartments destroyed or damaged during Israel’s three-week military offensive against Gaza’s Hamas rulers more than a year ago.

“I go to Gaza tomorrow to express my solidarity with the plight of the
Palestinians here and to underscore the need to end the blockade,” he said.
Several UN projects in Gaza, including 150 low-income apartments in the town of Khan Younis, have also been put on hold as a result of the blockade. Ban confirmed Saturday that Israel has given the go-ahead for the Khan Younis project.
He said Israel’s decision is a first step but that more needs to be done.
I am deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, he said.

EDITOR: The murderous undercurrent of Zionism

That Zionism and Israel are a murderous and barbaric entity, dangerous to all around them, is hardly in need of further proof; all news readers will be well aware of this tautology. What is interesting is the special hatred invested in Anti-Zionist Jewish opponents. The little story below by historian Tom Segev, is a fascinating example of this malicious practice. An ultra-Orthodox Jew, opponent of Zionism, is murdered as early as 1924, but only now is the proof emerging for the fact that this was decided at the highest level of the Haganah, bya group including no other than the future president of Israel. Indeed, a Jewish democracy, in which people are queuing up to claim the murder of Jacob de Haan…

This little historical gem is also a parable of Zionist morality; if they treat Jews like this, what of the non-Jewish Palestinians?

The makings of history / Who pulled the trigger?: Haaretz

By Tom Segev
Jacob de Haan was shot on June 30, 1924, as he was leaving the evening service at the synagogue of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem. That is almost the only fact that can be declared with certainty. The questions of who decided that de Haan should be killed and who actually pulled the trigger come up again every few years. The man was so hated that many people boast of murdering him.

A Dutch Jewish poet and journalist, de Haan served as the shadow adviser of Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, the great political and spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem. In ultra-Orthodox circles they deny to this day that he was gay, although several of his poems leave no room for doubt. He was also considered to be a major opponent of the Zionist movement.

Last Friday the weekly Jerusalemite supplement of Maariv, Zman Yerushalayim, came out with a five-page article, centering around an interview with a 74-year-old man named Yosef Meshi, who proudly claims: “My father was the murderer.”
The father, Ze’ev Meshi, was a member of a fanatic Zionist underground group called Hamifal. According to Yosef, his father told him that de Haan’s activity was a threat to the Zionist enterprise, and therefore the group decided to murder him. They sat in the granary on Moshav Nahalal and drew straws to decide who would carry out the act. The responsibility fell to Ze’ev Meshi and a man named Avraham Tehomi.
This is what happened, according to Meshi: His father stood guard in the alley and made sure nobody approached, and Tehomi fired. Tehomi served in the pre-state Haganah militia, but was expelled and was later one of the founders of what became a new right-wing underground, the Irgun.

In 1983 journalist and historian Shlomo Nakdimon tracked Tehomi down in Hong Kong, and based on what he heard, wrote a book about the affair together with journalist Shaul Mayzlish. Based also on testimony found in the Haganah archive, the two determined that de Haan was murdered by order of that organization, and the decision to kill him was taken according to a formal, organized process. Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, who would later become Israel’s second president, was among the planners of the murder, as may have been the country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. According to the writers, the second assassin was one of Tehomi’s friends, one Avraham Krichevski, whose nomme de guerre was Giora.
Of this topsy-turvy detective story, Nakdimon said this week: “De Haan was so hated that many people were happy to take credit for his murder, and that turns out to be true to this very day. If it were possible to interrogate them, it would turn out that each one of them murdered him 17 times.”

Arab channels to broadcast show depicting IDF soldiers as murderers: Haaretz

Arab television channels are planning to air the controversial Turkish Television show that depicts Israel Defense Force soldiers shooting innocent Palestinians, the French news agency AFP reported on Saturday.
The drama, which includes images of Israeli soldiers shooting a smiling young girl in the chest, steamrolling a tank through a crowded street and lining up a firing squad to shoot at a group of Palestinians, sparked outrage in Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the show when it aired in October of 2009, “We are disappointed by the incitement on Turkish television and we are not very happy by the trends we are seeing in Turkey of late.”
The art director at the Turkish production agency responsible for creating the show said that it has been sold to both a Saudi Arabian channel as well as a Dubai based channel.
The channels are reportedly planning on airing the series, officially called “Separation: Palestine in Love and In War” as soon as Saturday.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also expressed anger over the original airing of the show, saying “broadcasting this series is incitement of the most severe kind, and it is done under government sponsorship.”

Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey have deteriorated since Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip in late 2008, which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cabinet in Ankara adamantly criticized.
“Israel should give some thought to what it would be like to lose a friend like Turkey in the future,” Erdogan told Euronews in February of this year.

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