Last summer, in the course of a campaign speech reaching out to pro-Israel groups concerned about his commitment to the Jewish state, then presidential candidate Barack Obama declared, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” Those words, which he later qualified, may now be coming back to haunt the President as he seeks to restart the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process by getting Israel to freeze all construction outside its pre-1967 borders. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn a line in the sand over Jerusalem, vehemently rejecting Washington’s demand that he halt a construction project in the Arab eastern portion of the city that was occupied by Israel in 1967. Israel claims sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, and Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday that this claim was nonnegotiable.
Although the U.S. has routinely opposed Israeli construction in East Jerusalem — President Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called it “unhelpful” — Netanyahu appears to be betting that by very publicly challenging Obama on Jerusalem, he can rally support from those Jewish leaders in the U.S. who have lately expressed disquiet over the President’s Middle East policies, and also from Christian conservative supporters of Israel. And the Israelis are plainly looking to make a campaign of it, with the mayor of Jerusalem being dispatched to the U.S. to rally opposition to the Administration’s position on the city. [continued…]
A request is pending before the International Criminal Court in the Hague into whether international crimes were committed during the Israeli operations in Gaza in December 2008.
Over 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including at least 900 civilians, and over 5,000 wounded in the offensive. Some 3,000 homes were destroyed, as were many government buildings, schools, universities, mosques, hospitals and factories.
Several investigations — including one by the Arab League Independent Fact Finding Committee (I.F.F.C.), which I chaired — have found considerable evidence that serious crimes were committed in Israel’s offensive. [continued…]
Israel does not expect the United States to limit use of loan guarantees despite a dispute with Washington over building in East Jerusalem and in West Bank settlements, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Thursday.
“I don’t see any limitations on the horizon. It’s not time to be concerned about that,” Steinitz told reporters. [continued…]
In many parts of the West Bank, Israel’s much-vaunted separation wall is conspicuous by its absence; Ha’aretz reports that only around 60% of the barrier has been completed will come as no surprise to those who spend time in the area around the project’s proposed route.
In places such as the South Hebron Hills, the only obstacles separating thousands of Palestinians from Israeli communities are sporadic flying checkpoints thrown up by the army, or flimsy, unguarded wire fences ostensibly keeping the terrorist hordes at bay. If mainstream Israeli thinking is to be believed, the “security” wall is vital for the safety of Israel’s citizens, the implication being that scores of would-be bombers are daily banging their heads against a concrete wall as they try desperately to reach Israeli cities to unleash carnage on unsuspecting women and children. [continued…]
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel’s controversial separation barrier in the occupied West Bank would not be pulled down.
“I hear today people who say that because the situation is calm in the West Bank we can dismantle the security barrier, but it is in fact because of this barrier that there is calm,” he told a session of parliament.
“It is because of this barrier and because of a certain improvement on the part of the Palestinian security services that the situation is calm,” Netanyahu said. “The barrier will stay.” [continued…]
As the Fatah movement prepares for its upcoming leadership convention, a senior group member says the event will be used to display Fatah’s commitment to the armed struggle against Israel.
Preparations for the convention, scheduled for August 4, are in full force at this time. During a series of preliminary meetings ahead of the event, senior Fatah official Rafik al-Natsheh said that the group will not be recognizing Israel.
‘We will maintain the resistance option in all its forms and we will not recognize Israel,” he said. “Not only don’t we demand that anyone recognize Israel; we don’t recognize Israel ourselves. However, the Palestinian Authority government is required to do it, or else it will not be able to serve the Palestinian people.” [continued…]