Settlements block Jerusalem as capital of two-states: EU

Updated 28 February 2013
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Settlements block Jerusalem as capital of two-states: EU

JERUSALEM: Israel’s settlement construction in annexed east Jerusalem is part of a strategy aimed at preventing the Holy City from becoming the capital of two states, an internal EU report found on Wednesday.
In its Jerusalem Report 2012, a copy of which was seen by AFP, the European Union said Jewish settlement construction posed “the biggest single threat to the two-state solution.”
Describing Israel’s settlement construction in east Jerusalem as “systematic, deliberate and provocative” the report accused the Jewish state of making deliberate political choices that threatened to render the two-state solution impossible.
Relations between Israel and the EU have been particularly tense in recent months, with Europe voicing increasing discontent over a raft of Israeli plans to build more than 5,000 new settler homes in and around annexed east Jerusalem.
The standoff has sparked Israeli concerns the 27-member bloc, its largest import and export market, could move to implement a series of punitive trade sanctions.
Authored by EU heads of mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, the report flagged construction in three southern areas — Har Homa, Gilo and Givat HaMatos — as being the “most significant and problematic plans.”
“The construction of these three settlements is part of a political strategy aiming at making it impossible for Jerusalem to become the capital of two states,” it warned.
“If the current pace of settlement activity on Jerusalem’s southern flank persists, an effective buffer between east Jerusalem and Bethlehem may be in place by the end of 2013, thus making the realization of a viable two-state solution inordinately more difficult, if not impossible.”
In 2012, tenders were issued for 2,366 new units which was “more than twice” the total number issued over the preceding three years which stood at 1,145, the report said.
Most of them were for construction in Har Homa, thereby “significantly expanding the existing footprint of the settlement’s built-up area.”
Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
It considers all of Jerusalem its “eternal, undivided” capital and does not see construction in the eastern sector as settlement building.
But the Palestinians want east Jerusalem for the capital of their promised state, and they — along with the international community — consider settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank as a violation of international law.
“If the implementation of the current Israeli policy regarding the city continues, particularly settlement activity, the prospect of Jerusalem as a future capital of two states — Israel and Palestine — becomes practically unworkable,” the executive summary said.
“This threatens to make the two-state solution impossible.”
The report also flagged Israel’s decision to push forward with plans to build 3,426 units in E1 — a deeply sensitive area of the West Bank just east of the Holy City where experts say construction would isolate Arab east Jerusalem and cut the West Bank in two.
“The implementation of the E1 project, which threatens 2,300 Bedouin with forcible transfer, would effectively divide the West Bank into separate northern and southern parts,” it warned.
“It would prevent Palestinians in east Jerusalem from further urban development and cut off east Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.”
The decision to halt or approve construction was a political choice which was illustrated by the “temporary dip” at the start of 2012 as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held informal talks in Amman, it said.
“Similarly, the surge in settlement activity in late 2012 was also a matter of political choice .. following the Palestinian upgrade at the United Nations,” the EU said, referring to Israel’s approval of more than 5,000 east Jerusalem settler homes in December.
The EU also flagged an increase in violent confrontations between Jews and Muslims at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The plaza houses the third holiest site in Islam, but is also revered by Jews as the site of two former Temples, with the report noting tensions had risen over the “sharp rise” in visits by radical political and religious Jewish groups, often in a “provocative” manner.
“With the peace process at an impasse and the region in transition, this increases exponentially the risk of a new crisis erupting over the site,” it warned.


Campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

Updated 24 April 2018
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Campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

  • Lebanon's independent Sabaa party talks about exploitation of positions and money.
  • Several young men from the Sabaa party demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior.
BEIRUT: Sectarian and partisan polarization resulting from fierce competition for parliamentary seats in Lebanon has led to the first armed clash between two rival Druze parties.
Machine guns were used in the clash between the Progressive Socialist Party, led by MP Walid Jumblatt, and the Lebanese Democratic Party, led by Talal Arslan, which took place on Sunday evening in the city of Choueifat, about 5 km south of Beirut.
The two parties’ leaders acted quickly to calm their supporters.
“When politicians plant seeds of hatred and grudges among people, they commit a crime against citizens who have been breaking bread together for centuries,” Jumblatt said in a tweet.
In a joint statement, the two parties stressed “the need to avoid any steps that could provoke anger among supporters or disturb citizens who look forward to freely exercising their right to vote in an atmosphere of democratic competition.”
The two parties, alongside other parties with supporters in Choueifat, such as Hezbollah, the Lebanese Forces, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Amal Movement, have agreed on “disowning anyone who breaches security, requesting that the security forces intensify their presence in Choueifat, identifying fixed locations until the elections are over, and restraining from carrying out provocative processions.”
Campaigning lasts 24 hours before polling and has seen various kinds of violations of the electoral law.
Several young men from the Sabaa party — a group of independent activists — demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior, carrying banners questioning the ministry’s role in election-related issues.
“Serious violations are taking place because the country is out of control; many are exploiting their positions and pouring (in) their money, and conflicts are happening at grassroots level — people are tearing down photos of candidates and individuals are fighting with one another,” said Gilbert Hobeish on behalf of the demonstrators.
He added: “This is unacceptable, and the minister of interior must take responsibility.”
Hobeish criticized the Electoral Supervisory Commission, saying “it only oversees the civil society or change candidates.”
“We reject this in toto,” he said.
Ali Al-Amin, a candidate on the Shbaana Haki electoral list (who was assaulted last Sunday by Hezbollah supporters in the town of Shaqra because he hung his photo outside his house), held a press conference in the town of Nabatiyah Al-Fawqa and renewed his protest against “the tyranny that silences voices, oppresses liberties and acts on its own will and temperaments, making us feel as if we were in the law of the jungle era.”
He said that “resistance isn’t anyone’s property nor is it one party’s ownership.”
He also called on “the free people of the south to decide which life they wanted and to which homeland and identity they belonged.”
Campaign fever is rising in Lebanon 48 hours before the elections are held for the first time for Lebanese communities in several Arab countries. These elections are to be held 11 days before parliamentary elections take place inside Lebanon.