Israelis, Palestinians segregated on new West Bank highway

1 / 3
A newly opened segregated West Bank highway, right side of the wall, is seen near Jerusalem Thursday, Jen. 10, 2019. (AP)
2 / 3
A checkpoint is seen at the newly opened segregated West Bank highway near Jerusalem Thursday, Jen. 10, 2019. (AP)
3 / 3
A newly opened segregated West Bank highway is seen near Jerusalem Thursday, Jen. 10, 2019. (AP)
Updated 10 January 2019
0

Israelis, Palestinians segregated on new West Bank highway

  • The Palestinian Authority said in a statement that the “apartheid” road “poses a challenge to the credibility of the international community”
  • Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 war

JERUSALEM: Israel inaugurated a new highway in the occupied West Bank on Thursday that features a large concrete wall segregating Israeli and Palestinian traffic.
One side of Route 4370 — located northeast of Jerusalem — will be open to Israeli vehicles only, while the other half will only be open to Palestinian traffic. Critics have branded it an “apartheid” highway, saying it is part of a segregated road system that benefits Jewish settlers.
The highway was built as part of a planned ring road east of Jerusalem that would connect the northern and southern West Bank. Construction began in 2005, but the 5-kilometer (3-mile) road lay unfinished for years until 2017.
Israeli officials inaugurating the new road on Wednesday touted it as a means of better connecting West Bank settlements north of Jerusalem to the city.
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called the highway “an example of the ability to create coexistence between Israelis and Palestinian while guarding (against) the existing security challenges.”
The Palestinian Authority said in a statement that the “apartheid” road “poses a challenge to the credibility of the international community.”
“It’s a shame on the international community to see an apartheid regime being established and deepened without doing anything to stop it,” the statement said.
Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 war, territories the Palestinians want to be part of their future state. The Palestinians and most of the international community consider Israeli settlements to be illegal and an obstacle to peace.
The eastern ring road was conceived as a means of connecting the northern and southern West Bank. Critics of the settlements fear that if the road is completed, Israel will then proceed with settlement construction in an area east of Jerusalem known as E1.
The Palestinians have long feared that construction in E1 would split the West Bank in half, making a future state inviable. With the road completed, Israel could argue that the territory was still contiguous.
Development in E1 has been largely frozen under US pressure, even as Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank has boomed under the Trump administration.
Betty Herschman, a spokeswoman for the Ir Amim activist organization, said that “we can only speculate” concerning the timing of the highway’s opening after years of dormancy, “but what we do know is that because of the relationship to E1, we should all be on high alert as to what this indicates.”
In a separate development earlier Thursday, an Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian man to 18 years in prison for stabbing a British student to death in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem district court accepted a plea bargain in sentencing 60-year-old Jamil Tamimi. He killed 20-year-old British student Hannah Bladon on the Jerusalem light rail in April 2017, stabbing her multiple times before an off-duty policeman pulled the emergency brake and subdued him.
Tamimi’s defense team claimed he suffered from mental illness, and the attack was not ideologically or politically motivated.
Bladon was an exchange student at Hebrew University from the University of Birmingham.
Maurice Hirsch, her family’s representative, said he was disappointed her killer would not be serving a life sentence for his crime. But he added “no sentence would have been able to return Hannah.”


‘Hypocrite’ Rouhani rejects war as Iran’s drones target Saudi civilians

Updated 19 June 2019
0

‘Hypocrite’ Rouhani rejects war as Iran’s drones target Saudi civilians

  • Tehran regime has fanned sectarian flames in region for four decades, analyst tells Arab News
  • IRGC chief says Iranian missiles capable of hitting "carriers in the sea" with great precision

JEDDAH: Iran “will not wage war against any nation,” President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday — hours after two drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen targeted civilians in southern Saudi Arabia.

Rouhani's statement sounded a note of restraint after the United States announced more troop deployments to the Middle East.

“Iran will not wage war against any nation,” he said in a speech broadcast live on state TV. “Despite all of the Americans’ efforts in the region and their desire to cut off our ties with all of the world and their desire to keep Iran secluded, they have been unsuccessful.”

But he was also contradicted by the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Gen. Hossein Salami, who said Iran’s ballistic missile technology had changed the balance of power in the Middle East.

“These missiles can hit, with great precision, carriers in the sea ... they are domestically produced and are difficult to intercept and hit with other missiles,” Salami said.

He said Iran's ballistic missile technology had changed the balance of power in the Middle East.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Before both men spoke, Saudi air defenses intercepted and shot down two Houthi drones packed with explosives. One targeted a civilian area in the southern city of Abha, and the second was shot down in Yemeni air space. There were no casualties, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said.

Rouhani’s offer to avoid war was “the height of hypocrisy,” the Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“Rouhani is the biggest hypocrite in the world,” he said. “On the one hand, he is saying that Iran does not seek a conflict with anybody, and on the other it is launching attacks through its militias on oil tankers, oil pipelines, civilian airports and holy cities.

“This is nothing but the height of hypocrisy. Who does he think he is fooling with those words? Why are they enriching uranium? Why are they seeking nuclear bombs? What have they done over the past four decades? They have only caused trouble. They have only fanned sectarian flames in the region.”

The Saudi Cabinet, meeting in Jeddah, also condemned the Houthi attacks on Saudi civilians, and last week’s terrorist attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, widely blamed on Iran. 

 

Confrontation fears

Fears of a confrontation between Iran and its long-time foe the United States have mounted since Thursday when two oil tankers were attacked near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane, which Washington blamed on Tehran.

Iran denied involvement in the attacks and said on Monday it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under a 2015 nuclear deal, which had sought to limit its nuclear capabilities.

Exceeding the uranium cap at the heart of the accord would prompt a diplomatic crisis, forcing the other signatories, which include China, Russia and European powers, to confront Iran.

The standoff drew a call for caution from China. Its top diplomat warned that the world should not open a “Pandora’s Box” in the Middle East, as he denounced US pressure on Iran and called on it not to drop out of the landmark nuclear deal.

Russia urged restraint on all sides.

On Monday, Iranian officials made several assertive comments about security, including the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, who said Tehran was responsible for security in the Gulf and urged US forces to leave the region.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday announced the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were defensive purposes, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.

The new US deployment is in addition to a 1,500-troop increase announced last month in response to tanker attacks in May. Washington previously tightened sanctions, ordering all countries and companies to halt imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system.


'Nuclear blackmail'

Iran’s announcement on Monday that it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal was denounced by a White House National Security Council spokesman as “nuclear blackmail.”

The move further undermines the nuclear pact, but Rouhani said on Monday the collapse of the deal would not be in the interests of the region or the world.

The nuclear deal seeks to head off any pathway to an Iranian nuclear bomb in return for the removal of most international sanctions.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi said the United States should not use “extreme pressure” to resolve issues with Iran.

Wang told reporters China, a close energy partner of Iran, was “of course, very concerned” about the situation in the Gulf and with Iran, and called on all sides to ease tension.

“We call on all sides to remain rational and exercise restraint, and not take any escalatory actions that irritate regional tensions, and not open a Pandora’s box,” Wang said.

“In particular, the US side should alter its extreme pressure methods,” Wang said. “Any unilateral behavior has no basis in international law. Not only will it not resolve the problem, it will only create an even greater crisis.”

Wang also said the Iran nuclear deal was the only feasible way to resolve its nuclear issue, and urged Iran to be prudent.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the EU would only react to any breach if the International Atomic Energy Agency formally identified one.

The Trump administration says the deal, negotiated by Democratic President Barack Obama, was flawed as it is not permanent, does not address Iran’s missile program and does not punish it for waging proxy wars in other Middle East countries.