Israel OKs 240 East Jerusalem settler homes

A photo taken on October 25, 2017 shows a general view of construction work in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish settlement in the mainly Palestinian eastern sector of Jerusalem. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2017

Israel OKs 240 East Jerusalem settler homes

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities on Wednesday approved building permits for 240 new homes in settlement neighborhoods in Jerusalem’s eastern sector, Deputy Mayor Meir Turjeman told AFP.
A city planning committee approved 90 units in Gilo and another 150 in Ramat Shlomo, Turjeman said, the latest in a series of moves to enhance Jewish presence in the contested Israeli-annexed Palestinian sector of the city.
Turjeman noted the committee also approved 44 units for Palestinians in their neighborhood of Beit Hanina.
The Ramat Shlomo units are part of plans announced in 2010 to build 1,600 settler homes in Ramat Shlomo, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
The 2010 announcement came as then-US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel, provoking fierce US opposition and souring relations with Washington for months.
Wednesday’s approvals were granted weeks after the same committee voted on an expansion creating the largest Israeli settlement within a Palestinian neighborhood in the city.
Jerusalem’s status is ultra-sensitive and central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier this month, the Israeli ministers were set to approve a bill absorbing major Israeli settlements currently in the occupied West Bank into Jerusalem by enlarging the city limits.
Its opponents argue that it is a step toward full unilateral annexation of the West Bank settlements affected — a move that would be sure to spark international outrage.
But opposition from US President Donald Trump’s administration prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remove the bill from the agenda, with an official saying “diplomatic preparation” was needed.
The White House has been seeking ways to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and a US official said the bill would “distract the principals from focusing on the advancement of peace negotiations.”
Israeli NGO Ir Amim, which opposes settlement construction, said approving new settler homes distances the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict.
“Jerusalem residents deserve to live in a safe and thriving city, which will only happen once there’s a fair agreement that recognizes the Israeli and Palestinian ownership of the city,” the organization’s Aviv Tatarsky told AFP.
“Instead of advancing such an agreement, Israeli authorities continue with the same familiar unilateral moves that only distance it,” he said.
Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.
It sees the entire city as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.


Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 21 January 2020

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”