Israel ‘legalizing’ rogue settlement in response to murder: Netanyahu

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Israeli machineries demolish two under-construction Palestinian residential buildings in the West Bank town of Biet Jala, near Bethlehem on Sunday. (Reuters)
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A picture taken from the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Nablus shows a view of the wildcat Jewish settlement outpost of Havat Gilad on February 2, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 05 February 2018

Israel ‘legalizing’ rogue settlement in response to murder: Netanyahu

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said ministers would grant formal authorization Sunday to a rogue West Bank settlement in response to last month’s murder of a rabbi who lived there.
The move comes with European nations voicing increasing concern over settlement growth in the occupied Palestinian territory, but with US President Donald Trump largely refraining from such criticism — what many Israelis view as a green light.
Israeli authorities have advanced plans for thousands of new settlement homes in recent months. Cabinet votes to authorize a pre-existing outpost such as Sunday’s are relatively rare.
“The government will today regularise the status of Havat Gilad to allow the continuance of normal life there,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, referring to the wildcat settlement.
The official cabinet agenda says ministers will hear a motion to designate the 15-year-old outpost as a “new community” which will have the necessary building permits and a state budget.
It says that about 40 families live in the outpost, but envisages its enlargement.
Rabbi Raziel Shevach was shot dead near Havat Gilad, where he lived, on January 9.
The following week, Israeli troops searching for his attackers shot dead what they described as a Palestinian suspect in the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of Havat Gilad.
However, they did not catch the man considered to have led the attack on Shevach, 22-year-old Ahmed Jarrar.
The manhunt continued on Saturday with a raid on the village of Burqin. In clashes that erupted there, soldiers shot dead a teenager identified by the Palestinian health ministry as Ahmad Abu Obeid, 19.
“Yesterday our forces were again in action in an effort to apprehend the last of the assassins and their accomplices in the murder of Rabbi Shevach,” Netanyahu told cabinet ministers and media.
“We will not rest until we bring them to justice,” he pledged. “And we shall bring them all to justice.”
At Shevach’s funeral, there were calls for “revenge” during a speech by Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party.
Bennett responded by saying that the only revenge should be in building more settlements, and Netanyahu said Sunday that was one of the planks of his policy.
“Anyone who thinks that through the abominable murder of a resident of Havat Gilad, a father of six, they would break our spirits and weaken us is making a bitter mistake,” he said.
Settlement watchdog Peace Now, however, said that retroactively granting legal status to Havat Gilad, built without submitting development plans or obtaining construction permits, was “cynical exploitation” of Shevach’s death.
Israeli settlements are seen as illegal under international law and major obstacles to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
But Israel differentiates between settlements it has approved and those it has not.
Those without approval are referred to as outposts and tend to be populated by hard-line religious nationalists who see the entire West Bank as part of Israel.
Past attempts by Israeli authorities to dismantle Havat Gilad have led to clashes with settlers there.
Israel has several times given retroactive approval to outposts, and last year work began on the first completely new government-sanctioned settlement built in the Palestinian territories in some 25 years.
Israel faced sharp criticism from the administration of former US president Barack Obama over settlement construction, but that has not been the case with Trump’s White House and Israeli officials have sought to take advantage of this.
European nations and the United Nations maintain their strong opposition to settlement building.


UAE completes 39 evacuations of citizens from abroad amid coronavirus crisis

Updated 7 min 55 sec ago

UAE completes 39 evacuations of citizens from abroad amid coronavirus crisis

  • The ministry is preparing 25 more flights to repatriate Emiratis
  • UAE nationals can register on a website to be evacuated

DUBAI: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has repatriated 1,743 nationals who had become stranded abroad because of the coronavirus crisis, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday.
The operation has so far involved 39 flights, with a further 25 to follow in the next few days despite the grounding of most of the world’s airlines, Undersecretary of the ministry Khaled Abdullah Belhoul said.
Emiratis abroad who wish to return home need to register online through the website, https://www.research.net/r/mofa-nat, to be included in future evacuation trips.
Meanwhile, the UAE has also cooperated with Iraqi and German authorities to help them repatriate their own nationals from the country.