Israel considers rare Palestinian construction plan

While rarely granting construction permits to Palestinians, Israel also regularly carries out demolitions of Palestinian buildings it considers illegally built in the West Bank. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 July 2019

Israel considers rare Palestinian construction plan

  • Israel rarely grants construction permits to Palestinians and regularly carries out demolitions of Palestinian buildings
  • The plan is being considered ahead of an expected visit by Kushner

JERUSALEM: Israel is considering rare approval of construction of Palestinian homes in the part of the occupied West Bank under its complete control, an official said Tuesday, but settlement expansion would accompany it.
The plan under consideration by Israeli ministers would see 700 Palestinian homes constructed in the West Bank as well as 6,000 homes in Israeli settlements, the Israeli official said on condition of anonymity.
It is being considered ahead of an expected visit in the coming days by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is preparing a long-awaited plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
The approvals would be for the part of the West Bank known as Area C, which is under Israeli security and civilian control and where its settlements are located.
Area C accounts for more than 60 percent of the West Bank, the Palestinian territory that would in theory form part of a future Palestinian state under the so-called two-state solution.
Israel rarely grants approvals for Palestinian construction in Area C.
Israeli media reported that ministers have not approved significant Palestinian construction over the past four years.
The plan, though relatively small and far outweighed by the new settlement construction being considered, could allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to argue he is making efforts in favor of Kushner’s upcoming plan.
The Palestinians have boycotted Trump’s White House since his 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and have already dismissed the peace plan as blatantly biased in favor of Israel.
In addition to the Jerusalem decision, Trump’s administration has taken a series of moves against the Palestinians, including cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and shutting their de facto embassy in Washington.
While rarely granting construction permits to Palestinians, Israel also regularly carries out demolitions of Palestinian buildings it considers illegally built in the West Bank.
Continued settlement construction by Israel in the West Bank has slowly eaten away at hopes for a two-state solution to the conflict.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law and are built on land that the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Israel argues that Palestinian intransigence, violence and incitement are the main impediments to peace.


Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

Updated 55 min 25 sec ago

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

  • Altan and the others deny the charges against them
  • On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan late on Tuesday, a week after he was released from prison in his retrial on coup-related charges, Istanbul police said.

Before his release last Monday, the 69-year-old had been in jail since his arrest in 2016, two months after an attempted coup which Ankara says was orchestrated by the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The journalist’s case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. They are concerned by the scale of a post-coup crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Altan smiled and waved as he was driven away by counter-terror squad police officers after being taken from his home in Istanbul, video and photos published by Turkish media showed.

He was taken to Istanbul police headquarters after a hospital check-up, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Altan, his brother and other journalists were previously sentenced to life in jail for aiding Gulen’s network. Last week he was convicted again in a retrial, but released from jail given the time served.

Altan and the others deny the charges against them.

On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing, Anadolu reported.

Under last week’s verdict, Altan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail. Turkey’s high court had overruled the previous life sentences against him in July, sending the file back for re-trial.

Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the failed putsch. Widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers deny any involvement in the coup. Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to extradite the cleric.