Nabil ElAraby [Arab League Secretary-General] visits Ramallah Muqata'a — but seems not to have brought suitcases full of cash

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil ElAraby has arrived in Ramallah [from Amman] to meet with Mahmoud Abbas at 12:20 today.

It was reported earlier in the week that [apparently according to Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki] there would be a delegation of 8 to 10 Arab Foreign Ministers travelling with ElAraby.  But most of the others did not come.

Al-Malki had also said that the Arab League delegation would arrive by air, apparently to avoid encountering Israeli passport controls at the Jordanian border…  And that’s what happened with ElAraby today — he was accompanied only by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamil, and the two arrived by Jordanian military helicopter.

Egyptian diplomats are notoriously discrete.  It seems, however, that ElAraby did not show up carrying suitcases full of dollar bills.

Reuters reported here that ElAraby said during his press conference in Ramallah that “Arab countries agreed at their Baghdad summit (in March) for an Arab safety net of $100 million dollars each month, but unfortunately none of this has been achieved yet”.

    UPDATE: Ma’an News Agency reported Sunday 30 December here that “Arab League members had agreed a $100 million monthly payment to the Palestinian Authority, but the League chief Nabil al-Arabi said on a visit to the West Bank on Saturday that none had been delivered … Deputy Secretary General of the PFLP Abdul Raheem Mallouh said that there are American pressures on the Arab states to financially blockade the PA. Secretary General of the Popular Struggle Front Ahmed Majdalani said the failure to transfer funds was ‘clearly a political decision… (and) collective punishment against the Palestinian people because of the agenda of seeking an independent Palestinian state’. Meanwhile Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf said it was up to Arab states to explain the impasse”.

Some Palestinians in the West Bank believe that only the Emir of Qatar can and will save them — he announced grants of some $450 million for Gaza’s rehabilitation after all, and the West Bank is bigger… But, his possible visit has been postponed for at least a month.

Nabil El-Araby has his own separate status, however, based on years of representing Egypt at the UN in New York and Geneva and elsewhere — and above all based on respect for El-Araby’s breathtakingly strong and direct separate opinion, when he sat as a Judge on the International Court of Justice, in the ICJ’s 2004 ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The Associated Press reported that ElAraby said in his remarks to the press in the Muqata’a that “We will return to the U.N. Security Council … Palestine will be cooperating with Arab and EU countries to change the equation (in the peace process) that prevailed over the past 20 years, which was a waste of time”.

Haaretz reported that while in Ramallah, the two senior Egyptian diplomats “will also discuss a decision by an Arab League ministerial committee to hold talks with the UN Security Council, the United States, Russia, China and the European Union on a mechanism to relaunch Palestinian-Israeli peace talks”. This is posted here.

Not many people in the West Bank expected much from the Arab League, of course — despite the fact that Mahmoud Abbas formally defers all major decisions until approval by Arab League leaders.

But, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat reportedly said that it was a letter from Nabil ElAraby, confirming an Arab League decision to provide a $100-million-dollar “safety-net” fund [to counteract Israeli financial reprisals after the recent UN upgrade] that enabled the Palestinian Authority to borrow from Palestinian banks [despite the PA’s maxed-out credit limit] in order to transfer partial salary payments to its employees on 24 December.

Meanwhile, PA government employees were bitterly disappointed earlier this week when the banks which paid their partial salaries [as 1st installment of November salary] after taking full reimbursement of loan payments due from PA government employees.  The Palestinian banks, in effect, advanced the salaries in order to get the loan payments due.   Following the banks’ actions, many PA government employees were left with little or no money in their accounts — for the second time since the beginning of November [when October salaries were belatedly paid].

Two months without money has put PA employees in an extremely difficult position — and they find it individually humiliating.  This inhibits them from speaking much about it publicly, or even with each other.

The loans are a policy pushed after the June 2007 split between Gaza and the West Bank, and strongly advocated by Tony Blair [on the basis of the Portland Trust’s policy recommendation] and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

These loans created a deceptive illusion of indebted prosperity that bewildered many Palestinians in the West Bank as journalists enthused over an illusory “Ramallah bubble”.

Agence France Presse [AFP] reported that “Every month, Israel transfers about 460 million shekels ($120 million) in customs duties on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports, and which constitute a large percentage of the Palestinian budget.  The transfers are governed by the 1994 Paris Protocols [part of the Oslo Accords] with the Palestinians”.  This is posted here.

NYTimes correction on E-1 — do they have it right now, or not?

The New York Times has today issued a correction to an earlier story on E-1 [published on 2 December here]:
An article on Dec. 2 about Israel’s decision to move forward with planning and zoning for settlements in an area east of Jerusalem known as E1 described imprecisely the effect of such development on access to the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and on the West Bank. Development of E1 would limit access to Ramallah and Bethlehem, leaving narrow corridors far from the Old City and downtown Jerusalem; it would not completely cut off those cities from Jerusalem. It would also create a large block of Israeli settlements in the center of the West Bank; it would not divide the West Bank in two. And because of an editing error, the article referred incompletely to the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state. Critics see E1 as a threat to the meaningful contiguity of such a state because it would leave some Palestinian areas connected by roads with few exits or by circuitous routes; the proposed development would not technically make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.  This correction was published in the NYTimes print edition today [though this correction is dated 7 December and was earlier posted online on 10 December], and is posted here.]

[UPDATE: CAMERA has taken credit here for pushing the NYTimes to issue this + another correction {concerning a story published on 30 November here}…Hat tip to Max Blumenthal {who on Twitter called the latest correction “absurd”}:
@MaxBlumenthal — Right-wing pro-Israel media monitoring front CAMERA takes credit for absurd NY Times “correction” on E1 settlements: http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=35&x_article=2357 … ]

Well, does the NYTimes have it right, now? No.

First of all, cutting to the crux, E-1 development by itself would probably not “technically make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible”, no.

But it would make movement for Palestinians so difficult that they would stay at home most of the time.

Maybe providing a massive, frequent, comfortable and convenient and inexpensive helicopter service between the north and the south and the east of the West Bank would solve the problem, but that’s not going to happen — and why would anyone want kind of a solution?

In any case, the real problem is that any of the proposed solutions [roads, tunnels, bridges — but not helicopters, not really, as we’re not talking about Brasilia] are dependent on Israeli happiness and good will at all times.

One incident could and would result in the cutting off of movement for hours or for months + years.

The NYTimes correction says almost dismissively, as if it is of little or no importance, that only “some Palestinian areas” would be affected. So, we shouldn’t care about that? It’s not supposed to matter?

What Palestinians want is freedom, dignity, independence, and real self-rule in their own state — it cannot be argued that Palestinians have had any kind of real self-rule since the signing of the Oslo Accords, which were supposed to be a transition to self-rule, in September 1993.

Palestinians want and deserve a return to some zone of comfort in their daily lives which has not existed for many years, particularly since the start of the Second Intifada at the end of September 2000.

And, as American presidents have said, they deserve dignity, and dignified lives.

Akiva Eldar, in a piece published in Al-Monitor, reminds us that although the Levy report might argue that the West Bank is not occupied [but instead disputed, and apparently therefore up for Israel to grab], this is not the view of most of the outside world.

Eldar was writing about what he viewed as a rather limp reaction by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Netanyahu’s E-1 announcement [which Eldar call “agreeing to disagree”]: “Presumably, when she said at the press conference that Israel was a sovereign state and therefore Germany could not impose its position on the settlements, Merkel did not mean to say that Israel was the sovereign in the West Bank. Israel itself does not claim ownership over Area E1. The proposed plan was submitted for the approval of the planning and construction committee of the Civil Administration in the occupied territories and not to the parallel committee in Jerusalem. Even according to Israel’s official position, the question of sovereignty over these areas, as well as over the rest of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, remains controversial. Furthermore, in 2003 Netanyahu was a cabinet member in then-prime minister Ariel Sharon’s government, which signed an international commitment to abstain from taking such actions. The road map hatched out by the the Quartet, which consisted of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations and submitted to Israel and the Palestinians explicitly stated that Israel had to completely discontinue all construction in the territories”. This is posted here.

Continue reading “NYTimes correction on E-1 — do they have it right now, or not?”

Obama: "As a country we have been through this too many times"…

Waking up in the Middle East to read about a tearful President Obama… what happened?

At least twenty children were shot dead Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut — and seven eight other people also died, including the “heavily armed” killer, who shot himself…

And it’s being called “one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history”.  [It is, according to AP, here, actually the second deadliest shooting in U.S. history, after the 16 April 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, in which 32 victims + the shooter died.]

“As a country, we have been through this too many times,” Obama said, ticking off a list of recent shootings.
“And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics”… This Reuters report is posted here.

According to the news report: “Choking up and wiping away tears, President Barack Obama said on Friday that ‘our hearts are broken’ for the victims of a deadly shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school and called for ‘meaningful action’…

Continue reading “Obama: "As a country we have been through this too many times"…”

E-1 — oh yeah, it's a big deal

Here is a graphic published by Haaretz showing the E-1 area to the east of Israel’s “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”:

Haaretz graphic of E-1 - published 4 December 2012 <a href=
Haaretz graphic of E-1 - published on 4 December 2012 - click to enlarge

So, if there actually were an agreement that Anata + Abu Dis would go to Palestine, you can see what E-1 would do to that…

UPDATE: Daniel Seidemann has published another good graphic showing the E-1 in context, posted here.  But there is one settlement missing – Anatot – on the western edge of E-1, not far from Hizmah and Pisgat Zeev.

Here’s what Chemi Shalev, author of the Haaretz Q+A on “What is area E-1, anyway?”, posted here, which this graphic illustrates, wrote:

“In 2004, the Housing Ministry began massive earthworks in the area. The Palestinian Authority complained to the Bush Administration. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who was the liaison with the Prime Minister’s Bureau, asked for clarifications. Dov Weissglas, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s envoy, promised that Israel would not build in E-1. And indeed, in 2005 the plans were frozen, and have remained so ever since”.

…[Under Rabin] in 1994, the government started the initial planning of the area.

Shaev explained what was done — despite the period of “clarifications” — by the Housing Ministry in that period [and some since]:

Q. What did they build there?
A. The Housing Ministry prepared, with an investment of millions of shekels, the infrastructure for putting up residential buildings in the southern neighborhood. This included a cloverleaf interchange over Highway 1, a three-lane highway in each direction, excavation in the rock in order to flatten the hill, preparation for sewage infrastructures and the like.

In another Q+A, Shalev explains what seems to be a contradiction:
Q. How did they start building if there are no building permits?
A. From 2003-2005 the Housing Ministry, under the leadership of Minister Effie Eitam, did massive illegal building in a number of places. E-1 was only one of them.

Shalev also took issue with the claim [advanced by Camera.org + The Israel Project, as we reported here yesterday] that Israel’s contiguity of from Jerusalem to Maale Adumum would be disrupted if E-1 were not developed [with Israeli settlements]:

Q. Another argument the right is raising is that this is essential for creating contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
A. False. There is no possibility of creating contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim because even if E-1 is built, a belt made up by the Arab towns of Anata, Al Zaiyim and Azariya will stand in between.

And, as with everything related to Palestinians — whose consent is never needed for Israel to act unilaterally as it wants — Shalev notes:

“There are also enclaves of Palestinian land in the area, but the plan does not relate to them”.

In fact, it seems that they will be displaced, including the Jahalin Bedouin who have already been displaced in 1948 + 1967, without any care for what happens to them… no nice settlement-style houses with public facilities will be constructed for them…

[One minor point of correction to Shalev’s Q+A:   The way it’s written, you could read his third Q+A to mean that Mitzpe Yeriho is part of the E-1 area.  But, it seems that particular answer was a general description of the E area, as Mitzpe Yeriho  which was originally a kind of civil defense avant-guard front line settlement, is built on a hilltop overlooking the Palestinian city of Jericho [which will become a surrounded enclave if the Israeli plans are realized]… But Mitzpe Yeriho also overlooks a large swath of the Jordanian border just north of the Dead Sea.  In other words, Mitzpe Yeriho, one of many Israeli settlemets of all kinds in the Jordan Valley, is much further east than the E-1 area.]

UPDATE: Isabel Kershner reported some Israeli reaction in the New York Times: “ ‘Bibi had to do something’ in response to the United Nations vote, said Prof. Shmuel Sandler of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan Universiy, referring to the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname, ‘first because he is Bibi and second because of the elections’.” [Netanyahu has called general elections for 22 January.]  This NYTimes story also reported that Mark Heller, foreign policy analyst at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, in Tel Aviv, said that “the top-level people making decisions here in recent years are completely insular and out of touch with the rest of the world, especially regarding the Palestinians and the settlements … Self-righteousness may be good for domestic politics, but it is not a policy’.”   Kershner also noted in her report, posted here, that “A press officer for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on Sunday that construction in E1 ‘would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution’.”

Reuters Bureau Chief in Jerusalem Crispin Balmer wrote that “Israelis have already named the prospective settlement Mevasseret Adumim – Tidings of Adumim. Maale Adumim itself means Red Heights – a reference to the surrounding mountains that glow at sunset. Preparation for building started long ago and a sealed-off bridge stands ready to link Maale Adumim with its projected sister settlement, while a major road intersection swings up into E1 from the highway that heads down to the nearby Dead Sea…Israeli authorities drew up plans in 2006 to move the Arab Bedouin to another site. They have yet to act on it, but rights groups say the project is specifically designed to clear the way for E1 development”. But, Balmer noted, the general director of the municipality of Maale Adumim, Eli Har Nir, told him that “‘The media are telling lies about this conflict all the time … You can’t even see Jerusalem from here. There is still six kilometers of open land that does not belong to E1 or to Maale Adumim’, he said, arguing that this space could be used to build roads for Palestinians”. This is published here.

 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

UPDATE More on E-1 [and various boasts and then assurances] from Twitter over several days —

Sunday 2 December 2012

Aluf Benn @alufbenn — BB will probably not build E1 for now, merely push the project through approval channels

Dan Williams @DanWilliams — “Today we are building and will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all the places on the map of Israeli strategic interests” – @Netanyahu

@DanWilliams — There’ll be no Palestinian state without an accord recognising the Jewish state and guaranteeing its security needs – @Netanyahu statement

Amir Mizroch @Amirmizroch — If US and UK can’t stop Abbas going to UNGA what their chance of stopping settlement construction @sheikhNB @DanWilliams

Peter Beinart @PeterBeinart – For the American Jewish establishment, 138 countries voting to upgrade Palestine is “unilateral” but settling E1 is not

Monday 3  December 2012

Barak Ravid @BarakRavid — White House: U.S. calls on Israel to reconsider settlement plan in E-1 – http://bit.ly/Vr594d

@BarakRavid — State Department: We have made clear to the Israeli government that promoting E1 plan is contrary to U.S. policy

@BarakRavid — State Department: building in the E-1 area is particularly sensitive

4 or  5 December 2012

@DanielSeidemann — @yaacovlozowick Is it it be possible to locate documents in State Archives about the origin of the name E-1. The name isn’t controversial.

@yaacovlozowick — @DanielSeidemann Were looking. Sometime around 1994, I assume?

@DanielSeidemann — @yaacovlozowick State Archives should find that planning of E-1 began in ’93-4, but the name was given to area by Min. of Constr. in ’70s

Thursday 13 December 2012:

@Marianhouk — [ On E-1 ] RT @jacobkornbluh “@BarakRavid @PeterBeinart did anyone condemn Rabin for approving the plans back then?”

@DanielSeidemann — @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart E-1 planning began under Rabin, but he quietly agreed with Clinton: E1 would be negotiated, not built

@DanielSeidemann — @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart Rabin was as good as his word: no steps were taken for the statutory approval of E-1 under Rabin.

Michael Pitkowsky @mpitkowsky — @DanielSeidemann @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart See this doc from Pal Papers r.e. E1 and alleged Isr promise http://bit.ly/Twljnj

Excerpt from this Palestine Papers document, posted on the Al-Jazeera website here: “Saeb Erekat: We gave Barack Obama a file that gave him all the details on this issue, on E1, on Ma’ale Adumim, etc. Hilary Clinton told us that E1 wasn’t going to happen but to be quiet. She got something from the Israelis”.

@DanielSeidemann — @mpitkowsky @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart  Thanks! , My reliable US sources say: Bibi told us “no action will be taken on E1”.

Israeli official in Netanyahu's office: we won't go back on decision on E-1, we said in advance there would be reprisals

Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, who loves having sensational scoops, started off the day Sunday by floating a report that Britain + France may recall their ambassadors to Israel — an unprecedented step — in response to the Netanyahu cabinet’s announcement on 30 November that it would advance the planning process to build in E-1.

The E-1 area is, as Israeli lawyer and Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann has said over and over in recent days, the “Doomsday” settlement.

The Netanyahu cabinet also said it would build some 3,000 other settlement units in as-yet-unspecified places in and around Jerusalem [or, what Israeli officials unilaterally defined in 1967 as the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”].

As it happened, Britain and France were not ready to recall their ambassadors — a futile step in any case, however sensational.

Instead, Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark called in the Israeli Ambassadors to their capitals, and expressed their dismay and displeasure. UPDATE: Australia and Brazil, Ireland and Finland all did the same on Monday.

The Israeli reaction was unruffled.  What did they expect, Israeli officials said [it was not a question, but an expression of attitude, specifically disdain]: we said we would take retaliatory action if the Palestinians went ahead with their UNGA move, and that’s what we are doing.

In Washington, a new twist: the U.S. equally disapproves of “unilateral” measures such as a.) the PLO going to the UN to upgrade the status of Palestine, or b.) the Israeli settlement building.  This is being called “even-handed”

The flurry of announcements was dizzying.

Settlers moved, unopposed, into empty apartments in a five-story building at Jabel Muqaber [south-east Jerusalem]

A street was closed in Wadi Hilweh, Silwan, for tunnel-digging [which a few meters north has caused collapsing structures overhead]

Ma’ariv reported that a West Bank planning commission would meet on Wednesday to expedite [yes, that’s what the cabinet said it would do, and that’s what’s happening] Israeli development in E-1.

On Tuesday, the Times of Israel gave the first indication of where the 3,000 promised new settlement units would be located, reporting here “Some 1,700 units are scheduled for approval by the [Jerusalem] municipality in Ramat Shlomo, a largely ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on the northern outskirts of the city. The construction plans were initially okayed a year ago, during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden. The plans were frozen after an international outcry over the timing of the approval, which were seen as disrespectful to Washington.The municipality will also green-light the construction of the first new neighborhood beyond the Green Line since the 1997 decision to build Har Homa. Thousands of apartments are to be approved in Givat Hamatos, located next to the Jewish neighborhood of Talpiot and the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa”.

These are just north and just south of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”.

E-1 is, as the name shows, the first block of land east of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”.

Israel’s act of selecting areas of the West Bank to include in its “Greater Jerusalem Municipality” was unilateral…

And, now there’s a new idea being put forward by Israeli and pro-Israeli advocacy groups. Camera.org turns the table and attempts to argue here that it is Israel’s territorial contiguity that will be affected if E-1 is NOT developed… This posting is dated 2 December 2012. The Israel Project [TIP] does the same thing [but with a different map, which doesn’t show this exaggerated detour].

Continue reading “Israeli official in Netanyahu's office: we won't go back on decision on E-1, we said in advance there would be reprisals”

Yes, after UNGA vote, Palestinians do now have rising expectations

Yes indeed, it’s clearer each day since Thursday’s vote in UNGA, Palestinians do now have rising expectations…

This is something that Israeli Ambassador Ron  Prosor had warned of, in his address at the UNGA  in New York, just before the vote last Thursday that he by then had no hope of averting.

Posters hung on lamp posts in the city center [in English + Arabic] which say: “Warning: this is Palestinian land.  Occupation forces must leave”.

Palestinian TV has gone all out to remind viewers, over and over, that Palestine is now a state.

PLO Chief Mahmoud Abbas returned to an organized hero’s welcome in the Ramallah Muqata’a today, after travelling to the UNHQ in New York for the General Assembly vote that gave Palestine state status  [albeit still non-member in the UN].

The photo below was taken inside the Muqata’a by French journalist Emilie Baujard, and Tweeted here.

Mahmoud Abbas given a hero's welcome at Ramallah Muqata'a after returning from UN vote
Photo of poster held by Palestinian waiting in Ramallah Muqata'a to welcome Mahmoud Abbas as a hero after UNGA vote in New York

Abbas’ first words were: “Yes, yes, we are now a state”…
He ended by citing these words: “hold your held up, you’re Palestinian!”

After the Israeli announcements last week of expediting procedures to begin building in the E-1 area, as well as another 3,000 settlement units in the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”, and then today’s announcement that some 460 million NIS [new Israeli shekels = $121 million US dollars] in Palestinian VAT + Customs Tax fees collected at Israeli ports would  now be withheld and instead diverted to pay outstanding PA electricity bills of some $200 million dollars, there apparently is still more to come.

Barak Ravid tucked the following revelation down at the bottom of his Haaretz article, published here, on strong European protests being made about the settlement announcements: “a source in the Prime Minister’s Office said that Israel is planning to take more steps against the Palestinian Authority. ‘The Palestinians will soon come to understand that they made a mistake when they took unilateral action and breached their treaties with Israel’, the source at the PMO said”.

Continue reading “Yes, after UNGA vote, Palestinians do now have rising expectations”

More settlements announced on the day after the UN vote to upgrade Palestine's status to state

On the day after the UN vote to upgrade the status of Palestine to state, the Israeli government responded by pulling out, from the drawer, plans to build thousands of more settlement units.

The most controversial is the announced plan to build in the E-1 area between Maale Adumin and Hizme.

Israeli police station in E-1 - Condoleezza Rice was told it would take a long time to build
Israeli police station in E-1 - Condoleezza Rice was told it would take a long time to build - photo via Ir Amim

Israeli-American lawyer and Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann has just called this, on Twitter, the “weaponization” of the “settlement offensive”.

@DanielSeidemann – E-1 will signal the end of 2-state solution. E-1 can’t be built today – it requires further statutory planning, which will take 6-9 months

@DanielSeidemann
  – The report today indicates intent to complete E-1 planning now, leading to construction in 6-9 months.

Reuters reported here that “The decision was made on Thursday when it became clear that the U.N. General Assembly was set to upgrade the Palestinians’ status in the world body, making them a ‘non-member state’, as opposed to an ‘entity’, boosting their diplomatic clout…An Israeli official had earlier conceded that this represented a ‘total failure of diplomacy’ and warned there would be consequences – which were swift in coming.  Plans to put up thousands of new settler homes in the wake of the Palestinian upgrade were always likely, but the prospect of building in an area known as E-1, which lies near Jerusalem and bisects much of the West Bank, is seen by some as a potential game changer”.

@DanielSeidemann – We learned that source of Israeli press reports on 3000 new E Jersusalem & WB settlement units, E-1 is Mark Regev, PM’s office spokesperson

While this is a response came less than 24 hours after the Palestinian move at the UN General Assembly, it also comes about a week after internal elections within Netanyahu’s Likud Party now ruling in Israel, in which all the top spots went to settlers and their far-right supporters.   A few weeks earlier, also in preparation for Israel’s general elections now set for January 22, Netanyahu forged an alliance to run on a joint list with  Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beitenu party, currently Foreign Minister, who is now being treated as Netanyahu’s most essential partner and right-hand man.

UPDATE: UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon issued a statement on 2 December [a Sunday, but still two full days after the Netanyahu cabinet decision in reaction to the UN General Assembly vote on the state status of Palestine] which is posted here and which said:

“It was with grave concern and disappointment that the Secretary-General learned of Israel’s announcement of 3,000 new settlement units in East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank. This would include reported planning in the so-called E-1 envelope, which risks completely cutting off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.   Settlements are illegal under international law and, should the E-1 settlement be constructed, it would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution…In the interests of peace, any plans for E-1 must be rescinded”.

In the statement, the UN Secretary-General also repeated [a ho-hum verb, less alarmist than the rest of the statement issued on Sunday] “his call on all concerned to resume negotiations and intensify efforts towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace and urges the parties to refrain from provocative actions”.

Continue reading “More settlements announced on the day after the UN vote to upgrade Palestine's status to state”