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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.


Europeans slam ongoing illegal Israeli settlement construction and expansion in the West Bank

Palestinian cabinet condemns Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank

Date: 11 / 03 / 2008  Time:  09:23
Ramallah – Ma'an –

The Palestinian cabinet convened on Monday evening to discuss Israel's decision to build 750 new residential units in illegal settlements in Jerusalem and Giv'at Ze'ev. The cabinet labeled the planned expansion destructive to the peace negotiations and a step that could draw the region further into the cycle of violence.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told the cabinet that his talks with the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in Ramallah last week focused on the Israeli settlement policy.

A joint Palestinian, Israeli, and US committee aimed at implementing the Road Map peace plan, under the supervision of American General William Frasier will also discuss settlements its meeting, which is scheduled for this week, Fayyad added. He reiterated that stopping settlement activity in Jerusalem would remain a top Palestinian priority and a key requirement for serious negotiations, as Jerusalem is an inseparable part of the West Bank.

The Palestinian cabinet also stated its deep concern about Israel's collective punishment of the Palestinian people in general and Jerusalemites in particular. This punishment includes deportation and deprivation of the right to live in Jerusalem as well as withdrawing their Jerusalem identification cards. Such punishments are often justified on the pretext of security.

The Gaza Strip

The Palestinian cabinet reiterated its calls for lifting the crippling siege imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip affirming that the Palestinian government will be ready to take charge of the Stip's crossing points.


Interior Minister Abdul-Razzaq Al-Yahya submitted a comprehensive report about security in the Palestinian territories and the efforts to impose law and order. He highlighted that continuous Israeli invasions of supposedly Palestinian-controlled areas pose an obstacle for security plans in the Palestinian territories.


Salam Fayyad, who is also the finance minister, submitted a report about the Palestinian Authority's financial status. He thanked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for paying the money they had previously pledged.

Bethlehem economic conference

Palestinian Minister of National Economy Muhammad Hassuna explained in his report that the economic conference in Bethlehem is scheduled to be held in May and that preparations for the conference are ongoing at the local and international levels.

Javier Solana: no peace in the Middle East with settlement construction

Tuesday March 11, 2008 12:35 by Mohamed Al Arabi - IMEMC News

Javier Solana High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of the European Union, stated on Monday evening that if Israeli continues to built settlements it would not create "the right atmosphere" for peace in the Middle East.

Solana added that "the construction of settlements must stop". His statements came during a press conference after a meeting between the Foreign ministers of the EU countries.

In addition to Solana, Benita Ferrero-Waldner the EU Commissioner for External Relations and Neighborhood Policy and Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for the enlargement of the EU, spoke at the press conference.

Solana reiterated that the EU Ministers will persist and keep pushing to achieve the goals of Annapolis conference. At the US sponsored Annapolis conference last November Palestinians and Israelis agreed to reinstate peace talks.

The EU Secretary-General also said that Egypt's role in mediation is very important for creating the needed atmosphere in order to achieve peace in the region.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters at the press conference that most of the EU officials are convinced that there is a need to open all crossings that connect Gaza to the rest of the world to stabilize the economical situation and ease the humanitarian hardships Gaza residents are facing.

Translated by Ghassan Bannoura – IMEMC News.

Paris slams ongoing settlement construction

Monday March 10, 2008 23:08 by IMEMC News

France slammed on Monday the ongoing Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and considered settlement activities as obstacles that are limiting the ability to create a viable Palestinian State. The statement came after Israel resumed the construction of homes in a West Bank settlement.

Spokeswoman of the French Foreign Ministry, Pascale Andreani, stated that “France slams the ongoing settlement activities as this issue limits the survival of the future Palestinian State”.

She called on the Israeli government to refrain from any unilateral acts that could harm the final status peace talks and could hinder the peace process.

On Sunday, Israel announced that it resumed the construction of housing units in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. This act would limit the possibility of resuming peace talks which were stopped recently by the Palestinian side after Israel carried a large scaled military offensive into Gaza killing more than 124 Palestinians, including women and children.

The United States refrained from slamming the Israeli decision to resume settlement construction and only expressed “concern” over the issue.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, gave the green light for the construction of hundreds of housing units in Givat Zeev settlement, north west of Jerusalem.US State Department spokesperson, Shon McCormack, refused to comment in the issue and stated that would ask the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, if she discussed this issue during last week's phone calls with Israeli officials. It is worth mentioning that the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, arrived in France on Monday and is expected to remain in the country until Friday.

Peres and the Frnech President, Nicolas Sarkozy, will open on Friday a book fair which focuses on Israeli literature. 39 Israeli writers were invited to attend the even, while a number of Arab countries said that they are boycotting the event.

An Israeli plan to build 400 new housing units in East Jerusalem

Monday March 10, 2008 18:02 by Manar Jibrin - IMEMC News

n Monday, the military Radio of Israel revealed a new plan to build 400 housing units in the illegal Israeli settlement of Naveh Yakov northeast of East Jerusalem The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem is applying for the construction of these housing units which will connect the settlement of Naveh Yakov with another nearby settlement, part of which is within the green line which Israel considers as the separating boundary with the West Bank

The Israeli movement of " Peace Now" commented on the plan saying "it considers it as a step towards having a geographical contiguity of settlements between East Jerusalem and the nearby settlement that is located outside the Separation Wall." Dr Saeb Eirikat, head of the negotiations affairs' department in the Palestine Liberation Organization said "we were surprised about the Israeli decision that was released on Sunday for the construction of 850 housing units in the illegal settlement of Gevaat Zeav north of East Jerusalem.

This is very dangerous and should be condemned because actually either there is peace negotiations or attacks and settlements. Israel can not have the two tracks together" According to Eirikat, Palestinian officials had asked the US administration to intervene to prevent Israel from carrying out such actions since they will inevitably thwart the peace process and the credibility required to accomplish the goals of the process.

He expressed his hopes that the Middle East Quartet would intervene to halt the new settlement construction project to provide the needed atmosphere to protect the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert had approved on Sunday the construction of (750) housing units in the settlement of Gevaat Zeav justifying it as a procedure that comes within the policy of the high demand on housing after the demographic increase in Jerusalem.

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