Cross-Cultural Understanding

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.

Israeli settlers start new illegal settlement post near Bethlehem, Salhi and Erikat warn of the consequences

Israeli settlers start new settlement post near Bethlehem

Tuesday March 18, 2008 14:35 by Najjeb Faraj - IMEMC News

Villagers of Al-Khader, located south-west of Bethlehem city in the southern West Bank revealed on Tuesday that Israeli settlers have started to build a new settlement post on their lands.

Mounier Mussa, the land owner where the post is being constructed, stated that, on Monday afternoon he went to his land following reports from neighbors over Israeli settlers beginning construction on his land.

When he arrived at the land he said that a group of right wing Israeli settlers from the Gush Etzion settlement, already built on land originally belonging to Al-Khader village, had started to build a new post on his land.

Moussa stopped the work on his land, argued with the settlers and made them leave. Since his land is in Area C according to the Oslo accords, it is under full control of the Israeli military. He reported the attack to the Israeli military police.

Moussa went to court three years ago, when settlers tried to take his land then. He won and the Israeli court issued a restraining order against the settlers. On Monday, the settlers broke the court ruling and attacked the land again.

Moussa owns around 14 acres in the area coveted by the settlers, and alleged that former Israeli MK Yighal Biebi from the right wing political group in Israel, Mifdal, was supporting the illegal construction attempts on his land, and even offered money to Moussa in exchange for the land.

Moussa maintains that he will never sell his land to the Israeli settlers, as he fears that in any sale, the settlers will take not only his land, but will also confiscate all the land around it, under the claim of providing security for the settlement post.

The village of Al-Khader is often targeted by the Israeli army. Farmers there are losing their land to the illegal Israeli wall, in addition to the ongoing expansion of existing settlements which surround the village, and now the attempt to build the new outpost .

Moussa stated that he will continue to fight in court to keep the settlers away from his land, and added that he would "do what ever it takes to keep the land that is the only source of income for me and my family".

Erekat: We can't discuss negotiations while settlement activity is ongoing

Tuesday March 18, 2008 16:05 by Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMC News & Agencies

The head of the Negotiations Department in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Dr. Sa'ed Erekat, stated on Tuesday that negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel can not continue with ongoing Israeli settlement construction activity in the West Bank.

The Palestinian official told Palestinian National Radio that he had informed the Israeli negotiation team that talks between the two sides must be suspended in the face of ongoing Israeli activity in the West Bank, including Jerusalem.

The Palestinian-Israeli peace talks were revived last November during the one day Annapolis conference in Maryland USA, based on the Road Map Peace Plan of 2003.

The American-sponsored Road Map states clearly that Israeli must stop its settlement activity.

Dr Erekat demanded that the international community must put more pressure on Israel over its settlement activity, in addition to halting its military attacks on the Palestinians, "in order to make the year 2008 a year of peace," the Palestinian official stated.

Bassam al-Salhi Secretary-General of the PPP: Israel weakens Abbas through its Settlements Policy

Tuesday March 18, 2008 16:23 by Manar Jibrin - IMEMC News

Bassam al-Salhi discusses PPP vision for the near future and criticizes all involved parties for failing to work for a genuine peace

In an interview with Bassam al-Salhi, Secretary General of Palestine People's Party on Tuesday, he said that during the last meeting of the party, three issues were discussed. Among them was the political report that was presented by the party's central committee focusing on the party's vision in the current political situation and amidst the obstructed peace negotiations with Israel. This vision includes the party's declaration of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital by the end of this year.

Al-Salhi justified this as cutting “the way over the obstruction of the political process and our rejection to the submitted for a temporary state." He added that "we are working on Arab and international recognition and international protection in the Palestinian territories. [Also, we] are struggling to achieve an end to occupation that focuses on the construction of unified movement for the popular resistance without excluding resistance and all of its forms according to the Palestinian reconciliation document."

He indicated that Israel is applying a systematic and regulated process aiming at destroying the bases of a Palestinian independent state. As such, the People's Party is working to protect the option of two-state solution based on stopping the current negotiations and its mechanisms. In addition the party had called for suspending the negotiations due to ongoing Israeli settlement building and attacks. He asserted that "we [the party] see the necessity to returning the Palestinian cause file to the UN Security Council and not only to the Middle East peace Quartette.”

Al Salhi also stated that there a tendency towards having an expanded front for all of the Palestinian leftist parties. Concerning any initiatives to bridge the gap between the Palestinians in order to end their dividing state, al Salhi said that "the parties [Fatah and Hamas] are not interested to end this state of divisiveness since they are qualified to end it." He further stated that “we realize that both Israel and the United States had played a major role in the failure of the Palestinian experience and the national unit and in dealing seriously with the outcome of the Palestinian legislative elections that was held in 2006. Both the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas movement are having their own interests that they both do not want to reach any solutions."

He added that "we support holding talks whether directly or indirectly to reach real results that to reinforce the democratic experience. We [and] some international sides are working to give the Yamani initiative a chance to succeed.”

Regarding the Palestinian future situation, al Salhi said that "both the US and Israel are not serious and not interested in achieving real progress in the political process and are working to destroy and to weaken the political peace track. They directly or indirectly are working always to weaken the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas through Israel's acts on land and settlements."

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