US: Israel's Approval of New 2,610 Housing Units in East Jerusalem Will 'Poison the Atmosphere' and Threatens Peace
October 2, 2014
Reuters & Haaretz
Israel's decision to move forward its plan for 2,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem will "poison the atmosphere" and call into question Israel's commitment to peace, the US State Department and White House has warned. Meanwhile, hundreds of Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors have signed a letter, published as an advertisement in Saturday's New York Times, condemning "the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza" and calling for a complete boycott of Israel.
US: East Jerusalem Settlement Expansion Will 'Poison Atmosphere'
Nir Hasson, Barak Ravid and Reuters / Haaretz
TEL AVIV (October 1, 2014) -- Israel's decision to move forward its plan for 2,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem will "poison the atmosphere" and call into question Israel's commitment to peace, the US State Department and White House said Wednesday.
Israeli nonprofit Peace Now published a statement condemning the plan to build new housing units in Givat Hamatos Wednesday, ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington.
Although the Jerusalem Municipality published its approval of the plans to build the units last week, the plan was already approved in early December 2012 by a planning committee.
Peace Now explained that the publication of the approval "is the last step before tenders can be issued and construction can start." It charged that the plan was "destructive to the two-state solution," and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to "destroy the possibility" of peace.
"This is not a new plan," the Jerusalem Municipality said in response, accusing Peace Now of creating a "provocation" and adding that the housing units are intended for Jews and Arabs.
US State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the step would send a "troubling message" if the Israeli government proceeded with tenders and construction. "This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations," Psaki told a briefing.
In addition, it would "call into question Israel's ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement," she added.
At a meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday, the prime minister said that he remains "committed to the vision of peace for two states for two peoples."
A source familiar with the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu said that the US president raised the issue of settlement construction during their talks, but that he did not specifically mention the Silwan or Givat Hamatos neighborhoods. Obama emphasized that the settlement construction feeds a cycle of provocations, and added that amid the ongoing efforts to stop and soften Palestinian steps at the United Nations, settlement construction would be even more damaging.
Shortly before the meeting, a source in Netanyahu's entourage responded to Peace Now's statement, saying: "We're used to the fact that before every meeting the prime minister has with the US president, somebody tries to sabotage it," Haaretz reported earlier.
Obama told Netanyahu at the meeting that the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians, in Gaza and the West Bank, must change in order to advance peace.
Palestinians Ask UN:
Set 2016 as Deadline for Ending Israeli Occupation
Draft resolution calls for intensified efforts to reach 'just resolution' of Jerusalem's status as the capital of two states, and of the Palestinian refugee problem
Edith M. Lederer / Haaretz
TEL AVIV (October 1, 2014) -- AP - The Palestinians are asking the UN Security Council to set a deadline of November 2016 for an Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, in a new push to achieve independence.
The circulation of the draft resolution to council members follows Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' announcement to the UN General Assembly last Friday that he would ask the council to set a deadline for a pullout and dictate the ground rules for any talks with Israel.
The draft resolution, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, would affirm the Security Council's determination to contribute to attaining a peaceful solution that ends the occupation "without delay" and fulfill the vision of two states - "an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable state of Palestine" living side by side with Israel in peace and security in borders based on those before the 1967 Mideast war.
The draft calls for intensified efforts, including through negotiations, to reach a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and "a just resolution" of the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two states and of the Palestinian refugee problem.
Its key provision calls for "the full withdrawal of Israel, the occupying power, from all of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, as rapidly as possible and to be fully completed within a specified timeframe, not to exceed November 2016, and the achievement of the independence and sovereignty of the state of Palestine and the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people."
The Palestinians already have the status of an observer state at the United Nations. But they are likely to face an uphill struggle in the UN's most powerful body where the United States, Israel's closest ally, has veto power and has used it to block many Palestinian-related resolutions.
US Ambassador Samantha Power, asked Tuesday about Abbas' call for a deadline, said: "We strongly believe that the only way of a negotiated solution is through negotiations between the two parties."
Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said that by pursuing this draft resolution, "once again, the Palestinians are shooting in all directions, missing the real target."
"Their habit of bypassing negotiations by taking unilateral action and blaming everyone but themselves will only move the region further away from stability," Prosor said in a statement to AP. "It's time for the Palestinians to aim higher and find constructive solutions, instead of avoiding a real dialogue. Only when they start taking responsibility, we will be able to move forward."
The Palestinian quest for Security Council action follows the failure of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians led by US Secretary of State John Kerry, and the recent 50-day war between Israel and Hamas. More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, the vast majority civilians according to the UN, while 66 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were killed.
The draft resolution calls on the parties to consolidate the August 26 cease-fire agreement that ended the Gaza conflict and refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, especially with regard to East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their independent state.
It calls for the opening of all border crossings in the Gaza Strip and demands an end to all Israeli military operations, settlement activities, and "collective punishment" of Palestinians. It also calls for stepped up humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians and calls on UN member states to contribute to the urgent reconstruction and economic recovery of war-battered Gaza.
The draft also calls for deployment of "an international presence" throughout the Palestinian territories to protect Palestinian civilians.
The Palestinians contend that Israel as an occupying power has a responsibility under the Geneva Conventions to protect civilians in time of war and have failed to do so. They have been quietly seeking support for some outside method of protecting Palestinian civilians.
The draft does not provide any details on what kind of "international presence" the Palestinians are seeking.
Holocaust Survivors Condemn Israel
For 'Gaza Massacre,' Call for Boycott
NEW YORK (August 23, 2014) -- Hundreds of Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors have signed a letter, published as an advertisement in Saturday's New York Times, condemning "the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza" and calling for a complete boycott of Israel.
According to the letter, the condemnation was prompted by an advertisement written by Elie Wiesel and published in major news outlets worldwide, accusing Hamas of "child sacrifice" and comparing the group to the Nazis.
The letter, signed by 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors and sponsored by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, accuses Wiesel of "abuse of history" in order to justify Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip:
". . . we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel's abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel's wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water."
The letter also blames the United States of aiding Israel in its Gaza operation, and the West in general of protecting Israel from condemnation.
"Genocide begins with the silence of the world," the letter reads.
The letter ends with a call to bring the blockade of Gaza to an immediate end, and for a full boycott of Israel. "Never again" must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!," the letter concludes.
Full Text of Letter
"Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza
"As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.
"We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.
"Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel's abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel's wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.
"We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. "Never again" must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!"
For full list of the letter's signatories, click here
See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/holocaust-survivors-condemn-israel-for-gaza-massacre-call-for-boycott-12579#sthash.qu37M6DS.dpuf
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