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Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem

Clashes as Israel police raze mosque in Bedouin town

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JERUSALEM – Clashes broke out in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat early on Sunday as Israeli police demolished an illegally-built mosque in a pre-dawn raid, police and witnesses said.


Israeli riot police patrol the streets of Jerusalem

Local residents said thousands of police and border police drove into the southern desert city overnight and set up roadblocks to prevent people from reaching the condemned mosque.

Clashes broke out as those living near the mosque poured out of their houses to prevent the demolition, and police fired tear-gas and rubber bullets, a spokesman for the local branch of the Islamic Movement told AFP.

“They went into the mosque and arrested those who were praying inside, including me, and drove us outside the city until the operation was over,” said Yusuf Abu Jamer.

Police confirmed the demolition, saying a local court had ordered the structure be raised as it was built without a permit.

“A large number of police demolished an illegally-built structure this morning which was being used as a mosque in Rahat,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, saying demonstrators had thrown stones to try to stop the operation, leading to two arrests.

After the raid, Rahat city council declared a general strike, with a protest planned for later on Sunday, residents said.

Abu Jamer said the mosque, one of the biggest in Rahat that had been built to try to combat drug dealing in the area, was one of 17 local mosques built without a permit.

“Obviously, this shows Israel would rather we engage in drug dealing and crime than prayer,” he said.

Rahat is the Negev’s only Bedouin city and has more than 45,000 residents.

Around 160,000 Bedouin live in Israel, more than half of them in unrecognised Negev villages without municipal services like water and electricity. Many live in extreme poverty.

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Israeli defence minister says occupation must end

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JERUSALEM: Israel must recognize that the world will not put up with decades more of Israeli rule over the Palestinian people, the country’s defence minister said in unusually frank remarks Monday.

Ehud Barak’s comments came against the backdrop of severe friction between the US and Israel’s hawkish government over an impasse in peacemaking.

“The world isn’t willing to accept – and we won’t change that in 2010 – the expectation that Israel will rule another people for decades more,” he said. “It’s something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.”

Palestinians aspire to a state of their own, he said, and “there is no other way, whether you like it or not, than to let them rule themselves.”

Barak spoke to Israel Radio on the occasion of Israel’s Memorial Day, dedicated to the nearly 23,000 fallen soldiers and civilian victims of terror attacks. The day is observed with a two-minute nationwide siren when people stand at attention, traffic is halted and everyday activities come briefly to a standstill.

Last week, President Barack Obama issued a surprisingly pessimistic assessment of peacemaking prospects, saying the US could not force its will on Israelis and Palestinians if they were not interested in making the compromises necessary to end the decades-old conflict.

At sundown Monday, the somber Memorial Day switches into Israel’s 62nd Independence Day celebrations.

Both dates are traditionally a time for introspection. This year, Israelis are dwelling on issues such as the country’s growing isolation over its policies toward the Palestinians, the growing rift with the US and the failure to relaunch peace talks.

Barak told Israel Radio that “the growing alienation between us and the United States is not good for the state of Israel.”

Barak heads the Labor Party, the most moderate member of Netanyahu’s government. But as defence minister in the country’s past two governments, Barak has not taken down the two dozen settlement satellites that Israel promised the US to dismantle in 2003. Dovish critics have accused him of making Labor a fig leaf for the Netanyahu government’s hawkish policies.

Independent Palestinian state gains China’s support

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RIYADH (AFP) – China on Wednesday endorsed efforts to create an independent Palestinian state as Saudi Arabia hardened its accusations that Israel is preventing a settlement of the Middle East conflict .


China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi speaks during a joint press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saudi al-Faisal in Riyadh. China on Wednesday endorsed efforts to create an independent Palestinian state as Saudi Arabia hardened its accusations that Israel is preventing a settlement of the Middle East conflict.

“China will continue its support for the Palestinian effort to establish an independent state,” Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said on a visit to Riyadh .

Yang said at a news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal that China supports the principles of a two-state solution under the Saudi-driven Arab Peace Initiative , which calls for an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders and with Jerusalem as its capital.

Saud, meanwhile, stepped up the rhetoric over Israel’s refusal to freeze the construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and begin talks with the Palestinians.

“This is the longest conflict in modern times,” Saud said.

“The reason why this conflict is long is the refusal by Israel of all the attempts to end this conflict. Arab countries have done their job with the Arab Peace Initiative, which gives Israel security, and gives the Arab countries the restoration of their lands.

“But peace should be established by two sides, not just one side. If one side does not want peace, peace will not be achieved,” he said.

The comments came as both the US and Saudis have increased efforts to push the Palestinians and Israelis into final-status peace talks that would result in an independent Palestinian state.

Amid a sharp increase in regional diplomacy, White House National Security Adviser James Jones met Saudi King Abdullah late Tuesday on the first stop of a regional tour that will take him to Israel and the Palestinian territories .

US Middle East special envoy George Mitchell is also expected to visit soon.

The two sides remained at odds over the key issue of Israeli settlements .

The Palestinians and their Arab backers — with Saudi Arabia one of the most important — insist that peace talks cannot resume until Israel freezes the construction of Jewish settlements in the West bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel and the United States say talks should proceed with no preconditions.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

January 18, 2010 at 8:03 am

Israeli media slam govt handling of row with Turkey

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by Jean-Luc Renaudie Jean-luc Renaudie

JERUSALEM (AFP) – The Israeli media on Thursday slammed the government’s handling of a diplomatic row with Turkey in which it humiliated Ankara’s ambassador and then retreated with public apologies.


The front page of the “Israel HaYom” showing Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon sitting with the Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Celikkol in Jerusalem with an arrow showing “the height of humiliation” alongside a headline reading “War of Insults”. The Israeli media has slammed the government’s handling of a diplomatic row with Turkey. (AFP/File)

“The policy of ‘no more grovelling’ led by Foreign Minister (Avigdor) Lieberman, was transformed within a matter of days into a situation in which Israel was forced to dispatch an official and diplomatic apology,” Israel’s Maariv newspaper said in an article entitled “Capitulation.”

The spat again turned the spotlight on the controversial minister, an ultra-nationalist who has said Israel should strike back at international criticism and defend its “national honour.”

Under pressure from President Shimon Peres, Lieberman’s deputy Danny Ayalon issued a formal apology late on Wednesday as Turkey threatened to withdraw its envoy.

Ayalon on Monday had publicly dressed down Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, Oguz Celikkol, over a Turkish television series depicting Mossad agents as baby-snatchers.

Amnon Abramovitch, a television commentator on Israel’s Channel Two, criticised the “infantile conduct” of the government and a commentator on Israel’s military radio referred to the “humiliation after the humiliation.”

The centrist opposition Kadima party joined in criticising the government, with senior official Haim Ramon saying it “should also send a letter of apology to the Israeli people following the humiliation we have suffered.”

A spokesman for Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted the protest was justified but said “the style and the procedure that were used were not appropriate and apologies were due.”

“The prime minister hopes the affair is behind us,” the spokesman, Nir Hefetz, told public radio.

An editorial in the left-leaning Haaretz meanwhile came to the defence of Ayalon and Lieberman, both members of the ultra-nationalist Israel Beitenu (Israel Our Home) party, for defending Israel’s “honour.”

“The competition between ex-diplomats, politicians, broadcasters and pundits to be the rudest in criticising the pair brings back memories of the times when anyone who publicly sought to restore the honour of the Jewish people was shouted down by a meek and frightened establishment for fear of angering the gentiles and bringing disaster upon the community,” it said.

“Lieberman… the outsider, who represents a national agenda, is a bull in the china shop of the foreign ministry, the DNA of which is stamped with restraint, apologetics and lip-biting.”

Turkey has been Israel’s main regional ally since the two signed a military cooperation pact in 1996, but relations were poisoned by Ankara’s severe criticism of Israel’s Gaza offensive in December 2008 and January 2009.

The series that sparked the row showed a Turkish secret agent storming an Israeli diplomatic mission to rescue a Turkish boy kidnapped by Mossad agents, an episode Israel slammed for portraying Israel and Jews “as baby-snatchers and war criminals.”

Written by rohitkumarsviews

January 18, 2010 at 7:57 am

Catholic bishops criticize Israel on Palestinians

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By BEN HUBBARD, Associated Press Writer Ben Hubbard

JERUSALEM – A high-level delegation of Roman Catholic bishops criticized Israeli polices in Arab sectors of Jerusalem on Thursday and called for more contacts between ordinary Israelis and Palestinians.


Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal talks to a reporter after a press conference concerning the release of the final communique of the 10th Holy Land Coordination in Jerusalem’s Old City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010. A high-level delegation of North American and European Catholic bishops has criticized Israeli polices in east Jerusalem and called for greater contact between ordinary Israelis and Palestinians. Concluding their annual Holy Land visit, the group issued a statement saying that violence, insecurity, home demolitions, the route of Israel’s West Bank separation barrier and other policies ‘threaten both a two-state solution and the Christian presence.’ (AP Photo/ Tara Todras-Whitehill)

The group of eight bishops from North America and Europe said violence, insecurity, the route of Israel’s West Bank separation barrier, home demolitions and other policies threaten peace prospects and endanger the dwindling Christian presence in the Holy Land.

The issue of Jerusalem – home to holy sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims – remains the most flammable in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians claim the city’s eastern sector as the capital of their future state. Israel, which captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war, insists the city will never be divided.

In a statement issued at the end of their annual visit, the bishops called for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“For us, this is not merely about politics; it is an issue of basic human rights,” the statement said.

During their visit, the bishops visited Christian institutions in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, talked with Palestinians about their lives and listened to presentations from Israeli and Palestinian experts. It was unclear if they met with ordinary Jewish Israelis.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev disputed the group’s criticisms of Israel’s east Jerusalem policies.

“Only since reuniting Jerusalem in 1967 have the holy places of all faiths been protected under law and freedom of religion has prevailed,” he said.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the bishops spoke of watching Palestinian children cross Israeli checkpoints to return from school and the humiliation Palestinians say they feel at such places. Israel says the crossings are necessary to prevent attacks.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas, vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the human rights situation for Palestinians in the Holy Land has gotten worse during the 20 years that he has been visiting the region.

Kicanas, also the bishop of Tucson, Arizona, said Israeli and Palestinian youth lack opportunities to meet each other.

“Unless they find a way to engage one another, to meet one another as ordinary human beings, the situation will remain grave,” he said.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

January 18, 2010 at 7:56 am