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Thursday, June 05, 2014

It's about time: Israel responds to Hamas-Fatah pact

This could be the start of something big. Israel is finally responding in an effective way to the Hamas-Fatah unity government: It has announced 3,000 housing starts in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
The units, which were originally to be approved with release of a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners at the end of March that was never carried out, will include 400 units in Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem, and another 1,100 to be divided between the settlements of Efrat, Beitar Ilit, Adam and Givat Ze’ev. In addition, another 1,500 will be approved for construction in other settlements throughout the West Bank.
The announcement of further construction comes amid a serious policy disagreement with the US over its approach to the new Palestinian unity government. US Secretary of State John Kerry pledged continued allegiance on Wednesday to strong security ties with Israel, even as he reiterated the US would engage the new government backed by Hamas.
Speaking at a press conference in Beirut, Kerry – asked why the US felt it had to “recognize the unity Palestinian government immediately” – stressed that Washington does not recognize a “government with respect to Palestine, because that would recognize a state, and there is not a state.”
Kerry said he has had daily conversations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on this matter as “a friend, as well as the prime minister of the country.” He stressed that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas assured him “this new technocratic government is committed to the principles of nonviolence, negotiations, recognizing the State of Israel, acceptance of the previous agreements and the Quartet principles, and that they will continue their previously agreed upon security cooperation with Israel.”
The secretary of state reiterated the US position that Hamas is a terrorist organization, which has not accepted the Quartet principles and continues to call for the destruction of Israel, “even as it moves into this new posture.”
“Israel is our friend, our strong ally” Kerry said, adding that the US-Israeli security relationship has never been as strong as it is now under President Barack Obama.
“We are deeply committed. We’ve said again and again the bonds of our relationship extend way beyond security,” he said. “They are time-honored and as close, I think, as any country in the world. We will stand by Israel, as we have in the past. There is nothing that is changing our security relationship. That is ironclad.”
Be that as it may, Israel did nothing to hide its deep disappointment with the US policy, with Netanyahu saying Tuesday he was “deeply troubled by the announcement that Washington will work with the Palestinian government backed by Hamas.
Meanwhile, 'Palestinian' chief negotiator bottle washer Saeb Erekat is threatening to take Israel to court. .

Let's go to the videotape.

Here's more:
“We urge the Israeli government to refrain from any punitive actions,” Erekat told a small group of journalists and diplomats who traveled with him Tuesday to the outskirts of a small Beduin encampment in Area C of the West Bank, just outside of Jerusalem.
“If they [Israelis] go ahead in the line of escalation, we will react,” Erekat said.
“We want to give them [Israelis] a heads-up that we are planning to pursue our case internationally.”
He explained the Palestinians would write letters to the member states of the four Geneva Conventions, which among other topics, deal with the issue of war crimes.
“We’ll ask them [member states] to shoulder their responsibility vis-a-vis the occupying power [Israel], vis-a-vis the atrocities and the crimes that are being committed against the Palestinian population in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza,” Erekat said. “We think Israelis and their legal [experts] know what this means.”
The Palestinians also plan to pursue Israel through the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which deals with acts of Apartheid, he said.
In 2014, the international community should “not stomach” the use of an apartheid system, Erekat said.
“Instead of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state we should recognize Israel as the apartheid state.”
He explained he had chosen to visit the Jabal Al-Baba Beduin camp because it is located in an area called E1, where Israel plans to build 3,500 new homes, for the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
Under that plan, this particular hilltop would have a commercial center and an army post. While plans for E1 are frozen, Erekat and members of the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department that led the tour, believe they will be carried out.
They said Israel would forcibly relocate the Beduin from the hilltop to make way for Jewish building.
Forced displacement is a war crime, Erekat said, as is the Israeli demolition of Beduin structures that has already taken place in the encampment.
“We are preparing ourselves for the defense of our people including the option of signing the Rome Statute,” Erekat said. While the Palestinians are prepared to turn to the international court, they are first focused on using the legal instruments afforded them under the 15 conventions they have already signed, he said.
Israel, in turn, has warned the Palestinians that their signatures on these conventions means they are liable for acts of violence against Israel by Hamas, especially rockets launched from Gaza to Israel’s southern cities.
Read the whole thing. I wonder whether this would be brought up with the court at the same time....

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