August 13, 2013

In Blog

Finkelstein comments: Palestinian negotiators pretend to be shocked by the new Israeli settlements.  In fact, they knew going into the “talks” that Israel would expand these settlements.  See Jonathan Lis, “No cracks yet,” Haaretz, 26 July 2013:
The various reports concerning Israeli commitments prior to renewed peace talks with the Palestinians have not yet managed to create any cracks in the trust Likud members hold in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Even members of the party’s hawkish camp – deputy ministers Zeev Elkin, Danny Danon and Tzipi Hotovely, as well as Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin and Member of Knesset Miri Regev – have not expressed any public criticism of Netanyahu, despite reports of a promise to restrain construction activity in West Bank settlements and to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians on the basis of 1967 borders.
“The issue of the 1967 borders, as far as it is understood, is being presented as an American position,” explained a source familiar with the contacts between the sides.
Even reports that Netanyahu promised to limit the construction of West Bank settlements to 1,000 housing units, and that any construction would be carried out only in the large settlements blocs, hasn’t caused a major stir. According to the source, this commitment represents no real change in Israeli policy.
“There has almost never been a year in which more than 1,000 housing units were built under government auspices in the settlements,” the source said. “Furthermore, Netanyahu has placed no limits on private construction activity, which, in the meantime, is proceeding as usual.”
Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:14PM GMT

Palestinian Authority says talks with the Israelis run the risk of collapse because of Tel Aviv’s decision to continue expanding the settler units.

“Settlement expansion goes against the US administration’s pledges and threatens to cause the negotiations’ collapse,” said senior Palestinian Authority official, Yasser Abed Rabbo, in a statement on Tuesday.

Referring to a recent decision by the Israeli regime to construct more than 2,000 settlement units in the occupied Palestinian territories, Abed Rabbo said, “This settlement expansion is unprecedented. It threatens to make talks fail even before they have started.”

On Tuesday, Tel Aviv approved construction of over 940 new settler units in the occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

The move has outraged Palestinians who were already shocked by the approval of about 1,200 units on Saturday.

The plans for the construction of the new settler units have also drawn international condemnation.

Palestinian Authority negotiators believe by doing so, Israel is trying to disrupt the resumption of talks.

On August 8, US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said in a statement that “Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians will resume on August 14 in Jerusalem (al-Quds) and will be followed by a meeting in Jericho (in the occupied West Bank).”

Talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have long been stalled over a range of issues, including Tel Aviv’s refusal to stop building settlements on Palestinian lands.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.