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Construction of 7,000 new settlement units in Jerusalem under way

The Israeli occupation authorities are planning on carrying out plans to build 7,000 new settlement units in Jerusalem, Israeli media outlets have reported.

Underway construction plans in the occupied city have accumulated since US Vice-President Joe Biden last visited a year and a half ago.

Now plans to build 1,328 units in Ramat Shlom will be put to the expedited building committee formed by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in 60 days. These were the same plans that caused crisis between the US and Israel during the Biden visit.

A local planning and construction board also approved 900 homes to be built in the Gilo settlement, and another plan under discussion by the expedited building board for 625 units in Pisgat Ze’ev is slated to begin taking effect.

A separate 930 units have been approved to be built in Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim) between Jerusalem and Bethlehem earlier this week.

Meanwhile, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton has condemned the recent approval of the Har Homa project, saying that she was ‘’disappointed’’ by the decision.

‘’The European Union has repeatedly urged the government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. All settlement activities are illegal under international law,’’ she added in a statement.

PLO Report: “Six Palestinians Killed in July, 230 Kidnapped, 32 Structures Demolished”

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) reported that, in July, Israeli soldiers killed six Palestinians, kidnapped 230 others, and demolished 32 homes and structures in the occupied territories. Israel is also planning a new settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.

The PLO said that Israeli soldiers and settlers are ongoing with their attacks and violations in the occupied territories, and that the soldiers shot and killed six Palestinians, demolished 32 homes and structures, in addition to kidnapping 230 Palestinians in numerous invasions into the occupied territories. 

The International Relations Department at the PLO stated in its monthly reported that was released on Wednesday, that Israel is targeting the residents, their lands and their Muslim and Christian holy sites. 

It added that the Israeli government is working an approving a new settlement project in Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) illegal settlement. The 97 Million USD project, dubbed as Oz Tzuffim, includes 97 units and the related infrastructure. 

The department also stated that the so-called “Construction and Planning Committee” of the Jerusalem Municipality approved the “Tolerance Museum” that will be built on the Ma’man Allah historic Islamic graveyard in occupied Jerusalem.

The recent approval came despite the fact the Israeli Authorities has been digging the graveyard and desecrating the graves since many years, the department added.

Also, the Israeli Ministerial Legislation Committee of the Knesset modified the “law of Public Parks” in order to allow the El Ad extremist settler organization to takeover public parks in Silwan Palestinian town, in occupied East Jerusalem. 

In related news, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan revealed that Israel is constructing a new tunnel under Wadi Hilweh neighborhood, and that the tunnel heads towards the southern wall on the Al Aqsa Mosque. 

In the Gaza Strip, Israel continued its siege and violations, and carried out repeated airstrikes that caused excessive damage to four buildings and several homes. Several Palestinians were killed and injured as the army also bombarded siege-busting tunnels in Gaza.


12 July 2011

A law passed by the Israeli Knesset (parliament) making it an offence to call for a boycott against the state of Israel or its West Bank settlements will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Israel, Amnesty International said today.

The controversial law, passed on Monday night, makes it a civil offence to call for an economic, cultural, or academic boycott of people or institutions in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) for political reasons. Anyone making such calls could face a lawsuit and other financial penalties.

Sponsors of the bill, originally proposed in July 2010 by Knesset member and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, have made it clear that one of the main aims of the law is to penalize those using boycott calls to campaign against Israel’s illegal settlements in the OPT or highlight the ongoing violations of Palestinian rights caused by the settlements.

"Despite proponents’ claims to the contrary, this law is a blatant attempt to stifle peaceful dissent and campaigning by attacking the right to freedom of expression, which all governments must uphold," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"The broad definition of boycott could apply to anyone seeking to use this non-violent means of dissent to criticize any individual or institution involved in human rights violations or violations of international law in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories."

Promoted and supported by the Netanyanhu government, the law was passed by 47 votes to 36, even though top legal advisers to the Knesset and Israel’s Attorney General said it was “borderline illegal”. Several Israeli human rights NGOs have indicated that they plan to challenge the law in Israel’s High Court of Justice. 

Parties filing lawsuits would not have to prove that a call to boycott has resulted in actual damages, as courts can order people or organizations calling for a boycott to pay compensation independently of the damages caused.

The law also allows the Minister of Finance to revoke the tax-exempt status of NGOs calling for a boycott, which threatens the funding on which many Israeli human rights NGOs rely. Companies or organizations participating in a boycott could also be disqualified from applying for government contracts. 

This is only one of many laws recently passed or being considered by the Knesset which have been criticized by Israeli human rights NGOs for restricting freedom of expression, the work of Israeli civil society organizations, or the rights of Palestinian citizens and their political representatives.   

Israel’s policy of establishing settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and is considered a war crime, according to the statute of the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Israeli authorities to end settlement construction as a first step towards completely removing unlawful Israeli settlements from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Amnesty International has taken no position on boycotts anywhere in the world, but fears that this law will lead to violations of the right to freedom of expression of those calling for boycotts.


Israeli Bulldozers Demolish Palestinian Houses, Economic Facilities in Jerusalem

 Israeli bulldozers Monday demolished Palestinian houses and economic facilities in the neighborhood of al-Khalayleh in Al-Jib, a village north west of Jerusalem, according to head of the neighborhood committee.

Israeli Army soldiers stormed the neighborhood and immediately started to demolish the facilities, including a house, a carpentry workshop and a super market, destroying all of its contents. In addition they demolished retaining walls and several other facilities.

Head of the committee, Abu Rabah said that Israeli bulldozers headed towards another area and feared that they will continue the demolishing of facilities.

He pointed out that Israeli authorities had recently handed demolishing orders to 30 Palestinian families who have been living in the neighborhood for a long period of time under the pretext of ‘building without permits.’

He added that Israeli soldiers who accompanied the civil administration’s employees attacked the owners of the houses and facilities, firing tear gas bombs to disperse them, before arresting a number of them.

Israeli troops invaded, on Sunday evening, the Al Esawiyya town, in occupied Easy Jerusalem, and clashed with local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles at them.
The army also used its under-cover forces in attacking the residents, and controlling the town.
Soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets leading to several injuries, medical sources in Jerusalem reported.
Also, troops broke into Biddo Club, northwest of Jerusalem, and confiscated several computers after destroying furniture and property.
Head of the club, Khaled Mansour, reported that this is not the first attack against the club, and that soldiers repeatedly searched it and destroyed its property.
The club contains sports equipment and tools with pictures of local youths, killed by the army, hanged on its inner walls.

Israel approves expansion of 2,000 settlement homes ...

….”Israel considers Jerusalem to be its undivided capital, but the Palestinians, with the support of much of the international community, want to make east Jerusalem the capital of their future state.

Israel’s construction or expansion of homes in the area has drawn criticism from European capitals and Washington in the past, and settlement building in Ramat Shlomo led to a crisis in relations with the United States last year.

  In March 2010, Israel announced approval for the construction of 1,600 homes in the settlement neighbourhood just as US Vice President Joe Biden visited the Jewish state for meetings with Israeli officials.

The announcement angered Biden, and prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to offer an apology for the “unfortunate timing.”That announcement came as US officials laid the groundwork for the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the first in nearly two years.

The talks were launched later that year in Washington, but ground to a halt shortly after they started when Israel declined to renew a moratorium that froze settlement construction in the West Bank, though not in Jerusalem.

The Palestinians have refused to hold talks while Israel builds on land they want for their future state, and negotiations have remained on hold since late September 2010 because of the issue.”….

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