Monday, 17 June 2013

Israeli minister Bennett calls for annexation of most of West Bank

A rising star in the Israeli cabinet has declared that the idea of a Palestinian state is dead, in a statement that will dismay the US secretary of state, John Kerry, whose mission to restart peace talks between the two sides is struggling to make headway.

Naftali Bennett, who was appointed Israel's economics and trade minister following a strong showing in January's election, told a conference of settlers in Jerusalem that Israel should urgently annex large tracts of the West Bank currently under its control.

Referring to the idea of a Palestinian state, Bennett said: "Never have so many people invested so much energy in something that is hopeless."

The challenge, he added, was "how do we move forward from here, knowing that a Palestinian state within Israel is not possible ... We have to move from solving the problem to living with the problem." Annexation of "Area C", the 62% of the West Bank under total Israeli control, should proceed "as quickly as possible".

Bennett said: "The most important thing in the land of Israel is to build, build, build. It's important that there will be an Israeli presence everywhere.

"This land has been ours for 3,000 years. There was never a Palestinian state here and we were never occupiers. The house is ours and we are residents here, not the occupiers."

The trade minister's comments were swiftly attacked by the Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who said Israel had "officially declared the death of the two-state solution". more

Israeli forces issue 3 demolition orders in Silwan

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Monday issued three demolition orders for residential and commercial properties in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, locals said.

Israeli police and Jerusalem municipality officers took pictures of several buildings and stores in Silwan, before hanging demolition orders on a barber shop, butcher shop and residential property, store owner Issam Dana told Ma'an.

Last week, eight demolition orders were affixed to homes belonging to the Sarafandi, al-Bana and Siyam families, as well as a car wash, in Silwan. more

4 detained near Gaza border by Israeli forces

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained four Palestinians late Sunday night after they tried to enter Israel.

The four were detained near Kissufim, an Israeli community in the Negev located near the border, east of Khan Younis in Gaza, a source told Ma'an.

Three of those detained are from the Abu Muhareb family and the fourth is from the Abu Sawawin family, the source said.

All were taken to an unknown location, the source added.

A number of Palestinians have recently attempted to breach the border looking for work in Israel, the source said. more

Egyptian forces 'ready to defend Hamas'

CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egyptian security has asked Hamas leaders to change the hotel its delegation is staying in after receiving intelligence that protests will be held outside, sources told Ma'an.

Hamas' chief in exile Khaled Mashaal and Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh, along with a delegation of 24 party officials, were told that demonstrators would be rallying outside the Intercontinental Hotel to protest the Islamist movement's "intervention in internal Egyptian affairs," the sources said.

Egyptian security had been asked by protestors to "send Hamas leaders out of Egypt," responding that they were prepared to defend the delegation, the sources added.

The sources added that the change in hotel was required because forces did not "have the situation under control."

The delegation is in Cairo for emergency talks with the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt Muhammad Badie. more