Clinton Denounces Settlement Expansion Amidst Ongoing Violence in West Bank

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed dissent with the state of Israel for announcing what she deemed a ‘counter-productive’ and ‘provocative’ expansion of illegal settlements in the midst of a highly sensitive UN melee over the crisis in the Middle East.’This morning’s announcement by the government of Israel … is counter-productive to our efforts to resume negotiations between the parties. We have long urged both sides to avoid any kind of action which could undermine trust, including and perhaps most particularly in Jerusalem, any action that could be viewed as provocative by either side,’ she said, in response to the announcement that new homes would be built in Gilo, a Jewish enclave in Jerusalem.

The Obama administration was reportedly ‘infuriated’ by Israel’s decision to approve the building of 1,100 new Jewish-only homes in the West Bank, as US diplomats lobbied furiously to halt the Palestinian request for statehood that was formally submitted to the UN last week, according to media sources.

The US backed a proposal for renewed peace talks with firm deadlines that would have postponed a UN vote on the Palestinians’ request to be recognised as an independent state.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Israeli settlement announcement amounted to ‘1,100 noes to the resumption of peace talks’.

In 2013, there were 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Just today, three female colonial settlers were detained by police, on suspicion of breaking into Al-Rahma Islamic cemetery, next to Al-Aqsa Mosque, where they sprayed racial graffiti on a grave. They were held in Al-Qashla detention centre, in the Old City, to prosecute them later.

Mahmoud Abu Al-Ataa, Media Director of Al-Aqsa Foundation for Heritage and Islamic Waqf, stated that this group of settlers only recently desecrated the cemetery, in attempts to perform Talmudic rituals there, during the night hours.

Abu Al-Ata strongly condemned such crimes against the cemetery, holding the occupation fully responsible for the attacks against mosques and churches in Jerusalem and pre-1948 Palestine.

Al-Ata also called on all Palestinians in Jerusalem to exercise caution, especially in light of the escalation of such organized crimes by ‘Price Tag’ Jewish colonial gangs.

Israeli forces raided the al-Aqsa mosque compound, on Tuesday, and assaulted several Palestinian worshipers, officials from the ministry of Islamic endowments told Ma’an.

Palestinian worshipers in the compound chanted religious slogans at a group of around 30 right-wing Jews who had entered the area via the Moroccan Gate.

Israeli forces raided the compound following the incident and physically assaulted several worshipers, ministry officials said.

The right-wing group was escorted out of the area by Israeli forces without completing their tour.

Earlier, a right-wing Jewish activist tried to enter the compound by claiming that he was a foreign tourist, Ma’an went on to say. Israeli police checked the man’s documents and prevented him from entering, after discovering he was Israeli, ministry officials added.

Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

In Hebron, the Israeli army forced a group of farmers out of their agricultural lands in the village of Beit Ummar, to north of Hebron, in the south of the West Bank, according to Mohammad Awad, spokesperson for the anti-settlement committee.

He said that soldiers from the settlement of Karmi Tsur, illegally built on the village land, forced the farmers out of their land which is adjacent to the settlement.

The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) further reports that several armored Israeli military vehicles invaded Borqa village, west of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, kidnapping six Palestinians and causing property damage while searching their homes on Wednesday, at dawn.

Soldiers also invaded Deir Samet village, Doura town, al-Fawwar refugee camp, Ithna, Yatta, al-Obaidiyya and Borqeen.

The arrests and invasions are part of daily Israeli military violations against the Palestinian people, their lands and property, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

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