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This week in Palestine – a service of the International Middle East Media Center in Palestine for the week of September Friday 16th to Thursday

September 22

Israel continues to interfere in internal Palestinian affairs. Meanwhile evacuation of four settlements in the West Bank was completed; Israeli troops killed a young Palestinian near one of the evacuated settlements; and plans to move evacuated settlers to the West Bank continue. Settlers did not stop their attacks against the Palestinians in the West Bank. Dozens of Palestinians were arrested and others were injured in confrontations with the Israeli army in peaceful protests against the Separation Wall.

Hamas to participate in PLC elections

Israel reiterated its disapproval of Hamas taking part in the Palestinian Legislative elections scheduled for January, yet this time it was backed by the Quartet who partially adopted Israel’s stand. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom clearly stated that Israel will not allow Hamas to take part in the elections.

The Quartet—which consists of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia—has demanded that Hamas disarm and recognize Israel before joining the elections.

Last week, the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that Israel would obstruct the elections if the PA allows Hamas to participate, by keeping roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank in place and tightening closures that will prevent the Palestinians from reaching polling stations.

In response, Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahaar, a prominent leader of Hamas said that his movement will contest the Palestinian Parliamentary elections, despite Israeli threats to obstruct the democratic process.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has signaled an easing on the part of her government concerning the participation of Hamas in the elections describing it as a Palestinian Process, urging Israel to cooperate.

Meanwhile, after meeting the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, 13 Palestinian factions in Gaza agreed to end the public display of weapons, including celebration of the Gaza withdrawal. Yet, the agreement did not include disarming the Palestinian resistance groups.

Settlers of Gaza to be relocated in the West Bank

In another violation of promises Israel made to the US administration before the implementation of the disengagement plan—of which included a freeze on settlement construction as well as expanding existing ones—Israel is planning to relocate settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

Israeli settlers who were evacuated from the settlement of Shirat Yam, formerly in the Gaza Strip, are planning to move their mobile houses to a new settlement in the West Bank near Jericho.

These are not the only settlers to be moved to the West Bank. Settlers from Netzarim have been relocated to the settlement of Ariel while other settlers evacuated from Gaza have been relocated to the Gush Etzion settlement.

A larger plan, which is pending government approval, is to build a new settlement in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, in a location that used to be a military base called Maskiyot.

But Israeli officials denied the plan of building a new settlement, saying that if anything will be done it will be only to expand existing settlements.

Evacuation of West Bank Settlements

Israeli soldiers shot and killed 19-year-old Ala’ Hantooli, from Sielet Al-Thaher village near the West Bank city of Jenin, on Thursday morning.

Hantooli was shot as he and nine other civilians came close to a military installation; they thought it was evacuated together with the two nearby settlements of Homesh and Sa-Nur.

One day earlier, Israel declared that its troops have completed the evacuation of these two settlements, as part of the unilateral Israeli disengagement plan.

Israel completed the evacuation of its troops from the four northern West Bank settlements burying the synagogues there. Hundreds of Palestinians rushed to the evacuated settlements to celebrate the evacuation.

Meanwhile, an Israeli military official suggested the evacuation of an additional 32 settlements in the West Bank.

In a press conference held in Tel Aviv, Reserve General Uzi Dayan unveiled his plan for disengaging from some of the Palestinian areas, at the same time redrawing the Internationally recognized border Green Line to annex some 28 Palestinian villages into Israel.

Dayan emphasized that, according to his plan, Jerusalem will remain under Israeli control and that the Palestinian state will be demilitarized, and was quoted as saying that “The Palestinians will be given the right of return to the rest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

Settlers Attacks

Israeli settlers continued their attacks against Palestinians and their properties this week.

On Saturday afternoon a group of fifty settlers from Efrat settlement set fire to 50 vine groves in Al Khader village south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

In another incident five settler families moved into a building in Tel Rmeida neighborhood in the West Bank city of Hebron; the settlers claim that they purchased the building which is located near the illegal settlement outpost of Tal Rmeida. With the arrival of these five new settler families into this Palestinian neighborhood, the total number of settler families living there rose to twenty.

Anti-Wall protests

In spite of continuous attempts by the Israeli army to thwart their peaceful processions, the Palestinian village of Bil’in has managed to achieve the support of thousands of peace activists around the world, including Israel, as a result of its unique weekly protests. The Israeli army has used live rounds, concussion grenades and other means of weaponry on peaceful protesters.

The village became a leading model of non-violent resistance specifically in facing the Separation wall that is being built on the village’s land.

Earlier on Friday, Israeli soldiers barred fifty peace activists from entering the village after the soldiers declared it a closed military zone; twenty activists who managed to enter the village were arrested.

Israeli soldiers proceeded to attack a non-violent procession against the Separation Wall in the village. Dutch Pianist Jacob Allegro Wegloop, a holocaust survivor, and American singer David Rovics, took part in the demonstration by singing at the construction site.

Meanwhile, one resident was injured in the village of Budrus in an anti-wall protest organized in that village. He received a rubber-coated-metal-bullet to his head; his injury was described as moderate. One Israeli soldier was lightly wounded as well.

For the International Middle East Media Center in Beit Sahour in Palestine this Dinna Awwad.