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Welcome to this Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for July 3rd, through July 9th , 2010

President Obama feels confident that a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians can be achieved in the near future. Meanwhile a recent survey showed that Palestinians have uneasiness with their leadership and their future.

Nonviolence
Let us begin our weekly report as usual with the nonviolent activities in West Bank villages with the details Brian Ennis

The Nonviolence Report:
Anti wall protests were organized across the West Bank on Friday marking the sixth anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling against the wall Israel is building in the West Bank.

Israeli and international supporters joined Palestinian villagers in Bil’in, Nil’in and Nabi Saleh in central West Bank in addition to Wadi Rahal and Al Ma’ssra in southern West Bank. Protests kicked- off shortly after the midday prayers on Friday and headed towards the Israeli built wall.

Israeli troops used tear gas, sound bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets to suppress the protests today. In Bil’in a local teenager was injured by the Israeli fire while two Israeli supporters were arrested by troops. In the nearby Nil‘in village many suffered tear gas inhalation when soldiers

In the village of Nabi Saleh troops injured two international activists and arrested one Palestinian and two other international supporters.

In southern West Bank village of Wadi Rahal the protest ended peaceful after soldiers did not allow people to reach the construction site of the wall while in the nearby Al Ma’ssra village troops used tear gas to end the protest; many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. Mahmoud Zwahra, an organizer of the weekly protests in Al Ma’ssra village, says the ICJ ruling gives legitimacy to the villagers’ struggle.

(Actuality – Arabic)
“The ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Hague came to assure the legitimacy of the popular struggle against this illegal wall, after the court ruling and the start of the popular resistance we notice two things; first the number of villages fighting the wall is increasing everyday, second the international presence is becoming indispensable .”

Even though it is only an advisory decision; the International Court of Justice confirmed Israel’s construction of the Wall a flagrant violation of international law and reminded the international community a bout their obligation to ensure the Wall is torn down and not to aid or abet its construction and associated regime. Suhiel Salman, from Stop the Wall Campaign says this year there will be more pressure to make the ICJ ruling into a UN resolution.
(Actuality – Arabic)

“this year we have formed The High Commission to revive the court ruling and keep it alive by organizing events on the ground, also there is work to put pressure on the Palestinian political leadership to take the ruling to the UN Security Council and general assembly, in addition, we are working with Human Rights NGOs to try to raise legal cases against the Israeli occupation government.”

Israeli continues to build the wall all over the West Bank ignoring the ICJ and international criticism. The continued Palestinian protests and legal proceedings of some villages, like Bil’in, managed to get farmers half of the land Israeli was planning to take. Regardless of the nonviolent nature of those weekly protests, Israeli troops have used lethal force on many occasions; six Palestinians have been killed over the past five years and dozens were injured by army fire.

For IMEMC.org this is Brean Ennis

Political

U.S President Barack Obama believes that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is possible within his term in office. Meanwhile, a delegation of European foreign ministers is set to visit the Gaza Strip soon. From Gaza, IMEMC’s Rami Almaghari has the story

Obama tells an Israeli TV channel that a peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis is possible within the next few years. Yet the president believes that the road to such an agreement will be tough.

The U.S president met earlier this week in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He asked both sides to start direct talks in order to deal with tough negotiation issues such as borders, refugees and security.

The Palestinian side still adheres to a previous position that any peace talks should resume amidst Israeli halt of settlement activities on the occupied East Jerusalem, which Palestinians consider as the capital for future Palestinian state.
In other news, deputy-foreign minister of the Hamas-led government in Gaza, Ahmad Yousef, welcomed this week an expected visit by some European foreign ministers to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Yousef regarded the anticipated visit as the beginning for breaking the Israeli blockade on Gaza. Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, had earlier invited the European ministers to visit Gaza but conditioned that the delegation should not meet with Hamas officials in the territory.

Meanwhile, talks over prisoner swap deal between Israel and the ruling Hamas party over the release of a captured Israeli soldier in return for Israeli release of 10000 Palestinian detainees are still deadlocked.
Rami Almeghari. IMEMC.org, Gaza
West Bank and Gaza

This week the Israeli military kidnapped fifteen civilians including seven children throughout the West Bank as settlement activities continue. The details with
Katie Smith

The largest kidnapping occurred in the village of Azzoun, near Qalqilia with six taken from their homes on Tuesday. Other kidnapping occurred in Beit Sahour and al-Arroub refugee camp.

Three Palestinian civilians were injured, one critically, when an Israeli settler rammed them with his car near the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday. The injured civilians were quickly moved to a hospital in Hebron. Two sustained moderate wounds while one is in critical condition.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers attacked the town of Sebastiya near Nablus, northern West Bank. Settlers vandalized some homes before residents forced them to leave.

The Settlement Councils in the occupied West Bank are preparing plans for the construction of 2,700 units for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank directly after the claimed “settlement freeze” expires at the end of this coming September.

Israeli paper, Haaretz, reported Monday that Settlement Councils finalized the plans and are seeking approval from the Israeli Housing Ministry, and Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, to ensure the approval before the settlement freeze ends.

These statements were confirmed by comments by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said that settlement activities will resume after September.

Although Israel claimed it has frozen settlement activities for ten months, the Israeli government declared in November 2009, which did not apply to at least 3000 settlement units under construction, in addition to new bids the Israeli government called for during the moratorium period.

From Gaza, on 5 July Israeli gunboats positioned Gaza City’s port, fired at Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing approximately two miles off the Gaza shore. A fourteen year old from al-Shati refugee camp, was wounded as a result of two bullets in the abdomen. The boat was also occupied by the boys father and brother.

The same day Israeli forces stationed near the Beit Hanoun crossing in the north of Gaza opened fire on workers in the area. The workers are Palestinians collecting construction materials. Another boy, this one thirteen years of age was shot in the abdomen. The Israelis also killed his horse.

The Israeli army also invaded the area in southern Gaza near the Kerem abu Salem crossing on July 8. Soldiers fired at several homes damaging them. Bulldozers at the same time destroyed farmlands and some small structures.

For IMEMC.org this is Katie Smith

Conclusion
And that’s just some of the news from This Week in Palestine. For regular updates, please visit our website at www.IMEMC.org. Thank you for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem. This week’s report has been brought to you by George Rishmawi.

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