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Welcome to this Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www.imemc.org for July 23 to 30 2010.
The Arab League paves the way for conditional direct talks with Israel and settler attacks reach a fever pitch in the central West Bank, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
Let us begin our weekly report as usual with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank with IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura
Israeli troops attacked on Friday anti wall protests that were organized at a number of locations in the West Bank.
Israeli and international supporters joined Palestinian villagers in Bil’in, Nil’in an Nabi Saleh in the central West Bank in addition to Artas s and Al Ma’ssra in the southern West Bank. Israeli troops used tear gas, sound grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets to suppress the protests at several locations.
At all four locations protests kicked- off shortly after the midday prayers on Friday and headed towards the Israeli separation wall.
In the village of Bil’in one Israeli, a local and an international supporter were lightly wounded by Israeli soldiers fire. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In the nearby Nil’in village a number of people suffered from the effects of tear gas inhalation. The group of Israeli, local, and international activists marched to the separation wall, chanted slogans, and returned to the town.
One British activist was wounded as many suffered effects of tear gas inhalation during the weekly protest at the village of Nabi Saleh. Troops also arrested one Israeli activist and a 13 year old Palestinian boy.
In the village of Al Ma’ssara, near Bethlehem, people marched after the midday prayers towards the construction site of the wall. Troops stopped the protesters near the village entrance and used tear gas and sound grenades to suppress them.
In Artas s on Friday Gerick supporters marched with the villagers to protest the Israeli wall being built on lands owned by the villagers and the Catholic Church. The protest ended without clashes.
For IMEMC.org this is Ghassan Bannoura.
West Bank & Gaza:
Settler attacks throughout the central West Bank and settlers storm an apartment building full of Arab families and evicted three. IMEMC’s Brian Ennis reports.
Over the past week Israel arrested some sixteen Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank. They also conducted five limited incursions into the Gaza Strip.
Israeli troops stationed at the numerous checkpoints and border crossings throughout the West Bank arrested nine civilians, including six children and one woman
On Monday 26 July, the Israeli military moved into Ethna village, northwest of Hebron. They handed written notices issued by the Higher Organization Council of the Israeli Civil Administration to Palestinian civilians ordering a halt on construction works for six houses and a barn.
On the same day, dozens of Israeli settlers, escorted by occupation forces, moved into the east of Nablus. They took over Joseph’s Tomb and conducted Jewish rituals there for about four hours.
Also on 26 July, dozens of Israeli settlers from ‘Brakha’ settlement, south of Nablus, attacked Palestinian houses in the northwest of Bourin village, south of the city. They threw stones at houses and set fire to the area surrounding the homes, burning a large section of olive trees.
Still on Monday, dozens of Israeli settlers from ‘Yits’har’ settlement, south of Nablus, attacked Palestinian houses west of Hawara village, south of Nablus and threw stones at the houses. No injuries were reported.
Settlers also damaged a Bedouin agricultural field in Umm al-Kher village, near Ramallah. They damaged crops, cut water pipes, and partially destroyed a fence around the field.
Tuesday, Israeli soldiers moved into Qalqilya. They raided and searched a two-story house belonging to the Undersecretary of the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs, while he was out of country. They ransacked the house and arrested his 18 year-old son.
Thursday, Israeli settlers under the protection of police stormed an apartment building in the Old City of Jerusalem. They forcibly evicted fifty people. The police are, after the fact, looking into the settlers claims of ownership.
In the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian civilian was shot and seriously wounded by Israeli soldiers Wednesday, while on a tract of land belonging to his grandfather.
On Monday morning, 26 July 2010, Israeli warplanes bombarded tunnels along the Egyptian border, south of Rafah. They also bombarded and destroyed a plastic and iron pipe store in the central Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported
For IMEMC’s .org this is Brian Ennis
This week, the Arab League follow-up committee for the Arab peace initiative of 2002, gave a green light to the Palestinian leadership to start direct peace talks with Israel, though it is not yet clear if, or when, Abbas will take that path.
Israeli President Shimon Peres says that the Arab league’s approval of direct talks between Israel and Palestinians came apparently after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Okayed starting direct negotiations with Israel.
The Abbas-led Palestinian Authority reiterated this week previous position towards such talks, declaring it would not resume direct talks with Israel unless there are international guarantees, mainly by Washington, which is the main sponsor of Palestinian-Israeli peace process for the time being.
Among the guarantees’, Abbas’s authority wants are an Israeli recognition of the borders of future Palestinian state, including Palestinians’ right to the occupied East Jerusalem as a capital of the would-be state.
Also, the PA wants Israel to stop all settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territories, regarded illegal by international law. The PA says halt of such activities is a perquisite for resuming peace talks with Israel.
Israeli leaders including Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said this week that freeze of settlement activities would help blow up current coalition within his cabinet, which includes the hardliner foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman. Liberman has repeatedly opposed freeze of settlement activities.
In reference to Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, which sopped in late 2008, Israeli defense minister, Yehud Barak, stated this week during a meeting of 50 people including those supporting the Geneva Peace Initiative for peace, that his government is not aware of the talks under the leadership of former Israeli PM, Yehud Olmert.
Barak did give insight towards possible resumption of peace talks by going into saying that he prefers demarcating the borders of Israel as a state of Jewish majority as well as keeping major settlement blocks inside the occupied West Bank, as pillars for any peaceful settlement with the Palestinians.
The Israeli minister also asserted on a long-standing Israeli demand that any future Palestinian state must be disarmed but contiguous and viable.
In related news, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), refused direct peace talks with Israel until Israel recognizes the Palestinian people’s right to a statehood within the 1967 border. The declaration came during a DFLP’s press conference in Gaza.
On another note, the DFLP emphasized on the need that the rival Fatah and Hamas parties should reach a unity agreement, so that the Palestinian standing in terms of peace with Israel is boosted up.
At the internal Palestinian level, exiled leader of the Islamist Hamas party Khaled Mash’al, said in a meeting with journalists in Doha that some international parties do not want Palestinians to reunite.
Mash’al refered to the international community’s demands form Hamas; recognizing Israel, accepting past-signed peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and renouncing violence. In terms of Hamas, renouncing violence would mean dropping the party’s right to resist the Israeli occupation.
The Islamist leader reaffirmed his party’s position that Israel should first end occupation of the Palestinian territories including West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, before talking peace.
Hamas has been in control of Gaza since June2007, after Hamas’ forces ousted the western-backed forces of Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
for IMEMC.org. Rami Alhmghari in Gaza
and that was just some of the news from this week in Palestine, for more updates, please visit our website at www.imemc.org. Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem, this report has been brought to you by George Rishmawi.