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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for Thursday, September 2nd, 2010.
As direct talks begin between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Washington, Israeli settlers announce construction in 80 West Bank settlements, defying a settlement freeze. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
US President Barack Obama, like the six US Presidents before him, has convened so-called ‘peace talks’ between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in Washington DC today.
Many Palestinians are doubtful that the talks will amount to much more than a handshake and a photo-op. They argue that past agreements have never been enforced, and that instead of embarking on a new round of negotiations, past UN Resolutions and signed accords should be enforced.
A number of Palestinian politicians have issued statements opposing the talks, saying that because Palestinians have no political, economic, or military power, their position at a negotiating table is weak and each past negotiation has resulted in a further erosion of the Palestinians’ internationally-recognized human rights.
Just before the peace talks were about to begin in Washington, Jewish settlers in the West Bank announced that they will commence construction of new buildings in 80 different settlements. The new buildings are in direct contravention of an Israeli-declared freeze on new construction that is set to expire at the end of September.
There are currently over 250 settlements constructed on occupied Palestinian territory that was taken over by the Israeli military during a 1967 war. They are considered to be in violation of international law.
Since 1967, over 500,000 Israeli civilians, most of whom are immigrants, moved into these settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, effectively stealing Palestinian land to make it a de facto part of Israel.
While the Israeli settlers announced their plan to defy their government with new construction, another group of Israelis, from the academic community, also decided to take action this week, by pledging to boycott all Israeli settlements.
The boycott comes as peace talks between the Palestinian and Israeli leadership begin in Washington, and while the Israeli government claims that these boycotts weaken their position at the negotiating table, the academics argue that it is only through boycott that they can pressure their government to adhere to international law and create a just peace with the Palestinians.
The armed wing of the Hamas party claimed responsibility for the second shooting of Israeli settlers in two days. Tuesday night’s attack, near Hebron, resulted in the deaths of four Israelis and the arrests of hundreds of members of the Hamas party in the West Bank. On Wednesday, Palestinian fighters fired at an Israeli car near Ramallah, in the central West Bank, wounding two settlers.
A Hamas leader said the attacks are meant to challenge the claim by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he has control over the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank.
In other news, a new report by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights shows that Palestinian students are routinely being denied the right to education due to the Israeli occupation.
According to the report, a blanket ban has been imposed on Palestinian students from the Gaza Strip, preventing them enrolling at Palestinian universities in the West Bank to continue their education.
The Center says that this ban is not based on security needs, but is based on discrimination against a specific category of persons in this case, students.
That concludes today’s daily report from the Occupied Territories of Palestine. For more news and daily updates, check out our website www.imemc.org. This report has been brought to you by Jenka Soderberg and Husam Qassis.