east jerusalem

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Father Roy writes: Please see my highlights in AP’s news report.  Is it possible that Obama will go down in history as the President who broke the stranglehold Israel’s lobby has on the US Congress?  If so, Obama will need grassroots support:  Contact the White House.   Peace, Roy 

source: www.google.com…

US hits Israel hard on settlement plans

By MATTHEW LEE

WASHINGTON (AP) — In unusually rare and blunt criticism of its top Mideast ally, the Obama administration on Tuesday slammed Israel for continuing to announce new settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians.

The State Department accused Israel of engaging in a “pattern of provocative action” that calls into question statements from Israeli leaders that they are committed to peace. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said settlement activity only puts the goal of peace “further at risk” and urged both Israel and the Palestinians to halt all provocations and take steps to revive long-stalled peace talks.

“We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action,” Nuland told reporters. “These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk.”

The administration’s questioning of the Israeli leadership’s stated commitment to peace was unexpected, if not unprecedented, and appeared to take Washington’s longstanding opposition to settlements to a new level. However, it was not clear if the tough new words would be matched by actions.

The comments came as Israel’s prime minister rejected international criticism of plans to build thousands more Jewish homes in east Jerusalem, saying construction would move forward. Meanwhile, diplomats said four European nations were moving ahead with plans to condemn Israel at the United Nations for settlement construction.

Despite the strong rhetoric, Nuland said the United States did not believe pursuing condemnation of Israel at the U.N. Security Council would be “helpful” in resurrecting the stalled peace process.

“We again call on Israel and the Palestinians to cease any kinds of counterproductive, unilateral actions and take concrete steps to return to direct negotiations,” she said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans to build thousands of homes in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in response to the U.N. General Assembly’s decision last month to upgrade the Palestinians’ status to non-member observer state.

One diplomat said the proposed European statement of condemnation would be a “political message” distributed to all the other Security Council members but that the Europeans are not asking the council to adopt a formal “presidential statement” or less important “press statement.” Each of those would require approval by all council members.

In such cases, the United States previously has stepped in on the side of Israel on the recurrent issue of settlements.

read the rest of this article here

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This is encouraging! I can’t remember the last time I was impressed by the actions of Bob Carr! Has Australia finally found her moral compass? That’s too much to hope for. I guess we are only following the lead of Europe and the USA. Even so, it is encouraging.

Father Dave

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr

Aussie Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr

source: www.smh.com……

Israel settler plans spark condemnation

The Sydney Morning Herald — RELATIONS between Israel and Australia – already tense after Labor backed away from opposition to a Palestinian seat in the United Nations – have worsened after Israel’s ambassador was summoned for a dressing down.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr took the serious step of calling in Israel’s ambassador Yuval Rotem on Tuesday afternoon to convey ”grave concern” and extreme disappointment with plans to expand settler housing in East Jerusalem and on the West Bank. Earlier, Prime Minister Julia Gillard had indicated the government was very concerned over the developments. Senator Carr instructed new Foreign Affairs chief, Peter Varghese, to summon Mr Rotem over reports that Israel will build 3000 new housing units in the highly sensitive area known as E1, a 12-square-kilometre patch of land east of Jerusalem. Tax revenue will also be withheld from the Palestinian Authority in the occupied territories.

Despite widespread and growing condemnation of the announcement, the Israeli government remained unrepentant. Several European nations – including Britain, France and Spain – have summoned Israeli ambassadors in protest at the expanded settlement plans, with the US also critical of the move. The decision to call in Mr Rotem – a diplomatic signal of deep displeasure – is the second time Australia has taken such a move with Israel in recent years. The last, in 2010, followed revelations that Israel’s spy outfit Mossad used forged Australian passports to facilitate the killing of a Hamas leader in Dubai.

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Along with the withholding of funds from the Palestinian Authority, the expansion of the dreaded settlements seems to be Mr Netanyahu’s response to the UN Palestine vote.

The US condemns the settlements, but mere words from the Whitehouse are not going to change anything, and Mr Netanyahu knows that the Whitehouse is not going to oppose him with anything more than mere words.

The highlights in this Reuters’ report are from Father Roy 

 

U.S. repeats opposition to new Israeli settlements

WASHINGTON | Mon Dec 3, 2012 1:05pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Mondayreiterated its opposition to new Israeli settlement activity on occupied land including in the site known as “E1”, which it said could be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The United States opposes all unilateral actions, including West Bank settlement activity and housing construction in East Jerusalem, as they complicate efforts to resume direct, bilateral negotiations,” State Department spokeman Mark Toner said in a statement.

This includes building in the E-1 area as this area is particularly sensitive and construction there would be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution.”

Israel indicated in Monday it had no plan to backtrack on a settlement expansion plan that has drawn strong international condemnation and includes “preliminary zoning and planning work” for settler housing in the so-called “E1” zone east of Jerusalem. “We have made clear to the Israeli government that such action is contrary to U.S. policy,” Toner said in his statement, which urged both Israel and the Palestinians to cease unilateral actions and take steps to return to direct negotiations.

Israel announced plans to build 3,000 more homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Friday, a day after the U.N. General Assembly granted de facto recognition to Palestinian statehood over Israeli and U.S. objections.

(Reporting By Andrew Quinn; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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Thank God for Jimmy Carter. He continues to shine out like a light in dark the world of international politics.

What Carter says is what everybody already knows, of course – that the current Israeli government has no intention of granting the Palestinian people their own state. The fact though that Carter and the Elders are saying it openly is of great significance.

Having said that, how many people will listen? And will Obama be one of them?

Father Dave 

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Jimmy Carter: Israel not committed to two-state solution

Former US president says two-state approach seems to have been “abandoned,” points finger at Prime Minister Netanyahu during visit by “The Elders” group of past world leaders to Israel, West Bank, Egypt.

Former US President Jimmy Carter on Monday said the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had reached a crisis point and that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government was not pursuing a two-state solution.

“That policy of promoting a two-state solution seems to be abandoned now and we are deeply concerned about this move towards this catastrophic so-called one-state choice … this is a major concern,” Carter told a news conference.

Carter helped forge Israel’s peace deal with Egypt in 1979, the first between the Jewish state and an Arab country but has been a strong critic of Israeli settlement policy in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“Every (Israeli) prime minister that I have known has been a pursuer of the two-state solution and I don’t know that (US President Barack) Obama has found that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been willing to go that route,” Carter added.

He spoke during a visit along with other members of “The Elders”, a group of former world leaders, to Israel, the West Bank and Egypt.

“All indications to us is that this two-state solution has basically been abandoned and we’ve had a moving forward towards a ‘greater Israel’ which I think is contrary to the two-state solution concept,” Carter said.

Netanyahu has voiced support for a two-state solution, but has said a future Palestinian country must be demilitarized and accept an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River, its likely eastern frontier.