israeli settlements


With President Obama now at a safe distance, the takeover of Palestinian lands continues as before.

It is tragic to think that only four years ago in Cairo Obama had spoken of Palestinian statelessness as ‘intolerable’. On this visit he spoke only of settlement construction being ‘unconstructive’.

Clearly the US is not going to stand in the way of Netanyahu’s program of annexation and ethnic cleansing. How ironic for Bethlehem’s Christians that a new ‘via dolorosa’ should appear during Easter week. 

Father Dave

Bethlehem today

Bethlehem today


Israel to build settlements on Palestinian lands in Bethlehem

 A military order has been issued by Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank for the illegal confiscation of Palestinian lands and orchards, leaving dozens of families without their main source of livelihood and without the ability to build homes. 

A military order has been issued by Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank for the illegal confiscation of Palestinian lands in the Khirbit Ed-Deer area, west of Nahhalin village, in the Bethlehem District, in order to build 70 units for Jewish settlers and public buildings, the Palestine News Network (PNN) had reported.

PNN quoted the deputy head of the Nahhalin village council Jamal Najajra stating that the lands in question are dozens of Dunams, located near the Beit Illit illegal settlement which is built on lands that belong to the residents of Husan, Nahhalin and Wad Fokeen, and are planted with olive trees.

Najajra added that Israel intends to build 70 units for Jewish settlers in addition to a number of public buildings.

He said that the new planned constructions are meant to connect the Beit Illit settlement with the Gavot settlement by illegally confiscating Palestinians orchards, leaving dozens of families without their main source of livelihood and without the ability to build homes.

Najajra added that the village council has contacted attorney Ghayyath Nasser so that the necessary appeals in Israeli courts can be filed.

Najajra also said that this is not the first time Israel has decided to annex Palestinian lands in the area. Israel previously confiscated lands in the Al-Jamjoum area, the Salem Valley, and Ein Fares where Israel dumps waste-water coming from the Beitar Illit settlement, PNN reports.

Filed under Uncategorized by on . Comment#


The day of US-Israeli hegemony in the Middle East may well be drawing to a close. The United Nations decided not to wait for Uncle Sam to broker a deal before declaring Palestine a nation state, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and its member states seem ready to take the initiative in seeing the Israel-Palestine impasse resolved.

The role of Egypt’s President Morsi has been crucial in recent months – visiting Gaza and now hosting the OIC meeting – and now Bangladesh has joined the chorus, demanding full statehood for Palestine.

Of course both Obama and Kerry are putting a renewed effort into restating their ‘peace process’ but have they left their run too late?

Father Dave


‘Back a sovereign Palestine’

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni has called upon the Muslim world to support Palestine in ‘a result-oriented’ way to make it a sovereign state that Bangladesh backs ‘unequivocally’.

She made the call while speaking at a special session titled ‘Israeli Settlements on Occupied Palestinian Land’ on Sunday during the 12th Islamic Summit Conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo.

According to a media release, Dipu Moni reiterated “unequivocal support of Bangladesh for a fully sovereign Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

“She called upon all OIC member states to extend support to Palestine in a more useful and constructive manner with a result-oriented approach,” it said.

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister condemned the repression of Palestinians by Israeli authorities “through cold-blooded policy of settlements in the occupied land of Palestine that is a glaring affront to the values of human rights and human conscience.”

read the rest of this article here:…


Father Roy writes:  The New Year begins with encouraging news.  The following report was published in today’s Ha’aretz.  The US blocked a UNSC resolution and a presidential statement condemning Israel’s construction plans, but the US did not prevent our European allies from blasting Israel.   Peace, Roy

UN Security Council members blast Israel over settlement construction plans

U.S. blocks attempts to push joint presidential statement and resolution condemning construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; In addition to thousands of new housing units, a new highway is being built that will cut the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa in two.

Fourteen members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday condemned Israel for advancing construction plans in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The council’s European Union members issued a statement saying these plans undermine their faith in Israel’s willingness to negotiate.

For the full article:……


And now we see what the Palestinian UN vote was all about – ‘lawfare’!

Prior to the UN vote some of Abbas’ critics were questioning whether it was worth the effort to upgrade Palestine’s status within an organisation that is dominated by the super-powers on the Security Council anyway. This latest development seems to answer the question. Palestine’s new UN status opens up new legal avenues for Palestinian leaders whereby they can take their oppressors to court!

Of course court decisions are likely to prove ineffectual too without the support of the same super-powers, so it remains to be seen whether Palestine’s new UN status will really amount to much!

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas


Palestinian officials hint they will go to ICC over Israel’s latest settlement plan.

Annie Robbins

Since Palestine’s UN upgrade two weeks ago, events and rhetoric appear to be on steroids, moving at a swift pace. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking at a press conference in Ankara with Turkish President Abdullah Gü Wednesday, said he would take legal action against Israel should it make efforts to colonize E1, a portion of land east of  Jerusalem. “His country is coordinating with Turkey to develop a legal strategy,” according to Turkish daily Today’s Zaman.

Palestine’s Foreign Minister Riad Malki also dangled threats of a strong response if Israel proceeded ahead with its latest colonization scheme and said Palestine’s next move would be to request membership at the International Criminal Court.

Jerusalem Post also says, PA to request ICC membership over Israeli settlements:

The Palestinian Authority Wednesday repeated threats to file charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court [ICC] over plans to build housing units in E1, on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem.

PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said that the Palestinians’ next move would be to request membership in the ICC…….

The PA Ministry of Information in Ramallah also voiced support for filing charges against Israel with the ICC. The ministry accused Israel of “escalating its political and military offensive” against the Palestinians and called for action to prosecute Israeli “war criminals.”

Jerusalem Post, citing Turkish daily Today Zaman, reported Turkish President Abdullah Gül saying Israel’s threat to build is EI was “playing with fire.”

Today’s Zaman states, “Abbas reveals Turkey, Palestine to coordinate legal steps against Israel:”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said his country is coordinating with Turkey to develop a legal strategy for the newly recognized UN-observer state of Palestine to challenge Israel’s increased settlement activity in the Occupied Territories, especially against those that will cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank.

“We have come to an agreement with the Turkish government on two points: One is to establish close coordination with Turkish permanent representation at the UN with our UN representation in New York and the other is to have Turkish Foreign Ministry experts provide legal counsel to our side,” he told a group of reporters in Ankara.

According to Today’s Zaman, Abbas has been discussing possible financial assistance with Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan– probably to prop up the PA since Israel’s cutting off their funds for the next four months, or so it threatens.

“We acquired many rights when we were recognized as a non-member state by the UN. But in fact we will not eagerly consult international courts if Israel agrees to and complies with a peace agreement,” Abbas maintained.

Abbas also said he discussed monetary assistance to Palestine with Erdoğan, whom he described as very sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. “He knew all the details about Palestine and we have discussed ways to help Palestine in the face of punitive sanctions by Israel and the US,” he explained. He recalled that the Arab League has set up a monitoring committee headed by Qatar on what assistance would be provided to Palestine in case funds were cut off by Israel and the US in the wake of recognition at the UN Assembly.

He also underlined that his government puts a priority on reconciliation among Palestinian groups. “Khaled Meshaal called me half an hour before I arrived [in Turkey] and we discussed reconciliation steps,” he revealed during the meeting. He said Hamas is ready to pursue talks with the PA under Egyptian mediation after the group’s ongoing internal elections.

By the way, Turkey pulled out the red carpet for Abbas. Literally, brass horns and all. (video!). Israel must be fuming.


Father Roy writes: Shimon Fogel is CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of Canada The UCC has scheduled the crucial vote for today. See my highlights in the article pasted below   Peace, Roy 

Boycott of Israeli settlements would shatter United Church’s credibility

The Globe and Mail

On Tuesday, the United Church of Canada (UCC) will vote on the Report of the Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy, which includes a church-wide boycott of goods from Israeli settlements. That report, sadly, has failed to grasp what’s really at stake in this decision. A boycott of Israel launched in any form would put the United Church outside the genuine peace movement and the Canadian consensus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As hurtful as this would be to the Jewish community, it pales in comparison to the long-term damage it would cause to the reputation of one of Canada’s foremost voices in civil society: the United Church itself.

Granted, the church has removed a disturbing statement from the original report that the deepest meaning of the Holocaust was the denial of human dignity (and posits a moral equivalence with the challenges faced by Palestinians). Yet the report still calls on the UCC to “acknowledge with deep regret” its past policy of asking the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. What this move would achieve is anyone’s guess. But the notion that the Palestinians can continue to deny Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state (as it was explicitly affirmed by the UN’s 1947 partition resolution) only relieves the Palestinian leadership of the duty to reconcile with its neighbour – and with reality.

No less disturbing is the report’s thesis that the occupation is “the primary contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence in the region,” that settlements are the chief obstacle to peace, and that Israel alone must be pressed to resolve the conflict. Put aside that the Arab-Israeli conflict began in 1948 (decades before settlements existed) and that the violent repression in Syria and throughout the region has nothing to do with Israel. On the issue of settlements, we have history as our guide.

In 1982, Israel withdrew every last settler from the Sinai after securing a peace agreement with Egypt. Both countries have since benefited from peace. In 2005, Israel withdrew every settler from Gaza as a unilateral gesture without a peace agreement. Civilians in southern Israel have since been targeted by some 10,000 missiles and mortars from Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza.

History is clear. Israeli withdrawals must include peace and security guarantees signed by Israel’s neighbours, as per international law under UNSC Resolution 242.

It’s astonishing that Israel’s removal of thousands of settlers from the Sinai and Gaza is not mentioned once in the UCC’s report – despite “settlements” appearing no fewer than 54 times. That “terrorism” is mentioned once and “Hamas” and “Hezbollah” receive no mention at all speaks volumes to the report’s lack of balance. Indeed, it reflects a minimization of key obstacles to peace (including anti-Jewish incitement, continuing terrorism, and yes, Hamas – the archetype of Arab rejection of the Jewish state).

Peace will come only through negotiations and painful concessions by both Israelis and Palestinians. This is the consensus among most Canadians and across the political spectrum (the NDP, under both Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair, firmly rejected boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts). No doubt this reflects the majority of UCC members, who would hope to play a constructive role in supporting the legitimate aspirations of both sides. Should a small minority of boycott advocates succeed, the greatest resulting injury would not be to the relationship between the UCC and the Jewish community, but rather between the UCC and its own congregants.

The framework for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict described above is also upheld by the mainstream peace movement, which is engaged in a myriad of projects to bring both sides together. To contribute to this movement, one need not refrain from criticizing particular Israeli policies (as Israeli peace activists can attest). One must simply commit to advancing peace through balance, mutual obligations and reconciliation – rather than coercion and the singling out of one side for blame.

Unfortunately, were the UCC to launch a church-wide boycott, it would alienate one of Canada’s most prominent churches from this important cause. In so doing, the church would not only be turning away from Canada’s Jewish community, but ultimately from the UCC’s own tradition as a leading voice in civil society for fairness, moderation and peace.

Shimon Fogel is CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of Canada.