Israeli heritage plan draws Palestinian protests
22 Feb 2010 17:22:22 GMT
* Palestinians accuse Israel of inflaming conflict
* Netanyahu hails Jewish heritage project
* Hebron holy site at centre of controversy
By Ali Sawafta
HEBRON, West Bank, Feb 22 (*******) - Israel's plan to include the biblical Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank in a project for rehabilitating Jewish and Zionist heritage sites touched off violent Palestinian protests on Monday.
Palestinian security forces deployed to break up hundreds of demonstrators throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers in the divided flashpoint city of Hebron, where the shrine is located. The Israeli troops fired tear gas at the protesters.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday he intended to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs and several other Jewish religious shrines in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war in a $107 million plan to restore Jewish heritage sites.
"A person must know his homeland and its cultural and historical vistas. That is what we are going to instil in this generation and in the next generations ... for the glory of the Jewish people," he said.
Khaled Esseleh, the mayor of Hebron, said: "I'm hoping there won't be more clashes but this is a very sensitive religious issue, and Netanyahu just lit the fire."
Palestinians are calling the move an attempt to seize land and holy sites on Israeli-occupied land where they hope to build a future state.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the "unilateral decision to make Palestinian sites in Hebron and Bethlehem part of Israel shows there is no genuine partner for peace, but an occupying power intent on consolidating Palestinian lands".
While major powers worked to restart negotiations, "Netanyahu is actively working to sabotage the two-state solution", Erekat said in a statement.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs, which Muslims call al-Ibrahimi mosque, is sacred to Jews and Muslims as the traditional burial place of biblical figures Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah.
Hebron and the shrine itself have long been flashpoints of violence in the West Bank, territory Israel's government calls by its biblical names Judea and Samaria.
Arabs massacred 67 Jews in Hebron in 1929. Sixty-five years later, a Jewish settler shot and killed 29 Muslim worshippers in the Ibrahimi mosque before he was beaten to death at the scene.
Some 400 Jewish settlers, claiming a divine right to Hebron, now live in heavily guarded enclaves in the city, among some 150,000 Palestinians.
Article continued at http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE61L1G7.htm
Well, EXCUSE ME for posting something ******* thought was newsworthy. I'll be sure to PM you first next time and make sure I get your express approval on what is newsworthy or not.
No hard feelings man, It's just that I can count about a gazillion Israel Vs. PA threads on things that would never even pass the news editor in any other conflict , and honestly, it's getting quite tiresome.
And please don't PM me, because then I'll think someone likes me, until I'll see the message.
'' Arabs massacred while a Jewish settler shot and killed''. Doesn't seem quite balanced.
The countdown continues... tic tac tic tac
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Moratinos are promoting an initiative by which the European Union would recognize a Palestinian state in 18 months, even before negotiations for a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are concluded.
According to senior European diplomats and senior Israeli officials, Israel has relayed its opposition to the initiative - warning that it would undermine any chance of a successful peace process.
A senior European diplomat noted that Israel was informed about the initiative several weeks ago, a fact confirmed by a senior Israeli official. The Israeli official said the initiative is being spearheaded by Kouchner who recruited the support of the Spanish foreign minister, whose country also currently holds the rotating European Union presidency.
Israeli sources say the two foreign ministers are preparing an article they intend to publish together in some of the main European dailies. The main message of the article is that the European Union should recognize a Palestinian state before the completion of negotiations, under the assumption that such a declaration will be made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The initiative is based on a plan by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to establish a Palestinian state in two years, which is the time he estimates is needed for the development of state institutions, economic reforms and a completion of the necessary training of Palestinian security forces that would bring law and order to the West Bank.
The Fayyad plan was developed more than six months ago and the Franco-Spanish initiative is meant to bolster it, promising recognition by the European block.
Israel has responded to Kouchner and Moratinos by expressing clear opposition to the initiative, noting it was contrary to the principles of the peace process. "An imposed solution will not achieve the goals," Israel stressed in its message.
"If the European Union will determine the results of the negotiations in advance and promises the Palestinians recognition of a state, they will have no motivation to resume negotiations," the Israeli message states.
"The issue before us at the moment is the building of a reality," Kouchner told the Journal du Dimanche in an interview published yesterday. "France is training Palestinian police, businesses are being created in the West Bank... It follows that one can envision the proclamation soon of a Palestinian state, and its immediate recognition by the international community, even before negotiating its borders."
"If by mid-2011, the political process has not ended the [Israeli] occupation, I would bet that the developed state of Palestinian infrastructure and institutions will be such that the pressure will force Israel to give up its occupation," he added.
Kouchhner harms the interests of France and the EU by his intiative.
However, nothing will come of a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence because of UNSC 242. UNSC 242 requires a negotiated settlement, and I doubt that the UNSC will revoke 242.
This is why Israel should have Knessit members representing geographic districts rather than political parties.
Israel must reach an agreement with the Palestinians. It's a matter of survival.