Connect with us

Middle East

Israel set to approve 2,500 settlement housing units

Israeli authorities will meet next week to approve new units in illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank.



Occupied West Bank

Israel is expected to approve nearly 2,500 new settlement housing units across the occupied West Bank next week after the projects were tabled at a planning council meeting on Friday.

Israeli NGO Peace Now said on Friday that Israel’s Civil Administration – the military body governing the occupied West Bank – was scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss 27 separate plans for settlement housing units across the West Bank.

According to local media reports, about 1,500 of the housing units set to be approved are in major settlement blocs including Maaleh Adumim and Ariel, which Israel wants and expects to annex in any potential peace deal.

One of the items on the agenda will allegedly pave the way for the construction of 102 housing units in Amichai, the first new settlement to be officially created by the government in 25 years.

The rest lie outside the blocs and deep within the West Bank, including the Beit El settlement, northeast of Ramallah, and the Susiya settlement in the South Hebron hills.

The deal comes on the heals of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Palestinians and the majority of the international community view settlements as unlawful and a major obstacle to a two-state solution, as they are built on land that the Palestinians want for a future state.

When Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, visited Trump in Washington DC in February, the US president publicly urged Netanyahu to hold back on settlement building in order to improve the prospects for the possibility of US-brokered peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The international community views Israeli settlements as illegal [File: Reuters]

June marks 50 years since Israel conquered and occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the June 1967 war. The Israeli victory was followed by the spread of Jewish settlements throughout the occupied territories.

Although Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, currently more than half a million Jewish settlers reside across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

According to a new report published by the European Council on Foreign Relations, both the length and characteristics of Israel’s 50-year occupation of Palestinian territory show that it has no serious plans to relinquish the territory and is moving towards annexation instead.

Authored by Valentina Azarova, a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Global Public Law, Koc University in Turkey’s Istanbul, the report addresses the failure of using the framework of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) to assess Israeli policies in the occupied territories.

“Attempts by third states and international actors to enforce IHL and IHRL have failed to bring about Israel’s compliance because this partial legal framework neither adequately captures the legal consequences of continued occupation with the aim of acquiring the territory, nor generates appropriate remedial action for such a situation,” the report said.

Hugh Lovatt, Israel-Palestine Project Coordinator at ECFR, told Al Jazeera that the use of IHL and IHRL does not fully take into account Israeli policy in the occupied territory, including moves to annex areas.

“In a situation in which the intent of Israel’s continued control over the OPT is one of the territorial acquisition, which is revealed through the use of an integrated legal framework, then third-party actors such as the EU and its members states are under an obligation to act collectively to bring to an end Israel’s occupation. This requires a new approach to peace making in Israel/Palestine,” he said, using OPT to refer to the occupied Palestinian territories.

“The EU should articulate a new foreign policy that more effectively harnesses the conflict resolution aspects offered by international law, namely the law on the use of force [jus ad bellum] in order to more effectively disincentivise Israel’s unlawful acquisition of Palestinian territory and institutional violation of Palestinian rights.

“This means placing greater emphasis on bringing about Israel’s withdrawal, rather than conditioning this on political compromise between the two sides.”

Policy of ‘differentiation’

The ECFR report also called on the European Union, other third party states, and international actors to recognise Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian territory as unlawful, and to review their dealings both with Israel and Israeli entities in accordance with their obligations under international law.

In its bilateral relations with Israel, the European Union has in recent years adopted a policy of “differentiation” in an attempt to exclude settlement-linked entities.

“At a minimum the EU must continue to advance its measures to differentiate between Israel and its settlements, in order to ensure the full and effective non-recognition of Israel’s unlawful practices in the OPT, including its settlement activity,” Lovatt told Al Jazeera.

“Of particular focus should be dealings by EU corporations in relation to settlement entities and activities.”


Middle East

Loud explosion heard outside busy hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu

Explosion hits busy road outside popular hotel in central Mogadishu.



Somalia Car Bombing

MOGADISHU: 16 people killed and 20 injured in a bomb attack at the entrance of  Wehliye hotel in Mogadishu. Most of the casualties are auto rickshaw drivers and passengers, according to witnesses.

The death toll is expected to rise.

The attacked was claimed by al-Shabab, Reuters news agency reported, citing the armed group’s military operation spokesman.

Al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognised government, is frequently carrying out attacks in and around the capital.

More to follow.

Continue Reading

Middle East

Arab Parliament calls for ceasefire in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta

The international community to shoulder its responsibilities and to take “urgent, effective and serious steps” on the ground for the protection of Syrian civilians from the daily bombardment, explosives and poisonous gases.



Eastern Ghouta

Cairo, March 17 (IANS/WAM) Arab Parliament President Meshal Al-Selmi has called for an immediate halt to the continued bombing in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus and in the rest of Syria.

In an urgent cable sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday, Al-Selmi said that the bombing of the city led to the killing and wounding of hundreds of civilians, mostly women and children.

He said that the siege led to the worsening of conditions, leading to more victims due to the lack of food and medicine available to residents.

Al-Selmi said that the daily bombing of civilian populated areas was a “heinous” crime against humanity and ran counter to the rules of the international humanitarian laws and conventions.

He went on to say that the shelling was “unjustified” and amounted to war crimes, calling on the international community to immediately intervene to stop these crimes from continuing.

The Arab Parliament President urged the international community to shoulder its responsibilities and to take “urgent, effective and serious steps” on the ground for the protection of Syrian civilians from the daily bombardment, explosives and poisonous gases.

He renewed his call to the UN Security Council to implement an immediate ceasefire across Syrian territories and the withdrawal of armed forces of all countries interfering in Syrian domestic affairs.

Continue Reading

Middle East

De Mistura renews UN appeal for Syrian truce



Staffan de Mistura

Geneva, March 2 : The United Nations special envoy to Syria said on Thursday that the world body has and will not give up urging the implementation of its resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in the war-ravaged country.

“We will continue asking until we are red in the face, blue in the face, for both sides… to stop shelling each other’s areas and for convoys to be allowed to get to Eastern Ghouta in particular,” de Mistura told reporters in Geneva on Thursday.

“Otherwise this (Eastern Ghouta) becomes a copy of Aleppo,” de Mistura said, referring to the northern Syrian city that became a major flashpoint in the country’s eight-year civil war.

Civilians have been evacuated from the besieged rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area outside Damascus for the first time since daily “humanitarian pauses” began on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

More than 580 people have been killed in Eastern Ghouta since the Syrian government and its allies intensified their bombardments on February 18, according to doctors.

The 393,000 civilians trapped in the enclave, the last major rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus, also face severe shortages of food and medical supplies.

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday calling for a 30-day countrywide cease-fire, but it has not come into effect.

The resolution set no firm date for the truce to take effect.

It also excluded attacks on opposition forces identified as terrorists, who make up some of the estimated 580 opposition fighters entrenched in eastern Ghouta.

On Monday, UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, demanded that the ceasefire be brought into effect immediately.

“Eastern Ghouta cannot wait. It’s high time to stop this hell on earth,” Guterres said at the opening of a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Continue Reading

Most Popular