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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.

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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.”

 

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US to revoke visas of Saudi officials implicated in death of Jamal Khashoggi

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journalist Jamal Khashoggi

BREAKING: The United State to revoke visas of some Saudi officials implicated in death of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Pompeo also said during a press conference that the State and Treasury departments are looking at the possibility of sanctions meant to target those responsible for human rights violations.

The announcement comes after President Trump called the kingdom’s efforts to hide Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul the “worst cover-up ever,” stepping up his rhetoric as frustrations directed at Riyadh grow.

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Khashoggi’s murder was planned affair: Erdogan

The President said that information and evidence show that Khashoggi fell victim to a brutal murder.

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Ankara, Oct 23 : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said that the country’s security services have evidence that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder was a planned affair.

He made the remarks while speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) here, reports Hurriyet Daily News.

“Turkish security services have evidence that the murder was a planned affair. Turkey and the world will only be satisfied when all the planners and perpetrators are held to account,” the President said.

“Other countries must participate in the investigation.”

Erdogan claimed that Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, first came to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on September 28 to get his marriage documents. The “roadmap” to kill Khashoggi started with this visit.

He said that a day before Khashoggi disappeared on October 2, a group of three Saudis landed in Istanbul and went to the consulate while another team visited the Belgrad Forest near the city and the neighbouring Yalova province.

“On October 2, another group came and this 15-member team went to the consulate and removed the hard disks of security cameras there. Khashoggi’s went inside that afternoon and never appeared again while his fiancee waited outside,” Erdogan said.

It was later found that 15 Saudis including intelligence officers and forensics experts came to Turkey ahead of Khashoggi’s visit.

“I spoke to (Saudi) King Salman on October 14 and formed a joint investigation team. This is how our officials could enter the consulate and the consul’s residence… Seventeen days after the killing, Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate.

“We held another phone call and they told us that 18 Saudis, including people from the 15-member team we exposed, were arrested in Saudi Arabia,” he added.

The President said that information and evidence show that Khashoggi fell victim to a brutal murder.

“We have strong evidence that the killing was intentional, not accidental. Now we expect them to punish all those who played a part in the murder.”

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Saudi Foreign Minister pledges ‘fair probe’ into Khashoggi’s death

Al-Jubeir said 18 people had been detained and six senior government officials had already been dismissed as a result of the investigation.

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journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Jakarta, Oct 23 (IANS) Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir, who is in Indonesia on an official visit, said on Tuesday that the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be thoroughly investigated and those responsible would be punished.

“Our commitment is to seek that the investigation is thorough and complete and that the truth is revealed,” said Al-Jubeir at a joint press conference in Jakarta with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi.

“We will see to it … that procedures and mechanisms are put in place to ensure that something like this can never happen again,” he was cited as saying by Efe news.

On Monday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo had expressed his concern over the incident to Al-Jubeir during a meeting at the presidential palace in Bogor, according to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.

Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia had sent a team to Turkey for a joint investigation and “uncovered evidence of a murder” in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies, disappeared after he entered the consulate on October 2 to obtain documents for his marriage.

Al-Jubeir said 18 people had been detained and six senior government officials had already been dismissed as a result of the investigation.

The Saudi diplomatic head said there were discrepancies between what the Saudi embassy in Turkey reported and what actually happened.

A video, obtained and broadcast by CNN on Monday, purportedly showed a Saudi agent walking out of the consulate by the back door, wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, spectacles and a fake beard, in an apparent attempt to disguise himself as the slain Saudi journalist.

A Turkish official identified the man in the video as Mustafa al-Madani, who was allegedly part of what investigators said was a hit squad, sent to kill the journalist.

After weeks of denying involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, Saudi Arabia has given a shifting narrative of what happened to the journalist.

The Kingdom admitted last week that Khashoggi was killed in the Istanbul consulate, saying his death was the result of a “fistfight”. Later, a Saudi source close to the royal palace told CNN that he died in a chokehold.

On Sunday, Al-Jubeir described Khashoggi’s death as a “murder” and a “tremendous mistake”.

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