“I would never deny Jewish right to the land of Israel”

These were the words of the PA president Mahmud Abbas when he spoke to a group of U.S. Jewish leaders. Yesterday, he went to visit some 30 leaders of from different Jewish organizations in Washington.

Simultaneously, he called for an end on the Gaza siege and the initiation of the two-state-solution. “Nobody wants war, at least speaking on behalf of the arab countries.‬” he stated, according to HaAretz. To achieve his goal of creating a Palestinian state, he even approached politicians of the competing party Hamas.  “This week I spoke by phone with one of Hamas’ leaders. Elections will be part of the reconciliation [between Abbas’ party Fatah and the rival Hamas]. When we sign an agreement, we will immediately go to elections. And I’ll be out,” Abbas concluded, accordng to the same article.

Mahmud Abbas (Foto: Jerusalem Post)

As a counter move, Abbas asks the Israeli government to show some good will to negtiate. In a U.S . TV show, Abbas told Charlie Rose in an interview on PBS that Israel must agree to transmit East Jerusalem as the capital to the Palestinian state. This is a necessary precondition for any peace settlement. (See HaAretz)

He also gave a personal view to his political claims: “I didn’t live a normal life,” Abbas added. “I don’t have a passport or nationality. I want my grandson to live a normal life.‬”

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Peace Progress remains static

After the incident on the freedom flotilla last week the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine which have taken place in may have been put on hold.

Already on the 30th of may, “President Abbas told Mitchell that the Israelis are no longer peace partners as much as the Americans are,” Abbas zaki, member of the Fatah Central Comittee told the London-based  newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi. Since then, a lot of things happened in the Near East.

The Palestinian Authority said on tuesday 8th, that there will no longer be direct talks between the two opponents. Mahmud Abbas, president of the PLO, went to Washington on wednesday to visit and talk to the U.S. president Obama. In an article in the Washington newspaper The Hill, he stated that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was not really committed to move the peace process forward. On the contrary, he continued, “Netanyahu wants to destroy the peace process by ignoring the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet’s road map plan.”

Today, Barack Obama said that the situation in Israel and Palestine is indefensible and stated that he would be consulting the EU  and Egypt, as well as the PA and Israel, to design a new approach to the conflict.

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Dozens hurt in the flotilla dispute

In the early morning hours of today, the freedom flotilla heading to Gaza has been attacked by soldiers of the IDF. According to a report of the Jerusalem Post, there were rumors that the ships have been loaded with weapons. When the ships crossed the Israeli sea blockade, the situation escalated. Al Jazeera reported the incident in their early morning breaking news, the other media followed immediately.

The military stated: “Navy fighters took control of six ships that tried to violate the naval blockade (of the Gaza Strip) … During the takeover, the soldiers encountered serious physical violence by the protesters, who attacked them with live fire.” (See the articles on HaAretz.com)

The numbers of the victims differ. It may be certain that at least 10 people  have been killed and dozens of civilians have been wounded in the fights. The ongoing fights and the insecurity about the future of the flotilla is now under direct observation in both Israel, Palestine and the foreign countries. (See the following link.)

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Freedom Flotilla on its way to Gaza

A Turkish cruise ship carrying freedom activists  to Gaza, Photo by Reuters

This weekend, a flotilla of nine ships will reach Gaza. Aboard are 10 000 tons of humanitarian aid and building materials as well as several freedom activists and lawmakers from several European countries. On Thursday, the Israeli government gave the ships the green light to head for Ashdod, a haven that is located in Gaza.

Since 2007, Gaza is closed to access from abroad. Despite the blockade, the Israeli government allows in what it classifies as “humanitarian supplies”. After governmental statements, there is no actual need for those anyway; in their opinion there is no lack of neither food, fuel nor other supplies in Gaza.

Furthermore, Israel charges the flotilla to be nothing more than a propaganda exercise, scheduled by the Hamas organization. For that reason, Defence Minister Ehud Barak stated that Israel has the right to have an eye on the ships and to shake the ships as well as the activists down and search for weapons or any other material that could harm the safety of the Israeli citizens. In case of any inconsistency, the ships are not to be allowed to land at the port of Ashdod.

The Israel Defense Forces announced on thursday that their troops are prepared to pick up the flotilla. According to HaAretz, “the preparations included a compound at the Ashdod port consisting of air conditioned tents equipped with computerized stations, metal detectors, and seating for the activists manning the ships.” It is suggested that there are around 800 peace activists n the ships waiting for entering Gaza. The IDF said that they were ready to carry out the government’s decision to prevent the ships from reaching the Gaza shore it it is necessary. The activists are going to be send home immediately after arriving at the haven of Ashdod.

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Peres declares Israel’s will of peace

Today, the Israeli President Shimon Peres visited an Israeli Military Industries factory in Ramat HaSharon. During his visit, he was asked about his opinion about the relationship between Israel, Syria and Lebanon. The question referred to an sentence by the Syrian President Bashar Assad, who affirmed that Israel wasn’t willing to stay in peace with the Syrian country.

In the last months, there have been rumors that Syria sold missiles to the in Lebanon located Hezbollah. Just today, the U.S. government once again urged Syria to stop arming the Hezbollah and to prevent arms shipment. According to the Jerusalem Post, Assistant US Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman said that Syria was important to achieving a full Arab-Israeli settlement while the relations remain that unstable.

Peres said to HaAretz: “Israel is not threatening Lebanon, and is not threatening Syria. Our goal is only peace and I regret the fact that since the reign of Assad senior, Syria has adopted a hesitant policy and is not taking any real steps towards peace with Israel.”

Furthermore, he made clear that Israel is neither intending to attack Syria nor to make any moves that could lead to any kind of escalation of  the tensions along Israel’s shared border with Syria.

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Stagnancy in the Middle East peace talks

Today, U.S. envoy Mitchell and Binyamin Netanyahu met for the second time during the current Middle East peace talks. On Wednesday, Mitchell met Mahmud Abbas and his entourage in the West bank. Both sides appeared to be ready to talk but only if the other side will act in the same way. There are still preoccupations on both sides.

According to HaAretz, Netanyahu considers to make goodwill gestures towards the Palestinians. But in his statement, there were no further explanations about these gestures. Mahmud Abbas told Mitchell that he was alienated by the provocations of some ministers and public authorities during the last week.

“Israel hopes that the Palestinians will also try to create a positive atmosphere, and will not try to make international case against Israel, for example the actions they took against Israel to prevent their acceptance to the OECD,” Netanyahu’s communications adviser Nir Hefetz said in a statement towards the Jerusalem Post.

Last week, Israel was voted to be a member of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) despite the Palestinian objections. Those argued that the Israeli policy in the West bank and Gaza strip cannot be a key to the admission into the OECD.

The peace talks will go on for four months. After that, the U.S. government hopes to have cleared the way to direct paece talks between Israel and the PLO.

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Bedouin fear to lose their homes

The Israeli government plans to extend the Trans-Haghway Route 6 which leads through the Negev. For that reason, 3000 Bedouin are menaced to lose their homes.

Bedouin use to live in the Negev area before 1948. After the founding of the Israeli state, they got the Israeli citizenship but with several constrictions. For example, they are not allowed to build a mosque, and more considerably, they are not allowed to have fixed houses made of adobe or bricks. For that reason, there are a lot of unrecognized villages to be found in the Negev.

Eight of those villages are now at stake. After a petition by human rights organizations like the Bimkom in 2008, the government brought a commitee into being which has to deal with the situation. The distress now: There is the maximum likelihood that the road construction will take place before the commitee is able to draw a solution. That would mean that 3000 Bedouin are dislocated and therefore forced to search for a new place to stay.

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