Israeli forces evict ‘protest village’ near Bethlehem

Israeli forces evicted a protest village near the Kfar Etzion settlement compound south of Bethlehem on July 27, a local committee said. The Popular Struggle Committee Against Settlements and the Wall said its activists pitched tents on land belonging to the Abu Ayyash family. Four hours later, the Israeli army arrived with an order to evict the protesters, the committee said. The committee said the action sent a message to the Israeli government that Palestinians were entrenched in their land, and that they would dictate the next stage in peace talks, not the negotiators. An Israeli military spokesman told Ma’an News Agency that Israeli forces dispersed a gathering of 20 to 30 Palestinians in Umm Salamuna. “After a while they left,” he said, adding that no riot dispersal means were used. 

From Ma’an News Agency, July 27

  1. Kerry refers to Palestine as ‘country’ —then backpedals

    US Secretary of State John Kerry, who last week scored a breakthrough by winning an agreement from Israeli and Palestinian leaders to resume peace talks, appeared to flub his lines July 25 when he referred to Palestine as a country. Speaking at the United Nations, Kerry praised the "courageous decision" by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to resume direct negotiations. "It's my hope that that will be able to happen as procedures are put in place by both countries in order to empower that," Kerry told reporters.

    The US does not recognize Palestine as a country, although the UN General Assembly admitted Palestine as a non-member state in November. The US had opposed an earlier Palestinian attempt to join the UN as a state in the Security Council.

    State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf assured reporters later that US policy had not changed. "Our position has not changed, not on the status of the Palestinian territory. The secretary was in no way indicating a change of policy," she said.

    Later asked about his comment, Kerry replied: "Did I say that?" (AFP, July 26)

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said July 26 that Israel will free 104 Palestinian prisoners to coincide with the resumption of talks, to be brokered by the United States in Washington DC this week. (AFP, July 27)

  2. Israel passes bill for referendum on peace agreements
    Israel’s coalition government on July 28 approved a draft bill that would require the government to submit any proposed peace deal with Palestinians to voters for approval by referendum. The bill would exist as Basic Law in the country, which preserves basic rights and presides over other laws. Although a similar measure was passed in 2010, it was not a Basic Law and thus did not possess the same weight as the present bill would. A paper from a cabinet briefing expressed the government’s intention to prioritize passage of the bill because of its importance and urgency. It is expected to go before the Knesset this week for a first reading and that it will be voted on by next week.

    From Jurist, July 28. Used with permission.

  3. PA official: Settlement plans show Israel not serious
    Israel’s new plans for settlement construction announced Aug. 11 showed it was “not serious” in efforts to negotiate peace, a Palestinian Authority official said. The tenders for over 1,000 homes in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem are proof that Israel “was not serious in the negotiations,” PA negotiator Mohammad Shtayyeh said in a statement. He charged that Israel “aims through this condensed settlement activity to destroy the basis of the solution called for by the international community, which aims to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.” (AFP, Aug. 12)