USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Obama Administration Drops Demand for Israeli Settlement Freeze

Posted by uscsjp on September 23, 2009

First, the latest headlines from Democracy Now!:

US Drops Demand for Israeli Settlement Freeze

“The Obama administration has effectively abandoned a demand that Israel freeze settlement expansion before the resumption of peace talks. President Obama signaled the shift on Tuesday as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Obama urged both sides to ‘move forward’ and enter final-status talks.

President Obama: ‘Despite all the obstacles, despite all the history, despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way forward. We have to summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped generations of Israelis and Palestinians in an endless cycle of conflict and suffering. We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then stepping back. Success depends on all sides acting with a sense of urgency.’

Israel has refused to abide by its Road Map obligations to halt the expansion of existing settlements in the occupied West Bank. Obama says the final status talks should begin immediately and focus on dealing with the conflict’s core issues.

Hamas Renews Backing of Palestinian State Within ’67 Borders

Obama’s comments come as Hamas has renewed its acceptance of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh writes, ‘We would never thwart efforts to create an independent Palestinian state with borders [from] June 4, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital.’ Israel has rejected a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders and is seeking to retain the large settlement blocs that carve up the West Bank. Meanwhile, on the West Bank Israeli troops shot dead an unarmed Palestinian motorist just hours before Tuesday’s talks. The Israeli military said the victim had failed to stop at a military checkpoint…”

–Democracy Now!, 23 September, 2009

Also from Democracy Now!:

Obama Admin Urges Israeli-Palestinian Final-Status Talks But Abandons Insistence on Israeli Settlement Freeze

“The Obama administration has abandoned a demand that Israel freeze settlement expansion before the resumption of peace talks. President Obama signaled the shift on Tuesday as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. We speak to Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer and former legal adviser to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and Israeli historian Avi Shlaim, a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, author of several books, including his latest, Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations…”

–Democracy Now, 23 September, 2009

More on Obama’s Meeting with Abbas and Netanyahu

Obama summit / Erekat’s ‘good’ Hebrew surprises Lieberman

“Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday said he was surprised by the proficiency in Hebrew of the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, at a tripartite summit held Tuesday in New York.

Lieberman, a far-rightist who has proposed forcing Israeli Arabs to swear an oath of loyalty to the state, exchanged seasonal greetings with Erekat at the meeting, which was hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama. The Palestinian negotiatior wished him a happy new year, referring to the recent Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah…”

–Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz, 23 September, 2009

And from The Electronic Intifada:

The Goldstone report and the battle for legitimacy

“Richard Goldstone, former judge of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, the first prosecutor at The Hague on behalf of the International Criminal Court for Former Yugoslavia, and anti-apartheid campaigner reports that he was most reluctant to take on the job of chairing the United Nations fact-finding mission charged with investigating allegations of war crimes committed by Israel and Hamas during the three week Gaza war of last winter. Goldstone explains that his reluctance was due to the issue being ‘deeply charged and politically loaded,’ and was overcome only because he and his fellow commissioners were ‘professionals committed to an objective, fact-based investigation,’ adding that ‘above all, I accepted because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the laws of war,’ as well as the duty to protect civilians to the extent possible in combat zones. The four-person fact-finding mission was composed of widely respected and highly qualified individuals, including the distinguished international law scholar Christine Chinkin, a professor at the London School of Economics. Undoubtedly adding complexity to Goldstone’s decision is the fact that he is Jewish, with deep emotional and family ties to Israel and Zionism, bonds solidified by his long association with several organizations active in Israel…”

–Richard Falk, The Electronic Intifada, 22 September 2009

Also from The Electronic Intifada:

Photostory: Struggling to worship in Jerusalem

“Each year during the month of Ramadan, thousands of Palestinian Muslim worshipers struggle to reach Jerusalem on Fridays to pray at the Haram al-Sharif, home of the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

The Israeli army imposes additional barriers with concrete slabs at both the Qalandiya and Bethlehem checkpoints — the two main checkpoints that Palestinians from the occupied West Bank must pass in order to reach Jerusalem.

In Bethlehem, Palestinians from all over the south of the West Bank arrive as early as 5am. They are usually forced to wait for several hours and go through a number of security checks. This year, for those observing the fast, the conditions were even more difficult as Ramadan took place in September when the days are still long and the temperatures high. Exhaustion and dehydration cause many to faint.

Harsh restrictions, physical obstructions and confusing procedures prevent many Palestinians from even reaching the checkpoints. Of those who did, many are turned away. According to the UN agency OCHA, Israel has prohibited nearly 60 percent of Palestinians in the occupied territories, including all of Gaza’s population and more than 40 percent of the West Bank population, from entering occupied East Jerusalem for Friday prayers…”

–Anne Paq, The Electronic Intifada, 21 September 2009


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