- Ku Klux Klan group holds recruitment meeting in Maryland
- Airport assassination: Mayor, 3 others killed at Manila airport
- Tea party-type lawmakers take mysterious, off-books trip to Mideast
- North Korea warns South: We’ll attack ‘without warning’
- Congress sends sweeping defense bill to Obama
- Multiple injuries as balcony collapses at London’s Apollo theatre during performance
- Egypt rights center raided, 2 Mubaraks acquitted
- New Mexico Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage constitutional
- Blame Bush: 5 years later, that’s still the mantra, pollsters find
- Dutch prostitutes demand same retirement benefits as soccer stars
Abbas: No negotiations without Jerusalem freeze
Question of the Day
Mahmoud Abbas‘ position complicated already troubled American efforts to restart peace talks. Israeli hard-liners say they won’t accept the proposed 90-day moratorium on new settlement construction in the West Bank if it also includes east Jerusalem.
The Palestinians say there can’t be peace talks if Israel continues to build homes in captured territories where they want to establish an independent state. In Cairo on Sunday, Abbas said any construction freeze must include east Jerusalem “first and foremost.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Sunday that he would bring the issue of a renewed slowdown before his Cabinet only after the U.S. lays out the details in writing. Then, he said, “I am sure my fellow ministers will approve it, because this is what is good for Israel.”
Netanyahu did not mention Jerusalem in his statement. He also denied reports that a central aim of the proposed 90-day settlement slowdown was for both sides to agree on final borders between Israel and a future Palestine during that period. With borders determined, Israel could then resume building on any territories it would expect to keep under a final peace deal, defusing the settlement issue.
“There is no such request and there is no such commitment,” Netanyahu said in the statement.
The U.S. has been pushing Israel to impose a new moratorium to draw Palestinians back to the negotiating table. As an incentive, Washington has offered Israel a fleet of next-generation stealth warplanes and promises to veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.
But the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, which holds the swing votes in the inner Cabinet that is to vote on the moratorium, has demanded a written assurance from the U.S. that construction in east Jerusalem would not be affected.
Also Sunday, an Israeli military court handed down a three-month suspended prison sentence to two soldiers convicted of using a 9-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during last year’s Gaza Strip war. The soldiers were also demoted.
The court said the soldiers asked the boy to open bags in a building they took over, fearing explosives were inside.
The soldiers’ conviction last month was the most serious in connection with the war. The sentence appeared light; the soldiers had faced up to three years in prison.
International rights groups have accused Israel of failing to properly investigate alleged wrongdoing by troops during the three-week military operation. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including more than 900 civilians, according to Palestinian figures and international human rights groups.
The Palestinians claim the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for a future independent state.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian government in the West Bank broke down weeks after they began with the expiry of an earlier, 10-month building slowdown in the West Bank.
Israel claims east Jerusalem — captured in the 1967 Mideast war — as an integral part of its capital. Palestinians hope to establish their future capital in east Jerusalem.
The initial moratorium did not apply to east Jerusalem, though in practice, construction was curbed there, as well as in the West Bank. A total of 500,000 Jews live in both areas.
Netanyahu also faces criticism within his own Likud Party, where several ministers have endorsed a settler campaign against construction limitations. Hundreds of Jewish settlers — many of them youths who skipped school — demonstrated against any construction limits outside Netanyahu’s office on Sunday.
“We came here as a part of our campaign to prevent the great damage that the renewal of the moratorium and submitting to American pressure can do to Israel’s self interest,” said Dani Dayan, a leader of the settlers’ council.
Writing in The Washington Post on Saturday, Kurtzer also warned that America’s commitment to Israel’s security — once insulated from politics — would become “merely a bargaining chip with which to negotiate what Jerusalem will or will not do to advance the peacemaking.”
Also Sunday, Israel approved a five-year renovation plan near the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, and in the adjacent Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s hotly contested Old City.
Government spokesman Mark Regev said the budget would be for maintenance work only and does not cover areas that house disputed shrines holy to both Jews and Muslims.
“The Western Wall brings millions of tourists each year,” Regev said. “This money is for upkeep and preservation and in no way does this change the status quo.”
Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib condemned the Israeli renovation plan.
“Any Israeli activities in the occupied part of Jerusalem are illegal,” Khatib said. “It’s not healthy as far as the peace process is concerned because peace would require the end of the occupation of east Jerusalem.”
The Israeli renovation plan does not include the Mughrabi Gate next to the Western Wall. Israeli construction there sparked violent Palestinians protests in 2007.
• Maggie Michael contributed to this report from Cairo.
By Michael P. Orsi
Edward Snowden should declare his patriotism in court
- Citing 'unfair system,' Obama commutes sentences for 8 crack offenders
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Huge backlash mounts over suspension of 'Duck Dynasty' star Phil Robertson
- Deportations under Obama plunged to just 1 percent last year
- Sebelius adds yet another exemption for Obamacare
- Congress sends sweeping defense bill to Obama
- EDITORIAL: Red faces at the White House
- Obamacare 'pajamas boy' gets roundly mocked
- Bill Gates: The Secret Santa disguised as a 'friendly fellow' on Reddit
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Southern Fried Politics from the Lens of a Persian-American Millennial
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Paul Rondeau exposes the propaganda, media tricks, and government policies that undermine our families, faith, freedom…and even life itself
Implement these actionable tips, how-to’s and best practices in 10 minutes or less to leverage online communications and technology for brand, business and career development.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow