Newsletter : 14fx1028.txt
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Israel Advances East Jerusalem Settlement Plan
By VOANews, Israel Hayom and IsraelNationalNews.com
A new Israeli settlement plan is further raising tensions between Jews and Arabs in
Jerusalem. Israel is advancing plans to build 1,060 new housing units for Jews in Israeli
annexed disputed East Jerusalem, 400 units in Har Homa and 600 units in Ramat Shlomo. on
land Palestinians claim for a future state.
Ramat Shlomo is a neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, situated between Ramot Alon and
Shuafat, and Har Homa is a neighborhood in southeast Jerusalem. Both neighborhoods are
located across the Green Line (the pre-1967 armistice line). The move comes as tensions
increase between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem following this year's 50-day war between
Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza. There has been daily violence in
Arab neighborhoods, where stone-throwing youths have clashed with Israeli police and
vandalized public property.
Tensions soared last week when a Palestinian plowed his car into a crowd at a Jerusalem
train station, killing a baby, an Ecuadorian woman and wounding several other people.
Police described it as a "terrorist attack."
Jewish settlement activist Yisrael Meidad welcomed the construction plans and praised
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for standing firm against domestic and international
opposition. "Given the tremendous amount of pressure he is facing from those of the left
of center and the knocking of heads between us and Washington over the past year or so,
taking these steps is a step in the right direction," said Meidad.
The United States repeatedly has urged Israel to refrain from settlement expansion,
describing it as an obstacle to peace. The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of
committing "crimes" that are punishable under international law.
The ultranationalist Jewish Home party, led by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, has
been issuing veiled threats to sever its political partnership with Netanyahu unless he
agrees to its call for 2,000 new building tenders in settlements in the occupied West
Palestinian officials have voiced alarm - echoed in the international community - over
settlement building, viewing it as a main obstacle to the creation of the independent
state they seek in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. "We
strongly condemn the latest Israeli announcement to expand its illegal settlements in and
around occupied East Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Palestine," Palestinian chief
negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah rejected the Israeli stance and said its
occupation would eventually end. "All the Israeli violations, all these settlements,
everything that the occupation is doing in this area - is illegitimate. It is confirmed by
the judgment of history that any occupation in the world has an end. God willing, this
occupation will end and there will be an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem
as its capital," said Hamdallah.
Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its "indivisible and eternal" capital, a claim that
is not recognized internationally, and says Jews have the right to live anywhere in the
city. Some 500,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, among 2.4
million Palestinians. The World Court says settlements Israel has built there are illegal,
a view Israel disputes.
The United States Monday blasted Israel for pledging to build Jewish homes in
Jerusalem, saying any such move would be "incompatible" with peace efforts, according to
AFP. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was "deeply concerned" by the
reports and American embassy officials were having high-level talks with Israeli leaders
to seek more information.
"We continue to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as
illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of
Jerusalem," Psaki told reporters. "Israel's leaders have said they would support a pathway
to a two-state solution, but moving forward with this type of action would be incompatible
with the pursuit of peace," she added.
Washington repeatedly condemns moves to build Jewish homes in Jerusalem, as well as in
Judea and Samaria - despite ample evidence that both would solve a fatally deepening
housing crisis in an area that's 90% unpopulated.
But, despite the harsh condemnation, the State Department maintained that it remains
Israel's staunchest ally. "Ties between us are unshakable," Psaki reiterated. "There are
times when we disagree with actions of the Israeli government, including... the issue of
settlements, where we have deep concerns about some of the steps the government is
taking," she said. "We expressed those, but it does not mean that we don't have a strong
and formidable relationship that continues."
From Hizbullah Terrorist to Israeli Rabbi
It may be hard to believe, but Rabbi Avraham Sinai's journey to the holy city of Tzfat
in northern Israel, where he lives today with his family, included a prolonged stint as a
Hizbullah terrorist.In his previous life, 52-year-old Rabbi Sinai was a Shia Muslim living
in Lebanon. Surprisingly, in the was the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorist
group which initially pushed him towards Israel.
The PLO, made up mainly of secular Sunni Muslims, took over wide swathes of territory
in Lebanon, and mercilessly persecuted Shia Muslims under their control. "They did things
that were worse than what is going on in Syria," Rabbi Sinai said in a recent interview
with Israeli Channel 20. He began helping Israeli intelligence, passing information on PLO
movements in his area.
When the PLO's influence waned and the Shia terrorist group Hizbullah was founded -
with funding and support from Iran - Sinai's Israeli handlers persuaded him to sign up.
For years, he worked as a spy within Hizbullah's ranks, climbing its ranks and passing on
valuable information on the terror group's activities to Israeli intelligence - foiling
several terrorist attacks, he says.
But eventually, his cover was blown, and he was forced to flee to a region of southern
Lebanon controlled by the Southern Lebanese Army (SLA) - which was allied with Israel at
the time.Not long after, his Israeli handlers informed him his life was still in danger,
and relocated him to Israel. There, he converted to Judaism along with his wife under the
tutelage of the chief rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.
Decades later he says he sees the entire episode as God's work, and gave a
thought-provoking perspective on his journey in the Channel 20 interview.
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