Saturday, 3 December. 2022
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

The United States will give Israel the largest "security package" ever, according to its Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro on July 16. Shapiro said the security aid package would be "the most extensive in history", elaborating that in 2010, the administration requested from Congress $2,775 billion in security assistance funding specifically for Israel. According to its own rationale, the US says this boost in money to Israel's security would help to advance the peace process with the Palestinians.

"[We] hope that the administration’s expanded commitment to Israel’s security will advance the process by helping the Israeli people seize this opportunity and take the tough decisions necessary for a comprehensive peace," Shapiro said. It still remains unseen as to how a boost in funds to Israel will help push forward the peace process.

The so-called peace process is still on the rocks, however. US envoy George Mitchell is in the region and has met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 16 and is scheduled to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas on July 17. Mitchell, in line with President Barack Obama's administration, is urging the Palestinians to commence direct talks with Israel. Abbas along with his Fateh party have said there will be no such move as long as no progress is being made in the proximity negotiations. Jewish settlements, which have been a pivotal point from the start, continue to expand despite US, European and Palestinian objections and the fact that the 10-month moratorium on settlement construction is still in place.

Still, on July 12, the west Jerusalem municipality's planning and building committee ratified the construction of 32 housing units in the Jewish settlement of Pisgat Zeev. These 32 units are a part of a larger scheme to build 230 houses on land confiscated from the nearby village of Hizma.

A day later, also in Jerusalem, Israeli occupation authorities demolished six houses in the eastern sector of the city in Essawiyeh and Beit Hanina. One of the homes, located in Beit Hanina, was inhabited at the time it was demolished.

Also on July 13, the Israeli Knesset decided to revoke parliamentary privileges from Arab MK Haneen Zoubi, who represents the national Democratic Assembly, Balad. The Knesset voted to strip Zoubi of her diplomatic passport after she participated in the Freedom Flotilla last month and which ended in Israeli commandos killing nine Turks on board. The Knesset will also not help Zoubi in any of her legal expenses.

Meanwhile, Palestinian parliamentary Mohammed Abu Teir, who was arrested last month, was told on July 13 in court that he has one of two options: either to stay in jail or pay a fine and leave his home in Jerusalem. Abu Teir, who won a seat in the PLC during the elections in 2006, is a Hamas-affiliate, which according to Israel is against the law. The magistrate court has ordered Abu Teir to pay thousands of dollars in bail and sign a document pledging to leave his ancestral home in Jerusalem, thus effectively stripping him of his status of Jerusalemite.

This move seems to be the first step in a larger Israeli campaign to reign in "disloyal" Palestinians. On July 15, the Israeli cabinet mulled over a series of measures, which will most likely get approval on July 18 to make it even harder for Palestinians to acquire permanent residency or citizenship in Israel. One of these measures is a requirement upon all Palestinians seeking this status to declare their loyalty to the "Jewish and democratic state of Israel."

In Gaza, Israel killed one person and injured five on July 15 during artillery shelling of the Breij refugee camp. Forty-two year old Nimeh Abu Saeed was killed when a shell landed on her house.

A day later, on July 16, European Union Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton urged Israel to open all of Gaza's border crossings in order to relieve the people of the strangulating siege Israel has imposed on them for years. Ashton, who is expected to make a three day visit to the region said that although the EU welcomed Israel's recent announcement to ease the blockade, they were still "awaiting implementation."

On July 14, the Libyan aid ship Al Amal, which was originally bound for Gaza, docked in the Egyptian seaport of Al Arish, obviously in a bid to avoid a repeat of last month's deadly flotilla incident. According to the ship's organizers, all the goods would be unloaded in Arish and later sent to Gaza.

Finally, after a long lull in communications, Fateh and Hamas representatives met in Beirut on July 14 in yet another attempt at reconciliation. Although no details were given on the meeting between Fateh PLC member Azzam Al Ahamd and Hamas' Lebanon leader Osama Hamdan, Al Ahmad reportedly told Al Sharq Al Awsat that “the meeting gave me the impression of a new attitude and an obvious will to reach an agreement.”

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