Palestinians threaten action over Israel settlementsAgence France-Presse . Beit Jala, Palestinian Territories
The Palestinians threatened Wednesday to sue Israel through international bodies if it continues expanding settlements in the occupied territories, warning it was an issue that could torpedo fledgling peace talks.
‘These are not just dots on a map,’ PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said of more than 2,000 new settler homes which were approved for construction ahead of a resumption of peace negotiations late last month.
‘These are wilful and destructive measures to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.
‘If Israel carries out these plans... we will be forced to (have) recourse to international judicial processes through international institutions,’ she told reporters near the settlement neighbourhood of Gilo, south of Jerusalem, where many of the new units are to be built.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held a new round of peace talks in Jerusalem on Tuesday, their second since the resumption of direct negotiations in Washington late last month which ended a nearly three-year gap.
The last talks, in September 2010, broke down over the issue of settlement expansion.
‘There has been no breakthrough and no agreement. Discussions have not been on specifics,’ Ashrawi said of the resumed talks.
Details of the discussions have not been revealed at the request of US mediators, who asked last week for a strict news blackout.
Ashrawi warned that Israeli settlement building threatened once again to torpedo peace efforts.
‘We are not prepared to make the same mistakes and to have talks for their own sake as Israel continues... unilateral measures’ such as further settlement building, she said.
She urged the United States to take a firm stance against settlements, following the example of the EU.
‘The EU guidelines are just the beginning of holding Israel accountable (for settlement building). We call on all other countries to persist in holding Israel and the settlers accountable,’ Ashrawi said.
The EU published guidelines last month that forbid its institutions from dealing with or funding any West Bank settlements.
In the last significant attempt to work through international bodies, the Palestinians gained upgraded status at the UN in November, with an overwhelming majority of countries voting in favour of their becoming a non-member observer state.
The US and Israel voted against the motion.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday played down the settlements issue.
comments powered by Disqus
The education chief of an Indonesian city sparked outrage Wednesday after proposing that teenage schoolgirls should undergo virginity tests to enter senior high school. Activists accused Muhammad Rasyid of promoting... Full story
Pakistan’s military accused India Wednesday of killing an army officer and seriously wounding a soldier in the latest clash across the disputed border in Kashmir. Tensions have flared between the nuclear-armed... Full story
China braced itself for the arrival of Typhoon Trami Wednesday with emergency officials making disaster relief preparations, as the country recovered from severe weather which left more than 150 people dead. Full story
Civil liberties advocates said Wednesday they have uncovered a government programme to screen immigrants for national security concerns that has blacklisted some Muslims and put their US citizenship... Full story
Internet users have raised more than $11,000 to reward a Palestinian security researcher who hacked into Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s profile to expose a security flaw. The fundraising campaign on the web site... Full story
Benedict XVI has said God told him to resign as pope and that his successor’s ‘charisma’ reflected this divine inspiration, Catholic news agency Zenit has reported. ‘God told me’ to step down, the pope emeritus was quoted as saying by... Full story
The United States has placed unprecedented sanctions on an Islamic school in northwest Pakistan for alleged links with al-Qaeda and other militant groups. The US Department of the Treasury said in a statement Tuesday... Full story
Heavy rain pounded the Philippine capital and surrounding areas for a third day Wednesday, adding to the misery of nearly 300,0000 exhausted people displaced from their flooded homes. Full story
An Indian state government Wednesday passed legislation banning superstition and black magic, an official said, a day after a prominent champion of the bill was shot dead. Atheist Narendra Dabholkar, who for years... Full story
Thirteen inmates escaped through a tunnel they dug in a maximum security prison in Argentina, officials said Tuesday. The small opening allowed the inmates to reach the courtyard of the Ezeiza... Full story
Greece’s new state television channel began airing news programmes Wednesday, more than two months after the government’s abrupt closure of the state broadcaster, ERT, drew international condemnation... Full story
Iraq violence killed 35 people including 15 civilians on Tuesday, officials said, as authorities hailed arrests in a campaign aimed at curbing the country’s worst unrest since 2008. The prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has vowed... Full story
New Zealand passed legislation Wednesday allowing its main intelligence agency to spy on residents and citizens, despite opposition from rights groups, international technology giants and the legal fraternity. Full story
Australia’s embattled prime minister Kevin Rudd Wednesday used a televised forum to confront his election rival Tony Abbott on spending, demanding the opposition leader reveal where he would make cuts if elected. Full story
Human activity is almost certainly the cause of climate change and global sea levels could rise by several feet by the end of the century, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report leaked... Full story
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will not attend president Robert Mugabe’s inauguration Thursday, aides said, insisting the vote which handed the 89-year-old another five-year term was rigged. Full story
A strong earthquake and several aftershocks rattled Mexico on Wednesday, cracking walls, forcing hotels to evacuate and causing street lamps to fall in the Pacific resort of Acapulco. Full story
Traditional animal rivalries were set aside in New Zealand when a dog’s blood was used to save the life of a poisoned cat in a rare inter-species transfusion, reports said Wednesday. Full story