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Netanyahu to build new settlements – Palestinian presidency criticizes Israel’s policy

RAMALLAH, Aug 3 (Agencies): Palestinian Presidency on Thursday criticized Israel’s policy and its bids to jeopardize the two States’ solution, said the Presidency Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudainah.

East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip are Palestinian properties not Israeli, said Abu Rudainah in a press release broadcast by the official Palestinian news agency (WAFA) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put Thursday a foundation stone to 1,000 new settlement residential units in Petar Elet settlement in southern Bethlehem.

International community has to stop Israel escalation and provocative steps in order to restore peace in the region, Abu Rudainah added.

He noted Israeli measures against Palestinians will create a tense atmosphere which will lead to unprecedented bad consequences.

Netanyahu said during the foundation stone ceremony that his government is striving to achieve order and stability of the region.

The Israeli defence ministry said Wednesday it has completed a further 42-kilometre (26-mile) stretch of its contentious West Bank security barrier.

“The defence ministry this morning installed the final concrete walls, completing a 42-kilometre wall between Tarkumia and Meitar,” it said in a statement, referring to the Palestinian village of Tarkumia, northwest of Hebron, and an Israeli crossing adjacent to Meitar settlement, further south.

It did not say how much of the planned 712-kilometre network of towering concrete walls, barbed-wire fences, trenches and closed military roads was now complete.

A ministry spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for the information.

Based on UN figures published before Wednesday’s Israeli announcement, about 214 kilometres remains to be built.

The Jewish state says the barrier, which it began building after a wave of Palestinian attacks in 2002, is crucial for its security, while Palestinians see it as a land grab of territory they want for a future state.


Most of it runs inside the occupied West Bank. In a non-binding decision, the International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that construction of the barrier was illegal and, like the UN General Assembly, demanded it be dismantled.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last March ordered that a gap in the barrier in the Tarkumia area be closed as a priority after a spike of Palestinian attacks inside Israel.

A Palestinian stabbed and critically injured an Israeli in a town near Tel Aviv on Wednesday, police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the 19-year-old Palestinian stabbed the 42-year-old Israeli in a “terrorist” attack in Yavne.

The suspect was apprehended at the scene, and the victim taken to hospital with “critical” injuries, a later police statement added. The Shin Bet security agency named the assailant as Ismail Ibrahim Abu Aram, born in 1998, and said he had no previous record of security-related offences.

Israeli soldiers later searched Abu Aram’s home in Yatta, near Hebron in the occupied West Bank, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Footage released by Israeli authorities showed the man apparently browsing in a supermarket before attacking an employee.

The man manages to fight off the attacker but is stabbed several times.

A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has killed more than 290 Palestinians or Arab Israelis, 44 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP toll.

Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

Others were shot dead in protests and clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

The violence had greatly subsided in recent months but tension around the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem saw a spike in July.

It had all the ingredients of a political brawl: a Jordanian and an Israeli lawmaker, both known for attention-seeking bluster, challenged each other to a showdown Wednesday on the border between their two countries.

Everyone expected a fist fight — or at least a shouting match.

Israel’s Oren Hazan and Jordan’s Yehiya al-Saoud were each already on their way to the border crossing on Allenby Bridge on the River Jordan when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli lawmaker to stand down.

The showdown was averted but the hyperbole from both sides reflects heightened diplomatic tensions between Israel and Jordan over the escalation around a contested Jerusalem shrine and over last month’s deadly shooting at the Israeli Embassy in Amman.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, but ties are often strained over Israeli-Palestinian flare-ups. There has also been widespread anger in Jordan over last month’s deadly shooting in which an Israeli Embassy guard killed two Jordanians, including a 16-year-old. Authorities said the guard opened fire after the teen attacked him with a screwdriver during a furniture delivery.

Hazan and al-Saoud, both provocative politicians, had quarreled publicly in recent days, exchanging barbs through media statements.

Al-Saoud challenged Hazan to a faceoff at the Allenby Bridge crossing after the Israeli berated Jordan, claiming Israel always “protects their posterior, day and night. They need a little re-education.”

Hazan picked up the gauntlet but struck a more jocular tone ahead of the rendezvous, posting photos of him getting a haircut and tweeting: “A gentleman is never late!”

He said he would meet al-Saoud and “make him an offer he can’t refuse.” His spokesman Daniel Zirlin said the meeting would be “non-violent” and would carry “a message of reconciliation and peace.”

Al-Saoud struck a harsher tone, telling reporters on his way to the crossing that he was “serious about going to the bridge and beating up this dirty person.”

“We want to tell Netanyahu that if the door to jihad (holy war) was open, the Jordanians would stomp on them (Israelis) with their shoes,” al-Saoud said.

Hazan, who made headlines earlier this year when he snapped an unexpected selfie with President Donald Trump after he landed in Tel Aviv, was heading to the bridge on Wednesday morning when the prime minister’s office called.

Israel’s Channel 2 TV facilitated a phone call between the two men Wednesday evening. Al-Saoud insisted Hazan first apologize to the Jordanian people before they talk, according to the stations translation. When that did not happen, al-Saoud said “go to hell” and hung up the phone.

Hazan said if they had met in person it would have “ended with a hug and a selfie.”

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