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Palestinians warn of new "Intifada" against Israeli settlement
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08:31, September 08, 2009

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Palestinian political figures warned on Monday that if the United States and Europe fail to urge Israel to halt settlement, repression would prevail among the Palestinians, and "it would be an incitement for a popular uprising against Israel."

Ghassan Daghlas, a senior Palestinian National Authority (PNA) official in charge of the Israeli settlement file in northern West Bank, said the current Palestinian status concerning the settlement expansion is like "fire under ashes."

Despite the calls and pressures of the United States, Europe and Arabs, the right-wing Israeli government headed by hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists in expanding existing settlements in the West Bank.

On Friday, Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported Netanyahu intends to approve plans this week for hundreds of new housing units in the West Bank before considering a moratorium "for a few months" on further construction.

On Monday, the Israeli government officially approved the construction of 366 homes in the West Bank settlements and promised to approve 84 more blocks in the near future.

The PNA official Daghlas told Xinhua in an interview that if this is the case, "there will be no renewal of peace talks."

"Such Israeli measures and practices had created anger among the Palestinians, who would popularly confront the settlements that Israel is expanding regardless of international pressures," said Daghlas.

Two Palestinian Intifadas have erupted against Israel. The first was in late 1987, which ended up with the signing of the Oslo peace agreements in 1993, and the creation of the PNA. The second was in late September 2000, which so far has not led to any permanent peace agreements.

"Palestinian protests and rallies would obstruct settlers from expanding settlements and practicing an aggression on the land and the population," Daghlas said.

"The settlers' practices are not just confiscating a land or razing it, but also on humiliating the Palestinian residents on a daily basis," he added.

According to official Palestinian figures released by Ramallah-based statistic centers, there are 208 permanent settlements and 217 illegal settlement posts in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, while some 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the territories.

Saeb Erekat, a veteran Palestinian peace negotiator, said in a statement that the new approvals of settlements "nullify any effort that a settlement freeze, when and if announced, will have. It further undermines faith in the peace process and the belief that Israel is a credible partner for peace."

The decision was made despite increasing tension between Israel and the United States which has been demanding a freeze of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories to enable the resumption of the final-status negotiations.

Israel says the settlement construction would freeze when some underway projects complete.

"Rather than uniting behind the current drive for peace and finding their way back to the negotiating table, Israel has decided to stay the course in its determination to frustrate U.S. and international efforts to restart peace negotiations," Erekat added.

Abdel Hadi Hantash, a West Bank-based expert on settlement issues, told Xinhua that there is fidget among the Palestinians after the international efforts "failed to convince Israel to halt or freeze the settlement activity in the West Bank."

"The possibilities that another Palestinian popular Intifada erupts against Israel are high and are expected to occur at any moment after the Palestinian residents lost their patience towards the continuation of settlement and the settlers' attacks," said Hantash.

He did not expect any future Palestinian Intifada to be armed, but said "it will include popular protests, demonstrations and rallies. Its aim is to provoke the international public opinion against Israel."

He warned that if the residents and the Israeli army clash, there will be lots of fatalities.

The PNA has suspended any contacts or talks with the current Israeli government since Netanyahu took office in late March. The PNA insists that settlements should be completely stopped and that Israel commits itself the two-state solution principle.

PNA spokesman Ghassan al-Khatib expressed despair as the international efforts have so far failed to halt Israeli settlement, adding that "the Palestinians have been always hoping for the international efforts to succeed in halting settlements."

"If these efforts fail amid this Israeli stubbornness, we are expecting more popular Palestinian movements of protests against settlements and settlers' attacks on Palestinian civilians, and against the building of the racist isolation wall," said al-Khatib.

Source: Xinhua



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