OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — The Israeli occupation government has revealed a plan to further Judaize occupied Jerusalem and change demographic realities under the pretext of propping up the economy of the city.
The Prime Minister’s office has announced recently the government’s intention to approve the spending of over 80 million dollars to carry out what it called “a comprehensive economic plan” over the next five years.
The plan, which is considered by Palestinian parties a noticeable escalation of the Judaization of the holy city, is to implement a number of projects that will change the face of the city and to encourage new segments of Israeli society to settle in it.
According to the announced plan 42 million US million dollars will be spent on developing the infrastructure and developing the Western Wall (the Buraq Wall as it is called by the Palestinians) to encourage tourism.
The Zionist Ministry of Tourism will also spend 21.5 million US dollars to encourage the building of hotels to increase the number of hotel rooms available to tourists in the city.
The plan also includes 20.5 million dollars for establishing research and science institutes which requires establishing new buildings.
Another 20.26 million will go to building student accommodation and an academic city which aims to attract economically productive people to live in the city.
The statement from Netanyahu’s office also said that the government might add Jerusalem to the areas which get government support where university students who finished their military service will be eligible for government grants.
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After a call from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Canadian Premier Stephen Harper agreed to draft a statement for all G8 ministers to sign that expressed support for Zionist aspirations by removing any reference to the 1967 borders
The Group of 8, or G8, meeting was held Thursday and Friday in France, and included representatives from France, Britain, Russia, the US, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada. Going into the meeting, all but one (Canada) supported the inclusion of a sentence supporting a return to the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed upon land swaps, as a basis for negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
But with Canada’s refusal to accept the Final Declaration of the Summit unless that sentence was removed, the other nations succumbed to the pressure and removed the reference to 1967 borders. Instead, the Declaration, entitled “G8 Declaration: Renewed Commitment for Freedom and Democracy”, included criticism of the Palestinian plan to declare statehood in September at the United Nations.
It called for a return to the peace process, but did not mention the ongoing violations of past signed agreements by Israeli authorities. It also did not mention the core demands of the Palestinian people and their representatives: the return of Palestinian refugees, the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the release of Palestinian political prisoners.
The final statement by the G8 ministers also failed to specify the terms on which the ‘negotiations’ would be based, saying only, “The framework for these negotiations is well known.”
According to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, “The Foreign Ministry instructed its envoys in the various capitals to ask that the G-8’s concluding statement emphasize three things: that a Palestinian state will arise only through direct negotiations, not through a unilateral move in the United Nations; opposition to Hamas-Fatah reconciliation as long as Hamas rejects the Quartet’s conditions; and opposition to a mention of the issue of 1967 borders and exchanges of territory.”
Ha’aretz also quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in a statement to his counterpart in Canada, thanking him for Canada’s role in pushing through the statement that Israel wanted, saying, “Canada is a true friend of Israel and with a realistic and proper view of things, it understands that the 1967 borders do not conform to Israel’s security needs and with the current demographic reality.”
Lieberman frequently refers to the Palestinian population as a “demographic threat”, and has openly called for the transfer of the one million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to some place outside of Israel, as their presence, and their growth due to higher birth rates, threatens the “Jewish character” of the state of Israel.
Since its creation in 1948 on the land of historic Palestine, Israel has never defined its borders, and has continually expanded onto Palestinian land. The state of Israel is currently constructing a wall throughout the West Bank that would, by the time it is completed, leave the Palestinians with 13% of their original land in three separate reservations completely surrounded by Israel, with no access to Jerusalem or any other country.
For the full text of the Declaration, click here: G8 Summit “Freedom & Democracy” Declaration
Spaniards remain camped out at Madrid’s main square, despite tight security, to protest against the government’s austerity measures and growing unemployment rate.
Thousands of angry protesters have packed the capital’s Puerta Del Sol square, since the protests began two weeks ago, and promised to stay out in makeshift tents until Sunday, a Press TV correspondent reported on Sunday.
The leading protest group known as “the indignants” once again took to Madrid’s main square to decide whether to carry on a vigil, AFP reported.
In Barcelona, fresh clashes erupted between protesters and police amid a mass celebration following Barcelona’s Champions League 3-1 win against Manchester United.
On Friday, similar clashes in Spain’s second-largest city left over a hundred protesters wounded after police ordered them to move their tents out of Catalonia Square.
Jorge Naroja, a spokesman for the “Democracia Real Ya” (Real Democracy Now) compared protests in Spain with the anti-government movements in the Middle East and North Africa, saying what they have in common is protesters’ courage and their determination to fight corrupt politicians and dictators.
The protests in Spain are inspired by the recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt as pas part of the Islamic Awakening that has been sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa.
Spain has been witnessing demonstrations against the government’s austerity measures since mid-May.
The massive protests came after the government of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodrigues Zapatero introduced a slew of drastic austerity measures.
The measures include the cutting of civil servant wages, as part of its plans to curb the budget deficit from 11 percent a year earlier to within three percent of the GDP, a limit set by the European Union by 2013.
Israeli authorities forced Mahmoud Aramin to demolish his house in East Jerusalem Sunday, or risk having it destroyed by an Israeli bulldozer, which would have resulted in an exorbitant fine.
Aramin had already paid thousands of dollars in fines to the Jerusalem municipality in monthly installments, for having built an ‘unlicensed’ house in East Jerusalem. Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem have not been granted building permits since 1967, and face frequent demolitions of their homes by Israeli authorities.
The forced demolition comes just days after the Israeli authorities authorized the construction of a 50-unit Jewish settlement in the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood of East Jerusalem, not far from the home of Mahmoud Aramin.
According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, “Since 1967, around 2,000 homes have been demolished in East Jerusalem. According to official statistics, from 2000 – 2008 the Israeli authorities demolished more than 670 East Jerusalem homes. The number of outstanding demolition orders is estimated at up to 20,000.”
The Committee also stated that even though Palestinians represent about 30% of Jerusalem’s population they are currently confined to reside in just 7% of the city’s area, in mostly inadequate housing. The master plan for Jerusalem follows the Israeli Government and Jerusalem Municipality policy of demographic and ethnic control, aimed at preserving demographics in the city at 70% Jewish to 30% Arab. This policy is clearly stated on the Jerusalem Municipality’s website.
HEBRON — Israeli settlers set fire to an olive grove belonging to a Palestinian family near Hebron on Friday, an international monitoring group reported.
The fire damaged 16 trees belonging to the Abu Haikel family in Tel Rumeida, Christian Peacemaker Teams said, adding that some of the trees affected were over 1,000 years old.
Palestinian firefighters arrived to put out the blaze, but Israeli soldiers confiscated their hoses and gave them old equipment to use, CPT said.
Volunteers with the US organization said they asked soldiers to return the equipment but the troops did not respond.
Asked if the trees would produce olives again, Abu Haikel’s son told CPT: “No, they’ve burned them for the last seven years.”
On Friday, Israeli soldiers prevented university lecturer, Dr. Farid Abu Dheir, from traveling to Jordan as he was trying to cross the Allenby bridge to be with his son who has surgery scheduled at a Jordanian hospital. Abu Dheir teaches at the Al Najah University in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Abu Dheir managed to obtain all needed documents and permits from the Israeli side, but as he entered the crossing, he was detained and questioned for two hours before he was ordered back home.
He slammed the Israeli violation, adding that it violates the International Law and the freedom of movement.
Abu Dheir further stated that Israel has been preventing him for leaving the country for five years now, and that this issue made him miss several international conferences and prevented, him from seeing family members living abroad.
He called on different human rights groups to intervene and expose the illegal Israeli practices.
On Friday at dawn, Israeli soldiers kidnapped Palestinian researcher and author, Firas Salah Ed Deen Jaber, 30, after breaking into and violently searching his home in Kufur Aqeb village, between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
He was cuffed and blindfolded before he was moved to the Al Makobiyya Interrogation center in Jerusalem.
Jaber, born in Jerusalem, works as a researcher at the Bissan Center; he wrote several books including “The Privatization of Palestine”, and “The Effects of Conflicts on Palestinian Women”. He recently received his M.A Degree from the Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah.