Netanyahu’s party votes to annex West Bank areas; Abbas condemns US silence

Published January 2, 2018
BETUNIA (West Bank): Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi (C) stands for a hearing in a military court.—AFP
BETUNIA (West Bank): Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi (C) stands for a hearing in a military court.—AFP

RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Monday harshly condemned a vote by Israel’s ruling party in support of annexing large parts of the West Bank and criticised the United States for its silence.

Abbas said the non-binding vote by the central committee of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party on Sunday “could not be taken without the full support of the US administration”.

He said in a statement that the White House “has refused to condemn Israeli colonial settlements as well as the systematic attacks and crimes of the Israeli occupation against the people of Palestine”.

“We hope that this vote serves as a reminder for the international community that the Israeli government, with the full support of the US administration, is not interested in a just and lasting peace,” Abbas said. “Rather its main goal is the consolidation of an apartheid regime in all of historic Palestine.”

The Likud central committee backed a resolution urging Israel to extend sovereignty over all settlement areas in the West Bank and called for unlimited settlement construction.

Netanyahu, who is a member of the central committee, was not present for the vote.

Taking such a measure could effectively end hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as there would be little area left for a Palestinian state. But a significant number of members of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition say that is precisely what they are seeking and openly oppose a Palestinian state.

The prime minister says he still supports a two-state solution with the Palestinians, although he has also pushed for Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank, which has been under Israeli occupation for more than 50 years.

Palestinian anger at the US is already high after President Donald Trump last month tore up decades of careful policy to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

On Sunday, the Palestinian Authority announced it was recalling its envoy to Washington, Husam Zomlot, for consultations amid anger over Trump’s declaration. In a later statement, it said it was making the move “to review the United Nations’ General Assembly decision to reject” Trump’s move on Jerusalem.

Ahed Tamimi charged over slap video

Meanwhile, Israel charged a Palestinian teenager with 12 counts including assault on Monday following her arrest after a video of her slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in the West Bank went viral.

Ahed Tamimi, 16, has been hailed as a hero by Palestinians who see her as bravely standing up to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Israelis accuse her family of using her as a pawn in staged provocations.

The charges filed with an Israeli military court relate to the events in the video but also five other incidents and include stone-throwing, incitement and making threats.

She could face a lengthy jail term if convicted. Five charges were also filed against her mother Nariman and on Sunday her cousin Nour, 20, was indicted as well.

The accusations against Nariman Tamimi include using Facebook “to incite others to commit terrorist attacks” and participating in the incident on video, the army said in a statement.

Ahed Tamimi and her mother have been ordered to remain in custody until at least Jan 8, when another hearing will be held.

Prosecutors are requesting that they be kept in detention until the completion of their trial.

Nour Tamimi is to be released on bail of 5,000 shekels ($1,400) on Tuesday afternoon barring an appeal by prosecutors, said the Tamimis’ lawyer, Gaby Lasky.

Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2018

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