Israel forces have forcefully evicted Palestinian and other multi-national activists from a hilltop protest camp they set up in a West Bank area slated for Jewish settlement. Several activists were detained during Sunday morning eviction, including Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative.
Al Jazeera’s Jane Ferguson said the activists who were detained were driven to Qalandiya checkpoint and then released.
“We also heard from medical sources that four people were admitted to hospital in Ramallah with injuries, but none serious.”
“The media has no more access to the site, so we are not sure if the Israeli police are in the process of dismantling the tents.”
The activists were borrowing a phrase and a tactic, usually associated with Jewish settlers, who believe establishing communities means the territory will remain Israeli. Activists said they wanted to establish a village in the site, which they are calling Bab Al Shams.
Netanyahu’s office said on Saturday night that the state was petitioning the Supreme Court to rescind an earlier injunction blocking the evacuation. In the meantime, he ordered the area declared a closed military zone and shut off access.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office ordered the move after asking the Supreme Court to lift a stay of evacuation.
Palestinian activists erected tents in the area known as E-1 on Friday, saying they wanted to “establish facts on the ground” to stop Israeli construction in the West Bank.
The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Palestinian outpost could remain for six days while the issue of its removal was being discussed.
Israel announced it was moving forward with the E-1 settlement after the UN recognized a de facto state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in November.
Palestinians say E-1 would be a major blow to their statehood aspirations as it blocks East Beit-ul-Moqaddas from its West Bank hinterland. Palestinians are demanding these areas, along with Gaza, for their future state.
The construction plans drew unusually sharp criticism from some of Israel’s staunchest allies including the US who strongly oppose the E- 1 project.
Press TV reported on Sunday that the Israeli regime plans to build 170 new settler homes and 84 guest rooms in the West Bank settlement of Rotem in the Jordan Valley.
Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Under Fire
From Page 1
Among those awaiting execution is 40-year-old Satinah binti Jumadi Ahmad, an Indonesian maid convicted of murdering her employer. According to Anis Hidayah, executive director of Indonesian rights group Migrant Care, she was arrested three months after arriving to work in Saudi Arabia in September 2006.
Three years later she called her family to tell them she had been sentenced to death. Hidayah said the maid had killed her employer, Noura al-Gharib, during an argument.
“She was cooking in the kitchen and her employer screamed at her angrily. Her employer grabbed her hair and tried to bang her head into the wall. Satinah defended herself by spontaneously beating her employer with bread dough and struck the nape of her neck and she fell down.”
Other reports say Satinah snapped after she was accused of stealing money and that she had suffered regular abuse from her employer. The victim’s family has demanded 10m riyals (£1.6m) in blood money, which would save Satinah.
The Indonesian government says it is prepared to make a payment, although the figure it is reported to have offered is considerably lower than that demanded by the family.
A moratorium was placed on sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia after an Indonesian maid was beheaded in 2011.
Four other women – Tuti Tursilawati binti Warjuki, Darmawati binti Taryani, Siti Aminah and Siti Zaenab – are also on death row.
Tursilawati, 27, claims she killed her employer when he tried to rape her in 2010 after months of sexual abuse.
Zaenab was also convicted of killing her employer, while Aminah and Taryani were sentenced to death for the murder of another migrant worker.
In 2012 Saudi Arabia executed at least 69 people, says Human Rights Watch. The previous year it executed at least 79, including five women, says Amnesty International. The death toll included one woman beheaded for witchcraft and sorcery.
Saudi officials said that Rizana Nafeek was beheaded in public near Riyadh last Wednesday. She had been sentenced to death for the murder of a baby in her care, although she claimed that the child died as a result of a choking accident.
The Sri Lankan government reacted angrily and condemned the execution. Members of the country’s parliament observed a one-minute silence in her memory.
Her supporters had protested that she was only 17 at the time of the child’s death in 2005, and that international law prohibits the execution of minors.
It appears that a recruitment agency falsified the age on her passport to allow her to travel to Saudi Arabia.
Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa had requested a stay of execution to allow time for a financial settlement to be agreed with the family of the child.
Geneva Talks on Syria End Without Solution
International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has said that Russia seems as determined as the US to end Syria’s conflict, but that he does not expect a political solution to emerge anytime soon.
The comments of Brahimi, the joint UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, came as he met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at the UN headquarters in Geneva on Friday.
“We all stressed the need for a speedy end to the bloodshed, to the destruction and all forms of violence in Syria. We stressed again that in our view, there was no military solution to this conflict,’’ Brahimi told reporters after the meeting, agencies reported.
But he acknowledged that “if you are asking me whether a solution is around the corner, I am not sure that is the case.”
“What I am certain of is that there is an absolute necessity for people to continue to work for such a peaceful solution, and that it is the wider international community, especially members of the Security Council, that can really create the opening that is necessary to start effectively solving the problem.’’
At the Security Council, the most powerful arm of the UN, Russia has joined China in blocking several resolutions aimed at pressuring Syrian President Bashar Assad, but Moscow says it is not propping up his regime.
Brahimi said the foundation for a political solution continues to be the agreement reached among major powers in Geneva in June, which called for creation of a new governing body for Syria that would “exercise full executive powers” during an unspecified transition period.
“And we agreed that full executive powers means all the powers of state,” Brahimi said of Friday’s discussions. “I will continue to engage all Syrian parties as well as other stakeholders in the region and internationally.”
In Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters “it’s hard to imagine how you would have a transitional government with Assad still part of it”.
EU to Propose Peace Plan After Israel Vote
The European Union is drawing up a detailed new plan to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and expects to present it after this month’s Israeli general election, Yediot Aharonot reported Sunday.
Citing diplomatic sources in Beit-ul-Moqaddas, Israel’s top-selling daily said the plan was intended to “bring about the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.”, AFP reported
The plan will include “clear timetables for the completion of the negotiations on all the core issues in the course of 2013.”
The newspaper said the plan is expected to be presented around March, to give time for the formation of a new Israeli government after the general election on January 22.
The newspaper said the plan “apparently will also include a demand to freeze all construction in the settlements.”
The report said the British and French foreign ministries are sponsoring the initiative, which is also backed by Germany and could be adopted by the full EU.
“There’s a lot in the works behind the scenes,” the newspaper quoted high-ranking Israeli political officials as saying.
“The Europeans don’t have the capability to force an agreement on us, but they definitely may embarrass us,” they added.
“It is reasonable to assume that the Palestinians will accept a document of that sort, but Israel will be hard put to do so. That’s going to paint us into a corner.”
Observers have long speculated that the international community would renew its efforts to restart direct peace talks, on hold since late September 2010, after the Israeli election.
And on Saturday, Israeli opposition candidate and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni appeared to allude to the potential EU plan, warning that “in March the world will put a peace plan on the table.”
“Either we can have it imposed upon us or we can initiate a plan of our own,” she said.
Three Iraqi Soldiers Killed In Grenade Attack
Three Iraqi soldiers have been killed in an attack by a militant group on an army checkpoint north of the capital, Baghdad.
Iraqi army and medical sources said on Sunday that the militants threw hand grenades at the checkpoint, east of the city of Samarra, about 110 kilometers north of Baghdad, before they opened fire using machineguns.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Bombings and shootings have recently intensified across Iraq.
On December 31, over 20 people, including children, were killed and 80 others injured in a wave of attacks in several cities and towns in the country.
Also on December 24, over 45 people were killed and over 110 others wounded in similar attacks targeting both security guards and civilians across the country, marking the deadliest day in Iraq since November 29, 2012, when at least 50 people lost their lives.
The Iraqi government has stepped up efforts to increase security across the country over the past few months.
At least 14 people have been injured when unknown assailants attacked opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi who were camping outside the presidential palace in Cairo, health officials said.