Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “continue to respond forcefully” to rocket attacks as conflict with Palestinians in Gaza enters a seventh day.
Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed at least three Palestinians early on May 16, health officials said.
Palestinian militants fired rockets towards Tel Aviv, causing people there to flee to bomb shelters.
The international community has called for an end to the escalating conflict.
On May 15, President Joe Biden phoned PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to express concern about the situation.
A UN Security Council meeting is set to take place later on May 16.
Since the fighting began on May 10 at least 148 people have been killed in Gaza, according to Palestinian officials, and Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children. Israel says dozens of militants are among the dead in Gaza, while Palestinian health officials say their death toll includes 41 children.
Speaking in a TV address late on May 15, PM Netanyahu said the strikes would continue for “as long as necessary” and that everything possible was being done to limit civilian casualties.
“The party that bears the guilt for this confrontation is not us, it’s those attacking us,” he said.
The flare-up of violence over the last six days came after weeks of increasing Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem, which culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas – the Palestinian militant group that runs Gaza – began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes.
Ten members of one family were killed by an Israeli air strike at a refugee camp west of Gaza City.
A five-month-old baby, Omar Al-Hadidi, was the only survivor, after his mother, four siblings, aunt and four cousins died.
The baby’s father, Mohammad Al-Hadidi, was not at home at the time.
“There were no rockets there, just women and children, no rockets, just peaceful children celebrating [Muslim festival] Eid, what have they done to deserve this?” he told Reuters.
A doctor treating Omar said: “He was in a bad condition. His thigh bone is broken and he has bruises all over his body but thankfully after first inspection he is stable.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Palestinian militants had launched 278 rockets from Gaza, with homes hit in the southern cities of Ashdod, Beersheba and Sderot.
The IDF also said “many dozens” of rockets that crossed into Israel had been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
A rocket hit a street in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, killing a man. He was reportedly hit by shrapnel in his apartment.
On May 15, an Israeli air strike destroyed a high-rise building housing media organizations, including The Associated Press and Al-Jazeera, plus a number of offices and apartments.
In a statement released shortly afterwards, the Israeli military said the building had housed military assets belonging to Hamas. The building’s landlord has denied this.
UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres said he was “deeply disturbed” by the strike on the building.
“The secretary-general reminds all sides that any indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs,” his spokesman said.
The AP said the block had been hit roughly an hour after Israeli forces ordered people to evacuate.
The news organization’s CEO, Gary Pruitt, said: “This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time.”
Standing alongside Israeli PM Benjamin
Netanyahu at the White House, President Donald Trump has presented his
long-awaited Middle East peace plan, promising to keep Jerusalem as Israel’s
President Trump proposed an independent Palestinian state and the
recognition of Israeli sovereignty over West Bank settlements.
He said his proposals “could be the last opportunity” for
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the plans as a
He said in a TV address from Ramallah in the West Bank: “I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our
rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy,
will not pass.”
The blueprint, which aims to solve one of the world’s longest-running
conflicts, was drafted under the stewardship of President Trump’s son-in-law
Thousands of Palestinians protested in the Gaza Strip earlier on January 28,
while the Israeli military deployed reinforcements in the occupied West Bank.
The joint announcement came as both President Trump and PM Netanyahu faced political challenges at home. Donald Trump is the subject of an impeachment trial in the Senate while the Israeli PM on January 28 dropped his bid for immunity on corruption charges. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, said that the timing of the
announcement was not tied to any political development, adding it had been
“fully baked” for some time.
President Trump’s proposals are:
The US will recognize Israeli sovereignty over territory that Donald Trump’s plan envisages being part of Israel. The plan includes a conceptual map that President Trump says illustrates the territorial compromises that Israel is willing to make.
The map will “more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem”, where President Trump says the US would open an embassy. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said President Trump’s plan would give Palestinians control over 15% of what it called “historic Palestine”.
Jerusalem “will remain Israel’s undivided capital”. Both Israel and the Palestinians hold competing claims to the holy city. The Palestinians insist that East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, be the capital of their future state.
An opportunity for Palestinians to “achieve an independent state of their very own” – however, he gave few details.
“No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes” – suggesting that existing Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank will remain.
Israel will work with the king of Jordan to ensure that the status quo governing the key holy site in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims is preserved. Jordan runs the religious trust that administers the site.
Territory allocated to Palestinians in President Trump’s map “will remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years”. During that time, Palestinians can study the deal, negotiate with Israel, and “achieve the criteria for statehood”.
President Trump said: “Palestinians are in poverty and violence, exploited by those seeking to use them as pawns to advance terrorism and extremism. They deserve a far better life.”
On November 20, Benjamin Netanyahu’s
rival for the premiership, Benny Gantz, said he had been unable to form a
governing coalition with a majority in parliament. He had been given the
opportunity to try after Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier failed to do so.
On November 21, President Reuven Rivlin
asked lawmakers to agree on a candidate for prime minister within 21 days and
avoid an unprecedented third election in a year.
After the charges were announced,
Benny Gantz tweeted his support for the attorney general and law enforcement
agencies, and wrote it was “a very sad day” for Israel.
In February, Attorney General Avichai
Mandelblit said that he intended to indict Benjamin Netanyahu in connection
with three cases – known as Case 1,000, Case 2,000 and Case 4,000 – pending
final hearings that eventually took place in October.
It is unclear what this means for the prime minister’s future.
Benjamin Netanyahu is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise, and there
is currently no legal barrier to him staying in office as prime minister.
It could take many months before the cases are brought before a district court. And even if convicted, Benjamin Netanyahu would not be required to step down until the appeals process was exhausted – something that could take years.
A ceasefire in the Gaza Strip has been
agreed between Palestinian militants and Israel after a weekend during which
Palestinians launched hundreds of rockets into Israel prompting retaliatory air
and artillery strikes.
At least four Israelis and 23
Palestinians were killed.
Israel has not confirmed the
ceasefire. However, reports say emergency measures have been lifted in southern
The violence flared up on May 3
during a protest against the blockade of Gaza.
A TV station run by Hamas – the
militant movement which controls Gaza – announced that both sides had agreed
the ceasefire, beginning at 04:30 local time.
Egypt is said to have brokered it –
assisted by the UN and Qatar.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has
not mentioned the ceasefire. However, the Times
of Israel said that protective restrictions imposed on residents in
southern Israel since the flare up began were being lifted, including schools
In a recent interview, President Donald Trump has warned that Israeli settlements “complicate” the peace process with Palestinians and urged “care” over the issue.
The president also told the Israeli newspaper Yisrael Hayom that he did not believe the Palestinians, and possibly Israel as well, were ready to make peace.
He angered Palestinians in December when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Donald Trump also threatened to withhold aid unless Palestinians agreed to talks.
The interview was published on February 11.
Asked by editor-in-chief Boaz Bismouth when the US would present its peace plan, President Trump said: “We will see what happens. Right now the Palestinians are not into making peace, they are just not into it. Regarding Israel, I am not certain it, too, is interested in making peace so we will just need to wait and see what happens.”
Asked whether Israeli settlements would form part of the peace plan, the president said: “We will be talking about settlements. The settlements are something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace, so I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements.”
More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
President Trump said that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had been a highlight of his first year in office.
Israel claims the whole of the city as its capital but the Palestinians want East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will no longer accept the US as a mediator following the controversial recognition of Jerusalem.
According to the Israeli military, one of its F-16 fighter jet has crashed amid Syrian anti-aircraft fire after an offensive against Iranian targets in Syria.
The two pilots parachuted to safety before the crash in northern Israel. It is believed to be the first time Israel has lost a jet in the Syrian conflict.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted: “Moments ago, IAF aircraft, targeted the Syrian Aerial Defense System & Iranian targets in Syria. 12 targets, including 3 aerial defense batteries & 4 Iranian military targets, were attacked. Anti-aircraft missiles were fired towards Israel, triggering alarms in northern Israel.”
Red alert sirens sounded in areas of northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire.
Residents reported hearing a number of explosions and heavy aerial activity in the area near Israel’s borders with Jordan and Syria.
Israel was carrying out strikes after the launch of an Iranian drone into Israel. The drone was intercepted.
Syria accused Israel of “aggression”, as Israel then launched more strikes.
In a statement, the Israeli military said “a combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel”.
It said the drone was identified quickly and was “under surveillance until the interception”.
The drone went down on Israeli territory and was “in our possession”, IDF spokesperson Brig Gen Ronen Manelis said.
The military said that in response the IDF “targeted Iranian targets in Syria”. It said the mission deep inside Syrian territory was successfully completed.
After coming under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, the F-16’s two crew ejected and were later taken to hospital. One of them was “severely injured as a result of an emergency evacuation”, the IDF said.
It was not clear whether the F-16 jet was hit by anti-aircraft fire or went down near Harduf for other reasons.
Syrian state media quoted a military source as saying that the country’s air defenses opened fire in response to an Israeli act of “aggression” against a military base on February 10, hitting “more than one plane”.
Meanwhile, Iran, Russia and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon – key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – dismissed as “lies” Israeli claims that an Iranian drone had entered Israeli airspace, news wires report.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he expects EU countries to follow the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as his country’s capital.
Benjamin Netanyahu is in Brussels for talks – the first time an Israeli prime minister has visited the city in more than 20 years.
However, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini says the bloc’s stance on the matter is unchanged.
President Donald Trump’s move has left the US isolated on a highly sensitive issue between Israel and the Palestinians.
Arriving in Brussels, PM Benjamin Netanyahu again welcomed the announcement, saying Jerusalem had been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and President Trump had put “facts squarely on the table”.
He added: “I believe that all, or most, European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and engage robustly with us for security, prosperity and peace.”
As well as recognizing Jerusalem, President Donald Trump also said he was directing the state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
However, Federica Mogherini said the EU would continue to recognize the “international consensus” on Jerusalem.
“We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”
Federica Mogherini also condemned “all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world”.
Before heading to Brussels, Benjamin Netanyahu met France’s President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, who urged him to freeze settlement building and to re-engage with Palestinians.
Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 war – as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.
According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.
Jerusalem is also home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.
President Trump’s announcement drew worldwide condemnation and sparked fierce protests which again flared on December 10.
In Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, police used tear gas to stop demonstrators reaching the US embassy, while in Jerusalem itself, a Palestinian was arrested after stabbing and seriously wounding an Israeli security guard.
A burning object was thrown at a synagogue in the Swedish city of Gothenburg on December 9 in what police said was a failed arson attempt.
Israel’s air force followed a number of raids on Hamas sites on December 8 with more air strikes on December 9, targeting weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse and a military compound, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Gaza’s Shifa hospital said that two bodies of Palestinians were found under the rubble of a Hamas military site bombed by Israeli planes overnight, bringing the death toll in the past 24 hours to four, with 160 injuries. The two other fatalities came when Israeli troops fired on crowds in Gaza during clashes on December 8.
Of the three rockets fired at Israel, its military said it had intercepted one with its Iron Dome defense system, one was found on wasteland and another landed in Sderot on December 8. No casualties were reported.
On December 8, Fathi Hammad, a senior Hamas leader, said anyone seeking to move their embassy to Jerusalem was “an enemy of the Palestinians”.
Speaking before the UN on December 8, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States “recognizes the obvious; that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel”.
Nikki Haley said the US continued to be “committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement”, and accused the UN of bias, saying it “has outrageously been one of the world’s foremost centers of hostility towards Israel”.
Israel had deployed extra battalions to the West Bank in anticipation of violence after Palestinian leaders called for protests after Friday prayers.
At least 217 Palestinians were wounded in confrontations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian medics said.
On December 8, there were protests held elsewhere against President Trump’s announcement.
Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters held demonstrations in Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Tunisia and Iran.
Further afield, protesters rallied in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indian-administered Kashmir and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
Despite warnings of regional unrest over any such move, the decision fulfills a campaign promise and appeals to Donald Trump’s right-wing base.
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”, he added.
“It is also the right thing to do.”
President Trump said the US would support a two-state solution – shorthand for a final settlement that would see the creation of an independent Palestinian state within pre-1967 ceasefire lines in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, living peacefully alongside Israel – “if agreed to by both sides”.
He also refrained from using Israel’s description of Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided capital”. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of any future Palestinian state.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful to President Trump, who had “bound himself forever with the history of the capital”.
The prime minister also said Israel was “in touch with other countries to follow suit. I have no doubt other embassies will move to Jerusalem – the time has come”. He did not name any of these countries, although the Philippines and the Czech Republic have been mentioned in Israeli media.
The mood has been very different on the Palestinian side.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called for a “day of rage” on December 8 and said it should “be the first day of the intifada against the occupier”.
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”, the president added.
“It is also the right thing to do.”
Donald Trump said the US still supported a two-state solution to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if approved by both sides, which would essentially see the creation of an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel.
Following the announcement, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful, tweeting: “Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia.”
On December 6, Benjamin Netanyahu went further, saying President Trump “bound himself forever with the history of the capital”, and predicting that many other countries would follow Washington’s example.
The Republican Jewish Coalition thanked President Trump in a New York Times add.
The mood was very different on the Palestinian side, with a day of strikes and protests planned.
The leader of Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, called for a new intifada, or uprising, saying it was the only way to “confront” Israel and the US.
President Mahmoud Abbas called President Trump’s announcement “deplorable” and said Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the state of Palestine”.
Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’s party, said it would push for a UN resolution requesting that Washington “rescind its decision” and disqualifying the US as a co-sponsor of the peace process.
The Arab and the wider Muslim world – including a number of US allies – condemned Donald Trump’s announcement.
Demonstrations have already taken place outside the US consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Saudi royal court said: “The US move represents a significant decline in efforts to push a peace process and is a violation of the historically neutral American position on Jerusalem.”
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called on Muslims everywhere to “make it clear that we strongly oppose” the US move.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was “a moment of great anxiety”. He said “there is no alternative to the two-state solution”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both said their countries did not support the move while EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini voiced “serious concern”.
Donald Trump’s announcement puts the US at odds with the rest of the international community’s view on Jerusalem’s status.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.
Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem contains sites sacred to the three major monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, was annexed by Israel after the Six Day War of 1967, but before now it has not been internationally recognized as part of Israel.
Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian attacker in a high-profile case that split opinion across Israel, has been jailed for 18 months.
He was found guilty of manslaughter for shooting dead 21-year-old Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, in March 2016.
Elor Azaria had told a colleague that Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, who had stabbed another soldier, “deserved to die”.
Military chiefs condemned his actions, but others praised them.
The case fuelled debate in Israel over when and how soldiers are entitled to use lethal force against attackers.
The shooting occurred amid a wave of attacks by Palestinians that had killed 29 Israelis over the preceding five months.
The offence carries a sentence of up to 20 years, though prosecutors had called for Elor Azaria to be jailed for between 3 and 5 years.
Image source Times of Israel
Elor Azaria was also ordered demoted from his rank of sergeant.
Judge Maya Heller said his crime was mitigated by the fact that it was his first conviction, that it had occurred in an active military scene and that there had been no clear orders as to how he was supposed to act.
She noted that Elor Azaria had not displayed any remorse for what he had done.
A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority criticized the sentence as lenient, calling it a “green light to the occupation army to continue its crimes”, AFP reported.
Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has previously said he would support any decision to pardon Elor Azaria.
The killing received widespread coverage after footage of the incident, filmed on a mobile phone, was shown on Israeli news programs.
The footage showed Elor Azaria cocking his gun and firing at the head of Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, who was lying apparently incapacitated on the ground after being shot and wounded following the stabbing attack.
The court which convicted Elor Azaria dismissed his claim that he had acted out of fear that Abdul Fatah al-Sharif might have been wearing an explosive vest.
Following the incident military chiefs and PM Benjamin Netanyahu came under fire from right-wing sections of society – including members cabinet – for criticizing Elor Azaria’s actions.
Benjamin Netanyahu later phoned Elor Azaria’s father to offer reassurance.
The UN has condemned Israeli plans to build more settlements in the occupied West Bank.
According to UN spokesman, “unilateral actions” were an obstacle to peace based on a two-state solution.
On January 24, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would build 2,500 more homes in Jewish settlements “in response to housing needs”.
It is the second such announcement by the Israeli authorities since President Donald Trump took office on January 20.
Palestinian officials said the plans undermined peace hopes by building on land they want for a future state.
Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, said: “For the secretary general there is no Plan B for the two-states solution.
“In this respect any unilateral decision that can be an obstacle to the two-state goal is of grave concern for the secretary general.
“There is a need for the two parties to engage in a bona fide negotiation to reach the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, two states for two people.”
Donald Trump has indicated that he will be more sympathetic to settlement construction than his predecessor, Barack Obama, and has appointed a staunch settlement supporter as his ambassador to Israel.
Image source Wikimedia
Last month, he criticized President Barack Obama for declining to veto a UN Security Council resolution which demanded Israel immediately cease all settlement activities and warned they were “dangerously imperiling the viability of a two-state solution”.
About 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.
Most of the new homes approved on January 24 will be built in existing West Bank settlement blocs, including 902 in Ariel and 652 in Givat Zeev.
One hundred will be constructed in Beit El, a settlement near Ramallah that reportedly has received funding from a foundation run by the family of Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
Following the announcement, Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Twitter: “We are building – and continuing to build.”
Benjamin Netanyahu says he still supports a two-state solution, but on January 22 he reportedly told ministers that he was lifting restrictions on construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as the city’s municipality approved permits for 566 new homes in the settlements of Pisgat Zeev, Ramat Shlomo and Ramot.
He also discussed the peace process with the Palestinians with President Trump in a telephone conversation, during which he was invited to a meeting in Washington in early February.
“The president emphasized that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties, and that the United States will work closely with Israel to make progress towards that goal,” the White House said.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi strongly denounced January 24 announcement.
She said in a statement: “Once again, the Israeli government has proved that it is more committed to land theft and colonialism than to the two-state solution and the requirements for peace and stability.
“Such a deliberate escalation of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise constitutes a war crime and the flagrant violation of international law and conventions, in particular UN Security Council resolution 2334.”
Hanan Ashrawi called on the US and the rest of the international community to “undertake serious and concrete measures to bring about a full cessation of all settlement activities and to hold Israel to account for these disastrous plans with punitive measures and sanctions before it completes the destruction of the territorial and demographic contiguity of the West Bank”.
The Conference for Peace in the Middle East, with focus on starting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, is being held in Paris.
Over 70 countries and international organizations are expected to reaffirm support for a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict.
The conference is hosted by Jean-Marc Ayrault and French President François Hollande is expected to speak at.
Palestinians have welcomed the meeting but Israel – which is not attending – says the conference is loaded against it.
The last round of direct peace talks collapsed amid acrimony in April 2014.
Israel and the Palestinians have been invited to hear the conclusions of the meeting, but not to participate in the summit itself.
Image source Wikimedia
The conference comes at a time of tension between Israel and the international community after the UN passed a resolution in December 2016 denouncing Israel’s settlement activity on occupied land.
Israel accused the US and the Obama administration of engineering the motion and enabling it to pass by not using its power of veto in the UN Security Council.
The White House denied colluding to get the resolution passed.
Reports say a draft statement for the meeting calls on Israel and the Palestinians “to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution” and avoid taking “unilateral steps that prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations”.
A “two-state solution” of a Palestinian country alongside Israel has long been endorsed by both sides but there are sharply divergent visions as to the type of state which should emerge.
Israel rejects international involvement in the peace process, saying a settlement can only come through direct talks.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu called the Paris meeting “a rigged conference” which Israel would not be bound by.
He said on January 12: “[It’s] rigged by the Palestinians with French auspices to adopt additional anti-Israel stances.
“This pushes peace backwards.”
Secretary of State John Kerry would be at the meeting to ensure “whatever happens in this conference is constructive and balanced”.
Spokesman Mark Toner said the US did not “want to see anything that attempts to impose a solution on Israel”.
Israel is concerned that the conference might set the terms for a final agreement and seek to get it adopted at the UN, a move it feels would undermine future negotiations.
Despite years of on-off peace talks, major differences still separate Israel and the Palestinians.
Palestinians fiercely object to Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory it wants for a future state.
The settlements, home to about 600,000 Israelis, are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
Israel says Palestinian incitement and violence, and a refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state, are key obstacles to peace.
Other core issues at the Paris conference will include the future status of Jerusalem and the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has summoned American Ambassador Dan Shapiro amid a growing row after the US eased the passage of a UN resolution against Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, took the unusual step of calling the US ambassador to his office.
The move comes after Israel summoned ambassadors from countries which voted for the December 23 resolution.
The reprimands came after Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to take retaliatory steps for what he called a “shameful” act by the UN.
The resolution, which harshly criticized Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, passed when the US abstained instead of using its veto.
Image source Wikimedia
Israel has accused the US, its closest ally but a frequent critic of settlements, of engineering the vote – a charge Washington has denied.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: “From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, co-ordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed.
“Friends don’t take friends to the Security Council.”
The UN resolution – the first since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy – said the settlements had “no legal validity” and constituted “a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution”.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama have had a difficult relationship during President Obama’s two terms and Israel had feared that Washington would take such a measure in the final weeks of Obama’s presidency.
Donald Trump tweeted that the vote was a “big loss” for Israel which “will make it much harder to negotiate peace”, vowing “we will get it done anyway”.
The president-elect promised that “things will be different” at the UN after he takes office on January 20.
Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his foreign ministry to summon the ambassadors of 10 countries which voted in favor of the resolution and which have embassies in Israel.
The reprimand on Christmas Day, when most embassies are closed, is unusual and a sign of the seriousness with which Israel is taking the matter.
In remarks on December 24, Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would work to get the resolution rescinded, adding that allies in the US Congress and the incoming administration had promised to “fight an all-out war” against the measure.
The prime minister said he had already halted Israeli funding to five UN institutions “that are especially hostile to Israel”, and warned of further steps to come.
In the wake of the vote, Israel recalled its ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal, which both put forward the resolution, and canceled planned visits to Israel by the foreign ministers of Senegal and Ukraine, which had voted for the text.
The issue of Jewish settlements is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians.
More than 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land the Palestinians want for a future state.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
Are you bored of heading on trips where you do nothing but sit around or see the sights? It can all get a little dull after awhile, and you start to yearn for something more. It might be time for you to start looking for trips that offer you some genuine thrills and excitement. Here some ideas for great destinations to consider.
Patagonia, in the south of Argentina, is one of those places that every thrill-seeker has to visit once. And probably more than once. The natural landscape is your playground, and you can spend weeks exploring it and still not appreciate everything it has to offer. Skiing, mountain climbing and exploring glaciers can all be done here. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a place that is truly unique, so see it for yourself, and embrace everything there is to do.
Victoria Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. But you don’t need to stand by and gaze at it. There are plenty of thrilling things that you can spend your time doing in the area too. Zip lines can be used, or you could go bungee jumping in this magnificent setting. Rafting is a lot of fun as well. Once you’ve done all that, you can explore nature and see the lions and elephants that are located in this part of Zimbabwe.
Israel might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of taking a thrill-seeking trip. But it actually has a lot to offer that might surprise you. For example, the water sports that you will find in coastal cities, such as Tel Aviv, are extraordinary. There are also vast landscapes that are great for intrepid explorers. For example, the Galilee and Masada are particularly popular. If you need to come back down to Earth after all that, you can float in the Dead Sea.
Mexico has a lot to offer explorers and thrill-seekers. You can explore the rugged landscape of Cozumel if you want to go scuba diving or hiking. If you do, be aware of the local air ambulance services. That way, you can get help quickly if you need it. In other parts of Mexico, you can try white-water rafting or explore the Copper Canyon. It’s a canyon made up of lots of smaller ones. To get an idea of its scale, the canyon is about seven times bigger than the Grand Canyon.
Iceland has a very harsh and unforgiving landscape. Many travellers go there unprepared and end up having to get rescued. So, it’s important to be prepared. But as long as you are, there is plenty to explore and challenge yourself with here. There are fjords, glaciers, volcanoes and geysers that pump out steam. The island often feels like one big assault course that throws one challenge after another at you. But taking it on and testing yourself against it can be a lot of fun.
Shimon Peres’ funeral is under way in Jerusalem before a large number of foreign dignitaries, including Barack Obama and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
The former Israeli president died on September 28 at the age of 93.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu described Shimon Peres, one of Israel’s founding fathers, as “a great man of the world”, in his funeral eulogy.
A security crackdown ahead of the funeral ceremony has led to the “preventative arrests” of several people.
Mahmoud Abbas led a delegation of senior Palestinian officials in his first visit to Israel since 2010.
As a negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Mahmoud Abbas was one of the people who signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993, for which Shimon Peres won a Nobel Peace Prize the year after, along with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin.
A senior Palestinian official told the Associated Press that Mahmoud Abbas wanted to “send a strong message to Israeli society that the Palestinians are for peace, and appreciate the efforts of peaceful men like Shimon Peres”.
A spokesman for Hamas, the more hard-line Palestinian group which runs Gaza, called on Mahmoud Abbas to “retract his decision to participate in the funeral of the criminal Shimon Peres”.
Shimon Peres’ reputation in the region is complicated by the 1996 shelling of Qana in southern Lebanon that killed more than 100 people who were sheltering in a UN compound.
It happened when, as prime minister, Shimon Peres ordered an offensive against a wave of rocket fire by the militant Hezbollah movement.
He later said it was a “bitter surprise” to find that several hundred people were in the camp at the time.
Shimon Peres’ coffin was earlier escorted by a military honor guard from the parliament building in Jerusalem to Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery, where he will be laid to rest alongside many of the country’s former leaders.
Jordan and Egypt – the only two Arab countries to have signed peace deals with Israel – have both sent official representatives to the ceremony.
President Barack Obama is due to speak at the ceremony, along with Shimon Peres’ three children.
Shimon Peres’ body has been lying in state outside parliament in Jerusalem.
Israeli police say 8,000 officers have been deployed for the security operation as thousands of people are expected to attend the funeral.
Police chief Roni Alsheikh said it was “an operation on an unprecedented scale”.
The funeral is expected to be the largest such event in Israel since the funeral of PM Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish nationalist in 1995.
Shimon Peres suffered a stroke two weeks ago and died in a hospital near Tel Aviv.
Former Israeli President Shimon Peres has died at the age of 93.
He served twice as Israel’s prime minister and once as president.
Shimon Peres suffered a stroke two weeks ago. His condition had improved before a sudden deterioration on September 27.
His son, Chemi Peres, led tributes to “one of the founding fathers of the state of Israel” who “worked tirelessly” for it.
World figures are expected to attend Shimon Peres’ funeral in Jerusalem on September 29, including President Barack Obama, Prince Charles and Pope Francis.
Shimon Peres was one of the last of a generation of Israeli politicians present at Israel’s birth in 1948.
He won the Nobel Peace prize in 1994 for his role negotiating peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier.
Shimon Peres once said the Palestinians were Israel’s “closest neighbors” and might become its “closest friends”.
He died in a hospital near Tel Aviv early on September 28, with his family at his bedside.
Shimon Peres had been in the intensive care unit of the Sheba Medical Centre after suffering a major stroke on September 13.
The funeral will be held at Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery in Jerusalem.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UK PM Theresa May have all confirmed they will attend, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.
President Barack Obama called Shimon Peres his “dear friend” in a statement, and said: “He was guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together.”
Israel ex-President Shimon Peres has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke.
The 93-year-old has been rushed to a hospital outside Tel Aviv. He has been sedated and is breathing with the help of a respirator, his office said. He is now expected to undergo a CT scan.
Shimon Peres had been described as conscious and stable when he arrived at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
In January, the former president underwent successful minor surgery at the same hospital after suffering a small heart attack.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “Shimon, we love you and the entire nation is wishing for your recovery.”
Shimon Peres has held almost every major political office since Israel was founded in 1948, and was the architect of Israel’s secret nuclear program.
He twice served as prime minister and was president from 2007 to 2014.
Shimon Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role negotiating the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier, a prize he shared with PM Yitzhak Rabin, who was later assassinated, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Despite his age, Shimon Peres has maintained an active public schedule, mostly through his non-governmental Peres Centre for Peace, which promotes closer ties between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mustafa Amine Badreddine was killed in artillery fire by jihadists, Lebanese Hezbollah group says.
The death of the Hezbollah’s top military commander in near Damascus airport was announced on May 13 and initially blamed on Israel, Hezbollah’s chief enemy.
Mustafa Badreddine was believed to have run all Hezbollah’s military operations in Syria since 2011.
Thousands of Hezbollah troops are supporting President Bashar al-Assad.
This has pitted it against several groups of anti-Assad rebels – from ISIS to the al-Nusra Front.
Without naming any group, the Hezbollah statement said: “Investigations have showed that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International Airport, and which led to the martyrdom of commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri groups in the area.”
Takfiri is used to describe militants who believe Muslim society has reverted to a state of non-belief.
The Lebanese Shia Islamist movement has played a major role in helping Iran, its main military and financial backer, to prop up the government of President Bashar al-Assad since the uprising erupted in 2011.
Thousands of Hezbollah fighters are assisting government forces on battlefields across Syria, particularly those near the Lebanese border, and hundreds are believed to have been killed.
The Hezbollah statement said Mustafa Badreddine’s death “will increase our determination… to continue the fight against these criminal gangs and defeat them”.
Born in 1961, Mustafa Amine Badreddine is believed to have been a senior figure in Hezbollah’s military wing. He was a cousin and brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyeh, who was the military wing’s chief until his assassination by car bomb in Damascus in 2008.
They are alleged to have worked together on the October 1983 bombing of the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut that killed 241 people.
Mustafa Badreddine is reported to have sat on Hezbollah’s Shura Council and served as an adviser to the group’s overall leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Hezbollah was established in the wake of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and has called for the “obliteration” of Israel.
Mustafa Badreddine was also charged with masterminding the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in Beirut in 2005.
An indictment from the ongoing Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague details Mustafa Badreddine’s role in bombings in Kuwait in 1983, that targeted the French and US embassies and other facilities, and killed six people. He was sentenced to death over the attacks, but later escaped from prison.
Israel has accused Turkey of buying oil from ISIS, thereby funding the militants’ activities.
Speaking in Athens, Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said ISIS had “enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time”.
Turkey denies permitting ISIS smuggling, and the US recently rejected Russian allegations that Turkish government officials were in league the militants.
ISIS has captured swathes of Syria and Iraq, including operational oil fields.
Moshe Yaalon told reporters after a meeting with his Greek counterpart: “It’s up to Turkey, the Turkish government, the Turkish leadership, to decide whether they want to be part of any kind of cooperation to fight terrorism.
“This is not the case so far. As you know, Daesh [Islamic State] enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time. I hope that it will be ended.”
Moshe Yaalon also alleged that Turkey had “permitted jihadists to move from Europe to Syria and Iraq and back”.
US state department officials last month rejected Russian allegations of Turkish government involvement but a state department spokesman said IS oil was being smuggled into Turkey via middlemen.
Efforts by Israel and Turkey to repair damaged ties already hit a setback this month over demands for compensation for the deaths of 10 Turkish activists on an aid ship in 2010.
The Israeli navy had raided a flotilla of ships trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
Senior Israeli and Turkish officials met in December to try to repair relations, raising hopes of progress in negotiations to import Israeli natural gas.
Security will be tightened in Israeli Arab areas after a gunman killed two people in a shooting at a popular bar in Tel Aviv, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said.
Visiting the scene of the attack on January 2, Benjamin Netanyahu demanded “loyalty to the state’s laws from everyone”.
Police have named a 29-year-old Israeli Arab as the suspect. No motive has been established for the shooting.
Seven people were also wounded, four of them seriously, in January 1 attack outside the bar.
Security forces are on “heightened alert” and are searching for the gunman who is still at large, police said on January 2.
Visiting the bar in Dizengoff Street, Benjamin Netanyahu praised Israeli Arab leaders for condemning the killings – but said Israel was in danger of becoming “a state of law for most citizens, and a state within a state with Islamist incitement and illegal arms that are often used in weddings, celebrations and criminal incidents”, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Benjamin Netanyahu said his government would “bolster law enforcement efforts in the Negev, the Galilee, the Triangle, everywhere”. This would include building new police stations and recruiting more police officers.
The attack took place in a busy part of Tel Aviv city center filled with bars and cafes.
Security camera footage showed the gunman taking an automatic rifle out of his backpack and then firing at least 15 shots at people in the street before fleeing the scene.
The two victims have been identified as Alon Bakal, 26, who was a manager at the bar targeted, and Shimon Ruimi, 30.
The suspect, from northern Israel, had stolen the gun from his father, who works in security, Haaretz newspaper reported.
The father recognized his son from media reports and contacted the police, the newspaper said.
Tel Aviv shootings follow a wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis over the past few months.
Donald Trump has announced he is postponing a planned trip to Israel until “after he is elected”.
The leading Republican presidential candidate tweeted that the trip would take place “at a later date after I become President of the US”.
Earlier this week, Donald Trump proposed a temporary halt on Muslims entering the United States.
Donald Trump’s proposal was met with criticism from around the world, including from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
His proposed Muslim ban made the trip political awkward for the Israeli leader.
“[Benjamin Netanyahu] said we have a meeting and he looks forward to the meeting and all of that. But I didn’t want to put him under pressure,” Donald Trump told Fox News on December 10.
Photo Getty Images
Donald Trump’s remarks were met with swift criticism. Muslim leaders, the UN and foreign leaders criticized the call as dangerous and divisive, while the White House said real estate mogul should be disqualified from serving as president.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin implicitly rebuked the leading Republican candidate saying “we have no war with Islam”.
“We have war against those who are using ideas in order to create extremism and threats toward the whole innocent people of the world,” Reuven Rivlin said.
Earlier this week, reports suggested that Donald Trump would visit Jordan in addition to Israel. He denied these reports on Twitter.
Meanwhile, in the UK a petition calling for Donald Trump to be barred from entering the UK has garnered more than 418,000 names – meaning lawmakers will have to consider it.
In response, Donald Trump took to Twitter on December 10 saying “the United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem,” and “many people in the UK agree with me”.
The US has released former navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, who was jailed for life in 1987 for passing classified information to Israel.
Jonathan Pollard, 61, was freed from a feeral prison in North Carolina on November 20, ending one of the longest-running and most contentious issues between the US and Israel.
His parole conditions require him to remain in the US for five years.
Repeated Israeli appeals over the years for the US to show clemency towards Jonathan Pollard were rejected.
Jonathan Pollard traveled to a federal courthouse in New York on the day of release to challenge the conditions of his parole.
He must wear a GPS ankle bracelet and submit to inspections of his home and work. His legal team calls the terms “onerous and oppressive'”.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli people welcomed his release.
The prime minister’s spokesperson tweeted: “As someone who has raised Jonathan Pollard’s case for many years with US presidents, I have wished for this day.
“After 30 long and hard years, Jonathan Pollard is finally reuniting with his family.”
Jonathan Pollard passed secret information to Israel for a year in return for payments until his arrest in 1985. He said he had been frustrated by the US withholding key intelligence from its staunch ally.
After he was questioned by the FBI, Jonathan Pollard and his then-wife, Anne, sought asylum at the Israeli embassy in Washington but were turned away.
Israel initially denied Jonathan Pollard had spied for them, insisting he had worked with “rogue” officials.
In 1995, Israel granted Jonathan Pollard citizenship, and two years later, they admitted he was their agent.
Supporters of Jonathan Pollard in Israel and the US campaigned for his release, arguing that his sentence was unjust.
The US reportedly considered freeing Jonathan Pollard in 2014 in return for Israeli concessions to the Palestinians during faltering peace talks, before negotiations collapsed.
In an interview with the Associated Press in 1998, Jonathan Pollard said the price he had paid for spying had not been worth it.
“There is nothing good that came as a result of my actions,” he said.
“I tried to serve two countries at the same time. That does not work.”
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