News / Middle East

    Israeli Minister Urges Netanyahu to Annex Settlements

    Palestinian farmers argue with an Israeli soldier as they try to plant olive trees during a protest against what they say is land confiscation for Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley, a hotly contested part of the occupied West Bank, April 8, 2014.
    Palestinian farmers argue with an Israeli soldier as they try to plant olive trees during a protest against what they say is land confiscation for Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley, a hotly contested part of the occupied West Bank, April 8, 2014.
    Reuters
    A senior Israeli minister has urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex a swathe of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, saying peace talks with the Palestinians were dead.
     
    However, an Israeli source confirmed media reports that the sides were mulling a possible deal to extend the troubled talks beyond an April 29 deadline, through to the start of next year.
     
    The U.S.-sponsored negotiations came close to collapse last week amidst mutual recrimination and although the two sides are seeking to overcome the crisis, Netanyahu started imposing punitive sanctions and ordered a partial freeze on contacts with the Palestinians on Wednesday.
     
    Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who is head of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, wrote to the prime minister late on Wednesday saying Israel should extend its sovereign territory to a number of major settlement blocs.

     
    Houses are seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'ale Adumin near Jerusalem, Jan. 3, 2014.Houses are seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'ale Adumin near Jerusalem, Jan. 3, 2014.
    x
    Houses are seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'ale Adumin near Jerusalem, Jan. 3, 2014.
    Houses are seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'ale Adumin near Jerusalem, Jan. 3, 2014.
    Mega settlements, such as Ma'ale Adumin, are built on land seized in the 1967 war - territory the Palestinians want for their future state. Successive governments have said the blocs, deemed illegal under international law, should remain part of Israel in any negotiated deal with the Palestinians.
     
    “It is clear that the current process has exhausted itself and that we are entering a new era,” said Bennett, urging Netanyahu to annex a number of large settlements.
     
    “These are areas which enjoy a wide national consensus, have security implications and have historical significance for the State of Israel.”
     
    Netanyahu made no comment on Bennett's request, but is likely to face strident calls from within his own rightist Likud party to annex the blocs, home to an estimated 350,000 Israelis, if the latest peace talks implode.
     
    Such a move would almost certainly set off a storm of international condemnation, and Israel's chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni, said Bennett was acting like a “provocative child” who needed parental restraint.
     
    “If you want to go totally crazy, keep it up until we can no longer make a deal and lose everything we hold dear,” Livni, who serves as justice minister, wrote on her Facebook page.
     
    Breakthrough mooted
     
    Despite the crisis in peace talks, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met for a third time this week on Thursday. Israeli and Arab media reports said they discussed proposals to break through the logjam and extend negotiations though early 2015.
     
    An Israeli source speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed a proposal for Israel to freeze some settlement construction and free more than 400 Palestinian prisoners, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would freeze or rescind his signing of 15 world documents that angered Israel this month.
     
    “It's on the agenda but nothing has yet been agreed upon,” the source said, suggesting some work was still required before any deal could be finalized. Officials on both sides seemed confident the impasse in the talks could be broken.
     
    “I would bet on the possibility of them reaching a deal to continue negotiations between now and the end of the month. The differences are not so substantial,” said Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian government minister and now academic at Birzeit University in the West Bank.
     
    Settlements have been a constant source of aggravation between Israelis and Palestinians, with construction of new Jewish homes in the West Bank rising 123 percent year-on-year in 2013, a surge that coincided with the resumption of talks.
     
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said this week that the announcement last week of tenders for 700 new homes in East Jerusalem was the immediate cause of the negotiations crisis.
     
    An official in Netanyahu's office said Israel was “deeply disappointed” by Kerry's remarks, signaling clear tensions in relations between the two allies.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    April 11, 2014 10:16 AM
    If this commentary box is not for sincere people's opinion, why is it included in articles for people to write and waste their time? If this commentary box is included here so that I start singing praises for your government and agree that the Palestine issue is handled the proper way, you are lying. My sincere opinion is what I write and wish to see it opened up to people to see that everybody is not just falling for the pranks of the West, the US-Arab leaning that has meant so much trouble to the region as well as to the whole world. No wonder many of the earlier critics and contributors have fizzled out because the opinion box here is included for people to just agree with whatever is published without having their own opinion - a decisive stratification. That is counter to freedom of expression, right to express self, as well as against democratic principles. If VOA does not need people's opinion here, why include the box only to jettison contributions that people have taken time to send in to VOA commentary box? Seems it all serves someone's personal ego, not the interest of VOA or the reading public.

    by: DK Shaik from: Bangalore, India
    April 10, 2014 10:01 AM
    Where is so Called international Police US, it is internationally well known fact that Israel have occupied Palestinians territories...

    Why US is so silent on the issue which Claims that they don't support any seize/ occupation /Land grab by any country... why don't they force Israel to leave the territories occupied by them and maintain the peace in region...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.