Middle East Israel seizes 400 hectares of West Bank land – AlJazeera

665003303001_3761910154001_20149112734845734-20

US official describes as “counterproductive” Israeli announcement to appropriate land, said to be largest in 30 years.

AlJazeera

The United States has urged Israel to reverse its decision to seize nearly 400 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank, a move anti-settlement activists termed the largest land grab in 30 years.

Israel announced the massive land appropriation on Sunday in the Etzion settlement bloc near Bethlehem just days after Gaza ceasefire.

A Palestinian official said the latest land grab by Israel would cause only more friction after the Gaza war that left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead and over 10,000 injured.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called on Israel to cancel the appropriation. “This decision will lead to more instability. This will only inflame the situation after the war in Gaza,” presidential spokesman Abu Rdainah said.

A US State Department official called the announcement as “counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians”.

“We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” the official said in Washington.

Peace Now group, which opposes Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank, territory the Palestinians seek for a state, said the appropriation was meant to turn a site where 10 families now live adjacent to a Jewish seminary into a permanent settlement.

International criticism

Construction of a major settlement at the location, known as “Gevaot”, has been mooted by Israel since 2000. Last year, the government invited bids for the building of 1,000 housing units at the site.

Peace Now said the land seizure was the largest announced by Israel in the West Bank since the 1980s and that anyone with ownership claims had 45 days to appeal. A local Palestinian mayor said Palestinians owned the tracts and harvested olive trees on them.

Israel has come under international criticism over its settlement activities, which most countries regard as illegal under international law and a major obstacle to the creation of a viable Palestinian state in any future peace deal.

Israel has said construction at Gevaot would not constitute the establishment of a new settlement because the site is officially designated a neighbourhood of an existing one, Alon Shvut, several kilometres down the road.

About 500,000 Israelis live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

 

Breaking News: 25 August, 2014

Armed anti-goverment fighters walk in front of garages set ablaze by what locals say was recent shelling by Ukrainian forces in Donetsk August 23, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

Armed anti-goverment fighters walk in front of garages set ablaze by what locals say was recent shelling by Ukrainian forces in Donetsk August 23, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

Friday, August 22

Artillery attack destroys roof and walls of Donetsk museum

An artillery attack destroyed the roof and walls of the Donetsk Regional Museum of Local History on Thursday. (Xinhua/Alexander Ermochenko)

 

Monday, August 25

18:00 GMT:

The Crimean Telegraph newspaper said that two of its journalists have gone missing in the warzone in Donetsk Region of Ukraine on August 24.  “Yesterday, in the area of the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ not far from the city of Donetsk reporter Evgenia Korolyova and photographer Maksim Vasilenko were removed from their bus by Right Sector [radical movement] representatives,” the paper said.  “Korolyova was allowed to make one phone call, but couldn’t speak freely as it was obvious that “people, who controlled her every word, were with her,” the Crimean Telegraph added.  “When asked if she felt a real threat to her life, Evgenia said ‘no’, but confirmed that they were detained not as ordinary Crimean citizens, but as journalists,” the newspaper said.

15:58 GMT:

The distribution of humanitarian aid from Russia has started in the besieged city of Lugansk in southeastern Ukraine, with 12 issuing points opening in the city on Monday.

The minimum package handed out to residents includes rice, buckwheat and sugar, three canned meats, a packet of tea and 10 liters of water.

Poroshenko warns of ‘detailed Plan B’ if Ukraine ceasefire fails

If his current proposal for a truce, which came into force on Friday, fails to bring results, Ukraine’s newly elected president Petro Poroshenko warns he has an alternative “detailed plan” of regaining control over south-eastern Ukraine.  “Peaceful scenario – it is our plan A,” Poroshenko said in a statement on his website. “But those who expect to use the peace talks only to gain time to regroup, should know that we have a detailed plan B. I am not going to talk about it now, because I believe that our peace plan will work.”  Poroshenko claims the ceasefire is designed to enable local self-defence militias to lay down their arms and flee the country, or be destroyed. He also, while drafting the plan with Kiev-appointed governors of the defiant regions, rejected any possibility of negotiations with representatives of anti-Kiev forces.

 

US, NATO to blame for Libyan unrest – Moscow

The current turmoil in Libya is a direct consequence of the interference of the US and its NATO allies, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “We can say that the political process of creating a modern state in Libya on the ruins of the Muammar Gaddafi regime ousted in 2011 has finally come to a standstill,” the ministry said. The Libyans are now paying for Western involvement with “lives of thousands of civilians and social economic infrastructure of the state lost during bloody civil strife,” it added. Over the weekend, the Islamists seized the airport in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and proclaimed their own government.

15:03

Pentagon’s second test of hypersonic missile fails after takeoff

The Pentagon’s second test of an advanced hypersonic weapon failed shortly after takeoff early on Monday, the Washington Free Beacon said. “Due to an anomaly, the test was terminated near the launch pad shortly after liftoff to ensure public safety,” the Pentagon said in a statement. No injuries to any personnel were reported after the test was carried out from the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island off the southern Alaskan coast. The weapon is a key part of the Pentagon’s strategic program of building arms that can attack any point on earth in 30 minutes.

14:22

2 killed, several injured in explosion at Illinois recycling plant

Two people were killed and more were injured after an explosion at a recycling plant in southern Illinois, Granite City police said. The bomb squad has been sent to the Totall Metal Recycling plant, AP said, citing local television. More explosions, perhaps from live ammunition rounds, are feared. More than 160 people work at the plant, which recycles everything from computers to automobiles. The company also indicated that it deals with the ammunition industry.

13:56

Omar al-Hasi appointed as PM after Libya’s ex-parliament reconvenes

Libya’s previous parliament reconvened on Monday to elect Islamist-backed Omar al-Hasi as prime minister, Reuters quoted a parliamentary spokesman as saying. Islamists had a strong representation in the former legislature, whose term ended with national elections in June. It has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of its successor parliament, where liberals and federalists dominate.

11:07

At least 16 people killed by Israel air strikes on Gaza

Israeli air strikes pounded Gaza on Sunday, killing at least 16 people, AFP said. One of the strikes killed Hamas financial official Mohammed al-Ghul as he was traveling by car in Gaza City, Israel’s army and Gaza medics said. A later strike on northern Gaza reportedly killed a mother and four children from the same family, and the day’s death toll reached at least 16, including six children.

10:36

Syria govt ready to cooperate in anti-terror fight – FM

The Syrian government is ready to cooperate with international and regional efforts to fight terror, Reuters quoted the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem, as saying on Monday. Asked if Syria was ready to cooperate with the US and Britain, he said: “They are welcome.” However, the minister warned in that case the efforts must be coordinated with Damascus. Moualem, speaking on Syrian state TV, also condemned the killing of US journalist James Foley, who was executed by the Islamic State.

07:45

French PM Valls presents govt resignation to president

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls presented the resignation of his government to the president on Monday, Reuters reported. Francois Hollande’s office said a new government would be formed on Tuesday in line with the direction the president “has defined for our country.” The resignation comes a day after leftist Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg called for new economic policies and questioned Germany’s “obsession” with budgetary rigor.

06:47

Japan to name criteria before offering unapproved Ebola drug

Japan could offer an unapproved drug under certain circumstances to help treat the deadly Ebola virus, Reuters said. “Medical professionals could make a request for T-705 in an emergency even before a decision by the World Health Organization (WHO),” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. “In that case, we would like to respond under certain criteria.” Tokyo will cooperate with the WHO and is ready to make an international contribution. Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp and US’s MediVector are in talks with the US Food and Drug Administration to submit an application to expand the use of the influenza drug T-705, or favipiravir, as a treatment for Ebola.

06:19

At least 10 killed in India temple stampede

At least 10 people were killed and scores injured in a stampede at a Hindu temple in central India, AFP reported. As hundreds of pilgrims were gathering early at a holy hill in the Chitrakoot area of Madhya Pradesh state, some fell down, sparking panic. A stampede broke out around 5:30 local time, “where five women and five men have died,” police said. The incident took place at Kamtanath Pahad temple on Kamadgiri hill in Chitrakoot, about 520km from state capital Bhopal, when some Hindu devotees were reportedly rolling on the ground as part of rituals for the full moon day of Somvati Amavasya to honor Lord Shiva.