New Palestinian Town in West Bank Awaits Israel’s Approval for Water

Work continues on the Palestinian city of Rawabi, which has no residents yet because a water main has not been connected. 

RAWABI, West Bank — The Roman-style amphitheater with seating for 12,000 is taking shape against a stunning backdrop of rolling hills. Off to one side, a small soccer stadium is under construction. On the slopes below, there are plans for a water park, and in the town center, a piazza lined with arcades and cafes. A movie theater is being built with seven screens, one of them 4-D.

“This will be a major destination for Palestinians who have no destinations,” Bashar Masri, the Palestinian businessman and driving force behind this ambitious project to build a new city here, said as he toured the site in his jeep last week.

The first 600 apartments in Rawabi, a short commute from Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority’s administrative capital in the West Bank, were sold over a year ago and should have been turned over to their new owners in the spring.

But there are no people living in Rawabi, because there is no water here. Connecting the new city to a nearby water main depends on long-awaited approval from Israel. As a result, the future of the whole enterprise is hanging in the balance.

Bashar Masri, a Palestinian businessman and the driving force behind the ambitious project to build the city of Rawabi in the West Bank.CreditRina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

While Israeli officials say the water issue will be resolved soon, possibly within a week, Rawabi has already turned from a symbol of Palestinian entrepreneurship and state building into a cautionary tale of the perils of investing in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Aside from the water issue, Rawabi has still not received a permit to build a permanent road to the city, a small Palestinian enclave surrounded by Israeli-controlled territory.

“If we cannot achieve such a little request as getting water and a road for Rawabi, how can anyone speak of a massive economic plan for the West Bank?” Mr. Masri asked. He was referring to an investment plan of up to $4 billion that Secretary of State John Kerry announced last year as part of an effort to revive moribund peace talks.

Mr. Masri is facing a major cash flow crisis because he cannot collect the $70 million due from homeowners and mortgage banks for the first 600 apartments until they are delivered. Contracts for further construction have been frozen, and up to 700 of the 4,000 people working on the project could lose their jobs by the end of September.

Once the water issue is resolved, Mr. Masri said, it would take about four more months to complete construction, which began in 2011. In the meantime, he is urgently seeking additional funds from his partner in the project, Qatar, which has already put in more than $400 million, and from other financiers. But if that money does not come through and the project continues to slow down, “we will be totally shut down by early next year,” he said.

The current war in the Gaza Strip, now in its seventh week, also led Mr. Masri to suspend marketing of the new apartments.

“You cannot tell people to come and buy a beautiful apartment when so many of the rest of your people just became homeless,” he said, referring to the tens of thousands of Gaza residents whose homes have been destroyed in Israeli bombings.

Getting his shoes dusty as he hopped in and out of the jeep to discuss construction details with workmen in hard hats, Mr. Masri swung between his signature enthusiasm, excitedly pointing out his own almost-complete penthouse above the town center, and despair. There is an inherent contradiction in sounding an alarm and trying to inspire confidence in order to sell more apartments — the master plan allows for 6,000 units, for a total population of 40,000.

The owners waiting to move in have generally been “very sympathetic,” Mr. Masri said. When they ask about the water problem, he tells them it is a force majeure — an unforeseen event that obstructs the fulfillment of a transaction.

“Water is essential for life,” said Amal Kaabi, who was supposed to move into a three-bedroom apartment here this summer with her husband, Adel, and their four children. A year ago the family, from Ramallah, told reporters at the site that they had bought into Rawabi because there would be an orderly system, public amenities and “no chaos.”

Asked in a telephone interview recently who was to blame for the delay, Ms. Kaabi replied without hesitation, “the occupation.”

The murky explanations for the delay reflect the current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the Israeli agency that coordinates civilian affairs with the Palestinian Authority, said that while both sides were sensitive to the international attention Rawabi had received as a flagship Palestinian enterprise, the delay was caused by the Palestinians’ refusal to sign on to projects in the Joint Water Committee, a body established under the Oslo peace accords of the 1990s to oversee water issues.

The committee has hardly met for two years because the sides cannot agree on an agenda. The previous head of the Palestinian Water Authority, Shaddad Attili, refused to approve projects that would benefit the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and Israel responded by refusing to approve Palestinian projects.

The water authority’s new head, Mazen Ghnaim, was appointed on Thursday. In a telephone interview hours after taking up the post, Mr. Ghnaim said that he had not gotten into the finer details of the issues yet, but that the Joint Water Committee “should convene soon.”

“Rawabi is a priority case for me,” he added.

But people familiar with the case say that Rawabi could have been dealt with separately, outside the framework of the committee. Mr. Masri and his lawyer for all matters relating to Israel, Dov Weissglas, said that approval for the water connection had been expected in March. Both said they believed the delay was political — part of the sanctions imposed by Israel on the Palestinian Authority and its umbrella, the Palestine Liberation Organization, for the reconciliation pact reached in April with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that dominates Gaza.

“The sad fact is that Rawabi as a project has nothing to do with the Palestinian Authority,” Mr. Weissglas said. “It was initiated by the private sector for the private sector with private money. I cannot understand why such a positive initiative is hostage to a political dispute between two governments.”

The Israeli prime minister’s office denied that was the case. “We support the project,” an official there said of Rawabi.

Either way, there have been indications that the water problem may be on its way to resolution after recent exposure in the popular Hebrew newspaper Yediot Aharonot and on Israel’s Channel 2 News.

Advertising for the new apartments, which sell for $60,000 to $200,000, resumed last week on news of another cease-fire — which later collapsed — between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

But, with more than 2,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza in the current conflict, plans for an inaugural celebration at the Rawabi amphitheater in October, featuring popular singers, have been canceled.

“This is not party time,” Mr. Masri said. “Far from it.

(Source / 31.08.201)

Hamas backs Abbas’ plan to end ‘Israeli occupation’ – report

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (L) and political bureau head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal (AFP Photo)

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (L) and political bureau head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal

Hamas and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have reportedly agreed on a three-stage plan that would create an independent Palestinian state, first of all calling on the US to come up with defined borders that Israel would agree with.

According to the Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat the agreement was reached between Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Doha. According to the initiative, the US serving as a mediator in negotiations will be given a four month deadline to reach an agreement with Israel and demarcate the map.

“If the two parties agree, immediate negotiations, governed by a deadline, will begin. During the talks Israel will be asked to provide a map of its borders,” a Palestinian source told the Saudi daily.

Such a proposal however is most likely to fail, as history shows, Israel is reluctant to negotiate with Hamas, an organization which at its core does not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a nation.

Therefore, if the US or Israel object to such proposal, the next phase of the plan would be to seek international recognition via the Arab League in the UN Security Council, in order to “request the evacuation of Israel from Palestinian territory within a specific and defined period of time,” the official said on condition of anonymity. This option is also highly likely to fail as Washington, the key ally of Israel, might use its veto power in the Council to block a Palestinian recognition bid.

President Mahmoud Abbas may use the global stage of the General Assembly to publicly demand end to Israeli occupation, New York Times reports, citing Palestinian ambassador to the UN , Riyad H. Mansour.

“He wants the international community to agree on a date,” Mansour said, adding that Abbas “also knows that the Americans will not be receptive to this idea,” so he might be forced to “seek other options.”

A general view shows houses in the Shejaia neighbourhood that witnesses said were destroyed in an Israeli offensive, after a ceasefire was declared, in the east of Gaza city August 27, 2014. (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)

A general view shows houses in the Shejaia neighbourhood that witnesses said were destroyed in an Israeli offensive, after a ceasefire was declared, in the east of Gaza city August 27, 2014

So, the final option in the three-stage plan is to further expand Palestinian state recognition by applying for membership of international organizations – including the International Criminal Court. This way, Palestinians hope they can eventually request an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

“If you are refusing to acknowledge the fact as is,” the ambassador said, the plan is to “let this fact start creeping on you more and more until you wake up one moment and accept the reality.”

The three-phase plan follows seven weeks of Israeli air strikes and Hamas rocket attacks that has left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians. IDF casualties stand at 65. Negotiations to find a long lasting peace after the August 26 ceasefire will resume next week to finalize issues such prisoner release and lifting the blockade, a Palestinian official said.

In 2012, the UN General Assembly upgraded Palestine from an “observer entity” to a “non-member observer state.” A successful application for membership in the UN would require approval from the UN Security Council and a two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly.

(Source / 31.08.2014)

Six Zionist Companies Own 96% of the World’s Media

The power of lies, deceptions and disinformation as Americans pay the price of collective stupidity.

“You know very well, and the stupid Americans know equally well, that we control their government, irrespective of who sits in the White House. You see, I know it and you know it that no American president can be in a position to challenge us even if we do the unthinkable. What can they (Americans) do to us? We control congress, we control the media, we control show biz, and we control everything in America. In America you can criticize God, but you can’t criticize Israel…” Israeli spokeswoman, Tzipora Menache

The largest media conglomerate today is Walt Disney Company, whose chairman and CEO, Michael Eisner, is a Jew. The Disney Empire, headed by a man described by one media analyst as a “control freak”, includes several television production companies (Walt Disney Television, Touchstone Television, Buena Vista Television), its own cable network with 14 million subscribers, and two video production companies. As for feature films, the Walt Disney Picture Group, headed by Joe Roth (also a Jew), includes Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, and Caravan Pictures. Disney also owns Miramax Films, run by the Weinstein brothers. When the Disney Company was run by the Gentile Disney family prior to its takeover by Eisner in 1984, it epitomized wholesome, family entertainment. While it still holds the rights to Snow White, under Eisner, the company has expanded into the production of graphic sex and violence. In addition, it has 225 affiliated stations in the United States and is part owner of several European TV companies. ABC’s cable subsidiary, ESPN, is headed by president and CEO Steven Bornstein, a Jew. This corporation also has a controlling share of Lifetime Television and the Arts & Entertainment Network cable companies. ABC Radio Network owns eleven AM and ten FM stations, again in major cities such as New York, Washington, Los Angeles, and has over 3,400 affiliates. Although primarily a telecommunications company, Capital Cities/ABC earned over $1 billion in publishing in 1994. It owns seven daily newspapers, Fairchild Publications, Chilton Publications, and the Diversified Publishing Group. Time Warner, Inc, is the second of the international media leviathans. The chairman of the board and CEO, Gerald Levin, is a Jew. Time Warner’s subsidiary HBO is the country’s largest pay-TV cable network. Warner Music is by far the world’s largest record company, with 50 labels, the biggest of which is Warner Brothers Records, headed by Danny Goldberg. Stuart Hersch is president of Warnervision, Warner Music’s video production unit. Goldberg and Hersch are Jews. Warner Music was an early promoter of “gangsta rap.” Through its involvement with Interscope Records, it helped popularize a genre whose graphic lyrics explicitly urge Blacks to commit acts of violence against Whites. In addition to cable and music, Time Warner is heavily involved in the production of feature films (Warner Brothers Studio) and publishing. Time Warner’s publishing division (editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine, a Jew) is the largest magazine publisher in the country (Time, Sports Illustrated, People, Fortune). When Ted Turner, a Gentile, made a bid to buy CBS in 1985, there was panic in media boardrooms across the nation. Turner made a fortune in advertising and then had built a successful cable-TV news network, CNN.

Although Turner employed a number of Jews in key executive positions in CNN and had never taken public positions contrary to Jewish interests, he is a man with a large ego and a strong personality and was regarded by Chairman William Paley (real name Palinsky, a Jew) and the other Jews at CBS as uncontrollable: a loose cannon who might at some time in the future turn against them. Furthermore, Jewish newsman Daniel Schorr, who had worked for Turner, publicly charged that his former boss held a personal dislike for Jews. To block Turner’s bid, CBS executives invited billionaire Jewish theater, hotel, insurance, and cigarette magnate Laurence Tisch to launch a “friendly” takeover of the company, and from 1986 till 1995 Tisch was the chairman and CEO of CBS, removing any threat of non-Jewish influence there. Subsequent efforts by Turner to acquire a major network have been obstructed by Levin’s Time Warner, which owns nearly 20 percent of CBS stock and has veto power over major deals. Viacom, Inc, headed by Sumner Redstone (born Murray Rothstein), a Jew, is the third largest megamedia corporation in the country, with revenues of over $10 billion a year. Viacom, which produces and distributes TV programs for the three largest networks, owns 12 television stations and 12 radio stations. It produces feature films through Paramount Pictures, headed by Jewess Sherry Lansing. Its publishing division includes Prentice Hall, Simon & Schuster, and Pocket Books. It distributes videos through over 4,000 Blockbuster stores. Viacom’s chief claim to fame, however, is as the world’s largest provider of cable programming, through its Showtime, MTV, Nickelodeon, and other networks. Since 1989, MTV and Nickelodeon have acquired larger and larger shares of the younger television audience. With the top three, and by far the largest, media companies in the hand of Jews, it is difficult to believe that such an overwhelming degree of control came about without a deliberate, concerted effort on their part. What about the other big media companies? Number four on the list is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox Television and 20th Century Fox Films. Murdoch is a Gentile, but Peter Chermin, who heads Murdoch’s film studio and also oversees his TV production, is a Jew. Number five is the Japanese Sony Corporation, whose U.S. subsidiary, Sony Corporation of America, is run by Michael Schulhof, a Jew. Alan Levine, another Jew, heads the Sony Pictures division. Most of the television and movie production companies that are not owned by the largest corporations are also controlled by Jews. For example, New World Entertainment, proclaimed by one media analyst as “the premiere independent TV program producer in the United States,” is owned by Ronald Perelman, a Jew. The best known of the smaller media companies, Dreamworks SKG, is a strictly kosher affair. Dream Works was formed in 1994 amid great media hype by recording industry mogul David Geffen, former Disney Pictures chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, and film director Steven Spielberg, all three of whom are Jews. The company produces movies, animated films, television programs, and recorded music. Two other large production companies, MCA and Universal Pictures, are both owned by Seagram Company, Ltd. The president and CEO of Seagram, the liquor giant, is Edgar Bronfman Jr., who is also president of the World Jewish Congress. It is well known that Jews have controlled the production and distribution of films since the inception of the movie industry in the early decades of the 20th century. This is still the case today. Films produced by just the five largest motion picture companies mentioned above-Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony, Paramount (Viacom), and Universal (Seagram)-accounted for 74 per cent of the total box-office receipts for the first eight months of 1995. The big three in television network broadcasting used to be ABC, CBS, and NBC. With the consolidation of the media empires, these three are no longer independent entities. While they were independent, however, each was controlled by a Jew since its inception: ABC by Leonard Goldenson, CBS first by William Paley and then by Lawrence Tisch, and NBC first by David Sarnoff and then by his son Robert. Over periods of several decades, these networks were staffed from top to bottom with Jews, and the essential Jewishness of network television did not change when the networks were absorbed by other corporations. The Jewish presence in television news remains particularly strong. As noted, ABC is part of Eisner’s Disney Company, and the executive producers of ABC’s news programs are all Jews: Victor Neufeld (20-20), Bob Reichbloom (Good Morning America), and Rick Kaplan (World News Tonight). CBS was recently purchased by Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Nevertheless, the man appointed by Lawrence Tisch, Eric Ober, remains president of CBS News, and Ober is a Jew. At NBC, now owned by General Electric, NBC News president Andrew Lack is a Jew, as are executive producers Jeff Zucker (Today), Jeff Gralnick (NBC Nightly News), and Neal Shapiro (Dateline). The Print Media After television news, daily newspapers are the most influential information medium in America. Sixty million of them are sold (and presumably read) each day. These millions are divided among some 1,500 different publications. One might conclude that the sheer number of different newspapers across America would provide a safeguard against Jewish control and distortion. However, this is not the case. There is less independence, less competition, and much less representation of our interests than a casual observer would think. The days when most cities and even towns had several independently owned newspapers published by local people with close ties to the community are gone. Today, most “local” newspapers are owned by a rather small number of large companies controlled by executives who live and work hundreds or ever thousands of miles away. The fact is that only about 25 per cent of the country’s 1,500 papers are independently owned; the rest belong to multi-newspaper chains. Only a handful are large enough to maintain independent reporting staffs outside their own communities; the rest depend on these few for all of their national and international news. The Newhouse empire of Jewish brothers Samuel and Donald Newhouse provides an example of more than the lack of real competition among America’s daily newspapers: it also illustrates the insatiable appetite Jews have shown for all the organs of opinion control on which they could fasten their grip. The Newhouses own 26 daily newspapers, including several large and important ones, such as the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Newark Star-Ledger, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune; the nation’s largest trade book publishing conglomerate, Random House, with all its subsidiaries; Newhouse Broadcasting, consisting of 12 television broadcasting stations and 87 cable-TV systems, including some of the country’s largest cable networks; the Sunday supplement Parade, with a circulation of more than 22 million copies per week; some two dozen major magazines, including the New Yorker, Vogue, Madmoiselle, Glamour, Vanity Fair, Bride’s, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Self, House & Garden, and all the other magazines of the wholly owned Conde Nast group. This Jewish media empire was founded by the late Samuel Newhouse, an immigrant from Russia. The gobbling up of so many newspapers by the Newhouse family was in large degree made possible by the fact that newspapers are not supported by their subscribers, but by their advertisers. It is advertising revenue–not the small change collected from a newspaper’s readers–that largely pays the editor’s salary and yields the owner’s profit. Whenever the large advertisers in a city choose to favor one newspaper over another with their business, the favored newspaper will flourish while its competitor dies. Since the beginning of the 20th century, when Jewish mercantile power in America became a dominant economic force, there has been a steady rise in the number o

f American newspapers in Jewish hands, accompanied by a steady decline in the number of competing Gentile newspapers–primarily as a result of selective advertising policies by Jewish merchants. Furthermore, even those newspapers still under Gentile ownership and management are so thoroughly dependent upon Jewish advertising revenue that their editorial and news reporting policies are largely constrained by Jewish likes and dislikes. It holds true in the newspaper business as elsewhere that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Three Jewish Newspapers

The suppression of competition and the establishment of local monopolies on the dissemination of news and opinion have characterized the rise of Jewish control over America’s newspapers. The resulting ability of the Jews to use the press as an unopposed instrument of Jewish policy could hardly be better illustrated than by the examples of the nation’s three most prestigious and influential newspapers: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. These three, dominating America’s financial and political capitals, are the newspapers which set the trends and the guidelines for nearly all the others. They are the ones which decide what is news and what isn’t, at the national and international levels. They originate the news; the others merely copy it, and all three newspapers are in Jewish hands. The New York Times was founded in 1851 by two Gentiles, Henry Raymond and George Jones. After their deaths, it was purchased in 1896 from Jones’s estate by a wealthy Jewish publisher, Adolph Ochs. His great-grandson, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., is the paper’s current publisher and CEO. The executive editor is Max Frankel, and the managing editor is Joseph Lelyveld. Both of the latter are also Jews. The Sulzberger family also owns, through the New York Times Co., 33 other newspapers, including the Boston Globe; twelve magazines, including McCall’s and Family Circle with circulations of more than 5 million each; seven radio and TV broadcasting stations; a cable-TV system; and three book publishing companies. The New York Times News Service transmits news stories, features, and photographs from the New York Times by wire to 506 other newspapers, news agencies, and magazines. Of similar national importance is the Washington Post, which, by establishing its “leaks” throughout government agencies in Washington, has an inside track on news involving the Federal government. The Washington Post, like the New York Times, had a non-Jewish origin. It was established in 1877 by Stilson Hutchins, purchased from him in 1905 by John McLean, and later inherited by Edward McLean. In June 1933, however, at the height of the Great Depression, the newspaper was forced into bankruptcy. It was purchased at a bankruptcy auction by Eugene Meyer, a Jewish financier. The Washington Post is now run by Katherine Meyer Graham, Eugene Meyer’s daughter. She is the principal stockholder and the board chairman of the Washington Post Co. In 1979, she appointed her son Donald publisher of the paper. He now also holds the posts of president and CEO of the Washington Post Co. The Washington Post Co. has a number of other media holdings in newspapers, television, and magazines, most notably the nation’s number-two weekly newsmagazine, Newsweek. The Wall Street Journal, which sells 1.8 million copies each weekday, is the nation’s largest-circulation daily newspaper. It is owned by Dow Jones & Company, Inc., a New York corporation which also publishes 24 other daily newspapers and the weekly financial tabloid Barron’s, among other things. The chairman and CEO of Dow Jones is Peter Kann, who is a Jew. Kann also holds the posts of chairman and publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Most of New York’s other major newspapers are in no better hands than the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The New York Daily News is owned by Jewish real-estate developer Mortimer B. Zuckerman. The Village Voice is the personal property of Leonard Stern, the billionaire Jewish owner of the Hartz Mountain pet supply firm.

Other Mass Media

The story is pretty much the same for other media as it is for television, radio, and newspapers. Consider, for example, newsmagazines. There are only three of any note published in the United States: Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report. Time, with a weekly circulation of 4.1 million, is published by a susidiary of Time Warner Communications. The CEO of Time Warner Communications, as mentioned above, is Gerald Levin, a Jew. Newsweek, as mentioned above, is published by the Washington Post Company, under the Jewess Katherine Meyer Graham. Its weekly circulation is 3.2 million. U.S. News & World Report, with a weekly circulation of 2.3 million, is owned and published by Mortimer Zuckerman, a Jew. Zuckerman also owns the Atlantic Monthly and New York’s tabloid newspaper, the Daily News, which is the sixth-largest paper in the country. Among the giant book-publishing conglomerates, the situation is also Jewish. Three of the six largest book publishers in the U.S., according to Publisher’s Weekly, are owned or controlled by Jews. The three are first-place Random House (with its many subsidiaries, including Crown Publishing Group), third-place Simon & Schuster, and sixth-place Time Warner Trade Group (including Warner Books and Little, Brown). Another publisher of special significance is Western Publishing. Although it ranks only 13th in size among all U.S. publishers, it ranks first among publishers of children’s books, with more than 50 percent of the market. Its chairman and CEO is Richard Snyder, a Jew, who just replaced Richard Bernstein, also a Jew.

The Effect of Jewish Control of the Media

These are the facts of Jewish media control in America. Anyone willing to spend several hours in a large library can verify their accuracy. I hope that these facts are disturbing to you, to say the least. Should any minority be allowed to wield such awesome power? Certainly, not and allowing a people with beliefs such as expressed in the Talmud, to determine what we get to read or watch in effect gives this small minority the power to mold our minds to suit their own Talmudic interests, interests which as we have demonstrated are diametrically opposed to the interests of our people. By permitting the Jews to control our news and entertainment media, we are doing more than merely giving them a decisive influence on our political system and virtual control of our government; we also are giving them control of the minds and souls of our children, whose attitudes and ideas are shaped more by Jewish television and Jewish films than by their parents, their schools, or any other influence.

(Source / 31.08.2014)

It ain’t half hot here, mum

Why and how Westerners go to fight in Syria and Iraq

THE two young men in the bus from Antakya, in south-eastern Turkey, to Reyhanli, nearer the border with Syria, sported long beards, calf-length trousers and toted small drawstring bags with their minimal belongings. They spoke in broken Arabic to the bus driver (local Turks usually have a smattering of the language) but to each other in a regional British accent. They were just two out of hundreds of Muslims from Europe, setting off to Syria to join the battle. That was two years ago. Since then, several thousand may have signed up—and the rate may be increasing. What do they do when they get there? And what might they do when they go home?

The effect of the swelling influx is apparent as the Islamic State (IS), a brutal extremist group in Syria and Iraq that has attracted most foreign fighters, stakes a claim to a swathe of territory that is the size of Jordan and embraces a similar population—6m or so. Boastful combatants post well-scripted videos to attract their foreign peers, promising heaven for those who leave their lives of Western decadence to become “martyrs”. They tweet “selfies” holding the severed heads of their enemies after photos of the luxuries, such as Red Bull, an energy drink, that are available to the fighters. And they issue threats to the West while using emoticons—smiling faces, for instance, formed by punctuation marks—and internet acronyms such as LOL.

IS has consolidated its hold on Raqqa, a town in eastern Syria that it snatched from other rebels who had themselves taken it over in March last year. Raqqa has become the headquarters for jihadists in Syria and Iraq. Fighters from as far afield as Afghanistan and Sweden have brought their wives and children to the town and moved into the houses of residents who have fled. “Milk”, says a European fighter in northern Syria when asked what he misses about home. “Here you have to get it straight from the cow”. Harder than buying it at Tesco.

But junk food is in ample supply, tweets a Swedish fighter, more happily. And there is a lot of time, sometimes days on end, for “chilling”, says the European fighter on Kik, a smartphone messaging app. That is when he makes “a normal-life day: washing clothes, cleaning the house, training, buying stuff”. Thanks to satellite internet connections, the continuing flow of goods into the country and the relatively decent level of development compared with elsewhere in the region, Syria is a long way from the hardship of Afghanistan’s mountains. Last year, to attract others to come, jihadists tweeted pictures with the hashtag “FiveStarJihad”.

Yet Western fighters do not shy away from battle. Some have taken part in slaughtering those labelled kuffar (unbelievers), including Sunnis deemed too moderate as well as Shia Muslims, who are all deemed apostates. They help fight for dams, military bases and oilfields. They carry out suicide missions such as the bombing in Aleppo, Syria’s second city, perpetrated in February by Abdul Waheed Majid, a Briton.

Westerners are useful for other reasons, too. Hostages released from IS’s clutches say they were guarded by three English-speakers. Foreign jihadists can e-mail the families of hostages in their own language to ask for ransoms.

Western fighters often seem to jump at the chance to take part in a fight or help build a new Islamic state. The Soufan Group, a New York-based intelligence outfit, reckons that by the end of May as many as 12,000 fighters from 81 nations had joined the fray, among them some 3,000 from the West (see chart). The number today is likely to be a lot higher. Since IS declared a caliphate on June 29th, recruitment has surged. Syria has drawn in fighters faster than in any past conflict, including the Afghan war in the 1980s or Iraq after the Americans invaded in 2003.

The beheading on or around August 19th of James Foley, an American journalist, by a hooded fighter with a London accent, has put a spotlight on Britain. In the 1990s London was a refuge for many extremists, including many Muslim ones. Radical preachers were free to spout hate. Britain remains in many ways the centre of gravity for European jihadist networks, says Thomas Hegghammer of the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment. “The radical community in Britain is still exporting ideas and methods.”

While the overwhelming majority of foreign fighters in Syria are Arabs, Britons make up one of the biggest groups of Western fighters. But Belgians, Danes and others have a higher rate per person (see left-hand chart above). France, which has tighter laws against extremism, has also seen more of its citizens go off to wage jihad.

One reason for Britons’ prominence is that English is so widely understood, especially in the countries whose governments IS hopes to influence. The video depicting Mr Foley’s murder was titled “A message to America”. IS has published two issues of Dabiq, a glossy new magazine in English, named after an area of northern Syria.

Equal opportunity employer

Most Western fighters are men under 40, but this war has attracted more women than past causes. Some 10-15% of those travelling to Syria from some Western countries are female, reckons Peter Neumann of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), a London-based think-tank. As many as 30 may have gone from Sweden alone. Some hope to marry, others join all-female units to ensure that women in areas under IS control obey the strictest version of Islamic rules, such as covering up; a few take part in battles.

IS is not the only group Westerners join, but it is the most appealing thanks to its global outlook, which includes spreading the caliphate across the world, to its attempts to implement immediate sharia law—and to the glow of its military success. In a five-part documentary filmed in Raqqa by Vice, a news website, as a guest of IS, the group’s religious police are shown educating Syrians, running courts, indoctrinating children and putting on public entertainment.

The motives of those going to fight are as varied as their passports. In the early days of the war in Syria, foreigners wanted to help their fellow Muslims, by bringing them food and medicine, or by fighting alongside them. Governments throughout the West were saying that President Bashar Assad and his atrocities must be stopped. Doctors such as Abbas Khan, a Briton, travelled to rebel-held Aleppo—only to be killed in Syrian custody after being captured by Mr Assad’s forces.

Since then the fight has become bloodier and more sectarian. Civilians have died in the tens of thousands—the UN says at least 190,000 Syrians have been killed—and rebel crimes have become more frequent. As a result the war is drawing in more extreme types. Those who talked of defending Syrians now deny that the land belongs to the locals, says Shiraz Maher of ICSR. “Bilad al-Sham”, or Greater Syria, has a special status in Islam because it appears in end-of-time prophecies. It belongs to Allah, fighters declare. But what if Syrians do not want Islamic law? “It’s not up to them, because it’s for Islam to implement Islamic rule,” says the European fighter who says he left his home country because it was not Islamic enough. He says he wants to “educate rather than behead Syrians”.

IS is the most extreme manifestation of a Muslim response to the history of the past few centuries when the West has been seen to thrive as the Muslim world has declined. One line of thinking blames this on the absence of a caliphate—the last one was abolished by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s secular moderniser, in 1924—and of sharia rule. Most of IS’s ideas and all of its gorier methods are rejected by most Muslims, who see the group simply as criminal. But it does draw on Islamic theology, arguing—for instance—that non-Muslims should pay jizya, a special tax.

Poverty does not explain the lure of jihad for Western fighters. Many of them are quite middle-class. Nasser Muthana, a 20-year-old Welshman who goes by the name Abu Muthana al-Yemeni in IS videos, had offers to study medicine from four universities. Nor does a failure to integrate into the societies around them. Photographs of Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, another British fighter thought to have recently been killed, show a young man in a snazzy suit with a slick hairstyle. He worked at Primark, a cheap retailer, in Portsmouth, a city on the English coast. His father ran a curry restaurant. Nor does religious piety. Before leaving for Syria, Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed, two young men from Birmingham who pleaded guilty to terrorism offences in July, ordered copies of “Islam for Dummies” and “The Koran for Dummies” from Amazon. Some fighters are religious novices, says Mr Maher.

More plausible explanations are the desire to escape the ennui of home and to find an identity. “Some individuals are drawn out there because there is not a lot going on in their own lives,” says Raffaello Pantucci, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, a London think-tank. Images of combatants playing snooker, eating sweets and splashing in swimming pools have sometimes suggested that jihad was not unlike a student holiday, without the booze. For young men working in dead-end jobs in drab towns, the brotherhood, glory and guns seem thrilling. Many of Belgium’s fighters come from the dullest of cities, where radicals have concentrated their efforts to get recruits.

Harder to spot at home

Jihadist networks and radicals no longer need to base themselves in mosques. Some, such as the one in London’s Finsbury Park, where Abu Hamza shook his hook-hands and praised Osama bin Laden, is now under new management. Others are now more careful about whom they welcome. Small groups can meet instead in garages and flats, where their activities are harder to detect. Jihad-minded Europeans can find all the rabble-rousing they desire online. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter they do not even need to bother with password-protected specialist forums.

Getting to Syria has generally been easy, though Turkey has tightened its border. Some volunteers arrive without connections. All a fighter needs is a one-way ticket to Istanbul. From there, most take domestic flights to one of the border towns along Turkey’s frontier with Syria that runs for 822km (511 miles): locals dub these internal flights the “jihadiexpress”. Newcomers stay in safe houses before being smuggled across or passing through Turkish passport control using fake Syrian ID cards. Most British fighters have never held a gun, but get trained in camps once inside Syria.

Many say they feel more comfortable in a country where the way of life is Islamic—even if not yet Islamic enough—and have no plans to leave or carry out attacks elsewhere. “I am much happier here—got peace of mind,” says the European fighter.

Kaliphate kool

But others who have gone to Syria to battle against Mr Assad have become disillusioned, says Mr Neumann. They worry about infighting and about killing other Muslims. “This is not what we came for,” they tell him. Ed Husain, a prominent British former radical, says that witnessing a murder close up (though not in Syria or Iraq) was what started him on the path to reform. One way to encourage that—and to blunt IS’s recruitment—is to tarnish its reputation for battlefield successes.

Coming back home is far from simple. Western authorities have some idea of who has gone and notice them when they return. One fighter told Mr Neumann he would be happy to go through a de-radicalisation programme and have the security services trail him, if only he could return to Britain and avoid a long stretch in prison. Assuming that all those visiting war areas without notifying the authorities have done so for a terrorist purpose and should be punished, as Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, suggested on August 24th, is “a very dumb response,” says Mr Neumann.

Yet the jihadists’ return is just what Western governments fear. So far foreigners such as Douglas McCain, who recently became the first American known to have died fighting for IS, seem to have focused on fighting in Syria and Iraq rather than at home. More likely are lone-wolf attacks, such as the murder last year of Lee Rigby, a British soldier, by two jihadists in London. Mehdi Nemmouche, a French-Algerian who was arrested on suspicion of having shot and killed four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels earlier this year, is believed to have spent a year fighting in Syria. Such attacks are much harder for security services to predict and stop.

So far the responses of Western governments to their citizens’ self-deployment have varied. America has cracked down on anyone it suspects of going to fight. It can afford to do so, argues Mr Hegghammer, because its Muslim population is smaller than that of many European countries, as is the fear of a political backlash. European governments have been more cautious. Their citizens have travelled out with ease. Harsher penalties might deter some. But prosecute too widely and governments may end up boosting the flow of recruits. And prisons have proved fertile recruitment grounds for Muslim radicals.

Deradicalisation programmes, such as those run by Saudi Arabia and Sweden, have mixed results. Most successful, in Britain at least, have been attempts by the so-called Channel programme, part of the British government’s counter-terrorism strategy, to divert young people from extremism. Such efforts, with police, social services and local authorities working together, draw on methods used to help young people leave gangs.

And not all of those returning will have blood on their hands. Governments need to offer a way out for those who realise they have made a mistake, says Mr Neumann. Western countries may even benefit from a softer approach. Chastened returning fighters may be the very people to persuade more young men to forgo the fight. But no one yet knows whether today’s European jihadists fighting for IS will become tomorrow’s murderers on the streets of London, Paris or New York.

(Source / 31.08.2014)

Needs soar as number of Syrian refugees tops 3 million

Members of a Syrian refugee family in their tent in Lebanon, which has taken in 1.14 million of the 3 million refugees.GENEVA, Switzerland, UNHCR -The UN Refugee Agency reports that Syria’s intensifying refugee crisis will today pass a record 3 million people, amid reports of horrifying conditions inside the country. These include cities where populations are surrounded, people are going hungry and civilians are being indiscriminately killed.

“Almost half of all Syrians have now been forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives. One in every eight Syrians has fled across the border, fully a million more than a year ago. A further 6.5 million are displaced within Syria. Over half of those uprooted are children,” UNHCR said in a statement released on Friday in Geneva.

UNHCR and other aid agencies say increasing numbers of families are arriving in a shocking state, exhausted, scared and with their savings depleted. Most have been on the run for a year or more, fleeing from village to village before taking the final decision to leave.

“There are worrying signs too that the journey out of Syria is becoming tougher, with many people forced to pay bribes at armed checkpoints proliferating along the borders. Refugees crossing the desert into eastern Jordan are being forced to pay smugglers hefty sums (US$100/£60 a head or more) to take them to safety,” the statement said.

UNHCR said most of the refugees remain in countries neighbouring Syria, with the highest concentrations in Lebanon (1.14 million), Jordan (608,000) and Turkey (815,000). This has led to an enormous strain on their economies, infrastructure and resources. More than four in five refugees are struggling to make a living in urban areas, with 38 per cent living in sub-standard shelter, according to a recent survey.

“Syrians are now the world’s largest refugee population under UNHCR care, second only in number to the decades-long Palestinian crisis. The Syria operation is now the largest in UNHCR’s 64-year history,” the statement said.

António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees , said the Syrian crisis “has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them.” He added that the response to the Syrian crisis had been generous, “but the bitter truth is that it falls far short of what’s needed.”

A recent upsurge in fighting appears to be worsening an already desperate situation. As frontlines shift, new areas are emptying out. Recent arrivals to Jordan, for example, are running from attacks in the areas of Raqaa and Aleppo.

UNHCR is also deeply concerned for the well-being of several hundred Syrians trapped inside the Al Obaidy refugee camp in Al Qa’im, Iraq, after UN agencies and international NGOs were forced to abandon their offices and warehouses. UNHCR says national partners are continuing to provide supplies and maintenance, but the situation is volatile.

Many newly arriving refugees say they only left Syria as a last resort. A growing number, including more than half of those coming to Lebanon, have moved at least once before fleeing, and one in 10 have moved more than three times. One woman told UNHCR she had moved 20 times before crossing into Lebanon.

In addition to worsening security, the latest refugee arrivals report increasing difficulty in finding work; rocketing food and commodity prices; and failing services. A packet of bread in one village near the city of Idlib costs ten times more this year than last, according to a new arrival in Jordan.

The UNHCR statement said a growing share of new arrivals – up to 15 per cent in Jordan, for example – were suffering from long-term medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and left because they were no longer able to get adequate health care at home.

UNHCR is working with 150 other agencies and aid groups, together with the governments of neighbouring countries, to help refugees pay their rent and get food, education and medical care, as well as giving basic goods such as tents, mattresses and plastic sheeting.

In the past year alone, 1.7 million refugees received food aid, 350,000 children were enrolled in school, and shelter in camps was provided for more than 400,000 refugees. Since the beginning of the crisis in March 2011, UNHCR has registered refugees faster than at any time in its history.

Donors have contributed more than US$4.1 billion (£2.4 billion) to successive regional response plans since 2012. However more than US$2 billion (£1.2 billion) more is needed by the end of this year to meet the urgent needs of refugees. Most urgently, more than 2.4 million people are expected to need support in the coming weeks to prepare for winter.

(Source / 31.08.2014)

Hezbollah: ISIS wants Lebanon

BEIRUT: The threat of ISIS to Lebanon cannot be underestimated, a Hezbollah official warned Sunday, stressing that occupying the country was part of the group’s expansionist plan.

“The terrorist threat on Lebanon is actual, real and continuous,” said Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, the deputy head of Hezbollah’s executive council. “And whoever doubts or underestimates [this threat] is either ignorant or negligent, and he harms the high national interest of Lebanon.”

Speaking at a ceremony at the southern village Shaqra to honor a Hezbollah martyr killed last Sunday, Kaouk accused “whoever denies Hezbollah’s role in protecting” Lebanon of being “oblivious to the truth.”

“ISIS’s decision has been announced. Their pretended slogan is to create the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, which includes Lebanon,” he said.

According to Kaouk, the fundamentalist group that has claimed authority over large parts of Syria and Iraq also has Lebanon in its sights, but might have been more focused on Syria and Iraq for strategic purposes.

“It is just a matter of priorities,” he said.

He said that while the tripartite o the “Army, people and resistance” was the right equation to protect Lebanon, the Army should be politically empowered to act, “before being given the tools and equipment.”

Stressing that Lebanon needed a unified defense strategy, Kaouk argued that “hesitation, procrastination, underestimation and aggressive and instigating speech give a free service to the takfiri plan.”

Hezbollah’s MP Nawwaf Al-Moussawi echoed Kaouk, stressing that Lebanon needed “agreements that should lead to creating one united Lebanese front against the takfiri threat that wishes to impose darkness on Lebanon and the region.”

“If there is an increasing global interest in forming an international-regional alliance to confront takfiri groups,” he said, “those eager to [safeguard] Lebanon should be even more progressive by forming this front, through which Lebanon’s diversity could be protected.”

Moussawi stressed that Lebanon was not able to accept takfiri ideologies, because the country was built on diversity, “which requires the necessity to acknowledge the other.”

He, too, highlighted the need for a strong political cover to the Army.

“The support that the Army is supposed to receive is not there yet,” he said. “There are still some unannounced restraints that hinder the Army’s fulfillment of its national duty of defending Lebanon against takfiri groups.”

(Source / 31.08.2014)

#GazaUnderAttack | Israel keeping Gaza siege despite deal: Official

'As was the case before and during the war, Israel still allows only 200-400 trucks loaded with aid supplies as well as limited quantities of fuel and cooking gas through the crossing daily,'

‘As was the case before and during the war, Israel still allows only 200-400 trucks loaded with aid supplies as well as limited quantities of fuel and cooking gas through the crossing daily,’

Israel has not begun to implement a lift on a years-long siege on the Gaza Strip, a senior Palestinian border official saidSunday, despite a recent cease-fire agreement that entailed opening all border crossings between Israel and the embattled enclave.“Commercial activity at Kerem Shalom crossing remains the same as it was since the cease-fire was announced,” Mounir al-Ghalban, director of the Palestinian side of the crossing, disclosed.

He referred to Tuesday’s indefinite truce deal between Palestinian factions and Israel that ended a 51-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.

The deal, which came through indirect talks between the two parties in Cairo, calls for opening all border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel – effectively ending the latter’s seven-year blockade of the coastal territory.

However, al-Ghalban asserted that Israel is still applying the same level of restrictions on the entry of commodities through Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with the Gaza Strip.

“As was the case before and during the war, Israel still allows only 200-400 trucks loaded with aid supplies as well as limited quantities of fuel and cooking gas through the crossing daily,” he said. “An improvement would be felt if [Israel] starts permitting more than 400 trucks daily.”

He added that Israel has allowed the entry of 300 trucks on Sunday through the crossing, including 100 trucks loaded with aid supplies and 200 with industrial material.

“Occasionally during the [Israeli] aggression, more than 300 trucks were allowed to cross daily,” he said.

Israeli officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Gaza Strip has six border crossings controlled by Israel and one controlled by Egypt.

In 2007, after Hamas resistance group seized control of the enclave, Israel closed four of its commercial crossings with Gaza, leaving only two – including Kerem Shalom – operational.

The Israeli authorities have since used the terminal to allow limited amounts of goods and fuel into the teeming, cash-strapped Palestinian territory – home to some 1.8 million Palestinians.

Kerem Shalom is typically closed on Fridays and Saturdays and on Jewish religious holidays.

Israel’s latest onslaught on the Gaza Strip – the deadliest since 2005’s Israeli withdrawal from Gaza – left some 2,147 Gazans dead and 11,000 others injured – mostly civilians – while partially or completely destroying thousands of buildings across the coastal enclave.

Over the course of Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge,” at least 70 Israelis – 65 soldiers and five civilians – were killed, according to Israeli figures, in the highest military death toll for Israel since 2006’s war in Lebanon which left 119 Israeli soldiers dead.

According to the cease-fire agreement’s terms, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will hold indirect negotiations on other core Palestinian demands – including the release of prisoners and the establishment of a Gaza seaport – in one month.

(Source / 31.08.2014)

Minister: Unity government budget ‘below zero’

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority minister Shawqi al-Ayasa said the West Bank-Gaza unity government is working on a “deteriorating” budget after not receiving money from donors as scheduled.

“The government’s budget is below zero, and it’s starting to borrow from banks to move forward, because only less than third of donor funds that were scheduled to be received this year arrived,” Al-Ayasa told Ma’an in a television interview.

“The US has not provided a single penny since Jan. 1, and Europe and Arab states only provided a third of what they were scheduled to give,” he said.

The agricultural sector suffered an estimated loss of $450 million as a result of the Israeli assault on Gaza. He said the reconstruction of Gaza would take two years if construction material entered the Strip at a reasonable rate.

He said 300 shekels ($84) of aid money was given to each family that lost its home in Gaza in the offensive.

Al-Ayasa is the unity government’s Minister of Social Affairs, Agriculture, and Prisoner’s Affairs.

An April 23 agreement between Hamas and Fatah paved the way for the formation of a government of national unity for the first time in seven years, but Israel has strongly opposed the deal and severely targeted Hamas in the months that followed.

In June Israeli forces launched a massive offensive across the West Bank and arrested more than 600 Hamas-affiliated individuals, which was followed in July and August with a massive assault on the Gaza Strip that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians.

The political division between Fatah and Hamas began in 2007, a year after Hamas won legislative elections across the Palestinian territories but was subjected to a boycott by Israel and Western countries that left the economy in a fragile state.

(Source / 31.08.2014)

Netanyahu threatens reoccupation of Gaza Strip

The Israeli prime minister says he cannot rule out the reoccupation of the Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian resistance group Hamas describes any attempts to disarm Palestinian fighters as worthless.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Saturday threat of further aggression came less than a week after the Israeli regime’s 50-day onslaught on the besieged Palestinian enclave finally came to a halt following a long-term cease-fire agreement.

Netanyahu defended Tel Aviv’s devastating war on Gaza, adding that toppling Hamas still tops the regime’s agenda.

He said that Palestinians should choose between Hamas and peace with Tel Aviv.

The Israeli officials are pushing for the disarmament of the Palestinian resistance groups, including Hamas, but the spokesman for the group has totally dismissed the idea.

Sami Abu Zuhri insisted that it is the Israeli regime which should be disarmed for killing children and women.

More than 2,200 Palestinians, nearly 500 of them children, lost their lives during the recent Israeli offensive.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu, in a bid to downplay the role of the resistance of the Palestinians in forcing Israel to agree to a cease-fire, claimed that the reason for the regime’s decision to end the Gaza strikes was to concentrate on other regional issues.

“We fought for 50 days and we could have fought for 500 days, but we are in a situation where the Islamic State (ISIL) is at the gates of Jordan, Al-Qaeda is in the Golan and Hezbollah is at the border with Lebanon,” Netanyahu said.

“We decided not to get bogged down in Gaza, and we could have, but we decided to limit our objective and restore calm to Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu added.

(Source / 31.08.2014)

Israel plans to expropriate 400 hectares of West Bank, army says

Israel plans to expropriate 400 hectares of West Bank, army says

Israel plans to expropriate 400 hectares of West Bank, army says

The move to seize the land, in the Bethlehem area in the south of the territory, is the biggest of its kind in three decades, Peace Now said.

“On the instructions of the political echelon… 4,000 dunams at Gevaot (settlement) is declared as state land,” said the army department charged with administering civil affairs in occupied territory, laying down a 45-day period for any appeal.

It said the move stemmed from political decisions taken after the June killing of three Israeli teenagers snatched from a roadside in the same area, known to Israelis as the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

Israel has named three Palestinians from the southern West Bank city of Hebron as being behind the murders.

The Etzion settlements council welcomed Sunday’s announcement and said it was the prelude to the expansion of the current Gevaot settlement.

It “paves the way for the new city of Gevaot”, it said in a statement.

“The goal of the murderers of those three youths was to sow fear among us, to disrupt our daily lives and to call into doubt our right to the land,” it said. “Our response is to strengthen settlement.”

The existing settlement of Gevaot consists of only 10 families.

Haaretz newspaper said construction at the site had been on the agenda since 2000 and last year the government invited bids for the building of 1,000 new homes there.

In an angry reaction to the announcement, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat called for diplomatic action against Israel.

“The Israeli government is committing various crimes against the Palestinian people and their occupied land,” he told AFP.

“The international community should hold Israel accountable as soon as possible for its crimes and raids against our people in Gaza and the ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy of constant settlement expansion on land the Palestinians claim for a future state is deemed illegal by the European Union and an “obstacle to peace” by the United States and staunchly opposed by both.

However, Israel announced no new development during its 50-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip when it was focused on combatting cross-border rocket fire and growing disquiet in the international community over the high death toll of Palestinian civilians.

“Today?s announcement clearly represents Israel?s deliberate intent to wipe out any Palestinian presence on the land and to wilfully impose a de facto one-state solution,” senior Palestine Liberation official Hanan Ashrawi said.

Some 550,000 Israelis live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and occupied east Jerusalem, territory that the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

– One-state solution –

“As far as we know, this declaration is unprecedented in its scope since the 1980s and can dramatically change the reality in the Gush Etzion and the Bethlehem areas,” Peace Now said.

“Peace Now views this declaration as proof that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not aspire for a new ‘Diplomatic Horizon’, but rather he continues to put obstacles to the two-state vision and promote a one-state solution.

“By declaring another 4,000 dunams as state land, the Israeli government stabs (Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas) and the moderate Palestinian forces in the back, proving again that violence delivers Israeli concessions while non-violence results in settlement expansion,” it said.

Peace Now official Hagit Ofran told AFP that the legal basis for such land confiscation goes back to an 1858 ruling by the region’s Ottoman rulers.

“We are afraid that Netanyahu will carry out a lot of expansion because of the pressure he fells from his right wing and the feeling that the (Gaza) war did not end up with many successes,” he said.

(Source / 31.08.2014)