Israel and Palestine
January 28, 2020

On Sunday, the Israeli government will vote on annexing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and parts of the Jordan Valley.

This could cover up to 30 percent of the West Bank, the area Palestinians want for their own independent state.

Standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Trump on Tuesday unveiled his Middle East peace plan, which calls for Israel to control a unified Jerusalem and a new Palestinian state including outer portions of East Jerusalem. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he rejected the "nonsense" proposal and "will not kneel down." Catherine Garcia

May 5, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he has ordered "massive strikes" in the Gaza Strip following the escalation of tensions between Israel and Hamas over the last two days. The violence resulted in the deaths of nine Palestinians and three Israelis. Five more Palestinians and three Israelis were killed on Sunday.

In addition to the increased number of strikes, Netanyahu also instructed Israeli forces stationed around the Gaza Strip to "be stepped up with" enhanced tank, artillery, and infantry forces, saying that Hamas is "paying a heavy price" for its own strikes against Israel. Israel's military said Hamas fired more than 450 rockets into southern Israel, many of which were intercepted by Israel's missile defense system, the Iron Dome. Israel said it has hit 220 targets belonging to militant groups in Gaza.

Hamas, in turn, vowed to "extend its response," especially if Israel acts with aggression.

Al Jazeera writes that this could lead to a potentially "dangerous and long, major military escalation." Senior defense sources reportedly said they expect the fighting to last several days. Tim O'Donnell

May 13, 2018

The new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is due to open Monday, May 14, following President Trump's controversial decision to formally recognize the city as Israel's capital and move diplomatic operations from Tel Aviv.

The conversion of the American consulate building in Jerusalem into a temporary embassy (until a new construction is completed) has sparked protest among Palestinians, especially because the day after, May 15, is an annual commemoration of the 700,000 Palestinians who left or were expelled from their homes around Israel's 1948 Declaration of Independence.

Trump cast his decision as a step toward peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict, but critics say it will make negotiations more difficult. Only two other countries, Guatemala and Paraguay, have followed Trump's move and relocated their embassies to Jerusalem as well. Bonnie Kristian

April 7, 2018

A Palestinian journalist named Yasser Murtaja died Saturday after being fatally shot by Israeli troops while covering a protest in Gaza on Friday. Murtaja, 31, was wearing a protective vest marked "PRESS" when he was shot. Five other Palestinian journalists, who also reportedly wore garments identifying them as members of the media, were shot Friday as well.

Murtaja was reporting on mass border protests in Gaza, where 31 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds more injured. Some demonstrators have thrown rocks and burning tires, and Israeli soldiers have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and live fire.

Hundreds of people attended Murtaja's funeral Saturday. "He was kind, gentle, and caring, eager to become the best journalist he could be," said Rori Don­aghy, a former editor who knew him, "because his aim was always to document the Palestinian people's suffering."

The Israeli military said it does not "intentionally target journalists" and will investigate the death. Bonnie Kristian

April 1, 2018

At least 16 Palestinians were killed and as many as 1,000 more injured by Israeli soldiers at the Gaza border on Friday, the beginning of Passover week. It was the bloodiest day in the Israel-Palestine conflict in four years.

About 30,000 Palestinian protesters were gathered at the border for March of the Return, a six-week protest over disputed land presently held by Israel. Some demonstrators reportedly attempted to cut the border fence, while others threw stones and burning tires. Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and live fire. Funerals were held Saturday,

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday there will be no inquiry into the casualties. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Amnesty International, Israel's left-wing Meretz party, and Federica Mogherini, the European Union's foreign policy chief, have all called for an independent probe.

"The use of live ammunition should, in particular, be part of an independent and transparent investigation," said Mogherini. "While Israel has the right to protect its borders, the use of force must be proportionate at all times." Bonnie Kristian

December 2, 2017

The Trump administration will announce that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital within the next few days, CNN reported Friday evening, citing unnamed officials and diplomats with knowledge of the situation. President Trump promised on the campaign trail to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a symbolic shift away from longstanding U.S. policy of considering Jerusalem disputed territory in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The forthcoming announcement is expected to waive a decision on the physical embassy move for an indefinite period, but the White House insists it will still happen. "The president has always said it is a matter of when, not if," an administration representative told The Washington Post. "The president is still considering options and we have nothing to announce." Bonnie Kristian

January 14, 2017

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that President-elect Donald Trump's promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a mistake which could hinder the Mideast peace process. "We are waiting to see if it happens," Abbas said while visiting Vatican City to inaugurate the Palestinian embassy to the Holy See. "If it does it will not help peace and we hope it does not happen," he continued.

Palestinians oppose the move on grounds that it could undermine historic claims to the disputed city by Muslim and Christian residents, consolidating the power of the Israeli state and upsetting any movement toward a two-state solution.

On Sunday, diplomats from 70 nations — not including representatives of Israel, Palestine, and the incoming Trump administration — are meeting in Paris to discuss the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Israelis and Palestinians have not engaged in peace negotiations with each other since 2014. Bonnie Kristian

December 28, 2016

A Jerusalem city councilman said Wednesday that at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a municipal committee has postponed a vote on building about 500 new homes in Jewish portions of East Jerusalem.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution calling Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank a "flagrant violation" of international law, with the U.S. abstaining from the vote. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be their future capital; along with the West Bank, East Jerusalem was captured by Israel in 1967.

Councilman Hanan Rubin told The Associated Press that Netanyahu wanted the vote delayed in order to not worsen relations with the United States. On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will present the Obama administration's vision for peace between Israel and Palestine, and Rubin said the council does not want him to be able to mention the possible housing project in his speech, making it a "political issue." Catherine Garcia

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