Monday, December 30, 2013


Violence escalates as Mideast peace process goes crucial

RAMALLAH,-Violence in the Palestinian territories, mainly in the West Bank, might escalate as a nine- month U.S.-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is getting into its last crucial four months, observers and analysts said.

The direct peace talks between the two sides, which were resumed in late July, are scheduled to last for nine months. No significant progress has so far been achieved to bring optimism on reaching a permanent peaceful solution that ends a conflict that has been going on for decades.

Tension on the ground has been growing since the talks were resumed five months ago. Observers believe that the coming four months will be crucial and might witness an escalation in violence amid a status of congestion; however, they ruled out that this would lead to a comprehensive security blow-up.

George Jackman, an academic who chairs the Democratic Studies Center in Ramallah told Xinhua that the increasing incidents of violence in the field clearly ushered in a new bout of violence in the coming new year.

"I do expect escalation of violence as long as Israeli settlement continues its expansion and confiscations of lands are going on," he said, adding "therefore, amid such measures and amid an absence of a fair peaceful solution to the conflict, violence in the field will escalate."

According to Israeli military data, in the past year 65 Palestinian attacked against Israeli targets in the West Bank; most of the attacks were carried out in the last half of 2013, adding that some of these attacks were foiled. It also recorded that these attacks included stabbing attempts, shooting and planting roadside bombs.

No Palestinian groups claimed responsibility for these attacks, where the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) accused Israel of pushing the Palestinians for more violence due to the Israeli policies of settlement building, checkpoints and confiscation of lands.

Around 30 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the resumption of the peace talks with Israel. Violence in the field between the two sides have been escalating as the United States is exerting efforts to help the two sides achieving progress in the their peace talks.

However, analysts do not think the possible escalation of violence would lead to a third Intifada, or Palestinian uprising.

Ahmed Rafeeq Awad, the political science professor at al-Quds University in the West bank city of Ramallah told Xinhua that the lack of Palestinian political support to the idea of having a third Intifada almost rules out the possibility of a third Intifada. Besides, he said United States "wouldn't let violence between the two sides to blow up."

The Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip went through two popular Intifadas during the past 26 years. The first Intifada broke out before signing Oslo peace treaty with Israel and lasted until 1993, and the second Intifada started in 2000, but was more violent than the first one.

"The possibilities for a third Intifada are weak because Israel won't push the Palestinians for a third Intifada, because its losses will be high," said Abdel Satar Qasem, a political analyst from the West Bank, adding "but individual military actions by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants will be possible." Enditem

RAMALLAH, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Israel's attempts to annex parts of the Jordan Valley area in east of the West Bank kill peace process and its goal of two-state solution, a senior Palestinian official said Sunday.

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved Sunday a bill to apply Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the area, which the Palestinians insists its part of their future state.

"We don't recognize this bill and for us it's false," Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, told Xinhua. "This is a war crime destroying the two-state solution."

Eight ministers on the committee approved the bill and three others opposed it and called for an appeal against it. Justice Ministers Tzipi Livni, who leads peace talks with Palestinians since the United States brokered them in July, was among those opposing the bill.

The Palestinians refuse any Israeli military presence between on their future borders with Jordan, but Israel insists on keeping its control on the border for defense and strategic reasons.

Erekat said the bill deals a blow to the U.S. efforts that push for a just, comprehensive and lasting solution based on the international legitimacy's resolutions.

If Israel goes ahead with the plan to annex the Jordan Valley, says Erekat, the Palestinian leadership should resume bids to join 63 international and UN agencies, including the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Palestinians halted their drive to become members of international organizations temporarily when negotiations with Israel restarted. In exchange for halting the Palestinian bids, Israel is releasing 104 longtime Palestinian prisoners on phases.
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