The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on Jan. 30 adopted the first report (PDF) by the International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which concluded that a multitude of violations have occurred. The report relies on the "status and treatment of protected persons" provision under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention in arguing that the "settlements are a major obstacle to the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace and to the creation of an independent, viable, sovereign and democratic Palestinian State."
Preliminary results of Israel's election show Benjamin Netanyahu weakened but likely to serve a third term as prime minister, in a shift toward what mainstream accounts call "the center." Netanyahu's bloc made up of the right-wing Likud and far-right Yisrael Beitenu came out on top with 31 seats out of the 120 in the Knesset—down form 42. Coming in second, the new "centrist" Yesh Atid (There is a Future), led by ex-TV personality Yair Lapid took a projected 19 seats. The center-left Labor, once the mainstay of Iraeli politics, came in third with only an estimated 15 seats. Arab parties are projected to have won 12 seats. The biggest party in the last Knesset, the "center"-right Kadima, dropped from 28 seats to none. (Foreign Policy's Middle East Channel blog, JTA, Jan. 23) But an election-time controversy demonstrated the degree to which ultra-right positions have become mainstreamed in Israeli politics...
Palestinian activists have established a protest encampment in the E1 Corridor, a piece of land where the Israeli government plans to build new settlements linking Jerusalem with the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc. Some 250 activists are now at the tent city, which they have dubbed Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun), and they say they plan to stay for the long-term. The camp was launched last month ago, mainly by Palestinian residents of villages in danger of having their lands "frozen" to accommodate settlement expansions.
Some 20 settlers rioted in the West Bank village of Jallud, near Ramallah, on Jan. 2, according to the residents. Witnesses said the settlers shattered the windows of one home, assaulted three residents, vandalized a parked car, and then fled the scene. The attacked residents were taken to a hospital in Nablus by the Red Cresecent. The incident took place hours after a similar incident was broken up the IDF, leading to a clash between the settlers and soldiers. The IDF said the settlers arrived in Jallud and began pelting Palestinian reisdents with stones, damaging cars and intruding into a local home. IDF forces were dispatched to the scene and dispersed the rioters. A statement said: "The IDF treats such public disordered very seriously, as they may destabilize the area and force the IDF to divert attention from its primary mission—protecting Israel and its citizens." (YNet, Jan. 2)
Israeli forces on Dec. 31 delivered evacuation orders to around 100 Palestinian families in the northern Jordan Valley ahead of a military training exercise. The evacuation affects around 1,000 Palestinians living in rural communities around Wadi al-Maleh, local mayor Arif Daraghma told Ma’an News Agency. They must leave their homes by Dec. 2 for 48 hours, or they will be subject to penalties, he said. The orders state that Israeli troops will be holding military drills in the area. "To ensure the safety of the local inhabitants, temporary eviction notices were distributed today to the residents of the illegal structures located in a closed military zone to be used in the exercise," Israel's army said in a statement. The residents will be allowed to return after the military exercises have been completed. "It should be emphasized that these structures, located in closed military zones actively used by the IDF, are illegal in nature," the statement added.
Palestinian Authority employees will strike again this week after receiving only part of their November salaries, union leaders announced Dec. 23. Palestinian government employees in the West Bank began a two-day general strike on Dec. 19 to protest against a delay in the payment of their wages because of Israeli economic sanctions. Israel is withholding some $100 million in monthly customs revenues it collects on the Palestinians' behalf as punishment for their successful bid at the UN General Assembly last month to gain de facto statehood recognition. Some 50,000 workers took part in the stoppage. West Bank security forces—a pillar of security and cooperation with Israel—did not participate, but most public services were shut down. Public schools were closed as teachers went on strike in protest of non-payment of their wages earlier in the week. "This strike is against Israel's piracy," said Bassam Zakarneh, head of the Union of Public Employees. (Maan News Agency, Dec. 23; Maan News Agency, Dec. 21; WAFA, Dec. 17)
Israeli government officials announced plans Nov. 30 to build 3,000 settlement units in the so-called E-1 area of the occupied West Bank—a day after Palestine was admitted to the UN as an observer state in a vote opposed by the US and Israel. E1, lying between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim settlement bloc, is a particularly contentious area, as Palestinian leaders say settlements there will divide the West Bank and prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he plans to "promote planning and construction" in the E-1 area.
Mourners clashed with Israeli troops at two funerals Nov. 21 as Palestinians across the West Bank continued to protest the Israeli assault on Gaza. In Hebron, hundreds attended the funeral for Hamdi Mohammad Jawwad al-Falah, shot by Israeli troops at a protest in the city's Bir al-Mahjar neighborhood. After the burial, hundreds of young men began marching towards a Jewish settlement, to be set upon by Israeli forces with tear gas and rubber bullets. In Ramallah, thousands attended the funeral for Rushdi Tamimi, a police officer who died Nov. 19, two days after he was shot by Israeli forces at a protest in Nabi Saleh. A video of that protest shows Israeli forces threatening demonstrators who tried to administer first aid. At Nabi Saleh, where he was buried. mourners chanted "Martyr, rest, we will pick up the fight." After the procession, masked youths hurled rocks at Israeli soldiers lined up at the village entrance, who again responded with tear-gas and rubber bullets.