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VIDEO: Israeli forces shoot Palestinian protester from close range

An Israeli Border Policeman was videotaped shooting Palestinian activist Manal Tamimi in the leg with a rubber-coated bullet from very close range in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh on Friday.

According to Manal’s husband Bilal Tamimi, who shot the video, and a report from the Palestine News Network, the border policeman was no more than a few meters from Manal when he shot her in her knee region, reportedly causing a fracture to her bone from the impact. Tamimi told +972 they also tried to break his camera.

In the video below you can see the unarmed Manal walking up to the armed Israeli forces when one of them shoots her from what appears to be a frighteningly close distance. It is unclear what threat she was posing that would warrant the use of firearms.

Israeli forces shot large amounts of tear gas, sound bombs, skunk water and rubber-coated bullets at protesters in the village, according to several reports. In addition to Manal, two journalists were lightly injured and a girl was taken to the hospital after being hit with skunk water. Several homes and other property were damaged as a result.

Earlier this month, the IDF closed an investigation into the killing of Mustafa Tamimi, who was shot in the face with a tear gas canister from only a few meters in 2011. In its decision to close the investigation into that deadly shooting, the army claimed that no regulations were breached during the incident and accepted the soldier’s testimony that he didn’t see the victim when shooting from the military jeep.

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Prawer Plan may not be shelved after all

Ex-general overseeing implementation of bill says he has not received any instructions to halt legislation process.

The Prawer Plan may not be shelved after all. Just four days after the co-author of the proposed law, Benny Begin, announced the halting of the bill that would see the internal displacement of some 40,000 Bedouin in the Negev, the former IDF general who heads the unit which is to implement the “relocation” told Haaretz Monday that he has not received any instructions to shelve the plan and is continuing efforts towards its implementation. Major General (res.) Doron Almog added that Begin can claim whatever he wants, but that bill is still in the legislative process.

Also, according to Israel Radio, Minister of Agriculture Yair Shamir (son of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir) and a member of right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party is taking over responsibility for overseeing the Prawer plan from Benny Begin.

Read +972′s full coverage of the Prawer Plan

According to the Israeli NGO Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee indeed convened Monday to discuss how to proceed with the bill, despite the fact that schools and many public buildings were still closed in Jerusalem due to the snowstorm. MK Miri Regev, who heads the committee, corroborated what Almog said, insisting the government has not requested the bill be pulled.

Bimkom, who cooperated with Bedouin community leaders on developing an alternative plan to that of the government’s, maintains that the current plan is discriminatory and that the logical solution is recognition of Bedouin rights to the lands they currently live on, in accordance with Israel’s standard zoning regulations.

It is worth noting that when Benny Begin, who co-authored the bill, announced its shelving Thursday, he didn’t do so informally. Begin’s announcement was part of an official press conference held at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, where he stood at a podium with the insignia of the Prime Minister’s Office. This begs the question: where exactly is the Prime Minister’s Office in all this? Why has Netanyahu himself not weighed in on the issue? Is this some kind of game?

UPDATE, 6:05 P.M.: Haaretz reports that although the Prime Minister’s Office has remained mum since Begin announced the shelving of the plan – officials in the PMO confirmed Monday a statement attributed to Netanyahu, expressing the need to proceed with finding a solution...

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PHOTO: 'Snow makes everyone equal for a day on Hebron's Shuhada St.'

Since the Middle East is normally a hot and dry place without much more than heat waves for meteorologists to report, it can be quite a big story when the weather turns stormy as it did this past weekend. The magnitude of snow, which spread across the region from Jerusalem to Cairo, Homs, Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, Istanbul, Bethlehem and Hebron, was a rare sight to see.

Times of extreme weather like this remind me that Israel is – at least geographically – an integral part of the Middle East. That there were once open roads and railways that connected Damascus to Jerusalem, and buses (not even too long ago) that ran from Cairo to Tel Aviv.

When the weather is harsh, it is harsh for everyone in the region. The heavy rains and snow are not discriminatory; they don’t pick and choose where to fall. When it comes to relief efforts, of course, it’s another story. Not everyone has armored IDF vehicles assisting in rescue efforts, or even roofs over their heads.

Palestinians in the Jordan Valley whose homes were recently razed, Gazans whose homes and streets were flooded and who and weathered the storm without heating and cooking gas and the millions of Syrian refugees across the region living in tents – all felt the storm much worse.

But, for at least for a couple of days, the snow gave an illusion of equality in some places: in the West Bank, for example, on the segregated Shuhada Street in occupied Hebron.

Issa Amro, a Palestinian anti-occupation activist and coordinator of the Youth Against Settlements movement, posted on his Facebook page the following photos of Shuhada Street with this caption:

Shuhada Street in Hebron under snow, Dec 14, 2013 (Photo: Issa Amro)

Here’s what Shuhada looks like on a normal day:

Segrageted Shuhada street in Hebron, February 2012 (photo: Hithabrut-Tarabut)

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Bill to displace Israel's Bedouin to be scrapped, Prawer architect says

The Bill for Arranging Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, more commonly known as the Prawer Plan, has been scrapped, former minister and drafter of the plan Benny Begin announced at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday (Haaretz report).

Palestinians and Bedouins from the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert in a mass solidarity demonstration in Rahat against the “Prawer Plan”, June 28, 2013. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

The bill, first introduced in 2011, is a government plan to forcibly relocate some 40,000 Bedouin citizens living in dozens of “unrecognized” villages in Israel’s Negev desert, which the government has never agreed to recognize or provide services to. The plan has drawn heavy criticism from both Bedouin citizens and human rights groups. In recent months it has also been the source of wide-scale protests across Israel and Palestine. The police suppression and violence that took place at those protests grabbed the attention of mainstream Israeli media.

Read +972′s full coverage of the Prawer Plan

At a press conference held at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, Begin said: “Right and Left, Jews and Arabs, joined together – at the expense of many Bedouin who are in crisis – to rile things up to a boiling point for their own political gain.”

Begin condemned all those who opposed the bill, adding, “we did the best we could, but sometimes you must face reality.”

Begin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted his recommendation to permanently terminate the current version of the bill, after citing the undeniable opposition from across the political spectrum.

While today’s news will at the very least delay the State’s plan to implement the largest displacement a Palestinian population since 1967, there is little reason for celebration. It it will only be the end of the current version, which  was in jeopardy mostly due to concerns from right-wing MKs that it was “too generous” to the Bedouin.  It is probable a revised bill will be drafted that will in all likelihood not be any better as far as Bedouin claims. There were many flaws to both the content and form of the bill, but by far the most blatant was the fact that no one from...

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Having never asked, Israel's gov't 'surprised' Bedouin reject Prawer

Israeli coalition leader Yariv Levin predicted that the cabinet will likely throw out the current version of the Prawer Plan, hours after former minister and co-architect of the plan Benny Begin clarified that he never said Bedouin supported the plan, as some Knesset members originally perceived.

“I wish to again make clear that contrary to what has been claimed in recent weeks, I didn’t tell anyone that the Bedouin agreed to my plan,” Begin was quoted as saying in Israeli media. “I couldn’t say that because I didn’t show them the plan. I didn’t present the bill that I revised to any segment of the public, including the Bedouin.”

Read +972′s full coverage of the Prawer Plan

Levin thus concluded that the bill would not stand a chance of passing second and third readings in the Knesset since the majority’s support for it rested on an assumption that the Bedouin themselves had largely agreed to the terms of the bill – which Begin revealed as totally false.

Just like that.

The bill has drawn criticism from Bedouin citizens and human rights groups since it was first introduced in 2011. In recent months it has been the source of wide-scale protests across Israel and Palestine that saw heavy police suppression, which grabbed the attention of mainstream Israeli media just recently.

And just like that, all of a sudden, the current version of the bill might be scrapped.

All because one Likudnik said what others, first and foremost the Bedouin, have been saying all along: the Bedouin do not support this plan – not least because they were never consulted or involved in its formulation, and never even privy to any of its content or details, as Begin has now confirmed.

Levin made it seem as if he was concerned with what they Bedouin actually think about the government plan (that has been hidden from members of Knesset, the Bedouin themselves and the public at large). If that were the case, he could have simply asked them long ago.

When Arab MKs expressed opposition to Prawer the name of their constituents, the Right dismissed them by saying they don’t represent the majority of Bedouin. When Israeli human rights groups and international bodies criticized the plan and offered alternative plans, they were ignored or shot down. When Bedouin themselves protested, the Right cast them aside as...

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IDF closes probe into killing of Mustafa Tamimi in Nabi Saleh

Two years later, Israel’s Military Advocate General rules no regulations were breached when a soldier fatally shot Mustafa Tamimi with tear gas from close range. This decision sends Israeli soldiers and officers the unequivocal message that, should they kill unarmed civilians, they will not be held accountable.

Mustafa Tamimi, a second before he was shot.  The weapon and tear gas canister are circled in red (Photo: Haim Scwarczenberg)

The Israeli Military Advocate General (MAG) announced Thursday that it has closed the investigation into the killing of Mustafa Tamimi, a Palestinian resident of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Tamimi died almost exactly two years ago, on December 10, 2011, after being hit by a tear gas canister shot by IDF soldiers at close range during a demonstration in the village. He was critically injured at the protest, and died the next day at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.

According to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, the MAG claims the canister that killed Tamimi was fired “according to the relevant rules and regulations and did not involve any illegality.” It accepted the soldier’s claim that he didn’t see Tamimi when shooting from the military jeep and further relied on expert opinion that determined the soldier could not have seen Tamimi while shooting.

How could it possibly be in line with regulations for a soldier to fire any weapon without having a clear line of sight, especially during a protest?

According to B’Tselem, Israeli military orders officially forbid shooting tear gas canisters directly at people. While military officials regularly cite this position in response to B’Tselem’s queries, in practice such shooting continues unabated.

This decision follows another similarly infuriating decision in September to close the investigation into the April 2009 killing of Bassem Abu Rahme in Bil’in, who was also hit by tear gas canister. In that case, the MAG cited lack of evidence despite clear video footage of the shooting (which appears in the award-winning documentary “5 Broken Cameras“).

Just last week, a volunteer B’Tselem videographer had his camera rolling when an IDF officer shot him in the chest with a tear gas canister in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar. In...

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Report: Israel to let Palestinians use some of their own land

Israeli officials reveal plans to allocate nearly 5,000 acres of privately owned Palestinian land so as not to stand in the way of a PA-USAID economic development program.

Illustrative photo of a Palestinian farmer working his land (Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Israel is pushing through a plan to allocate nearly 5,000 acres of land in Area C of the West Bank (under full Israeli military and administrative control) for a Palestinian economic development program, Hebrew daily Ma’ariv reported Wednesday.

According to the report, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is behind the initiative, and plans to fund and facilitate Palestinian agricultural and commercial development there. Israel’s Defense Ministry has committed to speeding up the planning process so the appropriate permits can be issued within 90 days.

It should be noted that the article reads like it was fed to Ma’ariv by the Defense Ministry or Prime Minister’s Office in order to show the Americans that, as a goodwill gesture, Israel is not entirely opposed to allowing Palestinians to use land that even Israel recognizes they own. The article quotes “officials in Jerusalem” saying as much:

To calm the domestic Israeli audience, those same “unnamed” officials say that the land in question is nowhere near the separation barrier, Jewish settlements or anything that is strategically important to Israel. In other words, this is an area that will become part of a Palestinian state in any future agreement, they added (i.e., this isn’t land that Israel wants).

A “senior Israeli defense official,” however, told Maariv the land will not actually be transferred to Palestinian Authority control and that it will remain “under Israeli sovereignty.” Israel, the official added, will not stand in the way of “American initiatives to help [Palestinian land owners] in agriculture and other areas,” noting that this is privately owned Palestinian land.

So, if I understood Israel’s logic correctly, let me sum it up:

The land is private Palestinian land, but Israel has sovereignty over it, but it is supposed to become part of a Palestinian state, but Israel won’t actually transfer control of it to the Palestinian Authority, but it will allow the Americans to fund and support Palestinian development on that land, so as to show it doesn’t get in the way of the...

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Police drag, arrest and allegedly beat Bedouin child at anti-Prawer protest

Adalah attorney witnesses the child being beaten inside police car, says the 14-year-old minor is accused of holding – and not throwing – a stone.

Protests against the Prawer Plan, especially the central protest in the southern town of Hura, made it to top headlines on all Israel media sites last night, showing mostly the violent end of what began as peaceful protests. What wasn’t reported was the violent arrest of a minor, a 14-year-old Bedouin child, who can be seen in the photo below being dragged with a gun pointed at him, and in the video below (released by Ehna TV) being dragged on the street by his shirt and shoved into a police car. All this despite efforts by the protesters there, including MK Ahmad Tibi, to stop the arrest on the grounds that he is just a child.

Bedouin child being dragged and arrested by police during anti-Prawer demo in Hura, Nov 30, 2013 (Umalek/Adalah)

MK Ahmad Tibi told +972 the police were violent at the protest in Hura and that their brutality was captured in the images now circulating around the world. ”The whole world is now seeing this picture. They will all see this, and that is good.”

He says he saw Mista’arvim (special Israeli undercover units disguised as Arabs) arresting the child and instinctively tried to grab and pull him free, but was prevented from doing so. The Arab-Israeli member of Knesset said he was pushed by several cops and ended up lightly injured on his arm, his watch broken. He can be seen in the video screaming at them, “he’s just a kid!”

According to Aram Mahamid, a lawyer from Adalah who witnessed the arrest, police arrested the child because they claim he held (not threw) a stone, and because he supposedly attacked a police officer (a claim which, if you watched the video, seems absurd considering the size of the policemen and gear they are strapped into, compared with this scrawny little kid).

Mahamid told +972 that he saw with his own eyes the child being dragged by police and then beaten after he was already inside the car, in police custody. At the time of...

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WATCH: Police brutality amid settler attack against Palestinians

On Saturday morning a handful of Israeli Ta’ayush activists accompanied the Awad and Jabarin families to their farmlands, located where the illegal outpost Mitzpeh Yair now stands. Upon their arrival, Israeli soldiers were already waiting for them with a closed military zone order. The 20-30 Palestinian residents, many of whom were children, were already spread out over the area when settlers who had arrived at the scene began attacking them.

According to a Ta’ayush activist named Maria who was there, around 10 settlers attacked the Palestinians and the Israelis. They stole her camera and smashed it to pieces. When she screamed out to the police officer, he retrieved the broken camera and handed it back to her, but did not take the assailant into custody. According to Maria and several other activists on the scene, this violent confrontation provoked by the settlers continued for about 20 minutes, without any of the army or police officers doing a thing to stop it. And in fact, as is quite evident from the footage below, the authorities present aligned themselves with the settlers, some even taking part in acts of brutality against the Palestinians.

At one point in in the video below (00:15) one can see a Border Police officer kicking a Palestinian woman – not so much with violence as with total disrespect and disdain, and in the most un-police like behavior imaginable. He then proceeds to manhandle a Palestinian child.

According to the activists, a total of 17 people were detained by the police, 10 Palestinians were immediately released, and two Israelis and five Palestinians were taken to the police station in Kiryat Arba. According to the Ta’ayush activists, during the arrest and while already in custody, the Border Policeman and soldiers were violent with them, causing several youths, including girls, injuries and bleeding. A total of three cameras were damaged. All this, because Palestinians were trying to access their own lands.

Here is a video showing how a camera was pried away by a settler:

The Palestinian lands in and around Mitzpeh Yair, which I have reported on many times in the past as a flashpoint of settler violence and army complacency/collusion, have been closed off in recent months by the IDF with closed military zone orders. Every time the Palestinian residents try access their lands, the IDF waves them away...

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European MPs to Ashton: Make Israel pay for settlements

A total of 114 members of the European Parliament signed and delivered an open letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Thursday to ensure she implements the EU guidelines on Israeli settlements, scheduled to take effect next month, January 2014.

The guidelines stipulate that any Israeli entity that wants to receive funding and loans, participate in a project or compete for grants or awards given by foundations or agencies of the EU will have to submit a statement declaring that they have no direct link to the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights – all territories Israel occupied in 1967 and which the EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over.

While it was originally understood that this meant the EU would require Israel to stop all operations beyond the Green Line if it wanted to continue to benefit from cooperation, it became clear that the guidelines are trying to make sure that specific European grants and prizes are not part of projects in the occupied territories.

Click here for everything you need to know about the EU guidelines

Since the guidelines were announced in July, Israeli government officials have been scrambling to combat the effort, negotiating with EU representatives to try and find a “compromise” – essentially a way to get around the restrictions. Israel is specifically concerned about its ability to join the Horizon 2020 program – an $80 billion research program that just passed in European Parliament today (Thursday) –  that would provide Israeli institutions with around 600 million euro over the next seven years  for various technology and research projects.

As Noam Sheizaf reported here last month, Israel is trying to find a way so that as long as an Israeli entity is headquartered behind the Green Line, it will still get EU funding, even if it has operations in the occupied West Bank. This is exactly what the EU members who signed on to this letter are trying to prevent.

According to an adviser in the EU parliament who prefers to remain nameless, Israeli negotiators have already succeeded in removing any mention of the guidelines in the Memorandum of Understanding being negotiated right now, potentially undermining the entire purpose of the guidelines.

“If EU funds end up in settlements, the EU loses. Plain and simple. If Israel manages to continue business as usual despite the guidelines and settlements continue to receive EU...

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Israel's defense minister equates peace talks with murder of Israelis

The man in charge of Israeli security provides his expert opinion that violence against Israelis is a direct result of negotiations with Palestinians and thus anathema to Israeli security. Can’t the same be argued regarding Israeli violence against Palestinians?

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon blamed the recent murder of Israelis in the West Bank on the peace process. By doing so, he instantaneously undermined the government’s involvement in U.S.-brokered diplomacy with the Palestinians, and made it clear that he opposes negotiations.

Speaking at a conference Sunday night, and reported thus far in Ma’ariv (Hebrew) and settler-outfit Arutz Sheva in English, Ya’alon added that the Palestinian Authority is no different than Hamas, and blamed the root of the conflict on Mahmoud Abbas’ unwillingness to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Let me see if I got this straight: the presence of negotiations of some sort between Palestinians and Israelis directly leads Palestinians to incite toward violence and hatred of Israelis. But not by terror groups, rather by criminals, who engage in terrorist activities. Thus any Israeli who has been killed by a Palestinian is a direct victim of the diplomatic process. Ipso facto, the diplomatic process is dangerous for Israelis and cannot go on.

It is important to remember that this is the same Ya’alon who just last year called the Israeli settler firebombing of a Palestinian taxi in the West Bank carrying a whole family and the attempted lynch of a Palestinian teenager in the middle of West Jerusalem’s Zion Square “terrorist attacks” that “run contrary to Jewish morality and values, and constitute first and foremost an educational and moral failure.”

Should we conclude, therefore, that according to Ya’alon’s own logic, and considering the continued acts of settler violence (and army collusion) against Palestinians and their property throughout the West Bank (most recently the arson attack on a Palestinian home) that Israelis are not partners for peace? Following Ya’alon’s logic, Israelis must also be “educating their children” through their “curriculum” and “rhetoric”  (i.e. “Death to Arabs“) to hate. In his own daftness, Ya’alon has managed to give Palestinians every justification to oppose negotiations with the Israelis on this same logic.

The man in charge of Israeli security has just provided his expert opinion that negotiations with Palestinians is equivalent to the murder of Israelis and thus anathema to Israeli...

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Palestinian family targeted by arson in 'revenge' for murder of Israeli

A 16-year-old Palestinian stabs a 19-year-old Israeli soldier to death in his sleep. That night, a completely unconnected Palestinian family’s home is set alight while they sleep, in revenge for the murder.

Khaled Abed a-Rahman Dar Khalil surveys the damage to his home while holding his daughter. Seven members of the Khalil family were inside their home when it was firebombed by Israeli extremists early Thursday morning. (Photo: Activestills.org_

A Palestinian home in the West Bank village Sinjil was firebombed early Thursday morning in an apparent revenge attack for the murder of an Israeli soldier yesterday by a Palestinian teenager. Seven family members were inside at the time. Graffiti left on the house read, “Regards from Eden, Revenge.” There is no known connection between the Khalil family and the family of the alleged murderer from Jenin.

Members of the Khalil family stand outside their burned-out home in the West Bank village of Sinjil, near Ramallah. Seven members of the Khalil family were inside their home when it was firebombed by Israeli extremists early Thursday morning, November 14, 2013. (Photo: Activestills.org)

On Wednesday, Hussein Sharif Ghawadra, a 16-year old kid from Jenin, is suspected of murdering Eden Atias, a 19-year-old kid (and soldier) from Upper Nazareth by stabbing him while he slept on a public Israeli bus as it arrived in Afula from Nazareth.

Ghawadra has since been taken by the Shin Bet for questioning, along with his father and five siblings who have since been released. They were seen on Israeli TV yesterday saying they had no idea Hussein was planning the attack, were not looking for problems and supported peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Police claim Ghawardra said he committed the murder to take revenge for two family...

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Housing Ministry publishes massive settlement plan, Netanyahu orders review

*POST UPDATED BELOW*

Israel’s Ministry of Housing and Construction (run by Jewish Home MK Uri Ariel, who lives in a West Bank settlement) published tenders last week for 20,000 new settlements units, including a tender to build 1,200 units in the southern part of the highly controversial E-1 area, Haaretz (Hebrew) reported Tuesday. According to Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson, the tenders call for construction in 23 settlements, the largest scope in the last decade, at a cost of NIS 50 million.

Just minutes after the report came out, Haaretz followed up with the news that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the housing minister to immediately halt any constructions plans for E-1, a move that proves just how sensitive and controversial this area is.

E-1 (derived from “East 1”) is a term applied by the Housing Ministry to the area located just east of the Jerusalem municipal boundary, on the hills between the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement and Jerusalem. The area borders on the Palestinian towns of Anata, Abu Dis, Azariya and A-Zayim. E-1, which covers some 12,000 dunams (12 sq. kilometers), is part of the Ma’aleh Adumim jurisdiction area.

Read more: What is E-1 and why is it so important?

The reason E-1 is so sensitive is because it is the main artery between the northern and southern West Bank. According to a report by Ir Amim, a non-profit focusing on the occupation’s effects on Jerusalem:

Since 2004, strong American intervention during the Bush administration has prevented construction in E-1. It is also the site of the Palestinian protest village Bab al-Shams, set up at the start of 2013 to oppose the government’s announcement to build 4,000 housing units in the area, in response to the Palestinian UN statehood bid.

The fact that Netanyahu ordered an immediate halt to any construction in E-1 is proof that:

1. He is aware that the U.S. considers it the last nail in the two-state coffin that clearly indicates Israel is unwilling and uninterested in negotiations with Palestinians that would lead to a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as its capital.

2. He is trying to avoid any more criticism from Kerry, amid the already high tensions between them surrounding both settlement construction and Iran nuclear talks.

———————-

UPDATE: According to Haaretz, the State Deptartment has...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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