Palestinian leader Abbas to address Knesset

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is preparing to speak at the Israeli Knesset after Israel revealed it would build 256 new settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian leader Abbas to address Knesset

World Bulletin / News Desk

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is preparing to address the Israeli Knesset (parliament), a Fatah official told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

"President Abbas has expressed his readiness to address the Knesset based on a vision that calls for establishing a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders, not based on an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recognize Israel's Jewish nature," Mahmoud al-Madani said.

Last November, Netanyahu called on Abbas to go to the Knesset to recognize Israel's Jewish nature – a longstanding sticking point in the peace process.

The Washington-sponsored peace talks between the perennial adversaries resumed last July after a three-year hiatus.

Results of the talks – which are focused on final settlement issues, borders, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees – have yet to be announced.

Israel to build 261 settlement units in Al-Quds

The Israeli government has approved plans to build hundreds of new settlement units in the West Bank and Al-Quds (occupied east Jerusalem), an Israeli anti-settlement group said.

"These actions prove that the Israeli government is not serious and use the peace talks to expand the settlements," Peace Now said in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

According to the group, Israeli authorities approved on Wednesday two plans to build 256 settlement units in the Nofie Prat settlement between Al-Quds and Ariha (Jericho) and five settlement housing units in the Ariel settlement.

Earlier this month, the Israeli government unveiled plans to build 1400 new settlement units in the West Bank and Al-Quds.

Some 350,000 Jewish settlers live in settlements built in the West Bank, in addition to 200,000 in Al-Quds.

Palestinians insist that Israeli settlement building must stop before a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian final-status agreement can be reached.

Both the UN and the US consider Israeli settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land to be a breach of international law.

Israeli bulldozers uproot dozens of West Bank olive trees

Israeli bulldozers uprooted dozens of olive trees in the town of Salfit in the northern West Bank early Thursday, Palestinian farmers said.

According to Palestinian farmers in Salfit's Wadi Qana district, an Israeli army unit backed by bulldozers uprooted dozens of olive trees and prevented farmers from reaching the area by firing teargas and sound grenades.

Six months ago, the Israeli Nature Protection Authority warned Palestinian farmers that it planned to uproot 1,700 olive trees in Wadi Qana on grounds that the area was part of a nature preserve on which the olive trees represented an encroachment.

Israeli authorities could not be reached for comment on the uprooting operation, which was still ongoing as of 8:05am (GMT).

The tourist-friendly Qana Valley, which hosts a stretch of mostly fruit farms, is classified under Area C, which, accounting for 61 percent of the West Bank, remains under full Israeli civil and security control according to the terms of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

All Palestinian building projects in Area C must obtain the prior approval of Israeli authorities.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Ocak 2014, 15:05