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Egypt imposes curfew in Cairo as at least 25 killed in clashes

News4u-News Desk-Egypt’s military ruler has imposed a curfew on Cairo’s Tahrir area as at least 25 people, including three soldiers, were killed and 170 injured after Coptic Christians protesting over an attack on a church clashed with security forces in the capital.

 

Central Cairo witnessed a demonstration by activists against the military rule while police augmented by special forces deployed in the area called on protesters to leave before the curfew because they have been ordered to treat people breaking the curfew with firmness.

The curfew is to last from 2 am to 7 am Cairo Local Time.

Despite the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi issuing a decree to halt presenting civilians to military courts except in cases stated by the military law, people arrested in Sunday’s events might face military trials as they have attacked army members.

Other protests in Egyptian cities have peacefully ended and in particular in Alexandira where thousands of Copts had surrounded a military area and torched cars nearby.

Copts had arranged for a rally in Cairo in objection to recent clashes last week in the area of Idfu in Aswan, Egypts furthest governorate south. Muslims had attacked a building they claimed Copts were turning into a church accusing them of not having the needed permits.

Nothing was done to prevent the issue from escalating as the governor confirmed the permits were not requested from the official bodies. To reply the Copts published copies of the permits in newspapers signed by the governor himself.

The governor did not apologise but noted “he was suffering fatigue when he signed the papers and hence cannot remember.”

Copts have been organizing rallies all through the week. The rallies started from the area of Shubra where a large number of Copts live to the Egyptian Radio and TV building.

Sunday’s rally was no different but Copts abroad were expected to organize concurrent rallies in foreign countries.

It is not clear which side started the violence but a few hours later the official TV announced three army soldiers dead and several injured after the presenter claimed the Copts attacked the Egyptian army.

Hundreds of Egyptians were reported to have headed to down town Cairo chanting “Muslims and Copts, we are all Egyptians.”

Prime Minister Esam Sharaf was said to be closely watching developments and holding a meeting with a crisis management team of the cabinet.


Egypt Map

Egypt Map

Jerusalem eyes first gate in Old City for 112 years: Report

News4u-News Desk-JERUSALEM: Planners in Jerusalem are considering creating the first new “gate” into the Old City in more than 100 years, the website of the Haaretz newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The gate would take the form of an underground tunnel which would run under the Old City’s southern walls between Zion Gate and the Dung Gate and lead to a car park in the Jewish quarter.
The tunnel would be hewn through layers of rock deep underneath the present wall, it said.

The proposal is part of a broader plan to renovate the area around the Western Wall plaza in the Jewish quarter which was presented to the city council’s district planning committee on Tuesday, Haaretz said.

The last time any changes were made to the walls of the Old City was in 1898, when the Ottoman authorities demolished part of the wall next to Jaffa Gate in order to make room for the entry of the official convoy of visiting German Kaiser Wilhelm II.

The main drawback would be the cost of hewing through solid rock, which was likely to cost millions of shekels, Haaretz said.

Each year, some six million people visit the Western Wall, Israel’s biggest tourist attraction which is revered by Jews as the last remaining remnant of the Second Temple.

Above the wall is the area known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam.

The Western Wall fell into Jewish hands for the first time since the Roman era after the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel captured and annexed east Jerusalem.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and undivided capital, a claim not recognised by the international community. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.AFP

Jerusalem.

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Israel vows to build settlements in Jerusalem

News4u-News Desk-Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday vowed to build settlements across Jerusalem in defiance of a key demand from its close ally US to freeze constructions in the eastern part of the city.

“The struggle for Jerusalem is a struggle for truth,” Netanyahu said in an address at the Merkaz Harav yeshiva, marking 43 years of capture of Arab east Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East war.

The Day festivities kicked off at sundown on Tuesday and continued through the night with prayers and gatherings to mark the anniversary.

Security was tight with thousands of police and security forces deployed across the city to ensure the festivities went off without a hitch.

“No other nation has the same ties as we do to Jerusalem, but there is also no nation that has allowed so much freedom of worship to others. We are building the city. We will continue to build it and ensure it thrives,” he said.

His comments just days after the launch of indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is bound to irk the Palestinians and US, which is mediating the indirect peace talks.

Netanyahu’s key ally in the government and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beteinu party, echoed similar sentiments in Tokyo during an official visit stressing that “normal life in Jerusalem would continue just as in any other city”.

“Jerusalem is a united city open to all, Jews, Christians and Muslims, and it will remain that way in the future,” said Lieberman, known for his anti-Arab sentiments, denying that Israel has agreed to freeze constructions in east Jerusalem.

The ultra-nationalist leader dubbed as ‘the Kingmaker’ in the current parliamentary composition also addressed the indirect peace talks with Palestinians saying it is a long and complex process that takes time.

Netanyahu has said that indirect talks with Palestinians kicked off without any pre-conditions, like Israel wanted, but media reports in Jerusalem have said that there is a de facto freeze on building activities in the overwhelmingly Arab populated east Jerusalem, considered the future capital of an independent Palestinian state under a peace agreement.

The US has said that Israel has agreed not to build in the Ramat Shlomo neighbourhood of the city for two years.

A surprising announcement by Israel’s Interior Ministry to build 1,600 homes in the neighbourhood during the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden to the region was dubbed as an “insult” by Washington and had sparked a crisis between the strategic partners, described by political commentators as the worst in the last 35 years.

Israels hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel's hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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Netanyahu defies US over Jerusalem settlement

News4u-News Desk-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected any curbs on Jewish settlement in and around Jerusalem, defying Washington inIsrael’s deepening crisis with US President Barack Obama’s administration.

”For the past 40 years, no Israeli government ever limited construction in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem,” he said in a speech in parliament on Monday, citing areas in the West Bank that Israel captured in 1967 and unilaterally annexed to the city.

The United States condemned Israel’s plan to build 1,600 new homes for Jews in Ramat Shlomo, a religious settlement within the Israeli-designated borders of Jerusalem, whose future status is at the heart of the West Asia conflict.

Israel’s announcement of the project during a visit last week by US Vice President Joe Biden embarrassed the White House. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in unusually blunt remarks, called it an insult.

The Palestinians, who had just agreed to begin indirect peace talks under US mediation, have said they will not go ahead unless the plan is scrapped.

Israeli media said Clinton last week demanded a reversal of the decision to build in Ramat Shlomo. Netanyahu’s comments appeared to signal to Washington that he believed he had political backing at home to withstand US pressure.

Israel has said construction at the site will not begin for several years.

The US criticism of Israel prompted a backlash on Monday from US lawmakers and pro-Israel lobby groups who urged the Obama administration to tone down its rhetoric.

”If we want the Israeli government to act in a way that would be more in keeping with our objectives … it doesn’t help them to have public disparagement by the secretary of state,” Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said on the floor of the US Senate.

Clinton called Netanyahu on Friday to convey unspecified demands about the Ramat Shlomo housing project as well as about demonstrating commitment to US-mediated indirect peace talks, the State Department said, without elaborating.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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Israel to construct apartments in West Jerusalem

News4u-News Desk-In a move that could trigger more political tension in the war-torn country, Israel called for construction of nearly 700 new apartments in the disputed areas of East Jerusalem even after PM Netanyahu declared a 10-month freeze on construction activities.

Israel’s Housing Ministry has invited contractors to bid on the construction of 198 housing units in Pisgat Zeev, 377 homes in Neve Ya’akov and 117 dwellings in Har Homa neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem.

These are areas that the Palestinians call settlements and argue that such constructions are bound to jeopardise efforts to renew the stalled peace process in the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a 10-month freeze on construction activities a few weeks ago and did not include areas of the city for moratorium.

“We make a distinction between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our capital and remains such,” government spokesman Mark Regev said today.

The Jewish state captured East Jerusalem home to Jews, Christians and Muslims in the 1967 war.

The announcement comes amid reports that the US is aware of such plans and the timing of the announcement is carefully chosen using the Christmas holidays in America and Europe.

The US knew of the plan in advance, including the location of each housing unit, government officials were quoted by Ynet as saying in a surprising revelation.

The officials refused to tell as to how the US responded to the Israeli construction plan in the three neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Israel is also considering appropriating private Palestinian land in the West Bank, the State Prosecutor’s Office informed the Supreme Court on Sunday.

Such a move is in contravention to Netanyahu’s commitment not to seize land for settlement expansion.

The prosecution’s statement to the Supreme Court came in response to a petition by human rights group, Yesh Din, against the construction of a sewage treatment facility that would serve the West Bank settlement of Ofra.

Construction of the facility began in 2007 on private Palestinian land from the nearby village of Ein Yabrud, in violation of the government’s approved master plan for the area.

“The fact that today the state is trying to legitimise the land theft … by seizing land retroactively, for the sake of a settlement that was not long ago classified as ‘the largest illegal outpost in the West Bank,’ is nothing short of an outrage,” Shlomo Zacharia, one of the lawyers representing Yesh Din told daily Ha’aretz.

“No less grave is the fact that this conduct, which contravenes the explicit policy of the government and the Prime Minister, aims to cover up the failures and unwillingness of the army and the state in defending Palestinian property,” Zacharia noted.

Israel had accepted that the treatment facility was built illegally, without construction permits, and that demolition orders have been issued for its destruction.

However, based on the state’s response to the petition, it does not appear to be planning to enforce the law or return the land to its rightful owners, the daily reported.

Israel Flag

Israel Flag

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Israel to construct apartments in West Jerusalem

News4u-News Desk- In a move that could trigger more political tension in the war-torn country, Israel called for construction of nearly 700 new apartments in the disputed areas of East Jerusalem even after PM Netanyahu declared a 10-month freeze on construction activities.

Israel’s Housing Ministry has invited contractors to bid on the construction of 198 housing units in Pisgat Zeev, 377 homes in Neve Ya’akov and 117 dwellings in Har Homa neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem.

These are areas that the Palestinians call settlements and argue that such constructions are bound to jeopardise efforts to renew the stalled peace process in the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a 10-month freeze on construction activities a few weeks ago and did not include areas of the city for moratorium.

“We make a distinction between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our capital and remains such,” government spokesman Mark Regev said today.

The Jewish state captured East Jerusalem home to Jews, Christians and Muslims in the 1967 war.

The announcement comes amid reports that the US is aware of such plans and the timing of the announcement is carefully chosen using the Christmas holidays in America and Europe.

The US knew of the plan in advance, including the location of each housing unit, government officials were quoted by Ynet as saying in a surprising revelation.

The officials refused to tell as to how the US responded to the Israeli construction plan in the three neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Israel is also considering appropriating private Palestinian land in the West Bank, the State Prosecutor’s Office informed the Supreme Court on Sunday.

Such a move is in contravention to Netanyahu’s commitment not to seize land for settlement expansion.

The prosecution’s statement to the Supreme Court came in response to a petition by human rights group, Yesh Din, against the construction of a sewage treatment facility that would serve the West Bank settlement of Ofra.

Construction of the facility began in 2007 on private Palestinian land from the nearby village of Ein Yabrud, in violation of the government’s approved master plan for the area.

“The fact that today the state is trying to legitimise the land theft … by seizing land retroactively, for the sake of a settlement that was not long ago classified as ‘the largest illegal outpost in the West Bank,’ is nothing short of an outrage,” Shlomo Zacharia, one of the lawyers representing Yesh Din told daily Ha’aretz.

“No less grave is the fact that this conduct, which contravenes the explicit policy of the government and the Prime Minister, aims to cover up the failures and unwillingness of the army and the state in defending Palestinian property,” Zacharia noted.

Israel had accepted that the treatment facility was built illegally, without construction permits, and that demolition orders have been issued for its destruction.

However, based on the state’s response to the petition, it does not appear to be planning to enforce the law or return the land to its rightful owners, the daily reported.

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Israel Flag

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Pro-Palestinian protesters arrested in Jerusalem

News4u-News Desk-Jerusalem, (AFP) Ten activists were arrested today during a protest against the eviction of Palestinians in annexed Arab east Jerusalem, an AFP photographer reported.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed that several people were arrested in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood for staging an unauthorised demonstration.

Last week, 21 people, including Israeli and foreign activists, were detained during a similar protest in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood, where several Palestinian families have been evicted to make way for Israeli settlers who claim legal ownership.

Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move not recognised by the international community.

Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its “eternal and indivisible” capital. The Palestinian want to make the city’s eastern sector the capital of their promised state.

A Palestinian girl is seen between the concrete blocks separating Jerusalem from the West

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‘Abbas mulls resignation as peace process stalls’

News4u-News Desk- Jerusalem,  President Mahmoud Abbas intends to resign amid lack of progress in the Middle East peace process, as the chief Palestinian negotiator today accused Tel Aviv of portraying the Palestinian Authority (PA) as “untrustworthy”, a media report said.
Palestinian President Abbas has told the White House that he intends to resign from his post, Israel’s Channel 10 reported, a move that could be a setback to efforts to rekindle the stalled peace process in Middle East.
Abbas told US officials that he sees no chance of advancing the peace process with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in power, the report said.
Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator, today lashed out at Israel, saying Israel’s position on West Bank settlement building and other key issues was “intolerable.

News4u-News Desk- Jerusalem,  President Mahmoud Abbas intends to resign amid lack of progress in the Middle East peace process, as the chief Palestinian negotiator today accused Tel Aviv of portraying the Palestinian Authority (PA) as “untrustworthy”, a media report said.

Palestinian President Abbas has told the White House that he intends to resign from his post, Israel’s Channel 10 reported, a move that could be a setback to efforts to rekindle the stalled peace process in Middle East.

Abbas told US officials that he sees no chance of advancing the peace process with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in power, the report said.

Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator, today lashed out at Israel, saying Israel’s position on West Bank settlement building and other key issues was “intolerable.


Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

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Israeli forces storm most sensitive holy shrine in Jerusalem

News4u-News Desk-Israeli forces on Sunday stormed the most sensitive holy shrine in Jerusalem, firing stun grenades and water cannons at hundreds of Palestinian protesters who pelted stones injuring them.
The renewed violent clashes on the hilltop complex called al-Haram al-Sharif by Muslims and The Temple Mount by Jews left three policemen lightly injured when forces tried to flush out protesters holed up inside the al-Aqsa mosque.
Palestinian protesters poured oil on the floor to stop the Israeli froces from entering the complex, a flashpoint where in the past clashes have turned into deadly violence.
Police entered the holy compound and arrested twelve Palestinians, including senior Fatah member Khatem Abdel Kader, who is charge of the Jerusalem portfolio in the Palestinian organisation, eye witnesses said.
Kader was arrested at the Temple Mount plaza after allegedly rioting, assaulting policemen and calling on worshippers to launch a parade, police said.
The hilltop site was closed for Muslim worshippers and visitors following the clashes.
Palestinians and members of the Waqf, which manages the site, reported that at least eight worshippers were injured, but Israel police denied any knowledge of injuries among the protesters.
The head of the Israeli police force, however, denied that the police entered the al-Aqsa Mosque. He said they had no plans to do so.

News4u-News Desk-Israeli forces on Sunday stormed the most sensitive holy shrine in Jerusalem, firing stun grenades and water cannons at hundreds of Palestinian protesters who pelted stones injuring them.

The renewed violent clashes on the hilltop complex called al-Haram al-Sharif by Muslims and The Temple Mount by Jews left three policemen lightly injured when forces tried to flush out protesters holed up inside the al-Aqsa mosque.

Palestinian protesters poured oil on the floor to stop the Israeli froces from entering the complex, a flashpoint where in the past clashes have turned into deadly violence.

Police entered the holy compound and arrested twelve Palestinians, including senior Fatah member Khatem Abdel Kader, who is charge of the Jerusalem portfolio in the Palestinian organisation, eye witnesses said.

Kader was arrested at the Temple Mount plaza after allegedly rioting, assaulting policemen and calling on worshippers to launch a parade, police said.

The hilltop site was closed for Muslim worshippers and visitors following the clashes.

Palestinians and members of the Waqf, which manages the site, reported that at least eight worshippers were injured, but Israel police denied any knowledge of injuries among the protesters.

The head of the Israeli police force, however, denied that the police entered the al-Aqsa Mosque. He said they had no plans to do so.


Holy shrine in Jerusalem

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Israel seeks clarifications from UK over Jerusalem

News4u-News Desk-Jerusalem, (AFP) Israel today said it has asked Britain to clarify statements by a diplomat who reportedly said his country was financing Palestinian property projects in Jerusalem.

“We have asked the British embassy in Tel Aviv to provide explanations concerning statements made on July 22 to Al-Arabiya television by diplomat Martin Day who is based in Abu Dhabi,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

According to a transcript of the interview provided by Israel, Day said Britain was funding construction projects in occupied east Jerusalem in a bid to halt Israel’s settlement activity.

“We are financing projects aimed at stopping settlement activity,” Day reportedly said.

“One of these projects aims at building a new Palestinian neighbourhood in east Jerusalem and at protecting Palestinian homes from being demolished.”

He reportedly added that Britain provides “funds to organisations who monitor settlement activity.

Israel Flag

Israel Flag

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