JERUSALEM (JTA) -- A Palestinian mosque in a Hebron-area village was vandalized and set on fire, allegedly by Jews.
In addition to graffiti spray-painted on the building, several volumes of the Koran and prayer rugs were burned in the fire set late Sunday night.
“The IDF and security officials are working in order to find those responsible, and we view this as a grave and serious incident,” head of the Israeli Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Yoel Mordechai, said Monday.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- In the four weeks since direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed, settlement construction has been identified widely as the most immediate obstacle to the survival of negotiations.
In media accounts about the diplomatic standoff over the issue, Israel’s decision not to extend its self-imposed 10-month freeze on settlement building has been portrayed as a slap in the face to the Obama administration, deepening Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and creating more stumbling blocks to a final peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians.
Under relentless pressure by the Obama administration, Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed, last November, to a one-sided one-time10-month Jewish construction freeze on the six percent of the West Bank where Jews live.
Since the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, Israel hasn't built a single new settlement and has only built within the settlement borders as of 1993.
If you want to understand the maddeningly complex debate over Israel's West Bank settlements and U.S. policy, check out these two op-eds that articulately outline two opposing positions.
In today's Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen took the Obama administration to task for what he says is its counterproductive focus on stopping settlement construction as a necessary precursor of a viable peace process.
Cohen accurately laid out the emotional punch the issue carries for both sides:
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Building began in West Bank communities just hours after the expiration of a 10-month settlement construction freeze.
Work on 50 apartments for people removed five years ago from Gush Katif began Monday morning in Ariel. Construction also continued Monday in Revava, Yakir and Kochav Hashachar, Haaretz reported, on homes for which permits had been issued before the freeze began.
Construction is expected to begin Tuesday in several other West Bank communities including Shavei Shomron, Adam, Oranit, Sha'arei Tikva, Kedumim and Karmei Tzur.
I was intrigued by this week's Internet buzz about reports talks are underway about a possible trade: convicted spy Jonathan Pollard for a three month extension of Israel's West Bank settlement moratorium. Mostly, I was intrigued because people actually believe this silliness.
The New york Times, citing an Israel reported on Monday that the idea was one of many floated by officials in Prime Minister Netanyahu's office, but some Internet news and blog sites immediately began churning out copy suggesting the “deal” was under serious consideration.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a top aide suggested that a compromise with the Palestinians on a settlement freeze is not in the offing.
Netanyahu, along with top adviser Ron Dermer and Israel's U.S. ambassador, Michael Oren, spoke Monday afternoon on a conference call with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
JTA reviewed the call with a number of participants.