New U.S. Embassy May Be in Jerusalem, but Not in Israel [The New York Times]
The New York Times reports, “The diplomatic compound that will serve as the American Embassy until a permanent site is found lies partly in a contested zone known as No Man’s Land. No Man’s Land encompasses the area between the armistice lines drawn at the end of the 1948-49 war and was claimed by Jordan and Israel. Israel won full control of it in the 1967 war, so the United Nations and much of the world consider it occupied territory. … ‘No Man’s Land is occupied territory,’ said Ashraf Khatib of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Negotiations Affairs Department. ‘Any permanent status for that territory should be part of a final status negotiation.’ The dispute could turn the American ambassador, David M. Friedman, an avid supporter of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, into a new kind of diplomatic settler himself.”
Trump ‘May' Travel to Jerusalem for US Embassy Opening [CNN]
CNN reports, “President Donald Trump may travel to Israel for the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, which is slated to take place in May. ‘I may. I may,’ Trump said on Monday as he welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Oval Office. ‘They have started, as you know, construction and I may.’ … The administration first said it would take years to move the US embassy and said it had rejected the idea of opening a temporary US embassy in Jerusalem. But now, it appears the administration is intent on doing just that, announcing plans last month to designate a US consular facility in Jerusalem as the US embassy while waiting for the years-long process of building a new embassy there. But Trump glossed over the distinction Monday, saying the US would only spend $250,000 to build the new embassy versus a $1 billion proposal he said he was recently presented.”
Israel's 'Creeping Annexation' of West Bank Continues [Al Jazeera]
“Critics say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, dominated by right-wing nationalists in both the Likud and Jewish Home parties, has been advancing various laws designed to prepare the ground for Israel to annex portions of the occupied territory. The Knesset passed legislation on February 12 that applies Israeli law to settler academic institutions in the occupied West Bank, such as Ariel University, founded in an Israeli settlement of the same name near the Palestinian town of Salfit. Simultaneously, the justice ministry is advancing a law that would expand the jurisdiction of Israeli courts over Area C, which comprises 60 percent of the West Bank. … While there are 132 official settlements in the West Bank - not including occupied East Jerusalem - there are some 100 additional, technically unauthorised, settlement outposts. Increasingly, these ‘unauthorised’ outposts are being ‘legalised,’” according to Al Jazeera.
With Gaza's Economy in Ruins, Palestinians Face Hard Choices [Haaretz]
Haaretz reports, “There has long been poverty in Gaza, but with unemployment now at 43.6%, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, even once-wealthy merchants are defaulting on debts, causing other businesses to collapse like dominoes. Many in Gaza blame Israel for the hardships, accusing it of placing an economic blockade on the enclave that has drastically reduced the movement of people and goods. But Gazans also fault their own leaders, complaining of a power struggle between Hamas, the armed group that seized military power in Gaza in 2007, and Fatah, the secular party of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.” Tell Congress cutting humanitarian aid deepens suffering in Gaza and will not bring us closer to a just, lasting, and comprehensive solution to the conflict in Israel-Palestine.
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