Israeli authorities on Wednesday approved 130 new settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem.
Jerusalem municipality gave the go-ahead to build three 12-storey tower blocks in Gilo settlement. The council also approved plans to build tourism centres in Silwan.
Fakhri Abu Diab, head of the Silwan Committee for defending Palestinians’ land and homes, stated: ‘First of all, this project is a settlement and the organisation that is working on it is a settler organisation, which was created to take over the Palestinian citizens’ houses and to change the geographical and demographical reality of the city.
‘Secondly, this project which was planned under the umbrella of tourism, does not serve the residents here but it serves the organisations of the settlers and the occupation,’ he said.
On November 1st, the Israeli government decided to speed up the construction of Jewish-only homes in East Jerusalem after the UN cultural heritage agency UNESCO voted to admit Palestine.
As a result, ‘One of the themes that emerged was the severely damaging effect that increased settlement construction and settler violence is having on the ground and on the prospects of a return to negotiations,’ the four European Union members of the UN Security Council said in a joint statement.
However, the EU does not lift even a finger to make Israel change its policy. The last round of peace talks collapsed in September 2010 over Israel’s refusal to extend a partial freeze on building, and the PLO says it will not renew negotiations while Israel is building Jewish-only homes on occupied land.
Over 500,000 Israelis live in settlements on occupied Palestinian land, including around 200,000 in East Jerusalem. Israel proposes to annex these areas.
At the same time as Israel is continuing to build settlements, its army is preparing for another invasion of Gaza.
An Israeli army official said on Wednesday that forces have prepared for a new military operation on the Gaza Strip, alluding to a ‘different’ approach from Operation Cast Lead three years ago.
In fact, the only difference from the Cast Lead operation is that it will be even more ruthless.
Israel’s chief of staff called Operation Cast Lead an ‘excellent’ operation, glorying in the fact that thousands of Gazans were killed and wounded and tens of thousands were made homeless. He added that any repeat attack must be ‘swift and painful’.
‘We are preparing and in fact are ready for another campaign, which will be varied and different, to renew our deterrence,’ the head of the Gaza division’s Southern Brigade, Tal Hermoni confirmed.
The Israeli media is already stating that Israel’s army chiefs have prepared a plan for the next war on Gaza to be shorter than the 2008-2009 three-week assault, but using much greater firepower.
Hamas has responded by vowing that it will not be intimidated by Israel’s threats to launch a new invasion, and lauded the steadfastness of the Gaza people.
Yesterday morning, Israeli war planes bombed central and northern Gaza Strip. A statement from the Israeli army said it hit a ‘terror activity site’ and ‘terror tunnels’.
The fact is that, since the success of the Palestinian unity measures produced the prospect of a national Unity Government binding Fatah and Hamas together, the Israeli leadership has decided to carry out another invasion of Gaza to attempt to destroy Hamas.
The US and the UK are silent partners of this plan. They also want to obliterate the prospect of a united Palestinian movement.
It is the trade unions and the working class of the world that must speak up for and act for the Palestinian masses.
The TUC must at once impose a permanent boycott on all Israeli goods and services, and move that the trade union movement of the world takes the same action. A boycott must stay clamped on until the independent Palestinian state has been established with East Jerusalem as its capital, with the settlements demolished and with all refugees having the right to return.