Jewish Settlers Spark Clash in Arab Area
Once again, Israel defies the United Nations * Resolution 251: " . . . 'deeply deplores' Israeli military parade in Jerusalem in defiance of Resolution 250".
* Resolution 252: " . . . 'declares invalid' Israel's acts to unify Jerusalem as Jewish capital".
* Resolution 267: " . . . 'censures' Israel for administrative acts to change the status of Jerusalem".
* Resolution 271: " . . . 'condemns' Israel's failure to obey UN resolutions on Jerusalem".
* Resolution 298: " . . . 'deplores' Israel's changing of the status of Jerusalem".
* Resolution 476: " . . . 'reiterates' that Israel's claim to Jerusalem are 'null and void'".
* Resolution 478: " . . . 'censures (Israel) in the strongest terms' for its claim to Jerusalem in its 'Basic Law'".
* Resolution 673: " . . . 'deplores' Israel's refusal to cooperate with the United Nations.
Bush invaded Iraq supposedly for defying the United Nations. In hindsight, it trurns out Saddam really had gotten rid of his weapons of mass destruction. Here we have Israel, in defiance of far more UN Resolutions than Iraq, trying to provoke open war while the US Government looks th eother way. And if Sharon succeeds in starting a war, guess whose kids will be sent to die in it.
By RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press Writer
JERUSALEM - Ultra-Orthodox Jews armed with assault rifles lugged boxes, sofas and potted plants into two buildings in a crowded Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem at daybreak Wednesday, sparking clashes between Israeli troops and angry residents.
Israeli officials said the group had the right to live in the buildings in east Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in the 1967 Mideast War.
Palestinian officials said the incident proved Israel was less interested in peace than in tightening its grasp on east Jerusalem, which they want for the capital of a future state.
Later Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defended his plan to unilaterally withdraw from most or all of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. A day earlier, he agreed to a binding referendum among his rebellious Likud Party members on the "disengagement" plan.
Sharon said Israel must draw its own security line, which would mean "withdrawal from areas which it is understood will not be under Israeli control in any permanent agreement to be signed in the future, which cause great friction between Israelis and Palestinians — the Gaza Strip, for example."
A poll published Wednesday in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper showed 51 percent of Likud members support the plan, while 36 percent oppose it. The Dahaf Institute poll questioned 507 Likud members and had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
Sharon blamed the Palestinians for not acting to stop violence. An Israeli pullout from Gaza would remove their main "excuse," he said, and then, "we need to tell them, please gentlemen, when there is no Israeli presence, let's see you start to act."
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia cautiously welcomed the Gaza plan, but only as a first step to a full West Bank withdrawal.
"In principle, we welcome the Israeli withdrawal from our Palestinian land," Qureia told Palestinian lawmakers. "But for any withdrawal to have meaning for us ... it should be followed by a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, too."
Palestinians want a state in all the West Bank and Gaza. But many in Sharon's hard-line government view his limited withdrawal plan as the most they are willing to concede.
Qureia also condemned Palestinian suicide attacks, which have killed more than 450 Israelis in the past 3 1/2 years of violence, saying they have damaged the Palestinian economy, given Israel cover to continue building settlements and a contentious West Bank barrier, and were morally wrong.
"Such attacks were used as excuses to continue the comprehensive aggression and impose collective punishments, including ... the road blocks and incursions, which cause daily harm to the dignity of hundreds of thousand of innocent Palestinian citizens," he said.
Early Wednesday, a group Jews with a van packed with sofas and furniture moved into a seven-story apartment building and a smaller house in the Silwan neighborhood of east Jerusalem. The settlers hauled a water tank onto the roof of one building and set up a generator.
In recent years, hawkish Jewish groups, with the backing of hard-line governments and foreign investors, have bought several east Jerusalem buildings, including several in Silwan, to strengthen Israel's hold there. Settlers said eight families are to move into the Silwan buildings. The Arab owner of the house disputed the settlers' claim.
Clashes erupted in a narrow alley, and Palestinian residents threw stones from roofs.
Police and soldiers ran onto other rooftops and fired tear gas at the demonstrators. Troops pulled young men out of nearby homes, beat one of them with a baton, and dragged away six others in handcuffs. They took no action against the settlers.
Nine Palestinians were arrested for stone-throwing, and six police officers were hurt, police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. At least three Palestinians were seen bleeding.
About 200,000 Israelis live in 11 Jewish neighborhoods built on land captured in 1967, said Menachem Klein, a researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. Another 2,000 Israelis live among 220,000 Arabs in Muslim and Christian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, about half of them in the Muslim Quarter of the walled Old City and as many as 400 in nearby Silwan, he said.
Sharon himself moved into an apartment in the Muslim Quarter in 1987, but has rarely used it.
The group of Ultra-Orthodox Jews said Wednesday they had come to reinforce the Jewish presence in Silwan, which they said housed a community of Yemenite Jews 122 years ago. In 1938, the last of the families were forced to leave during Arab riots, said Daniel Luria, a spokesman for the group.
"Sixty-six years later, we have returned Jewish families to the area with the idea of living side-by-side with the Arabs," Luria said, adding that three of the eight families are of Yemenite heritage so "it's really closing a circle."
Sharon adviser Raanan Gissin said the group had the right to live where it wanted in Jerusalem. "There are no Jerusalem settlements ... all of Jerusalem is under Israeli sovereignty since 1967," he said.
Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat blamed Israel's government for supporting settlers and played down the government's removal early Wednesday of the Hazon David settlement outpost — a tent and a shack used as a synagogue — near Hebron in the southern West Bank.
Under the stalled "road map" peace plan, Israel is supposed to take down dozens of unauthorized outposts and Palestinians must dismantle violent groups.
The Hazon David removal was a public relations stunt, Erekat said, but the move into the Jerusalem buildings, "that's the reality."
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