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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced: All standing agreements with Israel will be suspended indefinitely. President Abbas announced the decision on Thursday afternoon.

The Palestine President said the suspension would take effect by Friday.

The move by Palestine comes in response to the Israeli government’s demolition of homes in Wadi Hummus, a Palestinian community in southeast Jerusalem. Israeli authorities claim the buildings were constructed without a permit.

Abbas said: “We will not obey the dictatorship and reject attempts to impose accomplished facts, particularly in East Jerusalem.”

The Palestine President said: “The hands of the Palestinians are still stretched out towards a just and comprehensive peace, but this does not mean that we are ready to capitulate and coexist with the occupation.”

Abbas made the announcement following a meeting with senior Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

Tel Aviv recently announced plans to clear the way for new settlements in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

The Israeli move has been slammed by the European Union as “an obstacle to peace” which “continues to undermine the possibility of a viable two-state solution.”

Moreover, during his latest bid for the prime ministership, Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “extend sovereignty” over, or annex, the existing settlements in the West Bank.

That promise is reportedly reflected in Washington’s peace plan, dubbed in the media the “deal of the century” even though its contents have not yet been revealed.

Reports claim it would offer to formally place the settlements under Israeli legal control as part of the deal, a condition vocally contested by the Palestinians.

Hamas backs Abbas

The Hamas resistance group said Thursday it supported Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to suspend all agreements signed with Israel.

The Gaza-based group said in a written statement that the Ramallah-based government’s decision was “a step taken in right direction”.

The Hamas movement also said the decision was in line with the “tough process” which the Palestinian cause is going through.

It added that the people were waiting for the “immediate realization” of the decision.

The group also called for the establishment of a national unity government, halting security coordination with occupying forces and the release of political detainees.

U.S. blocks UN vote to condemn Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes

The United States blocked an attempt to get the UN Security Council to condemn Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Citing 17 Palestinians who would be displaced by the destruction, UN officials had called on Israel to halt the plans.

But Israel continued, saying the 10 apartment buildings it demolished on Monday had been built illegally, and posed a threat to Israeli armed forces along the occupied West Bank. Most of the homes were still under construction.

On Tuesday, Kuwait, Indonesia, and South Africa circulated a five-paragraph draft statement to the 15-member Security Council expressing concern. The document, seen by Reuters, warned that the demolition “undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for just and lasting peace.”

The US told its counterparts that it would not support the text, diplomats said. The country also rejected a revised three-paragraph draft statement.

U.S. House of Representatives  

The US House of Representatives voted to condemn the growing boycott movement against Israel on Tuesday, following a similar bill passed by the Senate.

Freshman congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib both voiced concern for the vote.

Representative Tlaib, the first Palestinian American woman in the U.S. Congress, gave a speech on the House floor the morning of the vote about her personal experience.

“I stand before you the daughter of Palestinian immigrants,” she said. “Parents who experienced being stripped of their human rights, the right to freedom of travel, equal treatment. So I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel. I love our country’s freedom of speech, Madam Speaker. Dissent is how we nurture democracy.”

Still, the bill passed with only seventeen members voting no, including fellow “Squad” member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Representative Ayanna Pressley, the fourth member of the group of freshmen women who recently faced virulent attacks from the president and his supporters, voted yes.

The future of Jerusalem, which is home to over 500,000 Israelis and 300,000 Palestinians, is a longstanding international debate. Palestinians want a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with east Jerusalem as the capital, all territory captured by Israel in 1967. Allies on both sides have been fierce with both support and detraction.

Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner have spent two years developing a peace plan they hope will provide a framework for renewed talks between the groups.

The role of Kushner, whose background is mostly in real estate, in the complicated diplomatic situation has been questioned.


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