Israel will not impose a complete halt on settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land as demanded by the US, a senior official said yesterday.
“Israel will not freeze natural growth and will not suffocate the life of 300,000 Israelis who live in settlements in all legality,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told public radio.
The international community considers all settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem illegal, saying they violate international law under which an occupying power cannot transfer part of its population to the land it occupies.
Israeli media has said hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was willing to consider a three-month construction freeze, but would exclude east Jerusalem from the moratorium, as well as the 2,000 to 3,200 private homes being built in the West Bank.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak had said on Wednesday that Israel would consider a limited moratorium on new construction in Jewish settlements, linking the step to US efforts to bring Arab states into a broad peace process.
In a TV interview, Barak said a construction freeze was “part of a much wider issue, whether together with the United States and our Palestinian and Arab neighbors, we can launch an original peace initiative to be led by the president of the United States”.
In an interview with Israel Radio, he said Israel hopes to persuade the US to accept a continuation of existing building projects to meet the needs of the growing population in settlements Israel hopes to keep in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.
“Do you think someone in America thinks that pregnancies can be stopped or that nursery schools shouldn’t be built?” Barak asked.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big