Israel to close off West Bank, Gaza Strip for Jewish holiday

April 22, 2016 2:30 pm

Israeli security forces are seen in the area where a Palestinian man allegedly tried to stab Israeli soldiers before being shot dead at a checkpoint near Ramallah, in the occupied , February 26, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The Israeli regime plans to close off all entry points to the occupied West Bank and the Strip ahead of a Jewish holiday.
According to the Israeli army, the crossings to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be sealed off on Friday and Saturday, the days of the so-called Passover holiday, over security concerns.
The decision on the blockades was made after “an evaluation of the security situation,” an Israeli military spokesperson said without elaborating.
The Israeli decision to block pathways comes as a move to bar Palestinians from the al-Aqsa Mosque in August 2015 caused a major outcry on the part of the Palestinians. The Israel-occupied territories have been the scene of tensions ever since.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also said that security measures will be tightened ahead of the holiday.
In a different development, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki announced on Thursday that the Palestinians support a French initiative to hold an international conference in May in an effort to revive the long-delayed Palestinian-Israeli so-called peace talks.
Maliki said Palestinian and French leaders agreed during meetings in Paris a few days ago that the French initiative should move ahead and not be jeopardized “in any way” by Palestinian efforts to get the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution that would condemn continued Israeli settlement construction as an obstacle to peace.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki (R)

Earlier reports suggest that the Palestinian Authority has been under pressure from France and other countries to stop its efforts to push for a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
According to senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, the French government was pressing the Palestinian Authority to freeze the effort on the grounds that it will fail and undermine French attempts to put together an international peace summit this summer.
The Palestinian UN bid is considered unlikely to succeed because the United States — an Israeli regime ally and a veto-wielding Security Council member — is almost certain to veto any anti-Israeli resolution even if received enough votes from other members.
In his Thursday remarks, Maliki said, “The opportunity to go to the Security Council will always be there and we want to give a chance to the French initiative because, in the end, this is an initiative that serves us and not one that hurts us.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Israeli official also said France’s Ambassador to UN Francois Delattre informed his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad Mansour, of the problems involved in promoting a Security Council resolution against the settlements at this time.
The issue also was raised in a meeting between French President Francois Hollande and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris last week on Friday, when Abbas voiced support for the French initiative to convene the international meeting in May.
Abbas, who will be in New York on April 22, was expected to meet with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss the UN bid in the Security Council. Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials have said that the Egyptians, the Jordanians and the Saudis are not keen to see the draft resolution move forward at this time.
The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
However, any bid raised at the UN Security Council against the settlements are scuttled by a United States veto.
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