A right-wing, Israeli government-appointed committee released its recommendation on Jewish settlements in the West Bank early this week, recommending that Israel legalize outposts, a recommendation that defies nearly united international consensus on the illegitimate settling of Palestinian land. In addition to dozens of illegal outposts, there are about 120 fully developed settlements in the West Bank.
While the recommendation is a non-binding legal opinion, it will likely be used to address criticism faced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about his plans to build more Jewish homes in the West Bank, both within Israel and abroad. The report reasserted the claim that the West Bank is not occupied territory, and thus Jewish settlement is legal.
As the investigation into Arafatís death continues, the head of a medical committee investigating his death arrived in Ramallah this week, concluding on July 12 that the late President died from poisoning. Abdullah Al-Basheer, a Jordanian doctor, did not confirm however the poison was indeed polonium, a highly toxic, radioactive element said by the Swiss Radiophysics Institute to be found in unusually high quantities in Arafatís clothing.
Al-Basheer will continue the examination by perusing Arafatís medical reports as well as continuing communication with the Swiss laboratory.
Additionally, Suha Arafat, Arafatís late wife, called on July 10 for a French investigation into his death. If accepted, her demand will give the French authorities full capabilities to investigate her husbandís death.
In the midst of this investigation, President Mahmoud Abbas met with Saudi King Abdullah on July 13 to discuss the Palestinian governmentís financial crisis in which Abbas has been unable to pay government employeesí salaries for one month. Citing debts and lack of foreign aid, Abbas plans to visit other Arab countries asking for aid, seeking a way out of this financial crisis.
In addition to Saudi Arabia, Abbas will be traveling to Egypt July 18 to meet with newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, in which they are expected to discuss diplomatic relations between the two countries in addition to the Palestinian financial crisis.
The first time the two leaders have met since the Egyptian election results were publicly revealed, Abbas is also expected to encourage Morsi to assume the position of moderating reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas.
Morsi will also likely meet with Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas de facto leader in the Gaza Strip, in an effort to reconcile both Hamas and Fatah, suggesting his own compliance with assuming an active role in reconciliation between the two parties.
In Gaza, an Israeli air strike killed a Hamas operative and wounded four others on July 12. Shelling a vehicle in the eastern area of Gaza Strip, the air strike wounded three Palestinians who medics identified as members of the Izzedin Qassam Brigades, Hamasí military wing. The army claimed they were trying to launch an anti-tank missile at one of its border patrols.
On July 9, gunfire from Gaza struck cars just three km inside of Israel, however no casualties were reported.
UN agencies and human rights groups revealed on July 11 a sharp increase in settler violence in recent years, asserting that a lack of Israeli law enforcement has brewed the grounds for the attitude of impunity among the settler communities.
Matthias Behnke from the UNís Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights explained, ďWhat we are seeing is a lack of action on the ground [by Israeli law enforcement agencies],Ē sparking questions about settlements.
According to the United Nations, settler attacks on Palestinians causing injury or damage rose from 168 in 2009 to 411 in 2011, and in the first half of 2012, there have already been 154 instances.
This week saw no decrease in violent settler attacks. On July 9, Muhammad Abdul Mahareq, 14, received multiple injuries along with a broken left leg after a settler in the Susiya area south of Hebron struck him with his car and then drove off. The boy was taken to the Al-Ahli hospital for treatment.
On July 7, settlers attacked a group of shepherds and their herd near the Palestinian village of Yanoun. Settlers reportedly beat the shepherds with fists and sticks, trying to force them away from the area. After villagers threw stones at the settlers, Israeli troops arrived, fired in the air, and handcuffed one of the villagers, leaving him to be severely beaten by settlers. In total, five Palestinians were hurt. The army denies a handcuffed Palestinian was beaten.
Additionally early morning July 7, an elderly Palestinian man was rushed to the hospital after he inhaled tear gas fired by Israeli forces in the Nablus area. Isam Ahid Faqih, 65, suffocated after Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian youths around 3 a.m. and was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus for treatment.