Entries in East Jerusalem (2)


Palestinians Rally for Statehood

Jim Ballard-Getty Images(RAMALLAH, West Bank) -- Thousands of Palestinians gathered in cities in the occupied West Bank Wednesday in a show of support for the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations.

The demonstrations coincided with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where the Palestinian bid is topping the agenda.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, around 2,000 people rallied in a central square as they listened to speakers on a stage. Civil servants and students were given the day off, and many of the students wore their uniforms and waved flags while others sported traditional Palestinians scarves.

The mood was festive and upbeat as the bid is a popular challenge to the world after what Palestinians say are years of failed talks with Israel moderated by a prejudiced United States.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to apply for full membership at the U.N. on Friday, a mission Obama administration officials have been trying to quash for months and now admit there's little hope of stopping. The U.S. has promised to veto the request in the Security Council, a prospect they are trying to avoid so as not to further anger an Arab world that sees American support for Israel as heavily biased against Arabs.

If the Palestinian bid for full U.N. membership fails, they will likely go to the General Assembly for an upgrade in status from "observer entity" to "observer state." This would allow Palestine to join international bodies and go after Israel in international courts, a threat Palestinian officials have repeatedly made.

American and European diplomats are working desperately behind the scenes to try and contain the fallout and bring both sides back to the negotiating table while allowing Palestinian and Israeli leaders to save face with their respective peoples.

Palestinians are largely realistic about the fact that no matter what happens at the U.N., little will change on the ground. Many worry that living conditions will actually get worse, with Israel clamping down further as punishment. But after almost two decades of failed negotiations, many Palestinians say they need to try something new.

Palestinians are asking for recognition based on borders before the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel was attacked by the surrounding Arab countries. That territory includes Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem as the capital.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Plans for New Apartments in Disputed East Jerusalem

Israeli Settlement in E. Jerusalem. Photo Courtesy - Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israeli officials are defending plans for 1,400 new apartments in the settlement of Gilo, part of disputed East Jerusalem which Israel seized from Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967.  Palestinians reacted with outrage to the plan, which could scuttle the rocky U.S.-sponsored peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the site of their future capital and say Israel would be in violation of international law in building the apartments.  But Jerusalem Councilman Elisha Peleg told Voice of America that Israel has every right to do what it wants in that part of the city.

"The Jews have the right to build in all parts of Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem," he said.

Some Israeli politicians disagree.  The left wing Peace Now movement's Hagit Ofran told VOA that Israel would destroy the peace process through such moves.  The Palestinians refuse to return to the negotiations until Israel halts all construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The apartment plan could be approved as soon as next week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio