Palestinians reject Israeli proposal to extend peace talks

PA refers to Israel’s proposal as “blackmail”; John Kerry arrives in Israel Monday evening to meet with Netanyahu and Abbas

Secretary of State John Kerry with Abbas in Ramallah

Secretary of State John Kerry with Abbas in Ramallah

The Palestinian Authority has reportedly rejected Israel’s proposal to extend peace talks beyond the designated April 29th deadline. Reports from Ramallah from Monday are claiming the Palestinian Authority referred to the proposal as an attempt by Israel to “blackmail”.

The proposal offered a partial settlement freeze, the release of the fourth phase of Palestinian prisoners incarcerated before the Oslo Accords, as well as an additional 400 imprisoned Palestinians.

An official from the Palestinian negotiating team stated that, “Israel is practicing a policy of blackmail and linking its agreement to releasing the fourth batch of prisoners with the Palestinians accepting to extend the negotiations” confirming the PA’s refusal of the proposal, stating “Israel made a proposal which was refused by the Palestinians.”

The official stated that the proposal“includes a partial settlement freeze in the West Bank but excludes East Jerusalem, and would include continued building in areas where tenders have already been published.” Israel has been clear that Jerusalem is, and will remain the capitol of the Jewist State.

The official accused Israel of attempting to “continue the negotiations indefinitely, without any results, in parallel with continued settlement building” echoing Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas’s accusations that Israel is “sabotaging” the United States’ efforts for a permanent peace deal, stating to the Arab League Summit last week that the Palestinians “don’t need a new cycle of agreements that Israel would bury under a series of conditions, reservations, explanations and interpretations.”

Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Israel Monday evening, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stating Monday, “After consulting with his team, Secretary Kerry decided it would be productive to return to the region.” It is the second time in two weeks Kerry has interrupted his tour in Europe to visit Israel in attempts to salvage peace talks amidst the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to cooperate.

A Palestinian Authority official reported to AFP that, “If we don’t get an answer from John Kerry on the prisoners tonight, we’ll begin to ask for membership in all UN agencies tomorrow” giving a 24-hour ultimatum Monday evening.

Netanyahu: No prisoner release without “clear benefit of return for Israel”

Israel delays fourth and final prisoner release until PA agrees to extend peace talks

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu (Reuters)

Prime Minister Netanyahu (Reuters)

Prime Minister Netanyahu stated during his Sunday cabinet meeting that the fourth and final batch of Palestinian prisoners would not be released unless there was a ״clear benefit of return for Israel.”

Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinian convicted terrorists in four phases in order for the Palestinians to agree to return to negotiations. So far, Israel has released 78 prisoners.

Netanyahu warned that negotiations with the Palestinians could “blow up” expressing concern that if Israel were to return the Palestinian prisoners, fourteen of which are Israeli Arabs, Palestinians would end negotiations with Israel. He stated that “It could be a matter of days. Either it resolves or implodes. In any case, there won’t be any deal without receiving something of clear value in return.”

An Israeli official explained, “Israel wants to see the continuation of the peace talks with the Palestinians, and is willing to implement the fourth release of convicted terrorists. But the Palestinians are making that very difficult when they say that immediately following the release, they will end the talks.”

Reports on Sunday from Palestinian sources claim that Israel would agree to release an additional 400 security prisoners if the Palestinian Authority were to agree to extend peace talks with Israel for an additional six months, as well as agree to not go to the United Nations and bypass negotiations in attempt to receive statehood recognition, a constant threat from Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

Negotiations are currently set to end on April 29th.

Israeli Radio reported that Israel would agree to the additional prisoner release, however, the prisoners would be limited to the West Bank only.

Israeli Navy prevents explosives smuggle into Gaza

Israeli Navy thwarts attempted weapons smuggle into Gaza from Sinai

Israeli Navy on Gaza coast (KOKO)

Israeli Navy on Gaza coast (KOKO)

The Israeli Navy prevented an attempt by Palestinians to smuggle explosives and ammunition into Gaza Wednesday. Two boats were stopped by Israeli naval troops from entering Gaza from Sinai.

The Israeli Navy spotted the vessels heading towards Gaza early Wednesday morning, opening fire at the ships, which then set off explosions from the explosives and ammunition onboard.  Gunmen on the Gaza coast fired at the Israeli soldiers and their vessels, none of the soldiers injured from the attack.

Palestinian news agencies reported that one of the four smugglers was killed, the other three injured.

The IDF reported that it is investigating the incident, but that the Israeli navy followed necessary procedures in preventing a smuggling attempt by terrorists from Sinai into Gaza.

Kerry arrives in Jordan to meet with Abbas on peace talks

Kerry meets with Abbas in Jordan on peace talks issues following Arab League and Abbas’s refusal to recognize Israel as Jewish state; PA threatens to go to UN if fourth prisoner release does not occur this week

Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Jordan Wednesday (AFP)

Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Jordan Wednesday (AFP)

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Amman, Jordan Wednesday, interrupting a diplomatic visit in Rome to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas amidst tensions and reports of issues in peace talks with Israel.

During his speech in the Arab League Summit in Kuwait Tuesday, Abbas accused Israel of sabotaging peace talks, reiterating his firm refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state, a condition made clear by Israel’s negotiating team and Prime Minister Netanyahu in order for a peace agreement. He accused Israel of “piling conditions on top of conditions to frustrate the American efforts to create a framework for the continuation of negotiations.”

The Arab League declared that it would also not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, stating through a resolution signed by the Arab League “absolute and categorical refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is set to end on April 30 with the Palestinian Authority threatening to go to the United Nations to push for statehood recognition if Israel refuses to free the last of four prisoner releases as agreed as a condition for peace talks.

Israel has released 78 Palestinian prisoners incarcerated before the Oslo Accords of 1993. The prisoners, all convicted of acts of terror, have been released to the West Bank and Gaza, the next prisoner release schedule for the end of this week, with reports of a possible refusal by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet to approving the release.

Families of the terror victims began protesting the scheduled release this week, several Israeli Members of Parliament submitting a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, calling on the prime minister to not follow through with the prisoner release, but to agree to a settlement freeze instead.

Kerry will additionally meet with King Abdullah II.

Arab League declare “absolute and categorical refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state”

Arab League Summit begins in Kuwait; overwhelming criticism of Israel in peace process with Palestinians; Abbas accuses Israel of sabotaging US efforts in negotiations

Abbas addresses the Arab League Tuesday (Reuters)

Abbas addresses the Arab League Tuesday (Reuters)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of sabotaging the peace process at the Arab League Summit in Kuwait Tuesday.  Speaking to world Arab leaders, Abbas gave a speech in which he not only accused Israel of not cooperating in peace negotiations, but also of “adding new demands that did not exist before” to a “defined timeframe that is not open for interpretations.”

Abbas focused his speech on the goals for Palestinian state, stating, “We want a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital based on the 1967 borders, that would be independent and have sovereignty of its own land, airspace, borders, water and resources, as well as a just and acceptable solution for the issue of the refugees.”

On the issue of Jerusalem, Abbas accused Israel of attempting to “scrap the Arab, Islamic and Christian identity of Jerusalem” stating that Israel is attempting to divide the Temple Mount claiming the Palestinian stance is in objection to dividing visiting hours to the holy site.

Abbas claimed Israel is “sabotaging” the United States efforts in making a permanent peace solution stating that the Palestinians “don’t need a new cycle of agreements that Israel would bury under a series of conditions, reservations, explanations and interpretations.”

Peace negotiations are set to finish at the end of April with major issues such as the Palestinians refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Jerusalem still in negotiations.

Several Arab leaders in the summit expressed their support with the Palestinian Authority in refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a final resolution by the Arab Summit stating, “absolute and categorical refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state”.

Israel has been clear since the beginning of negotiations that recognition as a Jewish state is a necessary condition for a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Egypt sentences 529 Muslim Brotherhood members to death

Egyptian court sentences 529 Morsi supporters to death in largest capital punishment case in Egyptian history; United States criticizes verdict that “defies logic”

Families of the convicted react to Monday’s verdict

Families of the convicted react to Monday’s verdict

An Egyptian court has sentenced 529 supporters of former president Mohammed Morsi to death Monday in a second hearing of a trial in Minya, outside of Cairo. It was the largest capital punishment case in Egypt’s history.

The charges were that of murdering a policeman and attempted murder of two additional police officers, as well as attacking a police station in Minya in August.

Amongst the sentenced are several leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian interim government continuing its crackdown on the Brotherhood as well as supporters of ousted president Morsi. Egypt officially declared Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in December.

Out of the 529, 153 are currently being held in detention, 17 acquitted and the remaining on the run. The court’s verdict can be appealed, reports claiming that none of the defendants or their attorneys were permitted in the court during the verdict.

The court’s decision will still have to be approved by Egypt’s religious authority before any executions can take place.

The United States has expressed that it is “deeply concerned” over Egypt’s decision, stating that it defies logic and certainly does not seem possible that a fair review of evidence and testimony, consistent with international standards,״ as stated by State Department Marie Harf.

Israeli professor developing bionic contact lens to help blind see

Israeli professor in last stages of developing contact lens that could help the blind to see; “This technology is good news for humanity, especially in bringing sight to people blind from birth without requiring surgery or damaging other vital senses or organs.”

A prototype of the bionic contact lens

A prototype of the bionic contact lens

Israeli Head of Electro-Optics and Professor of Engineering at Bar Ilan University Ze’ev Zavelsky has developed a contact lens that holds potential to enable the blind to see. The breakthrough development still in prototype state, has been in making since 2013, the development team ready to move the invention to full-scale trials.

Zavelsky explained the development stating, “This technology is good news for humanity, especially in bringing sight to people blind from birth without requiring surgery or damaging other vital senses or organs.” He explained that the lens is used to process digital images and translate them into tactile sensations that can be interpreted visually.

He explained “The cornea has the highest density of tactile sensors in the human body. There are 600 times more sensors in your cornea than on fingertips, which are used to touch and read Braille. And since there are so many tactile sensors in the eyes, one can actually sense and feel an image at a very high resolution, helping you really see with your eyes when you are blind.”

Zavelsky compared the lens’ capability to that of reading Braile, stating, “It’s like reading Braille, not with your fingertips but with your eyes…. We can encode an image with many more points than the Braille systems, and use these to stimulate the surface of the cornea. The more shapes you want to recognize, the longer the training should be. This is similar to how a visually impaired person learns Braille writing.”

The contact lens could provide resolution of thousands of pixels, opposed to the one megapixel eyes see normally. The invention would be non-invasive to human eyes and would be the greatest break through in technology for the blind.

For more Israel inventions, read our article “Top Ten Israel inventions in the last ten years”