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UN slams Israel destruction of Jordan Valley homes
Published Saturday 01/02/2014 (updated) 07/02/2014 13:00
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A Bedouin shepherd leads his herd of cattle in the Judean desert
overlooking the Jordan Valley, on Jan. 8, 2014
(AFP/File Ahmad Gharabli)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories criticized Israel's demolition of 36 homes in the Jordan Valley and urged a halt to such actions in the West Bank.

Hundreds of activists, meanwhile, staged an overnight demonstration in the Jordan Valley region.

The moves came as fresh opinion poll evidence showed that faith in the Middle East peace process has largely evaporated among both Israelis and Palestinians.

The demolitions in the Jordan Valley community of Ain el-Helwe on Thursday displaced 66 people, including 36 children, James Rawley said in a statement.

"I am deeply concerned about the ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians ... along the Jordan Valley where the number of structures demolished more than doubled in the last year," he said.

"This activity not only deprives Palestinians of access to shelter and basic services, it also runs counter to international law."

His office said more than 1,000 people had been displaced last year in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem by demolitions on the grounds that homes had been built without Israeli permits, "which are virtually impossible to obtain."

On Friday, around 300 Palestinians together with Israeli and foreign activists set up camp in abandoned houses near Jericho in the West Bank to protest against Israel's refusal to pull out of the Jordan Valley in case of a peace deal, an AFP photographer said.

The demonstrators in Ein Hajla village were equipped with generators and said they planned to spend the night in around a dozen of the houses, as Israeli troops and police kept watch from a distance.

They held a banner reading: "No peace with settlements."

Their action -- dubbed "Melh al-Ard" (salt of the earth) -- aimed "to revive an old Palestinian Canaanite village in the Jordan Valley," to counter any Israeli annexation plans, the activists said in a statement.

They condemned Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

His efforts would "establish a disfigured Palestinian state and recognizes the Israeli entity as a Jewish state," they said.

Such a state would put Arab Israelis at risk of deportation at any time, the activists said.

Faith in the Middle East peace process has largely evaporated among Israelis and Palestinians in the two decades since the Oslo accords and a famous White House lawn handshake, a new poll found Friday.

According to the Zogby Research Services poll, neither side has much confidence in the new push for peace being led by Kerry, which the pollsters believe is proving a hard sell.

Although two decades have elapsed since then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands watched by then US leader Bill Clinton, "it is clear several deep differences exist" plaguing the atmosphere between the two sides.

"Twenty years later only 18 percent of Palestinians and 19 percent of Israelis view Oslo as a positive development in the history of their relationship," the poll said.

Both sides believe the other is not committed to peace.

And only around a third of people in each community sees a two-state solution as feasible, even though 74 percent of Israelis and 47 percent of Palestinians agree it is the desired outcome.

"From the results of this poll, it is clear that the past 20 years have taken a toll on the confidence both Palestinians and Israelis have in the peace process that began with the 1993 signing of the Oslo accords," the poll said.

Kerry is trying to draw up a framework agreement which would set out the end game in the resumed negotiations and guide the talks going forward over the next few months.

Twenty years ago both Palestinians, some 61 percent, and Israelis, some 54 percent, said they "were hopeful" when the Oslo accords were signed, setting out a roadmap for the peace process.

The poll was carried out in the Middle East in August 2013 among 1,000 Israelis and Palestinians, just as Kerry persuaded the two sides to resume talks after a three-year hiatus.
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1 ) Previous, Now, & / Future
01/02/2014 21:05
-1- The previous unpermitted constructions were destroyed, and -2- This time will probably be the same, and Until a Peace Agreement is reached with Israel, -3- All future unpermitted constructions will be no different !!!

2 ) declan kelly / UK
01/02/2014 21:16
You despair.. to know people are suffering so much, because we all can't get on. What does it take, for people to forfeit the feeling of supposed superiority ..ego, pride and to to just ..talk and in doing that, maybe love will prevail. Conscience will always prevail.

3 ) Mitri I. Musleh / Canada
01/02/2014 22:26
If some Palestinian and Israeli activists can protest together the Israeli government refusal to pull out of the Jordan Valley in case of a peace deal, then Palestinians and Israeli citizens can also live together is a one-state solution. Those activists should struggle for equality and citizenship rights for all.

4 ) @3)Paul / Usa
02/02/2014 00:33
Yes one state would be nice, but short of nuking Jerusalem so both sides will quit whinning around about who it belongs to, that will not work. How about a three state solution, according to UNR 181, with Jerusalem-Alquds being its own international city like the Vatican with it own government made up of the nations including Palestinians and Israelis? Kerry brought it up again and it makes sense. Take this city out of the formula, allow visitation to all faiths there. Then have 2 other states.

5 ) shirley / australia
02/02/2014 02:58
ban ki moon is astooge of the us and zionists /EU the united nato headquaters is apro west institution why is blair allowed to raom it halls as an ambassador when his name is on rome statuate as war criminal the AU have not only left egypt out od summit and egypt sisi hailed by blair and ashton shows world split and au complaining of un total bias true and blair/bush can be charged by un special tribunal or hauge criminal court not just icc isreals permits are illegal have no jurastiction

6 ) gabi / australia
02/02/2014 04:07
#1 you really should take off those blinkers. The rest of the world can see that Israel is just not interested in any "peace agreement". It won't settle for anything less than having all the land from the Med to the Jordan, which is what BenGurion promised his followers, even as he was telling the UN he accepted the Partition Plan. Read a bit more actual history, not hasbara. And while you are at it, ask yourself why "unpermitted construction" only applies to Palestinians, and on their own land!

7 ) @ Mitri-3, Paul-4, & Gabi-6 / Reality & Truth Always
02/02/2014 18:28
Mitri/Paul, The time when One-State was possible ended decades ago, and can Never return. A time when Two-States could still be possible is ending rapidly, which leaves only a time for One-State of Israel, One-Authority of Palestine (many isolated urban areas), and One-"Hamastan" of Gaza !!! Gabi, NOT only is Israel NOT "interested in having all the land from the Med to the Jordan", it will never accept back either Area A or Gaza, and it seeks to be rid of other Arab-Israeli areas too !!!

8 ) Maureen / Australia
02/02/2014 20:24
So what is the USrael controlled UN going to do about Israel's continued inhumanity to Palestinian people - nothing!
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