Opinion

Special interview: There is ‘a very strong consensus’ in favor of Yemen truce continuation, says US envoy Tim Lenderking

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US Special Envoy Lenderking arrived in Riyadh on Saturday, to discuss peaceful solutions to the war, and the FSO Safer tanker. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses a press conference following a pledging conference for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen on Feb. 26, 2019 in Geneva. (AFP file)
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Yemeni boys bring home food relief distributed by the Saudi aid agency KSrelief in various parts of the war-ravaged country. (Supplied)
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Thousands of Yemenis fled their homes amid battles between government forces and Houthi fighters near the Hodeidah airport in 2018. (AFP file)
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Millions of children in Yemen face starvation due to a lack of aid for the country, UNICEF has said. (AFP)
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Updated 27 November 2022

Special interview: There is ‘a very strong consensus’ in favor of Yemen truce continuation, says US envoy Tim Lenderking

  • Washington’s point man for Yemen says Houthis face complete isolation if they opt for a military solution
  • He expressed hope that Houthis’ backer Iran will match its words supporting extended truce with action

RIYADH: There is a very strong internal and international consensus in favor of continuation of the truce in Yemen, with all of the regional countries supporting a peaceful resolution, not a return to war, Timothy Lenderking, the US special envoy for Yemen, has told Arab News.

If the Houthis opt for a military solution, they will be completely isolated, he said during an interview with Arab News in Riyadh, where he arrived on Saturday as part of a diplomatic push to extend a UN-mediated truce in Yemen into a permanent arrangement.

Lenderking is also expected to continue to rally support for UN efforts to raise awareness of the threat posed by the stricken oil storage vessel, Safer, in the Red Sea, and the funding required to address the ticking environmental time bomb.

After more than seven years of war and humanitarian crisis, the truce between the Houthis, who control most of northern Yemen, and the UN-recognized government has been extended from two to six months and has largely held.

Lenderking considers the extension an opportunity for the Iran-backed Houthis to show good faith and good will, and respond to the desire of the Yemeni people for peace.

“From what we know after talking to Yemenis inside Yemen and around the world, there is no appetite for a return to war. There is no capacity for anybody to wish to see this happen,” he said.




US Special Envoy Lenderking being interviewed by Arab News' Aisha Fareed in Riyadh. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Lenderking, a career member of the senior foreign service who was picked for the special envoy’s post by US President Joe Biden on Feb. 4, 2021, said that the US recognizes the leadership the Yemen government has shown in terms of flexibility with facilitating the entry of oil derivatives ships into the port of Hodeidah.

Deploring the fuel crisis that resulted from the Houthis’ “altering of the standard operating procedures” by which oil supplies move into Yemen, he said: “It created a problem, and immediately produced long gas lines in Sanaa such as we had seen before the truce.”

Washington does not support any bureaucratic procedures that obstruct the movement of oil, Lenderking clarified, adding that free movement of oil without any impediments into Yemen is, for the US, a fundamental and longstanding position.

Acknowledging that the government’s role in facilitating the entry of oil tankers into Hodeidah port is a vital part of the truce (which went into effect on April 2 this year), he said the movement of oil has an immediate and positive impact on Yemenis.

“It reduces the fuel lines, powers the food mills, and brings fuel to hospitals and schools and indeed the entire transportation network. It’s one of the cornerstones of what we feel has been a very successful truce,” he said.




Lenderking said the movement of oil into Yemen, thanks to the truce, is having an immediate and positive impact on the lives of ordinary people. (AFP)

Illustrating his point, Lenderking said that 21,000 passengers have flown from Sanaa airport on commercial airlines for the first time since 2016, and there will be more destinations becoming available.

Also as a result of the truce, he said, there are 60 percent fewer civilian casualties in Yemen — yet another development that he believes demonstrates what the agreement can bring in terms of tangible benefit to the Yemeni people.

The Houthis have publicly committed to the terms of the truce when it was extended on Aug. 2, and according to Lenderking, the US is counting on them to continue to support the deal going forward in October in an expanded format.

“We see all of those (pillars of the truce including the fuel ships and commercial flights) expanding after October, bringing additional benefit to the Yemenis and really changing their lives in a very positive way,” he said.

Lenderking said that the international consensus exists among the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, notably the Chinese, the US, the Russians, who all see this conflict in the same way — that the pressing issues must be resolved in a political context through negotiation.




Houthi fighters, reportedly funded and armed by Iran, have contributed largely to the destruction of Yemen. (AFP file)

He said that even Iran has welcomed the truce in each of its iterations and that there is a considerable amount of international attention focused on Yemen at this moment, particularly heading into October.

Elaborating on Iran’s role in the conflict, Lenderking said that the relationship between the Houthis and Iran has been mostly a “lethal” one, with the Iranians having encouraged the Houthis at times to launch attacks.




A picture taken on June 19, 2018 shows debris of Iranian-made Ababil drones, which the UAE military says were used by Houthi rebels in Yemen in battles against coalition forces. (AFP)

“They’ve supported the Houthis in developing their military capability, their UAV capability. And that’s been very negative,” he said. “This fuels rather than tempers the conflict.”

Nevertheless, Lenderking expressed hope that Tehran would match its words — welcoming the truce and backing an extended cease-fire — with action by supporting the current positive trajectory.

“There is a lot at stake here,” he said. “When we talk about the Yemen conflict, you have not only the livelihoods and the terrible humanitarian situation in Yemen, but you also have the American lives in Saudi Arabia and around the Gulf that are put at risk by attacks on these countries.

“We’ve seen oil and other infrastructure in these countries attacked by the Houthis.”

BIO

Name: Timothy A. Lenderking

Designation: Deputy assistant secretary of state for Arabian Gulf Affairs in the Near East Bureau, Department of State

Previous posts: Deputy chief of mission, US Embassy in Riyadh Senior democracy adviser, US Embassy in Baghdad

Education: Masters in history and international relations, University of Washington (1989)

All things considered, Lenderking says now is the moment for Yemen and its leaders to embrace the possibility of peace — through the truce, a durable cease-fire and political negotiations.

Besides the war, another issue related to Yemen that is of growing international concern is the fate of the derelict vessel FSO Safer. In recent months, the UN, with the support of the US and the Netherlands, has raised $70 million in contributions for the safe transfer of the oil stored in the Safer.

The Safer, decaying off the port of Ras Isa north of Hodeidah, is believed to contain 1.1 million barrels of oil — four times the amount that leaked into Alaska’s Prince William Sound as a result of the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989.




There is growing international concern surrounding the fate of the derelict vessel FSO Safer. (AFP)

The vessel’s structure has been left exposed to humidity and corrosion with little or no maintenance since the war started in 2015.

Lenderking, who is spearheading the salvage effort, is optimistic about preventing what he has described as a “looming disaster.”

He said that there is considerable support not only from countries in this region but also from Europe and the US, which is one of the largest donors to the initiative, with a pledge of $10 million, alongside Saudi Arabia and other countries.

“Obviously, an oil spill of a magnitude four times the size of the Exxon Valdez will be devastating for the coastline of the Red Sea, through which so much of international commerce traverses,” Lenderking said. “It will exacerbate the humanitarian situation in Yemen if the ports along the western coast are blocked to oil ships.”

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According to Lenderking, the private sector has done a good job, but could do more to support the dismantling effort, which he said would benefit international commerce, maritime diversity and trade, in addition to helping Yemen rebound from the humanitarian crisis.

The first phase envisages the removal of the oil from the Safer onto a more secure vessel. However, neither the funding ($80 million) of this phase has been completed, nor is a reliable political agreement in place.

Still, Lenderking believes that the salvage initiative has been worthwhile, noting that a great deal of progress has been made since it was launched and expressing satisfaction with the leadership that Saudi Arabia, the US, the Netherlands, the UN and other donors have shown in the matter.




Lenderking is optimistic about preventing what he has described as a “looming disaster” off the western Yemeni coast. (AFP)

“We’re not there yet, and of course the key is to actually move the oil off the Safer before the tanker explodes or starts to leak, and that’s really the concern and that could happen at any time,” he said. “I mean experts have been warning about this for years.”

Lenderking pointed out that is the first time has been an agreement to move oil off the Safer and put it onto a safer vessel, an objective he is “confident” will be met this year.

“That’s a realistic goal, and I believe at the UN General Assembly later this month there will be an event which marks the progress made, and calls on donors to continue to support this effort,” he said.

 


Turkish missiles used in Syria include Europe-produced parts

Updated 06 December 2022

Turkish missiles used in Syria include Europe-produced parts

  • An analysis of the components of the wreckage found that the missiles were manufactured by Roketsan, a Turkish defense manufacturer
  • The missiles included components made by US, Chinese and European companies

BEIRUT: Commercial brakes produced by a Dutch company to be used in ambulances in Turkiye instead ended up in missiles used by Turkiye in attacks in northeastern Syria, a report released Tuesday said.
Between September 2021 and June 2022, field investigators with London-based Conflict Armament Research analyzed the remnants of 17 air-to-surface missiles used in strikes in northeast Syria, the report said. An analysis of the components of the wreckage found that the missiles were manufactured by Roketsan, a Turkish defense manufacturer.
The missiles included components made by US, Chinese and European companies, among them electromagnetic brakes with “markings and characteristics consistent with production by (Netherlands-based company) Kendrion NV,” the report said.
Representatives of Kendrion told researchers that the company had agreed in 2018 to supply 20-25,000 brakes to a Turkish company called FEMSAN, with the stated purpose of using them on blood analysis machines fitted to ambulances, the report said. After being notified that the brakes were being used in military applications, Kendrion said it had cut off its business relationship with the Turkish company, the report noted.
FEMSAN did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while representatives of Roketsan could not be reached for comment.
The research was carried out before the most recent round of Turkish airstrikes in northeast Syria, launched last month in response to a deadly Nov. 13 bombing in Istanbul that Ankara blames on Kurdish groups based in Syria — an allegation that the groups deny. Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also threatened a ground incursion.
The report did not allege that the sellers of the components used in the missiles had violated any laws, noting that “while the EU has had an arms embargo related to Syria itself since 2011, (Turkiye) has never been subject to sanctions at the multilateral level.”
It added that the case “highlights both the critical importance and the relative complexity of commercial due diligence for material of these types” which “may serve multiple purposes, some of which the manufacturer may not even be aware, and which may be extremely sensitive.”


Al Jazeera files lawsuit against Israeli forces at ICC over killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

Updated 06 December 2022

Al Jazeera files lawsuit against Israeli forces at ICC over killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

  • Case follows an investigation into journalist’s killing by news network’s legal team
  • Israeli Prime Minister says that no one would be allowed to question Israeli soldiers

DUBAI: Al Jazeera on Tuesday said it has filed a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court against Israeli forces over the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot during an Israeli raid in the West Bank in May.

The lawsuit follows an investigation by the television news network’s legal team, Al Jazeera said on Twitter.

The ICC must identify the individuals who were directly involved in Abu Akleh’s killing, Al Jazeera lawyer Rodney Dixon KC told a news conference in The Hague on Tuesday.

“The rulings of the International Criminal Court stipulate that those responsible be investigated and held accountable. Otherwise, they bear the same responsibility as if they were the ones who opened fire,” Dixon said.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Tuesday that no one would question Israeli soldiers.

“No one will interrogate IDF soldiers and no one will preach to us about morals of combat, certainly not the Al Jazeera network,” Lapid said.


Iran sentences five to death over killing of Basij paramilitary

Updated 06 December 2022

Iran sentences five to death over killing of Basij paramilitary

  • Another 11 people, including 3 children, were handed lengthy jail terms

TEHRAN: Iran has sentenced to death five people over the killing of a member of the Basij paramilitary force during nationwide protests, the judiciary said Tuesday.
Another 11 people, including three children, were handed lengthy jail terms over the death of Ruhollah Ajamian, judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi told a news conference, adding the sentences could be appealed.
A group of 15 people had been charged with “corruption on earth” over the death of Ajamian on November 3 in Karaj, a city west of Tehran, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website reported last week.
Prosecutors said Ajamian, 27, was stripped naked and killed by a group of mourners who had been paying tribute to a slain protester, Hadis Najafi, during ceremonies marking 40 days since her death.
Najafi was killed during unrest that has gripped Iran since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, after her arrest for an alleged breach of the country’s dress code for women.
Initially, on November 12, Mizan Online announced charges for 11 people over Ajamian’s killing, including a woman but as the trial opened, it said 15 defendants in the case had been charged.
An Iranian general said on Monday that more than 300 people have been killed in the unrest, including dozens of members of the security forces.
Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have been arrested, including 40 foreigners and prominent actors, journalists and lawyers.
The latest court rulings bring to 11 the number of people sentenced to death in Iran over the violence sparked by Amini’s death.

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How Israel, Jordan and Palestine can cooperate to slow Dead Sea’s demise 

Updated 06 December 2022

How Israel, Jordan and Palestine can cooperate to slow Dead Sea’s demise 

  • Water levels have been falling over the past half century, endangering the salt lake’s very existence
  • Joint effort to revive the Jordan River and a canal to the Mediterranean Sea among potential solutions

AMMAN: From Greco-Roman times, the Dead Sea’s unique equilibrium was finely balanced by nature. Fresh water from nearby rivers and springs flowed into the lake, combining with rich salt deposits and then evaporating, leaving behind a brine of 33 percent salinity.

Now, owing to a combination of climatic and man-made factors, this balance has been disrupted. As a result, the Dead Sea has been receding at an alarming rate over the past half century, endangering its very existence.

The Dead Sea has been receding at an alarming rate over the past half century. (AFP)

At the UN Climate Change Conference, COP27, held in Egypt’s resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh in November, a joint Israeli-Jordanian agreement was signed to try to address the Dead Sea’s decline.

However, given that the deal excluded the Palestinians and was signed by an outgoing Israeli environment ministry official, some say that its chances of success are low.

Without sufficient funding, and in the absence of a three-way agreement, Jordan and Israel have instead decided to focus on cleaning up the Jordan River to help replenish the Dead Sea’s main water source.

What was signed by Israeli and Jordanian officials on the sidelines of COP27 was an agreement to this effect. But if the Dead Sea is to be rescued from impending oblivion, it is clear that far more needs to be done to undo the damage to its natural freshwater sources and to set aside political rivalries for the common environmental good.

No one knows exactly how the Dead Sea came into being. The Bible and other religious texts suggest this lifeless, salty lake at the lowest point on Earth was created when God rained down fire and brimstone on the sinful towns of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Russian experts have even tried excavating under the lake bed in the hope of finding evidence to support the Biblical tale. A nearby religious site called Lot’s Cave is said to be where the nephew of Abraham and his daughters lived after fleeing the destruction.

Scientists, meanwhile, point to the lake’s more mundane, geological origins, claiming the Dead Sea is the product of the same tectonic shifts that formed the Afro-Arabian Rift Valley millions of years ago.

Halfway through the 20th century, among the first big decisions made by the newly formed state of Israel was to divert large amounts of water by pipelines from the Jordan River to the southern Negev, in order to realize the dream of Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion to “make the desert bloom.”

If the Dead Sea is to be rescued from impending oblivion, it is clear that far more needs to be done to undo the damage to its natural freshwater. (AFP)

In 1964, Israel’s Mekorot National Water Company inaugurated its National Water Carrier project, which gave the Degania Dam — completed in the early 1930s — a new purpose: to regulate the water flow from the Sea of Galilee to the Jordan River.

One result was that the share of water reaching the neighboring Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan fell drastically, thereby depriving the Dead Sea of millions of cubic meters of freshwater per year from its primary source.

Another potential contributing factor at present is the Israeli company behind Ein Gedi Mineral Water. The Ein Gedi bottling plant has monopolized the use of freshwater from a spring that lies within the 1948 borders of the state of Israel and which long fed into the Dead Sea.

However, not all the blame for the lake’s decline rests with one country. According to Elias Salameh, a water science professor at the University of Jordan, every country in the region bears some responsibility.

“All of us are responsible at different levels for what has happened to the Dead Sea,” Salameh told Arab News. Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria have all sucked up water intended for the Dead Sea in order to satisfy their own needs.

FASTFACTS

• The Dead Sea receives almost all its water from the Jordan River.

• It is the lowest body of water on the surface of the planet.

• In the mid-20th century, it was 400 meters below sea level.

• By the mid-2010s, it had fallen to 430 meters below sea level.

In 1955, the Jordan Valley Unified Water Plan, brokered by US Ambassador Eric Johnston, allowed Israel to use 25 million cubic meters of Yarmouk River water per year, Syria 90 million and Jordan 375 million.

“But not all countries abided by the commitments made to the American, Johnston,” said Salameh. “It was never signed because Arab countries had not recognized Israel and refused to sign any agreement with Israel. Syria took the biggest portion, getting away with 260-280 million cubic meters annually.”

In the 1970s, Jordan and Syria began their own diversion of the Yarmouk River, the largest tributary of the Jordan River, again reducing its flow. Another agreement, in 1986, gave Jordan the right to 200 million cubic meters. But, in reality, Jordan took barely 20 million.

According to the UN, Jordan is the second most water-scarce country in the world. The 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars, which led to the mass exodus of Palestinians, more than doubled Jordan’s population, making its water needs even more acute.

As a result of these deals and diversions, the Dead Sea receded from roughly 398 meters below sea level in 1976 to around 430 meters below sea level in 2015. What is more worrying, perhaps, is the decline has been accelerating.

“Climate change has aggressively hit Jordan in the past two years,” said Motasem Saidan, University of Jordan professor. (Supplied)

During the first 20 years after 1976, the water level dropped by an average of six meters per decade. Over the next decade, from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, it fell by nine meters. In the decade up to 2015, it fell by 11 meters.

Some attribute this accelerating decline to man-made climate change. Climate scientists say global warming has already resulted in significant alterations to human and natural systems, one of which is increased rate of evaporation from water bodies.

At the same time, the waters of the Dead Sea are not being replenished fast enough.

Although the Dead Sea borders Jordan, Israel and Palestine, and despite the valiant efforts of such cross-border NGOs as Earth Peace, which includes activists from all three communities, no serious collective action has been taken to deal with the ecological disaster.

Cooperation is essential, however, to stave off the wider environmental consequences — most concerning of all being the rapid proliferation of sinkholes along the Dead Sea shoreline.

According to scientists, when freshwater diffuses beneath the surface of the newly exposed shoreline, it slowly dissolves the large underground salt deposits until the earth above collapses without warning.

Over a thousand sinkholes have appeared in the past 15 years alone, swallowing buildings, a portion of road, and date-palm plantations, mostly on the northwest coast. Environmental experts believe Israeli hotels along the shoreline are now in danger.

On the Jordanian side, too, the fate of luxury tourism resorts along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea face is in the balance.

Dead Sea is the product of the same tectonic shifts that formed the Afro-Arabian Rift Valley millions of years ago, scientists say. (AFP)

“The main highway, which is the artery to all the big Jordanian hotels, is in danger of collapsing if the situation is not rectified,” Salameh said.

Israel has developed a system that can predict where the next sinkhole will appear, based on imagery provided by a satellite operated by the Italian Space Agency, which passes over the Dead Sea every 16 days and produces a radar image of the area.

By comparing sets of images, even minimal changes in the topography can be identified before any major collapse.

Israeli officials have been searching for solutions to prevent a further decline in water levels and thereby stave off the spread of sinkholes. One suggestion is the construction of a Red Sea-Dead Sea canal.

A report compiled to assess the potential impact of transferring Red Sea water into the lower-lying Dead Sea found that a moderate flow could slow, but not halt, the retreat of the Dead Sea and reduce the number of new sinkholes per year.

Ironically, it found that too much Red Sea water could have the opposite effect. If the flow was significant enough to raise the level of the Dead Sea, the report predicted the sinkhole problem would be exacerbated.

Because the Red Sea is less salty than the Dead Sea, it would likely increase the dissolution of underground salt deposits and thereby speed up the appearance of sinkholes.

Although many solutions have been suggested to help address the Dead Sea’s decline, none has been implemented owing in large part to a lack of funding.

The Dead Sea receded from roughly 398 meters below sea level in 1976 to around 430 meters below sea level in 2015. What is more worrying, perhaps, is the decline has been accelerating. (AFP)

According to Salameh, the most logical solution proposed to date is the Med-Dead project, which would allow for a channel to run from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea.

Two of the sites proposed for this channel are Qatif, near the Gaza Strip, and Bisan, north of the Jordan River in Jordan. However, such a plan would first require Jordanian and Palestinian approvals.

Jordan has also suggested a similar project establishing a channel from the Red Sea, but Salameh does not consider this feasible.

“The distance is long, and it is not a viable project,” he said.


Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

Updated 05 December 2022

Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in West Bank

  • ‘Apartheid’ fears grow after authorities ramp up settler road construction

RAMALLAH: A 22-year-old Palestinian man was killed by Israeli gunfire during a military raid in the occupied West Bank on Monday morning.

Omar Manna “Faraja” was killed in Bethlehem Dheisheh refugee camp after being hit by four bullets in the chest.

Another six people were injured, and four were arrested during the Israeli operation.

Troops stormed the refugee camp, sparking violent clashes with youths, official Palestinian sources said.

A comprehensive strike occurred in Bethlehem to mourn the murder of the Palestinian.

The killing took place as Israeli authorities started constructing settler-only roads in the West Bank.

Israel’s scheme aims to secure separate travel paths on shared roadways, reducing friction and violent clashes between Palestinians and settlers, Israeli armed forces and Palestinian sources told Arab News.

The Israeli plan includes the construction of streets near Nablus, Qalqilyia and between Bethlehem and Hebron, added the sources.

The process involves the seizure of thousands of acres of Palestinian land.

Israel had confiscated large swathes of Palestinian land for the construction of bypass roads since the signing of the Oslo agreement in late 1993, with the aim of dispersing Israeli settlers outside the Palestinian cities and towns across the West Bank.

Friction between Palestinian youths and Israeli defense forces over the protection of settler vehicles passing through shared roads across the West Bank has increased in recent months, leading to the deaths of several Palestinians by Israeli gunfire.

The significant increase in clashes includes stone-throwing as well as violent physical attacks by settlers on Palestinians.

Hiwara shared road is one of the most critical streets that the Israeli plan aims to replace with a bypass outside the town, Palestinian sources told Arab News.

Moein Al-Dumaidi, mayor of Hiwara, told Arab News that the street that Israeli authorities began paving in Hiwara is 6 km long.

Almost 1,100 dunums of village land was being seized for the work following a Israeli military decision.

“This is a method of confiscating the lands of Hiwara and appropriating it to serve the settlers,” Al-Dumaidi told Arab News.

However, the mayor hoped that the road would reduce tensions in the town.

Hiwara suffers from daily attacks by settlers and Israeli forces, leading to more than seven citizens being killed over the last three months, said the mayor.

The latest incident came on Dec. 3 when an Israeli soldier shot a child, Ammar Mufleh, leaving him to bleed to death over 20 minutes without providing treatment.

Al-Dumaidi said that killings had increased significantly since the election of Israel’s right-wing government.

Hiwara, with a population of 8,000, has 9,900 dunums, of which 7,500 are classified as Area C — under complete Israeli security and administrative control. Construction is prohibited within the Area C category, although 2,400 dunums classified as Area B can be used for building.

Mahmoud Barham, mayor of Beita, adjacent to Hawara, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had confiscated 400 dunums of Beita land containing olive trees to build a bypass road, which will be used exclusively by Israeli settlers.

“We demanded that the project to build this bypass road be stopped because it affects the entrance to our town,” Barham told Arab News.

Legal activist Amer Hamdan, who travels daily through the shared Hiwara street, told Arab News that separate lanes might reduce clashes between Palestinians, settlers and Israeli forces.

However, it could be classified as apartheid according to international law, Hamdan added.

Israel seeks to connect Israeli settlements from Hebron in the south of the West Bank to the Nablus area in the north through a network of streets for Israeli settlers.

“After settlers stop passing through streets shared with the Palestinians, no one will care about paving or maintaining existing roads,” Hamdan told Arab News.

“Even if a traffic accident occurs, the Palestinian police will not be able to reach the scene of the accident ... and the Israeli police will not be present, which will create a problem for the Palestinians who use these streets,” he added.

In 2019, Israel constructed a highway in eastern Jerusalem separated by a high concrete wall, dividing the road into two lanes — one for Palestinians and another for Israelis.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities demolished homes in the village of Al-Araqib on Monday.

Local residents, predominantly Arab Bedouins, were threatened with displacement in the Negev region for the 210th time since the village’s first demolition in 2010.

Locals persist in rebuilding their tents — made from wood and a nylon cover — each time after demolition in order to be shielded from the intense summer heat and bitter cold of the winter.

Israeli authorities refuse to recognize the ownership of the land by the people of Al-Araqib, and have repeatedly demolished the village and razed crops.

Demolition orders continue in East Jerusalem after Israeli authorities destroyed a residential building in the Wad Qaddum neighbourhood in Silwan, south of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The 17-year-old building included 10 apartments housing about 100 people.

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