Israeli troops clash with Palestinian protesters

RAS KARKAR: Israeli security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Friday at Palestinians protesting against land seizures for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, among the disputes stalling peace efforts.
Around a dozen of the hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the village of Ras Karkar were injured, witnesses said. An Israeli police spokesman had no immediate comment.
An Israeli court broke new judicial ground on Tuesday by giving legal recognition to a Jewish settlement built without Israeli government authorisation on privately owned Palestinian land. Most countries consider all of the settlements built on land that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal.
Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians. Palestinians say rapid settlement expansion in recent years could deny them a viable and contiguous state.
The other Palestinian territory, Gaza, was largely quiet on Friday despite expected border demonstrations, a weekly event in the Hamas-controlled enclave since March 30.
Israel has killed most than 170 Palestinians during the Gaza protests, in what it called an effort to thwart breaches of the fortified frontier.
Jordan has said it would lead a campaign to raise funds for the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees, to help it survive after the United States cut its funding.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said a meeting next month in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly would mobilise support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to continue core education and health services.
“Any shortage in funding will drive hundreds of thousands towards deprivation and despair,” Safadi, whose country has 2.2 million UN registered Palestinian refugees, said in Amman after meeting Pierre Krahenbuhl, the UNRWA head. Jordan will call for an Arab League meeting to lobby for donors to cover the $200 million shortfall needed to shore up UNRWA, Safadi said.
UNRWA has faced a cash crisis since the United States, long its biggest donor, earlier this year slashed funding, saying the agency needed to make unspecified reforms and calling on the Palestinians to renew peace talks with Israel.
The agency was founded in 1949 after the first Arab-Israel war, in the wake of the exodus of around 700,000 refugees who fled or were driven out of Israel on its founding as a state.
UNRWA now looks after more than 5 million descendants of those original refugees, in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“One cannot wish 5.3 million Palestine refugees away. These are people who have rights and for many years now, for decades have faced a plight and injustice that is simply immense,” UNRWA’s Krahenbuhl said at a news conference with Safadi.
“As long as a just a lasting solution has not found of the issue of Israel-Palestine conflict we will continue to implement the mandate that the General Assembly has given us.” — Reuters