Thursday, September 22, 2011

Israeli Cops Prep for Violence; Israeli Intellectuals Appeal for Palestinian State

Updated 11:30 a.m. edt Fiday

Israeli police beefed up security today in Jerusalem and banned Palestinian men under the age of 50 from praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, taking security precautions amid at least one deadly confrontation as the Palestinians ask for statehood from the United Nations.

Women of any age are still allowed to pray at the historic mosque, according to the WAFA Palestinian news agency.

Israeli security forces shot and killed a Palestinian in the West Bank during a confrontation between Palestinians and Jewish settlers in the village of Qusra, a local Palestinian official said, according to Haaretz.

There were also confrontations in Arab East Jerusalem with rock-hurling Palestinians, the newspaper reported.

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Israeli security forces are breaking out the "skunk" crowd-control spray amid fears of violence in Jerusalem and elsewhere ahead of tomorrow's anticipated bid for statehood at the United Nations by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Skunk, a smelly spray that can leave its victims wishing they were instead hit by the more frequently utilized Israeli rubber bullets, is among an array of crowd-control weapons security forces will be armed with in the occupied West Bank territory and along the borders with Palestine.

Security was heightened today in Jerusalem ahead of tomorrow's anticipated spectacle at the UN General Assembly, according to the Palestinian news agency, WAFA.

Dozens of Israeli artists and intellectuals used symbolic Independence Hall in Tel Aviv to show support today for Palestinian statehood. The protesters demonstrated outside the same building where the late socialist former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proclaimed independence for the state of Israel on May 14, 1948.

It is all part of a dramatic, but so far peaceful build-up to the events tomorrow at the UN, which will be more along the lines of litigating a case, as Abbas and Isreali Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu address the world body.

But, as the Talk Radio News Service reports, an actual vote has to move through a time-consuming bureaucratic process. So it could be weeks before a vote is taken.   

"A vote here is merely a statement on a piece of paper. It doesn't change anything on the ground for the Palestinian people the day after," a panicked-sounding Ambassador Susan Rice told NPR's of "All Things Considered" today.

Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, told the high-brow radio network a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood "is not just a neutral, symbolic action. In our view it is unwise and counterproductive." 

"If it accelerated the negotiations, we would say yes," Rice said. "The reality is quite the opposite. The process that must occur will be that much more complicated in the wake of this kind of one-sided action."

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