August 11, 2013 (TSR) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday underwent a surgery to treat a hernia, his office said in a statement.
The overnight operation, carried out at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, was successful and took around an hour, it added.
The 63-year-old prime minister was expected to be released on Sunday afternoon. According to his aides and doctors, he will require several days of home rest to make a full recovery.
In an related development, media reports said Israeli troops killed a Palestinian man on the border with Gaza on Saturday night.
The Israeli military said the man acted “suspiciously” near the border fence, despite the fact that he was later found to be unarmed.
Meanwhile Israel also announced invitation for bids to build 1,200 housing units on its occupied lands in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, only three days before it enters a new round of peace talks with the Palestinians.
According to the Israeli Housing Ministry, about 800 housing units are planned in Jewish settlements beyond the 1967 borderlines in east Jerusalem, and 400 housing units in the West Bank.
A cabinet meeting which had been planned for Sunday will be postponed.
But a session of a ministerial committee expected to select a first batch of 26 prisoners for release ahead of another round of peace talks with the Palestinians on Wednesday will go ahead.
Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon will head the meeting.
The Palestinians have been demanding that Israel should release 104 Palestinian prisoners, halt its construction in the settlements and acknowledge the 1967 borderlines in the peace talks, which only resumed in late July after more than two years of suspension over the settlement issue.
Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel denied the claims made by some political sources and pundits that the new housing units’ tenders were aimed at satisfying some hawkish government officials, who are disgruntled about the upcoming release of some Palestinian prisoners.
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department condemned Israel’s actions on the lands that it annexed during the 1967 Mideast War, of which parts are to be included in a future Palestinian state.
“The United States doesn’t accept the legitimacy of the activity in the settlements,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
Last week, Israel’s Civil Administration, a body governing the occupied territories in the West Bank, approved the construction of 878 housing units in some isolated settlements.
Over the weekend, Palestinian negotiator Seab Erekat sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying the approval indicated Israel’s “lack of seriousness” in regards to the renewed peace talks.
Erekat warned that unless settlement expansion is stopped, he finds it hard to see how negotiations can “bring about progress towards a peace agreement.”
The letter details several plans that the Zionist regime announced this week, including construction of 63 housing units in East al-Quds’ Jabal Mukkaber neighborhood; construction of 878 units in various West Bank settlements, almost all of them outside the major settlement blocs; and the cabinet’s decision to include additional settlements on Israel’s list of national priority areas, which will entitle them to various benefits.
Saying that the settlements violate both the Geneva Convention and Israel’s obligations under the Oslo Accords, Erekat termed these announcements evidence of “Israel’s bad faith and lack of seriousness,” as well as a direct slap in the face to Washington’s mediation efforts.
He therefore urged Kerry to “take the necessary action to ensure that Israel does not advance any of its settlement plans, and abides by its legal obligations and commitments.”
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO’s executive committee, also urged Kerry yesterday to take “real action” against Israel, which she accused of “openly disrupting” his concession efforts.
In a press statement, she charged that Israeli regime was “deliberately destroying the two-state solution and killing any sort of hope,” and warned that “in absence of a clear international response, our duty is to protect our land and our people with the rightful tools of international legitimacy we have gained through statehood.”
Unless the issue of settlements is addressed in accordance with international and humanitarian law as well as in compliance with the resolutions of the United Nations, Kerry will be shooting himself in the legs and his success in his peace mission would be worse than his failure. The EU’s recent anti-settlement move highlighted this fact.