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  • Eliminating violence in the Israeli Arab community is in everyone’s interest

    Ayman Odeh

    – Opinion - Israel News | Haaretz.com

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-stopping-violence-in-israel-s-arab-community-is-in-everyone-s-inte
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7949162.1570398932!/image/1191662713.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/1191662713.jpg

    Two weeks ago I visited Kafr Yasif in the north to console the Dirawi family after their son Adib was murdered. In the mourners’ tent, the father Naif angrily told us that the police had barely been in touch with him since he buried his son. Every victim is an entire world, but the sadness and anger are shared by thousands of families in the Arab community who have lost their dear ones – 1,386 people killed since 2000, 73 this year alone. We are in an emergency situation.
    Haaretz Weekly Ep. 43Haaretz

    This situation isn’t inevitable, it’s a direct result of the government’s helplessness and the police’s criminal indifference. The solutions are on the table, and for years we have been demanding every possible platform: enforcement campaigns, stations for collecting guns, and education budgets that will stop the unbridled violence. The Joint List of Arab parties called an emergency conference in the Knesset; we had 65 MKs sign a demand that the prime minister implement a system-wide plan for a battle against crime. Our demands fell on deaf ears.

    Those in the government who seek to shirk responsibility for the personal security of the citizens resort to benighted arguments to transfer responsibility to the victims themselves. I’ve stopped counting the times I’ve been asked about the “culture of murder” in Arab society. A quick glance at the data for Palestinians in the territories is enough to understand how unfounded this claim is: The annual average number of murder victims in Jewish Israeli society is eight per million, similar to the West Bank’s nine per million. In the Gaza Strip the number is 11 per million.

    Before the events of October 2000, when 13 Arab demonstrators were killed by the police, the average number of Arabs killed in Israel was identical to that in Jewish society. But since then the numbers have climbed, and today the annual average is 46 per million, almost six times the average in Jewish Israeli society and in Palestinian society in the occupied territories.
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    We must acknowledge the painful fact that had Adib Dirawi been named something like Aviv Dershowitz, the police wouldn’t have ignored his father and would have done everything possible to prevent a situation where within two decades 3,000 Jewish children would become orphans – as is the case in Arab society.

    The Arabs who have been murdered are not only the victims of violent crime, they are victims of government racism. When our streets are bleeding and the government sees us as enemies instead of citizens, we have no choice but to change the rules of the game. Last week we stopped waiting for the government to provide us with the right to life and security; we took to the highways to take it by ourselves.
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    Tens of thousands of Arab citizens left their homes to force the government and police to recognize their demand to eliminate crime. They blocked highways, and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who was in no rush to protect 20 percent of the country’s citizens from criminals, woke up and invited the Joint List’s leaders to a meeting. In the coming days we will meet and repeat our demands on behalf of the tens of thousands of demonstrators in the streets.

    The fight against crime will succeed in the end, but the road ahead is long and we must walk down it together. Our future in the country will be shaped by the battles we wage over it. In the last election many Jewish citizens spoke about an Arab-Jewish partnership. This is our opportunity to turn the words into deeds. I call on all Jews who believe in democracy to join us in a battle for a society without guns. Eliminating violence is in the civic interest of us all, and a shared struggle is the way to build a shared society.

    MK Ayman Odeh is the chairman of the Joint List.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/805574 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • An anti-Zionist movement that promoted Judaism as a secular culture shuts its doors - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    They believed in a just society and wanted to teach Palestinians Yiddish. The Bund’s center in Israel closes, marking the end of a movement that offered a radical alternative to mainstream Zionism
    By Shany Littman Sep 19, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-an-anti-zionist-movement-that-promoted-judaism-as-a-secul
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7865753.1569196482!/image/2948405108.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/2948405108.jpg

    The first thing that a clearly agitated Eran Torbiner did, when we met to talk about the Bund movement, was to hand me a poster he’d removed from the door of Beit Brit Ha’avodah in central Tel Aviv, until recently the home of the Workmen’s Circle movement’s Israel branch. Torbiner had passed by there in the morning, as he does occasionally, still trying to come to terms with the fact that the place where he spent so many hours with his beloved friends, who themselves are now no longer alive, and where he shot his documentary film “Bunda’im” (Bundists) – had shut its doors for good.

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    The poster is an announcement for a workshop on the subject of Yiddish art songs, which was, as it happens, was to be held at Tzavta, a Tel Aviv culture venue. What infuriated Torbiner was the illustration on the poster: a map of the Land of Israel with a Star of David flag, situated in the center of a map of the world, with arrows leading to it from far and wide. The caption, in Yiddish: “Wohin? Aheim!” – “Where to? Home!”

    “It’s a desecration of the Bund’s name,” he fumes. “If any of them had seen this on the door, they would have died again.” For Torbiner, almost every element of the poster is wrongheaded. To begin with, the depiction of “Greater Israel,” which is marked as the only home for the Jews, and for the Jews alone. “The people in the Bund always talked about the injustice done to the Palestinians,” he explains. “It was a deep and thoroughgoing socialist, radical, secular, left-wing movement.” Moreover, the idea that Jews from around the world should come to Israel conflicts with the Bundist conception of doikayt, or “hereness,” by which every Jew should be capable of maintaining his culture in the country he lives in, with no advantage to Israel. As for the semi-official National Authority for Yiddish Culture, whose logo is at the top of the poster, some of its officials don’t even speak Yiddish, Torbiner says, and that, too, is a desecration.

    But the unkindest cut of all for Torbiner in the poster is the logo of Beit Shalom Aleichem (Shalom Aleichem House), the organization to which the Bundists transferred ownership of their two floors in a building on Kalischer Street, in the Nahalat Binyamin neighborhood, and which decided to shut it down a few months ago. The books from the rich Yiddish library housed there for 60 years were moved to Shalom Aleichem House, on Berkowitz Street, and the Workman’s Circle activities – biweekly meetings, lectures, a choir and more – were discontinued.

    Things could have been done completely differently, says Torbiner says, even though the last of the Bundists in Israel, journalist Itzhak Luden, died two years ago, at age 95.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/803114 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israel’s war of attrition on a Christian Palestinian town

    Amira Hass | Sep 21, 2019 8:09 PM Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-s-war-of-attrition-on-a-christian-palestinian-town-1.784378
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7845463.1568623889!/image/1630556940.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/1630556940.jpg An Israeli machinery demolishes a Palestinian building housing an apartment and a restaurant in Beit Jala in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on August 26, 2019.\ MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/ REUTERS

    An Israeli outpost has been established in the middle of a World Heritage site, igniting mutual suspicions among the local people. Small wonder a recent protest did so poorly

    Around 50 people came out to demonstrate a week ago Sunday against the new Israeli outpost on the lands of Beit Jala, a Palestinian Christian town in the Bethlehem Governorate of the West Bank. The outpost is being built a few meters above the site where Israel’s High Court of Justice recently approved the razing of the Qassiyeh family’s restaurant and house.

    The low number of protesters, one of them said, may indicate that the town’s people deem the protest a lost cause: They assume they can’t prevent the destruction of their gem of a landscape in the Al-Makhrour valley, virtually their only refuge from the claustrophobic urban enclave of the Bethlehem area.

    Another possible reason for the low attendance is that more efforts have been invested lately in the attempts to solve the unreported crisis that followed the demolition. This has brought to the surface suspicion and hostility between Muslims and Christians, between original residents and refugees and between residents and the Palestinian Authority. It includes masked men, pepper spray, arson and talk about a “land-buyers’ mafia.” The crisis has revealed an exhausted community keeling under Israel’s looming construction plans.

    In June, when settlers first came to level a plot at the top of a green hill and fence it in, Beit Jalans were astonished to find that one of their own may have sold a Jew seven plots of land in the region about 50 years ago. The seller has long since left the country. His family – undoubtedly patriotic – is shocked by the discovery or the suspicion. After all, when a Jew buys land in the heart of the West Bank, Israel makes sure to make it, sooner or later, a de facto sovereign extension, a springboard to broaden Israeli control in the ever dwindling Palestinian space.

    https://images.haarets.co.il/image/upload/w_640,q_auto,c_fill,f_auto/fl_any_format.preserve_transparency.progressive:none/v1568621327/1.7845501.1499769609.jpg The new settlement outpost in Beit Jala, this week. Credit Olivier Fitoussi

    At some stage, the Jew who apparently bought the plots sold them to the Jewish National Fund and they were registered as belonging to Himenuta, the JNF subsidiary running the fund’s land. The cautious words “may” and “apparently” are needed here, because land purchases by Jews in the West Bank are not an innocent act, and quite a few forgeries have been discovered over the years. By the time matters are sorted out in Israeli courts, the outpost can turn into a prosperous Jewish neighborhood.

    One could legitimately wonder why the JNF remembered only now to claim the land. When did it buy the land? Was it bought by a front pretending to be a private citizen? All this remains unclear.

    The religious demon

    Some say it was discovered in 2017, or at least suspected, that land had been sold to a Jew. The Qassiyeh family, which has been cultivating one of the seven plots for decades, was waging a legal battle against the Civil Administration’s demolition orders for the restaurant and house. Suddenly, in 2017, Himenuta entered the picture, claiming that the land belongs to it. It’s hard to obtain accurate, full details from everyone involved. But apparently the scope of Himenuta’s claims in the Al-Makhrour valley wasn’t yet clear three years ago.

    On August 26, the Civil Administration razed the restaurant for the third time, as well as the house built by the Qassiyeh family. In his grief, Ramzy Qassiyeh, the head of the family, held a large wooden cross with the Virgin Mary’s picture at the top while the bulldozers demolished the structures. He said in a video that neither the Muslims nor the Jews would drive them away.

    https://images.haarets.co.il/image/upload/w_640,q_auto,c_fill,f_auto/fl_any_format.preserve_transparency.progressive:none/v1568621418/1.7845508.2742464051.jpg Ramzy Qassiyeh holds a large wooden cross with the Virgin Mary’s picture at the top in a protest against the demolition by Israeli forces of his family’s restaurant and house, on August 26, 2019. AFP

    By “Muslims” one may assume he meant the PA and senior Fatah officials, especially some born in the area’s refugee camps. The video went viral and the anger spread accordingly. Old tensions between the refugees and native Beit Jalans flared up again.

    Then came an apology. But a few days later a pickup truck containing masked, probably armed, people came to the Qassiyeh’s plot, where they insist on staying, despite the demolition. They say the masked men wanted to kill Ramzy and maybe his son. Whether the men really wanted to kill him, they sprayed the family with pepper spray and disappeared after an Israeli army unit showed up. Who called the unit remains unclear.

    At the same time, up the path, Israeli earth-moving equipment was preparing the undisturbed ground in a second plot for the new outpost. Palestinian news sites reported the appearance of the new outpost, but not the attack by the people in the pickup truck. The news of the attack spread gradually.

    “People are angry at the video and the talk against Muslims,” a resident of the Deheisheh refugee camp said. “Whatever the reason, it’s not done,” a Muslim resident of Beit Jala said.

    People in Beit Jala say that some parts of Al-Makhrour are owned by people from out of town; that is, Muslims, mainly from refugee camps. But who said refugees may not buy land and cultivate it? So many Beit Jala residents have left the country, why shouldn’t others look after the land and trees? The problem is that some sales weren’t kosher, apparently. Local residents of Beit Jala indeed say that a “mafia” of people – both Muslim and Christian – with social and political power is involved in the transactions.

    https://images.haarets.co.il/image/upload/w_640,q_auto,c_fill,f_auto/fl_any_format.preserve_transparency.progressive:none/v1568620437/1.7845442.3584747817.jpg A Palestinian woman argues with an Israeli border policewoman over the Israeli demolition of a building, in Beit Jala in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, August 26, 2019.\ MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/ REUTERS

    The PA has an orderly land registry to expose forgeries. At least in one case, I was told, a forgery was found, but it did no good – the people holding the land didn’t leave. This may partially explain the Qassiyeh’s complaints.

    In the plot near the Qassiyeh and the new outpost a small stone structure was set on fire at the beginning of last week. The plot’s owner is a resident of a refugee camp. Who wanted to set it on fire? Who was capable of it? The mutual suspicions inflamed the tensions.

    All this happened just when the Palestinian government announced that the local councils would start to expand their master plans without taking into consideration whether the land in question was in area A, B or C. But the events in Al-Makhrour show that Beit Jala, like any other Palestinian village or town, have no control over the land that Israel classifies as in Area C; Israel does whatever it likes there.

    The PA has so little control that the Qassiyehs hired their own attorneys and are replacing them one after the other as if the land problem were the family’s private business rather than a national Palestinian issue that should be handled by PA lawyers.

    In 2001, at the beginning of the second intifada, when Palestinian gunmen shot at Gilo in Jerusalem, the army shelled and destroyed the Qassiyehs’ house in Beit Jala. The PA partially compensated the family for the damage and the Qassiyeh brothers built a new home there.

    https://images.haarets.co.il/image/upload/w_640,q_auto,c_fill,f_auto/fl_any_format.preserve_transparency.progressive:none/v1568621744/1.7845527.1358840081.jpg The entrance to the new settlement outpost in Beit Jala, September 2019. Credit : Olivier Fitoussi

    Ramzy Qassiyeh has West Bank residency status. His wife Michelle and their children are Israeli citizens with voting rights. Michelle was born in Jerusalem to a refugee mother from the village of Ein Karem who as a child lived in a Jerusalem monastery, and to a French father from Lebanon. A few years ago, her mother moved to live near her daughter in Beit Jala and has Alzheimer’s disease, Michelle Qassiyeh says.

    “When we bring her here, to Al-Makhrour, she thinks she’s in Ein Karem and asks to go to her home there,” Michelle says.

    Ancient terraces and much more

    Al-Makhrour is a farming area of some 3,000 dunams (740 acres), characterized by ancient terraces, olive groves, vineyards, fruit trees, archaeological sites and a traditional irrigation system. It boasts ancient agricultural stone structures, clear air and “the best olive oil in Palestine.”

    In 2014 the region was declared a World Heritage site. “Palestine, land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir,” the UNESCO document says. The declaration was seen as a Palestinian

    achievement in the efforts to prevent the construction of the separation barrier, which threatened to destroy the terraces and landscape.

    https://images.haarets.co.il/image/upload/w_640,q_auto,c_fill,f_auto/fl_any_format.preserve_transparency.progressive:none/v1568620229/1.7845440.714230412.jpg A demonstrator holding a Palestinian flag gestures in front of Israeli forces during a protest against Jewish settlements near Beit Jala in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 8, 2019.\ MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/ REUTERS

    The Al-Makhrour area connects al-Khader, Beit Jala, Husan, Battir and al-Walajeh, most of whose farming lands were torn from it for the settlement of Har Gilo, the separation barrier and the road along it, and a park for Israelis only. The new Route 60 that bypasses Bethlehem, and the tunnels built in the ‘90s obstruct the landscape’s agricultural and historical continuity.

    Recently Israel expropriated more land from Al-Makhrour and Beit Jala in order to widen the road bypassing Bethlehem and the tunnels, which Palestinians are forbidden to travel on. These are meant to shorten the travel time between the Gush Etzion settlement bloc and Jerusalem.

    This is why an agricultural outpost on top of one of Al-Makhrour’s hills is so threatening. On September 5, two Israeli youths with long side curls asked a French journalist and myself to leave the plot. An adult who joined them also asked us to leave, but was ready to talk outside the gate.

    “Three people are here permanently, with a few volunteers,” he said, while his silent wife looked at us from a distance. He said he was from the settlement of Elon Moreh and had leased the land from Himenuta. “I went to the JNF and looked for land,” he said. “They showed me a few places and this is the one I chose.” (Haaretz’s Yotam Berger has reported that the settlement of Neveh Daniel is behind the lease.)

    He said the demolition below had nothing to do with it. “My relations with the neighbors are good. Others, not from here, uprooted the olive trees we planted three months ago.”

    But he added, “We’ll be here for the next 50 years.” Why 50 and not 100? I asked, and he replied: “Because the lease is for 50 years.”

    #colonialisme_de_peuplement
    #Beit_Jala

    https://seenthis.net/messages/802971 via Loutre


  • Israel election results: Ayman Odeh with Shin Bet bodyguards? - Opinion - Israel News | Haaretz.com

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-ayman-odeh-with-shin-bet-bodyguards-1.7861973
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7305156.1568839139!/image/1111452691.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/1111452691.jpg

    Shortly after the exit poll results were released on Tuesday night, talk began of Ayman Odeh heading the opposition in the next Knesset. Then the whispers started: Odeh with Shin Bet security service bodyguards? Odeh in an official state car, an armored one even? Odeh in official meetings with foreign heads of state?

    You must be joking.

    Even worse: Odeh provided with sensitive intelligence from defense briefings. Israel’s next existential crisis. But commentators did not take long to put us at ease: There are ways to get around the law, they said, the Knesset can choose a different opposition leader, he doesn’t need to hear everything, the Shin Bet will find a way, no need to worry, have faith in Israeli democracy.

    The votes were still being counted in the only democracy in the Middle East, and racism and ultranationalism already reared their ugly heads. No, of course, not the vulgar racism of Benzi Gopstein and Michael Ben Ari, who actually took a severe blow in the election, and not that of Benjamin Netanyahu, who stirs up anti-Arab fear. No, this is the hidden kind, which goes down easy, dressed in excuses about security, and is immeasurably more dangerous because it’s nicer and more commonplace. Barely an eyebrow will be raised.

    Political correctness in Israel permits treating all Arabs like a suspicious object, even the head of the Knesset’s third-largest party. It’s chilling to think just how politically correct this discussion is: Odeh was portrayed from the start as a traitor, who cannot be trusted with state secrets because it’s obvious he’ll betray his country and pass them on to the enemy. This line of talk lacks all legitimacy, yet it is not only the remit of seasoned Arab-haters. Serious people bring it up for serious debate.
    Knesset member Ayman Odeh at a protest against the failure of police to protect Arab citizens.
    Knesset member Ayman Odeh at a protest in Shfaram against the failure of police to protect Arab citizens, May 20, 2019. Gil Eliahu

    That’s the illusion of Israeli elections: They create the false impression that the state’s Palestinian citizens are part of the game. It’s the same with the Israeli propagandist’s hollow response to the accusation of apartheid: We have Arab legislators, in contrast to the blacks in apartheid South Africa, ergo we don’t have apartheid. But when the Arabs succeed and they become the third-largest faction in the Knesset, as they did (again) in this election, then the masks come off, and the game is over.
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    Their representatives can chair the decorating committee, submit parliamentary questions and even represent the Knesset in parliamentary delegations, but they cannot be privy to state secrets because the state, after all, is not truly their state.

    The subtext of this discussion is despicable. If Odeh cannot head the opposition, then wouldn’t it be better to bar Arabs from serving in the Knesset altogether? If they will always be suspected of treason, then they don’t belong in the legislature. What will we do then with our show of egalitarian democracy?

    Thin is the cloak of democracy, and its fragility became painfully obvious as soon as the polls closed. As it turns out, the opposition leader must in effect belong to the coalition: the coalition, that is, of accepted convention, of Zionism, of the Jews. Otherwise he has no place in this undemocratic democracy. First, we reject the possibility of the Arab parties joining the governing coalition a priori, now they’re not even fit for the opposition.

    Israel wants only good Arabs in the Knesset, if at all, and it wants an opposition-free opposition, one that isn’t bothersome, that doesn’t resist, that is not different – her majesty’s opposition. Behind all this hides the national identity of Odeh and his colleagues in the Joint List. Israel isn’t ready to see a Palestinian Israeli in a senior official position. The security excuse is groundless, of course. Odeh and his colleagues are much more loyal to Israel than it is to them; anyone who has been elected in accordance with the law has the right to know everything.

    A unity government is bad news, but every cloud has a silver lining: It could challenge Israel. Let’s welcome opposition chairman Ayman Odeh. He will speak immediately after the prime minister at every important debate in the Knesset. He will have a security detail, he’ll be driven in an official state car — and let Israeli Jews explode with anger.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/802474 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • The religious activists waging a ‘holy war’ against Israel’s arms exports - Israel News
    The country’s sale of weaponry to murderous regimes goes against all Jewish religious teachings, charge members of No 2 Arms — and they are fighting back
    Patty Nieberg

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-the-religious-activists-waging-a-holy-war-against-israel-s-arms-ex
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7832008.1568210371!/image/155412042.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/155412042.jpg

    The 40-year-old woman heckling former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is probably the least likely advocate you could imagine calling for restrictions on Israel’s arms sales to morally questionable regimes like Myanmar.

    Esther Merchavy, an Orthodox mother of six, is not subtle as she wages her war on Israel’s arms industry. Looking Ya’alon dead in the eye, at a public event in Tel Aviv last month, she defiantly asks him: “Why does Israel send arms to a country known for its human rights abuses against the Rohingya minority?”

    Ya’alon ignores her question and the roving microphone is soon wrested away from her. But that proves no deterrent to Merchavy, who continues to fire off questions, yelling over the crowd. Event coordinators scold her for promoting her own platform, while others in the audience shout “You made your point!”

    Someone calls Merchavy selfish, to which she responds: “I’m not selfish — the people in Myanmar are more important than him,” referring to the Kahol Lavan Knesset candidate and former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff on stage.

    For the modestly dressed activist, part of the reason this issue is so vexing is that it violates her Jewish beliefs. According to Merchavy, Israel’s arms sales to murderous regimes falls under the halakhic principle of pikuach nefesh: The duty to save human life, which overrides almost all other obligations in Jewish religious law.

    “For me, there is no Torah at all and no believing in God at all — this is worthless if you’re doing such a crime,” she tells Haaretz at the event. “It’s not only for the children who are getting killed in South Sudan, Myanmar, Cameroon, Burundi, Congo and the Philippines. It’s pikuach nefesh for us, because we are killing our souls.”

    Merchavy is a member of No 2 Arms, an activist group that wants increased regulation over Israeli arms sales in order to prevent trade that it believes perpetuates war crimes and violates human rights. Formed in 2017, the group is comprised of about 20 activists from across the political spectrum.
    A representative of Myanmar’s military at the Israel Defense and Homeland Security Expo in Tel Aviv, June 4, 2019.
    A representative of Myanmar’s military at the Israel Defense and Homeland Security Expo in Tel Aviv, June 4, 2019.\ Moti Milrod

    Its founder is Eli Yosef, a religiously observant settler from Ma’aleh Adumim. Yosef began his own protests in January 2015 with the goal of combating an industry that totaled some $9.2 billion in export sales in 2017, according to Defense Ministry figures.

    Although the group is small in number, it has made its presence known in recent years — for example, by interrupting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the annual Bible quiz last year, regular demonstrations outside the Knesset and countless interruptions of events attended by politicians.

    Merchavy recounts how she was removed from a different event this month after confronting former Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Rafi Peretz and Yamina leader Ayelet Shaked. After she was asked to leave the premises, Merchavy quickly went to a nearby shop, bought a T-shirt and removed her head scarf, in order to reenter and resume her protest. She was then removed for a second time.

    One politician who has become a major target for the group is Ehud Barak, who has faced allegations — which he has consistently and strongly denied — that he took millions in bribes from arms dealers while serving as the Israeli defense minister earlier this decade.

    The activists point to their success in persuading former Likud lawmaker Yehudah Glick and Meretz MK (and former leader) Tamar Zandberg to raise the matter in the Knesset in 2016. They also boast of getting rabbis from the religious Zionist Tzohar organization and Beit Hillel — which envisions an Israel governed by Jewish religious law — to support their cause.

    Their next goal is to organize a large demonstration on the first day of the new Knesset following next week’s election — which No 2 Arms’ leader, a former member of the religious Zionist Habayit Hayehudi party, says he will not be participating in.

    “I personally am right-wing, but I will not vote in this election for nobody [sic], because there’s not one single political party that’s prepared to give me the feeling that I’m a human being,” he says.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/801618 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • If there’s such a thing as a murderous culture, then it exists in Israel - Opinion
    Gideon Levy
    dénonce le racisme ordinaire de deux intellectuels israéliens @Haaretz

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-if-there-s-such-a-thing-as-a-murderous-culture-then-it-exists-in-i
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7765685.1567047942!/image/143058924.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/143058924.jpg

    This is what the editor of Haaretz’s Culture and Literature supplement, Benny Ziffer, wrote on his Facebook page upon returning from paying a condolence call in the settlement of Ofra: “En route I looked at the Palestinian villages alongside the Jewish communities, and I thought of how for the Palestinians murder is a type of sport or enjoyment, perhaps a substitute for erotica. From that perspective we will never have anything culturally in common with them.”

    And if that weren’t enough, Ziffer also wrote, “Regarding this evil and undignified people living among us, we can only yearn for the land to vomit it out, because it isn’t worthy of this land, which is full of Jewish blood that it has spilled.”

    His post generated no comment. Ziffer has apparently exhausted his allotted attention. By contrast, Yaron London succeeded in raising a bigger momentary storm with less serious remarks: “Arabs are savages … they don’t only hate Jews, they kill their own first and foremost.”

    More than one straight line connects London and Ziffer. Their comments reflect the spirit of the times in Israel.

    Both were once considered leftists; the unbridled right still considers London to be one. Both are extraordinarily talented, brilliant intellectuals, of enviable erudition. Sometimes it’s tempting to say that because of their rare media talent their remarks should be forgiven, lest we be left with Ayala Hasson and Yaakov Bardugo. In contrast to their images as avant garde, they express what many people think, not to mention the majority opinion in Israel, which only the rules of political correctness keep from breaking out into the consensus.

    More than they are racists, London and Ziffer are disseminating lies. I was sitting in London’s studio when he said his piece; I tried to respond in real time but to no avail. So I will try here.

    We examined the past decade; those murderous, bloodletting Palestinians, have since January 2009 killed 190 Israelis. How many Palestinians were killed by Israel, the seeker of peace and goodness, which will never have anything culturally in common with the Arabs? Some 3,500. Israel was 18 times more murderous. Was it for sport? Erotic pleasure? Of course not, but the blood speaks: Israel draws far more of it.
    An Israeli soldier temporarily detains a Palestinian youth in the village of Kfar Qaddum, West Bank, August 23, 2019.
    An Israeli soldier temporarily detains a Palestinian youth in the village of Kfar Qaddum, West Bank, August 23, 2019.AFP
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    Is it permitted to say that it’s Israeli culture to spill blood wholesale? According to London, yes. There is something called national culture, even if it’s a culture of killing. But when one speaks about genetic characteristics, it’s racism. One can even generalize, as London said, a generalization will always be unjust to the individual and the exceptional. But it has to based on reality, and the reality is that the enlightened whites have, in the past 100 years, massacred more people than all the Muslims and savages combined. Not only were Hitler and Stalin not Muslims, since World War II the United States, the land of the free, is guilty of more killing than any other country. Most of its mass killers are decidedly non-Muslim.

    Someone who generalizes isn’t necessarily a racist. But he may turn out to be a liar. If there’s a culture of killing, it actually exists in Israel. Soldiers and policemen who shoot to kill as a first choice testify to a warped morality. Fear, hatred, self-pity, the security cult, dehumanization and an itchy trigger finger are all Israeli cultural traits that lead to this mass blood-letting, but woe unto anyone who dares define Israel as having a murderous culture. He’d be condemned as an anti-Semite. The Palestinian people, on the other hand, are one of the most restrained people in history in its violent resistance to occupation and injustice. That’s the truth, there’s no denying it.

    Israel actually likes cultural and national generalizations, especially when they glorify its image. The “Jewish genius,” “the chosen people,” “Jewish morality,” and “eternal Israel,” are evidence of baseless arrogance. Ziffer has every right to think that the Palestinians enjoy murder and London can think they are savages compared to us, the enlightened and developed. It is our right (and duty) to answer them: There are no lies more abominable than these.
    Gideon Levy

    https://seenthis.net/messages/799052 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • AIPAC may be celebrating now, but the BDS battles in Congress have just begun -

    House vote shows that Democrats object to BDS, but they can expect growing Republican pressure to support more thorough anti-boycott legislation
    Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Jul 27, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-aipac-may-be-celebrating-now-but-the-bds-battles-in-congress-have-
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7579761.1564254632!/image/2682968047.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/2682968047.jpg

    You could practically hear the champagne corks popping and fireworks exploding across AIPAC’s social media feeds on Wednesday.

    The celebration was justified. At a time of unprecedented partisan division, it was no small feat for legislation condemning the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel to make it through the Democrat-led House of Representatives, let alone by a vote of 398-17. Even better for the pro-Israel lobby, which aspires to wall-to-wall support of the Jewish state, the overwhelming endorsement garnered “yea” votes from prominent progressives, including a member of the vaunted “squad” — Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts).

    Supporters of AIPAC were delighted that with the passage of House Res. 246, no less than 92 percent of the House had agreed “to condemn the BDS campaign as anti-Israel, anti-peace and damaging to U.S. interests.” This, they said, was “representative of the broad, bipartisan support in Congress for Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

    But anyone who believes that this resolution will in any way resolve or mitigate the bitter political wrangling over BDS has been drinking too much celebratory champagne, said Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace — a nonprofit that promotes a two-state solution.

    “You’d have to be delusional to think that this is over,” said Friedman.

    The nonbinding vote Wednesday may have been impressive, but it was just a short chapter in the saga of BDS legislation that has been underway for two years and will continue into the future. And even as the celebrations continued, future battles were shaping up on both sides of the aisle.

    Although the passage of the resolution did put Democratic objections to the “the Global BDS movement” on the record, Republicans openly dared them to move beyond mere words and support binding legislation that would deliver real consequences to entities that boycott Israel or the settlements.

    Sen. Marco Rubio (Republican of Florida) is author of the Combating BDS Act, which encourages state governments not to sign contracts with supporters of boycotts against Israel or its settlements (passed by the Senate in February). He goaded House Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi by saying that for months she “has refused to bring my bipartisan bill to combat the BDS movement’s discriminatory conduct and strengthen America’s security in the Middle East to the House floor. … Out of fear of retaliation from the far left wing of her conference, it’s clear that Speaker Pelosi has allowed the radical, anti-Semitic minority in the Democratic Party to dictate the House floor agenda.”

    Rubio’s bill was the latest manifestation of legislation that has been in limbo for the past two years. In 2017, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act was first proposed in the Senate, in an attempt to target government-sponsored boycotts of Israel and update laws drafted in response to the Arab League boycott of Zionist goods and services in what was then British Mandatory Palestine in 1945.

    Objections to the legislation — primarily, but not exclusively, among Democrats — focused on the argument that such laws violate free speech, a charge led by the American Civil Liberties Union.

    In his reaction to the House vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky) scoffed while speaking on the Senate floor that “this symbolic BDS resolution is held up as a major victory, while Senate-passed legislation that would actually take action — actually do something against BDS — doesn’t even get a vote.”

    On the Democratic side of the aisle, progressives who were not among the 17 members who voted against the resolution (which included the three other “Squad” members, Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib) were on the defensive, following criticism that they caved to pressure from the pro-Israel lobby.

    In a Twitter thread, Pressley said that while “there are a lot of anti-BDS bills out there that infringe on 1st Amendment rights,” in her view the House resolution “wasn’t one of them.” That, she said, convinced her to support “what I heard resounding” in her district: “That voting yes on this resolution affirmed to my constituents raised in the Jewish faith Israel’s right to exist, a view I share as a supporter of a two-state solution.”

    She vowed that she would never vote for a bill that would punish those who support BDS, and stressed that “this resolution does not mitigate the pain and trauma of the Palestinian people and as with my co-sponsorship of the McCollum bill, I will continue to be a strident voice critiquing conservative Israeli policies.”

    Pressley was referring to the bill introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (Democrat of Minnesota), which would “require that the Secretary of State certify that American funds do not support Israel’s military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.”

    Another Democratic congressman who voted for the resolution, civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, also defended himself by pointing to another piece of legislation he co-sponsored: a bill introduced with Tlaib and Omar last week. That bill, which did not mention Israel by name, affirms “that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad.” Lewis said it “was a simple demonstration of my ongoing commitment to the ability of every American to exercise the fundamental First Amendment right to protest through nonviolent actions.” Squad members Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez made a point of signing on as co-sponsors of the bill later in the week as well.

    At the same time, Lewis said he co-sponsored House Res. 246 “as a longtime friend of Israel,” and because he wanted “to make it very clear that I disagree strongly with the BDS movement. Economic, educational and cultural interaction with Israel, America’s democratic ally, is not only in the best interest of Israelis and Americans, but it improves the climate for peace with Palestinians, which is in everyone’s interest to encourage.”

    Friedman, of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, says Democratic leaders are fooling themselves if they think that passage of the resolution will “release some of the pressure on them” to sign onto more punitive anti-BDS legislation and “neutralize the issue as a weapon for attack against them.”

    She predicts that it will have exactly the opposite effect: “Right now, you see Republicans celebrating that they managed to corner the Democrats. For people motivated to go after Democrats, they have signaled that this is an issue on which they — the Democrats — are vulnerable. Once you give into bullies, you are going to get bullied more. I expect BDS to come up in every possible context and that Republicans will keep pushing Democrats, asking them why they won’t move on the Combating BDS Act. They’d have to be nuts not to. the way they see it, this is the gift that keeps on giving.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/794731 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israel demolishes 70 homes in Palestinian-controlled East Jerusalem neighborhood Haaretz.com
    Un pas supplémentaire dans la politique coloniale israélienne

    Forces deploy at dawn days after top court approves order to evict Wadi Hummus residents, in a move activists are concerned sets a precedent to affect thousands
    Amira Hass and Jack Khoury Jul 22, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-begins-demolition-of-homes-in-palestinian-controlled-east-j
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7547685.1563782108!/image/990547188.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/990547188.jpg

    Israeli forces began Monday demolishing buildings in an East Jerusalem neighborhood under the control of the Palestinian Authority, following a legal challenge to the Defense Ministry-issued order to evacuate apartments deemed too close to the West Bank separation barrier, which runs through the city.

    Israeli and international activists said Israeli forces deployed in the neighborhood at dawn, evacuating one family from one of the buildings, as well as activists who protested the move.

    Two hours prior to the demolition, activists say they saw Israel Defense Forces’ soldiers placing explosives in an eight-stories building set for demolition. Later, the forces removed furniture and vehicles that were parked next to the buildings.

    >> Once again, Israel’s courts collaborate with government anti-Arab housing policy | Analysis

    Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher for the left-wing Ir Amim organization, blasted the move, saying: "In the name of the demographic war waged against East Jerusalem residents, the State of Israel is withholding approval of construction plans allowing those residents to legally build within the city.

    “Residents who didn’t want to build without a permit, sought a creative solution and were granted construction permits from the Palestinian Authority to build in areas and A and B where Israel doesn’t have any authority concerning construction plans. The Israeli insistence to prevent this solution is a very cruel act,” Tatarsky added.

    “I built this house stone by stone. It was my dream to live in this house. Now I am losing everything,” said Fadi al-Wahash, 37, his voice breaking as a bulldozer destroyed his unfinished three-floor house.
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    “I had a permit to build from the Palestinian Authority. I thought I was doing the right thing,” he said.
    Palestinian family evacuated from its home in Wadi Hummus neighborhood, East Jerusalem, July 22, 201

    Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said 700 police and 200 soldiers were involved.

    “Despite an order from the military commander, the residents there are making their own law, building. There are hundreds of illegal structures,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.

    “To my regret there is no sufficient governance there. But it is not just that there are hundreds of structures there — several dozens of them sit almost on the route of the separation fence, endangering the security forces that operate there.”

    Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the Palestinians would complain to the International Criminal Court about the demolitions in Sur Baher.

    “The cabinet condemns this grave aggression. This is a continuation of the forced displacement of the people of Jerusalem from their homes and lands — a war crime and a crime against humanity,” Shtayyeh said.
    Israeli security forces prepare to demolish homes in East Jerusalem, July 22, 2019.
    Israeli security forces prepare to demolish homes in East Jerusalem, July 22, 2019. AFP

    The United Nations and France also issued condemnations of the demolition.

    In June, Israel’s High Court of Justice has ruled in favor of the demolition of 13 large buildings in the Wadi Hummus neighborhood, located on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

    It is on the edge of the Palestinian village of Sur Baher, in southeast Jerusalem. Unlike the rest of the village, this neighborhood lies beyond the city’s municipal boundaries, in the West Bank. Most of the area it occupies is designated as part of Area A – i.e., under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

    Sur Baher residents say Wadi Hummus is the only area that remains for future expansion of the village, which is surrounded by the fence and Jewish neighborhoods.

    The Defense Ministry instructed to demolish some 70 apartments, citing concerns over their proximity to the separation fence, which it said made them a security threat. Two out of the 13 buildings set for demolition are populated with some 17 residents.
    Israel prepares to demolish homes in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Hummus, July 22, 2019.
    Israel prepares to demolish homes in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Hummus, July 22, 2019. AFP

    Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator, and other UN officials called on the Israeli authorities last week to halt the demolition plans. The European Union issued a statement saying: “The continuation of this policy undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace.”

    On Sunday, the court rejected a petition to postpone the demolition, which Palestinian activsts are concerned sets a precedent that will enable the demolition of thousands of buildings across the West Bank, effectively annulling the legal protection residents of other PA-controlled areas have.

    “Some families put everything they have to put a roof over their heads, and it’s all being ruined in front of their eyes in this despicable crime committed by Israel,” community organizer Hamada Hamada told Haaretz.

    “Large forces entered after 2 A.M. to the neighborhood, preventing any access to the homes and forcefully removing the residents as well as dozens of activists who were present at the scene, evacuating them while women and children were heard screaming in the background,” Hamada added.

    Palestinian officials say some of the threatened structures lie within areas that they should control. The Palestine Liberation Organization issued a statement accusing the Israeli court of aiming “to set a precedent to enable the Israeli occupying forces to demolish numerous Palestinian buildings located in close proximity” to the barrier.

    The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas released a statement saying that "Israel bears the full responsibility for the dangerous escalation in Sur Baher, which is part of the implementation of the “deal of the century” whose goal is to bury the Palestinian issue."

    According to the statement, Abbas has approached international and Arab officials in order to halt the demolitions.

    Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said “We will not renounce our lands, and everything that was demolished will be rebuilt.”

    “The demolition is an implementation of the Bahrain conference and we have thousands of documents and petitions filed to the International Court of Justice in The Hague against Israel,” he said in reference to the economic peace conference in Bahrain sponsored by the United States that took place in June.

    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said “The demolition of buildings in Sur Baher by the authorities of the occupation is a despicable crime, which is a direct result of the Bahrain Conference and the warm relationship between Israel and some Arab nations.”

    The Israeli military had no immediate comment on Monday, but a statement last week by Israel’s military-run civil administration in the West Bank said enforcement would be pursuant to “operational considerations” and “state policy.”

    The International Court of Justice in The Hague issued an advisory opinion in 2004 that building the barrier on occupied territory was “contrary to international law.”

    Israel dismissed the non-binding decision as politically motivated and says the barrier played a key role in drastically reducing the number of attacks, which peaked in 2002 and 2003 during the Second Palestinian uprising known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

    The West Bank separation barrier, which was being built since 2003, was intended to pass through Sur Baher, but its route was changed due to residents’ campaign.Thus Wadi Hummus ended up on the Israeli side of the barrier, although legally it part of the West Bank and under the PA’s authority.

    Many buildings were erected in the neighborhood over the last decade or so, most occupied by young couples and families from the village. The buildings set for demolition have some 100 apartments, 20 of which are tenanted and the rest are under construction.

    Building permits for the construction were issued by the PA’s planning ministry. However, seven years ago, the Israel Defense Forces Central Command issued an injunction banning construction of buildings within 250 meters of the separation barrier.

    Locals say the order was not publicized and they had no knowledge of it, and that in any case, it is the PA that has planning authorization in the area.

    Reuters contributed to this article.
    Amira Hass

    Amira Hass

    Haaretz Correspondent

    https://seenthis.net/messages/793957 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • ’Palestinian Authority is tyrannical’: Joint Gaza, West Bank conference amps criticism of Abbas and Hamas

    At a recent confab, panel members and everyday Palestinians discuss democracy, with their openness only highlighting the obedience enforced on Fatah and PLO
    Amira Hass
    Jul 06, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-joint-gaza-west-bank-conference-amps-criticism-of-abbas-and-hamas-
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7451738.1562445146!/image/3779016049.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/3779016049.jpg

    A man with flowing white hair appeared on the large screen in the Red Crescent Society building in El Bireh in the West Bank. It was hard to catch the name of the man, who was speaking in the Red Crescent building in the Gaza Strip. The technique of video conferencing between Gaza and the West Bank, as the sole alternative to the forbidden hour-and-a-half trip, has improved greatly over the past 20 years – as the blockade has tightened on the coastal enclave and amid a drastic drop in the number of people authorized to leave it.

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    This is how the conference of the Masarat center for policy research and strategic studies was carried out without any technical disruptions. Each panel had speakers in El Bireh and Gaza, and at the end of every discussion, people in the audience could make comments, from both places. Two moderators ran the panels, one on each screen. But sometimes you could hear voices from the other hall, or the other microphone was left on and a few words that you were meant to hear got swallowed up – like the name of the man with the mane of white hair.

    >> Read more: The stories Haaretz prints that its readers won’t read | Opinion ■ Palestinian Authority to ’take practical steps’ to reduce dependency on Israeli economy, minister says ■ We don’t need a Palestinian personality cult | Opinion

    He voiced his comments after the discussion entitled “The Palestinian Authority: Between survival and collapse.” From the podium he said with great emotion: “We analyze and analyze the situation, but on the ground there is no change. The Palestinian people want democracy. I advise Masarat to organize a conference on building democracy in the Palestinian homeland. If there is no democracy, there is no point in anything. We must concentrate on building democracy, to stand against those who don’t want democracy, who control everything.”

    The pain could be heard in his voice. It was clear he didn’t distinguish between Hamas rule and Fatah rule when he said “those who don’t want democracy.” A few people in the hall on the screen applauded, but regrettably his time ran out.
    An anti-U.S. protest in Ramallah, June 2019.
    An anti-U.S. protest in Ramallah, June 2019.AFP

    The regular opinion polls by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, headed by Khalil Shikaki, include a question on the degree of fear to speak out against the two regimes. In a poll released this week, 40 percent of respondents in the West Bank answered that they could criticize the PA without fear, while 57 percent said they couldn’t. The latest figures for Gaza are 44 percent and 52 percent, respectively.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/791543 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Bahrain debacle marks crash of Trump team’s campaign to diss Palestinians into submission

    Kushner’s Peace for Prosperity includes Utopian projects funded by non-existent money as part of peace deal that won’t happen
    Chemi Shalev
    Jun 25, 2019 9:12 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-bahrain-debacle-marks-crash-of-trump-team-s-campaign-to-dis-palest
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7407619.1561414064!/image/816352067.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/816352067.jpg

    The unveiling of the U.S. administration’s long-awaited production of Peace for Prosperity, premiering in Bahrain on Tuesday, garnered mixed reviews, to say the least. Barak Ravid of Axios and Israel’s Channel 13 described it as “impressive, detailed and ambitious – perhaps overly ambitious.” Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Dan Kurtzer offered a slightly different take: “I would give this so-called plan a C- from an undergraduate student. The authors of the plan clearly understand nothing,” he said.

    The plan, released in a colorful pamphlet on the eve of the Bahrain economic summit, is being portrayed by the White House as a vision of the bountiful “fruits of peace” that Palestinians might reap once they reach a peace agreement with Israel. Critics describe it as an amateurish pie-in-the-sky, shoot-for-the-moon, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hodgepodge that promises projects that cannot be implemented, funded by money that does not exist and contingent on a peace deal that will never happen.

    But the main problem with Peace for Prosperity isn’t its outlandishly unrealistic proposals – such as the $5 billion superhighway between the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel will never agree to; or its occasional condescending and Orientalist attitude towards Palestinian society - their great hummus could attract millions of tourists; or even its offer to manage and foster Palestinian institutions and civil society in a way that can be viewed either as implicit state-building or as imposing foreign control on a future Palestinian government.

    >> Read more: ’There is no purely economic solution to the Palestinian economy’s problems’ ■ Trump’s Bahrain conference - not what you imagined ■ Kushner’s deal holds some surprises, but it’s more vision than blueprint ■ The billion-dollar question in Trump’s peace plan

    The Palestinians would have been suspicious in any case, even if Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama were President. They have always been wary of the term “economic peace”, especially when detached from the real nitty-gritty of resolving their dispute with Israel. Nonetheless, if the President was anyone other than Trump, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would have more or less emulated Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaction: Somber nodding of the head, then a non-committal reaction to Peace for Prosperity, followed by effusive but general praise for our lord and savior Donald Trump. Israelis and Palestinians would have attended the Bahrain conference, while doing their best to suppress their inner guffaws.

    If it was anyone by Trump and his peace team - which often doubles as Netanyahu’s cheerleading squad – the Palestinians might have allowed themselves to believe that A. A comprehensive peace plan isn’t just a mirage and is indeed forthcoming. B. The deal won’t be tilted so far in favor of Israel that it will be declared stillborn on arrival and C. That it isn’t a ruse meant to cast Palestinians as congenital rejectionists and to pave the way for an Israeli annexation of “parts of the West Bank”, as Ambassador David Friedman put it when he pronounced Trump’s imperial edict conceding territory to Israel, which even Palestinian minimalists claim as their own, in advance of any actual talks.

    But because the plan bears Trump’s signature, it was received in most world capitals with shrugs, as yet another manifestation of the U.S. administration’s preposterous handling of foreign policy – see North Korea, Europe, Mexico, Venezuela et al. Israel, of course, didn’t miss the opportunity to regurgitate the cliché about the Palestinians “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.
    A Palestinian man steps on a painting depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest against U.S.-led Bahrain workshop in Gaza City, June 24, 2019.
    A Palestinian man steps on a painting depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest against U.S.-led Bahrain workshop in Gaza City, June 24, 2019. \ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS
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    For Palestinians and their supporters, however, Kushner’s bid was but the latest in the Trump team’s never-ending stream of slights, slanders and slaps in their collective faces. In Palestinian eyes, the economic bonanza isn’t a CBM – confidence building measure – but a con job and insult rolled into one. It dangles dollars in front of Palestinian noses, implying they can be bought, and it sets up a chain of events at the end of which Jason Greenblatt will inevitably accuse them on Twitter of being hysterical and dishonest while praising Netanyahu’s bold leadership and pioneering vision. They’ve been there, and done that.

    This has been the Trump approach from the outset: Uncontained admiration for Israel and its leader coupled with unhidden disdain for Palestinian leaders and contempt for their “unrealistic” dreams. Trump’s peace team swears by Israel’s security needs as if they were part of the bible or U.S. Constitution; the ongoing 52-year military occupation of millions of Palestinians, on the other hand, seems to have escaped their attention.

    For the first ten months of Trump’s tenure, the Palestinians put up with his administration’s unequivocal pledges of allegiance to Israel as well as the White House’s departure from past custom and continuing refusal to criticize any of its actions – not to mention the appointment of a peace team comprised exclusively of right-wing Netanyahu groupies, which Palestinians initially thought was surely a practical joke.

    Trump’s announcement in December 2017 that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there was both game-changer and deal-breaker as far as the Palestinians were concerned. While Netanyahu and most of Israel were celebrating Donald the Daring and the long-awaited recognition of their eternal capital, Palestinians realized they were facing a President radically different from any of his predecessors - one willing to break the rules in Israel’s favor and to grant his bestie Bibi tangible victories, before, during and after elections - without asking for anything in return.

    The Palestinians have boycotted the Trump administration ever since, embarrassing Friedman, Greenblatt, Kushner and ultimately Trump in the process. They, in response, have increasingly vented their anger and frustrations at the Palestinians, and not just in words and Tweets alone: The administration shut down the PLO’s office in Washington, declared Jerusalem “off the table” and indicated that the refugee issue should follow it, cut aid to UNRWA and is endeavoring to dismantle it altogether and slashed assistance to Palestinian humanitarian organizations.

    In March 2018, in a move strongly supported by Israel and vigorously endorsed by Evangelicals and other right wing supporters, Trump signed the Congressionally approved Taylor Force Act that prohibits U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continued to pay monthly stipends to the families of what the Act describes as “terrorists”. Palestinians, who, to many people’s regret, regard such terrorists as heroes and martyrs, noted that the passage of the Taylor Force Act embarrassed Israel and spurred it to legislate its own way to withholding Palestinian tax money for the very same reason.

    Throughout the process, Trump and his peace team have lectured the Palestinians as a teacher reprimands an obstinate child. The Palestinians need to face reality, to lower their expectations, to land back on earth, Kushner and colleagues insist. Not only will they never realize their dreams and aspirations, they should also forget their core demand for an independent state free of outside control and not confide inside Israeli-controlled gates. Israelis are worthy of such independence, the Palestinians are told, but you are not.

    Trump approach is a product, first and foremost, of his own inexperience, arrogance and unwillingness to learn anything from a past in which he wasn’t in charge. It is fed by anti-Palestinian prejudices prevalent in his peace team as well as his advisers and most of his political supporters. Trump and his underlings basically adhere to the arguably racist tenet encapsulated in the Israeli saying “The Arabs understand only force.” The more you pressure them, the greater the chance they will succumb.
    Women protest against the U.S.-led workshop in Bahrain in the Moroccan capital Rabat, June 23, 2019.
    Women protest against the U.S.-led workshop in Bahrain in the Moroccan capital Rabat, June 23, 2019.AFP

    At this point at least, it hasn’t worked out that way. Bahrain, by any measure, is a humiliating bust. As Trump and his aides contemplate the reasons for their abject failure they are likely to blame stubborn Palestinians who don’t know what’s good for them, along with radical Muslims, perfidious Europeans, idiot liberals and all the other usual suspects.

    In a better world, they would take a hard look at themselves in the mirror and possibly have an epiphany. They can make an immediate adjustment that will cost them nothing but possibly achieve dramatic results. Instead of incessantly rebuking, reproaching, reprimanding, threatening and intimidating the Palestinians in a way that garners cheers from Christian messianics and Jewish zealots, they could try and treat them, as Aretha Franklin sang, with just a little respect. And perhaps, if it isn’t asking too much, take down their fawning for Netanyahu a notch or two.

    It might not be enough to reconcile irreconcilable differences or to make peace, but it will signal that Trump is finally getting serious about his claim to be the peacemaker the world has been waiting for. Alternatively, the Palestinians will continue to frustrate his designs and pray to Allah for his quick departure.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/789433 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Apartheid under the cover of a Jewish state -

    | Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-apartheid-under-the-cover-of-a-jewish-state-1.7402080
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7402163.1561254615!/image/1742405241.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/1742405241.jpg

    The smell of shampoo wafted through the bathroom. Steam covered the mirror and blurred the image of the person standing in front of it. The guy who had just gotten out of the shower hadn’t even dried himself off before reaching for his phone. Before getting into the shower he had angrily debated right-winger Bezalel Smotrich about whether Israel should draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the army.

    “Bezalel, damn it, look at the facts,” he had tweeted before getting into the shower. It’s no coincidence they wrote in the newspaper that Yair Lapid, the No. 2 in Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, is the only person in the party with a killer instinct.

    >> Read more: The next big bang of Israeli politics | Analysis ■ Democracy for every Israeli and Palestinian. It’s not hard | Opinion

    The shower didn’t take his mind off the argument. “And another thing, Smotrich. Israel has to be a state of all its citizens.”

    Boom. Smotrich quickly replied: “Thank you, Yair, for finally putting it out there.” And Abba Eban’s protégé, new Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, hastened to join in: “A seriously outrageous anti-Semitic remark … the slogan of the enemy.” Help.

    Now the candidate for prime minister had to dry himself off and do some damage control. “Somebody really misunderstood what he was reading,” Lapid tweeted. “I’ve been totally against a state of all its citizens all my life. Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and that’s how it will remain. What I wrote referred to LGBT rights.”

    What he followed up with was characteristic Lapid: “The following are two facts about a state of all its citizens: 1. I’m against it. 2. I’m not going to tweet from the shower anymore before drying off.” So now the reader understands the message correctly: Israel has to be, yet doesn’t have to be, a state of all its citizens.

    Drying off or not, this is something that actually took place on Twitter the other day, and it might have been funny. But it’s not. Once the steam lifted the picture was clear: racism in all its ugliness. Lapid meant Jewish members of the LGBT community, to whom the state also belongs. But it’s not a state of all its citizens. That’s what happens when you live a lie: You get confused in the shower.

    If Israel is a democracy, it’s a state of all its citizens. There is no democracy that isn’t a state of all its citizens. From America to Germany, all are states of all their citizens. If they weren’t, to whom would they belong? Only to their privileged citizens. There’s no such thing as a democracy that belongs only to the privileged of one nationality.

    The state belongs to everyone. A regime that segregates and discriminates is called apartheid. There is no other name. The fact that Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel amid suspicions he supplied information to Hezbollah, was the first to draw attention to this obvious truth doesn’t detract from it one iota. A state of all its citizens isn’t “the slogan of the enemy,” as the new foreign minister put it. It’s the heart and soul of democracy.

    But the center-left feels exactly the same as the right and doesn’t recognize this simple truth. From their standpoint Israel is a democracy for its Jews and a guesthouse for its Arabs. Let’s thank Lapid’s towel for returning things to their proper place. One moment he was in favor of a state of all its citizens and the next he was against. He has been against it all his life, like almost all Israeli democrats.

    How can a democrat be against a state of all its citizens? Only in Israel. In no other democracy is there room for such a question. The state belongs to everyone. Equally.

    The right’s annexation plan will soon raise questions about the citizenship of millions of Palestinians. But in present-day Israel, right, left and center are talking apartheid – under the cover of the slogan a Jewish state. That’s the real slogan of the enemy, the enemy of democracy. This combination doesn’t work. It’s an oxymoron. Either Israel is a state of all its citizens and it’s a democracy, or it’s a Jewish state and it’s apartheid.

    It’s good that the steam from Lapid’s shower lifted quickly and he could return to the truth he shares with Smotrich. Zionism’s eternal truth. It’s an undemocratic truth. Smotrich at least admits to it, Lapid tries to hide behind a towel.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/788874 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • No Palestinians, no Israelis, maybe even no journalists: What’s left of Kushner’s Bahrain summit - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    The White House’s initial sense of euphoria about Arab participation at its economic workshop on June 25 has eroded, much to the (unspoken) relief of Jerusalem
    Amir Tibon and Noa Landau (Washington) Jun 18, 2019

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    WASHINGTON - With just a week to go before the Bahrain conference convenes to discuss the economic chapter of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan, things are looking increasingly gloomy for the U.S. team led by Jared Kushner.

    The White House had surprised journalists in Washington and Israel on an otherwise boring Sunday last month when it announced that the workshop would take place in the Gulf state on June 25-26. That announcement created a temporary sense of momentum behind the so-called deal of the century, and the small team working on the plan viewed Bahrain’s sponsorship of the event as a major achievement.

    But there have been a series of setbacks since then. The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the conference and has succeeded in convincing Palestinian business leaders not to attend as well. Russia and China — two of the most important economic players in the new Middle East — aren’t expected to attend, while Arab countries such as Iraq and Lebanon have also announced they won’t be participating.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/788010 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Comment les services de renseignement israéliens collaborent à la lutte contre #BDS à travers le monde

    Mossad involved in anti-boycott activity, Israeli minister’s datebooks reveal - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-mossad-involved-in-anti-boycott-activity-israeli-minister-s-diarie
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    The datebooks of Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan for 2018 reveal that he cooperated with the Mossad in the fight against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

    The diaries, which were released in response to a Freedom of Information request, show that Erdan met with Mossad head Yossi Cohen about “the struggle against the boycott.” The request was made by the Hatzlaha movement, an organization promoting a fair society and economy, to all ministers, deputy ministers and ministry directors-general.

    Officials in the Strategic Affairs Ministry are proud of their work with the state’s security agencies, but hide the content and full scope of these activities on grounds that if these would be revealed, it would undermine the covert efforts being made against BDS and its leaders. Officials in Erdan’s office said that the meeting with Cohen was merely a “review,” but sources familiar with the ministry’s activities told Haaretz that the ministry indeed cooperates with the Mossad.

    Erdan’s datebooks also show meetings with the head of the National Security Council and the head of the NSC’s intelligence branch, as well as meetings with representatives of numerous Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith, the American Jewish Congress, the umbrella organization of French Jewry, the U.S. Reform Movement and others. There are also logs of various meetings and phone calls that Erdan’s chief of staff held with foreign leaders and diplomats, as well as meetings with settler leaders, including the heads of the Samaria Regional Council and the Hebron Hills Regional Council.

    Many of Erdan’s meetings in 2018 were devoted to establishing a public benefit corporation which at first was called Kella Shlomo but whose name was later changed to Concert. Its aim was to covertly advance “mass awareness activities” as part of “the struggle against the campaign to delegitimize” Israel globally. This corporation, which received 128 million shekels (about $36 million) in government funding and was to also collect 128 million shekels in private contributions, is not subject to the Freedom of Information Law.

    In early 2018 Haaretz published the list of shareholders and directors in the company, which include former Strategic Affairs Ministry director general Yossi Kuperwasser; former UN ambassador Dore Gold, a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; former UN ambassador Ron Prosor; businessman Micah Avni, whose father, Richard Lakin, was killed in a 2015 terror attack in Jerusalem; Amos Yadlin, who heads Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies; Miri Eisin, who served as the prime minister’s adviser on the foreign press during the Second Lebanon War; former National Security Council chief Yaakov Amidror; and Sagi Balasha, a former CEO of the Israeli-American Council.
    Demonstrators wear shirts reading “Boycott Israel” during a protest in Paris, Dec. 9, 2017.
    Demonstrators wear shirts reading “Boycott Israel” during a protest in Paris, Dec. 9, 2017. AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu

    According to a government resolution, the funding was granted to implement part of the ministry’s activities related to the fights against delegitimization and boycotts against the State of Israel. It says the company would raise the private portion of its financing for the initiative from philanthropic sources or pro-Israel organizations. A steering committee was to be appointed for the initiative to comprise representatives of the government and the other funding partners.
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    According to a ministry document revealed by The Seventh Eye website, the organization was expected to carry out mass awareness activities and work to exploit the wisdom of crowds, “making new ideas accessible to decision-makers and donors in the Jewish world, and developing new tools to combat the delegitimization of Israel.”

    Elad Mann, Hatzlacha’s legal adviser, said, “Revealing the date books of senior and elected officials is crucial to understanding how the government system works and it has great value taken together with other details of information. This is how to monitor the government and its priorities or the actions it takes with more efficiency and transparency.”

    Erdan’s office said that he “met during this past term with heads of the security echelons to give them a survey of the ministry’s activities in the struggle against the delegitimization and boycott of Israel.”

    Josh Breiner contributed to this report.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/786777 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Une page oubliée de l’histoire : comment 12 000 volontaires palestiniens se sont battus aux côtés des Britanniques durant la seconde guerre mondiale.

    12,000 Palestinians fought for U.K. in WWII alongside Jewish volunteers, historian finds - Israel News - Haaretz.com
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    In 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked an uproar when he claimed that Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini was the one who’d urged Hitler to annihilate the Jews. In the wake of the criticism this elicited, Netanyahu said his intention was not to absolve Hitler of responsibility for the Holocaust, but to note that “the Mufti played an important role in the Final Solution.”

    But it turns out that there was another side to the story that also escaped mention by Netanyahu, the historian’s son: the forgotten role played by thousands of Palestinians who did not heed the Mufti of Jerusalem’s call to support the Axis countries, and went so far as to take up arms to fight the Nazis, often shoulder to shoulder with young Jews from Mandatory Palestine.

    Professor Mustafa Abbasi, a historian at Tel Hai Academic College, has spent years tracing their story. Having recently published an academic article on the subject, this week he suggested an opposite narrative to the one that Netanyahu put forward. The prime minister had sought to paint the Palestinians as supporters of the Third Reich, but Abbasi says, “The Mufti did not find a receptive audience among the Palestinians for his call to aid the Nazis. Not at all.”

    >> Read more: Moments before their fatal mission, Jewish WWII soldiers took these incredible photos of Egypt ■ 76 years later, stories of Jewish soldiers killed in Nazi bombing can finally be told

    The subject of Abbasi’s research is unusual. Many studies have been published about Jewish volunteerism in the war against the Nazis, which reached a peak with the formation of the Jewish Brigade. But “the thousands of Arab volunteers are hardly mentioned and sometimes the record is often distorted,” Abbasi says.

    In an article in the latest issue of the periodical Cathedra (“Palestinians Fighting the Nazis: The Story of Palestinian Volunteers in World War II”), he explains why these Palestinian fighters have been left out of the history books.

    On the one hand, Zionist historians naturally placed an emphasis on the role played by Jewish volunteers in the fight against the Nazis. On the other hand, their Palestinian counterparts were focusing on the struggle against British rule and were not eager to glorify the names of those who cooperated with Britain not so many years after the British put down the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, and thereby indirectly helped the Jews establish a state.
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    “Neither side wished to highlight this subject,” says Professor Abbasi. “But I think it’s the historian’s job to be faithful to the sources and to try to describe history as it was, without being hostage to any national narrative that would limit him and prevent him from writing history freely.”
    Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
    Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, greeting Muslim Waffen-SS volunteers with a Nazi salute, November 1943. Bundesarchiv / Wikimedia Commons

    One has to wonder why no organization was ever established to commemorate the actions of these Palestinian volunteers. “Many of them were killed and many others are still listed as missing. But no memorial has ever been established for them,” says Abbasi. In fact, the records of the Palestinian volunteers, along with much of their personal archives and papers, have disappeared, much of it lost in the War of Independence.

    Over the last few years, Abbasi was able to learn of their story in Palestinian newspapers from the Mandate era, in memoirs and personal journals, and through interviews he conducted with a few of the last remaining volunteers who are still alive. He also collected material from various British archives, from the Zionist Archive, and the archives of the Haganah and the IDF.

    Abbasi estimates that about 12,000 young Palestinians enlisted in the British Army in World War II. Hundreds became POWs, many others (the exact figure is unknown) were killed. “Compared to other peoples, this is not an insignificant number,” he says, and also points out that, unlike other groups, the Palestinians volunteered for the British Army from the first stage of the war.

    Initially, the Palestinian and Jewish volunteers served in mixed units. “They received training and drilled at the same bases and in many instances fought shoulder to shoulder, and were also taken prisoner together,” says Abbasi. And as reported here two years ago, the proximity of the Jewish and Palestinian fighters sometimes led to unusual outcomes, as in the case of Shehab Hadjaj, a Palestinian who enlisted in the British Army, was taken prisoner in Germany and died in 1943. To this day, he is listed at Mount Herzl as “a casualty of Israel’s wars” because someone mistakenly thought his surname indicated that he was Jewish.

    “Relations among the fighters were generally good, and if there was any friction it was mainly over service conditions, like mail and food,” Abbasi says. However, there were certain key differences between the two groups, too. For example, while the Jews were united in their goal of fighting the Nazis to promote the establishment of the Jewish state, the Palestinians “had no clear national agenda,” Abbasi writes. For this reason, unlike the Jews, they did not seek to form separate Palestinian units and there was no “Palestinian Brigade” parallel to the Jewish Brigade, in which thousands of Jews from Mandatory Palestine served.

    So who were the Palestinians who volunteered for the British Army to fight the Nazis? Abbasi says they mostly came from the Palestinian elite and that, contrary to what many think, represented “an important and central part of the Palestinian public.” A part of the public that believed it was necessary to stand by Britain at this time, and to temporarily put aside the Palestinian national aspirations – akin to the Jewish idea to “fight Hitler as if there were no White Paper, and fight the White Paper as if there were no Hitler.”

    They did this at a time when the Mufti of Jerusalem had left Palestine for exile in the Arab countries and Europe, where he met with Hitler and congratulated the Muslim volunteers of the Free Arab Legion – an Arab unit established in the army of Nazi Germany. “He left Palestine for a decade in 1937. What kind of leader abandons his people at such a time?” Abbasi wonders. “He had no influence on the public. He was detached and the public was already tired of him and his methods. They didn’t see him as a leader,” he says. “Anyone who says differently is distorting history,” he adds in a not so subtle dig at certain politicians.

    In his research, he documented pro-British propaganda conferences that were held from 1940 on in Abu Dis (next to Jerusalem), in Jenin, in villages in the Nablus area, in Tul Karm and in Lod. Among the supporters of Britain’s fight against the Nazis were the mayors of Nablus and Gaza. Radio Palestine broadcast the comments of an Egyptian writer who said, “The war is between the lofty and humane values represented by England and the forces of darkness represented by the Nazis.”
    Britain’s then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill, right, escorted by High Commissioner Herbert Samuel in Jerusalem during the British Mandate era, March 1921.
    Britain’s then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill, right, escorted by High Commissioner Herbert Samuel in Jerusalem during the British Mandate era, March 1921.GPO

    Motivations for volunteering were varied. “Some did it for ideological reasons, out of opposition to the Nazi ideology and loyalty to the British and the values that they represented,” says Abbasi. This motivation was common among upper middle class and highly educated Palestinian volunteers from urban backgrounds. Rural Palestinians were motivated largely by financial reasons. “And there were also those who were seeking adventure and wanted a chance to travel abroad,” he says.

    Abbasi found that some Palestinian women also volunteered to fight the Nazis. Almost 120 young women did so as part of the

    Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army, alongside Jewish women. A British recruiting poster in Arabic, published in the Falastin newspaper in January 1942, read: “She couldn’t stop thinking about contribution and sacrifice, she felt ongoing pride and exaltation of spirit – when she did what she saw as her sacred duty for her nation and its sons. When your country is crying out to you and asking for your service, when your country makes it plain that our Arab men need your love and support, and when your country reminds you of how cruel the enemy is – when your country is calling you, can you stand by and do nothing?”

    Abbasi is one of the only researchers in Palestinian society who is studying this area, which was also the subject of a 2015 article by Dalia Karpel in Haaretz Magazine. He came to it thanks to his maternal grandfather, Sa’id Abbasi, who was one of the volunteers in the British Army during the war. “The family didn’t talk about it, until one day when I asked my grandmother why there was such a big age difference between her children,” he says. “Her answer was: ‘Don’t remind me of the time your grandfather left me for so many years.’” Abbasi decided to find out more about that time, and came to see that his family story was part of his people’s history.

    In the future, he hopes, the original material he has collected will be developed into a book that, for the first time, will tell the optimistic story of a rare moment in history in which Jews and Palestinians joined forces for a lofty shared goal.
    Ofer Aderet

    Ofer Aderet

    Haaretz Correspondent

    https://seenthis.net/messages/784533 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Comment Israël arme les dictatures à travers le monde

    Arming dictators, equipping pariahs: Alarming picture of Israel’s arms sales - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Extensive Amnesty report cites Israeli sales to eight countries who violate human rights, including South Sudan, Myanmar, Mexico and the UAE ■ Amnesty calls on Israel to adopt oversight model adopted by many Western countries ■ Senior Israeli defense official: Export license is only granted after lengthy process
    Amos Harel
    May 17, 2019 5:59 AM

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    A thorough report by Amnesty International is harshly critical of Israel’s policies on arms exports. According to the report written in Hebrew by the organization’s Israeli branch, Israeli companies continue to export weapons to countries that systematically violate human rights. Israeli-made weapons are also found in the hands of armies and organizations committing war crimes. The report points to eight such countries that have received arms from Israel in recent years.

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    Often these weapons reach their destination after a series of transactions, thereby skirting international monitoring and the rules of Israel itself. Amnesty calls on the government, the Knesset and the Defense Ministry to more tightly monitor arms exports and enforce transparency guidelines adopted by other Western countries that engage in large-scale weapons exports.

    In the report, Amnesty notes that the supervision of the arms trade is “a global, not a local issue. The desire and need for better monitoring of global arms sales derives from tragic historical events such as genocide, bloody civil wars and the violent repression of citizens by their governments …. There is a new realization that selling arms to governments and armies that employ violence only fuels violent conflicts and leads to their escalation. Hence, international agreements have been reached with the aim of preventing leaks of military equipment to dictatorial or repressive regimes.”

    >> Read more: Revealed: Israel’s cyber-spy industry helps world dictators hunt dissidents and gays

    The 2014 Arms Trade Treaty established standards for trade in conventional weapons. Israel signed the treaty but the cabinet never ratified it. According to Amnesty, Israel has never acted in the spirit of this treaty, neither by legislation nor its policies.

    “There are functioning models of correct and moral-based monitoring of weapons exports, including the management of public and transparent reporting mechanisms that do not endanger a state’s security or foreign relations,” Amnesty says. “Such models were established by large arms exporters such as members of the European Union and the United States. There is no justification for the fact that Israel continues to belong to a dishonorable club of exporters such as China and Russia.”

    In 2007, the Knesset passed a law regulating the monitoring of weapons exports. The law authorizes the Defense Ministry to oversee such exports, manage their registration and decide on the granting of export licenses. The law defines defense-related exports very broadly, including equipment for information-gathering, and forbids trade in such items without a license.
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    The law does not include a clause limiting exports when there is a high probability that these items will be used in violation of international or humanitarian laws. But the law does prohibit “commerce with foreign agencies that are not in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit or limit a transfer of such weapons or missiles to such recipients.”

    According to Amnesty, “the absence of monitoring and transparency have for decades let Israel supply equipment and defense-related knowledge to questionable states and dictatorial or unstable regimes that have been shunned by the international community.”

    The report quotes a 2007 article by Brig. Gen. (res.) Uzi Eilam. “A thick layer of fog has always shrouded the export of military equipment. Destinations considered pariah states by the international community, such as Chile in the days of Pinochet or South Africa during the apartheid years, were on Israel’s list of trade partners,” Eilam wrote.

    “The shroud of secrecy helped avoid pressure by the international community, but also prevented any transparency regarding decisions to sell arms to problematic countries, leaving the judgment and decision in the hands of a small number of people, mainly in the defense establishment.”

    The report presents concrete evidence on Israel’s exports over the last two decades, with arms going to eight countries accused by international institutions of serious human rights violations: South Sudan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. In some of these cases, Israel denied that it exported arms to these countries at specifically mentioned times. In other case it refused to give details.
    Israeli security-related exports

    In its report, Amnesty relies on the research of other human rights groups, on documentation published in the media in those eight countries, and on information gathered by attorney Eitay Mack, who in recent years has battled to expose Israel’s arms deals with shady regimes. Amnesty cross-checks descriptions of exported weapons with human rights violations and war crimes by those countries. In its report, Amnesty says that some of these countries were under sanctions and a weapons-sales embargo, but Israel continued selling them arms.

    According to the organization, “the law on monitoring in its current format is insufficient and has not managed to halt the export of weapons to Sri Lanka, which massacred many of its own citizens; to South Sudan, where the regime and army committed ethnic cleansing and aggravated crimes against humanity such as the mass rape of hundreds of women, men and girls; to Myanmar, where the army committed genocide and the chief of staff, who carried out the arms deal with Israel, is accused of these massacres and other crimes against humanity; and to the Philippines, where the regime and police executed 15,000 civilians without any charges or trials.”

    Amnesty says that this part of the report “is not based on any report by the Defense Ministry relating to military equipment exports, for the simple reason that the ministry refuses to release any information. The total lack of transparency by Israel regarding weapons exports prevents any public discussion of the topic and limits any research or public action intended to improve oversight.”

    One example is the presence of Israeli-made Galil Ace rifles in the South Sudanese army. “With no documentation of sales, one cannot know when they were sold, by which company, how many, and so on,” the report says.

    “All we can say with certainty is that the South Sudanese army currently has Israeli Galil rifles, at a time when there is an international arms embargo on South Sudan, imposed by the UN Security Council, due to ethnic cleansing, as well as crimes against humanity, using rape as a method of war, and due to war crimes the army is perpetrating against the country’s citizens.”

    According to Amnesty, the defense export control agency at the Defense Ministry approved the licenses awarded Israeli companies for selling weapons to these countries, even though it knew about the bad human rights situation there. It did this despite the risk that Israeli exports would be used to violate human rights and despite the embargo on arms sales imposed on some of these countries by the United States and the European Union, as well as other sanctions that were imposed by these countries or the United Nations.

    In response to letters written to the export control agency, its head, Rachel Chen, said: “We can’t divulge whether we’re exporting to one of these countries, but we carefully examine the state of human rights in each country before approving export licenses for selling them weapons.” According to Amnesty, this claim is false, as shown by the example of the eight countries mentioned in the report.

    Amnesty recommends steps for improving the monitoring of defense exports. It says Israel lags American legislation by 20 years, and European legislation by 10 years. “The lack of transparency has further negative implications, such as hiding information from the public,” Amnesty says.
    File photo: Personnel of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF), assigned as South Sundan’s presidential guard, take part in a drill at their barracks in Rejaf, South Sudan, April 26, 2019.
    File photo: Personnel of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF), assigned as South Sundan’s presidential guard, take part in a drill at their barracks in Rejaf, South Sudan, April 26, 2019.Alex McBride/AFP

    “The concept by which the Defense Ministry operates is that it is not in the public interest to know which countries buy weapons here, how much and under what conditions. This is an erroneous conception that stems from the wish to conceal, using the well-worn cloak of ‘issues of state security and foreign relations’ as an excuse,” it adds.

    “The veil of secrecy makes it hard to obtain data. In our humble opinion, the information we have gathered and presented in this report is the tip of the iceberg. Most of the evidence is based on official reports issued by the recipient states, such as the Facebook page of the chief of staff in Myanmar, or the site of the Philippine government’s spokesman.”

    The authors say attempts to maintain secrecy in an era of social media and global media coverage are absurd and doomed to fail.

    “Let the reasonable reader ask himself if the powers that sell weapons are concerned about harm to state security resulting from making the information accessible, or whether this is just an excuse, with the veil of secrecy protecting the interests of certain agencies in Israel.”

    Amnesty says Israel ranks eighth among the exporters of heavy weapons around the world. Between 2014 and 2018, Israel’s defense exports comprised 3.1 percent of global sales. Compared with the previous four years, this was a 60 percent increase. The three largest customers of heavy weapons sold by Israel are India, Azerbaijan and Vietnam.

    But the report says defense industries are not the largest or most lucrative contributors to Israeli exports. According to the Defense Ministry, defense exports comprise 10 percent of Israel’s industrial exports. “Defense-related companies in Israel export to 130 countries around the world,” the report says. “Of these, only a minority are countries designated by the UN and the international community as violators of human rights.”

    These are mostly poor countries and the scope of defense exports to them is small compared to the rest of Israel’s exports. According to Amnesty, banning exports to the eight countries would not sting Israel’s defense contractors or their profits, and would certainly not have a public impact. “There is no justification – economic, diplomatic, security-related or strategic – to export weapons to these countries,” the report says.

    Amnesty believes that “the situation is correctable. Israel’s government and the Defense Ministry must increase their monitoring and transparency, similar to what the vast majority of large weapons exporters around the world do except for Russia and China.”

    According to Amnesty, this should be done by amending the law regulating these exports, adding two main clauses. The first would prohibit the awarding of licenses to export to a country with a risk of serious human rights violations, based on international humanitarian law.

    The second would set up a committee to examine the human rights situation in any target state. The committee would include people from outside the defense establishment and the Foreign Ministry such as academics and human rights activists, as is customary in other countries.

    “Monitoring must not only be done, it must be seen, and the Israeli public has every right to know what is done in its name and with its resources, which belong to everyone,” the report says.

    A policy of obscurity

    A senior defense official who read the Amnesty report told Haaretz that many of its claims have been discussed in recent years in petitions to the High Court of Justice. The justices have heard petitions relating to South Sudan, Cameroon and Mexico. However, in all cases, the court accepted the state’s position that deliberations would be held with only one side present – the state, and that its rulings would remain classified.
    File photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to a military commander along the Gaza border, southern Israel, March 28, 2019.
    File photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to a military commander along the Gaza border, southern Israel, March 28, 2019.Itay Beit On/GPO

    Monitoring of exports has substantially increased since the law was passed, the official said. The authority endowed to the Defense Ministry by this law, including imposing economic sanctions, prohibition of exports and taking legal action against companies, are more far-reaching than in other countries.

    “The process of obtaining an export license in Israel is lengthy, difficult and imposes onerous regulations on exporters," he added. “When there is evidence of human rights violations in a country buying arms from Israel, we treat this with utmost seriousness in our considerations. The fact is that enlightened states respect the laws we have and are interested in the ways we conduct our monitoring.”

    He admitted that Israel does adopt a policy of obscurity with regard to its arms deals. “We don’t share information on whether or to which country we’ve sold arms,” he said. “We’ve provided all the information to the High Court. The plaintiffs do receive fixed laconic responses, but there are diplomatic and security-related circumstances that justify this.”

    “Other countries can be more transparent but we’re in a different place,” he argued. "We don’t dismiss out of hand discussion of these issues. The questions are legitimate but the decisions and polices are made after all the relevant considerations are taken into account.”

    The intense pace of events in recent months – rounds of violence along the Gaza border, Israel’s election, renewed tension between the U.S. and Iran – have left little time to deal with other issues that make the headlines less frequently.

    Israel is currently in the throes of an unprecedented constitutional and political crisis, the outcome of which will seriously impact its standing as a law-abiding state. If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeds in his plan to halt all legal proceedings against him, legislating an immunity law and restricting the jurisdiction of the High Court, all other issues would pale in comparison.

    There is some logic to the claim that Israel cannot be holier than thou when it comes to arms sales in the global market, and yet, the Amnesty report depicts a horrific image, backed by reliable data, but also makes suggestions for improvement that seem reasonable.

    Numerous reports over the last year show that the problem is not restricted to the sale of light weapons, but might be exacerbated by the spread of cyberwarfare tools developed by Israel and what dark regimes can do with these. Even if it happens through a twisted chain of sub-contractors, the state can’t play innocent. Therefore, it’s worthwhile listening to Amnesty’s criticism and suggestions for improvement.
    Amos Harel

    https://seenthis.net/messages/781514 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Nasrallah reveals new details about ambush, killing of 12 Israeli commandos
    Lebanon in 1997 and offers hints about a mysterious murder of a militant leader in Syria
    Amos Harel
    May 13, 2019 5:32 PM

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    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah revealed new details earlier this month about the disaster in September 1997, when 12 members of Israel’s elite naval commando unit were killed in southern Lebanon.

    Nasrallah claims that Hezbollah had been tracking Israel’s preparations for the mission and ambushed the commandos from the Shayetet 13 unit of the Israel Defense Forces – a scenario that some Israeli sources have also suggested over the years.

    Nasrallah spoke on May 2 at a memorial ceremony for Mustafa Badreddine, a senior Hezbollah figure who died under mysterious circumstances three years ago in Syria, and had been involved in the 1997 incident.

    Nasrallah’s remarks have been translated and analyzed in an article by Dr. Shimon Shapira, a brigadier general in the IDF reserves and an expert on Iran and Hezbollah. The article was published on the website of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a research institute.

    On the night of September 4, 1997, 16 Shayetet fighters, under the command of Lt.-Col. Yossi Korakin, were tasked with laying bombs along the coastal road in Lebanon between Tyre and Sidon. After landing on the beach, an explosive device was detonated that caused serious casualties and severed the force into two. Korakin and 10 commandos were killed. Those who survived reported they were fired upon after the blast.
    Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a public appearance October 24, 2015
    Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a public appearance October 24, 2015\ REUTERS

    The survivors and the bodies of their comrades-in-arms were evacuated by helicopter, with great effort, during which an IDF doctor was killed by Lebanese gunfire. The body of one of those killed, Sgt. Itamar Ilya, remained behind and was returned to Israel in a swap with Hezbollah nine months later.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/780779 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • In the U.S., more Jews than Christians see Trump’s policies as too pro-Israel, poll finds

    42 percent of Jews said that Trump’s policies were too favorable to Israel while 26 percent of Christian thought so and 15 percent of Evangelicals held this view
    Amir Tibon
    May 06, 2019 8:09 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-poll-in-the-u-s-more-jews-than-christians-see-trump-s-policies-as-
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7210205.1557163403!/image/2984646525.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/2984646525.jpg

    American Jews are more likely than American Christians to think that President Donald Trump’s policies are too favorable to Israel, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. As part of a national poll on American attitudes toward Israel, the respondents were asked whether they thought Trump’s policies in the Middle East were too favorable to Israel, too favorable to the Palestinians, or had the right balance.

    Among Jewish respondents, 42 percent said that Trump’s policies were too favorable to Israel. Only 6 percent said that his policies were too favorable to the Palestinians, while a plurality of 47 percent said the policy struck the right balance. Among Christian respondents, meanwhile, only 26 percent said Trump’s policies were too favorable to Israel, while 59 percent said the 45th president has the ‘right balance.’

    Within the different Christian denominations, there are different views on the subject. Among Evangelical Christians, 72 percent think Trump’s policy strikes the “right balance,” and only 15 percent think he is too favorable to Israel. Among Catholics, 34 percent think he is too favorable to Israel, and 51 percent think he has the “right balance.” In addition, 33 percent of the respondents who belong to the “historically black” church said that Trump’s policies are too favorable to Israel, and 40 percent of them said it has the right balance.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/779442 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Why I don’t give lectures in Israel about the occupation -
    Gideon Levy
    Opinion -
    Israel News | Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-why-i-don-t-give-lectures-in-israel-about-the-occupation-1.7170563
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7170588.1556397498!/image/169244474.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/169244474.jpg

    What will the tiny handful of Israelis for whom fighting the occupation is paramount do now? What will they do, the people who will not consent to living in an apartheid state? The election results left no room for doubt: Israel lacks a critical mass of opponents to the occupation. The pro-annexation camp beat the camp that’s in favor of perpetuating the occupation. That’s the story, in a nutshell.

    Some of the people who voted for Kahol Lavan or other parties would like to be rid of the albatross around their necks, but it’s not their No. 1 priority. Loathing for Benjamin Netanyahu, the corruption in government and the Eurovision Song Contest are much higher up on their agenda. And what do these people think could possibly end the occupation anyway? Nothing. It’s no biggie.

    The minority that refuses to give up on opposing the occupation can throw in the towel now when it comes to trying to win over Israelis. There’s no one to talk to, and nothing to talk about. There is no partner in Israel, no buyers. Only a handful of warriors remain, the few and the brave.

    One can wait for a miracle — or a disaster — or one can shift to the only arena where hope is still possible: overseas.

    That’s where the fate of the regime in South Africa was decided, at the end of the day, and that’s where the fate of the regime in Israel-Palestine might possibly be decided one day. For now, it’s the only option.

    The argument that this is an undemocratic action aimed at bypassing the will of the people obviously sets a new standard of chutzpah. It’s akin to the claim that the international sanctions against South Africa constituted interference in the country’s domestic affairs.

    There, too, there were democratic elections, for whites only, and a majority of the whites had their say and supported apartheid. So what? Did that have anything to do with democracy? Could the international community sit by idly?

    The occupation is not an internal Israeli matter, and it has nothing to do with democracy. Israeli Jews who control Palestinians using brutal military force are an international matter.

    This is exactly why international institutions were established and why foreign policy exists, and this is exactly why there are judges in The Hague. For 52 years, millions of Palestinians were never asked for their opinion, and for that reason there are few issues that require the intervention of the international community more urgently. It is not only a legitimate sphere of action, it is mandatory — including for Israelis.

    Contradictory messages are emanating from this arena. There are signs of loss of interest and fatigue over a conflict that refuses to be resolved. Ultranationalism, xenophobia and Islamophobia bolster support for Israeli colonialism.

    But at the same time, there are reinforcements in the form of new, almost revolutionary voices, that will not accept this. In Europe and in the United States there arose a generation that did not know the Holocaust and was unwilling to accept the occupation.
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    There is today no greater source of hope than the astonishing changes in the U.S. Democratic Party and the U.K. Labour Party. The rise of these parties to power could herald a new international language toward Israel. There are countries where people are only waiting for the signal to join in.

    The fall of the occupation is likely to be dramatic, not gradual, and the house of cards that seems today to be at the height of its powers, with greater international support than ever before, could collapse in an instant. That’s what happened in South Africa.

    The formula is a simple one: the dissolution of the existing formula, according to which it benefits Israel and the Israelis to continue the occupation. As long as it exists — and it does exist — there is no possibility of change. The moment one of the components is removed, the Israelis will begin asking themselves, for the first time in their history, whether it’s all worth it and whether they are willing to pay the price.

    The answer is clear. There are few Israelis who will be willing to sacrifice their quality of life for the settlement of Ofra, which they have never been to and will never go to.

    It’s necessary to take action in the international arena without any guilt feelings, because it is the only hope. It needs additional Israeli voices. I am occasionally asked, “Snob, have you ever given a lecture in Israel?” but in Israel no one cares about the occupation. Occasionally the word “treason” is mentioned, too. It’s the silent ones who are the real traitors, in Israel and, even more so, abroad.
    Gideon Levy

    Gideon Levy
    Haaretz Correspondent

    https://seenthis.net/messages/777656 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • In a Jewish state, the Zionist left can offer the Arabs nothing but empty words - Opinion - Israel News | Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-how-pleasant-when-brothers-sit-together-1.7164824
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7165387.1556152635!/image/501379797.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/501379797.jpg

    It didn’t work once again for the Zionist left. Like the song says: They promised a dove, an olive branch, they promised peace, spring and blossoms … And once again they got Benjamin Netanyahu.

    The Zionist leftists tried everything. They promised peace and security, settlements and two states, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, and nothing worked. Only one choice remained, the doomsday weapon, the wildest wild card of all: to join with the Arabs. Only thus could they return to power, wrote the pundits. Why didn’t they think of that before? How good and pleasant it is when brothers sit together, center-left with “Israeli Arabs,” as they are popularly called, in denial of them being Palestinians.

    It’s good that this recognition has finally sunk in; it’s too bad that it’s hollow and hypocritical, like most ideas of the center-left. Even when the Zionist left reaches the right understanding, they aren’t ready to pay the price for it. As usual, they want to have their cake and eat it too.

    A Jewish-Arab partnership as well as a Jewish state. It’s doomed to failure. Dear Zionist leftists, don’t count on the Arab vote. You’re not worthy of it.

    First of all – now you come to us? After all the years of military administration and after the riots of October 2000, the discrimination, exclusion and dispossession (just go to Taibeh or Hura), suddenly you remember that we exist? Oh well, better late than never. But what exactly does the center-left have to offer the Arabs in the state of the Jews? Empty words. What equality, without which there can be no genuine partnership, can exist in a Jewish-democratic state? What brotherhood can prevail in a country whose Law of Return fundamentally discriminates against Arabs? What is there waiting for them in a country whose discourse is all Jewish and only Jewish? Where nearly all of the land is designated for Jews and many public workplaces are closed to them? And that’s before we’ve even said a word about the nation-state law.

    There is only one way that Jews and Arabs can really go together: in a democratic, egalitarian state of all its citizens. Is this what anyone on the Zionist left who proposed joining together meant? If so, he cannot be a Zionist. This built-in contradiction must be exposed: Zionism and egalitarianism cannot go hand in hand.

    From the depths of its failures, the center-left suddenly discovered the potential of the Arab vote. It tried the religious and sought out the Mizrahim and ultimately was stuck with the Arabs, the last bastion of non-rightist votes. But the Zionist left has nothing to offer them aside from a few budgetary crumbs. It has no intention of paying the real price that has to be paid for going together, which would spur Israel’s Arabs to vote Kahol Lavan, Labor or Meretz.

    They will only do so en masse in a country that shakes off its Zionist scaffolding, which may have been necessary once, but is no longer so. They will do so in a state in which an Arab prime minister or defense minister or health minister is a matter of routine, as it should be in any multinational democracy. They will do so when the Arabic language will be the language of the country just as Hebrew is, and when they stop being called a “minority.” What minority? An equal number of Jews and Palestinians now live under Israeli control between the Jordan River and the sea. This moment of numerical equality, which many not last very long, ought to have been celebrated with a declaration of intent to establish an egalitarian democracy. Instead, nearly 5 million Palestinians live under occupation and another nearly 2 million live under the nation-state law.

    This is not what the advocates of joining together mean. They just want keffiyehs at party conventions and votes at the ballot box. The right has been winning for 40 years, and the left still doesn’t get that it has nothing more to offer. For 40 years now, it has lost its way.

    The solution is admittedly revolutionary and not an easy one to accept, but it is the only one: Detach the Zionist label from the leftist label and switch to what every liberal left in the world is dedicated to. Offer the obvious: Democracy for all.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/777530 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israel already an apartheid state says outgoing French ambassador, discussing Trump’s peace plan - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Gérard Araud recalls that ’once Trump told Macron [the French president], ‘I have given everything to the Israelis; the Israelis will have to give me something’’

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-is-already-an-apartheid-state-says-outgoing-french-ambassador-1.7151
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.7110982.1555018820!/image/2475860285.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/2475860285.jpg

    Outgoing French Ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, gave a bombastic interview to the Atlantic, published Friday, as he ends his five year tenure in Washington, D.C. Araud told Yara Bayoumy that Israel is already an apartheid state and that U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan is 99% doomed to fail.

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    Araud, who Bayoumy notes is known for “his willingness to say (and tweet) things that other ambassadors might not even think,” also offered his opinion on Trump’s foreign policy team. He said that John Bolton is a “real professional,” even though “he hates international organizations” and that Jared Kushner is “extremely smart, but he has no guts.”

    Araud recalled that “once Trump told Macron [the French president], ‘I have given everything to the Israelis; the Israelis will have to give me something.’ He is totally transactional. He is more popular than [Benjamin] Netanyahu in Israel, so the Israelis trust him.” Araud cited that exchange with Macron as evidence that Trump will ask for something tough from the Israelis in his peace proposal.

    Read the full interview in the Atlantic

    He concluded, however, that “disproportion of power is such between the two sides that the strongest may conclude that they have no interest to make concessions.” He continued by discussing Israel’s dilemna in the West Bank, noting that Israel is hesitating to make “the painful decision about the Palestinians” - to leave them “totally stateless or make them citizens of Israel.”

    He concludes, “They [Israel] won’t make them citizens of Israel. So they will have to make it official, which is we know the situation, which is an apartheid. There will be officially an apartheid state. They are in fact already.”

    Trump’s Middle East peace plan will not involve giving land from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula to the Palestinians, an American envoy said on Friday.
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    Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy, apparently sought to deny reports on social media that the long-awaited plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would involve extending Gaza into the northern Sinai along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.

    “Hearing reports our plan includes the concept that we will give a portion of Sinai (which is Egypt’s) to Gaza. False!”, Greenblatt, one of the architects of the proposal, tweeted on Friday.

    The American plan is expected to be unveiled once Israel’s newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms a government coalition and after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in June.

    Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner said on Wednesday the plan would require compromise by all parties, a source familiar with his remarks said.

    It is unclear whether the plan will propose outright the creation of a Palestinian state, the Palestinians’ core demand.

    Reuters contributed to this report

    https://seenthis.net/messages/776185 via Nouvelles d’Orient