• Israel fighting to stop FIFA from suspending settlement soccer teams -
    Move against six teams initiated by Palestinians, backed by FIFA panel; Israelis pessimistic

    Barak Ravid Apr 20, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.784442

    Israel is increasingly concerned that when the FIFA Congress holds its annual meeting in another four weeks, the international soccer federation will decide to suspend six Israeli soccer teams based in West Bank settlements.
    Consequently, ambassadors in dozens of capitals worldwide have been ordered to work with officials of their host countries to foil the move.
    An official involved in the issue said that two weeks ago, Israel learned that Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub had asked to put the issue of the settlement teams on the agenda of both the FIFA Council, which will meet in Manama, Bahrain on May 9, and the FIFA Congress, which will meet in the same city on May 10 and 11.
    On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry sent a cable to dozens of Israeli embassies instructing embassy staffers to try to persuade their host countries to remove the issue from FIFA’s agenda or ensure that no vote on it takes place. But the official said Israel must be prepared for the worst-case scenario, in which a vote does take place. If so, Israel’s chances of winning are negligible.
    “Our growing assessment is that the FIFA Congress is liable to make a decision on suspending six Israeli teams that play over the Green Line, or even on suspending Israel from FIFA,” the cable said. “We urge you to contact your countries’ representatives on the FIFA Council as soon as possible to obtain their support for Israel’s position, which rejects mixing politics with sport and calls for reaching an agreed solution between the parties ... and to thwart an anti-Israel decision if it is brought before the council.”

    #BDS #Israel #Palestine

    https://seenthis.net/messages/591331 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Barghouti’s N.Y. Times article met by Israeli ritual of diversion and denial -

    Comparing article to terror attack and suggesting sanctions against the Times, as Michael Oren did, is more damaging to Israel’s image

    Chemi Shalev Apr 19, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.784060

    At the end of his opinion piece in the New York Times about the Palestinian prisoners’ strike, Marwan Barghouti was originally described as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” After 24 hours of outrage and condemnation, an editor’s note conceded that further context was needed, pointing out that Barghouti had been convicted on “five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization.” News of the clarification spread like wildfire on social media. It was described in glowing terms as yet another historic victory of good over evil and of the Jewish people over its eternal enemies.
    It was another example of the time-tested Israeli ritual of accentuating the insignificant at the expense of the essence, the results of which are well known in advance. First you manufacture righteous indignation over a minor fault in an article or the problematic identity of its writer, then you assault the newspaper or media that publicized it and cast doubt on its motives, then you demand to know how this was even possible and who will pay the price. In this way, the Israeli public is absolved of the need to actually contend with the gist of the article or public utterance, in this case Barghouti’s claims that he was physically tortured, that almost a million Palestinians have been detained over the years, that their conviction rate in the Israeli military court system is absurdly high, whether it’s really wise to hold as many as 6,500 security prisoners in custody at one time and so on.
    The guiding principle of this perpetual war waged by Israel and its supporters against the so-called hostile press - to paraphrase a legendary John Cleese episode about a visit by German visitors to Fawlty Towers - is “Don’t mention the occupation!” After one spends so much energy on protestations and exclamations of how unthinkable, how outrageous and how dare they, there’s very little enthusiasm left to consider eternal control over another people or the malignant status quo that many Israelis view as the best of all possible worlds or how is it even possible that someone who is defined by former Israeli Ambassador and current deputy minister Michael Oren as a terrorist and a murderer on a par with Dylann Roof, who killed nine African American worshippers in a church in Charleston, is considered by many people around the world, including those at the New York Times, as an authentic leader whose words should be read and heard.
    In an interview with IDF Radio on Tuesday, Oren put the ingenious diversionary strategy on full display. He described Barghouti’s op-ed as nothing less than a “media terror attack.” To this he added a pinch of conspiracy theory with a dash of anti-Semitism by claiming that the Times purposely published Barghouti’s article on Passover, so that Israeli and Jewish leaders wouldn’t have time to react. Then he approvingly cited the wise words of his new oracle, Donald Trump, describing the publication of the article and its content as “fake news.” And for his grand finale, Oren intimated that the proper Zionist response would be to close down the Times’ Israel office, no less.
    In this way, anyone who wants to address Barghouti’s claims substantively, even if it’s to criticize them, is seen as collaborating with a terrorist and enabling terror. It’s the same system by which anti-occupation groups such as Breaking the Silence are tarred as traitorous, backstabbing informants so that no one dares consider the actual testimonies they present about the hardships of occupation and the immorality of forcing the IDF to police the West Bank. What’s hilarious, however, is that so many Israelis and Jews are convinced that articles such as the one written by Barghouti, which most readers probably view as yet another tedious polemic about an intractable Middle East conflict, somehow causes more harm to Israel’s image than a senior government official who compares a news article to a terror attack and who recommends closing down the offices of the most widely respected news organization in the world, a la Putin or Erdogan.

    #Palestine #Israel #Barghouti

    https://seenthis.net/messages/590911 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • With Palestinian prisoner strike, Barghouti challenges Abbas’ leadership
    Will a Palestinian hunger strike rain on Trump’s peace plans ?

    Amos Harel Apr 18, 2017
    read more : http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.783911

    The hunger strike that nearly 1,200 Palestinian security prisoners in Israel began on Monday is expected to ratchet up the tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming days. If complications occur and the strike lasts for an extended time, it is liable to take over the security and diplomatic agenda at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is declaring its intention to restart the peace process.
    >> Get all updates on Israel, Trump and the Palestinians: Download our free App, and Subscribe >>
    However, like another crisis that escalated in recent days over the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip, it appears that the background to the strike has to do with intra-Palestinian power struggles as much as it has to do with the struggle against Israel.
    The hunger strike is basically the initiative of a single person, Marwan Barghouti, the highest-ranking Fatah prisoner in Israel. The media attention from a prolonged strike will serve him in his moves vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority leadership, which is officially supporting the strike but in actuality is concerned about any outcome that could advance the standing of the imprisoned leader, who is not especially liked by President Mahmoud Abbas and his people. Barghouti already took credit for an initial success on Monday with an Op-Ed in The New York Times. (For some reason, the editors of the newspaper omitted from the publication the reason Barghouti is in prison: He was arrested and tried in 2002 for dispatching terrorists to carry out attacks at the height of the second intifada in which five Israeli civilians were killed. The piece has since been amended with an editor’s note amid a wave of heavy criticism.)

    #Palestine #Barghouti #grèvedelafaim

    https://seenthis.net/messages/590389 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • 700 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel declare mass hunger strike -

    Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have threatened hunger strike over past several weeks in campaign spearheaded by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti

    Yaniv Kubovich and Jack Khoury Apr 16, 2017 1
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.783772

    700 Palestinian prisoners currently held in Israel announced the start of a indefinite hunger strike in prisons on Sunday, according to a statement released by Israel’s Prison Service. Imprisoned Fatah official Marwan Barghouti spearheaded the campaign, though Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners held at Hadarim prison will join the campaign largely associated with Fatah.
    The hunger strike is expected to expand Monday morning, with over 2,000 prisoners participating. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced his support of the strike, as did leaders of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
    Nearly 2,900 Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel and affiliated with Fatah have threatened to launch a hunger strike over the past several weeks. Barghouti, the campaign’s organizer, has often been floated as a possible successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
    The fate of more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, whose number has grown considerably in the past 18 months due to the wave of stabbing and car-ramming attacks (the “lone-wolf intifada”), affects nearly every family in the territories. A hunger strike, if it is widely observed and well managed, could immediately turn up the heat in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. If down the road a threat to the strikers’ lives develops, it could lead to another wave of violence.
    The April 17 date was originally chosen with an eye on the start of Ramadan, which is toward the end of May. A full hunger strike during Ramadan, when Palestinians fast by day and break their fasts at night, could be religiously problematic. Setting a potential strike period of a little over a month will allow the struggle against Israel to escalate, but also limits it in time so as to prevent a total loss of control. It also marks the annual Palestinian prisoners day anniversary.

    #Palestine #Prisonniers #Israël

    https://seenthis.net/messages/590059 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Forget Iran. Is the fertility rate the real threat to Israel’s existence? -

    Israel could be home to 36 million people by 2050, according to some forecasts. Prof. Alon Tal explains why irresponsible government policies have created a ticking time bomb, and why the state has to get out of its citizens’ bedrooms

    Netta Ahituv Apr 15, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.783515

    During its 68 years of existence, Israel has changed from a sparsely populated country to one of the most densely populated in the Western world. That is how Prof. Alon Tal, chairman of Tel Aviv University’s public policy department, opens his latest book, “The Land is Full: Addressing Overpopulation in Israel” (Yale University Press).
    Israel’s population density, he writes, is 1,000 percent higher than the OECD average. Conservative forecasts say that Israel will have 23 million inhabitants by 2050. Less conservative forecasts predict 36 million inhabitants by then. And well before then, in 2030, Israel will have doubled the population it has today.
    Reading this book is like reading a dystopian novel. I thought about my children growing up in such a cruel, crowded place and I was afraid.
    Tal says he wrote the book because of his three daughters. “I’m a diehard Zionist and I want them to continue living in Israel,” he explains. Even though his book is pessimistic and frightening, Tal, surprisingly, describes himself as an optimist. “I’ll tell you why. Our society has a taboo about not bringing children into the world – everyone feels they have to have children. But we’re a developed country, in which it’s relatively easy to break taboos.
    “Over the last 10 years, society’s attitude toward the gay community has changed completely. Society threw out one of the hardest taboos to get rid of and entered a much healthier phase. With regard to childbirth, too, if we tell the truth I think we’ll get there. The very fact that a conversation is happening is important. Ultimately, we’re a pragmatic people.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/589610 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Not Just for the Sake of Syrians, but for Our Sake

    Precisely the Arabs in Israel, who are fighting discrimination and oppression, must not stutter when it comes to the injustices perpetrated across the border

    Odeh Bisharat Apr 10, 2017 12:16 AM
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.782651

    What can the Arabs in Israel do for their Syrian brethren? They have no army, no diplomatic clout, no logistical capabilities that could allow them to offer civilian support. The only thing that remains is moral support – words. “You have neither horses nor treasure to give … so let the words rejoice if circumstances be grim,” said the poet Al-Mutanabbi. But the Arab leadership in Israel has failed in the realm of words as well.
    The truth is that even if the Arabs in Israel manage to give verbal support to Syria’s citizens, that will not change the balance of power at all between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, or between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s murderers and the fanatics backed by Qatar. In the situation we’re in, the battle over what position should be taken toward Syria is a battle over the moral image of Arab society in Israel, over its attitude toward the terrible massacre going on across the border.
    >> Israeli Arab party fails to condemn Assad’s gas attack in Syria, slams U.S. strikes <<
    And if in the hard days of the chemical-weapons assault on Khan Sheikhoun almost none of the leaders of Arab society in Israel saw fit to condemn the Syrian regime, that’s cause for concern. Even those who did condemn it, by the way, did so weakly, to the point where it could not be said whether the statements were condemnation or commentary.
    Condemnation of Assad produces furious responses from his supporters, as if he were Mother Theresa, censured out of nowhere. But Assad was part of a bloody regime even before the appearance of ISIS and the Nusra Front. On June 26, 1980, when Hafez Assad waited on the steps of the presidential palace to welcome an African guest, two bombs were thrown at him, miraculously missing their target. Revenge was quick to follow. The next day, June 27, at dawn, a group of some 60 soldiers, led by Muin Nassif, deputy of Rifaat Assad, the president’s brother, boarded helicopters and flew to the Tadmor Prison in the heart of the desert. There, the soldiers broke up into smaller groups and opened fire on the prisoners locked in their cells. Five hundred prisoners were murdered in cold blood. That story appears in Patrick Seale’s biography of the senior Assad.

    #Syria #Palestine #Israel

    https://seenthis.net/messages/587631 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • After Trump request, Netanyahu formulating goodwill gestures toward Palestinians -

    At the meeting the security cabinet decided to curb settlement construction, Netanyahu told the ministers: We must not mislead the Americans, they are tracking every house in the settlements, including in East Jerusalem.

    Barak Ravid Apr 02, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.780952

    The Trump administration is asking Israel to carry out a series of goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the security cabinet last Thursday, when he announced plans to curb construction in the settlements. 
    These measures should have an immediate effect on the Palestinians’ economic situation, ministers and senior officials who attended the meeting told Haaretz.
    >> Get all updates on Israel, Trump and the Palestinians: Download our free App, and Subscribe >>
    During Thursday’s meeting, Netanyahu said several times that U.S. President Donald Trump is determined to advance the Israeli-Palestinian issue and for the two parties to reach an agreement, the sources said.
    >> Analysis: Israel’s most right-wing cabinet ever curbs settlement construction - but the settlers keep mum >>
    Netanyahu said he did not know exactly how Trump wants to make progress, but the prime minister stressed the importance of Israel demonstrating goodwill and not being seen as the one causing the U.S. initiative to fail.
    Three ministers and two senior government officials who participated in Thursday’s meeting, or who were updated on the details of it, briefed Haaretz on what happened behind the scenes during the nighttime discussions about contacts between the United States and Israel on the Palestinian issue.
    All five asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter, and also because it was a closed meeting.
    Netanyahu said he intends to agree to the American demands for additional goodwill steps in the West Bank and Gaza, with the potential for an immediate uptick for the Palestinian economy. He did not provide details about what moves would be taken, but a number of the ministers present understood that one possible step would include granting the Palestinians permission to build in Area C (some 60 percent of the West Bank, under full Israeli civil and security control).
    Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who has blocked previous efforts by Netanyahu to take similar actions, once more presented his reservations. Bennett said he expects that any actions Israel takes on the ground, and the goodwill gestures to the Palestinians, will not expand into moves with major foreign policy implications.

    The Beit Aryeh settlement, north of Ramallah, April 1, 2017. Netanyahu has pledged to curb settlement construction.THOMAS COEX/AFP
    The leader of the far-right Habayit Hayehudi party added that if Netanyahu does consider such moves, he expects the matter to be brought back to the security cabinet for a further discussion and approval.
    Netanyahu scheduled a meeting with the Israel Defense Forces’ Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and other officials, for Sunday, when they will attempt to put together the package of goodwill gestures and other steps.
    Even though the Prime Minister’s Office stated in recent days no limitations will exist on construction in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem situated over the Green Line, Netanyahu sounded less emphatic in the security cabinet meeting and hinted that there would not be full normalization on this issue.
    “There are no limitations on construction in Jerusalem, but we will need to act wisely,” he told ministers, hinting it’s possible that certain limitations may be imposed on building in the capital.
    In addition, Netanyahu informed the security cabinet a decision had been made to limit the activities of the highest-level planning committee of the IDF’s Civil Administration, which approves building plans for the settlements. Instead of meeting once a week, as was customary, the committee will now meet only once every three months.
    Netanyahu told the ministers that each of the committee’s meetings – during which decisions are made and then revealed about building plans for the settlements, even if they are only minor technical decisions – leads to media reports, which then causes friction and tension with the international community. Accumulating such plans and having them brought up for discussion only four times a year will limit the amount of global protest, added Netanyahu.
    At the same time, limiting the activities of the IDF’s planning committee could also have an influence on the number of plans approved, as well as the pace at which they advance.
    A senior member on the Yesha Council of settlements in the West Bank said fewer committee meetings would mean a slowdown in the planning process. It would be enough for Netanyahu or Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to cancel just a single committee meeting for supposedly technical reasons in order to create a situation in which no plans are approved for a full six months.
    In a meeting of the heads of the coalition, Bennet turned to Netanyahu and said that the new policy on settlement construction will be tested by how it would be implemented. “I ask that after Passover a date would be set for the Supreme Planning Committee to convene in order to approve construction plans,” said the education minister. Netanyahu did not respond, but his chief of staff, Horowitz, said that he will check and will soon schedule a committee meeting.
    Netanyahu also told the ministers Thursday that stricter limitations and supervision will be imposed on construction in unauthorized outposts. It is assumed no further construction will be allowed in existing unauthorized outposts, and new ones will be removed shortly after they go up.

    Palestinian women in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 30, 2017. New goodwill gestures would aim to improve the Strip’s dire economic situation.SAID KHATIB/AFP
    Even though the new construction policy is not part of an agreement with the United States, or even part of the unofficial understandings with the White House, the Trump administration is following their implementation very closely, said Netanyahu.
    Israel must keep to its new policy of restraint and implement it strictly, without trying to deceive the Trump administration, because the Americans know about every house being built in the settlements, he added.
    At Sunday’s Likud ministerial meeting Monday morning, Horowitz, who manages communications with the White House on the issue of the settlements, said that originally the Americans had requested a complete freeze in construction. "It started from zero," Horowitz told the ministers. “The result we reached was much better.” Prime Minister Netanyahu said in response: “I won’t go into it here, but you don’t know how right he is.”

    #Israël #Palestine #Etats-Unis #colonisation

    https://seenthis.net/messages/585118 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Netanyahu announces policy of restrained settlement construction in ’show of good will’ to Trump

    Prime Minister informs ministers that while no formal understandings have been reached in talks with the White House, Israel will unilaterally limit new construction almost exclusively to already-developed areas of existing settlements.

    Barak Ravid Mar 31, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.780641

    Israel will adopt a policy of limiting new construction in West Bank settlements to within the boundaries of areas that have already been built upon or in some specific cases precisely adjacent to them, Prime Minister Netanyahu said at a security cabinet meeting late Thursday night
    >> Get all updates on Israel, Trump and the Palestinians: Download our free App, and Subscribe >>
    A minister who was present at the meeting and requested to remain anonymous said Netanyahu informed the cabinet that despite several weeks of discussions on the issue, no understandings have yet been reached between Israel and the United States regarding settlement construction and that the differences between the sides remained unchanged.
    >>U.S. senator slams decision to build new settlement: ’Netanyahu not serious about two states’>>
    However, Netanyahu said he had decided to respond to U.S. President Donald Trump’s reservations regarding the settlements by unilaterally adopting a policy of restrained construction that will almost exclusively include building in already-developed areas of existing settlements to avoid appropriating new land or expanding the territory of established settlements.
    “There are no understandings with the Americans and this wasn’t agreed one with the administration, but rather these are restrictions that Israel is taking upon itself in response to the president’s request,” said the minister. “In any case, the ’payment’ to the Americans isn’t over.”

    >> Israel’s settlers are beginning to miss Obama | Analysis >>
    Another senior source who also requested to remain anonymous said Netanyahu told the cabinet ministers that out of consideration for Trump’s positions, Israel will take significant steps to reduce, in so much as possible, the expansion of existing settlement territory beyond already-developed areas and that this too would be significantly restricted to allow for the progress of a peace process.
    At the meeting, Netanyahu presented four main points outlining Israel’s new policy in the settlements:
    1. Israel will continue construction, when permissible, within previously developed areas.
    2. Where this is not permissible, Israel will allow construction in areas adjacent to those already developed.
    3. Where neither of these criteria are met, due to legal, security or topographical constraints, Israel will allow construction on the closest land possible to developed areas.
    4. Israel will not allow the creation of any new illegal outposts.
    A second minister who participated in the meeting said that Netanyahu said no understanding had been reached in the talks with the White House and that, in effect, the sides had decided “to agree to disagree.”
    However, Israel unilaterally agreed to adopt a policy that would take into consideration Trump’s concerns that continued construction in the settlements would expand its West Bank territory to a point that would prevent the creation of a Palestinian country in the future.
    “This isn’t an agreement with the Americans, but rather unilateral policy by the government of Israel,” said the second minister. “The Americans said that they don’t agree with construction in the settlements in any case, but that they can live with it and there won’t be an international crisis over every new home that’s built.”
    Netanyahu told the ministers in the meeting that he believes Israel should limit construction in a show of good will toward Trump.
    “This is a very friendly administration and we need to take his requests into consideration,” Netanyahu told the ministers. No vote was taken during the meeting, but all the ministers agreed to the policy of restrained construction and there were no arguments or conflicts between Netanyahu and any of the ministers.
    “This is moderate, reasonable policy,” said one of the cabinet ministers. “There’s no limit on the number of housing units and no distinction between the blocs and the solitary settlements. It will be possible to build, but in a gradual and measured way and without taking more and more hills.” 
    Netanyahu’s announcement of new policy came as the cabinet approved the construction of a new settlement for the first time in over 20 years, in part to house those evacuated from the illegal outpost of Amona in February. 
    A White House official told Haaretz that Netanyahu had informed the Trump administration that he intended to stand by his commitment to build this new settlement, but that a new policy would then be adopted that would restrict new construction in consideration of Trump’s concerns.
    Over the past few weeks, Netanyahu mostly kept the minister’s in the dark on the details of the talks with the American government and managed them with only his closest advisors. The only minister who was briefed was Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who had to know because the Civil Administration, which is responsible for planning and building in the settlements, is under his authority.
    Last week, Netanyahu’s senior advisors held four days of talks in Washington with U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt and his team, but didn’t succeed in reaching a final understanding. However, in a joint statement released by the two sides at the end of the round of talks, they said that Israel is prepared, in principle, to restrict construction in the settlements in consideration of Trump’s desire to push forward with a peace process.
    Israel’s umbrella organization for settlers, the Yesha Council, responded to the news, but did not attack the decision. “In wake of the decision and despite some restrictions, the understandings reached between the governments of Israel and the U.S. administration permit the continued settlement construction in all the communities in Judea and Samaria, and even the establishment of a new settlement for the residents of Amona,” the council said.
    “The true test will be the immediate renewal of planning and development throughout the settlements. We will stand guard and work to make sure that the Israeli government will actualize this plan,” they said.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/584341 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Inside the clandestine world of Israel’s ’BDS-busting’ ministry

    The Strategic Affairs Ministry’s leaders see themselves as the heads of a commando unit, gathering and disseminating information about ’supporters of the delegitimization of Israel’ – and they prefer their actions be kept secret.
    By Uri Blau Mar 26, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.779434

    The Haaretz report that Minister Gilad Erdan wants to set up a database of Israeli citizens who support the BDS movement has led to questions about the boundaries of freedom of expression and the government’s use of its resources to surveille people of differing opinions. The report also shone a light on the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which Erdan heads, and cast doubt about its ambiguous activities and goals.
    >> Get all updates on Israel and the Jewish World: Download our free App, and Subscribe >>
    Now, through official documents, Haaretz reveals some elements of the ministry’s clandestine activities, whereby even its location is a secret, described only as “greater Tel Aviv.” Its internal terminology comes from the world of espionage and security; its leading figures appear to see themselves as the heads of a public affairs commando unit engaged in multiple fronts, gathering and disseminating information about people they define as “supporters of the delegitimization of Israel.”
    That definition does not necessarily include only supporters of BDS, but intentional ambiguity remains, alongside campaigns and public diplomacy activities against these individuals in Israel and abroad.

    Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. Olivier Fitoussi
    “If you want to win the campaign you have to do it with a great deal of ambiguity," the ministry’s director general, Sima Vaknin-Gil, who is a former IDF chief censor, explained to a Knesset panel recently. “The way I worked with military issues like Hezbollah or terror funds or Syria or any other country against which I conducted a campaign as an intelligence officer – we didn’t tell the other side what we intended to do; we left it ambiguous.”
    The ministry spends tens of millions of shekels on cooperative efforts with the Histadrut labor federation, the Jewish Agency and various nongovernmental organizations in training representatives of the “true pluralistic face” of Israel in various forums.

    The Strategic Affairs Ministry was established mainly as a consolation prize for ministers when the need arose to pad them with a semi-security portfolio during the formation of governing coalitions, and has taken on various forms. It was founded in 2006 as a portfolio tailored to Avigdor Lieberman. It was dismantled two years later and reestablished in 2009 in a different format. Under each ministry it was given new meaning and content.

    Strategic Affairs Ministry Director General Sima Vaknin. Alon Ron
    During Lieberman’s tenure, its authority was defined mainly as “thwarting the Iranian nuclear program.” In addition, Nativ, which maintained contact with Jews in Eastern Europe during the Cold War and encouraged aliyah, came under its aegis. Then, under Moshe Ya’alon (2009-2013), the ministry focused on “Palestinian incitement” as well as the Iranian threat. During the term of Yuval Steinitz (2013-2015), the ministry was unified with the Intelligence Affairs Ministry into the “Intelligence Ministry.” In May 2015, it was once again separated out and given to Erdan, incorporating the Public Diplomacy Ministry, which had been removed from the Prime Minister’s Office.
    A harsh state comptroller’s report in 2016 concerning the “diplomatic-media struggle against the boycott movement and manifestations of anti-Semitism abroad,” noted that the transfer of authority to fight BDS from the Foreign Ministry to the Strategic Affairs Ministry was damaging to the powers of the Foreign Ministry and created unnecessary duplication that paralyzed government action in that area, as Barak Ravid reported extensively at the time.
    According to the comptroller, after years of contention and mutual entrenchment, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had given in to pressure and shifted more powers for fighting BDS from the Foreign Ministry to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, together with major funding.
    In October 2015, the security cabinet finally gave the Strategic Affairs Ministry responsibility to “guide, coordinate and integrate the activities of all the ministers and the government and of civil entities in Israel and abroad on the subject of the struggle against attempts to delegitimize Israel and the boycott movement.”
    Nevertheless, tensions with the Foreign Ministry remained. The reason for this might also be a difference in approach. According to the comptroller’s report, the Foreign Ministry’s strategy of action against BDS “focuses on expanding dialogue with individuals, bodies, organizations, corporations and institutions abroad” – i.e., dialogue – as opposed to surveillance and more aggressive public diplomacy activities by the Strategic Affairs Ministry.

    Tzahi Gavrieli. Tomer Appelbaum

    https://seenthis.net/messages/582430 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • The role Russia played in the Israel-Syria missile clash
    Syria’s missile fire at Israeli warplanes may indicate that Assad and his Russian protectors are not fully coordinated.

    Anshel Pfeffer Mar 19, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.777965

    Over the six years of the Syrian war, dozens of airstrikes carried out against Hezbollah targets there have been ascribed to Israel. Until now the government has refused to acknowledge or deny them. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have stated publicly that Israel does attack in Syria to defend its strategic interests – in other words, preventing Hezbollah obtaining “balance-breaking” weapons for its arsenal in Lebanon. The attacks that took place early Friday were the first to be confirmed officially by the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson. While it remains unclear what the target or targets were – was it a Hezbollah convoy, a weapons factory or storage, and whether a senior Hezbollah commander was killed in the airstrike as some reports in the Arab media have claimed – a series of important questions arise from the little information that has been published.
    >> With missile fire, Assad is trying to change the rules of the game | Analysis <<
    First, why has Israel changed its policy and suddenly acknowledged an attack? Syria’s air-defense forces launched a long-range missile in an attempt to shoot down Israel’s fighter-jets. The missile was fired much too late to endanger the planes, but could have fallen on civilian areas within Israel and was therefore intercepted by an Arrow 2 missile. The loud explosion which was heard as far as Jerusalem and the missile parts that fell in Jordan meant that some explanation had to be given. But a statement on the missile intercept would have been sufficient. The decision to take responsibility for the attacks as well would have been made by the prime minister and may have been made for other reasons. 
    Exactly a week before the attacks, Netanyahu was in Moscow discussing Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Few details have emerged regarding what was said in the meeting but Netanyahu said before and after that he made it clear that Israel would not agree to Iranian military presence in Syria, or that of Iran’s proxies, now that the civil war in the country seems to be winding down and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule has been preserved.
    Whether or not this demand was met with a receptive audience, Netanyahu returned to Jerusalem with the impression that Putin takes Israel’s concerns seriously. An attack carried out by Israeli warplanes flying over Syria (and not using standoff missiles from afar as happened in other strikes recently) may be an indication that there is an understanding with Russia over Israeli operations within the area that Russia protects with its own air-defense systems.
    Friday’s strikes resemble closely the pattern of the attack in December 2015 on a Damascus suburb in which nine operatives working for Iran were killed, including Samir Kuntar, the murderer of an Israeli family who had been released by Israel in a prisoner exchange in 2008 and was believed to be planning new cross-border raids. That strike took place just three days after Netanyahu and Putin had spoken by telephone and was the first to be carried out after Russia had placed an air-defense shield over large areas of Syria, including its capital.

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    It was unlikely then, back in December 2015 and on Friday, that Israel would have attacked in Syria, within Russia’s zone of operations, if it thought the Kremlin would react with anger. The fact that it was the Syrian army which launched a missile against Israel’s warplanes, while there are much more advanced Russian air-defense systems deployed nearby, ostensibly to protect the regime, could also indicate that Assad and his Russian protectors are not fully coordinated. Assad is aware that Putin is discussing his country’s future with other world leaders, including Netanyahu. His belated attempt to shoot down Israeli planes could be a sign of frustration at his impotence to control both his destiny and his airspace.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/579569 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • In precedent-setting ruling, Israel’s top court recognizes East Jerusalem Arabs as ’native-born residents’

    Over 14,000 Arabs have had their residency rights revoked since 1967 because they were absent from Jerusalem for more than 7 years. Court ruling challenges practice that treated them like immigrants in their own city.

    Nir Hasson Mar 16, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.777750

    In a precedent-setting ruling, High Court justices have ordered the Interior Ministry to restore the residency rights of a Palestinian man born in East Jerusalem who was denied permission to live in the city after being away for many years.
    The ruling challenges a ministry policy of denying residency to many Palestinians born in the city once they’re away for more than seven years.
    A three-justice panel ruled that residents of East Jerusalem “have a strong affinity” to the city which must be taken into consideration with respect to residency rights.
    With the annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel in 1967, Palestinians did not receive Israeli citizenship but the status of permanent residents, entitling them to freedom of movement. In effect, the state has treated them as immigrants rather than native-born residents. 
    Since 1967 the Interior Ministry has denied the status of more than 14,000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem citing various reasons. It has been ministry practice, backed by a previous court ruling, to regard Palestinian residency in the city as having “expired” once the person is gone for more than seven years.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/579107 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • On his first visit to the Middle East, Trump’s envoy Jason Greenblatt surprises everyone

    Greenblatt leaped effortlessly from a Palestinian refugee camp to meeting settler leaders, making positive impressions on all, along with a clear message: Trump’s serious about peace, and Israel ought to be too.

    Barak Ravid Mar 17, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.777881

    Jason Greenblatt’s Twitter account was the best show in town this week. Anyone following his tweets might have thought he wasn’t the U.S. envoy for the peace process, but the Energizer bunny. 
    Greenblatt didn’t rest for a moment during his four days here. He bounced from Jerusalem, to Ramallah, to Jericho, to Bethlehem, to Amman and back to Jerusalem. After every meeting, he tweeted pictures and updates.
    On the eve of his visit, the New York Times published an article describing him scornfully as a man with no diplomatic experience who landed his job almost by chance. But Greenblatt proved this week that even if he lacks the experience of veterans of the peace industry in America, he is blessed with sharp instincts, seriousness, common sense and a great deal of personal charm and emotional intelligence. Everyone on the Israeli side who met with Greenblatt this week, on both the right and the left, as well as everyone on the Palestinian side, had a positive impression.
    “Greenblatt is a serious, honest envoy,” tweeted MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) after meeting him. “There’s no doubt President Trump is committed to peace, and that’s good news. It won’t be easy – but there’s hope.”
    On his first visit to the region as Trump’s envoy, Greenblatt came mainly to listen and learn. Alongside his meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he held a great many meetings with segments of the population that until now most U.S. envoys had passed over. 
    He surprised many on the Palestinian side by meeting with residents of the Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah, and surprised others on the Israeli side by meeting with two mayors of settlements, Oded Revivi and Yossi Dagan. He met with Palestinian and Israeli students, with residents of the Gaza Strip, with senior Jewish, Christian and Muslim clerics.
    skip - blattjalazone

    Wednesday night, Greenblatt took a tour of Jerusalem’s Old City. One stop on the tour was Yeshivat HaKotel, from which he tweeted a picture of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Five minutes later, he visited the house of a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem and tweeted a picture of the same holy sites from a different angle.
    “Peace and coexistence are not just possible in this extraordinary city, they exist already and have for centuries,” he added in a follow-up tweet.
    The message Greenblatt reiterated against and again, to both Israelis and Palestinians, was that President Donald Trump is very serious when he talks about his desire to make “the ultimate deal” and that Israeli-Palestinian peace is very high on his priority list. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said after meeting with Greenblatt that he got the impression Trump was very committed to this issue and plans to launch a serious diplomatic process. A senior minister in the ruling Likud party got the same impression.

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  • Netanyahu expects to reach deal with U.S. on restrained settlement construction -

    ’There’s no blank check from Trump for construction in the settlements and that was known from the first minute he entered the White House,’ says Israeli official.

    Barak Ravid Mar 15, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.777320

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expects to reach understandings with the United States within a few weeks on curbing construction in the settlements, according to an Israeli official.
    Although the understandings with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration are likely to include Israeli willingness to impose significant restrictions on construction in West Bank settlements, the Prime Minister’s Bureau believes that this will not weaken the coalition.
    “There’s no blank check from Trump for construction in the settlements and that was known from the first minute he entered the White House,” said the official, who is involved in contacts between Israel and the United States on the subject. “We are looking for the common denominator with the Americans that will allow construction on the one hand, and on the other promote with the Trump administration diplomatic moves in many areas.”

    Israeli-U.S. negotiations on restraining settlements.
    Netanyahu met on Monday evening for more than five hours with American envoy Jason Greenblatt. Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, was present for most of the meeting and the most significant part of the conversation dealt with the attempt to formulate understandings on construction in the settlements.
    Netanyahu and Greenblatt are expected to meet again this week before the envoy leaves the country.
    Speaking at a Tuesday press conference at his office, Netanyahu described his conversations with Greenblatt as “good and thorough.” Netanyahu added: “I can’t say that we finished or summed things up; we are in a process, but a process of true and sincere dialogue in the positive meaning of the word. It is not yet open to the press.”

    #colonies #Israël #Palestine #Etats-Unis

    https://seenthis.net/messages/578271 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • British royal family may visit Israel to mark Balfour Declaration centenary - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.776883
    http://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.776942.1489402803!/image/1525355058.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/1525355058.jpg

    The British royal family may visit Israel in an official capacity later this year, on the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, according to British media reports.

    “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
    Quand Israël et la Grande-Bretagne célèbrent le traumatisme historique des Palestiniens
    16 février 2017
    par Samah Jabr
    https://seenthis.net/messages/571941

    https://seenthis.net/messages/577646 via Loutre


  • Kerry offered Netanyahu regional peace plan in secret 2016 summit with al-Sissi, King Abdullah - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.772531

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took part in a secret summit in Aqaba a year ago where then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented a plan for a regional peace initiative including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a renewal of talks with the Palestinians with the support of the Arab countries.
    >> Get all updates on Israel and the U.S.: Download our free App, and Subscribe >>
    Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi were also present at the meeting in the Jordanian city.
    Netanyahu did not accept Kerry’s proposal and said he would have difficulty getting it approved by his governing coalition. Still, the Aqaba summit was the basis for the talks that began two weeks later between Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) on establishing a unity government.
    Details about the summit and the plan emerged from conversations between Haaretz and former senior officials in the Obama administration who asked to remain anonymous. The Prime Minister’s Bureau refused to comment.
    It was Kerry who initiated the conference. In April 2014, the peace initiative he had led collapsed, negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians entered a deep freeze and U.S. President Barack Obama declared a time-out in U.S. attempts to restart the peace process. Over the next 18 months Kerry focused on attaining an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program; an agreement was reached in July 2015 and ratified by Congress in mid-September.
    In October that year, Kerry renewed his work on the Israeli-Palestinian process following an escalation of tensions over the Temple Mount and a wave of violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
    At the end of October, Kerry was able to achieve understandings confirming the status quo on the Temple Mount by Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan. As part of these understandings, Israel and Jordan launched talks over the placement of closed-circuit cameras on the Temple Mount, an idea that was never implemented.
    Two weeks later, Netanyahu came to Washington for his first meeting with Obama in more than a year – a period when the two leaders badly clashed over the nuclear deal with Iran.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/571334 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israel backtracks, delays vote after initially agreeing to EU program that excludes settlements - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Following Haaretz report, Israel changes course on proposal for joint culture program that would have effectively endorsed European boycott of the settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

    Barak Ravid Jan 29, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.768161

    Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said on Sunday morning, following a report in Haaretz, that she objects to a proposal set to be brought to the cabinet on Israel joining an EU cultural initiative since it would exclude the settlements. Since then, the cabinet secretariat announced that the issue will be taken off the agenda of Sunday’s cabinet meeting. 
    Regev published her statement despite the fact that the official document on the government proposal, circulated to ministers by the Prime Minister’s Bureau on Wednesday, clearly states that she supports the move.
    The EU program, called Creative Europe, involves cooperation between EU and non-EU countries in the areas of culture and media. The significance of the proposal is that the government of Israel would in effect be agreeing to a European boycott of the settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
    “The culture minister supports international cooperation in the field of culture. However, if the agreement with the European Union that the Foreign Ministry is proposing includes a boycott of Judea and Samaria – Minister Regev will oppose it and the Culture Ministry won’t be a party to this agreement,” the statement said, referring to the West Bank settlements.
    Regev’s office also said that she plans to turn to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is to submit the proposal in his capacity as foreign minister, clarify her opposition and ask to remove the topic from the cabinet meeting’s agenda.
    By joining the initiative, Israel would be showing its willingness to accept the exclusion of cultural institutions from the settlements in exchange for EU funding of institutions within Israel.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/565356 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israeli embassy official caught on camera discussing ’taking down’ British lawmakers - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.763613
    http://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.763614.1483841638!/image/3746778998.PNG_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/3746778998.PNG

    The official, Shai Masot, was recorded by an undercover Al-Jazeera reporter apparently discussing his wishes to engineer the downfall of several British Members of Parliament, including Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan, a supporter of a Palestinian state and outspoken critic of the Israeli settlements.

    C’est un agent russe ?

    https://seenthis.net/messages/558537 via Kassem


  • Understanding the UN resolution on Israeli settlements: What are the immediate ramifications? - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.761049

    In the long-term, what are the possible ramifications?

    In the medium-to-long-term the resolution may have serious ramifications for Israel in general and specifically for the settlement enterprise. The reason for this stems from the two main clauses of the resolution. The first clause states that the settlements have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” The International Criminal Court in The Hague is currently conducting a preliminary investigation concerning a suit filed against Israel by the Palestinians. One of the issues raised in the suit is the construction of settlements. International law takes form through different measures including Security Council resolutions. Thus, this decision, at this time, could influence the preliminary investigation and could provide cause for the ICC prosecutor to order a full investigation of Israel settlement construction.
    Another clause in the resolution calls on the nations of the world “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” This is a precedent in UNSC resolutions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and actually calls on countries to cut ties direct and indirect with the settlements. This clause may create a path for countries, international organizations such as the EU, and corporations to impose sanctions on the settlements. The Foreign Ministry’s assessment is that the EU would have to pass a similar resolution in its institutions and base practical steps and legislation from it.

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  • A Tweet from Trump and pressure on Egyptians : How Israel blocked UN vote on settlements

    - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.760827

    After a 15-hour political drama Thursday, Israel succeeded in deflecting, if only temporarily, a United Nations Security Council vote on a draft resolution against the settlements.
    Pressure from the Prime Minister’s Bureau on Cairo, which proposed the resolution, requests for assistance and coordination from President-elect Donald Trump and contacts at the UN and in several world capitals caused Egypt to retract its request for a snap vote.
    Nevertheless it was made clear to the participants in a meeting of the security-diplomatic cabinet last night that the crisis is ongoing and the possibility remains that a vote will still be held in the next few days.
    The saga began on Wednesday night, when the Egyptian delegation to the UN distributed copies of its draft resolution against the settlements to the members of the Security Council and requested that it be brought to the vote on Thursday at 10 P.M. Israel time.
    Israel had operated over the past few months on the assumption that a resolution on Israel-Palestine would be brought to the council before the end of President Barack Obama’s term on January 20 next year.
    Israel’s focus was on an Israel-Palestinian resolution and a resolution from New Zealand, but it was not expected to happen this week.

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  • Coalition whip prefers Israel’s Arab citizens not vote
    Doubling down on Netanyahu’s Election Day race-baiting, David Bitan says: ’I’d rather the Arabs won’t go to the polls in droves, and won’t come to the polls at all.’ Arab lawmakers respond: ’Bitan says what Netanyahu thinks.’

    Haaretz Dec 10, 2016 6
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.758120

    The whip of the ruling coalition said Saturday that he prefers Israel’s Arab citizens not vote in the national election.
    “Ninety-five percent of them vote for the Joint List that doesn’t represent Israeli Arabs, but Palestinian interests,” Knesset member David Bitan told the audience at a public event in Mevaseret Zion, near Jerusalem, referring to Israel’s predominantly Arab party.
    >> Be the first to get updated: Download our App, sign up to Breaking News Alerts, and Subscribe
    Bitan was asked for his opinion on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s use of social media, including his Election Day video in which he called on his supporters to vote, warning that the “the Arabs are going to the polls in droves.” Bitan, who is considered close to Netanyahu, said: “I’d rather the Arabs won’t go to the polls in droves, and won’t come to the polls at all.” 
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    Netanyahu’s Election Day remarks.
    Netanyahu has been under fire for his Election Day comment. Eighteen months later, he posted a new video on Facebook apologizing to Arab citizens for any offensive comments and urges them to join in Israeli society “en masse.”
    The head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, called Bitan “Netanyahu’s mouthpiece” and said he “continues to prove that all this leadership has to offer is explicit racism and cheap populism.” 

    “His pathetic daily comment expresses the prime minister’s fear of our growing political power,” he added.
    Isaac Herzog, the chairman of the Zionist Union and the head of the opposition, accused Bitan of calling to take away voting rights from minorities, “just like the top anti-Semites in Europe did in the past to the Jewish people.”
    "The disease of racism has metastasized in the heart of Israeli society, and is embarrassing both right and left-wing voters," he added.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/550293 via Nouvelles d’Orient