There is currently no chance of signing a peace accord with the Palestinians, according to the former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. His words come as US President Barack Obama is set to arrive to Israel in spring.
Lieberman, the head of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, which won recent the parliamentary elections in a bloc with PM Netanyahu’s Likud party, made the remarks in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2.
Citing the turmoil sweeping across the Middle East he said that it was unrealistic to reach a comprehensive permanent peace accord with the Palestinians and suggested that Israelis should instead seek a long-term interim deal.
“Anyone who thinks that in the center of this socio-diplomatic ocean, this tsunami which is jarring the Arab world, it is possible to arrive at the magic solution of a comprehensive peace with the Palestinians does not understand,” Lieberman said.
“This is impossible. It is not possible to solve the conflict here. The conflict can be managed and it is important to manage the conflict … to negotiate on a long-term interim agreement.”
On Sunday, the protest was held in the neighborhood of Beit Safafa south of the old al-Quds, Ma’an news agency reported.
The demonstrators formed a human chain and set up tents to protest the construction of so-called Road 4, which would consume a part of Beit Safafa’s land and divide the area into two parts.
The road will connect nearby Israeli settlements. Palestinians say the road will swallow up their land.
Protesters stopped two bulldozers from carrying out their job. Two Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces during the demonstration.
The Tel Aviv regime announced plans to build thousands of new settler units in the area following a UN General Assembly vote to upgrade Palestine’s status at the world body.
Israeli officials said they would go ahead with plans to construct illegal settler units on the Palestinian lands despite condemnation from the United Nations and international community.
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, February 10, 2013 12:07 EST
He’s hardly best buddies with Benjamin Netanyahu and his drive for a Palestinian state is comatose, so why did Barack Obama pick Israel to fire up his legacy-boosting second term diplomacy?
The US president sprung a surprise last week by announcing he would pick the turmoil-laced Middle East for the first trip since re-election.
The twisted personal chemistry between Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu is no secret, and was not helped by the Israeli leader rooting for Republican Mitt Romney in November’s election.
After Obama’s first term peace efforts were spurned by Israel, and Palestinians embarrassed him by seeking UN recognition, the chances of the president coming home with nothing to show for his trip seem high.
But the political timetable reshaped power dynamics after US and Israeli elections, and crises both nations face — including Syria’s mayhem, uproar in Egypt and Iran’s nuclear defiance — mean a visit may make sense.
DEBKAfile February 9, 2013, 4:50 PM (GMT+02:00)
US President Barack Obama plans a summit with Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah to which Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas may be invited, according to ex-Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. DEBKAfile reported on Dec. 28, 2012, a US-Israeli-Jordanian plan to bypass the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute by establishing a self-ruling Palestinian entity within the framework of a confederation with Jordan.
NYT Letters To The Editor
Amos Oz is right on the mark in his analysis of the Israel-Palestinian problem as discussed in “Sitting down with Amos Oz” (Jan. 29) by Roger Cohen. I agree that a negotiated settlement should be possible and that everything should be on table except for one thing not mentioned by Mr. Oz. As I see it, the one problem with a Palestinian state is that they could bring in foreign troops, with tanks, aircraft and artillery, and in Gaza, naval vessels. This could be an existential threat to Israel’s existence. So any agreement setting up a Palestinian state must include arrangements for preventing such an occurrence. A Palestinian state must not be allowed to import heavy weapons. Look what is happening in Gaza with the smuggling of rockets by Hamas.
Harvey F. Carroll, Lake Forest Park, Washington
DEBKAfile Special Report February 6, 2013, 10:17 PM (GMT+02:00)
President Barack Obama is not coming to Israel to advance new proposals or break the peace talks deadlock with the Palestinians, the White House said Wednesday night, Feb. 6. US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said earlier he was coming in the spring for consultation major issues: preventing a nuclear Iran and the collapse of the Assad regime in Syria – not to make demands. Working relations between Obama and Netanyahu were “excellent,” he said.
The US ambassador was answering a question by a Kol Israel national radio interviewer early Wednesday, Feb. 6. The US ambassador said the president does not expect to issue a joint statement after his talks with the Israeli prime minister, but sought to affirm the deep and strengthened ties between the US and Israel.
Shapiro: Obama’s visit would take place after the new Israeli government was in place.
debkafile: Obama’s forthcoming visit has abruptly strengthened the prime minister’s hand in the negotiations for a post-election government coalition and refocused its agenda from haggling on domestic issues to establishing a broad security-diplomatic front. Party leaders such as Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) are already muting their demands for joining government.
debkafile reported Tuesday, Feb. 5:
The day Israel announced the posting of extra Iron Dome and Patriot anti-missile interceptors in its northern regions, Tuesday, Feb. 5, the White House in Washington disclosed that US President Barack Obama would be visiting Israel in the spring. The visit had been discussed when Obama phoned Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Jan. 28 to congratulate him on his success in Israel’s recent election.
The communique went on to say that the US president was coming to discuss issues of common interest such as furthering the peace process but added, the start of Obama’s second term offers an opportunity to reaffirm Israel’s close relationship with the US and to discuss major issues like Syria and Iran.”
“The Gatekeepers,” a new documentary, records the views of the Israeli security officials most responsible for suppressing Palestinian resistance and their growing doubts about the strategy of endless repression. But even this criticism glosses over the depth of the problem.
There is a new documentary movie about Israel called “The Gatekeepers,” directed by Dror Moreh and featuring interviews with all the former leaders of the Shin Bet, the country’s internal security organization.
The Shin Bet is assigned the job of preventing Palestinian retaliatory attacks on Israel and, as described by Moreh, the film “is the story of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories as told by the people at the crossroads of some of the most crucial moments in the security history of the country.” Along the way it touches on such particular topics as targeted assassinations, the use of torture, and “collateral damage.”
“The Gatekeepers” has garnered a lot of acclaim, playing at film festivals in Jerusalem, Amsterdam, New York, Toronto, Venice and elsewhere. It has won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Best Documentary Award. It has been nominated for an Oscar.
In order to promote “The Gatekeepers,” Moreh has been doing interviews and recently appeared on CNN with Christiana Amanpour. He made a number of salient points, as did the Shin Bet leaders in the clips featured during the interview.
–Moreh says, “if there is someone who understands the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s these guys,” the Shin Bet leaders. Actually, this not necessarily true. One might more accurately claim that these men, who led Israel’s most secretive government institution, were and are so deeply buried inside their country’s security dilemma that they see it in a distorted fashion (with only occasional glimmers of clarity).
For instance, Avraham Shalom, head of the Shin Bet from 1981-1986, tells us that “Israel lost touch with how to coexist with the Palestinians as far back as the aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967 … when the country started doubling down on terrorism.”
But is this really the case? One might more accurately assert that Israel had no touch to lose. Most of its Jewish population and leadership have never had an interest in coexistence with Palestinians in any egalitarian and humane sense of the term. The interviewed security chiefs focus on the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza because they are the ones who offered the most resistance to conquest. But what of the 20 percent of the population of Israel who are also Palestinian and who actually lived under martial law until 1966? You may call the discriminatory regime under which these people live “coexistence,” but it is the coexistence of superior over the inferior secured largely by intimidation.
–Moreh insists that it is the “Jewish extremists inside Israel” who have been the “major impediment” to resolving issues between Israel and the Palestinians. The film looks at the cabal of religious fanatics who, in 1980, planned to blow up the Muslim shrine of the Dome of the Rock on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, as well as the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. Yet, as dangerous as Israel’s right-wing extremists and settler fanatics are, focusing exclusively on them obscures the full history of the occupation.
By 1977, when Menachem Begin and Israel’s right-wing fanatics fully took power, the process of occupation and ethnic cleansing was well under way. It had been conducted against both the Arab Israelis from 1948 onward, and against the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza after 1967. In both cases, it was initiated by the so-called Israeli Left: the Labor Party led by such people as David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin himself. Amongst the Israeli leadership, there were no clean hands.
–Finally, Dror Moreh repeatedly pushes another message: “a central theme of the documentary is the idea that Israel has incredible tactics, but it lacks long-term strategy … if [security] operations do not support a move toward a peace settlement, then they are meaningless.”
Again, this assessment reflects Moreh being so deeply situated inside of the problem that he cannot perceive it clearly. Moreh assumes that achieving peace with the Palestinians is the only “long-term strategy” Israel could possibly have and, in its absence, Israel pursues no strategy at all.
However, an objective assessment of Israeli history tells us that there has been another strategy in place. The Zionist leaders have, in fact, always had a long-term strategy to avoid any meaningful peace settlement, so as to allow: 1. occupation of all “Eretz Israel,” 2. the ethnic cleansing or cantonization of the native population, and 3. settlement of the cleansed territory with Jews.
It is because of this same naivete that Moreh confesses himself “shocked” when Avraham Shalom compares the occupation of the Palestinian territories to “Germany’s occupation of Europe.” It is to Shalom’s credit that he made the statement on camera, and to Morah’s credit that he kept the statement in the final version of the film. But then Moreh spoils this act of bravery when he tells Amanpour: “Only Jews can say these kind of words. And only they can have the justification to speak as they spoke in the film.”
Well, I can think of one other group of people who has every right to make the same comparison Shalom makes – the Palestinians.
DEBKAfile February 4, 2013, 1:34 PM (GMT+02:00)
A Palestinian man from Hebron pulled a knife on an Israeli at the corner of Bar-Lev Haneviim Streets in downtown Jerusalem Monday. Seeing he was spotted, he ran before doing any harm, was chased by police and finally apprehended on Suleiman Street in East Jerusalem.
By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH
JERUSALEM, Feb. 4 (UPI) — A U.S. State Department-funded study of Israeli and Palestinian schoolbooks found both tend to ignore each others’ existence but rarely dehumanize each other.
The 57-page study released Monday, examined passages from 74 Israeli and 94 Palestinian elementary and secondary school textbooks. The Israeli books were from state-run secular and religious schools as well as independent ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools. The Palestinian books were mainly from government schools and six private Islamic schools. Some 2,188 segments from Israeli books and 960 Palestinian books were reviewed.
The Israeli and Palestinian ministries of Education were informed of the study, which began in 2009.
The Washington Post said Israel’s Ministry of Education refused to cooperate with the researchers and called the study biased, saying it presented a false comparison between the Israeli and Palestinian school systems.
A Palestinian Authority spokeswoman said the Palestinian Education Ministry would be willing to study the conclusions, the Post said.
The main findings of the study were that dehumanizing and demonizing characterizations are rare in both Israeli and Palestinian books but both sides tend to present the other as the enemy and chronicle negative actions. The study also found there was a lack of information about economic, religious and cultural activities. The absence of images and information about each other were more significantly pronounced in Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish and Palestinian books.
“We found that both the Israeli and the Palestinian books hold close to their national narrative. Each describes itself as a victim of the conflict, which is to be expected,” said Israeli Professor Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University, of the leaders of the study.
Bar-Tal said he was disappointed with Israel’s response to the study outcome.
“Israel’s reactions were disappointing, even though it fared better in our study, it seeks to delegitimize our findings, which is disappointing,” he told United Press International Monday. “The Palestinians accepted the results. The reactions from both sides represent the state of the conflict.”
The study was commissioned by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land and the research was led by Bar-Tal, Sami Adwan, a Palestinian associate professor of education at Bethlehem University, and Professor Bruce E. Wexler of the Yale University together with a team of scientists and researchers.
The study said characterization of the Palestinians in a “very negative” or “negative” manner was found in 39 percent of books in Israeli state schools and in 73 percent of the ultra-Orthodox schools. One of the examples given quoted the book “Being Citizens in Israel in a Jewish and Democratic State” used in state and religious schools:
“Since its establishment, the state of Israel sought to make peace with its neighbors. … Its efforts, however, have failed in the first 30 years of Israel’s existence because of the refusal of Arab countries and nations to recognize the right of existence of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state. In order to harm Israel, to weaken it and destroy it, the Arab countries have initiated terror attacks, infiltrations into the territory of the state of Israel and harming the civilian population. The Arab countries have accumulated weapons and ammunition and strengthened their armies to wage a total war against Israel.”
The abduction occurred overnight Sunday in the cities of Nablus, Ramallah and al-Khalil (Hebron).
Palestinian lawmaker Hatim Qafisha from al-Khalil and another legislator Ahmad Attoun from al-Quds (Jerusalem) were among the abductees.
Palestinian human rights groups have condemned the abductions, saying the move is aimed at destabilizing the ongoing reconciliation efforts among Palestinian factions.
Defiant Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip said that the arrest of the movement’s political representatives in the West Bank by the IDF was designed to sabotage efforts to achieve reconciliation with Fatah.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the arrests won’t “obstruct Hamas’s role in defending the Palestinians and their lands and holy sites.”c
Barhoum said the arrests were primarily designed to foil efforts to achieve reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
The IDF crackdown on the Hamas leadership came as representatives of the movement and Fatah prepared to launch fresh reconciliation talks in Cairo in a bid to end their dispute.
Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel condemned the IDF crackdown, but also criticized the Palestinian Authority for detaining Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, February 3, 2013 18:08 EST
Newly sworn-in US Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Sunday and said they should meet on peace efforts, a presidential spokesman said.
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa that the two discussed “the necessity to hold meetings in the near future to talk about a number of issues which help maintain the peace process.”
According to Wafa, Kerry assured Abbas that “US President Barack Obama cares about the peace process and supports efforts related to it,” and that the US administration was aware of the Palestinians’ current financial crisis.
It was the first high-level contact between Obama’s new administration and the Palestinian government.
Kerry met with Abbas several times while serving as chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.
Last week, in his confirmation hearings, Kerry hinted of new proposals to restart direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, stalled for more than two years.
“We need to try to find a way forward, and I happen to believe that there is a way forward,” he said.
“But I also believe that if we can’t be successful that the door, or window, or whatever you want to call it, to the possibility of a two-state solution could shut on everybody and that would be disastrous in my judgment.”
Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have theoretically committed themselves to the goal of a “two-state solution,” living side-by-side within agreed borders.
Published: 02 February, 2013, 23:54
Edited: 03 February, 2013, 10:54
Israeli soldiers used tear gas and stun grenades against a group of rock-throwing Palestinians trying prevent the dismantlement of a camp in the West Bank territories. The IDF forcibly ejected around 200 Palestinians from the site.
The violence initially erupted after Palestinian protesters erected a new camp called “Al Manatir” in the village of Burin, some 70 kilometers away from Jerusalem. The camp consisted of four tents and five metal shacks.
Up to ten Palestinians have been arrested after the soldiers of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) entered the village and began firing tear gas and live ammunition into the air. The Israeli army claimed earlier it had arrested five people. An Israeli military spokeswoman said troops only used non-lethal riot dispersal means after Palestinians started throwing stones at them.
The spokesperson added that the protest in the village included some 150-200 people and was illegal.
Palestinians activists claimed Israeli soldiers slightly wounded a 16-year old, who was taken to the hospital in Nablus, and reportedly a mosque was set alight by a tear gas canister. A 29-day-old baby was also taken to hospital to be treated for tear gas inhalation, said Munir Kadus, who works for the Israeli organization Yesh Din to the Jerusalem Post.
Locals accused the IDF of uprooting 100 olive trees.
A large IDF force deployed to the area surrounded the protest camp and closed off the eastern entrance to the village, preventing more activists and supporters from arriving.
There have also been reports suggesting that confrontation was provoked by nearby Jewish settlers who arrived at the scene with the IDF soldiers. The village of Burin has reportedly come under frequent attack by Israelis who live in settlements scattered throughout the West Bank and around east Jerusalem.
The “Al Manatir” camp was a part of a larger movement started early January when Palestinian activists set up the Bab al Shams (Gate of the Sun) outpost in the area known as the E1 settlement site to protest Israel’s plans to build settlements there.
The E1 sector remains a highly disputed area between of the West bank located just outside East Jerusalem. Palestinians demand the area for an independent Palestinian state, while Israelis see it as land for its future settlements.
The violence in Burin comes hours after the Civil Administration in the West Bank ordered an evacuation of another Palestinian protest camp set up over the weekend near the village of Beit Iksa, northwest of Jerusalem.
The building of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank has been fiercely criticized by many international powers which say the move undermines prospects for securing a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Direct peace talks between Israel and Palestine broke down in 2010.
Israel froze building in E1 for many years, after coming under pressure from then US President George W. Bush.
“Since 1967, Israeli governments have openly led, directly participated in, and had full control of the planning, construction, development, consolidation and encouragement of settlements.”
Christine Chanet headed the UN mission. She’s a consummate French government insider. From 1992 – 1996, she was Paris Court of Appeals advocate-general.
Since 1996, she’s been a Court of Cassation judge. It’s France’s civil/criminal court of last resort. It’s the equivalent of America’s Supreme Court.
She represents the UN Human Rights Committee. She’s held various other government positions.
They include Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature junior magistrate (1970), Ministry of Justice Central Administration magistrate (1970), Secretariat of State for Women’s Affairs technical advisor and special assistant (1974), and Secretary of State for Culture special assistant (1976).
They also include Ministry of External Affairs Legal Affairs Directorate special assistant (1981), French Foreign Affairs Ministry International Civil and Criminal Affairs and Human Rights Department head (1983), and French Office of Minister of Justice technical advisor (1988).
Since 1996, she served on the UN Human Rights Committee. Twice she was chairperson.
She was a member of the UN Committee against Torture (1988 – 1990). She’s Personal Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Cuba.
In 2003, she was elected a member of the International Commission of Jurists.
She chairs the committee in charge of reviewing criminal law decisions following European Court of Human Rights criminal law decisions.
She’s a French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights member.
Her UN Mission findings cited Fourth Geneva’s Article 49.
It prohibits “Individuals or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not….regardless of their motive.”
They said “Israel must cease all settlement activities without preconditions.” They benefit Jews exclusively. They institutionalize racist segregation. Military occupation enforces policies contrary to international law.
Mission member Asma Jahangir “call(ed) on the government of Israel to ensure full accountability for all violations.” She said it must “put an end to the policy of impunity and to ensure justice for all victims.”
Mission member Unity Dow added:
“The magnitude of violations relating to Israel’s policies of dispossessions, evictions, demolitions and displacements from land shows the widespread nature of these breaches of human rights.”
“The motivation behind violence and intimidation against the Palestinians and their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands, allowing the settlements to expand.”
Mission members interviews dozens of people. They testified about confiscated land, damaged property, and lost livelihoods, as well as security force and settler violence.
The report describes “creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”
By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, February 2, 2013 19:00 EST
Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tapped on Saturday to form a new government for a third successive term, cuts a figure of admiration and loathing at home and abroad.
A May 2012 cover of Time magazine hailed him as “King Bibi,” using his nickname, but former French president Nicolas Sarkozy branded him a “liar” in a private conversation with US President Barack Obama.
The hawkish Netanyahu has been tasked with a third successive term as prime minister, following an initial 1996-1999 mandate that made him the Jewish state’s youngest ever premier.
Netanyahu’s rise on the international stage dates back to executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait after which the articulate Bibi gave countless interviews on CNN television.
Despised by much of the local media and the target of jabs by foreign leaders, the 63-year-old Netanyahu was riding high in polls ahead of the January 22 election although the final results were less convincing for his rightwing bloc.
Netanyahu, once dubbed The Magician for his ability to outwit political rivals, will now need his famous horse-trading skills to build a government with a working majority.
Smooth-talking and ever ready with a sound bite in slick American-English, he was defeated in 1999 polls by Labour chief Ehud Barak who campaigned under the slogan “Anyone but Bibi”.
Six years later, he served as both foreign minister and finance minister under Likud premier Ariel Sharon.
In late 2005, he took over as Likud leader after Sharon left to found Kadima, and led the party to a humiliating defeat in the 2006 election. But the party bounced back in 2009.
The stocky leader with the trademark comb-over has had a difficult relationship with several world leaders, notably Obama.
Over the past four years, the two have clashed over the peace process with the Palestinians and how to handle Iran, which Israel and much of the West see as a guise for developing a weapons capability, a charge Tehran denies.
Media reports ahead of the election suggested Obama saw Netanyahu as a “political coward” on the peace process, with his ongoing settlement activity moving Israel “down a path toward near total isolation”.
Born on October 21, 1949, Netanyahu was educated in the United States after his father Bentzion, a history professor, was considered so rightwing in the Labour-dominated Israel of the time that he was forced to leave.
Before attending the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he served in an elite Israeli army commando unit, took part in a number of operations and was wounded. He was discharged with the rank of captain.
He was deeply affected by the death of his elder brother Jonathan, killed leading the legendary 1976 Israeli commando raid on an Air France plane hijacked by Palestinians to Entebbe, Uganda.
Netanyahu then plunged into studies of terrorism, writing three books on the subject.
His career took off when he was posted to Israel’s embassy in Washington and later made ambassador to the United Nations, before he launched a political career that has also seen him hold the foreign affairs and finance portfolios.
He only accepted the concept of a Palestinian state for the first time in 2009. Yet he has done little to move forward in negotiations, and his government has pushed through the highest number of settler homes in a decade.
Grandson of a rabbi, he has doggedly insisted the Palestinians recognise Israel as a “Jewish state” and has rejected their condition for restarting stalled peace talks — freeze on settlement construction.
Netanyahu has vowed not to remove any Jewish settlements and has ruled out any future freeze on construction beyond the so-called Green Line, the line that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War.
On the personal level, his wife Sarah has been a figure of controversy.
She has faced repeated accusations in the Israeli press of abusing her domestic staff and leading an extravagant lifestyle at the expense of business donors to her husband’s party.
Published: 31 January, 2013, 14:39
A UN human rights inquiry has called on Israel to remove all Jewish settlers from the West Bank and cease expansion. The report said the settlements violate international law, and are an attempt to drive out Palestinians through intimidation.
“Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions,” the report read, adding that Israel must immediately begin to withdraw all settlers from the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT).
The inquiry prompted a strong reaction from Israel who slammed the report as biased.
“The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that,” said spokesman Yigal Palmor in a statement.
The 1949 Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of a civilian population into an occupied area – such an act could constitute war crimes if brought before the International Criminal Court. Following the UN’s de facto recognition of Palestine last December, Israel announced plans to build thousands of homes in the OPT.
In response, Palestine wrote to the UN warning that Israel’s planned expansion into the occupied territorieswould lead to more war crimes being committed.
The UN investigators interviewed over 50 people who were driven from their homes. They described how their livelihoods were destroyed and their land was confiscated, and how they were subjected to continuous violence from Jewish settlers.
“The mission believes that the motivation behind this violence and the intimidation against the Palestinians as well as their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands and allow the settlements to expand,” said the report.
The report has the potential to significantly worsen the UN’s already-strained relationship with Israel, particularly after Israeli representatives failed to appear at a UN human rights review two days ago.
The Israeli government has repeatedly ignored international condemnations of its settlements in the occupied territories, and continues to bar the entry of a Human Rights Council probe to assess the impact of the settlements. Israel has insisted that the organization is biased in favor of the Palestinians, and claimed that historic and biblical ties justify its claim to the territories.
Shimon Peres, the President of Israel, is about to ask Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form another coalition cabinet, in the wake of the election last week. The new government is unlikely to have medium-term consequences that favour greater stability in the Middle East. Nonetheless, the success of the new Yesh Atid party is remarkable and encouraging – the name itself, “There is a future,” is a resonant message in a country exposed to existential threats.
From outside Israel, the main issues in that country appear to be questions of war and peace. In this election, however, for the first time in decades, foreign policy was not at the centre of the debate. The parties that highlighted the Arab-Israeli conflict did not fare well.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still likely to lead the next government – the formation of coalition cabinets normally takes weeks in Israel – but the election has weakened him.
JERUSALEM — Israel has decided to transfer to the Palestinian Authority the tax and customs revenue that Israel collected last month on the authority’s behalf, to help ease the authority’s economic crisis, a senior Israeli government official said on Wednesday.
The decision reversed an earlier one to withhold the revenue and use it to offset some of what the Palestinians owe to Israeli utility companies. That step was meant to punish the Palestinians after their successful bid in November to upgrade their status at the United Nations to that of a nonmember observer state.
The Israeli official said the decision to release the blocked money was “a one-time event” and was “not an indication of what Israel might do next month.”
By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 12:29 EST
Israel’s parliamentary vote did not end hopes for peace with the Palestinians but instead has opened up a new chance for dialogue, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued Tuesday.
“I actually think this election opens doors, not nails them shut,” she said, during a so-called “global townhall” meeting, in which she took questions from Internet-users and broadcasters around the world.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu list emerged from last week’s vote with the biggest single share of seats in the Knesset, but was weakened by a surge in support for Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party.
Party leaders are negotiating a new coalition, which is expected to have a center-right bent, and the talks are being watched for signs as to whether it will be more or less able to revive talks with the Palestinians.
Clinton, in one her final public engagements before she steps down from US President Barack Obama’s administration, chose to strike an optimistic note.
She said: “A significant percentage of the Israeli electorate chose to express themselves by saying: ‘We need a different path than the one we have been pursuing internally and with respect to the Middle East peace process.
“So I know President Obama and my successor soon-to-be secretary of state John Kerry will pursue this and will look for every possible opening.”
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, whose Hatnuah party suffered a defeat in the polls, revealed that some of its challengers in the legislative elections of 22 January 2013 have been subsidized by Qatar.
Outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pocketed $ 3 million, while Yisrael Beiteinu, the party headed by Avigdor Liberman, another ex-Foreign Minister, cashed in $ 1.5 million.
In exchange, the right-wing coalition undertook to pledged the creation of a Jordanian-Palestinian federation governed by Hamas.
Published: 28 January, 2013, 13:32
Israel is using lethal force on unarmed Palestinian protesters in the West Bank, according to the latest report by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. It says 56 people were killed in the clashes, with an average age of 18.
In the 31-page report, B’Tselem accused Israeli security forces of having “extensively and systematically violated” rules that ban deadly response to a non-lethal assault. B’Tselem has been working on the report, ‘Crowd Control: Israel’s use of Crowd Control Weapons in the West Bank’ for the past year.
Only in the past fortnight, the Israeli military shot dead two Palestinians in the clashes.
Since 2005, six people were killed by rubber-coated metal bullets and two by teargas canisters, both supposedly non-lethal weapons which were fired directly at protesters, according to B’Tselem.
Live ammunition was utilized in other 48 cases of death. The average age of those killed was reportedly 18-and-a-half.
The typical riot dispersal tools of security forces include teargas, rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades, live ammunition, skunk and water cannons, pepper spray, and sponge rounds – non-lethal weapons which are not dangerous for long-term health if used correctly.
However, “in practice, members of the security forces make almost routine use of these weapons in unlawful, dangerous ways, and the relevant Israeli authorities do too little to prevent the recurrence of this conduct,” says the document reported by Reuters.
Investigations, if launched, tend to be closed without any action taken to hold those who are guilty of deaths responsible.
“Senior officers on the ground back up their troops in such incidents, and the law enforcement authorities refrain from promoting accountability in cases where orders were allegedly breached,” the document stated.
In particular, the report called the IDF to prohibit using live ammunition including 0.22 inch-caliber bullets and rubber-coated metal bullets for crowd control, except in instances of mortal danger.
PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki made the remarks at a press conference after a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York on Wednesday.
Israel is planning to build new settler units in a Palestinian area called E1 outside the suburbs of East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
“If Israel would like to go further by implementing the E1 (settlement) plan and the other related plans around Jerusalem … we will be going to the ICC … We have no other choice. It depends on the Israeli decision,” the Palestinian foreign minister stated.
White House spokesman Jay Carney commenting on the Israeli election said: “We believe that what needs to take place is direct negotiations between the two parties (Israelis and Palestinians) that addresses the final-status issues and results in a two-state solution that provides the sovereignty that the Palestinian people deserve and the security that the Israeli people and Israel deserves.”
By Jonathan Lis and Ilan Lior | 20:41 24.01.13
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid at his official residence in Jerusalem on Thursday, the beginning of tentative coalition talks now that the final results of Israel’s elections are in. Later on Thursday, both Meretz and the Labor Party informed Netanyahu that they would not join his government.
DEBKAfile January 23, 2013, 7:13 AM (GMT+02:00)
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, after his party’s election letdown, that Israel needs a government as broadly-based as possible and he has embarked on the task of building one. Newcomer Yair Lapi whose Future party came next seconded the sentiment and welcomed the opportunity for important changes in national policy in the face of the global economic crises and security perils confronting the next Israeli government. In Washington the White House is waiting to see the makeup of that government, underlining the need for peace talks with the Palestinians.
In joint press conference with visiting Malaysian premier, Hamas leader urges Arabs to devise united strategy to fight ‘Israeli extremism’
Yonatan Gonen, Reuters
Tuesday’s elections in Israel will result in “an even more extreme government,” Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said. He called on Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims to devise a united strategy to fight “Israeli extremism.”
Haniyeh spoke during a joint press conference in Gaza City with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is visiting the coastal enclave for the first time. The visit is seen as a political boost for the territory’s once internationally isolated rulers from Hamas.
The West has branded Hamas, which seized Gaza in 2007, as a terror organization. The Arab Spring uprisings that brought Islamists to power in parts of the region also enabled Hamas to break out of its isolation.
Also on Tuesday, Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee said the elections in Israel will bring about an even more extreme right-wing government that will seek to destroy the possibility of peace, not only in the Israel-Palestinian arena, but in the entire region.”
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, January 20, 2013 11:38 EST
As a Palestinian living in the West Bank, Mousa Maria has no legal right to vote in Israeli elections this week. But thanks to a protest initiative, an Israeli voter will be casting a ballot for him.
He’s participating in the “Real Democracy” project, a joint campaign launched by Israeli and Palestinian peace activists in which Israeli citizens “donate” their ballot to Palestinians.
Maria will be voting through Shahaf Weisbein for the Arab-Israeli party Balad. He asked Weisbein to vote for the party to show support for its embattled member Hanin Zoabi, who faced attempts to disqualify her from the Knesset last month.
“The Israelis tried to stop her from being a member of the Knesset and I think that she needs support, and if she knows that some Palestinians support her too it will make her feel stronger,” Maria told AFP.
Weisbein announced on January 3 that she was donating her vote because “millions of Palestinians are affected directly by the decisions and acts of the government I am given the ‘opportunity’ to choose.”
“This is not a democracy, it is an apartheid regime,” she wrote on Facebook.
Shimri Zameret, a 28-year-old Israeli activist who helped come up with the initiative, is donating his vote to a 19-year-old Palestinian who has asked him to boycott the January 22 elections.
“I would prefer to vote, but I completely see it as a legitimate way to look at this,” Zameret told AFP.
“It makes a lot of sense to say that this system is so illegitimate that to participate in it is to give it legitimacy.”