+61 3 9272 5644

Latest News in Israel – 1st December

Wave of attacks motivated by Islamic extremism, not occupation: Israeli PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday charged recent attacks by Palestinians are motivated by Muslim extremism rather than resistance to the Israeli occupation, shortly after two attacks occurred in Jerusalem.

“What motivates this terrorism is objection to the existence of the state of Israel as the Jewish people’s national state,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, according to a statement from his office.

“This resistance contains an element of extremist Islam, which also takes root throughout the world, in Paris, London, Madrid and Mali, where there are no settlements and (occupied) territories, but rather objection to the existence of these entities, of free, independent and democratic societies,” he added.

Netanyahu, who will be meeting with international leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande on Monday amid a climate change summit in Paris, made the statements shortly after two attacks were carried out by Palestinians in Jerusalem.

In the first attack on Sunday morning, an Israeli border police officer suffered light to moderate wounds amid a stabbing attack close to the Damascus Gate, the entry to the Old City of Jerusalem, in the east part of town, which Israel occupied during the 1967 Mideast War.

The assailant was shot and killed by officers at the scene, the Israeli police said in a statement.

Soon thereafter, a 30-year-old Israeli resident, originally from the Philippines, was stabbed in her back in central Jerusalem by a 17-year-old Palestinian. The assailant escaped from the scene, and captured by the Israeli police less than an hour later at a construction site near the scene of the attack.

Nineteen Israelis have died in stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians in the past two months, amid an ongoing wave of violence, as well as one U.S. national and a Palestinian man.

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed during this period, with some killed in clashes with Israeli security forces, and others killed by security forces and vigilante citizens while allegedly trying to carry out attacks.

On a related matter, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) together with the Shin Bet Security Agency raided and shut down a Palestinian radio station overnight in the West Bank city of Hebron, the third such raid in the past month, a military spokesperson told Xinhua.

In the overnight raid at the “Radio Dream” offices on Sunday, Israeli soldiers confiscated equipment and documents, and shut them down. Israel charges the popular station for instigating violence against Israelis. The station was closed until May 26, 2016.

The current wave of violence was sparked by strife over the flashpoint site of the al-Aqsa mosque in east Jerusalem, holy to both Jews and Muslims, and quickly spread to outbursts of violence throughout the country and Palestinian territories.

While Israeli right wing politician blame the Palestinian Authority and media outlets for incitement responsible for the current wave of violence, Palestinian officials blame Israel for its 50-year occupation of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip territories, where they wish to establish a Palestinian state, in accordance with the two-state solution.           (Xinhua)

Clashes break out in east Jerusalem, West Bank; Palestinians report teen shot

Assailant hurled some 10 Molotov cocktails at security forces Sunday night in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud.

According to the IDF, the Israel forces determined that they were in a life-threatening situation and fired toward to lower extremities of a suspect who threw a firebomb and disappeared from the scene.

No strikes were confirmed, however, Palestinian media reported that a 17-year-old Palestinian died from wounds sustained in the incident.

Security forces were using crowd control measures to disperse youth and masked rioters in the area.

No Israeli injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, an improvised grenade was thrown toward an IDF position at Rachel’s Cave in the West Bank. No injuries were report in that incident.

In the West Bank towns of Beit Umar and Silwad riots also broke out.

On Sunday morning, Jerusalem was hit with two stabbing attacks.

A terror suspect was arrested for a stabbing attack near a bus station in Jerusalem on Shamgar street. A 30-year-old Napalese woman was wounded in the attack.

Earlier in the day, a Border Police officer was stabbed and was lightly-to-moderately wounded at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. The suspect was shot and killed.   (The Jerusalem Post)

Israel Air Force strikes targets in Syria near Lebanese border

The Israel Air Force attacked Syrian army and Hezbollah targets in the area around Qalamoun in Syria overnight Saturday, Israel Radio reported citing Syrian forces.

The Lebanese media outlet Almustaqbal reported that there were dead and wounded Hezbollah fighters in the attack which hit the area close to the Lebanese border.

Last week, Israel reportedly attacked targets in the same area of Syria.

In that attack, the sources claimed that 13 Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters were killed and dozens were wounded, including four seriously.

Qalamoun has been a major transit point for Hezbollah fighters and other logistical equipment to and from Syria.

In October, Syrian media reported Israeli fighter jets attacked numerous Hezbollah targets in the South of Syria including a weapons convoy destined for Hezbollah fighters.

Israel has reportedly struck Hezbollah in Syria several times over the past year, although the military regularly declines to comment on foreign media reports. (the Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu: Israeli-Russian cooperation has successfully prevented ‘unnecessary accidents’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed, on Monday the importance of Israeli-Russian military cooperation to prevent “unnecessary accidents” at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin near Paris.

“The events of recent days prove the importance of our coordination, our deconfliction mechanisms, our attempts to cooperate with each other, to prevent unnecessary accidents, tragedies, and I believe that we’ve been successful,” Netanyahu told Putin.

Putin praised the “mechanism of cooperation” which the two sides have established regarding Russia’s military operations in Syria.

“Let me note that the mechanism that has been promoted by you and proposed by you, that presupposes contacts with our military to prevent incidents to or due to the traumatic developments in the region has been efficient,” Putin said.

The two leaders met on the on the sidelines of the United Nations climate talks at Le Bourget near Paris.

The meeting came less than a week after the Turkish military downed a Russian warplane that Ankara said had breached Turkish airspace while flying missions in Syria.

Moscow said earlier in the day that it would ban mainly imports of agricultural products from Turkey due to the incident.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday his government would act “patiently, not emotionally” before taking any measures in response to Russia’s decision to impose sanctions on Turkey.            (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu continues high-level talks in Paris with Canada’s Trudeau and Australia’s Turnbull

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued Monday with a series of meetings in Paris with various world leaders on the sidelines of the conference on climate change.

He took the opportunity to meet separately for the first time with the new prime ministers of Canada and Australia: Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull. Israel enjoys very close ties with both countries, and Netanyahu invited both men to the country for an official visit. Trudeau said he would like to return for a visit to Israel when the opportunity presents itself.

Netanyahu, who has previously spoken to Trudeau on the phone, said that Israel and Canada enjoy “terrific relations,” and that there is room to make them even stronger. Trudeau, according to the PMO, said that he expects the “close relationship” that Canada has had with Israel over the generations to continue in the future.

Earlier Netanyahu met with Japan’s Premier, Shinzo Abe. Netanyahu’s aides called that meeting “warm and friendly,”and said that the Japanese premier expressed an interest in furthering economic cooperation, as well as cooperation in the field of cyber security and counter-terrorism.

One Israeli diplomatic official said recently that Abe and Netanyahu have developed a very good working relationship, and that ties between the two countries have progressed further in the last two years than they had in the previous 65.               (Jerusalem Post)

MK Magal resigns from the Knesset

Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal handed in his resignation to step down from the Knesset on Monday, as the testimony of a third woman accusing him of sexual harassment was revealed.

Party chairman Naftali Bennett responded on Monday, saying, “I received Yinon’s resignation announcement, this is a fitting action. I hope that the process he is in will end as quickly as possible and he will be able to devote himself to his family and to his path ahead.”

Police have launched a preliminary inquiry into Magal’s behavior as chief editor of Walla, a post he held before joining Jewish Home and launching his political career.

The investigation came after former employee Racheli Rottner last week revealed he made highly inappropriate comments to her, and another former employee identified as A. complained he had touched her behind against her will. The MK responded by acknowledging he had made the lewd comments to Rottner, and stepped down as Jewish Home faction chairman.

But on Sunday another woman who previously worked with Magal outside of Walla before he became chief editor of the site revealed to Channel 2 that she had been sexually harassed by him. Her testimony in the form of a letter was published by Yedioth Aharonoth on Monday.

“In a chance meeting in the light of day, in a public place, maybe even caught on camera, after two minutes of small talk he came at me and suddenly kissed me,” alleged the woman. “I didn’t want it and didn’t expect it, and it was very uncomfortable. It took me a few seconds to recover from the shock, to mumble something and get out of there.”

“That moment two years ago Yinon crossed the line, that’s a fact. Our acquaintance beforehand doesn’t matter, nor does it matter what type of conversations we had, a man cannot push his tongue into someone’s mouth without permission…how did he dare to do that?”

The woman wrote that Magal “has a sick pattern of behavior. After he kissed me against my will and I told those who I told, I understood that many women had similar experiences with him.”

“Why didn’t I complain? I wasn’t at a stage in my life in which I wanted to draw fire, or that I wanted that people would start picking over my family life. After considering the matter I decided that the damage done to me as a result of that arrogant and invasive kiss was minor compared to the damage of making such a revelation.”

“Take responsibility and resign”

Explaining why she decided to come forward now, she wrote that she doesn’t know Rottner or A., but “it’s very difficult to sit quietly while they’re attacking them with all kinds of ridiculous and irrelevant accusations.”

“I cannot sit in silence and watch Yinon admit (the things he said – ed.), not resign, and not take responsibility, and continue to believe that he can represent a public and speak about laws and values.”

She likewise accused Magal of allowing those who complained against him of being slandered, and thereby “causing other women to think a dozen times before describing how they felt when they were sexually harassed, but as for him? He remains an elected official.”

“Yinon, you know the truth. Take responsibility for your actions, resign and put an end to this public lynching they are doing against the women you harassed who came forward, and those who still haven’t come forward,” she concluded.

Magal, who is married and has four children, was placed on the Jewish Home list by party chairman Naftali Bennett. Until Monday he remained adamant that he will not resign, and so far the party has been very circumspect in addressing the scandal.       (Arutz Sheva)

Envoy slammed for saying French Jews aren’t ‘ordinary citizens’

The French Jewish community is in a fury in the wake of a letter sent last week by French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud, which included a shocking statement in response to the Islamic State (ISIS) attacks on Paris earlier in the month.

In the letter written to French citizens residing in the US, Araud did not mention ISIS in relation to its six attacks that left 130 murdered. He went on to draw a comparison with the January attacks in Paris, in which Muslim terrorists murdered 17 people in attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical paper and on a Jewish supermarket.

“These are the foundations of our model of society that the terrorists seek to destroy: Yesterday journalists and Jews; now ordinary citizens whose only crime was to enjoy life on a Friday night in Paris,” said Araud, in a shocking distinction between Jews and “ordinary citizens.”

One Jewish ex-pat living in New York, Ron Agam, took to Facebook to write, “tonight French people in the US received a letter from the French Ambassador about the events in Paris. To my surprise I learned that I – the Jew that I am – was not a regular French citizen, I was a Jew.”

Schlomoh Brodowicz, a French Jewish academic who immigrated to Israel, told The Algemeiner this week why Araud’s statements are particularly damaging.

“This man (Araud) is supposed to represent France in a major country which hosts the third-largest Jewish community in the world,” Brodowicz said of the ambassador to the US. “And his message clearly sets the Jews apart from other French citizens.”

“When one recalls the slaughter committed by Islamists on January 9, 2015 in the HyperCasher kosher grocery store – where four Jews doing their shopping for Shabbat were killed – this message sounds like: ‘Those who were killed while they enjoyed entertainment on Friday night were ordinary citizens, while those who were shopping for Shabbat on Friday afternoon were not ordinary citizens; they were merely Jews.'”

He noted that the statement “is reminiscent of a similar remark made by then-Prime Minister Raymond Barre after the bombing of a Paris synagogue in 1980: ‘This heinous attack was aimed at Israelites who go to synagogue, but struck innocent French people crossing the street.'”

The academic appraised that Araud may not have intentionally distinguished between French Jews and other French citizens, particularly because he listed “journalists” together with Jews while noting the January attacks.

However, he said, “I venture to think that a person of such high diplomatic rank should be able to word a message the way it should be read.”        (Arutz Sheva)

PA: Only Palestinian women rejoice in death of their sons

Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister of Women’s Affairs Haifa Al-Agha, who is herself a woman, recently said Palestinian Arab women are “unique” in the world because they rejoice at the death of their sons – terrorists killed trying to murder Israelis.

In statements published by the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida earlier this month and revealed on Monday by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Al-Agha explained about the joy over “martyrdom,” namely dying while trying to conduct a lethal terrorist attack.

“(PA) Minister of Women’s Affairs Haifa Al-Agha…noted the Palestinian woman’s uniqueness, which differentiates her from the women of the world, as (only) she receives the news of her son’s martyrdom with cries of joy,” wrote the official PA paper.

Interestingly enough, Al-Agha who hails from Gaza was formerly the director of the Hamas government’s Ministry of Education. She was sworn into the new Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) unity government, which the US falsely claimed did not include Hamas members.

Al-Agha’s comments come in the midst of a massive Arab terror wave, which has already left 22 victims murdered since mid September, and which Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) last Friday admitted that he doesn’t know when it will end.

PMW notes that by praising mothers for their “cries of joy,” the minister “is sending a message to PA society to attack Israelis without fear of death because Martyrdom for Allah is said to be the highest value and highest achievable status.”

The minister also noted the active role of female Arab terrorists, saying, “the Palestinian girls and women have proven their ability to contribute to their homeland, and that they have a significant presence in the field and battle arenas.”

Al-Agha’s sentiment is not unusual for the PA, which has regularly incited for terrorism during the current wave of attacks.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has refused to condemn the murder of Israelis. He in fact largely set off the current terror wave by praising the blood shed in Jerusalem “for Allah” and calling to stop “filthy” Jews from visiting the Temple Mount.             (Arutz Sheva)

PM denies plan to transfer 2,500 acres to Palestinians

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday told ministers that Israel will not transfer any land to the Palestinian Authority, contradicting reports over the weekend that said Israel was considering handing 10,000 dunams (some 2,500 acres) over to the Palestinians as a goodwill gesture.

Speaking to Likud ministers ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said Israel will not transfer “not 40,000 square meters, not 10,000 meters and not a single meter.” His statement was quoted to the press by an official at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The prime minister was responding to press reports last week that said Israel was considering giving 10,000 dunams (approximately 3.8 square miles) to the PA.

On Tuesday, Channel 2 reported that the Civil Administration, the IDF’s liaison unit to the Palestinian population in the West Bank, was considering transferring the land, currently under Israeli control, to the Palestinian Authority.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly government meeting, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on November 29, 2015. (Emil Salman/Pool)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly government meeting, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on November 29, 2015. (Emil Salman/Pool)

The move, if implemented, would be carried out as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinians in exchange for efforts on the authority’s part to help quell a surge in Palestinian terror attacks over the past two months, and in a bid to stabilize what Israeli planners increasingly worry is a fragile PA.

According to the 1995 Oslo II Accord, the West Bank is divided into three parts: Area A, which is under full PA control; Area B, which is under Palestinian civil control and Israeli security control; and Area C, under full Israeli security and civil control.

The proposed 10,000 dunams would come from Area C, which contains the largest amount of land of the West Bank’s three parts, at about 60 percent.

Outside of anonymous sources within the Civil Administration, there was no official confirmation of the plan, which was published by Channel 2 when US Secretary of State John Kerry was in the region in an attempt to ease tensions. On Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Office denied the report altogether.

The move angered the right flank of Netanyahu’s government. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, criticized Netanyahu for statements the latter made on Palestinian statehood during a visit to the US two weeks ago.

“The last thing you need to do in the face of a terror wave is to give them gestures,” Bennett said. “Why does the American approach always have to be accompanied with gifts to the side that is murdering us?”

On Saturday, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) sent Bennett a letter in which he said that if reports regarding the transfer of land or weapons to the Palestinians were correct, they were a sign of a “moral crime and a prize for terrorism. Such steps would endanger the lives of Israeli citizens that we – ministers of the government – are in charge of protecting.”

Minister of Science Ofir Akunis, speaking to the Hebrew language daily Maariv before Sunday’s meeting, said no land or arms would be transferred to the Palestinians, adding that the media reports were “hallucinations.”

Last week, an unnamed IDF officer also reportedly proposed transferring more arms to PA security forces.

A wave of Palestinian stabbings, shootings and vehicular rammings have killed at least 22 Israelis since the beginning of October. Over 80 percent of the perpetrators have come from the West Bank.            (the Times of Israel)

Netanyahu to push for absentee balloting, other electoral reforms

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took action on Sunday to encourage changes in the electoral system and to enable absentee balloting in Israel for the first time.

Netanyahu has supported absentee balloting for 20 years. He appointed Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to head two coalition task forces, one of which would lay the groundwork for absentee balloting and the other for other electoral reforms.

“I intend to make changes that would guarantee political stability and enable the government to be able to be more productive,” Levin said. “I also want to allow Israelis abroad to vote with absentee balloting like most of the world and strengthen those citizens’ connections to the state.”

The guidelines of the current coalition back absentee balloting, despite the opposition of Kulanu.

Yisrael Beytenu supports the move from the opposition while Yesh Atid is vigorously opposed. Originally proposed by former foreign minister Moshe Arens (Likud), absentee balloting bills have been proposed in every Knesset by MKs from the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu, and in the last Knesset by Labor MK Nachman Shai together with Levin.

A bill proposed in July by MK Yoav Kisch, a former El Al pilot who traveled abroad constantly before entering politics, would limit absentee balloting to citizens who are on the Interior Ministry’s voting rolls and who voted in the previous election. This system would prevent those who have been abroad for many years or are not strongly connected to Israel from voting.

A study by the Central Bureau of Statistics in 2009 estimated that there are some 550,000 Israelis abroad, not including children of Israelis born abroad.

The other electoral changes Netanyahu supports include making it harder to topple the government with a no-confidence motion and making the leader of the largest faction prime minister automatically.

Currently, the president is responsible for entrusting an MK to form a government.

Netanyahu’s support for the change is seen by opposition MKs as an attempt to harm President Reuven Rivlin, with whom he has sparred repeatedly. The prime minister’s associates have spoken about forming “an Israeli Republican party” that would combine parties on the Right, and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said he would form “an Israeli Democratic party,” though not call it by that name.

The prime minister asked coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi to advance the controversial “Jewish state bill.” A new, concise version submitted by MK Bennie Begin (Likud) says that, “Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, based on the foundations of liberty, justice, and peace in light of the vision of the prophets of Israel and upholds equal rights for all its citizens.”

In addition, the proposal says Israel is a democracy. The final two articles of the bill say that the national anthem, flag, and symbol of Israel will be established in laws – as they already are – and that it can only be changed by a new Basic Law voted in by at least 80 MKs.

“The bill is especially important now when the identity of the state is being questioned,” Hanegbi said.    (The Jerusalem Post)

‘Blessings of Israel’: Settlers find new ways to label products after E.U. decision

Yaakov Berg, Jewish settler and West Bank vintner, thinks the decision by the European Union to insist that he label his cabernet sauvignon as a product of an Israeli settlement will do little to hurt overall sales of his kosher wine.

It might even help, he said.

A few days after the European Union announced its new labeling guidelines, Berg continued to expand his business: installing a new whiskey distillery in his boutique winery located a few miles from the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

He is also preparing to launch an online shop to sell his wares, as well as goods from other nearby Jewish settlements, to Israel’s evangelical supporters in the United States. And he may also get a little help from one of Israel’s biggest fans: former Arkansas governor and evangelical pastor Mike Huckabee, who has led dozens of tours to Israel and never misses a chance to stop by Berg’s winery for a visit.

“I believe the best way to fight the decision is to show that we have people who love Israel, they read the Bible and they know this is our homeland,” Berg said, as he described the e-commerce initiative, called “Blessings of Israel.”

“We are proud of where we are located and if you want us to label our products, we will and we will tell you the story of every product, every factory, where it is located and how it came about and what our connection is to the land of Israel,” he said.

If Berg is sanguine about the prospect of labeling goods from the settlements, the Israeli government is definitely not. The leadership sees the new development as a dangerous path toward a full boycott of Israeli products in Europe.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry to reevaluate the European Union’s involvement in peace efforts with the Palestinians because of its decision to label settlement goods.

Even though goods from the settlements make up only 0.1 percent of Israel’s overall export capacity, the announcement drew angry responses from politicians ranging from cries of hypocrisy to comparing the move to the ostracizing of Jewish businesses in Europe during the Holocaust.

One lawmaker even posted a Nazi-era photo of a storefront painted with “Jude,” the German word for Jew, and a Star of David on his Facebook page.

The recent decision by a German supermarket to pull settlement-made wines from its shelves drew damning headlines in Israel. It was also the focus of a weekly cabinet meeting in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a boycott in every respect.” Within hours, the store apologized and agreed to restore the goods.

The European Union says it is obliged to fully inform consumers about the geographic origin of products so that the buyers can make informed decisions. If goods originate in a Jewish settlement located in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, then the public should know, it says. Europe considers Jewish settlements illegal under international law.

[Israeli bubble maker that employed Scarlett Johansson is closing a factory]

Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the E.U. ambassador to Israel, said at a conference in Jerusalem that he was surprised by the accusations of anti-Semitism and hypocrisy.

“Under E.U. consumer law, it is not permissible to write ‘Made in Israel’ on a product from an Israeli settlement. That would be incorrect and misleading information,” he said.

More than 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on land that the Palestinians seek for a future state. There are 16 to 20 industrial parks as well as hundreds of farms, vineyards and date groves. Many employ Palestinian laborers.

“The E.U. decision will not hurt Israel’s economy, but it might affect the Palestinian economy, because if businesses in the settlements do not get orders, they will have to fire their Palestinian workers,” said David Simha, president of the Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, a nongovernmental organization aimed at bringing the two sides together via business.

Some of the Jewish-owned businesses there receive support from abroad specifically because they are in located the West Bank. Berg’s Psagot Winery, for example, has an angel investor in the form of the wealthy Jewish American Falic family, owners of Duty Free Americas and big supporters of Israel.

In Ramallah, the E.U. decision was seen as a decisive step toward fighting the growing Israeli settlement industry and part of the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic war against Israel in general.

“We appreciate this positive move, and it is our hope that the European Union will develop this labeling into a total boycott of all settlements and settlers, including Israeli officials who live in settlements,” said Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi.

Bassam Zakarneh, head of the Palestinian Workers’ Union, said the E.U. decision reflected a willingness “to fight illegal building in the West Bank” and was a sure sign of support for Palestinian rights.

At the Psagot winery, Berg’s Palestinian workers say they are more worried about the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank than decisions in far-away Europe to reword labels. But they do understand that if Berg loses revenues, their jobs, which offer higher wages and better conditions than Palestinian employers, could be jeopardized.

“It is good working with Jews, and we have much better employment conditions here than in Ramallah,” said Hamudi Hadalin, a 23-year-old Palestinian who works in the winery’s visitors center and lives in a nearby village. “I really hope there will be peace one day. Then I can continue to work in this place without any problems. (The Washington Post)

Palestinians: The Real Goal of the Intifada

by Bassam Tawil            The Gatestone Institute


Abbas seems intentionally to ignore that he and his Palestinian Authority are responsible for the violence, as a result of their daily incitement against Israel.

A recent poll found that 48% of Palestinians interviewed believe that the real goal of the “intifada” is to “liberate all of Palestine.” In other words, approximately half of Palestinians believe that the “intifada” should lead to the destruction of Israel, which would be replaced with a Palestinian state — one that now would be ruled by Hamas and jihadi organizations such as Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

It is notable that only 11% of respondents said the goal of the “intifada” should be to “liberate” only those territories captured by Israel in 1967.

The Palestinians do not, according to the poll, have a problem with “settlements” or “poor living conditions.” They have a problem with Israel’s existence. Palestinians do not see a difference between a West Bank “settlement” and cities inside Israel — or differentiate between Jews living there. They are all depicted as “settlers” and “colonialists.”

This contradicts Abbas’s claim that the Palestinians want a “peaceful and popular” uprising. The Palestinians are not, as their leaders claim, seeking a two-state solution.

As the current Palestinian campaign of terrorism against Israel is about to enter its third month, it is still not clear to many what the Palestinians are trying to achieve. The Palestinians cannot even agree on a name for their campaign. Some are referring to it as an “intifada,” while others are describing it as a “Habba Jamahiriya” [“popular puff,” or “flurry”].

The Palestinians also have not been able to agree on the motives behind the stabbing, shooting, firebombing and car-ramming attacks. Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly claimed during the past few weeks that the terrorists are setting out to kill Jews out of “despair and frustration” and the lack of a “political horizon.” But Abbas seems intentionally to be ignoring that it is he and his Palestinian Authority who are responsible — together with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian factions — for the violence, as a result of their daily incitement against Israel.

This is yet another instance in which anyone could have predicted what was going to happen. Throughout the past year, Abbas has been telling his people that Israel was planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and “change the Arab and Islamic character and identity” of Jerusalem. He condemned Jews for “defiling the Aqsa Mosque with their filthy feet.” Abbas, his spokesmen and PA-controlled media outlets also have also repeatedly been telling Palestinians that Israel is committing “war crimes” and “summary executions” of innocent Palestinians.

This is, as Abbas knows, exactly the type of incitement that prompts Palestinian teenagers to grab a knife, run out into the street and murder the first Jew they see. Those young Palestinians are also tragic victims of the poisonous campaign of the inflammatory anti-Israeli language emanating from Palestinian leaders such as Abbas, mosque preachers, news outlets and social media.

Contrary to Abbas’s outrage, no one has yet found even one terrorist who claimed to have attacked a Jew out of “despair and frustration” at the “lack of a political horizon.” If you look through the social media accounts of these young terrorists, many have said that they set out to kill Jews to “defend” Al-Aqsa Mosque. They seem to have been influenced by the romantic notion of Abbas’s repeated fictitious claims that Jews were plotting to destroy the mosque, followed by high-flown fantasies of themselves as heroes charging forth to rescue it.

A public opinion poll published last week refutes Abbas’s claim that Palestinians are committing terrorist attacks out of “despair and frustration.” The poll, conducted by the Watan Center for Studies and Research, found that 48% of the Palestinians interviewed believe that the real goal of the “intifada” is to “liberate all of Palestine.” In other words, approximately half of Palestinians believe that the goal of the “intifada” should lead to the destruction of Israel.

What is notable, is that only 11% of respondents said that the true goal of the “intifada” should be to “liberate” only those territories captured by Israel in 1967. Another 12% of Palestinians said they believe that the goal of the “intifada” was to release prisoners held by Israel.

The results of the poll, which covered 1,167 Palestinians above the age of 18, show that a majority of Palestinians continue to seek the destruction of Israel. The poll shows that only a few Palestinians see only the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem as the future Palestinian state. They want the “intifada” to replace Israel with a Palestinian state — preferably, one that now would be ruled by Hamas and jihadi organizations such as Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

These Palestinians do not see a difference between, say, Ma’aleh Adumim, a “settlement” on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and any city inside Israel. One only needs to look at reports in the Palestinian media to see that Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion, Kiryat Gat and Ra’anana are all considered “settlements.” These reports also show that Palestinians do not see a difference between a Jew living in the West Bank and Israel — instead, they are all depicted as “settlers” and “colonialists.”

None of the Palestinians interviewed for the poll complained about “despair and frustration,” or the lack of a “political horizon.” Obviously, they are driven by hatred for Jews and Israel. They do not, however, have a problem with “settlements” or “poor living conditions.” They have a problem with Israel’s existence. A majority believes that Israel can — and should — be destroyed. They are not, as Palestinian leaders claim, seeking a two-state solution.

According to the poll, more than 75% of Palestinians support the use of violence against Israel. More than 44% of respondents support the use of firearms against Israel; 18% are in favor of using knives to kill Jews, and another 14% would like to see Palestinians use stones. This contradicts Abbas’s claim that the Palestinians want a “peaceful and popular” uprising.

Another noteworthy finding of the poll is that 72% of Palestinians want the current “intifada” to continue. In other words, an overwhelming majority of Palestinians would like to see their youths carry out more terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. They want to see more terror attacks because their leaders and journalists are telling them that those who kill Jews are “heroes” and “martyrs” who will have streets, squares, schools and tournaments named after them.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who visited Israel and Ramallah last week in a bid to end the Palestinian terror attacks, was unable to make any progress. Even before he arrived in Ramallah to meet with President Abbas, Kerry was strongly condemned for referring to the Palestinian violence as “terrorism.” Palestinians who demonstrated not far from Abbas’s office shouted slogans condemning the U.S. Administration for its attempt to stop the terror attacks against Israelis and called for boycotting Kerry. The protesters also declared Kerry persona non grata in Ramallah.

Kerry and the U.S. Administration should know by now that the Palestinians are waging war on Israel not because of “despair and frustration,” but because they aspire to destroy Israel, as the results of the recent poll show.

The goal of the Palestinians is the destruction of Israel. This fact is something that other Western parties need to understand — that the Palestinian “struggle” is mainly aimed at eliminating Israel, and not “the establishment of a Palestinian state that would live in peace and security alongside Israel.” The recent poll should be translated into English and distributed among all those “pro-Palestinian” groups that continue to shout about the conflict being the result of Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Today, it is clear that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not really about the “occupation” that began with the creation of Israel in 1948. The last three Palestinian “intifadas” and previous Israeli-Arab wars had (and still have) one goal: to see Israel removed off the map.

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.

The gap between the Government and the Military on Palestinian issue has never been bigger

by Yossi Melman                 The Jerusalem Post


Even before the current wave of terrorism began, the military echelon’s recommendations to make good will gestures to the Palestinian population in the West Bank fell on deaf ears.

There has never been a bigger gap between how the political echelon and the military echelon read the current situation between Israel and the Palestinians. And if the gap isn’t in how they read the situation, it is in what they believe are the steps to be taken in order to calm the situation on the ground.

For months, even before the current wave of terror began, and more than a year after Operation Protective Edge, the military echelon – the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and, mainly, the IDF – have emphasized the connection between diplomatic steps and gestures of good will to the local Palestinian population, and the situation in the West Bank. Senior IDF commanders, including the chief of staff, have spoken of this. The political echelon has heard them – but decided to ignore the advice or reject it.

The subject is an especially sensitive one, a minefield into which the IDF does not want to enter. In a democratic nation, the military echelon is subordinate to the political echelon, and it must unequivocally accept its authority. However, the military echelon is also a professional one, which is supposed to advise and make recommendations to the politicians, and the IDF knows that in times of crisis, politicians will dodge blame and saddle the army with responsibility.

An IDF source’s briefing to reporters on Wednesday only served to strengthen the impression that there is a disconnect between the branches. According to the source, the defense establishment recommended, prior to the beginning of the terror wave which has claimed 23 Israeli victims and some 90 Palestinians, to make goodwill gestures to the Palestinians in the West Bank.

These gestures include increasing the supply of weapons and ammunition to Palestinian Authority police and security personnel, supplying armored vehicles, releasing Palestinian prisoners (mainly Fatah members who have already served dozens of years in jail and have previously been recommended for release), and economic concessions like allowing for more construction projects and increasing the number of work permits for Palestinians in Israel. These last gestures are steps that would improve the economy in the West Bank.

The political echelon, which is of course not obligated to accept the military echelon’s recommendations, chose not to act on the advice. In the meantime, the wave of terror has gained steam, and it is clear today – to the military echelon as well – that it would be difficult for the politicians to act on the recommendations as long as the terror wave continues and quiet is not resumed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is subject to the whims of the likes of Oren Hazan and Yinon Magal. Its education minister, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, makes statements such as “I shot a bullet between the prime minister’s eyes.” Such a government would not dare accept even a single recommendation from the military echelon.

In a nutshell, this captures Israel’s policy toward the Palestinian territories, a policy that is stuck in a trap that is a direct consequence of its worldview. When the situation is calm, there is no effort to ease conditions for the Palestinians. And when there is violence and terror, it is clear to the government that it must not do so because the move would be interpreted as “giving in to terror.”

According to an army source, the IDF defines the current situation as “a limited uprising.” Uprising translated to Arabic is “intifada.” Analysts and experts have been warning for months of the potential for an explosion of the situation in the territories which will ultimately lead to a rebellion or uprising. If you will, a third intifada. Now the IDF as well has confirmed that this definition reflects the reality and, according to the army, it is liable to continue for many more months.

However, it could get even worse. The senior commander quoted in the reports did not rule out the possibility that if the escalation continues, it could turn into full-scale “anarchy” – a complete loss of control by the Palestinian Authority and its loss of legitimacy in the eyes of the population. From here, there is a short distance to the stage in which we see the ideas of Islamic State gaining support among the Palestinian public.

ISIS is sure to attack Israel – it’s only a matter of time

The Islamic State isn’t high on the Israeli threat list, but it will inevitably try to strike at a vulnerable spot.

By Anshel Pfeffer            Ha’aretz


Israeli security officials assess the likelihood of an attack by ISIS using two measures. The first is the distance of the Islamic State’s fighters from Israel’s northern border and the second is the number of Palestinian Israeli citizens who seem to identify with the movement. By either measurement, the prognosis is relatively good for Israel.

Major ISIS forces have come no closer than 80 kilometers from the Golan frontier and now that they are beginning to face Russian bombardment, they are being pushed back even further. Meanwhile, despite frequent media reports of Arab Israelis involved with ISIS, either trying to organize local cells or going off to fight in its ranks in Syria, the number remains remarkably low ­ about 40 to 50 altogether. This is especially low when compared with the number of young European Muslims who have either traveled to Syria or are known to support ISIS.

ISIS isn’t high on the Israeli threat list. Palestinian attackers from the West Bank, Hamas rockets from Gaza, Hezbollah and of course Iran are all deemed much more dangerous. The West’s current obsession with ISIS, even after the recent Paris attacks, is seen in Israel as a passing fad, almost a distraction from other more pressing concerns. But things will almost certainly change because sooner or later ISIS will attack Israel. It’s inevitable, even though there are good reasons why it hasn’t happened so far.

Despite its fearsome image, ISIS is still far from being a professional fighting force. The level of experience of its members and volunteers varies wildly. It has yet to face a well-organized and motivated army ­ the Syrian and Iraqi units it swept aside were demoralized, ill equipped and often just looking for an excuse to desert. ISIS fighters have so far largely avoided confrontation with Hezbollah and when coming up against the Kurdish YPG have been pushed back. ISIS succeeds usually when it operates in the vacuum left by crumbling states or, as we saw two weeks ago in Paris, when it can exploit open borders and lax security in western European countries. So on either count, Israel with its fortified borders and vigilant security forces experienced in counter-terrorism is not a likely target.

That doesn’t mean they won’t try. Last month ISIS released an online video in Hebrew in which it promised that “not a single Jew will remain in Jerusalem.” For a militant Islamist movement, a successful strike against the Zionist usurpers occupying Jerusalem’s Al­Aqsa Mosque will be a public relations bonanza, a feat that even ISIS’ many Islamic enemies could not condemn. Iranian-sponsored websites have tried to spread the conspiracy theory that Israel (and the United States) is actually sponsoring ISIS. As ridiculous as that sounds to Western ears, it rings true to many Muslims and ISIS would naturally be eager to shoot down these theories. If the coalition of Western governments, Arab regimes and Russia finally begin to get their act together and seriously pressure ISIS, the movement will need something spectacular to garner popularity, something it hasn’t done yet. It will be focusing its efforts on an Israeli target soon, if it isn’t already.

What form will the attack take? It’s difficult to predict. ISIS is adept at probing and striking at its enemy’s vulnerable spots, and there are no obvious ones in this case. ISIS has proxies and affiliates closer to Israel’s borders ­ Shuhada al-Yarmuch (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) in the southern Golan, and on the Sinai border the organization formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which a year ago pledged allegiance to the Islamic State’s caliph and is now officially a branch of ISIS. However, despite their proximity, both these groups are currently fighting local Arab forces and will find it hard to mount a major attack on either of those well fortified Israeli borders.

Another way to launch an attack would be to penetrate Israel’s longest and least protected border, that with Jordan. While ISIS is not officially operational in Jordan, it has many sympathizers in poor towns and neighborhoods who have so far been allowed to operate quietly as long as they do not carry out attacks on Jordanian soil. Jordan would be the most convenient base for an ISIS operation against Israel. But ISIS is unlikely to try a route which has major logistic hurdles and could jeopardize the movement’s supporters in Jordan.

The preferred methods are almost certain to be to try to take over one of the Palestinian factions in the West Bank or Gaza, something which can conceivably be done without physical contact, and continuing to maintain online contact with Arab Israeli citizens who are attracted to the movement’s ideology. Israeli intelligence experts say that the current fetish for stabbing attacks by Palestinian youths is at least partly inspired by the ISIS iconography of beheading videos, as was the attack on the synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood a year ago in which six Israelis were killed by attackers wielding knives and cleavers. If ISIS succeeds in recruiting a group of more resourceful Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, who can freely travel around the country and visit like-minded activists in the West Bank, where there are still considerable quantities of weapons, it will have the makings of a major attack.

EU Labeling Is No Way to Help the Palestinians – Moshe Arens (Ha’aretz)

Poor economic conditions are one of the many causes for the recent upsurge in Palestinian violence. Over 25% of the Palestinian labor force in the West Bank is unemployed. The GDP per capita there is about $4,000 compared to Israel’s $25,000. The average wage there is about $22 a day.

Israel allows over 100,000 Palestinian workers to work in Israel, but that is not the only way to support the Palestinian economy. The industrial zones, like Barkan and Mishor Adumim, provide employment for Palestinian workers living in the vicinity, a far better way of assisting the Palestinian economy.

Over 10,000 Palestinians are currently employed in such industrial zones, earning salaries and receiving social benefits as provided by Israeli law. Their employment conditions are far superior to those of Palestinian workers crossing into Israel in the early hours of the morning and returning home at nightfall.

The EU has, as usual, got it all wrong when its bureaucrats call on members to label products originating in the West Bank industrial zones in anticipation that such products will be boycotted by European shoppers.

If their plans prove to be effective, they will hurt the Palestinians living in the territories, increase unemployment there, and force Palestinians into lower-paying jobs.

The industrial zones contribute far more to the Palestinian economy than do the subsidies provided by the EU to the Palestinian Authority. The EU would do better to encourage European shoppers to purchase products originating in the industrial zones.

The writer served as Israel’s Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

This information is compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman, Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW