Clashes ensue after policeman and his alleged attacker killed in Negev
A policeman was killed Wednesday in a suspected car-ramming attack during clashes over home demolitions in the long-contested Bedouin town of Umm al-Hiran, police said. The driver was shot and killed by security forces at the scene.
Police identified the slain officer as 1st Sgt. Erez Levi, 34, from Yavneh, saying he was “murdered in a car-ramming attack.”
According to police sources, the driver of the ramming vehicle, identified as Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, was shot and killed after driving into the police line in the southern town. “It was a terror attack that murdered a policeman,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel Radio.
Local residents and activists opposing the demolitions insisted that Abu al-Qia’an was not trying to ram officers, but had already been shot and lost control of his vehicle when it plowed into Levi and another policeman. Local resident Raed Abu Jihad told Israel Radio that police shot at the driver first.
Drone footage of the incident released later in the day appeared to show at least one policeman opening fire on the vehicle before it accelerates into a group of police officers.
One far-left activist, Israeli mathematician Kobi Snitz, said he witnessed the ramming incident, and “saw a white pickup truck that started driving far away from the officers, drove away from them, not toward them.”
Another witness, Uriel Eisner, 26, an activist at the Center for Jewish Non-violence, confirmed to The Times of Israel that police fired at the vehicle before it accelerated toward officers. Eisner speculated that the driver was trying to leave the village in order to avoid confrontation with police.
Later in the day, police clashed with local residents and Arab lawmakers trying to reach the scene, while Arab Israelis planned protests at 10 different sites across the country against the demolitions.
Earlier, Arab Joint List faction leader MK Ayman Odeh was struck in the head — by a sponge-tipped bullet, by a tear-gas canister, or by a misdirected rock thrown by a protester, according to conflicting reports — and several other people were reportedly seriously wounded. A spokesperson for Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where Odeh and at least one moderately wounded police officer were treated, said doctors could not say definitively what caused Odeh’s wounds.
Police officer 1st Sgt. Erez Levi, 34, who was killed in an alleged car-ramming attack at Umm al-Hiran,
In a statement Wednesday morning, police said the assailant was an “Islamic Movement activist” who “accelerated toward the officers with the intent of carrying out a ramming attack. There are several wounded in various conditions, including officers.”
The statement said authorities were “examining the attacker’s (possible) affiliation with Islamic State.”
Abu Al-Qia’an’s relatives denied he was a member of the Islamic Movement and said he was a schoolteacher. “These are complete lies,” a man identified as the driver’s brother told Israel Radio, adding that he was just trying to leave the area when police opened fire on his car.
Police raided Abu al-Qia’an’s home Wednesday afternoon, arresting his son and collecting newspapers and books officials said could point toward a jihadist motive for the alleged attack.
Among the findings, according to police, were three copies of a single newspaper from November 5, 2015, whose banner headline was about a car-ramming attack near Hebron in which an IDF soldier was critically wounded, as well as a headline about an Islamic State bomb attack on an airplane.
Arabic-language books were confiscated and will be taken for examination, police said.
Police had descended on the village early Wednesday to evacuate and demolish illegally constructed buildings. They fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.
They later said demolitions would continue under heavy protection. Police sealed off the village to outsiders as hundreds of local residents tried to reach the scene.
A spokesperson for the Joint List said eight homes and four temporary structures were razed. TV reports said 15 homes were demolished in the unauthorized village, which is home to 400 Bedouin. Roughly 70 more homes were still standing late Wednesday afternoon as police wrapped up the operation.
The village has long been a flashpoint for clashes.
The roughly 700 residents of Umm al-Hiran are the descendants of a Bedouin clan that was removed 1948 from its original village, a site on which Kibbutz Shoval now sits.
Today, there are plans to replace the Bedouin village with a Jewish town to be called Hiran. According to reports, the new town would have 2,400 housing units, which would be populated largely by residents of the nearby community of Meitar.
As part of a much-criticized government urbanization plan for the semi-nomadic Bedouin encampments that dot the Negev desert, the villagers were told they would receive 800-square-meter family plots in the nearby town of Hura, which was built by the government in 1989 as a place to absorb Bedouins from nearby unrecognized villages.
The court said that since the Bedouins could theoretically live in the new town, the demolition was not discriminatory.
The inhabitants of Umm al-Hiran refused the court’s offer, and appealed to have their case heard before a High Court of Justice panel. The final appeal to keep their village from being demolished was struck down in January 2016.
The Arab legal aid organization Adalah, which has represented residents of Umm al-Hiran in court, said the deaths at the village Wednesday were “the responsibility of the Israeli court system and the Israeli government.”
It called the Supreme Court ruling permitting the demolition of Umm al-Hiran “racist, and accused the Israel Police of “seeing the Arab public as a whole as an enemy. The finger of the Israel Police is very light on the trigger when faced with Arab citizens.” (the Times of Israel)
Netanyahu to Arab MKs: Stop fanning emotions and inciting violence
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the family of the anti-terror unit police officer, Erez Levy, who was killed in a suspected ramming attack Wednesday in the unrecognized Beduin village of Umm al-Hiran.
“Erez was an outstanding policeman, the son of a policeman, and he was murdered this morning in a ramming attack.”
Netanyahu remarked that this was the second such attack in the past few days and that Israel is fighting a “murderous phenomenon” which has struck Israel and the world, referring to the recent spike in global terror attacks, especially ramming attacks.
“I ask everyone, especially members of the Knesset, to be responsible, to stop fanning emotions and inciting toward violence.”
“The Beduin public is part of us; we want to integrate it into Israeli society and not radicalize it and push it away from the center of our life experience.”
Meanwhile Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan accused Israeli-Arab Knesset members who participated in the protests of causing the police officer’s death. “I wish to say – especially now – to Ayman Odeh and to the rest of the Joint List that came [to Umm al-Hiran] this morning to enflame the situation: His blood is on your hands.”
“This is a severe statement, I know. But it is not severe as your acts today. You are a disgrace for the State of Israel.” (Jerusalem Post)
Netanyahu still plans to visit Australia, Singapore next month
Despite ongoing police investigations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned visit to Singapore and Australia is “very much still on,” an Australian official said on Wednesday.
Planning for the late February visit is proceeding apace, according to the official.
Netanyahu will be the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Australia – which has given the Jewish state strong diplomatic support for years – as well as to Singapore, with whom Israel has a very robust military relationship.
However, the planned third leg of the trip – a visit to Fiji and participation in a summit of leaders of Pacific island states there – has been canceled, with diplomatic officials saying that adding the Fiji leg would be “too long and too complicated” from a security point of view.
It is well understood in Jerusalem that a cancellation of Netanyahu’s visit to Australia would not be looked upon kindly in Canberra given that three high level visits to the country have been canceled over the last three years.
Netanyahu canceled a planned trip there in 2014 because of Operation Protective Edge; foreign minister Avigdor Liberman then canceled a visit there that same year; and President Reuven Rivlin scratched a trip there last year, opting instead to go to Russia.
It has been made clear to Israel that while there would be some understanding for the cancellation of the trip for a genuine reason, tolerance for these cancellations is eroding. The trip is important for the Australians because it is an acknowledgment and recognition by Israel of the strong political and diplomatic support Australia gives Israel in international forums.
The trip is also deemed as very significant to the Jewish community in the country which wants to feel that its strong support for Israel is not taken for granted.
The current government of Malcolm Turnbull is extremely supportive of Israel and would like the visit to take place on its watch to reap domestic political support from the Jewish community and other pro-Israel supporters in the country.
Australia’s diplomatic support was on display this week when not only did it only send a low-level delegation to the Paris Mideast conference, but it also distanced itself from the conclusions afterward.
A representative of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian presence at the conference “does not mean we agree with every element of the final statement.
“The most important priority must be a resumption of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians for a two-state solution as soon as possible.”
Turnbull was the only world leader, with the exception of Netanyahu, to publicly speak out against UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which was adopted in December, saying it was “one sided” and “deeply unsettling.”
Netanyahu is scheduled to leave Saturday night, February 18, and fly to Singapore, arriving Sunday evening.
He is then slated to spend Monday in Singapore, a reciprocal visit to that made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last year, before flying the next day to Sydney.
Netanyahu is scheduled to fly back to Israel on Saturday night, February 25.
During those five days, he also will travel to Melbourne, but not stay there overnight. The bulk of his meetings with government officials will be held in Sydney. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel looks to Trump to halt UN resolutions that encourage terror
Israel hopes US President-elect Donald Trump will reject biased UN resolutions and focus on resuming direct talks with the Palestinians, Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the Security Council on Tuesday.
“With this new administration comes the hope that the US will return to its policy of rejecting unfair and biased Security Council resolutions and promoting direct and genuine dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians,” Danon told the council.
The 15-member UNSC was holding a dialogue on the Middle East that was open to all UN member states. The bulk of the talk focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and last month’s approval of UNSC 2334, which called for a halt to Israeli settlement activity and all Jewish building over the pre-1967 lines, calling such activity illegal.
Danon told the council that the resolution encourages Palestinians to commit acts of terrorism against Israel, such as the truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem earlier this month in which four soldiers were killed.
“This resolution declared that our presence in Jerusalem is illegal. It encouraged the Palestinians to continue to avoid negotiations and inspired the terrorist in Jerusalem,” Danon said, holding up a photo of the four victims, all of whom were soldiers in their young 20s.
“This was the result [of Resolution] 2334: Shir Hajaj, Yael Yekutiel, Erez Orbach and Shira Tzur,” Danon said. “They were murdered by a Palestinian who was led to believe that he could use terrorism and violence to remove the Jewish people from Jerusalem. He will not succeed.”
He reminded the council that Jewish history in Jerusalem includes the Old City and the Western Wall, which are beyond the pre-June 1967 line, and dates back some 3,000 years to King Solomon. The Temple was built by King Solomon on the “same Temple Mount which this council refuses to call by its historic name.”
According to Danon, members thought they were telling Israel to stop settlement activity, but they were really telling the Palestinians they could “continue to spread the lies that the Western Wall is not sacred to the Jewish people.”
He noted that, after the council vote, Fatah posted a cartoon on its Facebook page that “showed a dagger in the shape of a map of Israel colored with the Palestinian flag. Not Judea and Samaria; what some call the West Bank. All of Israel.
Under the dagger was a pool of blood, and next to it, it said, “Thank you,” and listed each council member that voted for the shameful resolution,” Danon said, adding that such resolutions only encourage the Palestinians not to return to the negotiating table.
In response to the resolution, Danon said, Israel suspended $6 million from its annual contribution to the UN.
“This amount represents the portion of the UN budget allocated to anti-Israel bodies, which represents the UN’s double standard when it comes to Israel,” Danon said. Among those bodies is the Division for Palestinian Rights, which focuses on delegitimizing Israel.
Palestinian Ambassador the UN Riyad Mansour called on the council to force Israel to comply with the settlement resolution, which he described as “pro-peace, pro-international law, pro-two-states and thus pro-Palestine and pro-Israel.
“Rather than taking a step for peace, Israel has preferred to persist with its empty rhetoric and legal acrobatics to justify its continuing illegal colonization of the Palestinian land and oppression of the Palestinian people, in flagrant contempt of the law and international community,” Mansour said.
The Palestinians have refused to hold direct talks with Israel until it halts all construction in settlements and east Jerusalem.
Israel in turn has called for talks without preconditions.
Mansour told the council that “halting settlement activities should never be seen as a concession or pre-condition; it is about fundamental respect for the law. It is time for the full implementation of Resolution 2334 and all of its provisions.
Follow-up must begin immediately and all must uphold their obligations,” Mansour said.
He added that it was the Palestinians who have said “yes” to every peace effort. The time has come for Israel to accept a twostate solution based on the 1967 borders, Mansour said.
“The 1967 borders are the delineating line between conflict and peace. We are fast approaching a point of no return. Implementation of Resolution 2334 is the way back from the brink,” he said. “The international community must act now to revive the possibility of peace.” (Jerusalem Post)
Hezbollah claims it found Israeli drone downed in Lebanon
The Lebanese group Hezbollah has located an Israeli drone that crashed in Lebanese territory and has taken it to a secure location for inspection, a source in Hezbollah said on Tuesday.
The Israeli military said that the drone had come down in Lebanese territory on Monday near the border with Israel, identifying the drone as a “tactical Skylark UAV”.
Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shi’ite group, has fought numerous conflicts with Israel. Their most serious flare-up in recent years was in 2015 when Hezbollah guerrillas killed two Israeli troops in retaliation for a deadly air strike in Syria.
The IDF stated on Monday that the drone had crashed into Southern Lebanon and they were looking into what caused the accident.
Hezbollah-affiliated media Al Manar reported that the drone had crashed near the southern border town Alma Shaab.
The Lebanese Army attempted to reach the crash site Monday evening, however, rough terrain delayed the drone’s retrieval.
Al Manar cited the National News Agency stating that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had patrolled the region adjacent to the crash.
In June, Hamas claimed that it had successfully dismantled and reassembled an Israeli drone that it said had been reappropriated for “operational” use by its military arm.
The group claimed that after the drone crashed in Palestinian territory, its operatives inspected the unmanned aircraft and were able to deconstruct its parts and rebuild it for its own use. (Jerusalem Post)
FBI to probe wave of bomb threats to US Jewish institutions
Federal authorities said Wednesday that they are launching an official probe into a wave of bomb threats to US Jewish institutions across the country in recent weeks, the latest of which came earlier Wednesday when at least 32 Jewish centers in 16 states received threats.
The FBI said the bureau and the Justice Department’s civil-rights division are investigating “possible civil rights violations in connection with threats.” The statement from the agency’s Washington headquarters didn’t characterize the threats.
“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner,” the bureau said in a statement.
The JCC Association of North America said it was working with Jewish community centers around the world and with law enforcement agencies to “ensure that centers can safely serve their communities.” The umbrella organization thanked the “quick and thorough response from federal and local law enforcement.”
The threats Wednesday came a week after the initial wave when bomb threats were called into 16 institutions across the Northeast and South on January 9, and hundreds of people were evacuated. All the alerts were false.
The Anti Defamation League on Wednesday said it received reports of threats in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Delaware, Connecticut, Alabama, California, Maine, Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri, Texas and Kansas.
The called-on bomb threats on January 9 seemed to have been automated while those Wednesday were issued by live callers, according to reports.
The JCC Association of North America said it was “concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats. While the bombs in question are hoaxes, the calls are not.”
Paul Goldenberg, the director of Secure Community Networks — an affiliate of the Jewish federations of North America, which advises Jewish groups and institutions on security — said there were bomb threats called in Wednesday to Jewish community centers, schools and other institutions in Miami; Edison, New Jersey; Cincinnati; Alabama; and on the West Coast.
News reports also cited threats in Albany, New York; Nashville; suburban Boston and Detroit; West Hartford, Connecticut; and the Orlando area.
Whether the institutions, which include schools and community centers, evacuated depended on the practices of local law enforcement, Goldenberg said.
“It’s the second salvo in 10 days, we’re asking people to ensure they stay in contact with local law enforcement,” he said.
In many cases Wednesday the callers were live, Goldenberg said, as opposed to the previous round of threats, when calls were recorded.
Operations at the Gordon JCC in Nashville returned to normal approximately an hour after a receptionist received a call stating that there was a bomb in the building, said Mark Freedman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. The threat was delivered in a woman’s voice, but it was unclear whether the call was live or recorded, he told JTA.
Freedman said the community, which was also targeted in last week’s series of threats, would not be intimidated by the incidents, which he termed “telephone terrorism.”
“These people, whoever they are, that are making these threats are trying to intimidate, create anxiety and fear, and we are going to do what we have to do to ensure the safety and security of our valued members and constituents, but we are not going to give in to what they are trying to create, which is to drive us away from our valued institutions,” he said.
“Clearly it’s a pattern of intimidation, and it’s likely to continue in the current atmosphere that we have in this country, where hate groups feel that they can come after good-standing members of the community.”
The bomb threats Wednesday are the latest incident in a recent wave of increased anti-Semitism in the US. The Anti-Defamation League documented rising anti-Semitic abuse on Twitter last year, as well as a spike in hate crimes following the presidential election.
Elise Jarvis, associate director for communal security at the ADL, said she anticipates more incidents like this in the future.
“These things often come in cycles,” she told JTA on Wednesday. “All these things, when you bring them together, it paints an intense picture.” (the Times of Israel)
Likud MK Ayoub Kara to become Israel’s first Druze minister
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will reportedly promote Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara to minister without portfolio, as part of a cabinet reshuffle ahead of a High Court of Justice decision on the legality of the prime minister’s holding of multiple ministerial posts.
The nomination of Kara, a Druze-Israeli and longtime member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, is expected to be approved by the cabinet on Sunday, the Haaretz daily reported on Wednesday.
If appointed, Kara would become the first lawmaker from Israel’s Druze community to serve as minister.
Netanyahu confidant Tzachi Hanegbi was appointed Minister of Regional Cooperation last month.
Kara has been lobbying for a ministerial post since the formation of the coalition in 2015 and especially since Hanegbi took over the regional cooperation post as minister. Kara said in an interview earlier this month in The Marker that he “doesn’t understand why he doesn’t appoint me as minister. It’s in his interest before it’s in mine. I don’t understand and can’t explain.”
In further cabinet reshuffle moves, Kulanu MK Eli Cohen will reportedly be nominated as Economy Minister, taking the post from fellow party member and finance minister Moshe Kahlon.
The opposition Yesh Atid party last year submitted a petition to the High Court against the number of portfolios that Netanyahu had reserved for himself at the time: health, regional cooperation, communications and foreign affairs, as well as the prime ministership.
The court ruled 4-1 that the prime minister could continue holding all four portfolios, but three justices gave the prime minister eight months to reduce the load, saying they might review the situation if he did not, Haaretz reported at the time.
The justices said that it was hard to believe that Netanyahu could properly manage so many ministries and that the situation was not appropriate in a democracy.
Soon afterwards, Netanyahu gave the health portfolio to Yaakov Litzman of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party.
The prime minister retains the communications and foreign ministry posts. (the Times of Israel)
Yosl Bergner dead at 96
Artist, theater set and costume designer, book illustrator and Israel Prize laureate Yosl Bergner, perhaps best known for his individual and group portraits in which the subjects are featured with long pale faces, pointed chins and huge dark, soulful eyes that mirror both the sadness and the joy of the Jewish experience, died in Tel Aviv on Wednesday at age 96.
Much of his work for the theater was for plays by Nissim Aloni. He also designed sets and costumes for Yiddish Theater.
His father, Melech Ravitch, was a famous Yiddish journalist, poet and novelist, and his uncle Hertz Bergner was an internationally renowned Yiddish novelist and playwright who had a close friendship with Isaac Bashevis Singer despite the geographic distance between them.
During World War I, the Bergner family left their Polish township and settled in Vienna where Melech met Yosl’s mother, a singer from Lodz. Yosl was born in Austria.
Antisemitism was rife in Europe, so Yosl’s father went to Australia in 1933, initially to raise funds for Jewish schools in Poland.
While he was there, he became interested in the Kimberley Project, which was similar to the Uganda Proposal, namely that it provided a settlement option for Jews where they could be free of persecution.
Like the Uganda Proposal, it was buried beneath the dust of history.
Yosl Bergner….self portrait
Melech returned to Warsaw with exotic photographs of Australia which generated great excitement and curiosity in his family and then went back down under. The rest of the Bergner family soon followed.
Yosl had already displayed an aptitude for art in Poland and had studied with Hirsch Altman in Warsaw.
After arriving in Melbourne, in 1937, he enrolled at the National Gallery Art School where the future icons of the Australian art scene were his fellow students and friends.
His studies were disrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Like many young Jewish immigrants from Europe who felt that they owed something to Australia, Yosl joined the army where he served for four-and-a-half years, after which he resumed his art studies.
In 1948, he decided to leave Australia and traveled for two years in Europe and North America. In 1950, he came to Israel, settling initially in Safed where he lived for seven years before moving to Tel Aviv.
Within four years of settling in Israel, he won the Herman Struck Prize. A year later he was awarded the Dizengoff Prize. Over the years, he won several other prizes and was named an honored citizen of Tel Aviv.
His studio was adjacent to his apartment, and he was very disciplined about going there each day to paint, and did so almost to the last day of his life.
In 1987, after an absence of half a century, he went back to Australia for a retrospective exhibition which largely featured scenes of the Warsaw and the Melbourne of his youth.
Inasmuch as he was a great artist, Bergner was also an engaging raconteur and could keep people spellbound for hours. (Jerusalem Post)
The case against another Palestinian state
by Joseph Farah World Net Daily
The idea of creating a Palestinian Arab state where none has ever existed before in history has become quite a popular idea.
But it’s hardly a new idea.
In fact, one was already created about the same time the modern state of Israel was reborn.
It was called Transjordan, created May 25, 1946, when the British ceded the territory to their colony. But it took until 1948 before the British removed all legal restrictions on the new nation’s sovereignty – the same year Israel won its independence. Israel’s statehood was approved by the United Nations in 1947, and it became a member of the U.N. in 1949. By contrast, Jordan’s membership was not approved until 1955.
But why do I call it a “Palestinian state”? Because that was the justification for its nation-status. The entire landmass of Jordan represents the original partition plan of the region known as Palestine minus the Jewish state. It was intended to be the nation of the Arab Palestinians, while the rest would be the nation of the Jewish Palestinians, which would become known as Israel.
Here’s what King Abdullah, the first leader of Jordan, said in 1948: “Palestine and Jordan are one.”
In 1981, King Hussein of Jordan put it this way: “Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine; there is only one land, with one history and one and the same fate.”
Abdul Hamid Sharif, prime minister of Jordan declared, in 1980, “The Palestinians and Jordanians do not belong to different nationalities. They hold the same Jordanian passports, are Arabs and have the same Jordanian culture.”
So that raises the question: Why do we need another Palestinian state carved out of the neighboring nation of Israel?
It’s worth noting that Jordan has more land than Israel and fewer people. So the real question is how many times does the one and only Jewish state in the world, one with 3,500 years of history to its credit, and half the world’s entire Jewish population, have to be divided? If Jordan’s not currently the Palestinian state it was intended to be, why not make it one?
One answer you will get to that question is this: Because it would mean some Arab Palestinians would have to move to be a part of this new nation-state.
But that is true no matter where you set the borders. Some people are going to have to move. Right now there are Palestinian Arabs who are stateless, very close to Jordan.
They are currently living autonomously within the borders of Israel and using Jordanian passports. Why not just incorporate them into Jordan? Why does no one even suggest such an idea when that was, indeed, the original idea behind the partition of the region of Palestine? And why must Jews be the only people required to move upon creation of an Arab Palestinian state?
There are Jews living today among Arab Palestinians in lands claimed by the PA. Would the PA allow those Jews to stay in a Palestinian state? The answer is an unequivocal no. They require the land to be ethnically cleansed of all Jews. I often wonder why there is so much enthusiasm for creating another Arab Palestinian state in which no Jews are allowed to live. There already is one called Jordan. Isn’t one enough?
By the way, there was no national movement for a second Arab Palestinian homeland before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war that led to Israel capturing Judea and Samaria, both historically Jewish lands often referred to as the West Bank, that were previously under the control of Jordan.
But, immediately following the Six-Day War, as it was known, Israeli leaders offered to return the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights to the nations that previously claimed them in exchange for peace. They were turned down flat. At the Khartoum Summit following the war, the Arab League provided its answer to the generous offer in the form of three No’s: “No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel.”
They determined instead to follow a path of never-ending conflict.
Since then, cooler heads have occasionally prevailed:
Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel but showed no interest in incorporating any more Palestinians into its citizenry or in getting back the lands Israel won in 1967.
Egypt signed a peace treaty and accepted the Sinai in return, but turned down accepting the Gaza Strip where so many Palestinian Arabs live. It’s worth noting that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by his own people for making the deal.
Since then, three times Israel has offered the Palestinian Authority its complete independence on as much as 94 percent of the land it demands in exchange for peace. And three times, the PA has turned down such proposals.
Why are the Palestinian Arabs unwilling to compromise even 6 percent on the land they demand for their new state? Because, politically, they cannot accept a state of their own that by definition must be at peace with Israel. Once Palestinian Arabs agree to peace with Israel, they will be political pariahs among their people – maybe even dead political pariahs. They have so inculcated their own people with Jew-hatred through their official media and schools that the solution they claim to seek is no longer a viable one.
And why do Arab Palestinians insist on the ancient Jewish city and eternal capital of Jerusalem in their land demands? Because they know no Jewish state can ever agree to cut up its own capital city. What nation would – especially one so small amidst a regional sea of hatred?
Israel is the legal occupant of the West Bank, says the Court of Appeal of Versailles, France
by Jean-Patrick Grumberg Unity Coalition for Israel
In a historical trial carefully “forgotten” by the media, the 3rd Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Versailles declares that Israel is the legal occupant of the West Bank*.
When I first learned that the Court of Appeal of Versailles ruled that West bank settlements and occupation of Judea Samaria by Israel is unequivocally legal under international law, in a suit brought by the Palestinian Authority against Jerusalem’s light rail built by French companies Alstom and Veolia, that received no media coverage, I decided to put to work my years of Law Studies in France, and I meticulously analyzed the Court ruling.
To my astonishment, pro-Israeli media did not cover it either. The few who mentioned the case did not have any legal background in French law to understand the mega-importance of the ruling, and, as a few lefty English speaking Israeli websites reported it, they thought that it was a decision strictly pertinent to the Jerusalem light rail. It’s not.
To make sure I did not overestimate my legal abilities and that I wasn’t over optimistic – as usual – I submitted my analysis and the Court papers to one of the most prominent French lawyer, Gilles-William Goldnadel, President of Lawyers without borders, to receive his legal opinion. He indeed validated my finding. Then I decided to translate it to English, and it will soon be submitted to Benjamin Netanyahu thru a mutual friend.
First and foremost, the Versailles Court of Appeals had to determine the legal rights of Palestinians and Israelis in West Bank. Their conclusion: Palestinians have no right – in the international legal sense – to the region, unlike Israel, who is legitimately entitled to occupy all land beyond the 67 line.
In the 90s, Israel bid for the construction of the Jerusalem light rail. The tender was won by French companies Veolia and Alstom. The light rail was completed in 2011, and it crosses Jerusalem all the way to the east side and the “occupied territories” (more about this term later).
Following this, the PLO filed a complaint with the High Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) of Versailles France, against Alstom and Veolia, because according to PLO, “the construction of the tram is illegal since the UN, the EU, many NGOs and governments consider that Israel illegally occupy Palestinian territories”.
The quest for the International Legislation to establish the rights of each party.
In order to rule whether the light rail construction was legal or not, the court had to seek the texts of international law, to examine international treaties, in order to establish the respective rights of the Palestinians and the Israelis.
And to my knowledge, this is the first time that a non-Israeli court has been led to rule on the status of the West Bank.
Why is this an historical ruling: it is the first international case since the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948
It is the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 that an independent, non-Israeli court has been called upon to examine the legal status of West bank territories under international law, beyond the political claims of the parties.
Keep in mind though, that the Court’s findings have no effect in international law. What they do, and it’s of the utmost importance, is to clarify the legal reality.
The Versailles Court of Appeal conclusions are as resounding as the silence in which they were received in the media: Israel has real rights in the territories, its decision to build a light rail in the West Bank or anything else in the area is legal, and the judges have rejected all the arguments presented by the Palestinians.
The Palestinian arguments
The PLO denounces the deportation of the Palestinian population, and the destruction of properties in violation of international regulations. Relying on the Geneva and Hague Conventions and the UN resolutions, it considers that the State of Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian territory and is pursuing illegal Jewish colonization. Thus, construction of the light rail is itself illegal (1).
The PLO adds that the light rail construction has resulted in the destruction of Palestinian buildings and houses, the almost total destruction of Highway 60, which is vital for Palestinians and their goods, and has conducted many illegal dispossessions. Therefore, several clauses from the annexed Regulations to the October 18, 1907 Fourth Hague Convention were violated (2).
Finally, the PLO alleges that Israel violates the provisions relating to the “protection of cultural property” provided for in Article 4 of the Hague Convention of May 14, 1954, Article 27 of the Hague Regulations of 1907, Article 5 of the Hague Convention IX of 1907, and Article 53 of Additional Protocol No. 1 to the Geneva Conventions.
The Court of Appeal does not deny the occupation, but it destroys one after another all the Palestinian arguments
Referring to the texts on which the PLO claim is based, the Court of Appeal considers that Israel is entitled to ensure order and public life in the West Bank, therefore Israel has the right to build a light rail, infrastructure and dwellings.
Article 43 of the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907 stipulates that “The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety”.
Israeli occupation does not violate any international law
“The Palestinian Authority misread the documents, they do not apply to the occupation”
The Court explains that the Palestinian Authority misinterprets the texts and they do not apply to the occupation:
First of all, all the international instruments put forward by the PLO are acts signed between States, and the obligations or prohibitions contained therein are relevant to States. Neither the Palestinian Authority nor the PLO are States, therefore, none of these legal documents apply.
Secondly, said the Court, these texts are binding only on those who signed them, namely the “contracting parties”. But neither the PLO nor the Palestinian Authority has ever signed these texts.
Propaganda is not international law
The Court, quite irritated by the presented arguments, boldly asserted that the law “cannot be based solely on the PLO’s assessment of a political or social situation.”
Humanitarian law was not violated
The PLO mistakenly refers to the wrong legal document because the Hague Convention applies in case of bombing.And … “Jerusalem is not bombed.”
The PLO invokes the violation of humanitarian law contained in the Geneva and Hague Conventions.
But on the one hand, says the judges of the Court of Appeal, international conventions apply between States and the PLO is not a State: “the International Court of Justice has indicated that [the Conventions] only contain obligations for the States, and that individual have no rights to claim the benefit of those obligation for themselves”.
Then the Court says that only the contracting parties are bound by international conventions, and neither the PLO nor the Palestinian Authority has ever signed any of them.
The Court draws the conclusion that the PLO is mistakenly referring to the wrong legal document because the Hague Convention applies in case of bombing. And … “Jerusalem is not bombed.“
The PLO and the Palestinians were dismissed
The PLO cannot invoke any of these international conventions, said the Court.
“These international norms and treaties” does not give the “Palestinian people that the PLO says he represents, the right to invoke them before a court.”
The Court of Appeal therefore sentenced the PLO (and Association France Palestine Solidarity AFPS who was co-appellant) to pay 30,000 Euros ($32,000) to Alston, 30,000 Euros to Alstom Transport and 30,000 Euros to Veolia Transport.
Neither the PLO nor the Palestinian Authority nor the AFPS appealed to the Supreme Court, therefore the judgment has become final.
This is the first time that a Court has legally destroyed all Palestinian legal claims that Israel’s occupation is illegal.
(1) The PLO relies on article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, which states that « the occupant power may not deport or transfer part of its own civilian population in the Territory he occupies », and article 53, which states that “the occupant Power is prohibited from destroying movable or immovable properties belonging individually or collectively to private people, to the State or to public authorities or social or cooperative organizations, except in cases where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary for military operations”.
(2) The PLO refers to the Fourth Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949:
Article 23 (g), which prohibits “the destruction or seizure of enemy properties except in cases where such destruction or seizure are imperatively ordered for the necessities of war.”
Article 27 according to which “in the sieges and bombardments, all necessary measures must be taken to spare as much as possible the buildings devoted to worship, the arts, sciences, charitable institutions, historical monuments, and hospitals …”
Article 46 which states that “private property cannot be confiscated”.
The Obama Administration and U.S.-Israel Relations – Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- Over the past eight years, Israel had a sympathetic ear in Washington with regard to its security needs. The $38 billion defense aid package and the fact that Israel was the first to receive the state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jet speak to the American commitment to the Jewish state’s security for decades to come.
- The relationship between the Israeli and American intelligence agencies continues to be excellent, which would not be possible without direction from the White House. Israel has also received vital U.S. backing in the international arena more than once.
- Still, Washington and Jerusalem were at odds under Obama on important issues. The outgoing administration turned settlement construction in Judea and Samaria into nothing short of an obsession. Washington refrained from pressuring PA President Mahmoud Abbas in any way, even when he failed to agree to the 2014 U.S. framework to reignite the talks.
- With regard to the Iranian nuclear program, the White House made a conscious choice to deceive Israel and conceal the fact that it was holding intensive nuclear negotiations with Iran – an issue that has direct bearing on Israel’s very existence.
- Some top officials within the administration thought it was wrong to hide the talks from Israel. Choosing this path cost the U.S. Israel’s trust, good will, and, to an extent, professional assistance, which could have reduced the scope of error inherent in the agreement.
- As for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in March 2015, perceived as an affront to Obama on his own turf, the new reality presented by the administration required Netanyahu to outline Israel’s position in the clearest possible way, especially before the American public, which is Israel’s most important friend.
- Issues pertaining directly to the fate of the Jewish people must be addressed out loud, and it is right to do so in the highest seats of power. As Kerry himself said, friends must tell each other the truth. Netanyahu had to consider that the bad deal inked between world powers and Iran might one day require Israel to use force to stop the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program from developing military dimensions. He had to lay the moral groundwork that would justify such extreme measures.
The writer is former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel and former Head of Israel’s National Security Council.
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