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Latest News in Israel – 22nd December

Hatzalah comes in different modes of transport

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Danon urges UN to condemn rocket attacks on northern Israel

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to condemn Sunday’s rocket attacks on northern Israel.

Three rockets were fired from southern Lebanon and were believed to have fallen in open territory in the North. The IDF responded with artillery fire.

Ambassador Danon said the rocket fire is in blatant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for a disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, including Hezbollah. It also states that no armed forces other than the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon and the Lebanese army will be posted south of the Litani River.

Resolution 1701 passed in 2006 and was intended to resolve that summer’s war between Israel and Lebanon.

“These rockets were fired from south of the Litani River,” Danon wrote to the secretary-general. “I call on you to condemn these violations immediately, and to address the escalation on the part of Lebanon before the situation further escalates.”

“Israel will not accept any violation of its sovereignty, and will take all necessary measures to protect its citizens,” he added.

In his letter, the ambassador also wrote that “the threat these attacks represent to the stability of the region is magnified by Hezbollah’s ongoing military buildup in southern Lebanon.”

“Every day, new evidence emerges that Hezbollah, an internationally recognized terrorist group, is using Southern Lebanon as a military encampment, and is embedding its military infrastructure in civilian areas,” he wrote. “Hezbollah has stationed thousands of missiles and rockets in the heart of Southern Lebanon’s civilian population, in violation of international law.”

The rockets were fired at Israel hours after an Israeli air strike killed Samir Kuntar, a Hezbollah militant leader, in Damascus on Saturday evening, the Lebanese group and Syrian state media said on Sunday.

Israel welcomed Kuntar’s death, saying he had been preparing attacks on it from Syrian soil, but stopped short of confirming responsibility for the strike that killed him.

A former national security adviser to Israel said he doubted the strike would escalate hostilities between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah, whose last major confrontation was in 2006.

Israel has formally kept out of Syria’s civil war which started almost five years ago but has bombed Hezbollah targets there without publicly acknowledging these sorties.

Hezbollah, a powerful Shi’ite Muslim group that has sent hundreds of fighters to Syria to support President Bashar Assad against rebels trying to topple him, said Kuntar was “martyred” in an Israeli raid on the residential district of Jaramana in the Syrian capital, but gave no details.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was due to speak on Monday evening as both supporters of the group and Syrian loyalist groups said the death of Kuntar would be avenged and not be in vain.

The Israeli army said it held the Lebanese government responsible for attacks emanating from its territory and that it would “continue to act against any attempt to harm Israel’s sovereignty and the security of its citizens.”

Jailed in Israel for his part in a 1979 raid in Israel that killed four people, Kuntar, a Druze, was repatriated to Lebanon in 2008 in a prisoner swap with Hezbollah, which he is then believed to have joined.

Yaakov Amidror, Israel’s former national security adviser, predicted Hezbollah would seek to exact “small revenge” for Kuntar’s killing, but said Hezbollah, like Iran, was likely too busy fighting in Syria to afford a new front with Israel.

“It would not be in their interest, and if they did so, they would have a big problem,” Amidror said, alluding to Israel’s threats to respond to any major Hezbollah attack with strikes in Lebanon.

Hezbollah’s official media said Kuntar would be buried on Monday in a Shi’ite cemetery in its main stronghold of Dahiya in the southern suburbs of Beirut. The party opened a condolences hall to receive the public.

“Such acts of the Zionist regime (Israel), which have become a consistent method, are the most dangerous forms of state terrorism,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari was quoted as saying by Iran’s ILNA news agency.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al Zubi pointed the finger at Israel but stopped short of blaming it directly.

“The party that gains most from the assassination of Kuntar is the Zionist enemy whom we have long known for these cowardly attacks,” Zubi told Hezbollah’s Manar television station.

Official Syrian media said an Israeli aerial strike hit a six-story residential building in Jaramana.

“I am not confirming or denying anything to do with this matter,” Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant told Israel Radio, adding: “It is good that people like Samir Kuntar will not be part of our world.”

Kuntar, born in 1962, kept a low public profile after Israel released him. Hezbollah did not say which role Kuntar played in the Syrian conflict, but Syrian state media said he was involved in a major offensive earlier this year in Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Rebels in southern Syria also said Kuntar was present in battles this year to defend a Syrian air base near the Druze majority city of Sweida, close to the border with Jordan, that rebels sought to capture.

Reuters could not independently verify this.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked accused Kuntar of overseeing covert Hezbollah entrenchment on the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau overlooking northeastern Israel.

“He set up a broad terror network on the Golan, and it is good that he returned his soul to his creator,” Shaked told Israel’s Army Radio, without elaborating on any Israeli role.

The Assad loyalist National Defence Forces in Jaramana, a bastion of government support and home to many of Syria’s Druze minority as well as Christians, mourned Kuntar on its Facebook page.

“Two Israeli warplanes carried out the raid which targeted the building in Jaramana and struck the designated place with four long-range missiles,” the NDF said.

In January, an Israeli strike in Syria killed six members of Hezbollah, including a commander and the son of the group’s late military leader Imad Mughniyeh near the Golan Heights.         (Jerusalem Post)

Shalom resigns amid sexual misconduct allegations; to be replaced by first gay Likud MK

Vice Premier Silvan Shalom announced Sunday that he was resigning from the cabinet and Knesset and leaving political life amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Shalom made the announcement after 11 women came forward alleging that he had made inappropriate sexual advancements toward them. His announcement pre-empted an expected decision by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to order the allegations checked.

Weinstein decided in consultations with the state prosecutor and police to renew an examination into charges that shalom sexually harassed women.

The examination began two years ago when Shalom ran for president and was closed because one women refused to testify, while the other reported an incident that happened 16 years ago, beyond the 10-year statute of limitations

“For some 23 years I have served the public with determination and faith as an MK and a minister in various offices out of a feeling I was fulfilling a mission and a desire to advance important social and public goals,” Shalom said in a statement.

The minister said that the allegations of sexual misconduct had put him and his family through anguish and therefore he was stepping down despite his insistence that the allegations were false. He thanked his family for their full support.

Shalom was set to be replaced in the Knesset by the next name on the Likud list, attorney Amir Ohana, who will be the first ever openly gay Likud MK. He will temporarily be replaced as interior minister by Netanyahu, who holds four other portfolios.

It is possible that Shas leader Arye Deri will be given the portfolio, even though he served jail time for accepting bribes when he held the post. Several Likud ministers are also eyeing the post.

Shalom was noticeably absent Sunday morning from weekly meetings of the cabinet and Likud ministers.

Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely was the first Likud MK to call for Shalom to quit, saying that “there is no place in the Knesset for him if he did what he has been accused of.”

(Jerusalem Post)

Terrorist attempts to stab soldiers at checkpoint in Hebron

A terrorist attempted to stab Israeli security forces at the Hassam Shoter checkpoint in Hebron on Sunday, the IDF reported.

The soldiers fired at the terrorist, who was treated by Red Crescent paramedics and taken to a hospital for treatment.

Moments earlier, a stabbing was reported close to the Palestinian town of Beit Sachur near Bethlehem. The victim, a tourist, was very lightly injured. Though the incident was initially thought to be a terror attack, police later reported that the incident was apparently criminal and involved a monetary dispute.

The victim and the stabber reportedly knew each other prior to the attack. The suspect was arrested.

In both incidents, police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the stabbings.          (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian girl arrested with knife in Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City

A 16-year-old female Palestinian was arrested near the entrance to the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday after police found a knife in her purse.

According to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, at approximately 4:00 p.m. several officers stationed in the area noticed the unidentified suspect behaving strangely, and then approached her for questioning.

“Police units patrolling the area spotted her acting suspiciously and during a routine search found a knife hidden in her purse,” he said. “She was placed under arrest and taken to the police station in the Old City for questioning.”

While Rosenfeld said the girl did not resist arrest, he noted that the area where her arrest took place was rife with potential Jewish targets.

“If she pulled the knife out, she could have stabbed a number of people in the Old City within minutes,” he said.

“Police apprehended her before that could happen.”    (Jerusalem Post)

Israel completes trial of David’s Sling which can destroy missiles over enemy territory

The Defense Ministry and Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency completed on Monday the last phase of trials for the David’s Sling air defense system, and the Israel Air Force is expected to take possession of the system in the first quarter of 2016.

The trials occurred in recent days in southern Israel, and were led by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which is developing David’s Sling, together with the US defense company Raytheon.

David’s Sling can intercept short-range to medium-range rockets and ballistic missiles, including guided projectiles, cruise missiles, aircraft, and drones. Its range of coverage means it can destroy incoming threats over enemy territory, away from Israeli skies.

“In trials, the system’s capabilities were tested in a number of scenarios that simulate the threats it was designed to deal with.

Target missiles were fired, which were detected by a multi-mission radar. The radar transmitted the coordinates to a fire control center that calculated defense counter-plans. David’s Sling interceptors were successfully fired, and carried out all of the flight stages, destroying the targets as planned,” the Defense Ministry said.

Yair Ramiti, head of Homa, said multiple mock targets were hit in the trial. The successful trials will “enable us to go to the next stage of development. This weapons system is ripe and ready. The result is excellent. We have an efficient, fast, deadly missile,” he added.

Shlomo S. (full name withheld), head of the David’s Sling program in Rafael, added, “This is first time technology of this kind has been used. It is on the verge of science fiction.” The officials added that a core unit from from the air defense branch of the IAF is being trained to use the system, and took part in the latest trial.

“The emphasis is on guided, maneuvering threats carrying dozens of kilograms of warheads, which are highly destructive,” Shlomo said.

The system has entered the production stage.

David’s Sling will be based in two national sites, and its launch sites will be mobile.

The system was described by defense officials on Monday as “new and revolutionary in the family of interceptors in the world,” enabling greater efficiency in dealing with aerial threats, as part of a multi-layered defense coverage that includes Iron Dome, Arrow 2, and Arrow 3 air defense batteries.

David’s Sling multi-mission radar was developed by ELTA, an IAI subsidiary, and its fire control station, dubbed Golden Almond, was built by Elisra, a part of Elbit Systems.

Earlier this month, Israel carried out a landmark successful interception of a target in space using its Arrow-3 missile defense system on Thursday, amid reports of advances by Iran in its long-range ballistic missile program.

The Defense Ministry’s Missile Defense Organization, which worked with the American Missile Defense Agency on the project, launched an Arrow-3 interceptor from a military installation in central Israel earlier this month, after the system’s radar and fire control station detected a target in space, which represented an incoming ballistic missile.

A Sparrow-type target fired from an Israeli fighter aircraft flying off the Mediterranean coast went into space, where it released two targets for Arrow-3’s radars to lock onto. Once outside the atmosphere, the Arrow-3 missile released a kill vehicle, which deployed its own sensor, and guided itself for a direct collision with the target.   (Jerusalem Post)

Jerusalem fortifies bus stops against car-ramming attacks

The Jerusalem Municipality began the process of erecting steel posts around some 300 bus stops in the city overnight Sunday, in an effort to deter terrorists from carrying out car-ramming attacks against passengers waiting in the stations.

Officials at the municipality said the posts will have the same defensive effect as large concrete blocks placed at some light rail stations in Jerusalem last year.

The posts are slightly over a meter high and are cemented into the sidewalk on all sides of the bus stops. They are spaced widely enough to allow strollers or wheelchairs to pass through.

Barriers[1]

Israeli and Palestinian laborers place barriers at a bus stop in Jerusalem after a terror attack there last week.

Not all bus stations will be fortified, however; the municipality is erecting the posts in places defined by police as high-risk locations. The process is expected to take about a month to complete and will cost some NIS 2 million ($500,000).

The plan was presented by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz following a car ramming terror attack last week at the entrance to Jerusalem.

The implementation began after receiving approval from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and is funded by the Transportation Ministry.

Following the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, bus stops walls that were made of large panes of thick glass were replaced with mesh-like iron sheets. At the time, with Palestinian suicide bombings a common occurrence, Israeli officials concluded that the glass windows increased the number of casualties as shattered glass was added to the shrapnel from the explosion.         (The Times of Israel)

Israeli Arab cell set up grassroots terror infrastructure in east Jerusalem

A cell of Arab Israelis from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud involved in multiple instances of rock and Molotov cocktail throwing attacks has been arrested, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced Monday.

The suspects directed their attacks against security forces and Jewish civilians in Ras al-Amud near the Mount of Olives cemetery.

Islam Najar, 18, and Hamza Najar, 22, two brothers from Ras al-Amud were arrested by the Shin Bet in October. The interrogation of the pair uncovered that they were involved in a number of Molotov cocktail and stone-throwing attacks directed against security forces, the Shin Bet said. As part of the investigation 22-year-old Nader Nasser was also arrested as were two minors, aged 16 and 17.

The investigation uncovered that the two minors took part in the burning of an Egged bus in September in Ras al-Amud along with other members of the local terror infrastructure. According to the Shin Bet, the suspects described how they poured gasoline on the front of the bus and set it on fire after the driver fled the scene.

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During riots in the neighborhood, the suspects would block the street with trash receptacles and cut off the electricity in order to attract security forces, who they would then pelt with stones and Molotov cocktails when they arrived.

Five indictments have thus far been filed in the case on charges including arson, rioting, attempted assault of a police officer and aggravated sabotage. Further indictments against additional suspects are expected to be filed in the future, the Shin Bet said.                    (Jerusalem Post)

510 haredi men enlist to IDF in last two weeks

A total of 510 haredi men have enlisted to various tracks in the IDF in the last two weeks including  infantry combat units and technical positions in different branches of the armed forces.

Of the new recruits, 60 will go to the Tomer haredi company, a combat unit in the Givati Brigade, 40 will go to the Netzah Yehudah battalion, another haredi combat unit, while another 45 will serve in combat support roles in Netzah Yehuda.

Other haredi enlistees joined technical units in the air force, navy, intelligence, technology and logistics, and Teleprocessing Corps for IDF command and control.

An IDF source said that, the new intake of 60 recruits for the Tomer company is higher than the usual intake of 40 recruits, and this increased recruitment to the unit is due to frequent requests from soldiers in the young company, established in August 2014, to serve as officers.

The source said that some 10 to 15 soldiers in each intake request to join officer courses, but taking that many soldiers away from an active combat unit would not be feasible, so the new intake was expanded to 60.

Several soldiers from Tomer are already in an officers training course which will finish in four months, and they will then return to the haredi company to serve there in its command ranks.

The source noted that for each intake to the Tomer company, there has been approximately 100 applicants. Those who are not able to join in one intake are asked to wait till the following draft for Tomer and given priority for it.

There are currently about 100 haredi soldiers from Tomer on operational duty in the Samaria region at present, and another 150 in training including 60 who enlisted last week.

The source said that Tomer was designed specifically for haredi youth from the core, mainstream of the haredi community who had attended yeshiva and decided after several years study to enlist in the IDF and all 60 new recruits were yeshiva graduates.

The Netzah Yehudah battalion often takes haredi youth who have left haredi institutions and frameworks, or who are not from the mainstream of the haredi community but from less conservative sectors of the ultra-Orthodox world.

For this reason haredi youth from the mainstream of the community are not interested in joining the battalion, the source said.

Applicants for Tomer who are still in yeshiva are rejected and told they can apply only once they have left so as not to cause friction and opposition from the yeshiva deans and the haredi rabbinic leadership.

The source said that Tomer showed that there is a growing desire among mainstream haredi youth to perform combat roles.

He added that the annual enlistment targets from the haredi sector for the year 2015, which for the IDF is July 2015 to June 2016, will be met and that in general efforts to draft haredi men into the IDF “are going in the right direction.”            (Jerusalem Post)

Lowered bus, train pricing expected to change the face of public transport in Israel

As 2016 rolls around, so too will an entirely-overhauled public transportation pricing system – with reduced fares and increased flexibility for travelers who purchase daily, weekly or monthly passes.

On January 1, Israelis will be able to acquire subscriptions for their Rav Kav multi-fare cards that integrate various modes of public transportation and offer varying fees based on designated destination zones, the Transportation Ministry announced this week. The hope is that the increased system flexibility and resulting discounts in ticket fares will spur more travelers to choose public transportation over private cars, a statement from the ministry said.

“The new tariff structure will encourage the use of public transportation, reduce travel costs up to thousands of shekels per month for a family, and thereby contribute to reducing the cost of living in Israel,” Transportation Minister Israel Katz said on Sunday.

Within the new subscription structure, passengers will be able to choose a “hofshi hodshi” (monthly pass), “hofshi shavui” (weekly pass) or “hofshi yomi” (daily pass) for their Rav-Kavs. The subscription price will be determined based on the number of public transportation zones to be included within the individual’s travels, the ministry statement explained. Each subscription allows for unrestricted travel by all means of public transportation – bus, Israel Railways, Jerusalem light rail, Haifa Metronit – supported within the zones selected by the user.

Within each of Israel’s four largest metropolitan areas – Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Beersheba – professionals at the ministry have drawn out three “rings” that enable unrestricted travel at one uniform price inside those zones. While ticket prices may not always be lower than before in certain zones, the ministry stressed that the more efficient usage of public transportation by means of the subscription service allows travelers to get more for their money.

The metropolitan regions, and the rings within them, stretch far beyond the boundaries of the cities at their center. For example, the Haifa metropolitan area stretches from Rosh Hanikra in the north to Carmiel and Nazareth in the east, and Zichron Yaakov in the south. The Jerusalem area ranges from Beit Shemesh and Modi’in in the west to the Mitzpe Jericho and Kalya settlements in the east, extending from Kiryat Arba in the south to Ofra and Beit El in the north.

The Beersheba zones range from the Gaza perimeter kibbutzim and moshavim in the west, Arad in the east, Yeroham and Dimona in the southeast, Nitzanei Sinai in the southwest, Sderot in the northwest and the Telem and Adora settlements in the northeast.

The Tel Aviv metropolitan region, meanwhile, stretches from Netanya in the north to Ashdod in the south, and Modi’in in the east. The “inner ring,” or “Area 1” of the Tel Aviv region includes all of the Gush Dan cities at one price: Holon, Bat Yam, Rishon Lezion, Givatayim, Ramat Gan, Bnei Brak, Petah Tikvah, Yehud, Or Yehuda, Ramle and Lod.

“The big winners from the reform are regular passengers on public transportation,” a ministry statement said. “Each passenger who carries out at least one transfer between different means of transport will benefit greatly from the reform.”

While prices for the passes will vary based on locations and zones, some examples include NIS 350 for a combined train-bus monthly pass for Tel Aviv-Ashdod trips or NIS 285 for Tel Aviv-Rehovot trips. In the past, these combinations have cost NIS 574 and NIS 491 respectively, the ministry said.

A train-bus monthly pass for Beit Shemesh-Jerusalem will now cost NIS 350, as opposed to the NIS 420 passengers are paying today. For trains and buses around Beersheba, monthly subscription travelers will now pay NIS 235 rather than today’s NIS 335 for buses only, the ministry added. A Haifa region monthly pass for trains and buses will cost NIS 285, as opposed to today’s NIS 380, which had also been valid only for buses, the statement said.

As has been the case with monthly subscriptions in the past, travelers can charge their passes at the Rav Kav “Al HaKav” service centers located at major transportation hubs in cities around the country, as well as at train stations, at bus stations, via bus drivers and online at ravkavonline.co.il.

This week, Transportation Ministry representatives have begun distributing leaflets with detailed information regarding the system overhaul on buses, trains and service centers to help passengers become better acquainted with their options and all of the details associated with the various subscriptions. In addition, a website with all the information  – including a “price calculator” – is currently being set up and should be available by the end of the week, the ministry added.                             (Jerusalem Post)

Converted’ Bob Carr’s joins ranks of one-sided Israel-bashers

by Peter Baldwin             The Australian

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/converted-bob-carrs-joins-ranks-of-onesided-israelbashers/news-story/3356ace42f7aefc3521485fb3001af7d

Recently Bob Carr made a short speech at an event marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. He began thus: “As Hanan Ashrawi said to me on my visit in 2013 … the story of Jerusalem is now being fabricated, Judaising and eliminating the Arab character of this great Arab city, a shocking thing to take place.”

This statement has drawn justified condemnation from leading figures in the Jewish community and others. They point to the anti-Semitic origins of the term “Judaise” in medieval European history, and Carr’s implicit denial (“this great Arab city”) of any legitimate Jewish connection to the city despite 3000 years of history. Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority since the end of the 19th century and a plurality for even longer. All just a “fabrication”, apparently.

Carr went on to recite a litany of alleged Israeli crimes and misdeeds, from the victimisation of young children to seducing and bribing Australian politicians. He enjoined those present to lobby their politicians to recognise a Palestinian state. He ended by mentioning the “very strong and very brave” efforts of Greens senator Lee Rhiannon “over very many years”.

Extraordinary stuff, coming from one of the founders of Labor Friends of Israel 40 years ago. The striking thing about this is the absence of even a scintilla of balance. All the violence, all the suffering of the Palestinians, is put down to Israeli villainy. The Palestinians and their leaders are treated as helpless victims, devoid of agency or moral responsibility. The Palestinian narrative is embraced wholesale, without qualification. Any developments adverse to this interpretation are just ignored.

Here are some recent developments in Jerusalem Carr chose not to mention.

During the past few months there has been a nonstop campaign of incitement to “stab a Jew” in all parts of the Palestinian media, especially social media. In a Gaza mosque, a knife-wielding cleric calls on Palestinians to stab Jews and “cut them into body parts”. Detailed anatomical diagrams are published showing how to cause maximum injuries.

Even the very young are targeted, with videos of knife-wielding young girls declaring they will “stab, stab, stab” Jews. So inspired, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy stabbed a Jewish child riding a bicycle and was then celebrated as a martyr for the cause.

The trigger for all this violence is a spurious allegation that Israel plans to change the rules governing access to the Temple Mount-al-Aqsa Mosque holy sites.

The status quo was established after the Six-Day War in 1967 and grants Muslims the right to visit and pray at these sites, but Jews the right to visit only. This seems to me a remarkable Israeli concession given this is the holiest site for Jews but the third holiest for Muslims. The Israelis have denied any plan to change the status quo and have continued to enforce the restriction on Jewish prayer. Jews exercising their right to visit Temple Mount have been subjected to increasing harassment.

So, what has the Palestinian Authority, the “moderate” part of the Palestinian entity Carr wants to recognise, had to say about this? On September 16, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas said (as reported on Abbas’s personal website): “Al-Aqsa Mosque is ours … and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem … We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood.”

A year ago Carr wrote an article explaining why he switched sides, his “conversion narrative”. He claimed the Israel he befriended 40 years ago was not the Israel of today. The old, benign, social-democratic Israel had morphed into the chauvinistic, militaristic, right-wing Israel of Benjamin Netanyahu. In his article he says the Palestinians have been “committed to a negotiated solution” for 25 years, omitting to mention their rejection of the offer made by the Barak government in negotiations under the auspices of the Clinton administration in 2000 that would have given them a state consisting of Gaza plus 97 per cent of the West Bank with East Jerusalem as its capital, a recognised right of return to the new state and a $30 billion aid package in lieu of return to Israel proper. In 2008 a similarly generous offer was made by the Olmert government.

Both Bill Clinton and his chief negotiator Dennis Ross emphatically blamed Yasser Arafat for the failure of the negotiations in 2000. According to Ross, Arafat’s goal was “a one-state solution. Not independent, adjacent Israeli and Palestinian states, but a single Arab state encompassing all of historic Palestine.”

The reality is that if what the Palestinian negotiators really wanted was a two-state solution, this could have been achieved decades ago.

Carr talks of changes in Israeli politics but ignores the rise of religious extremist groups on the Palestinian side that are explicit in wanting to complete Hitler’s genocidal project.

Since 2006 Gaza has been controlled by the terrorist organisation Hamas. Hamas’s founding charter, adopted in 1988 and never rescinded, calls for the obliteration of Israel and looks forward in article 7 to the complete annihilation of the Jewish race.

Similarly Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah welcomed the Jews gathering in Israel as it would save them from “having to go to the ends of the world” to hunt them down.

In 2005 Ariel Sharon’s government completely withdrew from Gaza, forcibly evacuating the Jewish settlements, amid optimistic hopes that it could become “Singapore on the Mediterranean”. Within hours, the rockets started flying into Israel and in the years that followed a huge subterranean apparatus for waging war against Israel was created beneath the densely populated residential areas and then used in recurring bouts of conflict, with horrific results for the civilian population.

Imagine if Hamas (or Islamic State) were able to replicate this performance on a far larger scale in the West Bank, which is much closer to Israel’s population centres and impossible to seal off from weapons imports. No one with an ounce of genuine concern for Palestinians or Israelis would want that, though this does not seem to trouble Rhiannon or the Greens, whose policy demands “immediate and unconditional” Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian territories and the immediate dismantling of the anti-terrorist separation wall.

By ignoring these developments, Carr renders his “conversion narrative” unconvincing. Reasonable criticism of Israel over settlements and other matters is legitimate, but one-sided Israel-bashing that takes no account of the kind of adversaries they face is not.

This kind of unbalanced obsession with Israel’s alleged misdeeds, while giving little or no attention to vastly worse abuses elsewhere, has been an intellectual pathology of the hard Left for some time. It is unfortunate Carr has decided to join such company.

Peter Baldwin was a minister in the Hawke and Keating governments.